In God's strategy of things, it is more often the simple things that confound the wise.
Benin, a nation of less than 9 million people is a fertile valley, Geographically shaped like a key, it is less than 300 kilometers from one end to the other. Yet, it is situated adjacent to the most populated nation in Africa, one struggling to produce sufficient crops for its own very fast-growing population.
Its capital city, Cotonou, is a major port for the entire West African region. As such, it supplies wholesale goods to the surrounding nations. Its market, which also serves numerous surrounding nations, is the largest in West Africa with revenues averaging $12 million (US) daily. Benin's sidewalk economy has been estimated by some to be as much as 67% of GDP. This compares with 27% for Vietnam's significant sidewalk economy.
Despite cultural roots of darkness that plague all West Africa, the last two presidents have been committed Christians, intent on establishing righteous standards in otherwise deep-seated infrastructures of corruption.
With this brief snapshot of Benin, each situation we ministered in, emerging opportunity has been the byword. God's people are truly reaching for that dimension that only God can bring. Each place we went, we experienced fervent prayer and serious commitment.
Our first workshop was one of the most remarkable that we have ever had. Those attending were leaders, some from high levels in business, government and Beninese society. Some we believe are destined to serve in the highest levels of this nation. This group was comprised of an array of genuinely called Josephs and Daniels, poised and prepared for the message of God's economy.
From the beginning, each reflected the heart-cry of the Macedonian call with their hunger and grasp of our message, God's strategy for change. Their response was to mobilize this strategy to support one another and nurture the callings of the other members..
We next went to a very poor section of the city for a special evening with a group of committed Christian entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs. The Macedonian callwas evident there as well. We navigated dirt roads with deep, water-filled chuck-holes getting to their church. Their hunger for the God's economy message pulled hard, as we ministered late. The anointing of the very seasoned pastor overseeing them grasped the importance of the strategic nature of the entrepreneurial. His prayer that wrapped things up spiritually shook the rafters as these brethren reached hard for that dimension of "something more" as community builders and people of influence.
That spiritual searching is also reflected in Benin's strong Muslim population. One of the groups we ministered to was led by one of the active Christian leaders who attended our first workshop. They were a group of young people aged 17 to 35, desiring to become people who make a positive difference in their community and nation. They included a mix between Christians, Muslims and those whose spiritual roots were still tied to superstitions and occult ways of the past.
I spoke to them about something they all wanted: success and leadership. However, what I shared was success and leadership as has been outlined in the Bible. I told them about the people of the Bible who influenced, but survived all the civilizations that have come and gone over the centuries because of God paving an enduring pathway for those who would put their trust in Him. The response was mixed, from those who were skeptical, to those who were curious, to the ones who shouted with joy at the hope it reflected.
The Macedonian call was also reflected by those who arranged our second workshop. It was done for a bishop of a network of churches. Upon conclusion of the workshop, hehad a video made of testimonies of those who attended. This pioneer for the Kingdom in his nation attended the entire two-day workshop. He began his own video-testimony with the words: "We have had a visitation."
There was more, a lot more. Yet, the bottom line of what I'm describing is a people poised and prepared to accept their assignment from God, as a people. Cultures that have their foundations in the occult understand the reality of God's power. They likewise understand the realities they face. While poverty is systemic, evil is at its core.
In the final church service where we ministered, the pastor expounded on my message by telling the congregation of the need to change their way of responding to the realities. He noted that in Ghana, to be a pastor, you have to support yourself in business. His observation was that too many African Christians try to extract themselves from poverty by going into ministry. His point was the need for the entrepreneurial to be foundational to the Christian community for us to be the light and example to those around us.
So it is that within cultures that have been assailed by Babylon and Chaldea, there is now arising a remnant that God is using strategically in these times. We have an extensive track record within Africa. The long-time struggle for the soul of this incredible spiritually- and resource-potent continent is now experiencing a turning.
Our time in Benin has been something of a crossroads, in terms of the turning underway not only for Africa, but globally, with steps of restoration being evidenced as God reestablishes His order in His creation.
I have long had the perception that God intends to strategically mobilize and connect those in Asia persecuted for their faith with the brethren I've been describing in Africa. This connection will serve Isaiah 60 restoration purposes tied to God's set-times for His covenant people Israel. I believe we are at that juncture of turning.
It goes back to the simple things. Over the centuries God has mobilized the most unlikely of His people, to execute the most unlikely strategies, to bring about the most unlikely change. It's now happening at an incredible level for the generation taking the helm. Thank you for praying for our role in preparing these key members of the Body for their timely mantles.