Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7-8
As we approach the end of the year, we’re both humbled and excited when we reflect on how God has used you to help shape more deaf Africans into the image of our Savior.
Our 2018 Congo Bible Camp took place in Bujumbura, Burundi, at the Ephphatha school for the Deaf. It was a good opportunity to reach out to deaf leaders who aren’t usually able to travel to our camp when we meet in the Congo. In addition to many of our usual Congolese and Rwandan attendees, we had five different Burundian cities participate, as well as a small group of pastors and evangelists who traveled 2 days from Lubumbashi (DR Congo) to make it to the camp. The theme of the week was “God’s Plan of Redemption from the Beginning”, and we taught from Genesis 1-11, showing how God’s redemptive plan throughout history connects with the rest of the Bible. Although our conferences are mainly geared towards church leaders, we had a few Muslims in attendance, and were thrilled to see one Muslim young lady come to Christ! Pray for Ramla as she begins her discipleship under the pastoral care of Israël Mungumwema. Lord willing, our 2019 camp will continue in Genesis, looking at Abraham, the Father of Our Faith.
A few months ago we launched a university scholarship program to enable our teachers in Chad and the Congo to enroll in local universities. Participants are required to raise 20% of their own funds, and maintain high grades while continuing their teaching duties at school. So far, six candidates have signed up for the program. Although they are doing well, they face special challenges because the universities are not equipped to handle deaf students. Pray that they will handle the additional workload with grace.
Earlier this year, the Nigerian government seized our 30-acre property, located just outside of Ibadan,
with the intention of using it for their own purposes. Although the property is still under construction, our staff immediately moved to appeal the decision, and was able to bring public attention to the situation. Losing this property would have been a huge blow to the growth of deaf education in Nigeria, so we praise God that the government rescinded its decision and returned ownership of the property back to CMDN.
Democratic Republic of Congo
We praise God for increased enrollment at our Bukavu school. We’ve added Fabien Morisho to the staff. He’s a friend of ours from Goma, and a gifted deaf teacher with a passion for Christ and deaf education. With limited funds and no long-term support, he felt led to travel to Bukavu because he heard the deaf church there had education and spiritual needs. The timing was perfect, as we had just begun looking for a deaf person to add to our school’s faculty. Now his teacher’s salary enables him to teach children at the school and minister to the deaf adults at the church. The downside to this is that the cost of living continues to increase in Bukavu. Our school is feeling the pinch, and several of our co-workers are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Pray for us to have wisdom as we devise ways for our school to navigate the hurdles of increased rent, increased food costs, etc.
Historically, our Uvira school has concentrated on primary education, but this year, we’re thankful that enrollment of secondary students is at an all-time high. Pray for director Pililo as he and his staff continue to train up the next generation of deaf leaders.
A growing concern for our Congolese schools is the lack of electricity. Many homes and small businesses in the Kivu province can’t afford to be connected to the city’s unreliable electric grid. Instead, people with minimal electrical needs go to ‘charging kiosks’, where for about $1.00, they can charge up laptops, tablets and phones. As solar equipment continues to become more and more affordable, homeowners are installing mini solar powered systems. The initial costs for such systems can be as low as $400, with no recurring costs, minimal maintenance, and better reliability when compared to city electricity. Pray for wisdom as we continue to explore these options for our three schools in the Kivu province.
Pray for peace as national elections are now underway in the DR Congo this Christmas season.
Earlier this summer, because of your loving support, we were able to add a water well to the ongoing
construction at our Toukoura property, allowing one of our staff families establish a small farm there. In the mean time, ongoing repairs are needed at the N’Djamena property, near the country’s capital, and God has graciously allowed Clement Abonyi, a Nigerian friend living in the USA, to help us with his fund-raising efforts. Director Yves reports that repairs and construction are now underway. Praise God for His faithfulness!
We have five staff members in Chad and one in the Congo who have been able to enroll in local universities to further their education. Their scholarship pays for 80% of their school costs, but on their limited salaries, even the 20% is a bit of a burden. We’re optimistic that they will be faithful students, but do keep them in their prayers as their studies are an additional burden to their current job duties.
In April 2019, Lord willing, our Congolese school directors will be meeting for our first Congo Director’s conference. This will be an excellent opportunity for our school directors to get to know each other, and also to discuss various methods, practices and procedures for managing a deaf schools and churches. Pray for Shukuru Heritier, our newest/youngest director, as he plans the event. Pray that the meeting will be a great success as our directors work together to train up the next generation of church leaders.
The largest Ebola outbreak in underway in the north Kivu province of the DR Congo, with 167 lives lost since August. We don’t have a school in the region, but there are several deaf churches there, and a number of our deaf friends are in the affected cities. Pray that the outbreak will be quickly contained.
Our Bukavu school is undergoing some important transitions. Director Nanza has brought in a new assistant, Fabien Morisho, a deaf young man from Goma (10 hours north) who has been a long-time
attendee of our Bible camps. He’s the first deaf staff member for this school. We’re praying that he will be an effective teacher, and a vibrant liaison between our school and the existing deaf community in Bukavu. Pray for direction as we seek to move the school closer to the downtown area of Bukavu.
In Chad, Director Yves reports that the university students’ strike has had a significant negative impact on the government of Chad. Last week, a rioting mob of university students came to our deaf center while school was in session, demanding solidarity with their strike. They threatened to destroy the school’s gate and beat the students to force them to stay home, just as they have done at other private schools. Praise God that their plans came to naught, and they eventually dispersed. Thankfully, a temporary provision was signed by the government a few days ago, allowing for some tranquility till January. Pray for peace and security in these uncertain times.
The 2018-2019 school year is off to a healthy start in Nigeria, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Summer construction and renovation projects are nearing completion: In Uvira, Director Pililo has had to rebuild the toilet facilities. In Fizi, Director Shukuru has completed preparations for their newly rented facility, and hosted a grand opening-day ceremony, with local dignitaries in attendance. Pray with us that these improvements will serve the deaf well.
We’ve started a new program where we offer financial assistance for some of our senior faculty and staff to pursue higher education at local universities. So far, we have about six people in Chad and the Congo who have submitted applications to take advantage of this opportunity. It is our prayer that their continued education will improve the quality of their teaching and administrative duties as they work to bring education and the Gospel to the deaf.
Our Fizi school is now renting space in a larger facility, and ready to begin the 2018-2019 school year. Director Shukuru Heritier has visited Burundian refugee camps in his region, and paved the way for deaf Burundian refugees to enroll in his school. Pray that the remaining logistics will be ironed out soon. In Uvira, we’re having to do some extensive renovations to the school building. Pray that we’ll be able to complete the repairs before school starts.
At our new school property in Chad, the newly installed water pump has been put to good use irrigating the small farm, resulting in a bountiful crop.
Thank you for your continued prayers.
We thank God for His blessings on our annual Congo Bible Camp. About 1/3 of the 120 attendees were first-timers from Burundi, so we’re thankful to be able to make inroads into the deaf churches in that country.
One of the attendees was a Muslim young lady named Ramla. Since our camps are targeted at pastors, evangelists and church leaders, it’s rare for us to have Muslim attendees. By the end of the week, Ramla had decided to follow Christ instead of Mohammed. We have no idea what her conversion will cost her, but please pray for Ramla as she begins discipleship under the Burundi church in her town.
Director Yves and his staff have lost no time in putting their new well to use. They set up an irrigation grid and planted some crops and trees on the property. If all goes well, the crops will grow quickly during this rainy season and be able to weather the coming dry season.
Praise God for several big answers to prayer regarding our Chad school:
- A new motorcycle has been purchased to replace the school’s aging motorcycle. Pray that it will serve the school well.
- A new well has been installed at the school’s new property. Limited funds have allowed for only one small building to be constructed so far, but in the mean time, one of our staff members has moved his family to the 6-acre property, and has planted a small farm. Pray that the first harvest will be bountiful, and that more funds will allow for continued construction.
Our Annual Congo Bible Camp is July 16-20. Pray for safety for the many who travel to the camp, and that God will be magnified in the teaching of His Word.
Shukuru Ramazani, the director of our Fizi school, has made contact with a refugee camp several miles north of his town. He was able to locate about 20 deaf refugees at the camp, and is working with officials to allow the refugees to attend the school in Fizi. Pray that the officials will allow the deaf refugees to attend our school and receive not only an education, but an introduction to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! – Job 19:25-27
It’s been a very busy spring, and with summer already upon us, things are promising to be even busier.
After many faithful years of serving the Lord in Africa and in the USA, my mother stepped into her eternal reward on January 27, 2018.
Berta became deaf at the age of 4 through measles. She met Andrew Foster in 1960 at an international conference for deaf educators in Germany. She was fascinated by his mission work among the deaf in Nigeria, and soon thereafter dedicated her life to Christ. They married in 1961 and had five children. Through Christian Mission for the Deaf, God used Andrew and Berta to pioneer work in deaf evangelism and education, opening over 30 schools for the deaf and dozens of churches for the deaf throughout central and west Africa. After Andrew’s untimely death in 1987, Berta served as the administrator of CMD until a stroke in 2009 led to her early retirement. I, Tim Foster, was appointed by the CMD board to step in as director. Since then, we’ve pressed on with the original vision of CMD, paying closer attention to improving doctrinal clarity and depth, especially among the young pastors and evangelists we interact with. These past nine years have been an exciting time of exhilaration and frustration, but we know that we serve a Sovereign God who is completely trustworthy. It is He who calls all men everywhere to worship Him in spirit and truth, and we are thankful to continue in that calling.
This past spring, God has blessed us by adding Clifford Bodiford, a deaf Texan, to our board of directors.
Although he was raised with an intellectual awareness of Christ, it wasn’t until he was in his 30s that Cliff came to realize the true depth of his sin and his need for Christ to save him from the consequences of his sin. Since then, Cliff has been faithfully serving at New Life Deaf Fellowship, in Fort Worth, Texas, for the past 21 years, and now serves as an elder. We’re thrilled to have a man with his passion for deaf ministry on our board. Pray for him and his wife, Sherrie, as they’ll both be traveling with us to Africa for the first time in July.
Lord willing, in just a few weeks, our 17-year old son Daniel will also be making his first trip with us to Africa. Due to school schedules and family finances, he has not been able to accompany us on past trips. He’s looking forward to getting a fresh and exciting perspective for the work of God in a radically different cultural context.
Thank you for your continued prayers for John Linus, the young Nigerian pastor-in-training who is currently studying in Texas. The adjustment to life in Texas was more difficult than he expected, and there were a number of times that he wanted to quit and go home. But by the grace of God, he was able to endure the first semester and is now eager to continue his education. Pray that his time in the US will continue to be fruitful, and that he will not fall to the many temptations that are readily available in the US.
Democratic Republic of Congo
We’re pleased to announce the formal adoption of a new school in Baraka, in the eastern province of Fizi.
The school was started three years ago by Shukuru Hertier, a personal friend of mine and a graduate from our Uvira school. Up until 2018, we had been collaborating with him on non-monetary projects, and monitoring his patient faithfulness as he worked to build up the school and pastor the new deaf believers. It’s not uncommon for us to encounter young deaf men with a great initial zeal for starting a deaf school, but rarely do we find someone with both good doctrine and endurance. Unlike several other deaf young men we’ve interacted with over the past decade, Shukuru did not abandon the school or run to foreign donors when he lacked resources. Instead, he turned to prayer and dependence on God, accepting his difficult circumstances, while committing himself to God’s hands to do as He wills. God provided by touching the hearts of a few parents, both in the USA and in Fizi, to contribute to his pauper’s budget. It wasn’t until a week ago, several months after we formally adopted his school, that Shukuru quietly informed me that his first three years were extremely difficult, and how his family members frequently provided food and housing so he could live. I was impressed with his love for God and the deaf. Now that we have formally adopted his school, he’s brought on 2 additional staff members, and with his increased, albeit modest, salary he’s able to live on his own. Pray that God will continue to bless him for his faithfulness to Him. Pray also for his fiance, Riziki Charline, as they plan their dowry, wedding and ministry life together.
Our Bukavu school is now completing its second year of operation. Due to space concerns at our former location, Director Nanza had to relocate the school to a Baptist church just outside of the city. While Bukavu has a large deaf population, many of them have a very low education, and few are interested in coming to our school. Some of them have indicated a resistance to the director because he is older and hearing. Most deaf schools in Africa have a hearing director and staff, so the resentment is peculiar. Pray with us for wisdom as we look to add deaf teachers who are more knowledgeable about deaf life in Bukavu, and able to more effectively minister to the deaf there.
Construction has resumed at the new Toukoura property just outside of N’Djamena, the country’s capital. The property is now able to house a family, and one of the staff families is moving there this month and starting a small farm. We’ve sent some funds so they can install a well pump this month.
Director Beosso’s motorcycle has long outlived its usefulness. Praise God with us that we’ve been able to assist him with the purchase of a new motorcycle this month.
Please continue praying for our up-coming Congo Bible Camp in Bujumbura, Burundi. We’re starting a 3-year study in the book of Genesis, and we expect to face a number of counter-cultural questions on the nature and equality of man, the nature of sin, and the substitutionary atonement of the Lamb of God. We’re thankful that God has allowed for my wife and son to travel with us this year.
Praise God for a surprise gift of funding for a fence at our Fizi (Congo) school. Shukuru Hertier, the director of our Fizi/Baraka school, reports that they have received a gift from the sector chief to assist them in the construction of a fence around the school property. This small gift goes a long way towards helping establish the young school as a competent place where the deaf can get an education.
Yves Besso, the director of our Chad school, reports that his motorcycle is on its last leg. By the grace of God we were able to give it to him eleven years ago, and it has long outlived its usefulness. Would you pray with us as we raise the $1,500 necessary to replace his motorcycle?