The Lord has been gracious to us during these Covid19 times.
Although school has been suspended across most of Africa, we have been able to make good use of the down-time to greatly improve our facility in N’Djamena, Chad. Director Yves Beosso reports that all the faculty and administrative buildings have been rebuilt and are now in use. Praise God! The one building remaining is the two-story multi-purpose building that has been on hold for the past several months. It will serve as the chapel, with classrooms on the 2nd floor. Pray that the Lord will continue to provide for this building so it can be completed.
Due to scheduling delays, Director Shukuru Hertier has had to postpone his wedding from August 29th till September 5th. In this region of the Congo, wedding dates are assigned by the government after the couple registers for a marriage certificate. Travel and accommodations are all hampered by Covid19 restrictions, and the cost of living (and the cost of marriage) goes up as well, with many unexpected increases around every corner. Shukuru’s new wife will join him as the Primary 3 teacher at his school in Baraka. Pray for a smooth transition as all these pieces come together very rapidly over the next few weeks.
We’re pleased to announce that our university scholarship candidates in Chad and the Congo received high marks across the board. Their scholarship requires high academic performance (in addition to their regular teaching duties), so we’re very thankful that the last round of students will be returning to university this fall. Pray for their continued success.
Thank you for your continued support for the work we’re doing in Nigeria, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The economic strain due to Covid restrictions is having its toll, especially in Nigeria, and your faithful partnership is greatly appreciated.
In Chad, Director Beosso reports that the rebuilding project is 95% complete – Praise the Lord! The construction includes demolishing and rebuilding offices, kitchen facilities and residential rooms for the director’s family. The kitchen and residential rooms now have plumbing directly to the kitchen and bathroom fixtures, an important upgrade indeed! Previously, the center had one central central spigot and sink that served the whole campus.
The 2-story multi-purpose building has been spearheaded by Clement Abonyi’s AfriDeaf foundation. Due to Covid-19, their finances have been squeezed, so the construction project is on hold. Pray that we will soon be able to resume this important project.
In Baraka (Democratic Republic of Congo), we are getting closer to purchasing new land for our school. The current landlord has significantly increased rent, and we feel that now is the time to relocate and establish a permanent facility. Assistant Director Shindano Andre was able to come from Uvira to help with the process, and we hope to buy and build soon.
As if construction and preparing for the new school year wasn’t enough – Lord willing, Director Shukuru Heritier will be getting married next month, on August 28th! The wedding will take place in Goma, 20 hours north, and Mpasa, thew new bride, will join our staff as a teacher in Baraka. Pray for their families as they plan the wedding and begin their new life together.
Due to Covid-19, schools in Nigeria, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo are still closed. The closure affects each school differently. Our Nigeria school is hardest hit because their monthly budget depends heavily on tuition fees and not foreign support. As a result, they are going through tough financial times and could use your prayers as they work to meet their financial obligations. Several months ago we partnered with AfriDeaf Foundation to send some equipment to the school. The shipment has arrived, but due to Covid-19, the ports are closed and our staff cannot retrieve the shipment. There has been some looting of the shipment. Pray that the rest of the equipment will arrive in Ibadan soon.
In Chad, Director Yves Beosso and his staff are making good progress on rebuilding older dilapidated buildings on the campus. So far, they have completed three smaller buildings while waiting on funds to continue working on the larger 2-story multi-purpose building.
In Uvira (DR Congo), Director Pililo and Asst. Director Shindano have found new homes to rent in the aftermath of the springtime flood that destroyed thousands of homes. Because of your love and faithful financial support, they were able to quickly recover after having lost most of their worldly possessions. We’re hoping to begin construction soon on our new school, and would greatly appreciate your prayers.
In Baraka (DR Congo), Director Shukuru reports that his university classes have resumed, although primary and secondary schools have not reopened. He still has several Primary 6 students that he would like to prepare for year-end exams, so he will be working with those students individually. We’ve not been able to make an agreeable arrangement with the landlord, so it appears we’ll need to relocate the school. Asst. Director Shindano has arrived from Uvira to help Shukuru locate and finalize documents for the new school location. Pray that they will be able to find an excellent location.
Christian Mission for the Deaf
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.