When I arrived in Gabon for the first time, I stepped off the plane and was met by a warm and wet wall of humidity. I am here with other staff members of E4 Project to meet our partners and serve a couple teams we have in June. When we got through the airport, we were met by some of our dearest Gabonese partners: Pastor Jacob, his wife “Mama” Martha and Martin. If you are ever blessed to meet them, you would agree that the warmth of their friendship makes the 80% humidity of Gabon feel like home. Mama Martha had already prepared her famous chicken, rice and bean salad for our first meal that night.
We greeted our first team from Grove City Alliance Church the day after our arrival. Their team is led by Pastor Paul Goodman (who was a missionary in Gabon years ago) and consists of three other men from the church; Todd, Shaun, and Rob. Some are veterans to Gabon and others are first-timers. The team’s excitement was clear as I watched them pour over plans and talk strategy for the modular dorms we would be building at PK27. These dorms are temporary structures that our partners can move around the property as the hospital is built and then as construction starts on the next buildings for the church’s medical and social outreach campus. These modular dorms allow for Gabonese workers and our teams to stay right on the property as development continues.
On Sunday, those of us new to Gabon got to experience a typical Sunday church service for the first time. To paint a quick picture for you the order of worship is similar to most church services state side; worship, prayer, sermon, worship, announcements, prayer, worship. However, there are a few key differences… a typical church service in Gabon runs about four hours and worship doubles as a dance party. Both teaching and prayer is done with some serious energy and authority. The team split up so we could attend three different churches to rally the church leaders and the congregations to come partner with the building project in motion.
The start of the week brought “go time” for the build project out at PK27. Work continued on the temporary housing from Monday through Friday. Toward the end of the week visible progress was made with the foundation, floors, walls and half the roof in place. I noticed on Friday, standing at the entrance/exit of the access road to PK27, that you can visibly see the dorms in the far distance sitting high on a hill. Which reminded me of Mathew 5:14-16.
In a culture that is saturated is skepticism and fatalism, the hope of Christ that lives within the Christians of Gabon is that “light” on a hill to the lost. Working alongside our Gabonese partners this first week has been an incredible introduction for both Paul and myself! Continue to pray for our progress at PK27 as we endeavor to rally the national church and continue to make strides in the building of both the temporary dorms for Gabonese construction crews and the foundations of the clinic.
Thanks so much – Josiah