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Our Abidjan Visit by Gilbert Kimeng
In November 2017, a team of 7, comprised of two evangelists and their wives, an elder, an administrator and an aspiring teacher embarked on a missionary trip to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire . The purpose of the visit was to return a visit by the leadership of the Abidjan Church earlier in the same year.
It must be said that their visit was very heartwarming and humbling for they said they came to learn from the Lagos Church. The Lagos leadership decided to also “retaliate”. They all came by road and in our case 3 of us traveled for two days to get to Abidjan while 4 others flew.
Those of us who went by road stopped over in Accra and met with the leadership of the Accra Church to foster communication and mainly shared updates from the last delegates meeting held in Chicago on the ICOC 3.0 initiative.
On arrival in Abidjan, the team experienced incredible warmth and hospitality from the disciples as they lodged and fed us with love and generosity. We insisted on also taking advantage of the trip not only to share our experiences but to also learn from the Church in Abidjan, with a membership of over 2000 disciples.
The next day after our arrival we met with the staff of the Abidjan Church during the day and later with their executive council. It was amazing to see how complementary the two church-building and leadership experiences were. This became even clearer when we met with their elders in training, the professional ministry, campus ministry, teens ministry, deaf & dumb ministry etc. While we could share from some of the mistakes made in raising the first set of elders in Lagos to help them avoid repeating the same, we had a lot to learn from their campus ministry, the professional ministry and especially the deaf and dumb ministry which is practically nonexistent in Lagos.
Deeper bonds were forged during these sessions and a combined service with the whole Church was held on Sunday during which members of the Lagos delegation shared the Lord’s Super message, the communion message, and the main message. The Call to grow in the understanding of God’s grace resonated with the entire Abidjan Church as the lead evangelist of the Lagos Church encouraged and challenged the assembly. The singing and dancing was memorable and deeply inspired the Lagos delegation. It must be said that the Abidjan Church has a good number of Nigerian disciples, many of whom have Ivorian spouses with the likes of our dear brother Paul Okolo among many others. The fellowship was deep and rich as we realize that the love we have in Christ has no barriers, not even language.
One of the most impacting meetings held on Sunday evening and lasted till close to midnight with the leadership group of the Church. Deep challenges facing the Abidjan staff and Church were discussed and suggestions or godly advice given by the Lagos delegation also based on past experiences.
One of the greatest takeaways is the deep bond of friendship in the Lord that was forged and deepened by the trip. The Lagos team will also cherish memories of times spent close to the beach in fellowship, a visit to the Grand Bassam Museum, shopping centers etc.
Our prayer is that such visits will continue to be organized both at a leadership level and also individual by disciples of both Churches.
Maybe some of us should think of planning a vacation trip to fellowship with our French speaking West African disciples and in the process also improve our language skills.
To God alone be the Glory!!!