Aren't these the guys who were supposed to be in Italy and back again by now?
Yep, they are.
But for 14 months, we have been working and re-routing and applying and reaching out and reapplying and pursuing and investigating new routes, and the door to Italy, at least for now, is firmly closed. Rujerry and Jean William's travel visas have been denied several times, and after a year of asking the Lord to open that door, we at Emmaus started asking the Lord to open His door, and to make it too wide to miss.
EBS President Matt Ayars spoke to an executive at Pioneers, a church-planting organization with a passion to see God glorified among those who are physically and spiritually isolated from the gospel of Jesus Christ. He immediately put Matt in touch with David*, a convert from Kotokoli, the major Muslim tribe of Togo, West Africa.
"After my conversion in 1990, I faced terrible persecution from my family and the community," David shared with me this week, "But by God's grace through signs and wonders and through my personal testimony, all the members of my family have accepted the Lord, one by one. We are today 8 people following Jesus."
"A few years after our conversions" David continues, "my wife and I clearly received a call from the Lord to raise an army of witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ among Muslims. Most of our co-workers now are Muslim background believers, and together we face the growth of Islam fundamentalists and Muslim leaders and their intimidations. But the Lord who calls us is faithful."
David's organization is at the forefront of disciple-making, evangelism and church-planting in Togo, where the speedy growth of Islam, the carelessness of churches, and the deeply rooted Voodoo in the culture are huge challenges.
Togo's roots in voodoo stretch next door to Benin, the West African country widely seen as the birthplace of Voodoo. Benin and Haiti share an extensive cultural history, both through the old slave trade and through the implantation of Voodoo in Haitian society as a religious force.
Several months ago, David asked if our uniquely-suited Haitian students or staff would be willing to help, and the doors Emmaus had been praying for started opening.
The necessary person of peace has emerged, has already begun an established work in Togo, and has inspired the prayers of the Emmaus community. Not only do the Togolese people share French with Jean-William and Rujerry, but our Haitian brothers also have a unique understanding and a lifetime of experience with the Voodoo ties that snare and bind the Togolese people. Rujerry and Jean-William have now graduated (May 2018), are both on staff full-time at Emmaus, and are well-equipped in the work most needed: pastoring, evangelism, and discipleship training. All of the funding needed for a three month missions trip for both of them has already been raised, thanks to many of you, and finally, visa applications have been APPROVED through the Dominican Republic, Europe and on to Togo, and passports are in hand.
Their three month trip, set to begin in January, 2019, will be two-fold. They will fly into Lom é, and spend the first two months in the extreme north in Nano. They will help the missionaries there in their evangelization work among Muslims. After the first phase, they will work in Nots éin the South with David, "where Vodou reigns", for a month, before returning to Haiti.
"Just three weeks ago," David shares, "The Lord glorified his name by using one of our students to make a paralyzed lady walk. He just said a word and the Lord performed His miracle. The Lord spoke to my father, once a leader in the mosque, in a vision in his mother tongue, saying, 'follow me', and he came to serve the Lord fervently. These things are a part of our daily life working for God in Togo. Having your students join us for such a time as this will be a tremendous blessing."
Rujerry and Jean-William ask you to please be praying for...
-Final travel details to be completed
-strength, power and wisdom to do good work
-the softening of people's hearts, that they might be open and ready to hear
-the people of peace they will live and work with along the way
"I am a little nervous, for sure," Jean-William admits as he, Rujerry and I talk about the upcoming trip. "But I'm really honored to have this opportunity to participate in what God's doing to redeem His world. Missionaries coming OUT of Haiti are just so rare, and while I'm unsure about encountering a totally new culture and new people, the more I study, the more I think there will be many similarities."
"After all, we have a Biblical command to GO. This isn't our idea," Rujerry adds, slapping one hand into the palm of the other, the common Haitian symbol that something is out of your control. "The Gospel is needed everywhere in the world, and sometimes God will use a foreign person to bring the Word in a unique, fresh way. Since I was a child, I have felt a call to be a missionary, and we are grateful to be a part of God's plan."
Emmaus is grateful to be a part of God's plan, too, continuing to develop Christ-like leaders for the transformation of Haiti...and the world!
As their January trip approaches, we will keep you posted, ever grateful for your help and prayers!
*name has been changed
Follow us on Facebook or on Instagram for daily updates and photos, and please continue to lift up His people, like Jean-William and Rujerry, in Haiti!