- Written by John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager John Wolf, LCMS Africa Region Project Manager
- Created: September 08 2017 September 08 2017
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
“Bonjour, Monsieur” was the greeting I received from the stewardess as I boarded the plane from Ghana to Burkina Faso. As I took my seat, I overheard African children playing and chattering in French. By merely entering into a doorway, I had passed from one culture into another. I now had a two hour flight and a language translation app to practice phrases I might need upon landing in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. I was greeted by LCMS missionaries Rev. Gary and Stephanie Schulte, who serve as the Area Director of West and Central Africa and the Mercy Coordinator for west Africa, respectively. Thus began a wonderful introduction into LCMS mission work in French-speaking (francophone) west Africa.
God has a way of using even bad things to His glory, and the origins of the Lutheran church in Burkina Faso follows this path. During the civil wars of Liberia in the late 1990s, the Lord called many of His children home, but He also called one man to leave the country and seek refuge in Burkina Faso. This Lutheran man started to share the Gospel with others, and not long after had a number of fellow believers. Realizing the need for an ordained pastor to shepherd this growing flock, he sought out a means for instruction. Learning about the newly-formed French-speaking seminary in northern Togo, he visited, along with a few other men. These men returned to Burkina Faso and have continued to grow the church to this day.
The day after arriving, we, along with missionary Rev. Ryan McDermott, joined one of these pastors and followed him on his motorcycle to visit a local congregation. We traveled on potholed pavement, then gravel roads, two-track, goat trails and finally footpaths to reach a large tree in the middle of a field, where we were warmly greeted by waiting church members. The congregation had just received catechisms in their tribal language of Mòoré from Lutheran Heritage Foundation and were eager for a catechism lesson from our missionary pastors. Several of the men were training as evangelists to help the Burkina pastor and asked many good questions. As we closed, the ladies thanked us with many songs, one even with the chorus, “When our visitor is back in his home nation, he will tell them that the people of Tansega greet them.”
Many parishioners openly shared with me how this one church in Tansesga has impacted the local area. First it drew attention as parishioners made bricks and LCMS helped fund the roof installation and could gather to hear the Gospel, but this congregation on its own has sprouted fourteen other daughter congregations in the nearby countryside.
We visited one of these small daughter churches in Pouswaka. The people still gather under nearby fruit trees as the church is under construction. This once well-forested land has now been cleared for agriculture and animal grazing. Since not enough trees remain to build fires to harden bricks, the sun-baked bricks quickly deteriorated in the rain before the roof could be installed on their church structure. However, a nearby parishioner was excited that a church was being built, and one which he and his neighbors were building themselves.
It was amazing to see God’s handiwork to tell others about Jesus.
John Wolf is the Africa Region Project Manager for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He and his family, with the support of LCMS churches like Saint John’s, are serving in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers! We encourage you to follow their family blog, www.hereiamsendmesendme.blogspot.com, which is also where you can sign up to their mailing list and make donations.