The lanky teenager stood off to the side watching a group of strangers move from house to house among his community in Togo. He studied them handing out a tiny pamphlet, chatting with people and then bowing their heads. He couldn’t hear the gospel message they shared — because he was Deaf — but by their actions, he determined they were Christians.
He clasped the cross hanging around his neck. He was a Christian, too. He wondered if these people were an answer to prayer.
The teen walked over to the strangers and tried communicating through his African regional sign language. They looked at him puzzled. He held up his cross, pointed at himself and flashed a contagious smile. He wrote his name, “Ézéchiel,” and “my family” in French, the official language of Togo, then motioned for them to follow. They nodded in assent.
Ézéchiel quicklly took off down the sandy road on a mission. When the group of Americans and local pastors caught up and stopped outside a house, Ézéchiel pointed at his cross pendant and nudged IMB Journeyman Brooke Tipton toward the door. They knocked and three people came out.
“Ézéchiel figured out we were sharing the gospel. He wanted us to share with his family because he couldn’t explain it in their language,” Tipton said. “He was so excited that they were finally hearing.”
Despite the teenager’s giddiness, Kristen Priddy, a short-term missions volunteer from First Baptist Church of Hurst, Texas, knew this wasn’t a chance encounter. The Texan spent the week working with local midwives and hospitals as part of the health program, “Helping Babies Breathe.” It teaches neonatal resuscitation for low-resource settings like Togo. Local pastors worked with IMB missionaries to determine the best places for the nurse educator to work. They identified these places months before she arrived.
The workshops used a holistic approach: caring for the whole person — physically and spiritually. Priddy opened every session by telling the midwives she was there because of God’s love for them and then shared the story of the Hebrew midwives saving newborn babies in Exodus. Local pastors, believers and missionaries helped with evangelism and gospel presentations at the end of the class. Priddy said they were doing follow-up evangelism near Ézéchiel’s home when he first approached them.
“Ézéchiel was so enthusiastic,” Priddy said, noting that all three of his family members prayed to recevie Christ. “After we talked to his family, he kept taking us from one street to another knocking on doors so we could tell even more.”
Before leaving for the day, Tipton gave Ézéchiel a stack of tracts and showed him how to use it. The Journeyman asks you to join her team in praying for this young evangelist as a local pastor on the team disciples him. Also, pray for other healthcare workshops to open access to sharing the good news.