The Christmas season invites us in and sparks celebration. Because of the birth of Jesus, we find peace in the fact that God chose to dwell among us through Jesus and continues to dwell within us today. We find encouragement of this truth through Pastor Joseph Ouedraogo, who founded Rehoboth Schools in Burkina Faso with a listening ear and faith-filled steps.
Rehoboth is a school with a story to its name. First of all, the word “Rehoboth” comes from Genesis 26, after Isaac leaves Egypt forever, following God to a place “where his descendants would multiply as the stars of heaven,” and “his seed would bless the nations” (Genesis 26:4 NIV). After arriving and discovering fresh water, Isaac thanked God and named the well “Rehoboth,” proclaiming that “the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land” (Genesis 26:22, NIV).
Where It All Began
During a Bible reading of this story, Pastor Joseph Ouedraogo, founder, and owner of Rehoboth Schools, received instruction that this was to be the name of his school. The word, meaning “wide places,” speaks to exactly how God would make space for Joseph to construct the school buildings.
Joseph recalls the original vision of the school when he was only nine years old, “The school buildings were revealed to me in dreams at age nine. At that time, I understood very little about it. It wasn’t until after my pastoral studies, when I was looking for a plot of land to build a church, that the Lord instructed me on how to plant both the church and the first school.”
How would this all come to pass? Joseph only needed to draw close and give God the space to show him.
Under a Tree
The Lord gave Joseph a second vision about the school in 2003. While Joseph was resting under a tree, he received a vision from the Lord with specific instructions to incorporate a second school alongside the first. With a new fire in his heart and a clear picture of the Lord’s plans, he began acquiring the land for both schools – yet not without opposition. Joseph recounts the miracles the Lord worked to make way for developing the land and building the schools in the face of pushback.
“I still remember when the chief of the village came and stopped the school’s construction in 2009. On the same night, I saw four angels who came from heaven and stared at the four corners of the site simultaneously, then flew up to the sky. Three days later, one of the chief’s notables came looking for me and told me this: ‘The chief is looking for you urgently.’ When I arrived, I found the chief surrounded by his advisers, and he told me this [after he saw the sign from God]:’ You are not a foreigner. You are my son, and what I saw last night there… I give you the land and the permission to build your school. God is in your business.'”
What God begins, He brings to completion. As He dwells with us, He fills the open spaces of our lives with His goodness – such is the case of Rehoboth Schools. Over the years, there has been abundant goodness flowing into the community as a result of the school. Rehoboth has become a beacon of light where there once was only empty space. These grounds have become a place for evangelism, discipleship, youth camps, and transformation.
It’s often in the open areas of our lives where we see God’s miracle-working power. When we “draw near to Him, He draws near to us” James 4:8 (NIV). As we consider this, how much more could He do if we boldly drew near to Him just like Joseph did? The results would surely be more than we could ever ask or imagine.