Because of your faithful charity, we have now completed one of three buildings at our deaf center in Chad. Director Yves Beosso reports that the multi-purpose building is now complete and will serve as temporary lodgings for his family while the Director’s Home undergoes a similar rebuild. We thank God that although the Covid-19 lockdown resulted in a scarcity of building supplies and increased cost, we were able to finish the building on time. The demolition of the old Director’s Home is now underway, and we expect the home to be completed in a few weeks. Meanwhile, construction on the 2-story multi-purpose building continues as funds allow. Pray with us that it will be completed before the 2020/2021 school year starts in late September.
In Uvira (DR Congo), Director Pililo reports that he has been able to find a new home to rent in the aftermath of last month’s flooding. We’re ready to proceed with building a new school, however we need to first acquire a bit more land by buying an adjacent property. The property owner lives in Burundi (the country next door), and has been very difficult to contact. Pray that we’ll be able to find him soon, that he’ll be agreeable to a reasonable price for the land, and that we’ll be able to start construction soon.
The landlord of our school in Baraka (DR Congo) has decided that he needs to significantly increase the rent. Director Shukuru Heriter says that we could buy the property outright, but the landlord is asking far more than the property is worth. If we can’t reach an agreement, we will need to relocate the school. We have land options, but it is too far south of the city, and very inconvenient for the staff and students. Pray that we’ll find a solution soon.
Tragedy has struck the people of Uvira (DRCongo). Due to heavy rains in March and April, the Mulongwe river overflowed its banks on April 17th and damaged or destroyed over 15,000 homes in Uvira. According to the UN, 38 people died in the flooding, and an estimated 70,000 people have been displaced. Our director and his assistant have lost everything in their homes except a few clothes, some furniture and their cellphones. Everything else has been lost. Since school is not in session due to Covid-19, several of the displaced deaf families are sheltering at our school, waiting for permanent space to become available.
In our plans to expand our current school, we are considering adding space for the director’s family to live on campus. Pray for wisdom and favor as we work to expedite construction. The Covid-19 lockdown had increased the cost of food and construction materials, and the flood damage is causing prices to soar even higher. Pray that tranquility will be restored to this heavily damaged region of the Congo.
In Chad, Director Yves Besso reports they’re making good use of the Covid-19 school closing in order to keep their building projects moving at a healthy clip. Although funds have dried up a bit for the new 2-story multi-purpose building, materials and funds are still available for smaller structures like storage buildings, new toilet facilities, etc. These buildings are made of cheaper construction materials, so we’re still able to continue construction on these buildings while waiting for funds on the larger multi-purpose building. Pray that all the main construction will be complete by the time school opens this fall.
In Nigeria, things are a bit more rocky. Director Emmanuel Ilabor reports that not only have parents pulled their kids out of school, but most parents have stopped paying their tuition while their kids are out of school due to Covid-19. Unlike Chad and the Congo, Nigeria has a robust economy – the best of African countries. While we cover 80%-90% of Chad and Congolese school costs at all times, Nigerian parents of deaf children are more able (and willing) to shoulder more of the cost to educate their children and therefore our Nigerian school requires less foreign financial support. But now that the parents aren’t paying tuition in Nigeria, the faculty and staff are facing dire financial needs. Pray that the parents – who are surely facing their own financial challenges – will continue to partner with the faculty and staff even when school is not in session.
Truly, your prayers are coveted.
Christian Mission for the Deaf
Due to Covid-19 flight cancellations and border closings, our 12th annual Congo Bible Camp has been cancelled. All across Africa, schools, churches and conferences are closed in an attempt to halt the spread of Covid-19. Thankfully, at the time of this writing, Covid-19 does not have a large foot-print in Africa. We’re praying it will say this way because the health care infrastructure would be easily overwhelmed should the virus strike Africa with the same ferociousness that it has struck other continents.
Target dates are in flux, but some countries are considering resuming normal activities by the end of May. We’re tentatively considering rescheduling the camp for September, but it’s not clear at this time that life in the Congo region will return to normal. Until flights and borders resume their normal schedules, it would make little sense to try and travel in the region. If we do reschedule for September, pray that the Congo embassy will consider extending our visas and will not require us to reapply for new visas. Our team will save about $500 if we’re allowed to use our unused visas.
The down-side to the lock-down is that food prices are now increasing rapidly. One of our directors in Baraka (Eastern DRC) says that the cost of a bag of corn has tripled in the past few weeks. To further complicate matters, we’re now in the rainy season when travel is more difficult. This adds to the cost of moving goods between cities.
Meanwhile in Chad, construction continues at our N’Djamena school. The foundation of the new multi-purpose building is now complete, and the new toilet facilities are almost complete.
We’re also glad to report that the school now has city water! We dug a well there about 10 years ago, and it has served us well. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very deep, and the quality of the water was questionable. Now that they’re drawing water from a city supply, we’re praying it will be more reliable and more sanitary.
Pray that funds for construction will continue, both through CMD and through Clement Abonyi’s AfriDeaf Foundation.
Truly, your prayers are coveted.
Plans are well underway for our 12th annual Congo Bible Camp. We’ll be continuing our 4-part study of the book of Genesis, and exploring Christological themes in the lives of the patriarchs. This year we’ll be meeting in Goma, at the site of a school for the deaf that CMD established in the mid ’80s. It was the last school my father visited before hopping on board a charter flight to his untimely demise in 1987.
This year’s conference will be different in several respects: Prior to our conference for deaf church leaders, I’ll be the guest speaker at a special 3-day pastor’s conference that is being organized by one of our Congolese interpreters. I’ll be presenting an introduction to systematic theology to local and village pastors, many of whom have little to no formal Bible training. Pray that the teaching will be well received and that the pastors will gain a deeper appreciation for the God we serve.
After the conference, I’ll be taking a week to visit three of our schools on the eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- In Bukavu, we have some growth challenges we need to address. There are many deaf people in the area, and we need to develop new stategies for expanding our education offerings so we can reach these people.
- In Uvira, we have some new land to inspect as we prepare for construction of a new permanent school campus.
- In Baraka we’re facing some excellent opportunities to expand our educational offerings to include vocational training. However, the 60-mile road from Uvira to Baraka is is in dismal array: a motorcycle taxi takes 3-4 hours to cover the distance, while a van requires 4-6 hours. And in the rainy season, it takes an additional hour or two. There is a boat available, but the boat schedule may not work out with our schedule. Pray for wisdom and safe travels.
We’ve been very pleased with the construction work going on at our N’Djamena school in Chad. We’re grateful to Clement Abonyi and his AfriDeaf Foundation for the stellar fund raising they’ve done to keep this project moving forward! He is currently doing fund-raising for a deaf school project in Ghana.
As a ’70s graduate of our Nigeria school, Clement is a fine example of the work that God continues to do through His people.
Indeed, your prayers are coveted.
With the new year comes the rain season in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The torrential rains have resulted in extensive damage to the office of our assistant director in Uvira, and destroyed our director’s home. Usually it’s the responsibility of the landlord to do repairs, but if the landlords don’t have money on hand, it could be a long time until their buildings are back in operation. Pray for a speedy resolution.
If all goes well, this year’s Congo Bible Camp will be held at the Ephphatha School for the Deaf in Goma (DR Congo). Some of the logistics will be handled by the school director and his assistant, so this will be a new experience for us. Pray that the planning will go well, that our visa applications will not run into any problems, and that our teaching on the Patriarchs will bear fruit.
As we wind up 2019, we pause to reflect on the many ways God has used us to bring grace and peace through the knowledge of Jesus Christ among the deaf in our schools and churches in Nigeria, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A few of the highlights include:
- A successful Congo CMD Director’s conference in April
- Excellent participation at our Easter camps in Nigeria and Chad
- Growth at our Congo Bible Camp in Bujumbura (Burundi) in July
- Continued school construction in Ibadan (Nigeria) and N’Djamena (Chad)
- Solar electricity for our Congo schools in Uvira and Baraka
- Acquisition of land for new construction in Uvira (DR Congo)
- University education for 7 students in Chad and DR Congo
We’re looking forward to what God will do in 2020!
We’re having to change venues for our 2020 Congo Bible Camp. Local officials in Bujumbura (Burundi) are expecting violence in the streets due to the upcoming presidential elections, and as a preemptive measure, they are prohibiting any meetings of over 100 people. Pray with us that we’ll be able to have the camp meet in Goma (DR Congo). It’s proximity to many of the campers makes it an ideal second choice as we continue our 4-year study in the book of Genesis.
Lord willing, my next trip to the eastern Congo will take me to one of our remote schools in Baraka. Although it’s only 60 miles from our Uvira school, the road (path?) is only accessible by a 3-4 hour motorcycle ride. Pray for good weather and planning so that my time there will be fruitful.
Indeed, your prayers are coveted.
Praise God: With your financial support, our Uvira school is the latest of our schools to receive solar electricity.
Without the solar power, the staff has to make frequent trips to local charging stations and pay $.50 to $1 to recharge cell phones, laptops, etc. Director Shukuru reports that the new system has been a great blessing. Not only does it allow him to use his laptop and other low-voltage devices for extended periods of time, but they now have outdoor lighting at night to help with security. The electric grid in Braka is completely unreliable, and can be offline for weeks at a time. Thank you again for your financial participation with this project!
Pray for our Uvira director, Pililo Amani. His passport application is being delayed in Kinshasa, and it looks like he won’t be able to visit our Chad school till next year, hopefully before the summer vacation. We were hoping he would be there now, as we have other plans for him and his school during the spring.
Construction funds are still available for our school in Chad, so it’s good to see that work progressing. Pray that disruptions to the school schedules will be minimal as construction continues.
Truly, your prayers are coveted.
Director Yves Beosso traveled with his oldest daughter, Shalom, from their home in N’Djamena (Chad) to our school in Ibadan (Nigeria). The purpose of their trip was to bring Shalom to our school for English training so that she could prepare for college entrance exams. Their travels from Chad took them through Boko Haram territory in northeast Nigeria. Although they made the trip safely, both of them were struck with malaria prior to Yves returning to Chad. Pray for a speedy and complete recovery for them, and pray for Shalom as she adjusts to life in Nigeria and begins her studies in English. Pray also for Victor Ajayi, the campus chaplain at our school in Nigeria. He also had a bout with malaria in October, but his was so bad he had to be hospitalized.
In November, Pililo Amani, our director in Uvira (DR Congo), will travel to Yves’ school in Chad for a 2-week cross-training session. The two schools are structured somewhat differently, so it will be a good opportunity for both schools to learn from each other and share insights. Pray with us for safe flights and a rich time of sharing.
A few months ago, we moved our Bukavu (DR Congo) school closer to the city’s center with the objective of reaching more deaf pupils. So far, the enrollment hasn’t increased as dramatically as we had hoped. Please keep Director Nanza and his staff in your prayers as we continue pursuing the best course of action for the school.
Truly, your prayers are coveted.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning HIMSELF. (Luke 24:27)
We have a lot of new changes since our last newsletter!
12th Annual Congo Bible Camp
Our 2019 Congo Bible Camp went better than expected. We taught about the life and promises of Abraham, and used passages like Romans 4, Galatians 3 & 4 and Hebrews 7-9 to show how Abraham’s life and promises are not merely stories about an Old Testament character, but rather, these are promises aimed at Christ and passed through to us for the glory of God. The Christological connection was new material for most of these church leaders. Pray that they will continue to read the Scriptures with an understanding that all the Scriptures are about Christ.
We’ve been slowly making inroads into the Burundian deaf churches, and this year, the turnout exceeded our expectations. The numbers fluctuated during the week, but we had well over 150 attendees, with at least 60 participants from the Burundian deaf churches. Praise God! However, on a sad note, Israël Mungumwema, one of the prominent deaf pastors in Burundi, was called home to be with the Lord earlier this year. He had a great impact on all the deaf churches in Burundi, and his presence will be greatly missed.
University Scholarship Program
We have five teachers from Chad and one director from the DR Congo participating in our university scholarship program. Participants are required to raise 20% of their own support, and are required to maintain their regular morning teaching duties while keeping good grades in their evening university classes. We’re pleased with their overall progress, and looking to add a few more teachers from the Congo into the program. One of our directors, Shukur Hertier, surprised his university administrators by achieving the highest score in his class this past year. Originally, they were reluctant to let a deaf person enroll, but when he showed them that he knew English, they decided to give him a chance. Suffice it to say that they now have a very different appreciation for deaf people. Praise God for that! Shukuru’s academic excellence isn’t limited to his own studies: his students emulate him.
Democratic Republic of Congo
In Baraka, Director Shukuru reports that his three Primary 6 (sixth grade) students passed their national tests with top scores. This is an amazing feat because all across the Kivu province, test scores for P6 hearing students usually average around 70%, and deaf students almost always lag behind their hearing counterparts. But not so with Shukuru’s students: We were thrilled when all three of Shukuru’s P6 students scored 100%! But the best result of their success is that their parents’ attitudes towards deaf education has now changed. Whereas they used to see deaf education as “throwing money in the river”, and a distraction from their life as poor village farmers, they’re now fully on board, and want their children to continue on to Secondary school – even though there’s no Secondary school available. Considering the excitement of the parents and students (and the regional public school administrators), we decided that the budget increase was justified, and have proceeded to add Secondary classes for the deaf in Baraka. In turn, the parents have agreed to help support the school by bringing some of their crops to offset the school’s food costs. How good it is to see God growing His children this way! Pray for their continued success.
In order to expand our Bukavu school, we’ve had to move it from the outskirts and into the city. It’s been a difficult transition. Pray that director Nanza will guide the school to new growth, and that his staff will stay strong in their commitment to the deaf of Bukavu.
In Uvira, Director Pililo is preparing for new construction. A Congolese donor has graciously contributed 75% of the cost of new land, and we’ve finalized the purchase of land in September. We expect construction to begin around the 1st of the year, with a price tag between $15,000-$20,000. The new facility will be larger than our current rented facility, and will be a welcome relief to our crowded situation. Pray with us that we’ll be able to find the funding for this ambitious project. In the meantime, we’ve purchased solar equipment to power the current building, and are happy to report that they now have electricity for the first time! Along with the electricity, we’ve been able to equip them with updated laptops and a projector. Director Pililo reports they’ve put the laptop and projector to good use with education and evangelism movies. Praise God!
The main building of our N’Djamena property has deteriorated past the point of repair. The structure was torn down after this last rain season, and a new 2-story building is now under construction. The first story will be used for chapel and offices, while the 2nd story will be used for classrooms. Progress moves as fast as funds are raised, so it’s been moving a little slower than expected. Pray that we’ll continue to receive funds and complete the building quickly.
Indeed, your prayers are coveted!
Our schools in Nigeria, Chad and the Congo are off to a brisk start for the 2019-2020 year.
In Uvira (DR Congo), Director Pililo reports that their new solar electrical system is online and serving them well. They have finished purchasing new property for expansion, and we await plans on moving forward with new construction. Pray for wisdom in this undertaking.
Our school in Baraka, located a few hours south of Uvira, will begin their upgrade to solar in the next few weeks. Both schools are also looking to add office equipment (printers and photocopiers) in the near future. Currently all their copying and printing is done at nearby cyber cafes, so the addition of office equipment will save money with these expenses.
We’ve added staff in Baraka in order to provide secondary school classes for the latest primary school graduates. With the exception of Director Shukuru and a few of his staff members, there are almost no deaf people with a secondary school education in the entire Fizi province. The new classes are a great opportunity for the students, and are opening the hearts and minds of the people in Fizi province to see the great work that God is doing among the deaf.
Truly, your prayers are coveted.