Ivory Coast History
Article by Andy Raatz (WorldView)
On a hot and humid night during a week of intercession,
as they prayed late into the evening, one young man began to prophesy to the group that they needed to go outside right then to see God's glory. When the group didn't respond immediately, through the man's repeated prophetic word the Spirit again encouraged them to go witness the glory of the Lord.
Suddenly, the group heard beautiful music and singing. Rushing outside, the men looked into the night time sky and were overwhelmed with the sight and sound of a multitude of angels singing songs of worship. It was a scene reminiscent of the story of Christ's birth and the angels who appeared to the shepherds as they tended their flocks. The Ivorian Christians were all filled with
the Holy Spirit and joined the angels' singing in a heavenly language.
The next morning, the 10 men talked excitedly amongst themselves, awestruck by their vision from God. As they walked into the village, they heard the villagers talking about what had happened the previous evening, trying to determine what the sights and sounds meant. The young believers quickly took on the role of evangelists. Over the next weeks, more than half of the village accepted Christ! The first Ivorian Assemblies of God church was started. That church has continued strong to this day and remains a beacon of light to the community. In 2010, the national Bible school in that village expanded, building a dorm on the Very spot where the young men stood watching the angels sing. During construction, the one living group member sat with missionary Brent Teague and offered first-hand memories of that night. With this story fresh in our minds, WorldView photographer Gaylon Wampler and I made a trip to see the Bible school, visit with the school director, and spend time in that very village. After a tour through the Bible school, Gaylon and I walked through the village, talking to people and shooting photographs. When we were invited to come to the house Of the village chief, I mentioned the story of the angels singing. "Oh, yes, that happened," the chief replied. "I was quite small and slept through it, but my parents and relatives all saw it. There is no question to that being real." He continued, "Do you want to see that first Assemblies of God church in our village?" We accepted the invitation eagerly. We walked down the Street toward an old church building. The congregation has grown and moved to a newer facility a short distance across town, but the walls of the old building still hold amazing historic markers — hanging photos of pastors over the years join additional photographs of water baptisms, missionaries and early church members.
As we stood in front of the church building talking about the history, a woman walked up to us. "This is the last living daughter of the first pastor of our church," the chief told us. Hearing of our interest in the church's history, the woman returned home to retrieve a photo of her father, a man who faithfully served as pastor and shepherd of the people of that Village. The treasured photo was another visual reminder of people who had committed themselves to bringing the message of Christ to places without the gospel. It was a reminder of those who sacrificed, but also witnessed great miracles. God used a sky-opening vision to plant and grow a Church in this Ivorian village. Life-changing miracles are still happening in this nation, demonstrated in the lives of people who are finding Jesus. God continues to reveal himself, using missionaries, pastors, and believers to point toward the Savior.
The daughter of the founding pastor of the first AG church in Côte d'Ivoire.
There are many tools and means to plant the church, but the definition of the Church is the same — people. Four walls and a roof are important tools and key components to long term work in a community. But the Church consists of people, a community of faith. But the Lord can still use a literal building to help build His Church. Tabernacle construction is a significant component used to establish churches throughout Africa. Brent and Shelley Teague have projects in motion constantly. A permanent tabernacle building speaks volumes, especially to Muslims. A building helps the neighborhood to see that the Christians are there to stay, as well as serving as a place to be a blessing to the community. A number of years ago, Brent was working with a local team of Christians to put footings in place for a tabernacle. He hired a Muslim bricklayer from another city to help the local team with construction. Brent had rented a house for the team to stay while working; the house also functioned as a temporary church sanctuary until the tabernacle Was completed. The first evening, the Muslim bricklayer could see the team preparing for a service and tried to excuse himself to go into town. "What time is your meeting over?" he asked. "I'll return when you are finished." The Christians quickly replied, "No! You can't go anywhere! You are our special guest. The whole church has been waiting on you so we can start this work tomorrow. We have reserved a special place for you on the front (Brent put him on the front row), right between two African brothers. "If you need anything," Brent said, "these boys will take care of you." The Muslim man was stuck — and sat through the entire service. Brent preached salvation, giving multiple opportunities for the man to respond. The Holy Spirit was clearly working on his heart, but the man would not come forward for prayer. The cultural ramifications of accepting Jesus kept playing through his mind, and he resisted. Later that evening, as the team went to bed, the Muslim worker moved his mattress outside where it was cooler, sleeping next to the gate rather than on the porch with the rest of the team from the church. The team came to Brent and asked, "Can we stay up and pray tonight? We're going to intercede for this man's soul because he has heard the The next morning, Brent came for the bricklayer, and they started together toward the tabernacle construction site. "How did you sleep?" Brent "I had a terrible night," the man replied. "In the middle of the night I was awakened. I heard a noise on the street, so I got up. I looked out the small gate, and I saw a man coming down the road. He was a king. He was wearing a white robe and had a beautiful crown on his head. I was -wondering, 'What is a king doing in this small town?' When the man got to me, he stopped and I looked in his face. This man knew everything about me. I was ashamed. This king spoke to me, 'The words that you heard tonight are My words. The happiness that you're looking for in this life and the one to come, you can only find it if you follow Me.' Then the king disappeared." The brick mason continued, "I don't know what to do. I don't know who this king is. How can I follow him?" Sitting in a Nissan truck at the construction zone, Brent was able to lead him to the Lord, and another life was added to the church that day!
More to Do
There is still much work to be done in Côte d'Ivoire. Approximately 26 million people live in Côte d'Ivoire. Many of the people are animists (estimated as high as 63 percent), or fetish worshippers. One-fourth of the population is Muslim. A scant 7.6 percent of the population is Protestant. God is moving in this nation and there is a hunger to know our risen living savior Jesus Christ. Through your partnership and prayers God will use us to change hearts and lives throughout this nation. Thank you for believing in our mission and thank you for sending us!