The old village chief sat on a chair under a shade tree, a cane resting against his leg. Looking very distinguished under his red and orange cap, his eyes were cloudy. He barked orders to his attendants as we all sat down on the benches before him. The pastor building a church near his village sat beside him. Everyone fell silent as a wooden bowl filled with water was brought out. The attendant drank first, then the pastor, then the chief. All of us westerners were wondering - what do we do if they ask us to drink?! How could we respectfully decline? A sigh of relief went out as the bowl was set down. Then the chief's attendant brought out a live rooster. What are they going to do now, we wondered? Everything happened in Mòoré, and was translated to us in French. Traditionally we would be welcomed with a meal, but instead the chief offered us a rooster. We thanked him kindly. It was important to visit the chief, to get his blessing for the new church being built, for the soccer match we planned, and the showing of the Jesus Film that night. The chief smiled and laughed, saying he wanted a jersey and to play goalie. He also likes to hear worshippers sing - glory, halleluiah! We toured the village, saw where they use stones to grind grain, met one of his five wives, and snapped pictures of the thatched huts. That night the spiritual conflict was tangible. Motorcycles seized up as staff rode out, a fuse for the reel-to-reel projector burnt out, and one driver showed up incredibly late. But more than a hundred villagers saw the story of Jesus in their own language. Scores of children and adults prayed to receive Christ. Thankfully the newly planted church will follow up on these decisions. At the end of the night the rooster was sitting outside our door, his legs tied together. We had completely forgotten about him. What do you do with a live rooster?!
The goal of our trip to West Africa was simply to help and bless the local Cru team. Burkina Faso is French speaking and has an established campus ministry. Of the 88 students our group shared the gospel with, 26 prayed to receive Christ. What a context for ministry and an eye opener for the French students who came! We were also joined by an Athletes in Action group who played soccer and volleyball, sharing the gospel through their sports activities. Now the challenge is discerning what God was teaching us that is transferrable to France?