Coming Full Circle
By Elizabeth Hodges
WNAC began in 1935 with a burden and a passion for reaching the lost.
This passion continues today. The prayer and financial support of Free Will Baptist women is crucial for our missionaries,
and Free Will Baptist women do their part well. Often, we hear “full-circle stories” in relation to Operation Christmas Child
shoeboxes. These excite and thrill us, when we have opportunity to see the “other side” of our contribution.
How much more exciting to hear one such story from Free Will Baptist missions!
In 1966, Free Will Baptist missionaries went to France to share the gospel in a country where little evangelical work existed. For more than 50 years, Free Will Baptists have been faithful to pray, give, and go to this hard place where harvests do not come quickly, but God’s timing is always perfect. Let me explain.
During their time in France, missionaries Jerry and Barb Gibbs were able to reach the LeLouarn family. Today, two of their five children—Lydie (now Teague) and Myriam—serve with Free Will Baptist International Missions as missionaries to their own country.
Several months ago, I received a Facebook message from Lydie (pictured below with her family). She serves in France in the JPense ministry, along with her second-generation missionary husband Joel (son of Dennis and Carol Teague). Their ministry is geared to 18- to 25-year-olds searching for…something. They answer their hard questions, first individually, and then more in-depth in small group discussions. Lydie has been very involved in the translation of the discipleship materials used for this small group ministry. Imagine my excitement as I read the following message from Lydie, and a full-circle story unfolded before my eyes.
How are you? I’m writing to you concerning our brothers and sisters in Ivory Coast. Why would a French girl need to talk about Ivory Coast?
About nine months ago, I met a Free Will Baptist man from Ivory Coast at Robert Bryan’s house in France. I gave him some of the discussion books we use in the JPense ministry that have been translated into French. And a week ago, I met this man’s pastor at a missionary retreat. He told me they were excited to start a new ministry among college students in Abidjan who have many questions about Christianity. He told me they needed ten books of each of the seven books we have translated, along with ten leader’s guides. This represents 80 books in total, so a cost of $742.
Our new French believers and JPense team would love to help pay for them to have the books. But I don’t think it will be enough. So, I was wondering if WNAC would want to be a part of launching this new ministry in Abidjan, or if you knew someone who would. I’m very excited about that, because I’ve never seen people coming to the Lord as much as when I used those discussion books in France!
Thank you already for reading me. Here is a picture of one of the books. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions.
God bless you, Lydie
Yes…Yes…and YES! WNAC is thrilled to partner in this effort. We are so appreciative to be part of this opportunity. I am grateful Lydie asked, and my heart rejoiced on many levels.
I am thankful for the many faithful servants who answered God’s call to carry His gospel to Ivory Coast and France. Today, long after those missionaries left Africa, the work continues to thrive under national leadership. Deep friendships were forged and continue to bear fruit, while former missionaries to Africa continue serving faithfully in France. Only God could orchestrate the events that followed:
First, an Ivorian believer visits those former missionaries to Africa—Robert and Judy Bryan—and learns of the Teagues’ discipleship materials for college-age students who have questions concerning Christianity. He understands how effective those materials could be in Abidjan among the many university students there.
Second, the man's pastor and the Teagues are in the U.S. at the same time, attending an International Missions retreat. Another connection is made in this story. Pastor Silas is excited about starting a JPense-styled ministry in Abidjan.
Third, God burdens Lydie’s heart for the new believers in France to help jumpstart this ministry among Ivorian seekers. They just need a little help. So, she turns to WNAC.
Fourth? Due to the faithfulness of the women of WNAC, the funds were available, and the books have been purchased. It will be thrilling to watch this ministry develop among the Ivorian young people. Will you pray for those leading this effort? Will you pray for Lydie and Joel as they mentor and encourage Ivorians through their ministry. Will you pray for souls of the Ivorian students whose eternity may be changed? Will you help us continue to bring this story full circle?
Thank You, Father, for the opportunity to help encourage French believers in France and Côte d’Ivoire. Thank you for faithful women who give sacrificially so needs can be met. May the ministry in Abidjan yield eternal results in such a way that only You can receive the honor and glory. Amen
About the Writer: Elizabeth Hodges is director of Women Nationally Active for Christ. Read more: www.WNAC.org.