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Encourage
Glenn and Kim

 
Did You Know?
"Traditional" Eye Care in Benin:
1.  "Couching" - taking a blunt stick and knocking the cataract into the back of the eye

2.  "Cutting" - making deep cuts under blind eyes and on eye lids to help "open the sight" again

3.  "Drops" - coconut milk into the eyes

4.  Blindness due to voodoo gods - during eclipses especially, people are taught to stare at the sun for worship, which actually burns holes into the eyes (retinas) and causes them to lose their vision.

5.  Eye removal - people are told that the only way to operate on the eye is to remove it and place it on the person's chest, clean it and operate, then put it back.

6.  Babies - told that babies go blind only if not born in a hospital where they clean the eyes after birth.
Benin!
benin


Expect the Unexpected!
(A Marriage Conference Story)

Dear family and friends,
Since we arrived, 75 out of the 184 crew we started with have left, but 75 more have replaced them and we added 50 more since (with 15 more coming just last week!)  This means a lot of saying goodbye and constant training of new personnel each week. The new people add enthusiasm and old people leave a hole where experience existed. They are saying that by the end of the outreach, 1,000 new people will have come and gone!  Amazing! Keeps the scenery changing and us on our toes!  Short termers are great, but I can see now that a strong core of people is essential for this ministry.
 
What I wanted to tell you about this time was our unusual opportunity to lead a marriage conference! We had done one in Liberia and have learned to expect the unexpected. Even at our pastor's conference in Liberia...37 PASTORS became Christians for the first time!!  A friend told us about a pastor's conference in Mongolia where they asked the pastors and their wives to pray. To their surprise, one of the pastors wives started and said, "Forgive me Lord, for I have been unfaithful to my husband."  The husband paused, then began to pray also, saying, "It's okay God, for I too have been unfaithful to my wife!"  This marriage conference also had the unexpected! 
 
The President of Benin's pastor offered his church as the venue.  Now to help you picture this, imagine a cement building, with plain, unfinished cement floors, a tin corrugated roof, no air-conditioning, dim lighting and 200 plastic lawn chairs!  And then imagine this is one of the nicest churches in Benin!  Welcome to Africa! (I attached a picture for you of the pastor and his wife with the chairs.)  Fifty pastors and church workers came wanting help on how to counsel people.  (One interesting elder was blind and was using a Braille Bible!)  Unlike Liberia, most of the pastors here had a seminary degree and some had their PhDs!  When we arrived, we were told that there would be a guest Pastor speaking on the basics of a Biblical marriage.  We decided to let the guest pastor speak first.
 
This pastor STARTED by saying that women are not property of the husband (good so far...) ....BUT, he went on... they are owned by the husband's entire family!!  Our eyes popped out as we concentrated to not let our jaws drop!  He continued!  He stated 'we need to return to the old traditions of Benin and arranged marriages, with dowries and no young people telling each other that they "love each other" before marriage - it is shameful".  He preached on: "white men know nothing of African ways and we need to read the Bible in such a way as to match our culture".  (I looked at Glenn wondering how on earth he was going to 'fix' this!)   Now, lest you misunderstand, their were plenty of women in this audience, but it was the male pastors that were applauding!!  One woman did get up and said, "Love should be like we see in the American movies".  That was her only defense?!  Oh my!
 
Glenn's turn.

Glenn got up and asked the group, "How many of you believe that men and women were created equal by God?" (NOBODY!)
Glenn then said, "If you do NOT believe this one basic principle, then your marriages will fail.  We must start at the beginning...in Genesis."  My favorite part was when one of the men quoted Genesis 3:16,  when to the woman God said, "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."   He read this to say that God intended men to be superior---- to which we quickly responded that they were actually quoting from the curse that came after Adam and Eve sinned!!  We also explained that in the Hebrew, the words translated 'desire shall be for' referred to the wife 'wanting to control' her husband and that the phrase  'rule over' meant the husband would want to 'to lord over' his wife ...  an issue coming from the curse for our sin and not what God intended!  Another wanted to know how do you keep your wife submissive if you do not beat them! Glenn explained that the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and gave up His life for them. Just before lunch time, the Pastor who spoke at the beginning stood up and made an appeal to "contextualize" the Bible since it was written to Jews and needed to be rewritten for Africans! (Oh, really??).  Glenn told the group that he had personally spent the better part of his life studying the Bible in such a way so as to NOT "contextualize" it, and not pick and choose the truth of the Word is God to make it fit our circumstances- it is for all men for all ages.  He then asked the group, "How many of you believe that this IS the word of God?" (Now THIS got a positive reaction from the pastors!) One by one, the pastors stood up and defended the Bible as being the Word of God and that it should not be "contextualized".  The pastor then back-peddled a mile, saying he was just saying that they should not forget the good things of their culture, but that he DID believe it was the word of God. (Great! Finally... we are all on the same page!)
 
From then on, they all took notes and stood up at the end and asked us to come back and teach again, but next time with their spouses present, because if they cannot get this right in their own marriages, then how will they be able to counsel others.  (AMEN to that!) They did NOT want to live according to a curse and in Africa, they ALL understand what a 'curse' is!
We praise God that His word is a two-edged sword, piercing the heart of men!
 
"Choose this day whom you will serve...But, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

To our God and Saviour, who alone is wise, be glory and honour.

Glenn and Kim
marriage conference couple