Tiistai 15.10.2019
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Minä pyyhin pois sinun rikkomuksesi kuin pilven, sinun syntisi kuin pilviverhon. Palaa minun luokseni, minä olen lunastanut sinut vapaaksi. Jes. 44:22

A builder of houses helps to build the congregation

in English 5.4.2019 14:20 | Siionin Lähetyslehti
What is it like to be serving in a Laestadian congregation in Africa? Nicolas Deh from Togo  tells us about his duties as a speaker of a local congregation and the process of establishing Laestadian Christianity in West Africa. 
Togolese Nicolas Deh is on a mission trip to Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea in West Africa.  

Deh has been a speaker for several years in Togo, where there were nine local servants of the word last spring. There are plans under way to call four more brothers to serve this year. 

– Local mission work in Togo means that all speakers keep services in different congregations of Togo on three weekends each month, Deh decribes the local service schedule.

The builder found faith in Sweden 

Nicolas Deh works in construction. He employs a team of builders. The client usually acquires the materials, while Deh provides the workers and supervises the progress of the construction project.   

Nicolas Deh escaped from the unstable conditions of his home country to Sweden in the early 1990s. He sought for peace for his soul from many religious groups and finally found the Conservative Laestadians. Having received the grace of repentance, Deh soon returned to Togo to tell people about the peace he had found. He simultaneously maintained contacts with the Swedish believers. 

When LLC, the central organization of North American believers, began mission work, and the work of believers in Kenya became established, the believers in Togo registered l’Eglise Luthérienne Laestadienne du Togo, the Laestadian-Lutheran Church of Togo. Deh is the chairman of the church.  

Often traveling, sometimes at home 

In addition to keeping local services, Nicolas Deh accompanies mission speakers as a guide and an interpreter on one-week mission trips twice a year.

He has also made a few ten-day trips to some other African countries where services are arranged. 

– At first my wife found this pace of work hard, but our children are older now and the home chores easier to manage. 

Nicholas says he has learnt to appreciate time spent at home. He wants to spend time with his family during the working week and during one weekend each month. 

He and his wife, Cecile Deh, have six children, the youngest of them five years old.

Speaking directly, rubbing off the edges  

Nicolas Deh hopes that believers will remember in their prayers those in responsible positions and will also view them with a forgiving mind.  

He encourages people to discuss matters and to express their views freely. 

– It may happen that someone keeps quiet in a meeting but later complains about things that have not been managed well. 

Deh ponders on his own activities and duties and the way he has developed over time. 

– I have found that feedback is important. How else could I see that some of my practices have been harmful? When someone presents criticism, it is possible to try and act better. 

– Previously, I sometimes responded quite abruptly if I felt that a practice or action was disruptive of God’s kingdom. 

Difficulties help in the work 

The young, growing home zion in West Africa is suffering from growing pains. 

– Especially here in Africa I have sometimes heard hard words in discussions. We need a lot of forgiveness. I think that the difficulties we have experienced in our home zion in Togo help us in our discussion with the congregations of other countries. 

According to Deh, there has been positive development.

– It seems that God has been working in Gambia, too, and that mutual understanding is improving there. The atmosphere of forgiveness and mercy bears fruit.

”I see God’s work”

Deh has realized that he needs to learn about the basic principles of faith. 

– When we have western mission speakers visiting here, local people may think there might be some financial benefit if they joined that group. We just need to tell them gently that God’s kingdom is neither food, nor drink, but that faith comes before all other things, and that people are invited to accept personal forgiveness and faith. 

The mission trip across several countries in August made Deh ponder on what he knows and is capable of. 

– Now that I have done that trip, I realize that God had prepared hearts and opened His word. Although I am happy that God has been able to use me in His work, the most important thing is that my own name is written in the Book of Life.


Text: Mikko Juvonen, Juhani Ojalehto
Background of Nicolas Deh: Mia Kautto, Hanna Ratilainen: Löysin Jumalan valtakunnan, SRK 2012
Translation: S-L.L.

Julkaistu englanninkielisessä kieliliitteessä tammikuussa 2019
 

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