Dan (and I) went to Bible college with a – back then – young man from Togo, Africa; his name is Kokou Loko. After graduating from college and seminary, Kokou went back to Togo to marry his faithful Christian bride, who had waited many years on him to finish his schooling and gain some financial support, and together they began a ministry in their homeland.
A few years ago (June of 2006, I think!), Kokou, his wife Yvette, and their 3 children came to America to check in with their mission board and visit supporting churches. We personally have supported them since we’ve been married, and so, this family came to visit us here in Middle-of-No-Where, Missouri. They spent a week with us – and me, being worried about their comfort, booked a hotel for them to stay in the first few days they were here. However, the hotel was booked for the rest of the week, and so, the family stayed at our home for a few days as well. How humbling to have them with us!!
Our house isn’t very big – and all we had to offer the family of 5 was one bedroom – children sleeping on the floor. When I kept going on about how badly I felt about that, they reminded me that in Togo that the bedroom they were staying in was about as big as some ENTIRE HOUSES in their homeland!
I wish I could scan the pictures for you of my children with the 3 missionary children, who dressed in their gorgeous, colorful African clothes to go to church with us on a Wednesday night! I am so thankful for the insight that we have into the lives of people who are doing the hard things to serve God – to go back to a land that has the highest poverty rate in the world – when there were plenty of ministry opportunities for them right here in comfortable America, “land of endless McDonald’s” as Kokou joked to us!
Just today I got an update from Kokou. He’s recently returned to Togo after a trip to the United States to pack up some containers for his country of medical supplies and a vehicle for their ministry. I can’t imagine the hardships they have already gone through to get their stuff!! And yet, they remain faithful. This letter has given me so much perspective tonight about WHY we do what we do. We are here, not for our own comfort or purposes – but for God’s glory.
We would like to give you an update on us and our ministry. Our family is healthy and the ministry is fine. Yesterday we had a great Pentecost-Sunday and 5 first time guests responded to the invitation to accept Christ.
First, here is a quick update on both containers. The last container that sailed did not make it on time and is scheduled to arrive today, June 13th. The first one arrived since May 13th but it was with a lot of headaches that we finally get it out of the port on Saturday, June 4th. Two main problems: Our port is over crowded and over its capacity because of the unrest in Ivory Coast that added more customs from inland countries to our list and thus everything is slow. The second reason is that the French company that is currently is charge of our port is determined to suck every blood out of our veins. The customs value that our customs officials asked me to pay on all the items (hospital beds, equipment…) was only $375 and I could say that they honored their tax exemption promise. However, you would be sick and outraged to learn that we paid an additional $2272 just for paper work (a lot) and things that made no sense and sad to say that company has our government’s full blessing. The vehicle that we purchased last May is still at the port due to excessive taxation. A Canadian company is currently running and setting up taxes on used vehicles for our government and both seem to be really enjoying the ride. Prior to that company arriving in Togo a few months ago from Benin where it was let go we would have paid less than $2000 for taxes on the used vehicle that we purchased. Now we are asked to pay $5681 and it is not negotiable – no bargain! And two weeks ago the gas price went up again… Last year Togo was classified and admitted into the “poorest and most indebted countries in the world”. Socially, economically and politically Togo has hit the bottom and misery and human suffering are unparalleled and the ministry is becoming more difficult because many people are discouraged and many have questions…
Second, we did take down our rusty radio tower in May because it became too dangerous. We all, including our listeners are impatiently waiting for the second container that has the new radio tower to arrive. In addition to radio studios that should be air-conditioned, our government is requiring an Audio Processor and we never owned one and that is a must have in order to pass their technical inspection. We need one, please.
Finally but not the least, we want to share a few things about our 2011 summer ministries. On the agenda we plan to break the ground for our long prayed for hospital project. I am assuming that we all understand what a powerful evangelistic tool a hospital could be in a Third World country like Togo and we should make no mistake about that. However, the main thing that we all should be praying for is how God might use and involve each one of us in this big ministry. After much thought I am convinced that at this stage of the project we could all do something. We could all invest our Change (coins) into that ministry and let’s call that: “Change For Change” (CFC). That way any church or any one who wishes to see this ministry come to fruition could donate or collect CHANGE toward CHANGING lives for Christ in Togo. Children and young people would do great collecting coins for this great ministry.
The ground breaking ceremony will be held on Sunday, July 17 as an “evangelistic service”. Because a lot of people in the area are afraid to come to church for fear to be killed by their voodoos the ground breaking event will be used to attract and then present the gospel to many. Our goal is to have at least 500 unsaved people come. A first Team from MS should be arriving in Togo on Saturday July 16th and should be ministering during the ground breaking service and start building a warehouse on Monday. A second team will be arriving in Togo on July 23rd and some will be conducting medical clinics in five locations and some, VBS at 2 locations. Please, pray earnestly for travel mercies and safety for our friends. Also, pray that we might see many souls saved through their ministries because that is the only reason behind everything that we do. And please, do not forget to pray and collect many coins for the July 17th hospital ground breaking service.
Alongside with many thanks,
Kokou Loko & family
Evangelism Missions, Inc. – P.O. Drawer 550 – Thorsby, AL