Dear CMD Partners!
Thank you for your continued partnering with us as we strive to hold forth the pure Word of God and build up His saints in these silent corners of the world. Your faithfulness is truly a blessing.
I wasn’t able to make it to Nigeria this spring as I had hoped, but I was able to spend almost two weeks in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, and helped at the 16th Annual Easter Camp for the Deaf. Due to time and financial constraints, I traveled alone while my wife, Sheryl, stayed home in Texas with the kids.
Most of the campers lived locally, but many braved 6 to 12 hours of grueling “African-styled travel” to get to the camp. Over 220 participants – 40 more than expected – gathered at our school in N’Djamena for a week of Bible teaching and good fellowship. The teaching was solid, the Spirit was working, and hearts were convicted. More than 20 people gave their lives to the Lord. Praise God!
The theme for the week was “Who is Christ.” Teaching was divided between five teachers, and I had been asked to teach on the death and resurrection of Christ. A typical day would begin with devotions, followed by breakfast and 2-3 hours of morning teaching. The campers then divided up into four groups to do further study on the material that was taught, followed by a contest to see which team could get the most number of correct answers. Each afternoon included additional teaching on a variety of subjects.
In my afternoon session, I taught on the seven Hebrew Feasts (Lev 23), and showed how each of the Spring Feasts pointed to Christ, and was fulfilled on the exact same day the feast was celebrated by the Jews. A number of the campers commented that this was new teaching for them, and helped them gain a better appreciation and understanding of the work of Christ and how He fulfilled prophecy. (Handouts are available online at CMDeaf.org/resources.)
Praise God for His redeeming love and the professions of faith! Pray that the campers will remain faithful in their commitment to daily personal study of the Scriptures. Pray that these young men and women will stay rooted, growing in His grace.
I would like to tell you about Noura. She’s 11 years old and comes from a Muslim family in the northern parts of Chad. She’s fun-loving, hard-working, loves to help cook and clean, and like the other kids, she was quite intrigued by my camera, laughing at the photos and videos of herself.
When I first asked her name, she just smiled and withdrew a bit. At first I thought she was shy or perhaps didn’t understand my sign language, but the other kids quickly explained that there are no schools for the deaf in the Muslim region where she comes from. A missionary found her and convinced her parents to send her to our school. She’s been living there for a few months and is now starting formal education for the first time. All her life, she’s only used rudimentary gestures to communicate. Not only does she not know how to read or write, she doesn’t know sign-language and can’t communicate with anyone – she doesn’t even know her own name! If her Muslim parents let her stay in our Christian school, within the year, she will learn her name for the first time, and a few months later, will learn the name of Jesus Christ! Noura serves as a vivid reminder of the impact deafness causes and how God works through you and CMD in this unique ministry. It’s also a sobering reminder that for every Noura, there are hundreds who live beyond the reach of a deaf school and live out their entire lives without either the ability or opportunity to hear the name of Jesus Christ.
Pray that Noura’s parents will leave her in our school. Pray for Noura’s education and salvation. Pray also that the Lord will enable us to support more schools and ministries for the deaf in unreached parts of Africa.
In recent years, one of our schools in Moundou has been financially supported by CBM, a German organization that primarily works with the blind. However three years ago, CBM restructured their operations in Chad and now no longer supports a number of projects in Chad, including the school in Moundou. In a regular school, the nominal government salary would be supplemented by student tuitions. Unfortunately for a deaf school, most African parents don’t see the wisdom of spending hard-earned money to educate their deaf children, so we have to rely on God to use other means to meet operating expenses.
Due to the cutbacks, several staff members had to seek employment elsewhere. Those that remained have been struggling under the financial strain, becoming “tentmakers,” daily relying on God to make ends meet. Two of the Moundou staff members, David and Madjibe, taught at the camp, and their passion for God,
His Word and His people was clearly evident to all. We’re excited at the prospect of raising financial support for this wonderful work of God in Moundou.
Please pray with us that God will provide the necessary funds to help alleviate the daily financial burdens for this school and its staff members.
(Don’t miss the photo gallery at the bottom of this post. It contains photos of the camp as well as the city of N’Djamena, where our school is located.)
I’ve received very positive reports from Emmanuel Ilabor, our director in Nigeria. Over 800 deaf met at seven different Easter Camps all across Nigeria. Some of them had to travel through hostile territory controlled by the Boko-Haram, a violent militant Islamic group fighting to instill Sharia law across all of Nigeria. Much of their violence is aimed directly at Christians, so travel in these eastern regions of Nigeria is not safe. God sustained the campers and kept them from harm. Across all the camps, over 60 people made professions of faith and many more rededicated their lives to the Lord. Praise God!
In our last report, we mentioned that the government bought some land from our deaf center in order to facilitate road expansion. That money has been put to good use to begin construction of new dormitories. The additional space will be a welcome relief for the deaf center, as their facility is overcrowded with some 200 students. The building crew ran into some opposition from some disruptive locals who demanded extortion money. Thank God that the clash ended peacefully. Before the confrontation was over, they requested prayer for some of their people, and Emmanuel and his staff were able to pray with them and show true Christian love in the face of opposition.
Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide finances to complete the construction so that the Gospel work among the deaf can continue unimpeded. Please pray that those who made professions of faith will continue to grow in the Lord. Pray that the group of people who sought to disrupt the dorm construction will forsake their ways and seek God instead.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC of CONGO
Sheryl and I are preparing for our fall trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This year, Lord willing, we’ll be hosting a camp in Uvira, near the southern border of Burundi. Tentative plans for now are to host the camp in the 3rd week of August. We’re looking forward to partnering with the Lindquists again, and teaching believers how to build tangible faith.
Since the work among the deaf is much stronger in Burundi, we’re anticipating high attendance from campers coming across the border. It will be an excellent opportunity to re-establish relationships and broaden our search for new leaders.
Pray that the camp will be properly funded, that the teaching will be true to God’s Word and readily assimilated by all campers. Pray especially as we work to identify a new generation of leaders who can be further trained to rightly divide the Word of God and teach younger believers.
Thanks for continuing to remember Berta in your prayers. Although her mobility and communication remain impaired, her health is steady and she is, as always, in good spirits.
We’re looking for new Bible study material ideally suited for the deaf in Africa, especially in French-speaking countries. In particular, we’re seeing many people wanting a deeper understanding of the Bible, yet they’re constrained by limited formal education, language translation issues, and limited access to shipped material. We’re considering writing our own material and making it available as sign-language videos and PDFs on the CMD website. We’d also like to provide more material on how to train leaders. It’s no substitute for one-on-one sustained discipleship, but they’re necessary tools nonetheless.
Pray with us that God will direct our efforts to find and/or produce new Bible study material well suited for the deaf in Africa.
Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.