If you were at our last congregational meeting, you will remember that I introduced a woman from our congregation who is a true hero of faith: Hawa Lendein. Let me remind you of some of what I shared then so that I can tell you about the truly amazing developments in this ongoing story.
Hawa became a Christian in Bettesu Village, Liberia, where she lived with her husband. She was the first convert to Christianity there and was outspoken in her faith. As a result, she was jailed by the village elders for several months, and later she and her husband were brutally beaten by a mob that broke into their home at night. (Her son John, also a Bethel member, then only three years old, hid under the bed during this ordeal). When civil war broke out in Liberia, Hawa’s husband was killed in a “random” act of violence that may have, in fact, been revenge for his boldness in sharing his faith.
At our congregational meeting John Lendein shared that he was committed to blessing the village that had mistreated his parents. A few years ago he funded repairs to the church building his mother and father had built when they lived in the village. He announced that he is now committed to building a school for the children in Bettesu village so they will not have to walk two hours on dangerous roads each day to get to their education. I informed the congregation that John welcomed donations toward the project, but any gift toward the project would be a truly sacrificial gift, because no charitable tax receipts could be issued.
So that is the recap, now let me tell you the latest news in this exciting story. Donations from Bethel members have come in steadily. The declining value of the Canadian dollar has taken a bite out of the spending power of these gifts, but John estimates that with another $15,000, it will be possible to complete construction and furnish the school so that it will be student-ready. The building’s foundation has been built and already the side walls have been erected. (You can see pictures of the building’s progress at http://www.discoverbethel.com/bettesu-village.html.)
But that is not the end of the story or even the best news. The real news is that this project has profoundly affected the people of the village. They have been overwhelmed by the forgiveness extended by the Lendein family in return for the ill-treatment they received. Because of the Lindein’s forgiveness and the generosity shown in building the school (made possible in large part through the support of the Bethel community) it has caused the village people to feel deep shame for their former behavior. They have repeatedly, by phone, asked that Hawa forgive them. While she has sincerely done so, they are still hopeful she can one day come to the village to hear their apology in person.
God’s Spirit is moving powerfully in the world, and He is using Bethel members. We pray that this “miracle in the making” will result in deep praise to God with many coming to receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. You may still help in this project. If you feel so led, please contact John directly.–Pastor Tom
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