As Christmas draws near, our hearts and minds are turned once again to reflect on the Son whom God has sent into the world to be born of a virgin. We celebrate not only the gift of His Son, but the gift of abundant and eternal life received by those who believe in His Son to save us from our sins. This is the Good News of the Gospel for which we labor among the deaf in Africa.
Some months ago, United Parcel Service gave a generous $24,000 USD donation towards our new school construction just outside of Ibadan, Nigeria. Under the leadership of director Emmanuel Ilabor, the women’s dorm is now 70% complete, with about $15,000 USD remaining to finish the doors, windows, plumbing, electrical, plaster and paint. Pray with us that the 500-student facility will be finished quickly so that we can move our school out of our over-crowded facility into this spacious 39-acre property.
At the main center in Ibadan, our ~200 deaf students continue to experience healthy interactions with various schools. It’s eye opening for hearing students on a field trip to the center to see so many active deaf students. And a number of our recent graduates have been accepted at the University of Ibadan and the Federal College of Special Education. We’re excited for the graduates and praying for a smooth transition as they prepare for adult life.
Two of our churches in Nigeria have undergone extensive expansions this past year. In the city of Yola (in the eastern state of Adamwa), God has led some German friends to assist with the construction of a beautiful chapel and elementary school for the deaf. Mrs. Ruth Ulea, a graduate of our CMD schools, is heading up the facility. Pray for wisdom and safekeeping, as the region is just south of hostile Boko-Haram territory. The second deaf church planted in Lagos in the ‘70s is now nearing completion on a 2-story expansion. We’re grateful to the local deaf association for their tireless work in raising the funds for the completion, and look forward to the grand opening in February.
Pray that the Lord will continue to guide the deaf in Nigeria through these many transitions. Pray also that they will be protected from the travesty of “prosperity Gospel”, a twisted version of the Good News which is particularly rampant in Nigeria, and rapidly being exported from Nigeria to other African nations.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Since his inauguration in 2001, D.R. Congo’s President Joseph Kabila has exerted what some would call a near-dictatorial rule over this resource-rich but economically impoverished country. Protests and riots were sparked in September when he announced he would not step down after his term limits expire on December 19th. Pray for our students and faculty in Bukavu, Fizi, Likasi and Uvira during this election season. Cities like Bukavu and Uvira have very weak (and corrupt) governments, and our teachers and staff there are bracing for rampant violence after the elections.
Praise God with us that our school in Uvira has seen rapid growth over the past year. Under Director Pililo Amani’s guidance, enrollment has jumped up to 75 students and 12 faculty members. A tailoring class has been in the works for several years now, and has finally gotten off the ground after a new classroom was completed. A few years ago, we expanded the school so as to offer secondary classes. We’re now seeing those efforts bear fruit: Lord willing, our first crop of secondary students will be graduating this spring! Pray for these students as they continue to prepare for state exams in June.
Pray in particular for the deaf church that collaborates with our Uvira school. They are in dire need of help with the leadership. The lone pastoral leader, Adolphe, has his hands full dividing time between the church in Uvira and his ill grandmother in Goma, some 15 hours north.
Director Yves Beosso reports that their property has sustained quite a bit of damage this past rain season. One of the administrative buildings had some extensive damage, and the temporary repairs have degraded to a point to where the building is no longer safe for daily use. They have a dire need for about $900 USD to make permanent repairs to the building.
You may recall that brother Beosso’s wife, Agnes, suffered a stroke in 2009, the same year that my mother, Berta Foster, also suffered a stroke. Although Agnes’ stroke was not as severe, her health has now deteriorated to the point that she is in dire need of a wheelchair. Unfortunately, the cheapest wheelchair we’ve been able to find is still over $280 – three month’s wages! Pray with us that we’ll be able to quickly raise this money and help alleviate the hardships of this godly woman.
Excellent news: Faith’s daughter, Alessandra, recently gave birth to Lila, Berta’s first great-grandchild. She’s definitely a cutie, and her parents could not be more proud!
Lord willing, our 16-year old son Daniel will be making his first trip with us to Africa in July, 2017. Due to school and finances, he has not been able to accompany us on past trips. He’s heard us tell wild stories of Gospel work in Africa, but now will get to experience life in the Congo first hand. Pray that our plans will go smoothly, and that he’ll gain a fresh and exciting vision for the work of God in a radically different cultural context.