This excerpt was taken from ABC’s TV series “Switched At Birth“. The drama is about two girls who were switched at birth, one of whom is deaf.
In Season 2, Episode 1, a student is giving a class report about Dr. Andrew Foster.
We thank God to see continued growth in the new schools started by graduates of our schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
At one new school in Fizi, the young director has his hands full with 40 deaf students. On one of his recent trips to a remot village to look for deaf students, he found two people who were both deaf and blind. We’re heart broken that there are no resources in the region to meet the desperate needs of the deaf and blind.
Lord willing, a new school for the deaf will open soon in Minova (eastern DR Congo). Pray for Akilimali Lushenya, the young man who will head up this new school.
About ten years ago we had to close our school for the deaf in Bukavu (D.R. Congo). This major city of over 400,000 people has not had a good school for the deaf since then. Although there are many deaf there, and although we hold our annual conference there, there have been almost no options for the deaf to get a good education.
Two years ago, we received an offer of assistance from the mayor of Bukavu, but have not been able to move forward due to a lack of qualified leaders. This summer, however, God brought to us a man who used to work with the deaf many years ago. With the blessings and supervision of the local Berean church, he will be setting up a school for the deaf in Bukavu. We’re excited for this opportunity to begin again the work of teaching the deaf and reaching them with the Gospel.
We’re pleased to report that construction at our new property in Ibadan, Nigeria is moving along nicely. Director Emmanuel Ilabor reports that the water purification building is complete, making the water well capable of producing drinking water.
Director Pililo Amani reports that the spring storms have done a good bit of damage to our school in Uvira in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Repairs are underway, but this does represent an unexpected setback in the school’s summer budget.
Our school in N’Djamena, Chad has also experienced storm damage. Several mud-brick buildings desperately need to be replaced with concrete buildings, but for now, funds only allow for the mud brick. Pray for wisdom as Director Yves Beosso navigates this challenge.
Please keep our Chad schools and churches in your prayers. Brother Madjibe Taigone was trained by Dr. Foster in 1985 and has faithfully served and trained the deaf all across southern Chad for over 30 years. He died two weeks ago after complications from surgery. He is survived by his wife and nine children.
Brother Emmanuel Ilabor, director of our Nigeria center, returned to the US from Nigeria earlier this month. In a few months he will return to Nigeria to begin preparing for the center’s 55th anniversary.
Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. – 1 Timothy 4:11-13
One of the more exciting things in mission work is seeing young men and women grow up to be leaders and shepherds of the people of God. However, it’s bitter-sweet: we’re excited to see the Gospel going forward, and at the same time, we’re reminded of the dire need for solid teaching and training for the leaders themselves!
Democratic Republic of Congo
This year, our 2015 Congo Bible Camp was held during Easter instead of during the usual summer vacation.
This enabled us to reach attendees who had never had the opportunity to come to our conference in the past. Our focus of study for the week was the book of 1 Peter and the suffering we endure as we await our imperishable glory. Praise God that the teaching was well received, motivating the attendees to be faithful in the face of earthly hardships. We were happy to welcome back Yves Besso and Aaron Kuglin to help with the teaching. Aaron was joined by his wife Kristi and their 6 month old daughter. We were also grateful to have Josh Bonjour with us. He is the pastor of New Life Deaf Fellowship, a church for the deaf right here in Fort Worth, Texas! We’re grateful that the Lord has brought together CMD and New Life Deaf Fellowship, and are praying that our collaboration will be a long-term endeavor.
At next year’s conference, we’ll be tackling 2 Peter and taking a stern look at false doctrine. Prosperity gospel thinking, in particular, is growing like wildfire all over Africa, and the deaf are not exempt from the temptations of material wealth. Over the past year, we’ve seen a number of deaf leaders in various cities embrace and begin to teach it, doing great damage by confusing the flock. Pray for us that God will give us wisdom to meet this issue head-on. Pray that we will faithfully present the truth of Scriptures and that the attendees will learn the necessity for rigorously examining each and every new doctrine that comes along – and firmly reject those preaching these false doctrines.
The highlight of our trip was listening to several of the young men talk about the schools they have founded for the deaf near their home towns. These men know firsthand the need to bring the light of the Gospel to their fellow deaf countrymen – and they know that if they don’t act, no one will. So with the direction of trusted advisors, these young men have struck out on their own to open schools in cities where the deaf have no access to education, and would otherwise never hear the name of Jesus Christ! There are three men in particular I would like for you to pray for:
- Chance Bakunzi studied at our school in Goma and now serves as the director of a new school in Rutshuru, about an hour north of Goma. With the assistance of Jimmy Ntaumenya, they operate a school of about 30 deaf students. The region is a hotbed of violence and guerrilla activity from the dissident group “M23”. One of Chance’s frequent requests is for sponsorship to go to a Bible school. He is frustrated at the lack of easy-to-read Bible material that delves into deep doctrine. Invariably, the doctrinal material he gets is both simple to read and simplistic in its doctrine – and much of it comes from dubious sources. Next time I’m in his region, I’ll bring more books on systematic theology. They’re hard for him to read, but he’s promised he’ll spend the energy necessary to read and comprehend it all. No trivial task!
- Shukuru Hertier studied at our school in Uvira, and, with the oversight of Pililo Amani (the director of our school in Uvira), he now heads up a school in the city of Fizi, about two hours south of his home town of Uvira. About 25 deaf students are enrolled in his school.
The parents of the deaf children would rather spend their hard-earned money on their hearing children, and are reluctant to spend any money on their deaf children. Shukuru and his co-worker have no financial sponsors or income, and live day-to-day by the mercies of God.
- Jean Pajo studied at our school in Bukavu. With the assistance of former schoolmates, he started a school in Kavumu, about an hour northwest of Bukavu.A prominent city leader in Kavumu was interested in his work and now serves on the school’s board. We had the privilege of visiting his school and were stunned on multiple levels. Incredibly, he had leased a building on the main street, purchased three sewing machines for vocational training, purchased a laptop for school administration, and pays a meager salary to his co-workers – all out of his own pocket! Impressive work for a 25-year old deaf man! Although school was out of session when we visited, we were fortunate enough to come across one of his students, a 17-year old who never received any kind of formal education till this year. The young man was overjoyed to see foreigners interested in his education. When he greeted us, he gestured “I don’t know sign-language,” but it was obvious to see that he was learning how to communicate – and it was just a matter of time till Jean’s training would get him to understand abstracts like “God”, “Jesus”, “sin”, and “salvation”.
All three of these men (and there are more like them) are in challenging situations, living day-to-day with uncertainty about the future. They want to do so much more, but lack school supplies, funds and most of all, thorough Biblical grounding. Pray that these young men would remin rooted, grow in their wisdom, keeping a close watch on themselves and their teaching (1 Tim 4:16), and desire above all else to see Christ glorified in their service for Him.
We mourn the loss of Brother Madjibe Taigone. He was one of several young men trained by Dr. Foster in Nigeria in 1986, and has faithfully shepherded the deaf in Chad for these past 30 years. He passed away after undergoing bladder surgery in the first week of June. Pray for his wife and nine children.
We had a bit of a health scare last month. Mother Berta was rushed to the hospital with stroke-like symptoms. Thankfully, it was a false alarm, and she is now resting well with my sister Faith. Continue to pray for Faith and her family as they extend loving care to our mother.
Praise God for His provisions! Our school in Uvira will soon receive three sewing machines. These machines will be used to help our deaf students become gainfully employed as tailors and seamstresses. We’re praying they’ll also be able to make uniforms for the students soon.
In Chad, one of our staff members, Brother Dingamndoh Behiguim, will soon be presenting a dowry for his fiance Memadji. Pray for this young couple that God will bless their upcoming marriage.
Pray for the students as the exam finals loom closer. Good grades for finals are crucial, and will determine which students proceed to the next grades.
We thank God for a successful Bible Conference in Bukavu earlier this month. Aaron Kuglin was able to join us again, this time bringing his wife and youngest daughter. Pray for them as they continue to seek ways to be used by God to minister to the deaf. Josh Bonjour, pastor to a deaf church in Fort Worth, was able to join us and take a closer look at some of the work that CMD is doing. The attendees were quite excited at his fluent sign language, and are looking forward to meeting other people from his church at future conferences.
After the conference, we were able to visit a new school for the deaf in Kavumu (about an hour north of Bukavu). It was started by one of our former pupils using his own funds and resources. It’s amazing to see the ambition of young men who are rolling up their sleeves and forging ahead to bring education and the Gospel to unreached corners of their region. I’ll be writing about them in our next prayer letter.