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Independence Day

Freedom’s Crucible

The Menace

The stability of the northern neighbor of Cote d’Ivoire (RCI), Burkina Faso (BF), concerns Ivorians. As neighboring states, what happens in the BF bleeds into the RCI economically, politically and culturally. Those aware now track and mourn the slaughter of Christians. As this New York Times (NYT) article shares, even the president of the majority Malikite Sunni nation acknowledges the targeting of believers. As a consequence, extremists who desire centralized power make inroads in an effort to gain control of the nation and region despite contrarian claims. Access to the Gulf of Guinea is likely a long-term goal. Following ancient strategies, they can isolate influential populations in the RCI and Ghana which are the economic powerhouses of the region besides Nigeria. There has also been a less heralded yet persistent shift of power to those who believe God rules by Caliphate. Much is at stake in the 2020 presidential elections, in both the RCI and the United States, for similar reasons.

The Response

Instead of quaking in our boots as believers, or accepting a fatalistic outlook that nothing can be done, there is a ready Biblical and pro-active response. It counters any extremism that desires to centralize power. Organizations of federated republics like the U.S.A. demonstrate inculcated Judaeo-Christian values of collaborative governance. Geopolitical states in the region learn to help neighbors without asserting dominion. This is what needs reinforcement in word and deed. Note in the NYT article what happens in BF. It reveals what informed studies of Christian persecution in history confirm is a strategy: extremists torture or kill to eliminate the influence of Christian pastors. They know that eliminating Christian leadership hierarchies will usually cause their churches and their instructive influence on good governance to disappear. However, that strategy does not succeed where lay-people of the Church are the decisive believers who are fully equipped to lead others to live obediently in Christ. If congregants know how to lead worshipful Bible study, share the Gospel with nonbelievers, disciple new believers, coordinate weekly worship, and apply the truth of Scripture to every facet of life (spiritual, emotional, social, physical, and management of the earth), then, although grieved by the loss of others who lead, they will continuously live in truth. In the end, the church will expand, multiply new leadership, and not become extinct locally. This is why we have poured more than 20 years of the energy of our life together into training Ivorians. They learn decentralized means to plant churches in using Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) and engaging medically through Community Health Evangelism (CHE).

The Challenge

Thursday night, Debbie enjoyed a community celebration of Independence Day at Central Oaks in Royal Oak, MI, where Verlin grew in faith. Every year, the church allows the community to use the parking lot and lawn to view a fireworks display across the street. Church members hand out free water and popcorn and invite guests to a July Vacation Bible School (VBS). As we celebrate our nation’s unparalleled history of freedom and prosperity this week, remember that freedom in our future is never guaranteed by force. What we teach and do must develop and maintain it. Hence,  if believers do not learn to effectively interact lovingly while sharing our redemptive message of the Gospel with socialist, post-modern, and others who seem to espouse radical ideas, our nation(s) too will be overrun by policies of extremists who love centralized power but have no appreciation for the Christian faith. What grows and preserves the church in Africa is what guards prosperity and growth in America, though unseen by most. By our obedience, let us show God’s reign in freedom!

Prayer and Praise

  • Pray with us for the many Christians in our region and the world who suffer intense persecution, and at times death, for following and obeying King Jesus. Lift-up in prayers West African nations like Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
  • Give thanks that Debbie has arrived safely in Michigan.
  • Pray that American Christians will be pro-active in preserving our nation’s freedom, and reaching family, friends, and neighbors who have no concept of how following Christ truly delivers from slavery to sin.
Let freedom ring!
Verlin and Debbie


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