It has been a busy, productive and inspiring past few weeks. Tim and Maryse Pebworth and I have been traveling around France and Benin, celebrating the spring Holy Days with brethren, making preparations for the Feast of Tabernacles and working on the new French website and various other projects in between.
On March 29, 20 brethren from throughout France arrived in Bordeaux to keep the Passover, Night to Be Much Observed and the First Day of Unleavened Bread together. The house we rented for lodging and services was filled with good conversations and good food. Everyone was grateful for the opportunity to come together, as most of the French brethren are spread out and on their own throughout the rest of the year.
The evening meal on the NTBMO was particularly special as we went around the table and each person shared the story of his or her baptism. On Friday and Sunday, Tim Pebworth gave three seminars about prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, which led to some very edifying questions and discussions, and on Sunday morning, the French brethren held their annual meeting as required under the bylaws of the legally incorporated French Association. The meeting included the treasurer’s report and a report from the president discussing issues related to the French brethren, the French work and possible Feast sites for 2019.
After a wonderful weekend with the brethren in France, Tim, Maryse and I traveled to Benin to keep the Last Day of Unleavened Bread and Sabbath with the brethren in Cotonou. We had the treat of hearing the children’s choir sing on both occasions, and after services on Sabbath, the congregation shared a meal together.
We also had the chance to visit with one of the families in the church in their home in Porto-Novo, the capital of Benin. Michele Ogoudelé is a long-time deacon who suffered a stroke two years ago and is now cared for by his wife and daughter who take turns being with him during Sabbath services, giving the other the chance to be at church. During our visit, he was able to say a few words to us from his bed, and we shared stories of the history of the Church in Benin.
Throughout the weekend, we had some very productive conversations with pastors Moïse Mabout and Kossi Fiaboé and other local brethren regarding the issues that brethren in Benin, Cameroon and Togo face. On Sunday before returning to France, I also had the opportunity to meet with a young man from the Cotonou congregation to help him fill out a LifeNets application for a scholarship to do a professional teaching program.
The hospitality and kindness we received from the brethren in Benin was touching and it was inspiring for me to see in both France and Benin how unity through God’s Spirit transcends our different cultures.