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Konkomba Testimonies

"The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom." Psalms 145:9-12

KenastonsI have shared about our ministry in past articles using a triangle to diagram the double burden that we carry in our hearts as we labor here among the Konkombas. First, a burden to stand in the gap between the God of heaven and the Konkomba people, communicating truth to the people and interceding on their behalf to our mutual Father. Secondly, a desire to stand between our tribe and all of you, who far away, pray, give and care for what happens here in Konkomba-land. We want to provide a link of information and heart sharing about the Konkombas so that you can in turn complete the chain by interceding for them in the throne room of heaven. We recognize that as the Konkombas will not know about Christ until they are told, so you also will not be able to grasp the burden and heart of the work here unless you are told (though it would be wonderful for some of you to view it first-hand!). My burden in this article is to link you with a couple of testimonies that I trust will be a blessing to you. These are Konkomba testimonies, slightly adapted for readability. They give a glimpse into the work that God is doing in the hearts of many of our people here. As the above verse says so well, His tender mercies are over all His works, even His work among the Konkombas! My prayer is that as I share these words with you and make known to the sons of men His mighty acts in Ghana, you will be encouraged to speak of the glory of His kingdom and talk of His power!

The first testimony is from a young man from a village near Bunbonayili. In the last two years he has gone from being a pagan idol-worshipper to a joyful Christian who regularly goes out to other villages to share the good news of the Gospel. His is a young faith, but it is a tried faith none the less, as he has had many difficulties and hard choices since he chose to follow Jesus. He regularly stands alone to obey God’s word while living among idol worshippers. There is no way for me to portray his simple but radiant joy as he recounts these words to me, but suffice it to say that his smiling face stands out among his tribesmen like a light. Here are his words:

All of my life until recently was spent in all kinds of sin and wickedness. I grew up watching my father make sacrifices to the spirits, and I followed in the same path of darkness that my people have always walked in—making sacrifices to the idols, strictly observing the taboos of our family fetish and going to the juju doctor for “medicine” for any specific problem or sickness we had. We always said Uwumbor (the Konkomba name for God) when making any offering to our fetish. We knew that he was the “big god” somewhere, but we knew nothing about him or how we could know him. Because we did not know God we did many evil things. The thing we enjoyed the most was to go to the market, eat pork and drink sorghum beer until we could hardly even walk back to our village. It is not only I who was doing these things; in fact, most of my people are following this path even today. Our only desire was to get enough from our farms to allow us to continue enjoying our sin. We did fear death, and the possibility that someone could throw a death curse on us frightened us and made us go to the juju men regularly for protection.

About three years ago, I began to experience pain all over my body. It seemed to move from place to place. The problem with the sickness was that I could not farm. With my wife and small child eating from my work, we soon began to suffer for food. I went to all of the juju doctors in these villages and spent a lot of money so that they would cure my sickness, but in the end the pain was still moving in my body, and I still could not farm. Since my sickness was not going, I decided to travel over to the border with Togo because most of the powerful doctors are in that area. I stayed for a long time and went to many big juju men. They all gave me things to eat or to wear on my body to cure the sickness, but in the end my money finished, and I still had pain.

While I was following juju, God was making a different plan for me, because He knew that there was nobody who knew God’s Word in my village. So He sent me far away so that I could meet people who knew God and who could show me the path to find Him. A little while before I came back to my village, I met some Christians. They told me that I should burn my juju and pray for God to heal me. After trying so many things without any help, I was ready to listen to them. I burned some of my juju and decided to try and see if God would heal me. I did not really change right then, but my eyes were starting to see another path, and I was very interested to know God’s Word. I began to pray every day for God to heal me and also that He would help me to change from my sin. During this time I came back to my home village. I was told that in my absence a white man had come to stay in Bunbon and was preaching to the Konkomba people. Since my village people were trying to send me for more juju and my mind wanted to know more about God’s side, I was very happy to hear this news and started going every week for Mr. Daniel to preach to me and pray for my sickness.

Mr. Daniel questioned me and then told me that God does not want to heal me as I am still holding juju in my house; God wants me to know that it is not juju power that helps me. He explained many things to me about how I should follow God and how I have been making God angry through my sin. When I thought on it all, I knew that it was time for me to actually remove myself from my idols and fetishes and believe on God and Jesus. When I first heard God’s Word by Togo side, I wanted to follow God if He healed me. Now I decided that even if God does not remove my pain it is still better for me to obey the One who made me than to continue to follow Satan’s side. So one day when I went home from Daniel’s house I gathered all of my juju and idols and took it outside to burn. Some of my village people saw what I was doing and came over to try to stop me, begging me not to burn my fetishes because I would die. I did not mind them because I knew that my heart was now changing to follow God. I burned my things while they stood and said that I am now a crazy man because of what I have done. In my heart I was happy and did not feel any fear, and I only started to pray even more that God would heal me and help me to follow his path.

Mr. Daniel showed me a Konkomba man whose village is close to mine who had been following God for several years, and we agreed to meet often so that he could teach me more of God’s Word.

All of this happened about six months ago. During the last months I have been learning much about God and Jesus and the way we can believe and have eternal life. My old way of life is now changed to a different way, and the sins I was doing are all gone. I have also started to go around to some of the villages in my area to gather the people and preach to them. When I do this I always tell them of how I used to be and how Jesus has changed me. Many of these people know me and have seen that there is a change in my actions. Some of them are starting to do as I have done and are following God’s Word, but some are not happy and say that I am a crazy man because of what I am doing. To me it makes no difference. I used to walk up and down to villages so that I could find beer to drink; now I am always walking to different villages to preach! My wife is happy because of the change in my life, as I do not get drunk and beat her or shout at her for being slow to cook my food, but she has not really believed in Jesus for herself. I am trying to explain things to her so that she will also follow me to obey God. I know that soon she will!

Farming season started two months ago and God is giving me strength to work again. One day recently I met Mr. Daniel and he asked about my health. I told him that the day before I raised 300 yam mounds (many strong men can not raise more than 200!) and both of us thanked God for how He is healing me. I know that God has not healed me only to farm but also so that I can preach in our many villages who do not know God at all. I am trying to do all that I can to thank God for what He has done for me—sending pain to my body so that I would hear His Word while looking for juju to cure me, and then changing me to be a Christian and a follower of God!

It is a problem to me that I cannot read, but I listen to others read the Bible and try to remember so that when I am in the villages I can bring the verses out to my people. At least I can tell them about my life and how Jesus has healed me and saved me. Satan still tries to remove me from Jesus sometimes, but when he comes to talk to me I just enter my room and pray loudly to Jesus. Then my heart is happy because I know that I will never go back to my old life again. No one can pull me away from Jesus, and though my people tell me I am crazy, I know that I am free and happy on God’s road.

These words are the story of how I left my sin and juju to follow Jesus’ path.
 

The second testimony comes from a somewhat different source, but it is no less inspiring when you consider God’s calling and purpose at work in this young man’s life. Our role in his life has been in the area of training and discipleship, as he came to know Jesus three years ago while attending school in a town several hours south of us. We praise God that He allows us to work together with Him and others to accomplish His plans in the lives of individuals. He is from the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the story above—a highly privileged young man who was chosen out of a large family to become the kalachi or educated one. Rather than using his education to pursue wealth or politics as one of the few highly educated Konkombas in this area, God is impressing on him the need of his people to be set free from spiritual darkness. Praise God, this young man is heeding the call of God and is turning a deaf ear to the lesser (though louder) voices that call for him to be “successful.” It is a joy to our hearts to observe him picking up the burden of ministering to his people, as will be evidenced by the excerpts I am picking out of a letter he sent me. He wrote the letter in response to a conversation in which I challenged him to find out God’s plan for his life and follow it rather than allowing the desire “to be something” among his people to dictate his future. Hopefully these paragraphs pulled from his letter will communicate the call of God that is on his life and also his resulting responsiveness to it.
 

Dear Daniel, I am grateful for the chance to write you this letter. With God, things are getting better here, and I know He will make the same thing possible in Bunbonayili and its surroundings.

Daniel, in fact, may God forgive me for opposing His will for my life in the last months and in my thoughts for the future. I am very worried for my Konkomba tribesmen who do not know about God and the truth that Jesus Christ died for them. There is one thing that comes into my mind regularly, and that is that I grew up to see all of my people worshipping idols and we never heard about God’s Word in all of our villages. Somehow, God made it possible for me to know that Christ died for me and that I should live my life to please Him and worship Him only. It is therefore in my vision to spread the same good news to my fellow Konkombas and to all others who do not know Him.

I have gone far in school compared to most Konkombas, and many people are insisting that I should continue, but the question that I must ask myself is what was God planning for me when He created me and allowed me to hear about Him in such an unusual way? He allowed me to hear His Word far away from my home village because there were no Christians at that time in my area. People will always tell us to become as big and successful as possible, but Jesus says in Matthew 28:18-20 that we should go everywhere and make disciples. If this is what Jesus tells us then why should I let my heart’s desire prevent me from doing God’s work among my own people? I know that in our last discussion it was Jesus’ spirit who was speaking to me through you. I thank God for revealing His lovely words to me as well as his plan for my life. I Timothy 4:14-16 tells us not to neglect or push aside the spiritual gifts that God has given to us, and I am resolved to move forward to fulfill God’s plan for me.

Daniel, help me in prayer so that I shall do God’s purpose for my life and also serve others as Jesus did, not counting myself too big or educated to help poor villagers, but ready to humble myself and suffer so that many of my people can know Jesus and salvation in particular. Philippians 2:5-8. Certainly Jesus had to come down more than I will ever have to in order to care for and then die for us. As the verse says, I want this mind of Jesus to be in me!

Stay blessed until we meet next week for more discussion as far as God’s work is concerned. I will be ready for any words, encouragements or commands that you will have for me as far as evangelism is concerned. I end here with many greetings to you and your family and loved ones and special greetings to your wife.
 

I think the letter gives a pretty clear view of his desire to serve God. If there were any question of whether or not he was ready to translate this vision into real labor among his people, the two months or so since I received this letter have certainly put to rest any doubt. He has clearly demonstrated a willingness to suffer on the trail with me, going in and out of various villages preaching together and also good initiative in starting a Bible study group in a new village all on his own. Every time I meet him his face is radiant and his heart ready to learn more about how to minister to his people. I am taking him along with me on some of my treks into the villages and we are enjoying this working and learning together time. He has been an answer to our many prayers for these kind of young men, and we are begging God for many more who will lay aside their dreams of greatness in order to help their people to see the light of the gospel.

Well, dear ones, I mentioned at the beginning of these testimonies that we feel keenly our responsibility to keep you informed and able to pray specifically for the needs of the Konkomba people and for us as we minister to them. I’ve never shared testimonies from the work here in quite this way before, but I hope that you will be blessed and encouraged through the lives of these two men who have found the same Jesus that we have and want to serve Him among their Konkomba tribesmen. God is at work here. The living proof that these and many others are to God’s transforming power in Konkomba lives has been a real source of motivation and energy during the discouraging times that we sometimes face. I trust that you will connect with your Konkomba brothers here through hearing a little of their lives and will be encouraged to pray more for a powerful move of God to bring this tribe into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. God is raising up people to minister here, both local and from abroad, and is beginning to raise up those who will commit to praying until God transforms the Konkombas from a looked-down-upon, idol worshipping tribe into a joyous army of the redeemed who will testify with their mouths and lives of the power of God to revolutionize a group of people! I invite and beg you to be a part of this work through picking up the burden of this lost tribe and carrying it daily in prayer to the throne room where all of our prayers for this tribe are being noticed and stored. Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer and for your willingness to take the Konkombas, as we have done, to be your own people. God has promised that Konkombas will be around the throne; may we draw from this promise courage to go on when it seems that the fulfillment is long in coming. May we also be motivated to do our part so that God’s great plan may be fulfilled in our generation.

Yours among the Konkombas,
Daniel & Christy Kenaston and Family

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