Musa Gotom: Don’t be afraid

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“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” 1 Kings 17:12-14

“On arriving in Zarephath, Elijah met a widow near the town gate. Just as Eliezer had asked Rebecca for a drink outside the town of Nahor, so Elijah requested a drink from the widow, as well as something to eat. The widow told him of her poverty and that she and her son were down to the last of their food. But the prophet reassured her, Don’t be afraid, and promised that the Lord would sustain her till the end of the drought. The widow did as she was told. She believed the word of God and was obedient to it. Many years later, Jesus would mention her as an example of someone with faith. Her supply of oil and flour lasted to the end of the famine.”

Musa Gotom (Nigeria) in “1 Kings” in Africa Bible Commentary, Tokunboh Adeyemo, General Editor (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 437.

On my transition day traveling from Cotonou, Benin to Lome, Togo was long, hot, and hard.

It had been a short night. I only got 2.5 hours sleep. My airport ride collected me at 3:00 am. I had to fly to Douala, Cameroon first. Upon arrival I had to enter the country through customs to get a boarding pass for my connecting flight. When I finally made it to the counter on a muggy morning (actually it was really sweltering hot), I learned my checked bag was left on the plane and continued to another city. This was bad.

In my daily office yesterday, the Lord had powerful revealed to me that “the Lord took charge” for Elijah and He would doing the same for me.

I sighed and spent another hour in a hot room crammed with people waiting for my turn to file a lost bag claim. Then, when the baggage people sent me back to the ticket counter. Upon arrival the attendant said, “Over there. That’s the manager of Air Senegal who lost your bag. Go to him.” That’s all she said. I obeyed and said not one word (I don’t know French so any conversation would have been pointless anyway).

He saw the claim in my hand. Grabbed it and took a picture then did something on his phone, handed it back to me and gave me a positive signal. Neither of us said a word.

The attendant watched everything and said that I would get my bag. He has seen to it. Somehow I felt that “the Lord took charge” and everything would be alright.

Then the attendant told me that the flight that took my bag to another city was immediately returning to Douala. But it would return after my flight was departing. Then, you guessed it, the Lord delayed my departing flight. This gave sufficient time for the plane which took my bag to another city to return and load it on my plane thanks to that manager’s intervention. By the time I arrived in Lome over 10 hours after waking up, my bag was with me.

When I got to my hotel, which was not far from the ocean, I walked there and shot this new header photo.

The waves were pounding on the rocks. I thought of how I felt pounded. Right by the water, with Koffi Nyamadi, a trainer who had collected me at the airport, I read Psalm 93. It was a powerful moment for him and me reflecting on the fact that our God is greater than the mighty breaking waves of the sea. And I went to my room and collapsed. After a three hour nap, Samson, his wife, Ines, and I, had amazing prayer time and dinner with the Togo team.

In the midst of this whole ordeal, I had a God moment walking through this long hot corridor of the airport in Douala. I stopped, sat down, and cried out to God and said, “This is too hard. I can’t do this.” And yet, I felt God reminding me, “You’ve got this. I am with you and I have taken charge.” Remember, Zarephath means place of refining and testing. Is God testing you? Hear the words of today’s post. Don’t be afraid.

When we pass through the fire, God’s refines us. Job 23:10 came to mind: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” He uses the fires of testing for our growth and His glory. When we feel pounded by the waves, we must remember that God is shaping and molding us. He cared for the widow and the prophet and can take charge for us. We need not fear, only obey.

Pray for Samson and me and the program work that begins today in Lome, Togo. Teaching on “Stewardship and Standards – Two Keys to Strengthen Sustainable Ministries in Togo” with 45 influential pastors and ministry administrators.