Our Songhai Team adopts a team verse and a team theme each year. I’ll be blogging later about our team theme for 2013 but wanted to share with you our team verse here.
Our team verse is John 1:5 which says “The light has come into the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John’s Gospel is full of light/darkness references and we too find our ministry best understood in these terms. We see our job as taking light into some of the darkest places on planet Earth. Places that have never heard of the Light and have lived in darkness for literally centuries.
John’s Gospel promises two things: 1) there will be conflict when light enters darkness and 2) light wins. When light enters darkness there is conflict because those in darkness want to remain there. Light means being exposed and revealed and we don’t like that.
The Songhai, for the most part, are still in darkness. Taking the Light to them is challenging on many levels and there are times that it looks like darkness is winning. However, we cling to this promise (and others) from God’s Word that the darkness will not overcome the light.
A recent trip to a new area of work for us reminded me about this reality. It is a new village where 2 men actually believed on hearing the Gospel for the first time ever. I referred to this village as Mayberry as it was so peaceful. A friend from Ayorou even accompanied me on several follow-up trips and we both remarked how kind people were even when they didn’t agree with us.
Well, darkness is never passive. It’s not enough to try and remain in darkness but instead the darkness is aggressive when light comes.
We pulled up to this village a few weeks ago and were on our way to meet with the few believers when several village elders approached us. They didn’t greet us (very un-Songhai) but instead said, “You are the ones claiming you built our mosque and we want to go to the chief and have you judged!”
How’s that for a welcome?!
We tried to explain the foolishness of this statement. If anything, we told them, we would build a church!
They were not appeased and insisted we go to the chief. At the chief’s house there was a lot of shouting (on their part) as we sat quietly and listened. They kept saying “the chief says…” although the chief sat there quietly and seemingly embarrassed at the scene.
At long last, the real reason for their anger came out. They weren’t mad about this so-called claim (because they knew it was a lie) but were upset because we were preaching Jesus in the village i.e., Light had come to town.
They said, again speaking for the chief, that we were no longer welcome in this place and needed to leave immediately. The chief returned the gifts we’d given him and we were about to head back to our bush taxi when one of our friends in the village (not a believer) began to scold these elders and even the chief!
He shamed them about the way they’d treated us because we were visitors and visitors are supposed to be kings to the Songhai. He shamed them about making up this lie. He then shouted that he would build a church in his compound and they could do nothing about it!
We tried to calm this man down as this was not our first encounter like this. But the man gathered up all people who were not intimidated by these elders to meet at his house where he gave us the floor to share the Gospel with about 40 men! Light wins.
It’s not always so immediate though and there are plenty of times it looks like darkness is winning. As I type this I’m so heartbroken over the news of one of our solid believers who has been severely beaten by his father for accepting Christ.
We know light wins and we cling to this promise. We know that we won’t always see it in this life. We know that it’s about a bigger battle that’s been won. Light winning isn’t always about our health or our safety, it’s about the victory Christ has won as he defeated death. It’s the victory of salvation as he frees these former slaves to sin and makes them into sons of righteousness.
And so we cling to this verse even when (maybe especially when) we can’t see it. Light wins.