ST. LOUIS – Canaan Baptist Church here sent a four-person mission team across the world, Jan. 19-Feb. 2, to proclaim God’s Word among an unreached, unengaged people group in West Africa.
According to Canaan Baptist pastor Daniel Carr, the recent mission team went to West Africa with the express purpose of sharing the gospel.
“We’re not there to build buildings. We’re not there to help out with humanitarian relief. We’re there to share the gospel,” Carr said, explaining that such efforts would prevent the unreached people group, for cultural reasons, from taking their message seriously.
“It was a powerful trip,” he added. “We saw some deep hunger manifest for truth among some of these villagers. We saw a lot of spiritual warfare, as well.”
Jim Breeden agreed. As Director of Missions for the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, he traveled to West Africa as a member of the mission team. In a testimony about the trip, he wrote that the trip reminded him of “the highs and lows of missions.”
“During our two weeks in West Africa, one of our assignments was to follow up on some work a previous team from Canaan had done,” Breeden wrote. He explained that the previous group had left in one village a “proclaimer” – that is, a solar-powered black box that played an audio version of the New Testament in the people group’s heart language. These proclaimers, Carr said, were provided by “Faith Comes By Hearing” (www.fcbh.org), a ministry with audio Bibles in nearly 800 languages.
The mission team’s excitement was soon quelled, however, when villagers returned the proclaimer to the mission team, at the behest of the local Imam. So the team left that family compound and went to another. They took the proclaimer with them, having heard that some people in the new family compound were interested in hearing God’s Word.
“We had a very good and long visit, finding out that a young shepherd man was interested. And while we visited that day, he listened to the first eight chapters of Matthew,” Breeden recounted. “As he listened, with a smile he said, ‘This makes my body run,’ which, our translator shared, meant in our language, ‘His blood is pumping.’ He really liked what he was hearing. We were delighted, but wanted to get permission from the Imam whom we had visited with earlier that had given the proclaimer back. We went back and visited with the Imam, and he said, yes, we could leave the proclaimer with the young man. The young man was as delighted as us to receive the proclaimer.
“After taking some pictures, we promised to return a week later and touch base. It was a week of prayer and excitement waiting to see how the young man was responding to the Word of God. He had shared with us that he would take it with him as he went out to shepherd the cattle. We were so hopeful and delighted to see someone so hungry for the Scriptures. We returned, as promised, a week later to find a completely different reception and response than our first visit. As we entered the compound it was clear we were not welcome and something had changed. When we did get to visit with someone they quickly gave us the proclaimer back, and we knew they did not want us to stay. The most disappointing thing was that the young man was nowhere to be found, Breeden said.
“We gave the oldest gentleman some pictures we had promised and exited their compound. We went from high excitement and anticipation to low discouragement and confusion. Then someone asked to listen to the proclaimer. It was in the middle of Acts. That means the young man had listened to nearly five books of the Bible. We rejoiced on the promise that God’s Word does not return void.”
Canaan Baptist has returned to West Africa nearly half-a-dozen times. According to Rick Hedger, missional evangelism/discipleship team leader at the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), the church is devoted to making disciples around the world.
“Canaan Baptist Church is a great Partnership Missions local church,” Hedger said. “God has guided them to strategically participate in three of the MBC Partnerships: Western Gateway Cluster of West Africa; Puebla, Mexico; and Iowa. Pastor Daniel Carr and his staff understand the aspects of sacrifice, commitment and spiritual warfare when you follow Jesus on mission. They do things well and would be a great resource for other MBC churches choosing to form partnerships through our MBC Partnership Missions.”