Dear CMD Partners!
As Christmas draws near, we reflect on the year that God has brought us through and the many ways He has shown Himself to be Lord of all. Sheryl and I were able to spend almost 3 weeks in the eastern Congo this past August and September. While we continue to see fruit in the work that CMD is doing, we’re reminded that there is still much to do in this field that is so white for harvest.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Sheryl and I had a wonderful time in the north-eastern province of the DRC, teaching with the Tom and Kathy Lindquist at the 2011 Congo Bible Camp. Much of what we taught this year was shaped by what we had seen in the past. Last year, the deaf leaders asked endless questions, showing a strong hunger for in-depth teaching on the details of the Gospel, the means of sanctification, and methods of Bible Study. So we made specific plans this year to provide teaching that would meet their need. We were told to expect 50 attendees, 15 of whom would be in the special evangelist/leadership class. To our pleasant surprise, we had over 60 attendees, and 19 in the evangelist class! We were thankful to see the participants engaged and studying hard, indifferent to the dirt floor, lack of electricity and limited food. More importantly, we’re thrilled at the emails we continue to get from the attendees. Pray that the Lord will continue to use these seeds to help them grow as leaders and teachers in their deaf communities and beyond.
To see more photos and read blog posts from our trip, please visit www.CMDeaf.org/cbc2011
After the week-long camp, I traveled to the southern part of the Congo to visit our school in Likasi for a few days. Andrew Foster, my father, was the last person from the States to visit them, and that was back in ’87 or so, shortly before the Lord took him home. The school year hadn’t started yet, but there were a few students that would come to the school grounds daily for fellowship. They were thrilled to have a visitor from the States, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship and encouragement.
In meeting with the school staff and leaders, I got a chance to learn quite a bit about the expansions they have done in their ministry, and the variety of unique challenges they now face as their school is approaching 90 students. Unfortunately, their local support is waning and due to financial cutbacks, the school has lost a few teachers in the past couple of years. The remaining teachers are earning about 1/3 the salary they would earn if they worked at neighboring government schools, but Daniel Ngoy, the school’s administrator, has been able to convince them to stay and serve a higher calling. Please pray for these men and women and their families, that God would be gracious to them for their self-sacrifice. (If you would like to make donations specifically for their school, mention “Likasi School” with your gift.) To see photos and read blog posts from our trip, please visit www.CMDeaf.org/cbc2011
After quite a few challenges, our school in Uvira has now expanded to offer secondary school education for the deaf. Praise God for His provisions! Currently, twelve students are enrolled, and we expect more before the end of the school year. Pililo Amani, the school’s director, has had to hire additional staff now that the school is approaching 60 students. Pray that Pililo and his staff won’t be overwhelmed as the student body continues to grow.
On a somber note, please pray for a stronger presence of solid evangelical churches in Uvira, both in the hearing and deaf communities. There has been rapid growth of feel-good, “prosperity gospel” ministries in this region of the Congo, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to stress to young believers the fallacy of this mindset.
Due to time constraints, we weren’t able to visit our training center in Ibadan. We’re hoping to be able to visit both Nigeria and Chad in the spring, but financial constraints may dictate otherwise. Emmanuel Ilabor, the director, reports that the 20th annual fall leadership conference was “a huge success through the grace of God”. The theme was Leadership With Godly Character, and many pastors and teachers taught and shared in good fellowship.
Several years ago, the Lord blessed the center with 39 acres of undeveloped land on the outskirts of Ibadan. Emmanuel and his staff immediately began raising money for new school buildings, but were unable to make significant progress. This past summer, the government expanded the road in front of the property and had to purchase land from the center. Although this is a small loss in property, Emmanuel estimates they’ll be able to build ten classrooms with this unexpected infusion of funds. The long-range vision is to have a facility to support 300 dormitory students, and Emmanuel and his team are seeking to raise another $138,000 toward this goal. Please pray diligently for this ambitious project. Over the past few decades, the center in Ibadan has been effective in training thousands of deaf students and leaders, and has helped start over 20 deaf churches throughout Nigeria. The development of the property will be a wonderful blessing for this ministry.
Thank you for your continued prayer regarding Berta’s health. She has good days and bad days, but over the past few months, we’ve seen more good days than bad, and even a slight increase in her speech capability. As always, she’s full of smiles as she rests at her daughter’s home.
Sheryl and I would like to make a trip to Nigeria and Chad this spring. The stagnant economy is affecting all aspects of CMD’s ministry efforts, so pray for the Lord’s wisdom as we seek to be responsible stewards and faithful servants. Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.