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Savalou, ]


February 1995


We would like to sharea few scenarios with you. This is your chance to be an armchair missionary. Imagine yourself here, away from wise and respected mentors, friends, colleagues, and professors. Your daily decisions, words, and actions affect all areas of your life. In light of this, carefully consider the social, cultural, fiscal, anthropological, and theological implications of each
situation. And, remember, this is real life not a textbook


Weddings in Benin are very expensive for the groom because he must pay a bride price. The father of the bride sets the price according to the lifestyle the girl is accustomed to and the financial standing of the groom.
Tintin, a good friend and promising Christian leader, is engaged to be married to the daughter of an educated Christian man. The bride price for her includes fabric (about 70 yards), shoes, jewelry, perfume, towels, lotions, and soaps for the bride herself, plus money and additional fabric (20 yards more) for the parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Tintin has already purchased everything, including a nice suitcase to present it in. With the date for presentation of the bride price set, the invitations are being chosen for an Easter wedding.

~ so things are not always what they appear to be.


Every day in town, a crowd of women waits at the gas station to buy kerosene. The trucks of kerosene come less frequently than before, therefore, in between times kerosene {used for lanterns, stoves, and refrigerators) is in greatdemand. Several women in the village have turned the crisis to their advantage (and, thus, the disadvantage of their neighbors) by buying 50-100 gallons ofkerosene at a time, depleting the supply more quickly. Then, when the kerosene at the station is gone, they set-up mini-kerosene dispensing stations near their homes, selling it for four times the normal price. Most people in the village are subsistence farmers and only have the money to buy
one-week's worth ofkerosene at a time from the station.

Two days ago, the father of the bride decided that an April wedding was too soon, even though both families had previously agreed on that date. He cited the fact that he has too manyfinancial burdens at the moment and said that if $50 (three-months' salary for Tintin) were added to the bride priceby next week, he could possibly manage.
Tintin is very discouraged. Aside from not wanting to wait, he does not have any money. He is even in debt because he borrowed money to have a bed and table made for his new home. Also, he has already paid out a full

When the next week comes and the station is out, they are

forced to pay the inflated prices of these makeshift

dispensing stations.

A friend, who is also the wife of the preferred son of the chiefof the village, comes and asks you to buyher 100

year's salary for the bride price so far. His bride-to-be has a job, but she can't help out because she is obligated to give her father her full paycheck at the end of each month. It would takeTintin at least 10 months to come up with the

gallons ofkerosene at thestation. She has the money but cannot make her way through the mob at the station to buy the newly-arrived kerosene. Shesays that you would be served quickly since you are white. You know that she
intends to save the kerosene for a week, then sell it at the

What do you do?


inflated price. What do you do?

Anatole, a new Christian from Savalou, is a farmer like

many other residents of Savalou. During planting and harvesting times, he sends his wife to her parents' village to

Sub'sabara region ofnorthern Benin a predominately Muslim


French language school in Burkina Faso that we recently visited as a possibilityfor future teammates' language learningsite.

live so that she can be closer to his fields and can then

Damon and Juli Jones as they raise funds to join the

team in Benin in 1996.

work every day. She takes their baby daughter with her. Anatole has a night job in town, yet he goes to the fields often to help her.

Smooth renewal of our resident cards and visas in May. The Savalou Youth Center as it opens in March. Production of a Fon songbook.

During the last harvest time, his

worked in Anatole's fields the whole

season. But, when the harvest was

completed, she never returned to

Savalou. Anatole sent letters to the

village, and even paid an additional bride price in order to gain the approval of her parents. He hoped that they would use their authority
over her to force her to return to

^ \)||^


M*Productiveme tingsandplan ingse ionswith



" The completion, production, and distribution of ^ basic discipleship/doctrine book for new

Christians in Fon.

If Good health.

Garry and Linda Brock (CMP Africa

An eventful and fun-filled Christmas season.

Growing, learning, and serving in Benin.

Savalou. Anatole's entire family had two meetings with his wife's family, and, at both meetings, her family

La flami ilTe, 3Lf7K

La Famille Allen Steve, Shawn, Tori, Clark

Savalou within the week It has

been two months since the last

promised that she would be in

and cZrkioith
literacy Emmanuel.

meeting; she still has not returned.

Recently, Anatole said that he had decided to go to the village the next dayand take back his two-year-old daughter. His reasoning: bydoing
this, his wife would return to Savalou, also, because she would not

Note: If youwould like to use a missions minutes program based on Benin for your VBS, please contact
Shawn Allen by May 1.

want to beseparated from her child.

He wants advice.

What doyou do? These have been only three of

dozens of such scenarios that have

actually been played ou"t~in our lives these past few months. Some have
been resolved and others are still "in

process." We continue to learn

much about ourselves, the

Mm Nn

fascinating people here, and this mysterious business called missions. We'd love to hear your ideas. What would you do? ... so, feel free to

Toriposedas St. Lucia
as we celebrated a
Swedish Cbristtnas tradition.

'jfi '-M.


drop us a line about any or all of the

aforementioned case studies.


The five CMF interns who plan to spend eight weeks

here this summer.

Us as we prepare individualized programs to meet the

needs of each intern.
Clark at school

Steve and Shawn Allen

NonproRi O^nization U.S. Pottage

Christian Missionary Fellowship

P.O. BOX 501020


Peimii No. 2975

Indianapolis, Indiana

Address Correction Requested

Mission Se-rvices

Editorial Dept
P 0 Box 4E7

Knoxville TN 37301-47

B.P. 85

Savalou, Benin
West Africa


(A True Story)

man heard that she was again engaged to another. He could do nothing but pray. Meanwhile, the girl's

family became involved and demanded that she quit

her job and return home. They could not bear the thought of their daughter marrying someone from another country and living so far away. The girl broke her engagement, quit her job, and returned
home in 1991.

In 1986, a young man began to attend church. He

was a new Christian, and the church he attended met in the homes of church members because it, too, was

new. Over time, the daughter of one of the elders began to take notice of this young man and, through a mediator, she declared to the young man her interestin him. The young man declined to pursue the relationship because he had not yet had time to observe the girl and decide if she could be a compatible mate.

Afterher return, the young man saw the girl often at church but made no attempt to approach her. After several months, the girl began to ask close friends and family members of the young man to intercede on her behalf, apologize, and ask the young man for another chance in their relationship. Upon hearing this, the young man asked the pastor and elders to prayfor his

Three months passed, and the young man saw that

the girl did indeed have the characteristics he wanted
in a wife, so he decided to declare his intentions to

marry her. Right before he began to gather the necessary gifts for her family, he heard that she had already accepted to marry another young man. Thus, he waited and began to search out an apprenticeship
so that he could learn to be a solderer. After one

Some time passed, and he felt sure that he wanted to marry her. So, once again, he approached her to declare his intentions. In her response, she not only said '3'^^"but asked for complete forgiveness. She told the young man that even though several others had recently declared their intentions to marry her, she
had refused them. She had decided not to become

month, the girl approached him and told him she had
broken off with the other man because his character

engaged or marry until the young man had proven, by

marrying someone else, that he wouldn't have her.

was not what she wanted in a husband. The young man then talked openly to her of his intentions to marry her but, although she verbally accepted, the engagementwas not brought before the parents because within the month she left to work for a family teaching at a Bible school in Niger. The two wrote regularly for three years. Then, all of a sudden, her letters came less frequently; the young

Once the young man declared his love to the girl and was accepted, he then approached the pastor who gave him advice on how to proceed. The next step was to notify the girl's parents. To do this, the young man put money in an envelope, bought four cold Cokes, and went to the girl's home. After talking to the young man alone, the father called the girl in and asked her three questions: "Doyou love this man?

Can we accept these giftsfrom him? Willyou ever

separatefrom him?"

Upon hearing the proper responses, the father

brought his daughter and the young man together before him, and both parents prayed their blessings on
the couple. This was early in 1992.

The period of engagement was the time for learning about one another's character and family. To do this,
the couple got together in the midst of family members once a week and visited. Having family present served a double purpose: the first, to introduce the chosen mate to the family over-time in a casual manner; and the second, to protect the couple from rumors and questions of impropriety. As the engagement neared the end, the young couple
visited all the area churches in order to announce their

The groom'sfamily carries his gifts tothe bride's parent's home.

girrs home and'stopped 100 meters away. All the

gifts were then carried on the women's heads to the

love for one another. Since it was the obligation of the young man to present his bride to be, this is what he said, "Finally... God hasgiven me my other half. I have the joy ofpresenting hertoyou. Pleaseprayfor us as wepreparefor marriage. " This announcementwas
seen as a covenant between fellow Christians and the

family's gatewhile everyone sanga welcome in order to give the girl's family enough notice to make all the final preparations. The song of welcome also called out to the girl in the name of her fiance. Upon arrival at the family's compound, the guests were refused entry until theysang a songof praise to the girl's family. This was to show the neighbors what a jewel the girl was; to prove, so to speak, that shewas earnestly sought after.

young couple.

After the announcement, the only thing left to do was to assemble and present the bride price. The original bride price list was compiled by
the mother of the bride. It was, of course,

Before the guests entered the gate, water was dumped

over the threshold to symbolize the peace and freshness of the new relationship forming between the two families. All the gifts were arranged neatly before the grandparents for inspection. When they had. . finished inspectingthem, the aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings also examined the gifts. This was done by the extended family because the parents had already accepted the offerof marriage.
Now it was in the hands of the

very long, so with the girl as the mediator the young man and the
mother-in-law-to-be bartered for several

weeks to come to a final agreement. About 80% of the bride price included gifts for the bride herself. It was the groom's way of visually cutting the ties between her and her family, proving that he could "provide" for his new wife, thus proving that she belonged
to him.

It took over one year for the young man to assemble all the gifts and money for the bride price. When the day finally arrived to present it, the young man was forbidden by custom from attending the ceremony. Instead, he was represented by family members and

elders of the family to give their final approval. All throughout the ceremony, the

family inspects the


-r, , , j j I he bride s extended

womenn representing the young i u r i

The day of the ceremony, the representatives gathered at the church to collect the gifts. They rode to the

through song. They began by asking the girl's family to say all that was on their hearts, then they continuously praised the girl's family. When the gifts were finally

^an talked to the girl s family

examined, the women sang their appreciation for a favorable response.

The young man's mother and sistersat at the door during the evening, wiping each person's feet as he or she entered. This showed the humilityof the family

church. For the young couple, the church ceremony

held the most significance.

in asking for the girl and was a sign of welcoming the girl into their family. Also, the young man's mother
discreetly cleared the yard of all the rocks and laid out cloth in anticipation of the girl's entry to view the

As theyeach entered the church, the choir sang blessings for them. When they were both finally up front, the whole congregation sang a welcome. After a sermon on biblical marriage and a time of blessing from the pastor, the congregation and the choir sang while guests came forward to present their gifts to the couple and greet them. The evening ended with photos and a dinner reception at the girl's home. After the reception, the young man left for several hours while the girl stayed with her family to say her final goodbyes. Near midnight, the women of the girl's family brought the young man to his new wife.
We would like to present to you TinTin and Helen Weke, married May 27, 1995. Please pray for them as they lead young couples in the church. Pray for their marriage as you would pray for any other marriage.

were sent out in her

Is this the the bride bride or another? A this or another?

place to which the women responded in song, "No, sendthe other; this oneis not quality; she's
not the choice."

Finally, the girl enteredwalking on the carefullyplaced fabric and dressed in new clothes she had bought for herself. She entered and left three times, each time appearing in another new outfit as she examined the gifts.

When she had examined all the gifts, her father asked her three questions again: "Do you love him? Do you accept these gifts? Can we accept these gifts?" After three yeses, the women began to praise her in song. Then the father gave her his final counsel: to obey her husband and to not bring shame to her family. He prayed his blessing on her and released her to be married. The evening ended with a celebration

Two weeks later, the young man and the girl were joined by the State in a civil ceremony, and three days after that the marriage ceremonywas held at the

growth. She is a new Christian, and he has his

thoughts toward the ministry.

Finally, praise God for our marriage. In September, we will celebrate eight years of marriage, andwe both know that without the other we are incomplete!
Rejoice with us in our love!

Thanks for your time andyour support.

Love in Jesus,

The Aliens in Benin

P.S. If you would like a summary of our past year, please-ontaetT4aomi Kouns, Ghristian-MissiGnary Fellowship, P.O. Box 501020, Indianapolis, IN
46250-6020; 317-578-2700.


Steve and Shawn Allen

Christian Missionary Fellowship

P.O. BOX 501020 INDIANAPOLIS. IN 46250-6020

Nonprofit Otpaiauoa U.S.Pottage

Permit No. 2975

Indianapolis, Indiana

Address Correction Requested

Mission Services Editorial Dept P E^ox 427

Knoxville TN 37901-4ii;/

Due to a printer's error, we sent this corrected copy

Steve & Shawn

B.P. 85

Savalou, Benin
West Africa


November 1995

We could define team in many ways, depending on the type of work being done and the type of people doing it. Teams that come to mind are sports teams, worship teams, medical teams, and research teams. Obviously, these teams would function very differently from one another and would require varying levels of skills and commitments from their
members. So it is with missions; there are teams of
missionaries all over the world from the bush to the

booming cities, from middle class neighborhoods to

mountainside subsistence farms. People from very
Tori in church: She's greatat makingfriends and keeping the

diverse backgrounds, possessing different skills, are teaming up to touch the world with love. CMF is highly committed to teams as well. Every
CMF team around the world has a different "face."

Accountability overseeing finances, time management, and decision making. Church ~ giving guidance and support in prayer, spiritual growth, and worship.

Their strengths and weaknesses vary as well as the methods they use to accomplish the goal, but each
team is as important as the next.

In our first four years overseas, we have experienced life on two very different teams and even life without
a team. We've learned a lot about what team can be

Business planning strategy, setting goals, checking progress, and evaluating failures. School researching new ideas, sharing information, asking questions, and forming

and about working on a team. We'd like to share a bit of that with you. TEAM can be any combination of the following: Family ~ sharing special occasions (birthdays, holidays, milestones), sorrows, and day-to-day happenings. Encouragement -- praising, approving, cheering one
another on.

Marriage -- sharing honestly, feeling safe, correcting, and respecting Mission serving, loving, searching for deeper understanding and, thus, clearer communication. Friendship ~ laughing, playing, relaxing together.

We've experienced teams with a surplus in several of

these areas, as well as deficits in other areas. We have learned in which areas we are most comfortable and in which areas we most need to work. We left for the

field thinking that "team" meant basically all of the above, but we now realize that being human makes that impossible without a lot of work.
We share this to let you know where we are right
We have weathered culture shock and language

learning. We have made some really neat friends.

Tori and Clark accompany summer interns, Melanie and Amy, on a bike through a coffee plantation in a Togo rain forest.

Three churches have been born and are growing!

Within those churches there are choirs, women's

Shawn bargains at the market.

groups, youth activities, a drama group, discipleship training, prayer meetings, and Bible studies. We are thrilled by how God has worked, and excited about the possibilities for the future. But, we are tired. At present, we are the only CMF family in Benin. We are thankful that missionary recruits Damon and Juli Jones are raising support to join our team. We believe a healthy team for Benin would have four missionary families. Will you pray with us about this need?
Ask God:

Amytaught an English class at the Savalou Youth Center.

1. If He would have^fw join us. 2. If there is anyone you know who should be part of this team. If so, talk with that person, send their name to CMF, and pray for them. 3. To raise up a team to work in West Africa. Praise God for the stamina He's given us to complete four challenging years overseas and for the peace He's given us about the future! Thank you for your love, support, and prayers.

Walking in Faith ... one step at a time.

yijc, sk
La Famille Allen in Benin!

Melanie helped with a VBS. We had 80 children and lotsoffun!

Steve and Shawn Allen

NonproGi Ot(;aniuiion U.S. Poiligc

Christian Missionary Fellowship

P.O. BOX 501020

Pertnii No. 2975


Address Correction Requested

Mission Services

Editorial Dept
P 0 Box 427

Knoxville TM 37901.~47