The Work Goes On
The Work Goes On
By Lynette Morgan
I still remember the day in early January 1962, as an 11-year-old girl, when I first saw Doropo, Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa. It had taken our family of five, riding in an air-conditioner-less VW van, two long, fatiguing days to get to this remote village. Doropo, 400 miles into the interior, was as far from the capital of Abidjan as you could get before entering the next African country, then Upper Volta. All but 50 miles had been on dirt roads: from teeth-jarring washboards to brown sandy ruts and dusty red “fareways” that left us covered from head to toe like red, powdered-sugar donuts.
By that evening, when we finally crossed the precarious wood planks spanning a dried-up gully, we were ready to get somewhere, anywhere. But we could not imagine what awaited us. As we entered the big village of mud huts and small cement buildings, we saw people lining the road, waving and smiling and welcoming us, like crowds awaiting the president. The stream of people continued all the way up the half-mile hill to the piece of property given to the Mission by the village. When we stepped out of the van, village chiefs and dignitaries were waiting, along with missionary Dan Merkh, who had been building our house. The people of the village were so excited to have the first-ever doctor in this remote area. For us, we were finally home.
Those first months were spent learning about our new surroundings and its people. My mom finished teaching my brothers and me—grades 3, 6, and 8—so we could all go off to boarding school in the fall. Mom and Dad, still brain-challenged from learning French, started learning the Lobi language. Due to the immense physical needs, my dad began treating patients from a tiny trailer while the clinic was constructed. Mom, a lab technician, was his “nurse,” boiling needles and syringes on the gas stove and giving injections. All the while we were falling in love with Africa and its people.
After my brothers and I went away to school, the clinic was completed, and my mother and father began to see patients daily. Because we didn’t have electricity, a battery-operated cassette player shared the gospel in various languages as patients waited hours to see the doctor. The reputation of the medical center spread, and before long, my parents were seeing an average of 100 patients a day. The sick were treated and healed, and the gospel was preached. The call my dad had received was being obeyed: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
On Sundays, we continued the Bible classes Dan and Margaret Merkh had started with the children, and little by little, adults also began following “God’s road.” My dad, invited by those he treated at the clinic, began riding his motorcycle to villages near Doropo to preach. Mom taught sewing/Bible classes. The Paynes and the Lees joined the team, and the work grew among the Lobis, the tribe on which we were focused.
By the time my brother Lynn and I went to college in 1966 and 1968, we had sensed the call of God on our lives to return as missionaries among the Lobis. Lynn and his wife Ramona and two children arrived in Doropo in 1973. Sadly, due to illness they had to return to the States in 1977. Once the illness had been identified and treated, the family went to France, planting a church in the town of Lorient during six years on that field.
After a year of language study in France, Clint and I and our two little boys arrived in Doropo in August 1978. I had finished my R.N. training and eagerly looked forward to working with my dad in the hospital. But only five months after our arrival, my parents felt the Lord leading them back to the States, and we moved into their house in Doropo to carry on the work. My dad returned to the States and taught at Free Will Baptist Bible College for the next 17 years, pouring himself into countless young people seeking God’s will for their lives.
Clint and I ministered in Doropo for eight years, and our family increased from four to six during that time. Clint was involved in village and church ministries. I spent my time helping at the hospital, teaching women and children, and home-schooling our own children. But in 1987, the Lord impressed upon us the need for a Bible institute to train leaders—not only Lobis from our growing churches but for Koulongs and Agnis from the other areas where we had missionaries. We left “home” and moved to Bouna, 50 miles south, to start a Bible institute with Eddie Payne and Mike Cousineau.
In 2002, 35 men had graduated from the Bible institute, men of God who began pastoring and leading churches. Again, God changed the direction of our lives when we were asked by the Mission to begin research to develop a strategy for reaching those in closed and restricted-access countries. The Hanna Project was born out of that effort. Clint became the director, and in 2007 we joined the first THP team sent by the mission, settling in the south of France to reach Muslims from North Africa.
In March of this year, Clint and I returned to Doropo with a THP mission team. It had been seven years since I had been there. The village has now spread all the way up the hill to the medical station, where the newer buildings stand as a lighthouse of hope, health, and healing. My dad’s dream of a hospital staffed and run by African personnel has come true. During the week we were there, our team of nurses partnered with the hospital staff, and together we performed 16 surgeries and treated hundreds of patients in the village. At the same time, the gospel was preached, both by us and a Lobi evangelist, a graduate of the Bible institute.
Fifty-five years ago, my family drove into that dark area where the light of the gospel had not reached, and we began shining that light. Today, patients continue to be treated, healed, and the gospel boldly preached. God has planted and continues to grow His Church in Lobi Land.
About the Writer: Veteran missionary
Lynette Morgan is daughter of pioneer medical missionaries Dr. LaVerne and Lorene Miley. Along with her husband Clint, she served
with excellence in Côte d’Ivoire from 1976-2005, and in France from 2007 to 2011.
On February 10, 2011, Clint became general director of International Missions.