When we are in the thick of our daily trials and tribulations it may not be easy to see the purpose of it all, of doing good when we are perhaps not appreciated, and feel a little overwhelmed and discouraged when the going gets tough. The apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote this succinct admonition which has repeatedly proven to be true, for the past two millennia, to this very day.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).
We don't even need to wait to be in heaven one day in order to find out about the harvest of our efforts, for the glory of God and through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, whilst we were on this earth. I have experienced the truthfulness of Paul's words, over and over again.
One such case in point is the land-locked sub-Sahel country of Burkina Faso, where I was field president for five years (1984-1989). Since there was no other church worker, or pastor, other than a literature evangelist, and subsequently an ADRA director and a pastor, I was left wearing all vacant hats: treasurer, secretary, director of all departments, acting ADRA director, ABC manager, evangelist, pastor of churches, church planter, and ICPAD secretary. I held five-day plans to stop smoking. I was a founding member-director of the country’s first United Bible Society. I performed all baptisms, held all communion services, weddings, funerals, etc. I was also a husband, and a father of two little girls.
We were fortunate that we could afford a full-time houseboy which released my wife to volunteer as much of her time as she could to do secretarial and accounting work, whilst homeschooling our two girls.
A Welcome Voice From The Past
A few days ago I received a short email from the British Union Conference President forwarding to me an email which he received from someone in the States. It reads,
“I would like to get in touch with pastor Claude Lombart. He played a big part in my my spiritual life growing up in Burkina Faso, Africa. Today, I live and work in Texas, USA and I honestly want to reach out to him to say “thank you” and give him an update of the members he was working with while in Africa. My name is Christian Coulibaly and my parents are Ben and Hortense Coulibaly.”
I emailed him and he gave me his mother's email address. I received two emails in quick succession from her, in response to mine. In her own words:
“I am thankful to God that through my son's research I finally managed to get in touch with you. Just to tell you that if I'm still a committed Adventist Christian it's thanks to you. You have shown us who God is. The years have been tough for my family and me. But thanks to this anchor that has been inculcated in me to know that God is Love and that no evil comes from Him, the storm has raged but I still stand. I know you do not like praise, but as the Corinthians would say of the Apostle Paul, “We are a fruit of your apostolate”.
I know that I am not alone. May God bless you more. I have been in France for four years with kidney complications that resulted in a transplant. It was during this moment that my husband saw the hand of God and finally gave himself to the Lord. He is very committed and through his professional experience helps our mission in the context of communication.
Numerically we are close to 5000 members. In Ouagadougou (capital city of Burkina Faso where we had fewer than 200 members during my time there and only one church in the city), we now have three organized churches and three groups. For education there are four functional primary schools and a college. The land was bought by funds from ADRA Sweden thanks to your intervention.
For the first time the President of the mission is a young Burkinabé since 2016. His challenge is to make the mission a Conference. Outside help is scarce and you have to rely on your own resources. But Burkina's friends can help us.
The churches that you have established like Pekuy, Bobo and Bazega are still there. Pekuy members even have children who are teachers in our schools. Pioneers or predecessors such as the Ki, Kinane, Kabore Philippe, Guinko Kagone, Apiou, and Ahossouhe families are still pillars for the church.
Unfortunately some of us have passed away by death: Brother Severin since 2002 and brother and sister Kagone in 2016 and 2012. However their families are still active. The biggest challenge is the lack of financial resources. The membership has increased but there isn’t a corresponding faithfulness in tithes and offerings. May the Lord bless you.”
This was an unexpected yet welcome email. The moral of the story is keep on keeping on, and don't become weary of well doing.
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:9-10).
Claude Lombart writes from the village of Binfield, UK, where he is in active retirement. He holds a pastoral credential from the BUC. Lombart has served in West Africa, the Middle East, New Zealand, Scotland, and England in leadership, departmental, teaching, pastoral, and counsellor roles. He is a regular contributor to several church papers and has recently published a book on successful relationships.