As Yefunde bent over her shovel, turning the soil around each mound of yams, she thought about her three daughters who were walking to school with their friends. If only it wasn’t such a long walk into town, but what choice did they have? There was no school bus to pick them up. Hardly anyone had a car in their village, so everyone walked wherever they needed to go. The farming community where they lived was at the edge of the city of Parakou in the central part of Benin. There simply wasn’t another school that was closer.
Jibade was sharpening a farm tool when he heard the wail of an ambulance pass by. “Dear God,” he prayed, “please let my children be OK. The youngest ones are so little! Please help all five of them get to school safely today.” Parents worried whenever they heard sirens, knowing that heavy traffic made the road very dangerous.
The road into Parakou was in good condition, but it was always crowded and busy. Cross-country trucks roared by, scarcely leaving room for motorbikes, buses, and cars. Pedestrians, including the children who walked to school, had to share the highway with all the traffic. They had to be alert at all times, taking great care to squeeze over to the very edge of the road whenever they heard a vehicle approaching. At the end of the day mothers and fathers would watch as the children walked down the path from the busy road, sighing with relief when each child was accounted for.
Nearly all of the adults worked in the fields every day. Mothers often toiled with a baby tied to their backs. After school, the older brothers and sisters would give them a break by carrying the babies or tending to the younger children as their mothers did their chores.
The village chief and the members of the tribal council discussed the school situation many times over the years. They were concerned about the safety of the children, but they also understood the importance of a good education.
Then the chief had an idea that he shared with the councilmen. He owned quite a bit of land. What if he were to donate some of the land to an organization that would build a new school on the property? They wouldn’t have to walk so far on the busy highway. Their children would have a chance to get a good education closer to home. With a school close by, there would be a greater chance that the children would finish their education and have better job opportunities in the future. But where could they find someone to build a school? Whom could they trust? They didn’t know that God was already at work.
Currently, there is not even one Seventh-day Adventist school in the entire country of Benin. As church administrators were looking for just the right place to build the first Adventist school in this country, they felt impressed to look at the area around Parakou. And guess where God led them? To the beautiful, lush property that the village chief had donated!
The chief and the council members, along with all of the people in the village, are thrilled that a new school will be built on this land. They know that this will be a Christian school, and they look forward to welcoming Adventist teachers who will help their children get a good education.
A well has already been dug on the property. Work has begun on the first six classrooms, with another six to follow as soon as possible. Future plans call for a clinic on this choice piece of land. The chief and the villagers are eager for the school to be completed.
The Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in first quarter 2014 will help to fund the first Seventh-day Adventist school in the country of Benin. Thanks to your mission offerings and the work that Global Mission pioneers have already done, this historic project will be a blessing in this village.
Simon Djossou is the pastor of the Adventist church in Parakou. The church, started by a Global Mission pioneer, has grown rapidly in just a few years. Pastor Djossou has befriended the village chief and councilmen as plans develop for the new school.
Thanks to your support, Global Mission pioneers are able to start new groups of Adventist believers, such as the growing church in Parakou, all around the world. To learn more about Global Mission, please visit www.global-mission.org.
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Centers of influence are currently being established in cities around the world.
I had been in the Philippines as a volunteer for five months and had been praying for extra ways to help out in the seaside village of Pagudpud.