Dear CMD Partners!
Thank you for your continued partering 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.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC of CONGO
We’re praising God for an excellent week-long camp in the city of Uvira last month. The theme of the 2012 Congo Bible Camp was “Heroes of the Faith,” and my wife and I, along with the Lindquists, taught the books of Joshua, Ruth, Esther and James. We spent a good bit of time examining the lives of these Bible characters, and teaching how proper faith in God manifests itself in works and endures till the end. There has been quite a bit of violence and political upheaval in the northern regions of the province where we met, so we were quite pleased to see over 50 people attend the camp. It was thrilling to see their hearts stirred and challenged, as the campers asked many thoughtful and probing questions, wanting a deeper understanding of God and how to live out their faith in the face of spiritual, political and economic hardship. Our 16-yr old daughter, Noelle, joined us for the event, and despite not knowing much sign language, she was a tremendous help. It was a good and challenging experience for her to serve on the front-lines, and the campers were quite taken with her.
One of the highlights of the camp is the evening pastoral class that we offer to the evangelists and pastors at the camp. It continues to grow in popularity, and this year, I was pleased (and surprised) to see 5 hearing people join the deaf pastors in the intense teaching that we offer. The first day of the class always focuses on a detailed presentation of the Gospel: the nature of God’s holiness, the sinful state of man, the need for substitutionary atonement and the sanctifying work of Christ. This presentation always exposes underlying confusion and questions about the nature of salvation. It is a solemn reminder that they struggle against a variety of subtle false teachings from Jehovah’s Witnesses, animismand people teaching works-based salvation. We spent the remainder of the week teaching specific methods for proper Biblical contextual interpretation and exegetical preaching of the Word of God. As always, much of our ‘free time’ was spent with long hours answering and discussing the implications of various doctrinal issues.
Our school in Uvira is facing several changes this year. We’ve recently expanded the school by offering secondary classes, but enrollment for those classes has been lower than anticipated. We’re also needing to overhaul the sewing classes, as the equipment used in the past is now beyond repair. We need at least three new sewing machines to get the school back on track. These machines will enable the students to make desperately needed uniforms, and will enable them to continue learning vocational skills.
We’re also seeing an exciting opportunity on the horizon. While in Bujumbura last month, God brought us to Noel, a Burundi national who worked for many years with Andrew Foster over 25 years ago. To this day, he continues to work tirelessly in the teaching and training of the deaf, and fending off the spread of false doctrines from Jehovah’s Witnesses and other sources. His experience with deaf education and doctrinal integrity makes him a valuable resource in dealing with some of the particulars we’re seeing in our school in Uvira. For most of the month of October, Lord Willing, Noel will be in Uvira, collaborating with our school and providing insight and guidance.
Pray that the campers will remain faithful as they return to their cities, jobs and schools for the fall. Pray that the pastors will continue to faithfully live and teach the Word of God. Pray that the rampant influence of false doctrine will not take hold in the hearts and minds of these men and women.
The fall semester at our school in Ibadan is off to a slow start, but Emmanuel, our school director, expects to reach 200 students before the end of the semester. As with many other schools in the area, parents struggle the first few months with getting their children situated. There is a positive aspect to this delay: Our center in Ibadan is facing overcrowding, bursting at the seams with higher enrollments each year. Due to lack of funds, dormitory construction at our new site has stopped for a time. Emmanuel and the staff are diligently seeking funding options in order to continue construction.
Getting college education is a challenge for Nigerians, and being deaf certainly doesn’t make things easier. By the grace of God, however, a number of the graduates from our school are going to colleges and seminaries in Nigeria, and four of our graduates are continuing their college education at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. An education in the USA is a dream-come-true, but it also presents a number of challenges and temptations that are not readily available in Nigeria.
Please pray that God will provide more funding so that construction will continue. Pray that these students will stay faithful in their preparation for God’s calling as they continue their academic studies.
After a busy summer of sign-language courses for parents, expansion planning, and more, Yves and his staff are excited to get the fall semester underway. Enrollment is picking up briskly, but the fall season also brings massive floods, and this year is one of the worst. In many ways, the Chari River is a lifeline for N’Djamena, the country’s capital, but when it floods, it leaves disaster in its wake. Our school is on the outskirts of N’Djamena, about a mile south of the Chari River. The recent rains have been particularly heavy, and the swelling river is now within 300 yards of the school. Because most of the homes and buildings in this area of town are made of mud-brick, it doesn’t take much flooding to do a lot of damage. The last time our school experienced flooding like this, there were several deaths in the area, and many of the mud-brick homes were destroyed, including the school’s mud-brick restroom facilities. We thank God that the local government responded quickly to the disaster, going so far as to build and a new concrete restroom facility to replace the mud-brick building.
These heavy rains also contribute to the deterioration of the mud-brick classrooms. Two of the classrooms are deteriorating to the point that they are becoming too dangerous for students to use. We estimate that it will cost around $16,000 to rebuild these classrooms. Please pray with us that flooding won’t do any damage. Pray also that we can quickly raise the necessary funds and get construction underway.
In the Eastern Congo, we find that many deaf pastors long to understand complex topics, but frequently have incorrect and inconsistent doctrines. Consequently, we see many questions about the Trinity, atonement, election, the Holy Spirit, baptism, regeneration, sanctification and more. The problem is two-fold: there is very little advanced Bible study material available (especially in French), and their lack of advanced language skills prevent these men from understanding whatever material might be available. What they want, and can’t find, are complex Biblical topics presented in simple language. To address this need, we’re writing a study titled “The Gospel of John: Knowing the Father and the Son,” where pastors study the entire Gospel of John section by section, paying particular attention to the themes, issues and implications John teaches his readers. Lord willing, we’ll expand this in the future to other books like Genesis, Romans and the Pastoral Epistles.
Pray with us that God will direct our efforts to clearly communicate His Word and His truths to the deaf in Africa.
Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.