Friendship is a beautiful gift, and it takes different forms. We must always be grateful for the people God places in our lives. Jean Tanefofou is one of those gifts of God to me. He is also more than that, he is an evangelist who preaches the world over, sees astounding miracles of healing and salvation, and then comes back home to his small congregation and calls up a little woman like me and we spend hours on the phone sharing the gospel, sharing our victories, our pains and encouraging one another. I am glad for those like him and Magalie his wife who let you know that you matter, what is happening to you matters, and who are also strong enough to themselves be vulnerable. I rejoice over their successes, they rejoice over mine, we are genuinely thankful for one another when God blesses our work. I guess the word is CARING.
Jean’s church meets down the road from where Abba House meets, and yet he is one of the few people I trust and invite over to take the pulpit when I have to be away. We have plans to swap pulpits one of these days, I go to preach to his church and he comes to mine. And even in my absence, whether he comes alone or with Magalie, one of the most gracious women this side of heaven, I know that everything will be done decently and in order; I know that they will seek the good of the house; I know that they care about what we are doing; I know that he will not use it as an opportunity to draw people to himself or promote his own ministry. I guess the word is TRUST. And it is sometimes in short supply in the ministry.
I have known Jean and Magalie for many years and have seen them move up in ministry as God has steadily promoted them. They are so humble that they never elevate themselves or play the numbers game. They have seen me move up in ministry and walk through challenging situations. Many people never want to acknowledge that you are not what you were ten years ago, it makes them feel good to put you down or say, oh you all call her pastor, I knew her when… We respect the call on each other’s life, we respect the sacrifices made, and we see the road travelled. Many people lose the blessing that could accrue to their lives through a minister because they refuse to see what God has done with them, and want to prove to you that you are not all that. I guess the word is HONOUR.
And when all is said and done, my prayer is that in ten, twenty, thirty , sixty years I will still be in a position to say these things about Jean and Magalie and they about me. We have made a good start, we go back close to twenty years. They have seen me struggle through some persecution, have remained friends even when I was not the flavor of the month, and I had the unenviable privilege of running afoul of some particularly vicious tongued individuals; when this little woman planted a church and even some dear friends did not think it would survive two Sundays, they were and are still here. I guess the word is FAITHFULNESS.
For all these reasons it is a joy to have Jean Tanefoufou preach in our pulpit this Sunday, and if you are anywhere near central Paris and you do not have a local church, give yourself a treat, make your way to Abba House this Sunday. There is a ‘little man’ (as he calls himself) who walks with God who is going to be sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.