Deborah Jones - West Africa - Glen Valley, California - September 13, 1989

I feel overwhelmed at this great and unexpected privilege, as most of our privileges are. First of all I would like to bring you greetings from West Africa. We hope you will pray for us and for them. Prayer gives hope and God's work is only accomplished by prayer.


After returning from Africa, many people have asked me, "Did you see lions in Africa?" Yes, I saw lots of lions in Africa! "Did you see tigers in Africa?" Yes, I saw tigers in Africa! "Did you see monkeys in Africa?" Yes, lots of monkeys in Africa. "And did you see elephants in Africa?" Oh, yes, lots of elephants in Africa. "And did you see snakes there?" Yes, I saw lots of them. "Did you get close to them?" Oh yes, pretty close to them! "Were you afraid of them?" No, they were in cages and I was outside!


God has a place for all of us. We need to find our place, know our place, and keep our place. Even in creation, things were put in their place. Before God worked, everything was everywhere, not a good order. Then God made man and put them in their place. One day, God took a walk to Adam and Eve's place, but they weren't home. They were not in their place, they were not where God had put them. They were hiding!  I used to think we children thought up the game of hide and seek, but here in the very beginning of the Bible, Adam and Eve were hiding, and God sought them out! Sin comes, we hide, but God seeks and hope comes. A life is sacrificed and hope restored.


Well, if I am to give my testimony, it must start from the beginning. My mother was part of a big family. At age 17, she went to live with her sisters in the City. Her parents thought it best, rather than a country school. It was there she met my father. I came along. They were not married. It was a shameful thing, a scandal! They decided to hide it from the family, so they said, "Let's just give this child in adoption. No one will ever know." My father would continue his education and Mother would just go away somewhere else. I had been adopted out one year when somehow, my grandfather heard that his youngest daughter had a baby and had given it away. He was furious and said, "I will never stand to see the day when my flesh and blood will be adopted. I will repay. I will redeem." Somehow, he found those people and he explained the situation and they said, "We understand; if we had a daughter and that happened, we'd feel the same and we'd want to do the same." So a price was paid, a high price, and I was returned to the JONES family. They were a God-fearing family. My mother found out, and was outraged because her mistake was brought to light.


My grandparents read the Bible and searched and I sat with them and walked with them and would say, "Grand-daddy, who made the birds and the flowers?" He'd say, "God made the birds and the flowers." I said, "God must be wonderful if He did all that." He said, "Yes, and He made you!" We sang a lot of church songs and I'd say, "Granddaddy, tell me more about God." And he'd tell me all he could. At age 3, I had many lonely moments and Granddaddy would tell me, "If you cling to God, He'll be a Father to you, and a mother to you and a sister to you and one day we will leave but He'll see you through!


My grandfather stopped going to church then, but Grandmother still went. Grandfather would say, "After so many disappointments, Doll, we're still lost. Why can't we serve God as in Bible days?" The preacher would tell him, "Times have changed." Granddaddy would say then, "Why does the Bible say, 'God doesn't change, Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever?' There must be a people and a God and a Ministry like Jesus. I pray God I find it before I die!" They were very religious, yet very worldly. They used to have lots of parties! Oh, I hated those parties. I hated them with a passion!


They decorated the house and polished everything and invited lots of people. They always started out nice but somehow they always ended up wrong. Someone always got drunk, and lots of crying. I thought if I have to grow up and be an adult like this, I want to die! Grandfather would say, "You always look for it (the Truth), someday you will find it."


Then the day came! I was 5 years old and 2 sisters came. My aunts questioned them and they said, "I think this is what Papa has been telling us about. Call all the family." I sat on my grandfather's knees, and with 8 of his children, listened to those sisters speak. For the first time I saw my grandfather cry! I looked up at him and said, "Why are you crying?" He said, "Shhhh." When the meeting was over, he said, "I've looked for this 40 years and now it's come! I'd be less than a man if I don't accept it." It was the end of the mission year and those sisters hadn't had any interest! At the end of the first meeting, my grandfather stood and accepted the Truth. They stayed one month!  Twenty-two of our family professed.


It was the most glorious thing that ever happened in our family! I don't remember any of the sermons, but I remember the great changes that came, no more parties, but peace! No more of the old life, but blissful peace! Gandfather's uncles came. They embraced them and welcomed them in, but he said, "You must leave your cigarettes and wine outside." They protested and said, "But we're your flesh and blood!" But Grandfather said, "I'm no longer trying to please flesh and blood." They soon stopped coming to visit us. But God brought us into a Fellowship of decent people, the most wonderful of all!


I knew their choice wasn't my choice. You know, I had a dream! I dreamed all the people in the meeting were going up a ladder. At the bottom were flames and I was at the bottom in the flames. The devil was there and holding my hand and said, "Don't worry, little girl, I'll take care of you." And that's just what I didn't want! Now the oldest of these 2 sister workers was the most kind person, really sweet, yet she could be the most frightening you could ever want to meet, I thought, "I'll just go to their room and tell them what is on my heart." She looked at me and said, "Now you look very thoughtful. Is something trubblin' you? Tell me now, what is it?" I thought I'd faint! And I thought, "0 Lord (Lawd) why did I ever (evah) come in here?" I told her that I wanted to make my choice. She said, "Ay, that's not child's play! You can't pray and you can't read!" I said, "I know I can't read, but Granddaddy can read and as he reads, God's will speak to me." She said, "Do you know how to pray?" She took me by the shoulders and shook me and said, "Will you learn to read?" "Yes, Ma'am!" "Will you learn to pray?" "Yes, Ma'am!" "Will you learn how to write?" "Yes, Ma'am!" (Because if you're professing you know you have to write to the workers!) Oh, my grandparents could read! They READ, AND READ, AND READ, AND READ! But then Grandfather started going blind and when he couldn't read anymore, I could read for him. I became his eyes like he used to be mine.


Then the workers would ask us children, "What are you going to do when you grow up?" They all answered in turn, "Have a home, room for the workers!" Meeting in the home, etc. When it came my turn, (I was last), I thought, "When I grow up these 2 workers will be dead and gone and who'll fill up all these homes? I'll be the worker!" Grandfather always taught me when you make a promise you must keep it. One day a little friend of mine loaned me her doll, to play with, just for that day, and take it back that night. So I played with Ethel's doll all day and then night came. Grandfather said, "Did she give you that doll?" No, I promised to take it back tonight. "Well, are you taking it back?" Oh, it's pretty dark now. Maybe tomorrow would be okay. "No," Grandfather said, "If you ever make a promise, you must keep it." A man is only as good as his promise. I thought, "Oh, oh, how stupid. I shouldn't have promised." So I had to take it back all by myself (Oh, I think Grandfather was somewhere there in the dark, following me. But he made me go.)


When I was 13, Auntie sent me to the store to get some bread and I was thinking, "How dumb of me to say I'd be a worker. I wanted to be everything!" But I knew God was listening and He'd heard what I'd promised. I got the bread and on the way home I saw an accident, 3 children, one about my size, and a lady crying. And there was blood, and the police asked, "Is there anyone here who can speak French?" It was true, there were sounds coming out of her mouth I couldn't understand! It was like someone saying, "Now you see?" And I said, "Dear Lord, now I know it was not dumb of me to say, 'One day, I'll be a worker. One day, I'll be a French worker!' There must be many more like this lady who needs help, and how will they be helped if no one goes?" I was 9 then.


When I was 10, Grandfather died. I was sorry, yet I was glad. He was a wonderful man and I thought, "God must have loved him as much as we did, so He wanted to enjoy him as much as we did!" Then at school they announced, "Next week a lady is coming, and will teach you FRENCH!" I'd forgotten all about my promise 2 years before. I'd promised I'd be a French worker! And I remembered my grandfather saying, "He'll make a way where there is not a way." I was the only child in school that liked that course!


One time my mother came and wanted me to stay home from meeting to see her. She said it would prove I loved her! I told her, "When I needed you, you weren't there." But God has been good to me.


I was 20 when I went in the work, 23 when I went to the French West Indies (Martinique and Guadaloupe). Then later to French West Africa. I would say to you parents don't be ashamed to tell your children about God. This is a wonderful family. We appreciate God's people. We need you. There are many wonderful promises God has given. This is a wonderful Family. In 1986, I was with Beverley Thompson. Mother was very low, and then the message came. She was gone! I was asked if I wanted to go home for the funeral. I said, "No, she didn't care for me in life, why should I cross the sea to stand beside a corpse?" That night we weren't sleeping. Beverly whispered, "Are you crying?" I said, "There is a little girl inside of me that is crying because of the love of a mother she never knew." At times like this we appreciate more than ever, God's care, the wonderful care of God! His provision is so great, whatever your situation.


Deborah Jones, who labored in West Africa, shared with us the story of a man named Denis (pronounced Denny) from Benin. Denis worked as a carpenter at the docks, but he had another "profession" for which he was far better known. Denis was a sorcerer - a witchdoctor. Out of all Africa, Denis' country is the strongest in witchcraft, his city the capital of witchcraft, and Denis was the greatest of the sorcerers. When Denis was born a midwife was present; later the witchdoctor came to see the baby and "bless" it. At this time, it was proclaimed that this child was destined to become a witchdoctor. Traditionally, this is the right of the midwife and witchdoctor, the parents having no say in the matter. It is then the parents' duty to take their little boy or girl at age 3 or 4 to the witchdoctors' convent, where they are raised until their teens by the witches and witchdoctors and trained in all the secrets of sorcery and Black magic.


As a great witchdoctor, Denis was feared of everyone...everyone, he noticed, but three men he worked with. These men would eat lunch together, then read their Bibles together. One day, Denis approached them and asked what they were doing. "We're reading the Book of God." "God? You mean there is another god beside the ones we worship?" "Yes. The Almighty God." "Oh. Tell me about him." "We won't tell you about Him, but you can come to meetings like we go to and learn about Him."


The following Sunday evening, the sister workers noticed a little man sitting in the back row of benches in the open courtyard where gospel meetings were held. He sat bowed over, his head down. and immediately after meeting, he left. Two days later, this man appeared at their bach with an interpreter. "I was at your meeting Sunday night." "Yes, we noticed you. We're sorry that we didn't get a chance to greet you." Then Denis said, "In this meeting, I felt a power greater than any power I've ever felt before..greater than any power I possess. As I sat there, I felt myself become smaller and smaller, until I realized I was nobody and had nothing." He told how after the meeting he went to the home where he lived alone, having sent his wife and children away, ("They're no good"). He went to the room where he kept all his idols and grigri (charms), carried the grigri outside and started burning them. This attracted a crowd of neighbors, who begged him not to destroy them. "Papa, papa, don't do that. Give it to me." "No. If it's not good for me, it's not good for you." Next he took all the idols outside and broke them to bits. "And they didn't even cry out. They are dead." Now he had only one grigri left in his room, a special one used only by witchdoctors, a vial of poisons so deadly that they can be touched in only one spot. Handled any other way, the person will die. He as a witchdoctor was trained in the way it was to be handled. Very carefully, he picked it up and carried it outside to a nearby stream with the people following, (no one asked for that one). He dropped it into the stream and watched it vanish.


"And now, my sisters, I have a problem. When the other witch doctors find out what I've done, they will kill me. I have gotten rid of all my powers; I'm no longer a witchdoctor. I need the power of the Almighty God. Tell me what to do." "You said in that meeting you felt a greater power than you'd ever known." "Yes." "If you come to shelter under the power of that God, you have nothing to fear. It is a power greater than any you possessed and you were greater than the other witchdoctors." "Yes!!" And with that, he went away.


A couple of days later, Denis appeared at the bach again. "My sisters, I have a problem. In this meeting, I saw many beautiful women. I want one of them." (Deborah said that the West African way is very direct: you want something and you go after it.) They asked him again about his wife and children. "Yes.. but they are no good. I sent them away." Then they told him, "In the meeting, we teach about the Almighty God. That God has a book, and we teach from that book. In that book, it talks about forgiveness and reconciliation. Could you find it in your heart to forgive your wife for whatever it is that caused you to send her away? Could you call her back home and be reconciled with her? It might be she will want to come to these meetings too." "Oh, yes." Again he went away satisfied.. and the next Sunday night, there he came to meeting with his wife and six children.


After a few months of meetings, Denis made his choice. Some time after that, his wife came to the sisters' bach and told them she wanted to make hers. Afraid she would profess just because her husband had, or because he had commanded her to do so, they questioned her. "Why do you want to make your choice? What will it benefit you?" She told them how her husband had sent her and the children away to her home village; when he sent a message to return to him, she didn't want to. She knew what a violent man he was and they all feared him. He had beat her and beat the children. (When an African man beats his wife, he ties her hand and foot with cords, kicks her to the ground, then beats with a whip until blood runs, the woman screaming and begging for mercy. Eventually someone hears and comes to intercede to her husband. "He has paid the price. You are his. You must go." So she returned. To her surprise, when she reached the house the front yard was swept..a woman's job. It was quiet. Denis came to the door and instead of slapping her or screaming curses at her, he quietly asked her to come in. Inside the house, he pulled out a chair and asked her to sit down. Usually an African man sits and the woman serve him. Then he asked her and the children to go to the idol room. This room was always locked, everyone but Denis forbidden access to it. She didn't know what they'd find, perhaps he meant to sacrifice them. When they entered the room, to her surprise, it was empty! "Now..come and I will tell you what has happened to me." Denis invited. He told his family about the meeting he had gone to (one!), the power he had felt, and what he had done. "I am no longer a witchdoctor. I have destroyed all my idols and grigri and they will never be in this house again. None of you are to ever bring one into my house." Then he said to his wife, "I called you back to tell you I forgive you, and ask you if you would be reconciled to me again and go to these meetings with me." Her reply ? "Yes!"


Then she said to the sisters, "My husband is a good husband to me now; he is gentle." (Something an African wife never says!) "He loves the children, and they love him. We have peace in our home. I want to be a good wife to my husband and I know I need this power to be that kind of wife. We have peace in our home, but if I make my choice, we will have more peace. I want to contribute to that peace." So she professed...


Not long after, Denis came to the sisters again. "My sisters, I have a problem. The children you have met are not all of my children. I have another, my oldest son. He was a rebel, and I sent him away. The other day, I saw my son on the street. He fell down at my feet and begged my forgiveness. 'Papa, please forgive me. I am sorry for all the trouble I've caused you. I am tired of the life I am leading and I want to come home.' My problem is this: when I sent my son away, I sent him with a curse. The curse was: 'The day you return to this house and set you foot across the threshold of this door, you will die.' When I curse a man, he is cursed. What can I do? Can you tell me how to break a curse?"


Deborah said they couldn't tell him how to break a curse, but they could tell him how to bless. "Since you've come to shelter under the power of God, He has blessed you. These are blessing from above. Go now and bless your son with the blessing from above, for they are more powerful than any curse a man could put on another man." Again he went away satisfied..and the next Sunday night appeared at the meeting with a young man at his side. This son eventually professed, but when his father sent him to another country to find work, he again fell into wrong company, returned to his old way of life, ending up in prison.


Denis told about his last visit with his son. "I have tried to teach you, the servants of God have tried to teach you and God himself has tried to teach you, but you wouldn't listen. The world is a hard teacher, but now the world will teach you."


Dennis loves this Truth, having known the depth of evil in this world. He said that Satan and God both ask the same, our best.  But when we give it to Satan, it brings death and all leads to a curse. When we give it to God, it brings greater life and all leads to blessing.

* This worker is one of our black sisters.