Plans for our annual Congo Bible Camp are picking up speed. This year, we’re meeting at the Ephphatha School for the Deaf in Bujumbura, Burundi. My father, Dr. Andrew Foster, opened the school in 1981, and since 1988, it has been locally supported and operated in partnership with the Community of Emmanuel Churches (CEEM), the Brethren movement in Burundi. Lord willing, both Cliff and Sherri Bodiford will be able to help us at the camp this summer. Cliff serves as an elder at New Life Deaf Fellowship in Fort Worth, Texas, and both have a deep passion for church-planting and mission work among the deaf. Since we are working with new team members from America and Burundi, we are facing a new set of logistical hurdles, and covet your prayers.
Director PIlilo Amani (Uvira, DR Congo) had to undergo hernia surgery 2 weeks ago and is recovering well. Thank you for your financial support, as the cost of this surgery was well beyond his means.
Praise God for an excellent 22nd annual Easter camp in Chad. This year’s camp met for the first time in Bebedja, a village about 12 hours SE of N’Djamena. About 350 people from 6 different regions of South Chad were in participation. One man was so enthusiastic to attend the camp, he rode his bicycle over 120km (75 miles) to get there! Praise God for the strong attendance, and pray that the study and messages from Ephesians will strengthen all who attended.
We’re pleased to announce the official addition of the Fizi School for the Deaf to our network of CMD schools. The school was started by one of our Uvira (Congo) graduates, Shukuru Hertier. Despite being located in a small city, the school has over 30 students and is poised to grow rapidly. After demonstrating 3 years of consistent Godly zeal and administrative excellence, our board voted to bring the school on as an official CMD school, and increase their funding so they can expand their Gospel and education work.
Pray for Shukuru as he continues to learn from our seasoned school directors and stay faithful to God’s direction.
After several years of declining health after her 2009 stroke, my mother, Berta Foster, slipped into eternity on January 27, 2018. She was buried at Restland Cemetery in Dallas, TX, and her obituary is online here: https://www.restlandfuneralhome.com/obits/berta-foster. She will always be remembered for her love for her family and her faithful service to our Lord. She served as the faithful administrator for Christian Mission for the Deaf since my father’s passing in 1987 until 2010 when she retired due to her health.
CMD is proud to announce the addition of Cliff Bodiford to our board of directors. Cliff serves as an elder at New Life Deaf Fellowship, and is passionate about missions and church planting among the deaf both in the USA and abroad. Lord willing, he will be joining our team for our Congo Bible Camp in July 2018.
We just received word that Mission Projects Fellowship is donating $2,500 for a new generator for our center in Ibadan, Nigeria. The electricity in our part of Ibadan is not very reliable at all, so this generator is will meet a great need. Praise God for this wonderful gift.
The Berean church that has hosted our Bukavu (D.R. Congo) school for the past two years has expanded their church ministry and is no longer able to accommodate our school. God has led us to a Baptist church on the outskirts of the city. Although the space is not free, the rent is reasonable, and it’s much closer to our director’s home and several of the students. Pray that the facility will remain available while the school continues to grow and serve the deaf.
After many long months of prayer and preparation, my wife and I picked up John Linus at the airport and drove him to SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf in Big Spring, Texas. John will study there for at least two years before going to Bible college and then back to his home in Nigeria, where he will continue leading the Nigerian churches for the deaf. Resisting the temptations of American wealth and leisure is a struggle many people from developing countries find difficult to surmount. Pray that God will sustain John as he continues his education in service of Him. His scholarship was provided by the Andrew Jackson Foster Scholarship Memorial Fund, headed up by Jim Walterhouse, a former missionary to the deaf in Mexico. Jim now functions as the school counselor at SWCID, and will be guiding John during his time in the USA.
Keep Shukuru Hertier in your prayers. He has been involved with us for many years and recently started a school for the deaf in the Congo. He is not yet fully supported by us as we’re still going through the process of bringing him on board. Despite the number of financial hardships he faces, he still has a great burden for the many deaf in his surrounding area that he is not able to reach.
Please keep our Uvira (DR Congo) school in your prayers. Director Pililo reports that they are currently experiencing hardships due to political unrest and disruptions to their funds. Teachers are having to work on reduced salaries, and many students are having to get by without school supplies.
In Likasi (also in the DR Congo), Director Mwamba reports that he is currently operating with 9 staff members instead of the usual 12. Pray that these positions will be filled quickly.
Christ the Savior is born in the flesh, the propitiation for our sins. This salvation from the just penalty of our sins is a free gift: given by grace, received by faith, lived with zeal. Too often it’s easy to reduce Christianity to a zealous list of dos and don’ts, especially when working with limited language skills. But our Savior compels us to zealously transform not only our actions, our thought processes and even our minds. Our entire worldview should be zealously transformed as part of our sanctification. These are a few of the thoughts that occupy my mind this Christmas season.
John Linus is a promising young pastor and an excellent candidate for further education. His education options in Nigeria are quite limited, but with the assistance of the Andrew Foster Memorial Scholarship Fund, he will finally be able to begin his college training at SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf in Big Spring, Texas. The Andrew Foster Memorial Scholarship fund was
started by Jim Walterhouse and Danny Campbell, faculty members at SWCID, and Linus is their first benefactor. After his studies at SWCID, Linus will begin studying at a Bible college, and then return to Nigeria to help serve the deaf churches. There were a number of delays in getting his paperwork completed and his visa approved, but by the grace of God, that has now been completed, and Linus is set to arrive in the USA in January. We thank God for this wonderful scholarship and pray that God will use Brother Linus to serve Him well. For more information about the fund, please visit http://afmsf.cmdeaf.org.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Three years ago we re-opened our Bukavu school with Boro Nanza as the director. Due to space limitations, Nanza has had to relocate the school to a property just outside the city limits. The new facility is owned by a Baptist church, and the rent is extremely reasonable.
Nanza’s current assistant is very limited in his knowledge of sign language. We were hoping to hire a young church leader from Rutshuru, but those plans fell through. Pray that we’ll be able to find another well-qualified assistant. By rough estimates, we believe there are several thousand deaf people in the Bukavu area, but almost none of them have access to an education, and the few that have received an education through our old school are spread far and wide. There is a lot of work to be done, and we covet your prayers.
Director Yves Beosso reports that construction at the Toukera property remains at a standstill. We lack the funds to complete the construction of the two school rooms. Another important feature to add in Toukera is a water well. This would enable us to encourage nearby residents to keep an eye on the property and herd off squatters. The laws in Chad make it easy for squatters to be an expensive source of frustration to property owners who cannot quickly develop their lands. We’ve had a few run-ins with squatters in the past, and hope to be able to prevent their return. In addition to the work at Toukera, the main campus in N’Djamena is in dire need of upgrades. Over the past few years, the center has been hit with severe storm damage. Due to time and finances, construction work was hasty, using mud brick. The mud brick needs to be replaced with concrete in order to provide safe, long-lasting buildings to meed the education needs of the deaf. Pray that God will provide the funds for these projects.
Yves’ oldest son recently graduated from secondary school. He is now at our center in Ibadan, Nigeria, studying English and preparing for January entrance exams to Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary. Lord willing, after his seminary training, he will be headed to the University of Ibadan for medical studies, and then back to Chad to work with the deaf. The school expense is more than the Beossos can afford, so they are trusting our Lord to provide.
Our oldest daughter, Micah, has ended her job as a UN refugee case worker, and now teaches third grade at a Classical Christian school in Austin. Our middle child, Noelle, has also moved down south to the San Antonio area to pursue her career interest in criminal justice. Daniel has taken on a renewed interest in life, art, music and literature, so this has been an extremely interesting 11th grade for him.
Mother Berta is doing as well as can be expected, grateful for each day the Lord gives her.
Dear Prayer Partners,
Yves Beosso, the director of our Chad school, has announced the secondary graduation of his oldest son. He is now looking to enroll in a Nigerian Bible college in the next few months (Aba Bible Theological Seminary or Igbaja Theological Seminary). They recently returned from visiting the schools, but along the way, ran into several days of delays and obfuscations in their border crossings. During their absence, Yves’ wife and daughter were quite ill. Praise God for their restored health, and that Yves and his son returned safe and sound.
Construction continues at the Nigerian school. Director Emmanuel Ilabor is exploring funding options with several agencies. Pray that God will grant continued favor as the school continues its growth.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Our annual Congo Bible Camp was a great success, with over 100 people from 15 different deaf churches coming to Bukavu. Three people who were very interested in our conference came in from as far away as Kisangani, a 2-day trip. Due to the low literacy rates among the deaf Congolese, most churches focus on Bible stories at the expense of doctrine. Our camps work to fill the gap, emphasizing sound doctrine as a basis for our faith and works. This year, we taught through the book of Ephesians. While the content of chapters 5 and 6 were familiar territory for many of them, the first 4 chapters were new. So far, we’ve had excellent feedback from many of the attendees. Perhaps the most bittersweet comment was from Joceyln, a lady from Kigali, Rwanda. She said that she was sad that the week was over because she was learning so much, and felt frustrated because her church doesn’t teach doctrine like this. Unfortunately, comments like hers are not unusual. Pray with us that our teaching will be greatly used by God to equip them for the good works they have been ordained to do (Eph 2:10).
A hearing couple, Miriam and Bartholomew Toto, came to our
camp to see what we were doing and to learn more about us. As it turns out, they were missionaries with YWAM in Uganda for seven years, and during that time had to raise their own support from local believers. Now that they’ve returned to the Congo, their aim is to work with the deaf in Bukavu, teaching Biblical living, while modeling a Biblically-based work ethic. Truly, this is a great need, particularly among the deaf leadership. It’s not uncommon for deaf evangelists in the Congo to believe that they have to sit and wait for a foreign benefactor to sponsor their evangelism work. For these evangelists, Paul’s teaching on finances in 1 Cor 9 (“worker is worthy of his wages”, tent-making, etc) is counter-cultural, and the Totos are making an impact both in their teaching and in their living example. Pray that God will continue to bless them and provide for their daily needs.
Ramazani Hertier, one of the graduates from our Uvira school, is now the director of his own school for the deaf in Fizi, in the Baraka Province. His school is now starting its 3rd year with over 50 deaf students enrolled. In a recent exploration trip through villages in the province, Ramazani was able to find another 15 students. Since most of the parents do not have the funds to support their children’s education, the growth in enrollment creates an additional financial burden. Although Ramazani’s spiritual training is not extensive, he’s the de-facto pastor for the deaf in Fizi. We’re excited that the Lord is using his ambition for his fellow deaf Congolese, and praying for ways to improve and strengthen their faith. We’d like to get several of these men into the Timothy School at the Kigobe Mission Station in Burundi (Some of you may know Jesse and Joy Johnson in Burundi. The Timothy School operates out of their facility).
Pray for us as we look to God for solutions to these unique challenges.
Director Yves Besso reports that repairs from the recent storm damage in N’Djamena have been completed. We thank God for your willingness to financially support this need. Yves’ son has recently passed Secondary school exams, and we’re looking at sponsorship options to send him to Bible college in Nigeria. His Biblical education will further quip him to be a great asset in his work with the deaf in Chad.
Due to a lack of funds, construction at the new property in Toukera has come to a standstill. Some poachers are encroaching on the property, so additional legal measures need to be taken in order to remove them. Pray for wisdom and provision.
In the city of Mondou, two deaf ladies have passed away after battling a lengthy illness. Pray for their families and church as they cope with the loss.
The Andrew Jackson Foster Scholarship Memorial Fund has raised funds to bring a promising candidate, John Linus, to Texas to further his formal and spiritual education. Unfortunately he has run into difficulties with obtaining a student visa, and will not be able to enroll this fall at the Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf. Pray that he will be able to receive his visa soon and begin his college education.
After our July conference in the Congo, Aaron Kuglin (a seminary student from Fort Worth who helped teach at the conference), Yves Beosso and I accompanied PhD candidate Joel Runnels to visit my father’s gravesite and attempt to find the site of his 1987 plane crash.
Joel has worked with various secular NGOs in East Africa for 20 years, and everywhere he went, he kept hearing stories about a deaf man named Andrew Foster, and all the amazing things he had done. After being unable to find much printed information about him, Joel decided to do his dissertation on my father’s life and work among the deaf in Africa. Pray with us that Joel’s research into my father’s earthly good works will not be an occasion to celebrate the accomplishments of a man, but rather, be a call to glorify our Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16)
Please keep Mother Berta in your prayers. She’s usually in good spirits, but her mobility continues to decline.
During our recent Congo Bible Camp, we had the pleasure of meeting Bartholomew and Miriam Toto, a Congolese couple living in Bukavu. They had just returned from a 7-year mission with YWAM in Uganda. Upon returning to Bukavu, the Lord laid on their heart a desire to work with the deaf churches in the area, providing vocational training and teaching them to pursue self-employment options. Most of the Toto’s life lessons were hard learned by “tent-making” while on the mission field in Uganda. We’re thrilled to be collaborating with them, helping them explore marketing options for their wares here in the USA. Pray that God will grant them success in this endeavor.
Shukuru Hertier, a graduate from our Uvira school, has shown himself to be a remarkably faithful young man in the way he has directed the school he opened two years ago. Enrollment is up drastically this year, so pray for wisdom as he manages resources with a shoe-string budget.