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.
Director Yves Beosso traveled with his oldest daughter, Shalom, from their home in N’Djamena (Chad) to our school in Ibadan (Nigeria). The purpose of their trip was to bring Shalom to our school for English training so that she could prepare for college entrance exams. Their travels from Chad took them through Boko Haram territory in northeast Nigeria. Although they made the trip safely, both of them were struck with malaria prior to Yves returning to Chad. Pray for a speedy and complete recovery for them, and pray for Shalom as she adjusts to life in Nigeria and begins her studies in English. Pray also for Victor Ajayi, the campus chaplain at our school in Nigeria. He also had a bout with malaria in October, but his was so bad he had to be hospitalized.
In November, Pililo Amani, our director in Uvira (DR Congo), will travel to Yves’ school in Chad for a 2-week cross-training session. The two schools are structured somewhat differently, so it will be a good opportunity for both schools to learn from each other and share insights. Pray with us for safe flights and a rich time of sharing.
A few months ago, we moved our Bukavu (DR Congo) school closer to the city’s center with the objective of reaching more deaf pupils. So far, the enrollment hasn’t increased as dramatically as we had hoped. Please keep Director Nanza and his staff in your prayers as we continue pursuing the best course of action for the school.
Truly, your prayers are coveted.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning HIMSELF. (Luke 24:27)
We have a lot of new changes since our last newsletter!
12th Annual Congo Bible Camp
Our 2019 Congo Bible Camp went better than expected. We taught about the life and promises of Abraham, and used passages like Romans 4, Galatians 3 & 4 and Hebrews 7-9 to show how Abraham’s life and promises are not merely stories about an Old Testament character, but rather, these are promises aimed at Christ and passed through to us for the glory of God. The Christological connection was new material for most of these church leaders. Pray that they will continue to read the Scriptures with an understanding that all the Scriptures are about Christ.
We’ve been slowly making inroads into the Burundian deaf churches, and this year, the turnout exceeded our expectations. The numbers fluctuated during the week, but we had well over 150 attendees, with at least 60 participants from the Burundian deaf churches. Praise God! However, on a sad note, Israël Mungumwema, one of the prominent deaf pastors in Burundi, was called home to be with the Lord earlier this year. He had a great impact on all the deaf churches in Burundi, and his presence will be greatly missed.
University Scholarship Program
We have five teachers from Chad and one director from the DR Congo participating in our university scholarship program. Participants are required to raise 20% of their own support, and are required to maintain their regular morning teaching duties while keeping good grades in their evening university classes. We’re pleased with their overall progress, and looking to add a few more teachers from the Congo into the program. One of our directors, Shukur Hertier, surprised his university administrators by achieving the highest score in his class this past year. Originally, they were reluctant to let a deaf person enroll, but when he showed them that he knew English, they decided to give him a chance. Suffice it to say that they now have a very different appreciation for deaf people. Praise God for that! Shukuru’s academic excellence isn’t limited to his own studies: his students emulate him.
Democratic Republic of Congo
In Baraka, Director Shukuru reports that his three Primary 6 (sixth grade) students passed their national tests with top scores. This is an amazing feat because all across the Kivu province, test scores for P6 hearing students usually average around 70%, and deaf students almost always lag behind their hearing counterparts. But not so with Shukuru’s students: We were thrilled when all three of Shukuru’s P6 students scored 100%! But the best result of their success is that their parents’ attitudes towards deaf education has now changed. Whereas they used to see deaf education as “throwing money in the river”, and a distraction from their life as poor village farmers, they’re now fully on board, and want their children to continue on to Secondary school – even though there’s no Secondary school available. Considering the excitement of the parents and students (and the regional public school administrators), we decided that the budget increase was justified, and have proceeded to add Secondary classes for the deaf in Baraka. In turn, the parents have agreed to help support the school by bringing some of their crops to offset the school’s food costs. How good it is to see God growing His children this way! Pray for their continued success.
In order to expand our Bukavu school, we’ve had to move it from the outskirts and into the city. It’s been a difficult transition. Pray that director Nanza will guide the school to new growth, and that his staff will stay strong in their commitment to the deaf of Bukavu.
In Uvira, Director Pililo is preparing for new construction. A Congolese donor has graciously contributed 75% of the cost of new land, and we’ve finalized the purchase of land in September. We expect construction to begin around the 1st of the year, with a price tag between $15,000-$20,000. The new facility will be larger than our current rented facility, and will be a welcome relief to our crowded situation. Pray with us that we’ll be able to find the funding for this ambitious project. In the meantime, we’ve purchased solar equipment to power the current building, and are happy to report that they now have electricity for the first time! Along with the electricity, we’ve been able to equip them with updated laptops and a projector. Director Pililo reports they’ve put the laptop and projector to good use with education and evangelism movies. Praise God!
The main building of our N’Djamena property has deteriorated past the point of repair. The structure was torn down after this last rain season, and a new 2-story building is now under construction. The first story will be used for chapel and offices, while the 2nd story will be used for classrooms. Progress moves as fast as funds are raised, so it’s been moving a little slower than expected. Pray that we’ll continue to receive funds and complete the building quickly.
Indeed, your prayers are coveted!
Our schools in Nigeria, Chad and the Congo are off to a brisk start for the 2019-2020 year.
In Uvira (DR Congo), Director Pililo reports that their new solar electrical system is online and serving them well. They have finished purchasing new property for expansion, and we await plans on moving forward with new construction. Pray for wisdom in this undertaking.
Our school in Baraka, located a few hours south of Uvira, will begin their upgrade to solar in the next few weeks. Both schools are also looking to add office equipment (printers and photocopiers) in the near future. Currently all their copying and printing is done at nearby cyber cafes, so the addition of office equipment will save money with these expenses.
We’ve added staff in Baraka in order to provide secondary school classes for the latest primary school graduates. With the exception of Director Shukuru and a few of his staff members, there are almost no deaf people with a secondary school education in the entire Fizi province. The new classes are a great opportunity for the students, and are opening the hearts and minds of the people in Fizi province to see the great work that God is doing among the deaf.
Truly, your prayers are coveted.
Director Yves has been pretty busy the past month. He spent a week in Ghana as part of a sign-language training program. Then last week he was in Moundou (southern Chad) for an annual deaf leadership program to discuss various training programs for the deaf in Chad. All of this was taking place while construction of their new multi-purpose building was underway. We’re thankful that donations have helped moved the project along, but we’ll not be able to complete the 1st floor in time for the new school year. We wait on the Lord’s timing and provisions.
Our Uvira (DR Congo) school is about to go online with solar energy. The city’s electrical grid is expensive and unreliable, and many people in this region of the Congo either have no electricity, or are implementing solar. We’re looking forward to this advancement, as our school has not had electricity. After the Uvira school is online with electricity, our Baraka school will follow suit.
Pray with us as our Bukavu (DR Congo) school moves from the outskirts to the city to a location that is in town. The remote school was closer to Director Nanza’s home, but by relocating into town, we’ll have better access to more students and resources. Pray that the transition will be quick and that we’ll be able to get more students in the school.
Your prayers are coveted,
We’re so thankful for a great 2019 Congo Bible conference! We had about 125 people register in advance, but on the first day of the conference, over 150 people showed up. The participants came from 30 churches in the DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. We’re especially grateful to the facility Director Murishi Maurice and his assistant Ntungwanayo Noël for their hard work to accommodate all the last minute influx of registrants. We were especially pleased to see a larger number of church leaders from Burundi attending this year. It was a great time of teaching and fellowship. The Christ-focused teaching of “Abraham: Father of the Promise” was well received, and the Q&A sessions highlighted the hunger for more Christ-focused doctrine derived from the life of the patriarchs. I’m looking forward to next year as we continue through Genesis, teaching on the life of Isaac and Jacob.
Pray with us for two important construction projects we have going on right now. In N’Djamena (Chad), we’re building a new two-story classroom. We don’t have all the funds on hand for the project, and hope to complete at least the first story before school starts in a few weeks.
In Uvira (Democratic Republic of Congo), one of our local school supporters has given us an opportunity to buy a parcel of land for $1,000. The land is valued at almost $5,000, so we’ve jumped on the offer and hope to complete the sale in a few weeks. Lord willing, we’ll begin construction on a 8-room school building later this fall. The initial estimates for building the new school are projected to be slightly under $20,000, and the new facility will be a welcome relief to the cramped space we’re working in now. Pray for provision, wisdom and guidance as we complete the land purchase and begin construction.