Dear Prayer Partners,
Thank you for your continued support of the work we do among the deaf in Africa.
Please keep our Chad school in your prayers. Several years ago, we received a nice piece of property to build a new school. It’s located a few miles outside of the city, and we are waiting on the Lord for funds to begin construction. Unfortunately, a squatter came and built a small building on it. The laws in Chad are such that we must pay him for his construction costs if we want to move him off the property. A court decision has assessed the cost to be $8,000 – funds we don’t have to spend. There may be a couple of legal options that we may be able to use.
Pray for wisdom for director Yves Beosso and the elders there as they work through this situation.
Dear Prayer Partners,
Summer plans are beginning to take shape and come into focus. Our 7th annual
Congo Bible Camp with the Lindquists will involve a team from Michigan
coming to help and experience foreign missions in the DR Congo. It’ll be the
largest team we’ve had working at a camp. Pray that we’ll be able to make
good use of the extra hands, with appropriate tasks planned for each
team-member. I feel it would be unwise to have spectators on a “mission
trip”, so careful planning is required so that each person can be a faithful
steward of the opportunities before us.
Yves Beosso, our director in Chad, was such a great asset at the Congo camp
last summer. We would love to see him involved in a long-term training
endeavor in the Congo in the next year or two. Deaf leaders of his caliber
are hard to find in Africa. Brining him to the Congo would involve quite a
few challenges, especially since his wife will need special assistance
during his absence (his wife suffered a stroke 5 years ago, almost at the
same time my mother, Berta, had her stroke). Pray that God will lead us as
we explore this training opportunity
God called Andrew Foster home on December 4, 1987. Shortly after departure from the Goma Airport, his plane crashed in Gisenyi, Rwanda. The site of the crash has been made into a memorial which stands to this day. The following photos and aerial Google Map shows the location of the Rwanda Air Crash Victims Memorial site.
I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. – Jer 3:15
Dear CMD Partners!
As I was studying Jeremiah 3 this past week, the Lord brought verse 15 to the forefront of my thoughts. In the midst of calling His people to repent, He says that if they will return to Him, He will send them shepherds after His own heart; shepherds who will feed them with knowledge and understanding. This immediately reminds us of the Good Shepherd of John 10 who lays His life down for His sheep, calls them by name, and how they follow Him. My heart resonates with the challenge before each of us to emulate our Savior: to tend to His flock, providing knowledge and understanding of the One who laid down His life for us! Thank you so much for joining in with us as we work to reach the deaf of Africa!
I want to use this issue of Deaf Witness to provide an overview of CMD’s current deployment, and lay out the strategies we want to pursue over the next few years. Although God has used CMD over the past sixty years to open dozens of schools and churches for the deaf across west and central Africa, these days, our focus is aimed primarily at four countries: Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Through schools, camps and pastoral training classes, we aim to equip the deaf in establishing schools and churches across their countries and beyond.
Estimated deaf: 11,500
With a new school added just a few months ago, there are now a total of thirteen schools for the deaf across the southern portions of Chad. There are none in the Muslim north. All but one of the schools are directly related to the original three schools started by CMD many years ago. Financial constraints prevent us from actively supporting more than our center in N’Djamena, the country’s capital, so the remaining schools support themselves as best they can. Six schools form the evangelical backbone of deaf ministry in Chad, with our school in N’Djamena as the epicenter. Led by Yves Beosso, the center serves as a deaf church, a community outreach center, and a school for about 55 students (including several boarding students from the north). The center is made of mostly mud-brick. Several rooms are crumbling and in dire need of reconstruction before the rainy season hits in a few months.
We’re thankful to have received a sizable land grant from the government, but if we don’t build a permanent structure on it soon, we risk losing it should the government find another use for the land.
During the Easter break, Brother Beosso organizes a nation-wide Easter camp for the deaf, alternating locations with the other five evangelical schools. Typical attendance at the camp is around 150 people.
PRAY FOR… More new leaders. Bible school training for leaders. Funding for new construction and expansion.
Likasi, Democratic Republic of Congo
Estimated deaf: 67,700
Regional population: 450,000
Estimated deaf: 450
Located in the southern portion of the DR Congo, this school offers both primary and secondary education for the deaf. Daniel Ngoy has been the school’s director since the school’s inception in 1985. The school serves 85 students, 50 of whom are in grades 1-6. Oversight is provided by the local assembly in Likasi, and the elders are glad to share property and resources with the school. World Vision has helped with a much needed expansion, allowing them to build new classrooms for high school students. Because the government pays meager teacher salaries, and parents are reluctant to spend money to educate deaf children, deaf teachers are subjected to huge salary discrepancies when compared to teachers at hearing schools.
When the deaf graduate from our school in Likasi, many of them move two hours south to Lubumbashi, the capital of the province, where jobs and resources for the deaf are more plentiful. The deaf schools and churches in Lubumbashi have been operating independently of CMD for many years now, but we would like to expand our ministry and pastoral training efforts in both Likasi and Lubumbashi.
PRAY FOR… Faithful teachers despite financial strain. Strong spiritual leaders to carry on the work in Likasi.
Uvira, Democratic Republic of Congo
Estimated deaf: 67,700
Regional population: 378,000
Estimated deaf: 378
Located on the eastern border of the DR Congo, the school in Uvira is one of the newest schools opened by CMD. Pililo Amani has been the director these past eleven years, and his love and enthusiasm for the deaf is infectious. Because the city does not have a large presence of healthy evangelical churches, the deaf in Uvira have very few options for spiritual resources and growth. My wife and I, along with missionaries Tom and Kathy Lindquist and their daughter Renee, lead an annual Bible camp which draws deaf participants from the region, including the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Burundi.
We’re trying to supplement Uvira’s academic and spiritual vitality by collaborating with the school for the deaf in Bujumbura, Burundi, a short 45 minutes across the border to the east. The deaf school in Burundi, located in the mission center managed by CMML missionaries Jesse and Joy Johnson, has been operating independently of CMD for many years now, and the growth there has been nothing short of stellar! My wife and I had the opportunity to visit with the Johnsons when we were in Bujumbura last year, and were truly thrilled to see how God has been using their multi-faceted ministry to impact Burundi.
PRAY FOR… Spiritual resources and leaders. Important decisions about the secondary school. Improved relations with the deaf ministry in Burundi.
Estimated deaf: 162,000
Regional population: 1.3M
Estimated deaf: 1,300
Since the mid-60’s, the center in Ibadan has been CMD’s center of operations in Africa (and our home when we lived overseas). Now led by Brother Emmanuel Ilabor, the center has grown tremendously, serving over 200 primary and secondary deaf students, many of whom are boarding students. The facility has expanded well beyond capacity, but plans for new construction are on hold due to lack of funds.
During the summer, the center hosts a deaf leadership/training conference, attracting deaf and hearing leaders from all parts of Africa. As a result of the strong spiritual leadership, there are over 25 churches for the deaf all across the country.
Each spring, 700-800 deaf people convene at one of seven locations for an annual Easter Camp. Lord Willing, I’ll be returning to Ibadan, the city I was born in and haven’t been in since 1976. I’ll be helping with teaching for the Easter Camp near Ibadan. I’ll also get a chance to put my computer networking skills to use (my “tent-making” vocation here in the States) by upgrading their aging computers, network and Internet service.
PRAY FOR… Continued spiritual growth. Boldness for those living in the Muslim-controlled north. Funds for expansion. Travel as I head to Ibadan in March.
Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.
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.
Documents for the Study of the Gospel of John
John – Chapter Headings
Holy Spirit In The OT – What should Nicodemus have known about the Holy Spirit
Degrees Of Hell – Does the Bible teach that hell has different degrees?
Can You Lose Your Salvation – Does the Bible teach eternal security?
John’s Seven “IAMs” – a look at the 7 “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John
John 5: The Pool of Bethesda
The Pool of Bethesda is located on the northeast corner of the ancient city of Jerusalem. It is about 300 m north of the Temple.
This is what the Pool of Bethesda looks like today.
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. – 2 Timothy 3:14
As Spring turns to Summer, CMD is welcoming a number of new changes as our Lord continues to shape us and grow us in new directions on a number of fronts, both big and small. We are excited to report how God uses us through your faithfulness and prayerful support to continue being a light in many unreached places and ways.
During the spring, over 700 deaf people from 36 states in Nigeria convened in Illorin to attend the 40th annual Easter camp. Emmanuel Ilabor, the general director of the center in Nigeria, reports that the work of the Spirit was evident, and we praise the Lord for 34 baptisms during this four-day event!
This summer, the Ibadan Center for the Deaf celebrates their 50th anniversary! Pray with us that this event will be highly attended as we celebrate God’s faithfulness for the deaf in the country of Nigeria.
God’s faithfulness has been evident in so many ways and places throughout the deaf churches in Nigeria. There are approximately 28 deaf churches in the country today as a result of the seeds God planted through CMD 50 years ago. One church in Ikire was recently blessed beyond measure with the gift of a very large, beautiful new church building, donated by a retired army officer. This donation has some history: at a nearby state-owned school, Muslim parents of deaf children built a mosque and then tried to pressure the Christian teachers and students to abandon their faith, and mocked them for not having a house of worship. This gift of a larger and nicer church could fuel Muslim animosity, so pray with us that this will be used for the glory of God instead. Pray also for protection and peace between the Christians and Muslims.
On a sad note, the center in Ibadan was recently struck with lightning, which caused extensive damage to the backup generator, and various computers and electronic equipment. It turns out that the building was not constructed with proper grounding. Installing the grounding and replacing the damaged equipment will be quite expensive. Pray with us that the Lord will quickly replace this necessary equipment.
Director Yves Beosso reports that the 2009/2010 school year was a great success! The Lord blessed them with 8 new students for a total of 43 deaf students, and the year concluded with no serious illnesses among the students or staff. They have received several gracious donations including books and shelving for the books. These resources are a wonderful gift and are diligently used by the children to help expand the education they receive at the school in Chad. As always, they are looking for more books to add to their growing library.
One of the deaf students, Aspal Reine, comes from a Catholic home. After hearing the Gospel, she decided to abandon her Catholic upbringing and give her life to Christ. Her parents are not at all happy about her decision, promising her that she will die and go to hell if she doesn’t abandon Christianity. They had also threatened to stop paying her tuition if she doesn’t stop attending the Christian church at the center. Praise God for His faithfulness! A charity group in the Netherlands has granted a scholarship for ten students, so Aspal is able to continue her education. Please continue praying for young Ms. Reine, that her parents will not only allow her to continue fellowshipping at the center, but that they too will give their lives to Christ.
Construction of the new school building is finally complete! The building was completed in three months and immediately put to use for tailoring classes, carpentry classes and a growing library. The students, staff and parents thank you for your faithfulness in supporting this project from start to finish.
The Lord has also blessed the believers in Chad with a very successful Bible Camp this past April. A total of 197 campers attended a four-day event focusing on The Rewards of the Faithful Believer (1 Cor 3:8-15). Camp goers were encouraged from the Word to continue in faithfulness, following Christ’s example and obtaining a heavenly reward.
Please continue praying for our leaders at the center in Chad, as spiritual challenges aren’t the only trails our fellow workers face. Director Yves Beosso’s wife, Agnes, suffered a stroke 3 years ago, and although she is improving a bit, she is very limited in her ability to walk and cook.
Here at home, we’re seeing our fair share of changes as well. Thank you for your continued prayer regarding Berta’s health after her stroke last year. Her mobility has improved to the point to where she can move about the house without a walker, albeit slowly. Her communication is still a challenge, and dealing with abstracts like financial reports is sometimes more than she can handle. At our last board meeting, she announced that the time has come for her to retire, and the board designated her son, Tim, as the interim director until such a time as the Lord appoints a permanent director for CMD. But if you know anything about Berta, you’ll know that ‘rest’ simply is not in her vocabulary. Although her pace has slowed considerably, she still stays busy keeping in contact with the various directors in Africa, and training her son on the ins and outs of running a multi-national mission for bringing the Gospel to the deaf. Lord willing, Tim and his wife will travel to the Congo during the month of September, so stay tuned!
John is recuperating from a benign thyroidectomy, but is otherwise doing well and staying busy.
Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.