Pastor's Update
  It was truly a honor and privilege for Karen and I to travel to the African continent and to spend a week serving God in the wonderful country of Togo, West Africa! It was a challenge to us to think of how self-centered we often are in our Christian lives and it was humbling to experience God using us in amazing ways we shared the promises of God with those we came into contact with.

CWE/CMS did a phenomenal job in leading the way for a church to be constructed and the medical missions trip was truly a blessing to be a part of, trying to build excitement in the village of Tsavie (pronounced Cha Vee A).

To read an in depth journaling of some of God's work, please read below.

    Togo 2012 Journal
  • Togo 2012
     
    When the possibility of an opportunity to go on a Mission Trip to Togo, West Africa, began to take shape a little over a year ago, there was great excitement in our hearts.  The thought of traveling to the other side of the world to share with people there about Christ is something we have always wanted to be able to do someday!
     
    What we didn’t know was that, between this possibility opening up and going on this amazing trip, there would be one of those “seasons” in our ministry lives that try our faith and proclaim the great need that we as God’s children and servants must rely on His strength in every way.  If not reliant on the Holy Spirit’s power through the sacrifice of Christ for us, we will only find failure!
     
    The timing of this trip was from God!  We want to share some of our experiences and at the same time, share some of what God has done in our hearts!
     
    We are always so thankful for the times we have been able to form new friendships with fellow Christians when we serve together in some fashion, but this team was special!  We meshed with ease from almost moment one meeting at JFK and preparing for a long flight across “The Pond”!  We are thankful that we could travel with and serve God alongside Mike’s mom, Linda Carlson, amongst the rest of the doctors, dentists, nurses, evangelists and those who came for crowd control and to take care of meals to keep us all healthy.
     
    After a nine and a half hour flight into Accra, Ghana, and then what ended up being a 10 hour bus trip into Togo, we were exhausted and ready for bed.  Sleep, however, was a struggle for both of us throughout our time in Togo.  A result from the weight of thoughts in our minds of what God was doing on the trip, as well as thoughts about the ministry in Naples.
     
    Sunday morning was an exciting time of attending the first church service in the new church building CWE constructed in the weeks before our trip.  There were no pianos, guitars, drums or any instruments of any sort at this church, yet, there was a joy in the voices of these brothers and sisters that we hope to hear every once in a while in our churches in America.  The choir sang a cappella and you could tell they worked hard in preparing to serve God in song.  We were amazed at the tightness of the harmony as they sang!  Blessed to hear them serve in song!
     
    The Sunday message must have been difficult for the Pastor of this church Tsavie (pronounced Cha vee a), as he preached through translators, from the tribal language of Eve (Ev A), into French to then be translated into English for these Americans.  Yet, thankful to hear God’s Word poured into the lives of those in the church.
     
    Sunday afternoon was a rest and recovery time in preparation for the rest of the trip!
     
    Monday began with prep time for the upcoming clinics, and a tour of the ABWE hospital ministry!  What a ministry this is!  The doctors and nurses are doing much with very little compared to what we have available here!  When we saw many of the health problems within the health clinics, we see just how great a ministry this can be and is already to the people in Togo!  The one thing that jumped out is the need for more room!  The NICU were a couple of incubators sitting by the nurse’s station desk.
     
    Monday afternoon began with “pill-packing”, for the purpose of having medications ready for distribution at the clinics and an evangelists meeting.  With those things being completed a little earlier than thought, free time allowed Karen to go with others to an African market, while Mike and another team member went with a guide on a hike out into the mountainside to a beautiful waterfall.  Glad for this opportunity!
     
    Tuesday through Friday saw our clinic days take place!  We held one clinic each day in a different village anywhere from a 30-minute drive to 1 ½ hour drive.  Each village was beautiful and was a picture of the simplicity of these people’s lives, yet their daily battle with survival!  What we take for granted in our ease and comfort, they spend in energy just to provide for the needs of the day.
     
    The villages we went to were named Bodze (pronounced Bo Jay), Tsavie (pronounced Cha Vee A), Kadoasa Kope and Amegape!
     
    Each day had challenges.  We saw some very interesting health problems that are so simple to fix or avoid here in America, yet could be a battle for years for the people of Togo.  We cannot speak to all of the medical and dental side, but to the real reason we were there as a team!  The medical clinics were the crowbar to open the doorway!  The people would never turn down American medicine and would listen attentively as we shared with them, with their permission, “a promise from God”!
     
    So we shared, group by group, the message of the Gospel!  It would have been easy to fall into a rote pattern, but we constantly prayed for God’s love for these people to flood from our hearts!  The message is…that we have all done bad things…God calls those bad things sin and sin causes us to be separated from God…only God can fix this problem…He sent Jesus to die for our sins, Jesus was buried in the ground andwalked out, ALIVE, after three (3) days…the Bible says He, Jesus is the Way, the ONLY Way, to the Father!...We would tell them of the choice we each have to make...Choosing to do nothing and go to God’s judgment in that place called Hell, or choose to “confess with our mouths, Jesus, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead” and God’s promise is that we WILL be saved!  To explain what it means to pray asking for God to be our forgiver, leader of our lives and give a place with Him forever was a wonderful blessing!
     
    The greatest blessing, however, was to see group after group bow their heads and pray asking for God to do this!  If even 1 truly received Christ then the angels rejoiced and the trip was worth it all!
     
    Yet, we also come away from this trip with a greater understanding of the battle that rages in the spiritual realm!  Satan does not want this message to be heard!  He wants to keep people in darkness!  He has to great a hold in every land, including America.  Here, our ease of life seems to have caused the feeling of a lack of need!
     
    In Togo, the harshness of life has opened the door for anything spiritual to be sought!  We saw people entrenched in Catholicism and Jehovah’s Witnesses sit in our groups and hear the TRUE Gospel!  Karen was told that there was a lady waiting to sit in one of the groups with an evangelist who was involved in worshipping Voo Doo.  She ended up with that group and when Mike was told of this lady, he gathered several of the other team members together close to the group to pray for God’s power.  One of the Togolese pastors, who was Mike’s translator, stepped in with Karen and when it was all done, that lady prayed asking God to forgive her, lead her life and give her a place with Him in Heaven forever!
     
    On Day 3 we faced a very direct attack from Satan!  We had been ministering for about two hours when one of our evangelists, the other pastor on the trip, had a lady who, at the name of Jesus, began to do strange things.  I cannot fully put into words what took place in the 20 minutes once these things started, but we fully believe we were not wrestling “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”.  Leaving three of the four evangelist’s groups sitting in their spots, we gathered around this lady, with the other pastor speaking directly to her and whatever “power” was at work, calling on the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus to be at work.  With several of us gathered around her, praying, singing the name of Jesus, we saw God’s power in that moment.  It is impossible to explain, it was exhausting at the moment, but God was working and the truth of Philippians 2:9-10 was evident!  “9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,”!  The day will come when Satan himself will be forced to bend his knee and proclaim Jesus Christ IS LORD!!!
     
    The power of God worked in the groups left for those 20 minutes.  When we turned back toward the spots where we had our groups, I expected to see the group had left.  They were all still sitting there!  They had watched how these Americans handled this lady who, as my translator the last two days found out, the people who were aware of her believed her to be affected by demons or the devil.  They sat there waiting to hear what the promise from God, in the Bible, was that had already been mentioned.  It was thrilling to see that group of seven, bow their heads asking God to save them and give them a place in Heaven!
     
    We saw, in four (4) days worth of clinics, 1,498 people!  Every person that came and saw a doctor, or dentist, or was given eyeglasses was challenged with the Gospel!  They were each asked, then, “If you were to die today, and stand at the door to heaven, and God were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you in to My Heaven’, what would you tell Him?”  Out of those we saw, some had already trusted in Christ, but we had 841 who said they were praying this prayer to God for the first time!
     
    We won’t know for sure until Heaven if they all truly trusted Christ or not, but we are so glad to have had the opportunity to be obedient in our part of sharing the “Good News” of Jesus!
     
    For CWE to come to a village and hold one of these medical clinics, the local pastor is asked to sign an agreement.  That agreement says that he, as pastor, will follow up on every one of those people came to the clinic.  Pray for these pastors as they seek to do this.  It will take time!  Some of them don’t have any form of transportation so they will do this on foot!  But our prayer is that they WILL do this and they will find that God did a great work that will affect their church, their village and the country of Togo for God’s honor and glory!
     
    We have been convicted by God of our own “self-centered” Christianity and are seeking to live in obedience to Him because the Bible and its message is fully and completely God-centered!  There is no room for our will, for our self-centeredness in it!  That is why God calls us to be “slaves” in His family!  We are bought at a price; therefore glorify God in our body and in our spirits, which are God’s!
     
    God, use Karen and I any way you choose!  Lord Jesus, You were broken and spilled out for us!  May we be broken and spilled out for you!
     
    I challenge anyone and everyone to consider doing a missions trip!  You will return with a greater passion to serve God as you see Him do great things!  Age is not an excuse!  We had people in they’re 70’s on down to 29 years old!  Six (6) of our team of twenty-one (21) were in they’re 40’s or younger!  All of us can serve!  There is no retirement in the family of God and the result is God will be Glorified!
     
    Thanks for listening to our rambling and we hope it gives, at least a little taste, of what God has done in our lives!
     
    “This the Power of the Cross, Son of God – slain for us
    What a Love, what a Cost – We stand FORGIVEN at the Cross!”
     
    All Because of Christ,
    Mike and Karen Carlson
Loving God, Loving People