Democratic Republic of Congo
Our annual Congo Bible Camp was a great success, with over 100 people from 15 different deaf churches coming to Bukavu. Three people who were very interested in our conference came in from as far away as Kisangani, a 2-day trip. Due to the low literacy rates among the deaf Congolese, most churches focus on Bible stories at the expense of doctrine. Our camps work to fill the gap, emphasizing sound doctrine as a basis for our faith and works. This year, we taught through the book of Ephesians. While the content of chapters 5 and 6 were familiar territory for many of them, the first 4 chapters were new. So far, we’ve had excellent feedback from many of the attendees. Perhaps the most bittersweet comment was from Joceyln, a lady from Kigali, Rwanda. She said that she was sad that the week was over because she was learning so much, and felt frustrated because her church doesn’t teach doctrine like this. Unfortunately, comments like hers are not unusual. Pray with us that our teaching will be greatly used by God to equip them for the good works they have been ordained to do (Eph 2:10).
A hearing couple, Miriam and Bartholomew Toto, came to our
camp to see what we were doing and to learn more about us. As it turns out, they were missionaries with YWAM in Uganda for seven years, and during that time had to raise their own support from local believers. Now that they’ve returned to the Congo, their aim is to work with the deaf in Bukavu, teaching Biblical living, while modeling a Biblically-based work ethic. Truly, this is a great need, particularly among the deaf leadership. It’s not uncommon for deaf evangelists in the Congo to believe that they have to sit and wait for a foreign benefactor to sponsor their evangelism work. For these evangelists, Paul’s teaching on finances in 1 Cor 9 (“worker is worthy of his wages”, tent-making, etc) is counter-cultural, and the Totos are making an impact both in their teaching and in their living example. Pray that God will continue to bless them and provide for their daily needs.
Ramazani Hertier, one of the graduates from our Uvira school, is now the director of his own school for the deaf in Fizi, in the Baraka Province. His school is now starting its 3rd year with over 50 deaf students enrolled. In a recent exploration trip through villages in the province, Ramazani was able to find another 15 students. Since most of the parents do not have the funds to support their children’s education, the growth in enrollment creates an additional financial burden. Although Ramazani’s spiritual training is not extensive, he’s the de-facto pastor for the deaf in Fizi. We’re excited that the Lord is using his ambition for his fellow deaf Congolese, and praying for ways to improve and strengthen their faith. We’d like to get several of these men into the Timothy School at the Kigobe Mission Station in Burundi (Some of you may know Jesse and Joy Johnson in Burundi. The Timothy School operates out of their facility).
Pray for us as we look to God for solutions to these unique challenges.
Director Yves Besso reports that repairs from the recent storm damage in N’Djamena have been completed. We thank God for your willingness to financially support this need. Yves’ son has recently passed Secondary school exams, and we’re looking at sponsorship options to send him to Bible college in Nigeria. His Biblical education will further quip him to be a great asset in his work with the deaf in Chad.
Due to a lack of funds, construction at the new property in Toukera has come to a standstill. Some poachers are encroaching on the property, so additional legal measures need to be taken in order to remove them. Pray for wisdom and provision.
In the city of Mondou, two deaf ladies have passed away after battling a lengthy illness. Pray for their families and church as they cope with the loss.
The Andrew Jackson Foster Scholarship Memorial Fund has raised funds to bring a promising candidate, John Linus, to Texas to further his formal and spiritual education. Unfortunately he has run into difficulties with obtaining a student visa, and will not be able to enroll this fall at the Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf. Pray that he will be able to receive his visa soon and begin his college education.
After our July conference in the Congo, Aaron Kuglin (a seminary student from Fort Worth who helped teach at the conference), Yves Beosso and I accompanied PhD candidate Joel Runnels to visit my father’s gravesite and attempt to find the site of his 1987 plane crash.
Joel has worked with various secular NGOs in East Africa for 20 years, and everywhere he went, he kept hearing stories about a deaf man named Andrew Foster, and all the amazing things he had done. After being unable to find much printed information about him, Joel decided to do his dissertation on my father’s life and work among the deaf in Africa. Pray with us that Joel’s research into my father’s earthly good works will not be an occasion to celebrate the accomplishments of a man, but rather, be a call to glorify our Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16)
Please keep Mother Berta in your prayers. She’s usually in good spirits, but her mobility continues to decline.