Marc Mailloux's Blog


Mailloux Musings May 2017
May 6, 2017, 2:22 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ouagadougou church

Ouagadougou church

Dear friends,

I’m writing this at the airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast where I’ve just finished the second week of a church history course. The previous week I had a group of twenty “Burkinabés” in Ouagadougou for the same course. It was an encouraging, albeit exhausting fortnight—six hours/day of lecturing. I’m eagerly awaiting my red-eye night flight to Paris, whence I’ll catch the flight to Miami. Riding to the airport in a taxi, I wondered how the cabby could make a living with the thousands of taxis on the streets competing for relatively few fares and gas at over $4.50/gallon. He claimed to work from 5 AM ‘til 10 PM, driving around 250 kms. every day in city traffic. His is the plight of thousands of others….

I hadn’t gotten much sleep during the week in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso which means “land of the people of integrity.” The lodging for the visiting professors—in the same building as the classroom—is adequate, but the electricity and water were often not functioning and it was around 40°C (104°F) most of the time. I forced myself to go for an afternoon walk each day after class, if only about a mile or two to a main artery where one can buy mangoes and pineapple (two of the Lord’s succulent masterpieces) from street vendors for a song. The “Burkinabés” are most likable people, courteous and hospitable. The population is comprised of about 50% Moslems, 20% Christian, with the rest mostly animists. They seem to get along well…

“Cote d’Ivoire” is significantly wealthier and, after its independence from France in 1960, was well-governed by the benevolent Houphouet Boigny until his death in 1993. Moslems comprise almost 40% of its population (vs. 30% Christian) and 30% animists. Little friction here either. One can walk the streets of either Ouagadougou or Abidjan in relative security. It was about a twenty minute walk from the Pentecostal boarding house where I stayed to the church where the classes were held—a welcomed bit of exercise in spite of the intensely humid heat which would make summer in S. Florida seem refreshingly cool. Normally, I could have changed my sweat-drenched shirt each hour but, in such a climate, one grows accustomed to smelling like a mountain goat. Still, I have never been more grateful for air-conditioning. In both countries, the students were eager and receptive and that more than made up for any minor discomfort.

For a church history textbook, we used the excellent “Précis de l’Histoire de l’Eglise” by the late J.M. Nicole. This classic volume, by a godly and distinguished scholar who—in his long black coat, white hair and beard (I met him once in my student days)—looked somewhat like an add for Quaker Oats. Anyone and anything important in the history of the church is noted in M. Nicole’s book which is now in its 8th edition. Still, it took some additional effort to explain to the less-analytical Africans the finer points of the various Christology controversies in the early church and how the Christian faith hung in the balance over a single Greek “iota” in the famous 4th century Arian heresy (“homousious,” of the same substance vs. “homoiousious,” of similar substance). Meanwhile, the Africans were proud to acknowledge that there were perhaps churches in Ethiopia before the gospel ever made it to France (cf. Acts 8). But they find it puzzling that the Europeans have largely rejected the Faith to the point where there are now surely more believers in Africa and Asia than in Europe. The old continent, like the US, is a “cut-flower” civilization where significant residual Christian influence subsists but, like a beautiful flower severed from its roots, it is rapidly wilting.

When they asked me how that could have happened, I could only echo the wisdom of Cotton Mather who—in 17th century New England—lamented that “virtue had begotten prosperity, but the daughter hath devoured the mother.” As for Africa; the Faith is
spreading rapidly on the “Dark Continent,” though it might take a few generations for the gospel to eradicate the pagan traditions— assuming the Africans are wise enough to saturate their culture with the Word of God. I didn’t sleep a wink on the overnight Air France flight from Abidjan to Paris, even as the “Ivoirien” fellow seated next to me snored
the entire way. Oh to be able to sleep on airplanes! Fortunately, the Boeing 777 was equipped with a state of the art entertainment center so I watched a modern version of Tolstoy’s classic “Anna Karenina.” Adultery is big trouble, in any milieu.

We landed in Paris at 5:30 AM and I waited until 1 PM before boarding the ten-hour flight to Miami. By departure time, I felt like a zombie from lack of sleep and envied the Hispanic couple next to me who dozed through most of the flight. Life’s not fair. I arrived home from the MIA airport Saturday evening via a UBER ride from a 22 year-old Cuban-American who’s just gone through a major romantic deception which left him receptive to the gospel. Pray for Angel… Jet-lag kicked in after Sunday worship service and a delightful Easter meal compliments of our good friends the ever-hospitable Newcombes.

At home, I collapsed in front of the television awaking just in time to hear the rookie winner of the “RBC Heritage Golf Tournament” congratulated by the television commentators on his Easter Sunday victory at Hilton Head Island. With unpretentious simplicity, Wesley Bryan reacted matter-of-factly saying: “Yes, it feels great to win…But today is not about me but about the Savior.” Amen.

Marc+Aline

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Marc with Ivory Coast students

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