Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Turn to Preach

Back in Benin, several weeks ago, Leopold informed me one Saturday night that I would be preaching the next day. I could preach on whatever I wanted (there is no set text for the day in the church) and I could go for over an hour if I wanted. So, the qustion was: what to preach on.

Almost every sermon I heard in Benin seemed right in line with the Prosperity gospel. In Africa, it goes something like this: You need to be a better Christian. You need to pray harder, go to church more, stop stealing from that neighbor of yours, and give more money to the church. Once you do this, then and only then, will God make you sucessful. You will get a job, get a lot more money, and life will be good.

I didn't want to preach that, because I don't think that is the Gospel- it certainly isn't good news and I can't find that message in the Bible. So, instead, I went with love and grace. God loves us no matter what, and it is not our works that save us but it is God that saves us.

Karin translated from English to French, and a Benisese friend Bruno translated into the local language (Fon). Since this is the biggest city in Benin, not everyone is an ethnic Fon, but because it is a poorer neighborhood, not everyone speaks French (which is the language used in schools and businesses). With the translating, the sermon lasted a little over 30 minutes.

After I finished, Leopold decided to give a brief summary. He repeated the main message of God's never failing love and of God's free grace. But then he added how, if we were really Christians, we would stop sinning and God would love us more. And with that, the whole message I preached was lost.

Before I left I told them that the next time I was here, I would preach to them in French. They all clapped for that. I then told them that the next time Karin would translate the message into Fon. They stood and cheered for that. Good luck on learning Fon, Karin!



  1. Happy birthday from the States Ray! Hope it's a good one! Here's to you and Karin's safe return!


  2. Hey Ray....
    Finally am catching up on your adventures in Africa! What an interesting summer you and Karin are having. I really enjoy reading about the church experiences. Good on ya for sticking to grace : ) I'm preaching tomorrow at a small rural church--definitely a typical ELCIC service, nothing like you've been experiencing. I look forward to seeing you again--hopefully we can skype when you're back home. May God continue to watch over & bless you both. peace