Category: Prayer Letter

Spring 2014

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. – Col 1:28-29

It’s truly a joy to interact with deaf Africans who have a robust understanding of the word of God. Seeing them take on a leadership role and guide others in a spirit of humility and grace is truly a beautiful thing. But regrettably, it’s not a very common thing. This is our ultimate goal and passion: to prepare the deaf for spiritual leadership roles within their communities, and equip them to make disciples for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

DW-20140430-Q1-TSNigerians

Meeting with deaf Nigerians
enrolled in a Texas university

DW-20140430-Q1-2014ChadCamp

18th Annual Chad Bible Camp

DW-20140430-Q1-IbadanWell

Donated solar-powered well &
water storage tank in Nigeria

DW-20140430-Q1-AlessandraGrad

First Foster grandchild graduates from college

 

Nigeria

Every year, our deaf high-school students in Ibadan participate in the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO). Students with high scores are able to proceed to universities in Nigeria and beyond. Recently, a few Nigerians have been able to enroll at SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf (SWCID) in Big Spring, Texas. As it turns out, SWCID is located about 4 hours west of our CMD headquarters in Texas! Last week, my wife and I drove there to visit the deaf Nigerians. It was a good time of fellowship and encouragement. Pray that more graduates may be able to attend SWCID in the future.

Construction of the new campus steadily inches forward. We’ve received a grant for 100,000 Euros from Siegworks Construction. Praise God! Another fantasic blessing came from a supporter who installed a solar-powered well. Having water on site will help greatly as construction continues at the new the campus.

After many years of service and numerous repairs, our center’s electric generator is now in dire need of replacement. The Commissioner’s for Women’s Affairs and Social Welfare has kindly donated a 6500W generator. It’s not powerful enough to run the entire facility, but we’re thankful that it helps take a load off the aging primary generator.

Chad

Over 220 people attended the 18th Annual Easter Camp for the Deaf. Most attendees had to travel to get to the city of Doba. Although the facility had a shortage of utensils and ran out of water on the 1st day, God showed His loving kindness by having local churches bring in water and utensils to meet the needs of the campers. We praise God that 19 people made a commitment to follow Christ. Pray that they will continue in discipleship.

When some village officials heard about the camp, they brought in 50 deaf people from outlying villages in the region. These deaf villagers had never received a formal education, and were stunned to see so many people, deaf like themselves, yet with advanced education and the ability to read, write and communicate about things they read in a Book. Pray that these deaf villagers will be able to attend a proper deaf school and learn to read, write – and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

As in Nigeria, our Chad school has recently received financial support from some unlikely sources. The US Embassy visited our school in the capital city of N’Djamena one week before the Easter camp, and promised to help with the reconstruction of some deteriorated buildings. Most of the buildings at our center are made of mud-brick (as are most buildings in that part of town). The embassy delegates want to replace four of the deteriorated mud buildings with concrete buildings. Pray that they will follow through on their commitment when construction gets underway this August. While the embassy will be carrying the majority of the costs, we still need to raise several thousand dollars to complete the projects. Pray with us that the Lord will provide.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Staffing at our annual Congo Bible Conference will be interesting this year: A team of 15 people from Michigan – most of whom have never been to Africa – will be traveling in the Kivu region (eastern DR Congo) to help with two hearing conferences, as well as our deaf conference in Bukavu. There is also a possibility that a deaf American from Colorado will join our team. This year, we’re going through the book of Colossians, and placing more emphasis on small-group discussions to help the deaf assimilate the material we’ll be teaching. We want to capitalize on the additional help by increasing our budget so more deaf Congolese can afford to come. Pray that the Lord will provide mightily, as local transportation is the largest line-item in our conference budget. Pray also for the Michigan team: Traveling in the DR Congo is not exactly safe, and certainly not for the faint of heart.

Our school in Uvira has had some changes in staffing. Director Pililo Amani has added a young deaf high-schooler as a teacher for the primary classes, and so far, he’s doing well. They still have a need for sewing machines to teach tailoring and to make uniforms. Pray that God will meet this need.

Our school in Likasi, led by Director Mwamba Pascal, has a pressing need for a computer. We have several laptops on hand that I will be brining to the DR Congo this summer, but because our Likasi school is so remote, it’s far cheaper for our director to travel several hours south to Zambia and buy a computer there. Our missionary friend in Likasi, Ruth Willenbrecht, has helped locate a good deal. Pray that God will meet this need.

Home

Mother Berta is staying with us this week while my sister, Faith, is in New York to attend the graduation of her oldest daughter. Alessandra is the first of the Foster grandchildren to graduate from college. Following hot on her heels is our oldest daughter [name withheld]. Lord willing, she will be going overseas next year to work full-time with an evangelical ministry doing outreach to Muslims. Pray for these two as they strike out on their own, that God will continue to bless them and keep them and make His face to shine upon them, and give them peace.

In Him,

Tim Foster

Christmas 2013

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return ​​​​​​​and come to Zion with singing; ​​​​​​​everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; ​​​​​​​they shall obtain gladness and joy, ​​​​​​​and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. ​​ –  Isaiah 35:10

As we enter the winter months, we’re reminded of the prophet Isaiah’s message to the people of God: ​​​​​​​“Strengthen the weak hands, ​​​​​​​and make firm the feeble knees. ​​​ Say to those who have an anxious heart, ’Be strong; fear not! ​​​​​​​Behold, your God ​​​​​​​will come with vengeance, ​​​​​​​with the recompense of God. ​​​​​​​He will come and save you.’ ​​​​​​​​​​​Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, ​​​​​​​and the ears of the deaf unstopped; ​​​​​​​​​​​then shall the lame man leap like a deer, ​​​​​​​and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” Isaiah calls his audience to take heart and look to the Lord for salvation. Paul repeats the same message to the Thessalonians, calling us to take courage and remember that the Lord will come for His people and save them from their oppressors (2 Thess 5-10). This Christmas season, may our hearts be encouraged by remembering that our Lord is not slack concerning His promises, and that He will one day replace sorrow and sighing with gladness and joy.

Congo Bible Camp

Praise God for another successful Bible camp! In this prayer letter, I’d like to give an inside peek on some methods we use when conducting a Bible camp for the deaf.

The topic of our 6th annual Congo Bible Camp was the Gospel of Mark. About 50 attendees from three countries were in attendance. Most were from the DR Congo cities of Bukavu, Uvira, Kalemi, Goma and Rutshuru. About ten of the attendees were from the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Burundi. Our numbers were a little lower than we anticipated, primarily due to travel costs. Some of the attendees traveled as far as 15 hours to get to the camp, and most cannot afford the cost of travel.

Congo Bible Camp - 2013

Congo Bible Camp – 2013

Pililo, Rob, Yves, Tim and Aaron

Pililo, Rob, Yves, Tim and Aaron

Regional Director of Education, Vice-Mayor of Bukavu, and Uvira School Director

Regional Director of Education, Vice-Mayor of Bukavu, and Uvira School Director

The teaching time is always my favorite part. Because the deaf in the Congo have a shortage of solid spiritual leadership, many of them are starving. They are very knowledgeable about a variety of stories all throughout the Bible, but they consistently lack Biblical depth: a comprehensive understanding of the Bible itself remains elusive; the character, nature and actions of God are often preplexing; abstracts that deal with Biblical themes, systematic theology or God’s overall plan of redemptive history are largely unknown to them. When our teaching touches on these subjects, we get flooded with excellent questions – but that’s where things get sticky. Although all the attendees speak sign-language, clear communication is a persistent challenge because of the variation of education levels and variety of sign language across these far-flung cities. When it comes to teaching a complicated passage (for example, Jesus’ conversation with the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30), great care must be taken to properly communicate the subtle nuances and implications of the text. But God is merciful: For the past few years, God has allowed a Congolese teacher of the deaf, John Gakuru, to attend our conferences. He teaches at the the deaf school in Goma and is a certified interpreter – fluent in English, French, Swahili and sign-language. When things got sticky, he was ready and willing to help us communicate some of the more complicated passages.

This year, to address these persistent challenges, we chose the Gospel of Mark. It’s short and direct, and would allow us to cover the entire book in one week, paying careful attention to not just the individual stories and parables, but also the overarching storyline, themes and truths presented in this Gospel. This allowed us to repeatedly demonstrate how the whole of the Gospel is greater than the sum of its parts.

We also brought in a variety of teachers. Yves Beosso, the director of our school in Chad, taught several of the main sessions.  As a deaf African, he had a connection with the Congolese that we Americans simply couldn’t match, and raised the bar for what the Congolese could expect in a deaf African spiritual leader. We praise God for the kind gifts of His people that allowed us to pay for Yves’ airline tickets. We also brought two Americans interested in work among the deaf: Rob Slack and Aaron Kuglin. Dividing up the teaching this way allowed for us to cover much ground in a short amount of time.

To further bridge the language gap, we gave each attendee a specially printed tri-lingual Gospel of Mark. Each page had a column in English, French and Swahili. Since most of the attendees read and write in a mixture of the languages, this special printing helped them to better understand the passages by comparing languages side-by-side. We designed the booklets with wide margins, and used them to help teach good Bible study methods: underlining main thoughts; writing comments and questions in the margins, etc. We thank God for allowing Judd Kile to provide the printing of these Gospels. He’s a friend of our local co-workers Tom & Kathy Lindquist, and his contribution was greatly appreciated by the campers.

Kathy and Renee Lindquist had hands-on crafts to help reinforce the parables in Mark. Pililo Amani, the director of our school in nearby Uvira, led each of the morning devotionals. Aaron taught a special session on worship, and Yves taught a special session on the end times. These special sessions were met with great interest. Aaron and Yves covered much new ground and addressed many misunderstandings. By the end of the week, we had covered the entire Gospel of Mark fairly thoroughly, and along the way, addressed many doctrinal questions.

The camp wasn’t entirely a bed of roses: We were badgered by the ANR, a governmental group responsible for investigating meetings held in the Congo.

Their goal was to interrupt us with excessive red tape, hoping we would bribe them to go away. Local pastors from the Berean Mission got involved to help us out, and unfortunately spent two days and many hours being interrogated at gunpoint. The issue was finally resolved when the Berean pastors agreed to pay $100 to the ANR agents. But God has a way of turning trials to gold. The vice-mayor  of Bukavu and the regional director of education came and visited our camp and to apologize for the difficulties we experienced with the ANR. They were quite impressed to see deaf adults reading, writing, communicating, studying and learning – so much so that they invited us to collaborate with them to open a school for the deaf in Bukavu. They even offered to hire a deaf graduate to work in the mayor’s office. Needless to say, the deaf were quite thrilled to hear this announcement. Praise God for this wide-open door!

Pray with us that the deaf in the Congo will continue to study God’s Word and will continue to press themselves on to a deeper understanding of the manifold riches of God in Christ. Pray with us that we will be able to find staffing to re-open a school in Bukavu.

On the Home Front

Berta’s hip surgery from earlier this summer is mostly behind her now. Please do continue to keep her in your prayers.

Our beloved Sister, Mary Watson, went home to be with the Lord in October. She worked for many years with the deaf in the DR Congo, and after “retiring”, worked with Berta at the home office in Detroit.

Pray also for us as we prepare for the 7th annual Congo Bible Camp. Lord wiling, we’ll be teaching the book of Colossians. Pray with us that my wife Sheryl will be able to return next year. Her presence was sorely missed, and many of the ladies expressed a desire to have her there to teach them and answer their questions.

So much work, so little time! Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.

In Him,

Tim Foster

Summer 2013

He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.  – 1 Cor 3:8-9

Dear CMD Partners!

It’s exciting to step back and take a look at the work of God going on in Nigeria.  Despite the many challenges and frustrations, His faithful hand is evident. As we continue to plant and water the fields, He continues to provide growth, sustain His people, carry His Word, and shape His people into the image of His Son.  In this prayer letter, I’d like to focus specifically on the work in Nigeria and share how God has used Christian Mission for the Deaf to bring honor and glory to His Name.

CMD’s History in Nigeria

CMD Nigeria, 1960

CMD’s Ibadan School – 1960

My recent trip to Nigeria brought back a number of childhood memories. The buildings have changed over the past 35 years (not always for the better), the roads are more congested, the water, electrical and telephone networks are certainly not what I remembered, and many of the people I knew as a child are no longer living locally. Yet in the midst of all these changes, God’s presence is evident, and His actions compel us to praise Him.

In the 60s, my father, Andrew Foster, moved CMD’s base of operations from the country of Ghana to Nigeria. Our family eventually settled in Ibadan, the city where I was born. As CMD’s work among the deaf in Nigeria grew, God blessed us with a spacious facility to use as a training center, church, headquarters office and missionary family residence. Through the years, God has blessed the deaf mightily through this center, training and equipping thousands of leaders, both hearing and deaf, not only from Nigeria, but from all over Africa.

CMD Nigeria, 1975

CMD Nigerian Center – 1975

Our Ibadan center is now led by Brother Emmanuel Ilabor. God brought him to CMD in the ‘60s as one of the first deaf students to enroll in the Ibadan school for the deaf. After receiving a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology and a Master of Education degree from Maryland’s McDaniel College, he returned to Ibadan to carry forward the Lord’s work.

CMD 1996

CMD Nigerian Center – Expanded in 1996

Under his leadership, the center has seen strong growth with the addition of classes for elementary and secondary deaf students, the building of a large sanctuary (which also doubles as classroom space), the addition of a science lab, computer lab, carpentry shop, shoe repair shop and more. With the assistance of over 45 staff members, our Ibadan center is well-equipped to serve not only the spiritual needs of the deaf, but also the social, educational and vocational needs of over 150 deaf students. The overcrowded center is hardly recognizeable from the place I lived as a small child. And it continues to grow!

Outreach

Although our center is in Ibadan, our focus spans the entire country.  After young men and women are trained to teach and lead the deaf, they leave Ibadan and take the Gospel with them.  Over the past decades, we’ve been blessed to see the establishment of over 25 churches for the deaf all across Nigeria. These churches continue to maintain close relationships with each other, collaborating on evangelism efforts, sharing educational resources, and pooling their staffing. It’s amazing to see God’s faithfulness as He adds to the Body of Christ.

Emmanuel Ilabor, Director of Nigerian Center

Emmanuel Ilabor, Director of Nigerian Center

The need for more leaders with seminary education is acute. Pray that God will raise up more leaders and equip them to feed His flock.

A Vision for the Future

Despite the center being filled to capacity, there are still many more deaf people who need to be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  God laid it on the hearts of several former students, friends and churches in the USA and London to raise funds to purchase 39 acres of undeveloped land on the outskirts of Ibadan. Not only is the property ideal for expanding our operations in Nigeria, but the stream on the north edge of the property makes the land convient for agricultural activity as well. The long range site plan includes much more than buildings for classrooms, boarding rooms and administrative offices.  We’re also planning for a youth camp, a small farm, a fishery and a conference center.  The plans are ambitious, but we believe God is leading us slowly and surely in this direction. Construction is underway, but moving incrementally as the Lord provides the funds. The foundation for the girls’ dorms were laid last spring, and this summer, construction of a 12-classroom building has commenced.

Pray with us that the Lord will continue to guide Brother Emmanuel and his staff during this exciting time of growth. Pray also that the Lord will continue to richly bless this aspect of CMD’s work so that we can continue training and reaching more of the deaf with His Word.

On the Home Front

Berta recently fell and broke her right hip, and recovery has been a bit slow. After a few weeks of post-surgery rehab, she returned to Faith’s home this week.  As long as the pain is kept low, her sprits remain high and she takes each day with a grateful attitude. Please keep her in your prayers during this special trial.

Keep me in your prayers as well: this August, at our Congo Bible Camp, we hope to bring Yves Beosso, our director from our school in Chad as a guest speaker. There are a few hurdles we need to cross in order to make it all work, but we’re trusting God to meet the need and lead the way.

Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.

In Him,

Tim Foster

Winter 2012

I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.  – Jer 3:15

Dear CMD Partners!

As I was studying Jeremiah 3 this past week, the Lord brought verse 15 to the forefront of my thoughts. In the midst of calling His people to repent, He says that if they will return to Him, He will send them shepherds after His own heart; shepherds who will feed them with knowledge and understanding. This immediately reminds us of the Good Shepherd of John 10 who lays His life down for His sheep, calls them by name, and how they follow Him. My heart resonates with the challenge before each of us to emulate our Savior: to tend to His flock, providing knowledge and understanding of the One who laid down His life for us! Thank you so much for joining in with us as we work to reach the deaf of Africa!201302Q1

An Overview

I want to use this issue of Deaf Witness to provide an overview of CMD’s current deployment, and lay out the strategies we want to pursue over the next few years. Although God has used CMD over the past sixty years to open dozens of schools and churches for the deaf across west and central Africa, these days, our focus is aimed primarily at four countries: Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Through schools, camps and pastoral training classes, we aim to equip the deaf in establishing schools and churches across their countries and beyond.

N’Djamena, Chad

Population: 11.5M
Estimated deaf: 11,500

With a new school added just a few months ago, there are now a total of thirteen schools for the deaf across the southern portions of Chad. There are none in the Muslim north. All but one of the schools are directly related to the original three schools started by CMD many years ago. Financial constraints prevent us from actively supporting more than our center in N’Djamena, the country’s capital, so the remaining schools support themselves as best they can. Six schools form the evangelical backbone of deaf ministry in Chad, with our school in N’Djamena as the epicenter. Led by Yves Beosso, the center serves as a deaf church, a community outreach center, and a school for about 55 students (including several boarding students from the north). The center is made of mostly mud-brick. Several rooms are crumbling and in dire need of reconstruction before the rainy season hits in a few months.

We’re thankful to have received a sizable land grant from the government, but if we don’t build a permanent structure on it soon, we risk losing it should the government find another use for the land.

During the Easter break, Brother Beosso organizes a nation-wide Easter camp for the deaf, alternating locations with the other five evangelical schools. Typical attendance at the camp is around 150 people.

PRAY FOR… More new leaders. Bible school training for leaders. Funding for new construction and expansion.

Likasi, Democratic Republic of Congo

Population: 67.7M
Estimated deaf: 67,700
Regional population: 450,000
Estimated deaf: 450
Located in the southern portion of the DR Congo, this school offers both primary and secondary education for the deaf. Daniel Ngoy has been the school’s director since the school’s inception in 1985. The school serves 85 students, 50 of whom are in grades 1-6. Oversight is provided by the local assembly in Likasi, and the elders are glad to share property and resources with the school. World Vision has helped with a much needed expansion, allowing them to build new classrooms for high school students. Because the government pays meager teacher salaries, and parents are reluctant to spend money to educate deaf children, deaf teachers are subjected to huge salary discrepancies when compared to teachers at hearing schools.

When the deaf graduate from our school in Likasi, many of them move two hours south to Lubumbashi, the capital of the province, where jobs and resources for the deaf are more plentiful. The deaf schools and churches in Lubumbashi have been operating independently of CMD for many years now, but we would like to expand our ministry and pastoral training efforts in both Likasi and Lubumbashi.

PRAY FOR… Faithful teachers despite financial strain. Strong spiritual leaders to carry on the work in Likasi.

Uvira, Democratic Republic of Congo

Population: 67.7M
Estimated deaf: 67,700
Regional population: 378,000
Estimated deaf: 378
Located on the eastern border of the DR Congo, the school in Uvira is one of the newest schools opened by CMD. Pililo Amani has been the director these past eleven years, and his love and enthusiasm for the deaf is infectious. Because the city does not have a large presence of healthy evangelical churches, the deaf in Uvira have very few options for spiritual resources and growth. My wife and I, along with missionaries Tom and Kathy Lindquist and their daughter Renee, lead an annual Bible camp which draws deaf participants from the region, including the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Burundi.

We’re trying to supplement Uvira’s academic and spiritual vitality by collaborating with the school for the deaf in Bujumbura, Burundi, a short 45 minutes across the border to the east. The deaf school in Burundi, located in the mission center managed by CMML missionaries Jesse and Joy Johnson, has been operating independently of CMD for many years now, and the growth there has been nothing short of stellar! My wife and I had the opportunity to visit with the Johnsons when we were in Bujumbura last year, and were truly thrilled to see how God has been using their multi-faceted ministry to impact Burundi.

PRAY FOR… Spiritual resources and leaders. Important decisions about the secondary school. Improved relations with the deaf ministry in Burundi.

Ibadan, Nigeria

Population: 162M
Estimated deaf: 162,000
Regional population: 1.3M
Estimated deaf: 1,300
Since the mid-60’s, the center in Ibadan has been CMD’s center of operations in Africa (and our home when we lived overseas). Now led by Brother Emmanuel Ilabor, the center has grown tremendously, serving over 200 primary and secondary deaf students, many of whom are boarding students. The facility has expanded well beyond capacity, but plans for new construction are on hold due to lack of funds.

During the summer, the center hosts a deaf leadership/training conference, attracting deaf and hearing leaders from all parts of Africa. As a result of the strong spiritual leadership, there are over 25 churches for the deaf all across the country.

Each spring, 700-800 deaf people convene at one of seven locations for an annual Easter Camp. Lord Willing, I’ll be returning to Ibadan, the city I was born in and haven’t been in since 1976. I’ll be helping with teaching for the Easter Camp near Ibadan. I’ll also get a chance to put my computer networking skills to use (my “tent-making” vocation here in the States) by upgrading their aging computers, network and Internet service.

PRAY FOR… Continued spiritual growth. Boldness for those living in the Muslim-controlled north. Funds for expansion. Travel as I head to Ibadan in March.

Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.

In Him,

Tim Foster

Fall 2012

Dear CMD Partners!

Thank you for your continued partering with us as we strive to hold forth the pure Word of God and build up His saints in these silent corners of the world. Your faithfulness is truly a blessing.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC of CONGO

We’re praising God for an excellent week-long camp in the city of Uvira last month. The theme of the 2012 Congo Bible Camp was “Heroes of the Faith,” and my wife and I, along with the Lindquists, taught the books of Joshua, Ruth, Esther and James. We spent a good bit of time examining the lives of these Bible characters, and teaching how proper faith in God manifests itself in works and endures till the end.  There has been quite a bit of violence and political upheaval in the northern regions of the province where we met, so we were quite pleased to see over 50 people attend the camp.  It was thrilling to see their hearts stirred and challenged, as the campers asked many thoughtful and probing questions, wanting a deeper understanding of God and how to live out their faith in the face of spiritual, political and economic hardship.  Our 16-yr old daughter, Noelle, joined us for the event, and despite not knowing much sign language, she was a tremendous help.  It was a good and challenging experience for her to serve on the front-lines, and the campers were quite taken with her.

One of the highlights of the camp is the evening pastoral class that we offer to the evangelists and pastors at the camp.  It continues to grow in popularity, and this year, I was pleased (and surprised) to see 5 hearing people join the deaf pastors in the intense teaching that we offer.  The first day of the class always focuses on a detailed presentation of the Gospel: the nature of God’s holiness, the sinful state of man, the need for substitutionary atonement and the sanctifying work of Christ. This presentation always exposes underlying confusion and questions about the nature of salvation. It is a solemn reminder that they struggle against a variety of subtle false teachings from Jehovah’s Witnesses, animismand  people teaching works-based salvation.  We spent the remainder of the week teaching specific methods for proper Biblical contextual interpretation and exegetical preaching of the Word of God. As always, much of our ‘free time’ was spent with long hours answering and discussing the implications of various doctrinal issues.

Uvira

Our school in Uvira is facing several changes this year.  We’ve recently expanded the school by offering secondary classes, but enrollment for those classes has been lower than anticipated.  We’re also needing to overhaul the sewing classes, as the equipment used in the past is now beyond repair. We need at least three new sewing machines to get the school back on track.  These machines will enable the students to make desperately needed uniforms, and will enable them to continue learning vocational skills.

We’re also seeing an exciting opportunity on the horizon. While in Bujumbura last month, God brought us to Noel, a Burundi national who worked for many years with Andrew Foster over 25 years ago. To this day, he continues to work tirelessly in the teaching and training of the deaf, and fending off the spread of false doctrines from Jehovah’s Witnesses and other sources.  His experience with deaf education and doctrinal integrity makes him a valuable resource in dealing with some of the particulars we’re seeing in our school in Uvira. For most of the month of October, Lord Willing, Noel will be in Uvira, collaborating with our school and providing insight and guidance.

Pray that the campers will remain faithful as they return to their cities, jobs and schools for the fall.  Pray that the pastors will continue to faithfully live and teach the Word of God. Pray that the rampant influence of false doctrine will not take hold in the hearts and minds of these men and women.

NIGERIA

The fall semester at our school in Ibadan is off to a slow start, but Emmanuel, our school director, expects to reach 200 students before the end of the semester.  As with many other schools in the area, parents struggle the first few months with getting their children situated. There is a positive aspect to this delay: Our center in Ibadan is facing overcrowding, bursting at the seams with higher enrollments each year. Due to lack of funds, dormitory construction at our new site has stopped for a time.  Emmanuel and the staff are diligently seeking funding options in order to continue construction.

Getting college education is a challenge for Nigerians, and being deaf certainly doesn’t make things easier.  By the grace of God, however, a number of the graduates from our school are going to colleges and seminaries in Nigeria, and four of our graduates are continuing their college education at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas.  An education in the USA is a dream-come-true, but it also presents a number of challenges and temptations that are not readily available in Nigeria.

Please pray that God will provide more funding so that construction will continue. Pray that these students will stay faithful in their preparation for God’s calling as they continue their academic studies.

CHAD

After a busy summer of sign-language courses for parents, expansion planning, and more, Yves and his staff are excited to get the fall semester underway.   Enrollment is picking up briskly, but the fall season also brings massive floods, and this year is one of the worst.  In many ways, the Chari River is a lifeline for N’Djamena, the country’s capital, but when it floods, it leaves disaster in its wake.  Our school is on the outskirts of N’Djamena, about a mile south of the Chari River.  The recent rains have been particularly heavy, and the swelling river is now within 300 yards of the school.  Because most of the homes and buildings in this area of town are made of mud-brick, it doesn’t take much flooding to do a lot of damage. The last time our school experienced flooding like this, there were several deaths in the area, and many of the mud-brick homes were destroyed, including the school’s mud-brick restroom facilities.  We thank God that the local government responded quickly to the disaster, going so far as to build and a new concrete restroom facility to replace the mud-brick building.

These heavy rains also contribute to the deterioration of the mud-brick classrooms.  Two of the classrooms are deteriorating to the point that they are becoming too dangerous for students to use.  We estimate that it will cost around $16,000 to rebuild these classrooms. Please pray with us that flooding won’t do any damage. Pray also that we can quickly raise the necessary funds and get construction underway.

HOME

In the Eastern Congo, we find that many deaf pastors long to understand complex topics, but frequently have incorrect and inconsistent doctrines.  Consequently, we see many questions about the Trinity, atonement, election, the Holy Spirit, baptism, regeneration, sanctification and more. The problem is two-fold: there is very little advanced Bible study material available (especially in French), and their lack of advanced language skills prevent these men from understanding whatever material might be available. What they want, and can’t find, are complex Biblical topics presented in simple language.  To address this need, we’re writing a study titled “The Gospel of John: Knowing the Father and the Son,” where pastors study the entire Gospel of John section by section, paying particular attention to the themes, issues and implications John teaches his readers. Lord willing, we’ll expand this in the future to other books like Genesis, Romans and the Pastoral Epistles.

Pray with us that God will direct our efforts to clearly communicate His Word and His truths to the deaf in Africa.

Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.

In Him,

Tim Foster

Spring 2012

Dear CMD Partners!

Thank you for your continued partnering with us as we strive to hold forth the pure Word of God and build up His saints in these silent corners of the world. Your faithfulness is truly a blessing.

CHAD

I wasn’t able to make it to Nigeria this spring as I had hoped, but I was able to spend almost two weeks in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, and helped at the 16th Annual Easter Camp for the Deaf. Due to time and financial constraints, I traveled alone while my wife, Sheryl, stayed home in Texas with the kids.

Most of the campers lived locally, but many braved 6 to 12 hours of grueling “African-styled travel” to get to the camp. Over 220 participants – 40 more than expected – gathered at our school in N’Djamena for a week of Bible teaching and good fellowship. The teaching was solid, the Spirit was working, and hearts were convicted. More than 20 people gave their lives to the Lord. Praise God!

The theme for the week was “Who is Christ.” Teaching was divided between five teachers, and I had been asked to teach on the death and resurrection of Christ. A typical day would begin with devotions, followed by breakfast and 2-3 hours of morning teaching. The campers then divided up into four groups to do further study on the material that was taught, followed by a contest to see which team could get the most number of correct answers. Each afternoon included additional teaching on a variety of subjects.

In my afternoon session, I taught on the seven Hebrew Feasts (Lev 23), and showed how each of the Spring Feasts pointed to Christ, and was fulfilled on the exact same day the feast was celebrated by the Jews. A number of the campers commented that this was new teaching for them, and helped them gain a better appreciation and understanding of the work of Christ and how He fulfilled prophecy. (Handouts are available online at CMDeaf.org/resources.)
Praise God for His redeeming love and the professions of faith! Pray that the campers will remain faithful in their commitment to daily personal study of the Scriptures. Pray that these young men and women will stay rooted, growing in His grace.

Noura
I would like to tell you about Noura. She’s 11 years old and comes from a Muslim family in the northern parts of Chad. She’s fun-loving, hard-working, loves to help cook and clean, and like the other kids, she was quite intrigued by my camera, laughing at the photos and videos of herself.

Noura - Doesn't even know her own name

When I first asked her name, she just smiled and withdrew a bit. At first I thought she was shy or perhaps didn’t understand my sign language, but the other kids quickly explained that there are no schools for the deaf in the Muslim region where she comes from. A missionary found her and convinced her parents to send her to our school. She’s been living there for a few months and is now starting formal education for the first time. All her life, she’s only used rudimentary gestures to communicate. Not only does she not know how to read or write, she doesn’t know sign-language and can’t communicate with anyone – she doesn’t even know her own name! If her Muslim parents let her stay in our Christian school, within the year, she will learn her name for the first time, and a few months later, will learn the name of Jesus Christ! Noura serves as a vivid reminder of the impact deafness causes and how God works through you and CMD in this unique ministry. It’s also a sobering reminder that for every Noura, there are hundreds who live beyond the reach of a deaf school and live out their entire lives without either the ability or opportunity to hear the name of Jesus Christ.
Pray that Noura’s parents will leave her in our school. Pray for Noura’s education and salvation. Pray also that the Lord will enable us to support more schools and ministries for the deaf in unreached parts of Africa.

Moundou
In recent years, one of our schools in Moundou has been financially supported by CBM, a German organization that primarily works with the blind. However three years ago, CBM restructured their operations in Chad and now no longer supports a number of projects in Chad, including the school in Moundou. In a regular school, the nominal government salary would be supplemented by student tuitions. Unfortunately for a deaf school, most African parents don’t see the wisdom of spending hard-earned money to educate their deaf children, so we have to rely on God to use other means to meet operating expenses.

Due to the cutbacks, several staff members had to seek employment elsewhere. Those that remained have been struggling under the financial strain, becoming “tentmakers,” daily relying on God to make ends meet.  Two of the Moundou staff members, David and Madjibe, taught at the camp, and their passion for God,

Deaf Leadership Training - 1986

His Word and His people was clearly evident to all. We’re excited at the prospect of raising financial support for this wonderful work of God in Moundou.
Please pray with us that God will provide the necessary funds to help alleviate the daily financial burdens for this school and its staff members.

(Don’t miss the photo gallery at the bottom of this post. It contains photos of the camp as well as the city of N’Djamena, where our school is located.)

NIGERIA

I’ve received very positive reports from Emmanuel Ilabor, our director in Nigeria. Over 800 deaf met at seven different Easter Camps all across Nigeria. Some of them had to travel through hostile territory controlled by the Boko-Haram, a violent militant Islamic group fighting to instill Sharia law across all of Nigeria. Much of their violence is aimed directly at Christians, so travel in these eastern regions of Nigeria is not safe. God sustained the campers and kept them from harm. Across all the camps, over 60 people made professions of faith and many more rededicated their lives to the Lord. Praise God!

In our last report, we mentioned that the government bought some land from our deaf center in order to facilitate road expansion. That money has been put to good use to begin construction of new dormitories. The additional space will be a welcome relief for the deaf center, as their facility is overcrowded with some 200 students. The building crew ran into some opposition from some disruptive locals who demanded extortion money. Thank God that the clash ended peacefully. Before the confrontation was over, they requested prayer for some of their people, and Emmanuel and his staff were able to pray with them and show true Christian love in the face of opposition.
Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide finances to complete the construction so that the Gospel work among the deaf can continue unimpeded. Please pray that those who made professions of faith will continue to grow in the Lord. Pray that the group of people who sought to disrupt the dorm construction will forsake their ways and seek God instead.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC of CONGO

Sheryl and I are preparing for our fall trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This year, Lord willing, we’ll be hosting a camp in Uvira, near the southern border of Burundi. Tentative plans for now are to host the camp in the 3rd week of August. We’re looking forward to partnering with the Lindquists again, and teaching believers how to build tangible faith.

Since the work among the deaf is much stronger in Burundi, we’re anticipating high attendance from campers coming across the border.  It will be an excellent opportunity to re-establish relationships and broaden our search for new leaders.
Pray that the camp will be properly funded, that the teaching will be true to God’s Word and readily assimilated by all campers. Pray especially as we work to identify a new generation of leaders who can be further trained to rightly divide the Word of God and teach younger believers.

HOME

Thanks for continuing to remember Berta in your prayers. Although her mobility and communication remain impaired, her health is steady and she is, as always, in good spirits.

We’re looking for new Bible study material ideally suited for the deaf in Africa, especially in French-speaking countries. In particular, we’re seeing many people wanting a deeper understanding of the Bible, yet they’re constrained by limited formal education, language translation issues, and limited access to shipped material. We’re considering writing our own material and making it available as sign-language videos and PDFs on the CMD website. We’d also like to provide more material on how to train leaders. It’s no substitute for one-on-one sustained discipleship, but they’re necessary tools nonetheless.
Pray with us that God will direct our efforts to find and/or produce new Bible study material well suited for the deaf in Africa.

Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.

In Him,

Tim Foster

 

Winter 2011

Dear CMD Partners!

As Christmas draws near, we reflect on the year that God has brought us through and the many ways He has shown Himself to be Lord of all. Sheryl and I were able to spend almost 3 weeks in the eastern Congo this past August and September. While we continue to see fruit in the work that CMD is doing, we’re reminded that there is still much to do in this field that is so white for harvest.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Goma
Sheryl and I had a wonderful time in the north-eastern province of the DRC, teaching with the Tom and Kathy Lindquist at the 2011 Congo Bible Camp. Much of what we taught this year was shaped by what we had seen in the past. Last year, the deaf leaders asked endless questions, showing a strong hunger for in-depth teaching on the details of the Gospel, the means of sanctification, and methods of Bible Study. So we made specific plans this year to provide teaching that would meet their need. We were told to expect 50 attendees, 15 of whom would be in the special evangelist/leadership class. To our pleasant surprise, we had over 60 attendees, and 19 in the evangelist class! We were thankful to see the participants engaged and studying hard, indifferent to the dirt floor, lack of electricity and limited food. More importantly, we’re thrilled at the emails we continue to get from the attendees. Pray that the Lord will continue to use these seeds to help them grow as leaders and teachers in their deaf communities and beyond.

To see more photos and read blog posts from our trip, please visit www.CMDeaf.org/cbc2011

Likasi
After the week-long camp, I traveled to the southern part of the Congo to visit our school in Likasi for a few days. Andrew Foster, my father, was the last person from the States to visit them, and that was back in ’87 or so, shortly before the Lord took him home. The school year hadn’t started yet, but there were a few students that would come to the school grounds daily for fellowship. They were thrilled to have a visitor from the States, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship and encouragement.

In meeting with the school staff and leaders, I got a chance to learn quite a bit about the expansions they have done in their ministry, and the variety of unique challenges they now face as their school is approaching 90 students. Unfortunately, their local support is waning and due to financial cutbacks, the school has lost a few teachers in the past couple of years. The remaining teachers are earning about 1/3 the salary they would earn if they worked at neighboring government schools, but Daniel Ngoy, the school’s administrator, has been able to convince them to stay and serve a higher calling. Please pray for these men and women and their families, that God would be gracious to them for their self-sacrifice. (If you would like to make donations specifically for their school, mention “Likasi School” with your gift.) To see photos and read blog posts from our trip, please visit www.CMDeaf.org/cbc2011

Uvira
After quite a few challenges, our school in Uvira has now expanded to offer secondary school education for the deaf. Praise God for His provisions! Currently, twelve students are enrolled, and we expect more before the end of the school year. Pililo Amani, the school’s director, has had to hire additional staff now that the school is approaching 60 students. Pray that Pililo and his staff won’t be overwhelmed as the student body continues to grow.

On a somber note, please pray for a stronger presence of solid evangelical churches in Uvira, both in the hearing and deaf communities. There has been rapid growth of feel-good, “prosperity gospel” ministries in this region of the Congo, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to stress to young believers the fallacy of this mindset.

NIGERIA

Due to time constraints, we weren’t able to visit our training center in Ibadan. We’re hoping to be able to visit both Nigeria and Chad in the spring, but financial constraints may dictate otherwise. Emmanuel Ilabor, the director, reports that the 20th annual fall leadership conference was “a huge success through the grace of God”. The theme was Leadership With Godly Character, and many pastors and teachers taught and shared in good fellowship.

Several years ago, the Lord blessed the center with 39 acres of undeveloped land on the outskirts of Ibadan. Emmanuel and his staff immediately began raising money for new school buildings, but were unable to make significant progress. This past summer, the government expanded the road in front of the property and had to purchase land from the center. Although this is a small loss in property, Emmanuel estimates they’ll be able to build ten classrooms with this unexpected infusion of funds. The long-range vision is to have a facility to support 300 dormitory students, and Emmanuel and his team are seeking to raise another $138,000 toward this goal. Please pray diligently for this ambitious project. Over the past few decades, the center in Ibadan has been effective in training thousands of deaf students and leaders, and has helped start over 20 deaf churches throughout Nigeria. The development of the property will be a wonderful blessing for this ministry.

At Home

Thank you for your continued prayer regarding Berta’s health. She has good days and bad days, but over the past few months, we’ve seen more good days than bad, and even a slight increase in her speech capability. As always, she’s full of smiles as she rests at her daughter’s home.

Sheryl and I would like to make a trip to Nigeria and Chad this spring. The stagnant economy is affecting all aspects of CMD’s ministry efforts, so pray for the Lord’s wisdom as we seek to be responsible stewards and faithful servants. Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.

In Him,

Tim Foster

Spring 2011

Dear CMD Partners!

The refreshing green of Spring is certainly making its mark on the landscape of our hearts and the work the Lord has set before our hands!

Democratic Republic of Congo
Join with us in praising the Lord for the re-opening of a school for the deaf in the city of Gemena, located in the NW corner of the country. A few years ago we had to close the school due to a lack of healthy leadership. The local evangelical church that was associated with the school has redoubled its efforts and put in place two men of excellent character with a passion for the Word of God and the deaf. We’ve been thrilled with the response from the church and are thanking the Lord that the school hit the ground running with over 30 children. Their resources are very meager as they are meeting in the church, but our Lord is faithful, providing these children with the means to learn more about their Savior!

On the opposite side of the country, in the city of Uvira, plans are underway to expand our deaf school to offer secondary classes (grades 6-12) this fall. The deaf students that have been made aware of the new addition are ecstatic beyond belief as it will be the only secondary school for the deaf in the region.

Currently, deaf students wanting more than an elementary education have to struggle through a hearing public high-school where no one knows sign-language, and a translator is not provided for them. They usually end up paying higher tuition than their hearing counterparts, and frequently have to pay for additional tutoring on top of that. For this reason, many deaf have given up trying to further their education, and precious few have made it past the equivalent of 9th grade. Starting this fall, Lord Willing, all that will change, as deaf students will finally have an opportunity to take secondary classes in an environment suited to their handicap. It will be a welcome answer to our long prayers. There are a few obstacles left to resolve before we can press ahead (Bible training for the staff, additional staffing, school materials, etc), so pray with us that the Lord will open these doors so that the deaf in the Eastern Congo can further their education.

Chad
Director Yves Beosso is running full steam with his 15th Annual Easter Camp. The theme of the retreat is “The Armor of God”. The teaching will be shared by several men who have been groomed for leadership and have spent several months in preparing for all aspects of the camp: the logistics of the camp scheduling, transportation, food and lodging, as well as the sermon material and group discussion assignments. The 14-page syllabus they prepared for the camp is a shining testament not only to God’s use of Yves’ training, but also to their diligence and passion for teaching the Word of God in a structured, thorough and clear fashion. We’re excited for what the Lord will do at the camp and in the coming years as these young leaders take on more responsibilities and challenges. Pray with us that the camp will be an overwhelming success, that the Holy Spirit will invigorate attendees to be well-studied and well-equipped with the Word of God, and that Christ will be honored in their fellowship and encouragement for one another.

Meanwhile, back at the day-school in the city of Walia, Director Beosso reports that classes are moving along well and students are doing well in their studies. In the torrential rains and floodwaters that wiped out large portions of the city several months ago, the school’s toilet facilities were destroyed. We’re thankful to the Lord for providing a grant enabling them to rebuild this very necessary facility!

Nigeria
Director Emmanuel Ilabor is finishing up a trip to the States where he was able to present the work of CMD’s center in Nigeria to several churches and deaf schools.

The 41st National Deaf Easter Camp in Nigeria is currently underway, with an anticipated 700 attendees from all over Nigeria. The high participation is due to the planting of 25 churches for the deaf all over the country of Nigeria – churches that sprang from the two churches planted by Andrew Foster back in the ’60s. We’re thrilled to hear that these churches are self-governing and growing strongly in the Lord! Last year, 34 people were baptized at the deaf camp. We’re eagerly looking to see how many the Lord will draw to Himself this year through the Easter Camp. What a thrill it is to see such a continual reaping of this very white field of harvest! Pray with us that the Lord will also grant a bountiful harvest this camp season!

At Home
Thank you for your continued prayer regarding Berta’s health. She rests comfortably at her daughter’s home and finds something praiseworthy in every day. Her ability to communicate her thoughts continues to slowly deteriorate, but that doesn’t stop her from insisting that I keep her updated with every last detail of our work. Bless her heart – she laughs at me every time I try to remind her that she’s retired!

Please remember the Crumley family in your prayers. Gelnn Crumley went home to be with the Lord in February. As a long-term missionary in the Congo, he was a faithful friend to Andrew Foster and to CMD. We’ve been blessed by his service as our board chairman for many years and he will be greatly missed by his wife, 6 children, 22 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and his many spiritual children in the darkest jungles of Africa. What an amazing legacy! His daughter’s family (Kathy Lindquist) works closely with us in the Eastern Congo.

Sheryl and I are looking forward to returning to Africa in August & September. We had hoped to be able to catch part of Emmanuel’s annual leadership training that he conducts in Nigeria the first week of August, but it looks like that door is closed. Pray with us that we’ll still be able to visit our schools in Chad, Nigeria and Likasi (southern part of the Congo), and help lead a camp in Goma (north east Congo with Tom and Kathy Lindquist).

Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.

In Him,

Tim Foster

Fall 2010

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. – 2 Timothy 3:14

As Spring turns to Summer, CMD is welcoming a number of new changes as our Lord continues to shape us and grow us in new directions on a number of fronts, both big and small. We are excited to report how God uses us through your faithfulness and prayerful support to continue being a light in many unreached places and ways.

Nigeria
During the spring, over 700 deaf people from 36 states in Nigeria convened in Illorin to attend the 40th annual Easter camp. Emmanuel Ilabor, the general director of the center in Nigeria, reports that the work of the Spirit was evident, and we praise the Lord for 34 baptisms during this four-day event!

This summer, the Ibadan Center for the Deaf celebrates their 50th anniversary! Pray with us that this event will be highly attended as we celebrate God’s faithfulness for the deaf in the country of Nigeria.

God’s faithfulness has been evident in so many ways and places throughout the deaf churches in Nigeria. There are approximately 28 deaf churches in the country today as a result of the seeds God planted through CMD 50 years ago. One church in Ikire was recently blessed beyond measure with the gift of a very large, beautiful new church building, donated by a retired army officer. This donation has some history: at a nearby state-owned school, Muslim parents of deaf children built a mosque and then tried to pressure the Christian teachers and students to abandon their faith, and mocked them for not having a house of worship. This gift of a larger and nicer church could fuel Muslim animosity, so pray with us that this will be used for the glory of God instead. Pray also for protection and peace between the Christians and Muslims.

On a sad note, the center in Ibadan was recently struck with lightning, which caused extensive damage to the backup generator, and various computers and electronic equipment. It turns out that the building was not constructed with proper grounding. Installing the grounding and replacing the damaged equipment will be quite expensive. Pray with us that the Lord will quickly replace this necessary equipment.

Chad
Director Yves Beosso reports that the 2009/2010 school year was a great success! The Lord blessed them with 8 new students for a total of 43 deaf students, and the year concluded with no serious illnesses among the students or staff. They have received several gracious donations including books and shelving for the books. These resources are a wonderful gift and are diligently used by the children to help expand the education they receive at the school in Chad. As always, they are looking for more books to add to their growing library.

One of the deaf students, Aspal Reine, comes from a Catholic home. After hearing the Gospel, she decided to abandon her Catholic upbringing and give her life to Christ. Her parents are not at all happy about her decision, promising her that she will die and go to hell if she doesn’t abandon Christianity. They had also threatened to stop paying her tuition if she doesn’t stop attending the Christian church at the center. Praise God for His faithfulness! A charity group in the Netherlands has granted a scholarship for ten students, so Aspal is able to continue her education. Please continue praying for young Ms. Reine, that her parents will not only allow her to continue fellowshipping at the center, but that they too will give their lives to Christ.

Construction of the new school building is finally complete! The building was completed in three months and immediately put to use for tailoring classes, carpentry classes and a growing library. The students, staff and parents thank you for your faithfulness in supporting this project from start to finish.

The Lord has also blessed the believers in Chad with a very successful Bible Camp this past April. A total of 197 campers attended a four-day event focusing on The Rewards of the Faithful Believer (1 Cor 3:8-15). Camp goers were encouraged from the Word to continue in faithfulness, following Christ’s example and obtaining a heavenly reward.

Please continue praying for our leaders at the center in Chad, as spiritual challenges aren’t the only trails our fellow workers face. Director Yves Beosso’s wife, Agnes, suffered a stroke 3 years ago, and although she is improving a bit, she is very limited in her ability to walk and cook.

At Home
Here at home, we’re seeing our fair share of changes as well. Thank you for your continued prayer regarding Berta’s health after her stroke last year. Her mobility has improved to the point to where she can move about the house without a walker, albeit slowly. Her communication is still a challenge, and dealing with abstracts like financial reports is sometimes more than she can handle. At our last board meeting, she announced that the time has come for her to retire, and the board designated her son, Tim, as the interim director until such a time as the Lord appoints a permanent director for CMD. But if you know anything about Berta, you’ll know that ‘rest’ simply is not in her vocabulary. Although her pace has slowed considerably, she still stays busy keeping in contact with the various directors in Africa, and training her son on the ins and outs of running a multi-national mission for bringing the Gospel to the deaf. Lord willing, Tim and his wife will travel to the Congo during the month of September, so stay tuned!

John is recuperating from a benign thyroidectomy, but is otherwise doing well and staying busy.

Indeed, your continued prayers are coveted.

In Him,
Tim Foster