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Government worker’s faith touches 8 villages with gospel

TCHETTI, Benin (BP)–Kouton Pierre lay in a hospital bed, his body wracked by pain and fever. The doctor told his worried family he didn’t have long to live. Pneumonia was going to kill him.
“I dreamed that night that I died,” Kouton recalled. “In my dream I saw my brother and three white people facing a wall. I asked my brother, ‘What are you doing? Are you praying for me?’ He replied, ‘Don’t look at me. Let the white people finish praying and I will come see you tomorrow.'”
His brother did arrive the next day, just as the dream foretold.
For a dozen years, that brother and another one had witnessed to Kouton about Christ. A rural development agent for the government of Benin, Kouton had grown up under the religious influence of his mother, who headed an African fetish cult that seeks help from spirits of the dead. Because he attended a Catholic school, he also attended Mass on Sunday mornings.
But when he survived his three-week life-and-death struggle with pneumonia, Kouton knew his brothers were right about Jesus.
“My brother had given me a Bible, and I had been reading it for years, but now I realized I needed to give my life to Jesus,” he said.
Little did he realize what God had in store for him during the next two years.
Kouton began attending a Baptist church regularly, reading his Bible voraciously and learning as much about the Christian life as he could. But six months later, in July 1994, his government supervisors transferred him to Tchetti, a town near the Togo border where he would work among the Ife, a people group in Benin who knew little, if anything, of Jesus.
He set to work in the surrounding villages, talking with village leaders about ways to improve their people’s lives through better agricultural techniques. As he went, he shared what Jesus had done in his life.
One day a rainstorm delayed his return home. When he arrived, he found a large crowd surrounding his house. He noticed several fetish leaders talking excitedly with the people.
“My house had been struck by lightning, and people had called the fetisher for the lightning god,” Kouton recounted. “He told me the lightning god had struck my house and I needed to make a sacrifice to him.”
His refusal to offer the sacrifice frightened and angered the crowd.
“They told me, ‘You’ll die if you don’t make this sacrifice.’ I said, ‘Fine. I’m a Christian. If I die, I’ll go to heaven.’
“Everyone thought I would die,” he said. “When I didn’t, they believed God was strong because he protected me from the lightning god. People invited us into their homes and asked us to tell them about Jesus because they had heard what happened at my house.”
Visitors from outlying villages also saw what happened that day and invited Kouton to come tell them about this Jesus.
In one village, 11 people came to hear what he had to say about this strong god who didn’t demand expensive sacrifices. Several made decisions for Christ. In a second village, 20 people accepted Christ. A visitor from a third village told Kouton, “We want you to come to talk to us.” Seven people accepted Christ there.
News of God’s changing people’s lives continued to spread. Residents in Tchetti asked him to start a group there, and another invitation came from a fifth village. Then three more villages asked if churches could be started for them.
“I don’t know how to describe what God has done here,” mused Kouton. “I know I’m not capable of leading the three groups I’m working with. The only thing I can say is that God has given me the things to do and say. Mostly I pray.”
Despite his own sense of inadequacy, Kouton sees God extending his kingdom throughout all the Ife villages of Benin and Togo.
“Perhaps in a year or two — as people in the villages continue to see how God is changing lives and as the churches continue to grow — word will continue to spread until everyone in the villages, among all the Ife, will be talking about the Baptist churches.”

    About the Author

  • Mark Kelly