We climbed into wooden canoes on the Oti River. We pushed off and our guides paddled us to the other side. We landed and stepped into Togo.
We hiked up the rocky river bank to the dirt road and hid from the hot sun under a small building with a thatched roof, eagerly waiting for our ride to arrive. We had already visited several churches in Ghana, but we could not have imagined what would happen next.
Our rides eventually drove up. There was a motor king—a large motorized tricycle with a bed in the back—and a handful of motorbikes. We climbed onto the vehicles and set off for the churches. (Just so you know, the motor king sputtered under the weight of six Americans!)
We arrived at the first village church. They were singing and dancing as we walked in. Joy filled the room. We worshiped with them, gave our greetings, preached, and then set off for the next church.
That drive was much more eventful. The scenery became more and more rural, the homes less and less developed, and the sky darker and darker as we journeyed towards our destination. It slowly started to rain and then it began to pour. We had no protection from the rain, so I pulled my rain jacked from my bag and tried to put it on. However, the wind blew it out of my hands and it glided onto the muddy road. One of our drivers retrieved it for me, but it was too late. We were all soaked by the time we arrived at the next church. Austin Ganyo, one of our missionaries in Ghana, called it the “authentic African experience.”
The next church service took place in a very humble building made of mud with a thin metal roof in a town with no electricity. We danced a tribal dance and, once again, worshiped, gave our greetings, and preached. However, something different happened next. The pastor said, “The church has a gift for you.” A group of men walked outside and then reemerged with a ram in hand. They presented the ram to us.
The poorest church had given us the greatest gift.
We were humbled and shocked by their generosity. This ram was a huge sacrifice in such a poor community. The gesture reminded us of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 8:2: “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”
I hope and pray that I can live with that kind of generosity.
Many amazing things happened during our mission trip to West Africa, but our trip to Togo was by far our favorite part of the trip.