I stand to give honor to whom honor is due.
• Our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ
• Tinwende and her family
• Dignitaries from around Burkina Faso and the world
• The Assemblies of God General Superintendent, the Executive Leadership, Pastors, congregations, and especially my Zone 1 church family.
• To all who follow Jesus Christ and to all who have yet to experience the joy of salvation.
Today’s primary text is the first Psalm. May God add his favor and blessing to the reading of His word.
In some ways death is very ugly. The Apostle Paul says:
• The body that is planted into the grave is perishable.
• The body is planted into the grave in dishonor.
• The body is planted into the grave in weakness.
In the 116th Psalm we learn that “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Far from being hopeless and ugly, the Christian’s death is precious and is personally seen by God. Our God was watching over every moment of Pastor Pawentaore’s last days.
Because the Christian death is precious to God, we can proclaim into a world confused and fearful of death that this is our finest hour!
This is our finest hour because of what God can do in a person.
• The goal of life in the Old Testament may have been wisdom.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
• The Old Testament’s greatest command is to love God.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4
• The Old Testament clearly tells us what is good and what the Lord requires of us.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
This is our finest hour because God has done these things in Pastor Pawentaore’. God has given him wisdom, love, and a ministry of justice, mercy, and humility.
There is another reason that this is our finest hour. Not only is it amazing to see what God can do in a person but also equally fantastic to see what God has done for a person.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
It was in Saaba, at seven years of age, that young Pawentaore’, first confessed his sins and began to realize what God has done for him.
Today is a terrific day for you to confess your sins and place your trust in what God has done for you.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of Mary and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. John 11:25-26
God has done great things in Pastor Pawentaore’ and has done equally great things for him. A final reason that this is our finest hour is because of what God does with a person.
When a person walks with God for many years, they come to experience the truth of Jesus’ words, “Behold, I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20
For many years Pastor walked with God. Every path in Burkina Faso, every international flight, in every meeting and on every occasion the Bible tells us that God was with him. Glory to God. God is with His people!
But at death a Christian finds an exciting new understanding of what God does with them.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14
Pastor Pawentaore’ is learning more about being with God than he could ever imagine.
He told me many, many times: “Where there is water, there is life.” “We must plant trees.”
I will always remember Pastor Pawentaore’s love of water and trees and because of this, I have come to understand a theology of water and trees.
The Bible opens with God being with man in a garden. The Bible ends with man being with God in His garden.
The first garden featured two trees, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of Life and four rivers.
Humanity was saved through Noah’s ark, made from trees and floating on water.
The lamp stand, the table of showbread, the altar of incense, the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat were all made from trees too.
It was a tree that turned bitter water into pure water.
It was a tree that would provide the fire for Abraham’s potential sacrifice of Isaac.
Jesus was riding in a wooden boat upon the stormy water of the Sea of Galilee when he calmed the storm.
Underneath the heavy weight of a tree our Lord, who is the water of life, stumbled and fell.
Nailed to a tree Jesus, the living Word of God, was killed and when pierced in His precious side, water and blood flowed out.
Yes, there is a strong theology of water and trees in the Bible!
It is amazing what God can do with a tree.
Today we can joyfully celebrate that Pastor Pawentaore is not only our example of the first section of Psalm 1, but also of the second section:
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
When Pastor Pawentaore’ told me, “Where there is water there is life, and “We must plant trees,” I didn’t understand that it was a tree planted by streams of water that was talking to me!
Yes, this is our finest hour because of what God does with a person who is like a tree planted by streams of water!
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22
I ask today, how can we honor Pastor Pawentaore’s life and continue to make this our finest hour?
Notice that Psalm 1 says that his leaf does not wither. Even after death Pastor’s leaf will continue to flourish and bless.
Also see that Revelation 22 declares that the leaves of heaven’s tree are for the healing of the nations.
May I suggest two of the leaves on Pastor Pawentaore’s tree that will not wither and will continue to be healing for the nations?
The first leaf is, “Kent, God is good.”
From Adam and Eve’s early experience with the two trees, Satan began to suggest that God isn’t good.
Never listen to the enemy of your soul. Always sit under the shade of Pastor’s tree and declare, God is good.
The second leaf is, “Kent, we must love.”
At the occasion of Pastor’s death we have the option of pulling up to his tree and hold the leaf of God’s love or we have the option to fall into the dark hole of lack of unity.
We must love those who look like us and those who look differently.
We must love those with more than us and those who have less.
We must love those who agree with us and those who disagree.
We must love those who have more power than we do and those who have less power.
We must love those who have come before us and those who will follow after us.
Yes, this is our finest hour because of what God can do with a person.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16
May God bless the entire Ouedraogo family with His comfort by knowing all that God has done in, for, and with your beloved son, husband, father, and brother.