By Kerry Robinson
God’s timing is always perfect. Even when we do not understand it at the time, it is always perfect. Even halfway around the world (as I am as I write this in Côte d’Ivoire), it is always perfect.
Over a year ago, our missionaries Larry and LeAnn Sellers invited me to return to Côte d’Ivoire to teach another group of Ivorian Pastors at the West Africa Bible Institute. Our partnership with the Ivorian church has grown extensively over the last eighteen years. People and pastors from East Side Church of God have provided work camps, funding, and teaching. Pastors from Côte d’Ivoire have visited East Side on three occasions over the last decade. My returning to teach a class this September was simply another link in the chain that connects our congregation to the congregations of this West African nation. But God had other plans, perfect plans with incredible timing.
Four days before my scheduled departure, the Sellers called us to let us know that Pastor Daniel N’Goran had died unexpectedly. Pastor Daniel had visited East Side on three different occasions during our partnership. He was a member of the executive committee of the Ivorian church, the speaker for Christians Broadcasting Hope’s French-language radio ministry, the primary professor for the West Africa Bible Institute, and a personal friend. I was present for his graduation from the Bible institute, his ordination as a pastor, and the early tapings for CBH. He was gifted as a preacher and teacher. He was forty-three years old. The Church of God has lost a significant leader in our efforts to carry the gospel to the French-speaking countries of the world. East Side has lost a partner in ministry. And I have lost a friend. Which brings me back to God’s perfect timing.
The call from the Sellers was more than an informational call. It was an invitation from the Church of God leadership team in Côte d’Ivoire and Pastor Daniel’s family to preach his funeral. I was honored to accept. So last Friday evening, I joined hundreds of Ivorians in an all-night wake with Pastor Daniel’s wife Zita, their four children, and the rest of his family. On Saturday morning I preached the funeral sermon. The students from my class this week served as pallbearers for the professor they were scheduled to study with next week. Our hearts were heavy, but God’s Spirit will give birth to hope. Hope? Yes, hope. As I shared with Pastor Daniel’s home congregation (the previous Sunday) from 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, we grieve as those who know the hope of Jesus Christ. Jesus was Daniel’s Savior. He is still Daniel’s Lord.
In God’s perfect timing, I get to grieve and hope with Daniel’s family and the Ivorian church. In God’s perfect timing, Daniel joined the throng of worshipers in heaven’s throne room. In God’s perfect timing, all of us who follow Jesus will join Daniel and the multitude from every tribe, every language, and every nation singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”
Kerry Robinson is the senior pastor of East Side Church of God in Anderson, Indiana. The article was originally published on his blog on September 18, 2014.