In Lambarene Where God has opened wide the door to the Gospel
Short-Term Mission Team to Lambarene, Gabon
The way to Lambarene, a small city in the west, from Libreville the capital of Gabon! After driving for five hours on a rough road unpaved here and there, we arrived in the city and saw houses on both sides of the road and people walking in front of the houses. “Let’s preach the truth to as many people as possible. Let’s save even one more soul before we go back.” Everybody’s heart was burning with fervor.
Our short-term mission to Gabon, a distant country from Korea, was truly a worthwhile experience. The people in Lambarene loved the words of the Bible. We had thought they would be cautious about us, Asians, whom they were unfamiliar to, but most of them welcomed us, saying, “Come on in,” when we said we wanted to share the words of God. An elderly couple we met in a village called Abongo were the same. They listened to our preaching for about two hours. In the following four days, they continued studying the truth.
The elderly husband, whose name is Mathias, received the truth first and joyfully said, “I feel like I have freedom now.” We too were moved and overwhelmed. Just like Hezekiah removed all the idols from the temple as his spiritual eyes were opened after keeping the Passover, Mathias got rid of all the idols that filled his house with no hesitation. His wife and daughter were blessed to become God’s children, too.
We could clearly realize why God sent us to Gabon out of so many countries. It was because the heavenly family members were desperately waiting for the water of life there. In every house we went to, we met people who had never heard the truth of salvation, and when we were preaching the gospel at a house, the whole family and the neighbors gathered around us.
‘If there were Zion here, more people would be able to be free from spiritual thirst . . . .’
While we were preaching with all our heart though our French was poor, the short-term mission felt short.
When the new brothers and sisters found out that there was no place for worship yet, they were willing to offer their houses as a place to worship God. It was gracious to see how much they tried to serve God in good manners; they got dressed neatly and covered the tables with embroidered cloths. More brothers and sisters than expected came for the afternoon and evening services, so we had to get more chairs. Although it was a poor environment, we were thankful that we were with the heavenly family members in Africa.
One day, we visited someone who was supposed to meet us, but no one was at home. We tried to preach around his house, but it wasn’t easy to meet people. We finally met someone, but he refused to listen to the words of God, saying that he wasn’t Christian. Instead of feeling disappointed, we asked him if he knew where we could find Christians, and he pointed at a dense forest trail. It didn’t seem like there would be any houses.
The trail was narrow. It was wide just enough for one person. We walked for about five minutes. Amazingly enough, there was a small village at the end of the forest full of banana trees. We met a woman named Mireille at the first house. That day, we preached to her and her four children for hours.
The next day, we went to visit her again, but none of the brothers and sisters who went there was fluent in French, which made us struggle the whole time we were preaching to her. In the middle of the Bible study, we asked her, “Does our French make sense?” then she laughed out loud and said, “No. But I can still understand.” We were embarrassed, but the high language barrier could not stop our eagerness to save her soul.
“Would you like to receive Jesus’ new name?”
We asked her and she said, “Bien sûr (Of course)!”
Sister Mireille, who was eager to become God’s child, was reborn as a heavenly family member that day, and so did her other five family members, including her children and grandson. We were so excited to find our lost heavenly family members in the dense forest village in Africa that we couldn’t stop singing New Songs on the way back to our lodging.
We didn’t feel like going back to Korea, leaving all these precious brothers and sisters alone. Finishing our short-term preaching there, we returned to Libreville and extended our short-term mission to head back to Lambarene. The brothers and sisters, who had no idea that we were coming back, rejoiced to see us come back. We were strangers from Asia, whom they got to know only for two weeks, but they welcomed us, saying, “We thought of you every day. We missed you!” We could feel that we are truly the heavenly family members.
We visited the brothers and sisters diligently and shared the food of life. There was one sister we couldn’t stop thinking about. It was Sister Marva. After hearing the truth, she received a new life with great joy, but she told us that she would leave Abongo soon because of her family circumstances. When we went back there, there was no way to meet her. No one in the village knew where she went.
We were anxious about her, but then we happened to know the village she moved to and her aunt’s name. Making use of two hours of free time after lunch, we went out to find her. When we got to that village, we wandered about for quite a while, asking many people where to find her, and we were finally able to meet her at a riverside, where she came to wash her children.
We were elated to see her. Calming us down, she took us to her house. By her bed, she had the sermon book and the Bible that we gave her. “Look, I read the Bible and pray every day,” said the sister, showing us her veil. Then, we realized once again that God had sent us there because there were souls who were longing for the truth like her.
After finishing the meaningful second short-term mission, we went back to Libreville. On the Sabbath day, we were talking with Sister Marva on the phone when one of the sisters in Libreville Zion asked us where she lived. We told her that she used to live in Abongo in Lambarene. Then the sister was surprised and said, “She is my cousin!”
She thanked us with tears for delivering the good news of salvation to her; actually, she always felt bad for her cousin because she was having a harsh life after losing her parents when she was young. We shed tears with her, feeling so thankful to God for allowing us to find our lost heavenly family.
Through this short-term mission, we realized many things: how much joy we obtain if we follow God’s command to “preach in Samaria and to the ends of the earth,” what priceless blessings are prepared for us on the path we are to go, and how much love we receive though we are sinners who came to the earth after sinning. This short-term mission was like a spiritual compass that showed us in which direction we should go as the heavenly children.
Not forgetting the inspiration and realization we’ve received, we will run eastward and westward again because there are our brothers and sisters who are suffering from spiritual thirst without knowing the truth in other cities and countries. We eagerly hope that this path that God walked first will become a flowery path that guides us and all our heavenly family members to heaven.