I knew from previous groups of people who have gone to Benin from our church that it's very common to be asked to preach. One man was asked to preach 8 times in a 10 day trip!
Derek preached once, so we got off easy in the preaching category. But this preaching fell in his very, very busy week of teaching 2 courses and trying to mark papers written in French.
When we were in Allada living at La Casa Grande, we went to church in town. They asked our family to come to the front to share a few words the first Sunday we were there. So we did. I read from Romans 12:1-2, one of my favourite passages this past year.
The next day, I had an invitation from the pastor's wife to speak at a gathering of women that was happening the following Saturday morning. I wondered if it would be rude to decline the offer, because I didn't really know what to talk about - they wanted input for about an hour. But after thinking about it for a day or so, I agreed to do it.
I spoke about Romans 12 and used different stories to illustrate various aspects of the passage. And I had fun! I really liked speaking in bite-sized chunks and having it translated into Fon. It gave me time to think of my next sentence. The women responded very well to the stories too, which was fun.
|me with the organizing committee... one of these things is not like the others...|
|the women at the gathering|
Romans 12:1-2 speaks of not conforming to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. I used the example of the butterfly to illustrate this - how a caterpillar grows and grows, makes a chrysalis, then emerges as a totally different creature. I talked about how my daughters and I had carefully observed each stage, and how long each stage took for a monarch butterfly in Canada.
I thought that this was an example that everyone would know about, but this wasn't the case. This was a new story! So the following week at La Casa Grande, I was asked to lead the morning devotions for 5 days. The first day I talked about this passage to them and showed pictures from my computer of the various stages of the caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly. I also showed a short video of the butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.
Paulin asked everyone there (about 30 kids and staff) whether they had ever heard about that before. Nobody had. So it was fun to share that in this group too.
Then in Cotonou, we were asked to share the morning we went to church with Bonaventure. So once again I pulled out Romans 12:1-2 and told the story of the girls and watching a caterpillar transform.
Transform has been a good word for this trip too - it's been a good opportunity to re-orient our thinking, our prayers, ourselves. So I'm hopeful that I'll continue this transformation, just like a caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly.