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?
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.