“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
Working in concert with the Andrew Foster Memorial Scholarship in Big Spring, Texas, we’ve been able to help send two deaf Nigerians to ECWA seminary in Igbaja, Nigeria. The scholarship recipients, Cyprain Oraetoka and John Ayanowle, have both been actively involved with deaf evangelism and Gospel work in Nigeria, so we’re pleased to assist in this endeavor. There are two large challenges we’ve had thus far: finding a suitable interpreter to translate the class lectures into sign-language, and transferring funds from the USA to Nigeria in a timely fashion. We thank God that after some searching, we were able to find an interpreter who was able to relocate to the small college town for extended periods of time. But finding an effective means of funds transfer was not so simple. For many years, we’ve had no problem sending funds to Nigeria through regular banks and financial services, but it seems that this year the Central Bank of Nigeria has changed their policies on international fund transfers, and that has caused quite a bit of frustration. After months of various attempts through several recipients and a half-dozen financial firms, we were finally able to get funds reliably from the USA to Nigeria by using Western Union, and sending it through a Nigerian pastor friend of ours. It remains a mystery to us why the transactions failed when we used other recipients and/or services. But for now, this stop-gap solution is getting the job done, and for that, we’re thankful. Pray with us that John and Cyprain will complete their studies at ECWA over the next couple of years, and that they’ll return to their respective home churches better equipped to serve the kingdom of God.
Democratic Republic Of Congo
The city of Baraka has a new initiative to bring city water to outlying buildings in the community where our school is located. We have the funds on hand for this project, and welcome your prayers that this task will be completed soon.
The main construction for the new school was completed last summer and students wasted no time getting settled into the new class rooms. We have three big challenges remaining that our construction budget didn’t account for: a security fence, a residential facility for the director and his family, and furniture for each of the classrooms. Pray with us that these needs will be quickly met.
Director Shukuru set up quite the fanfare for the June graduation ceremony. A number of high-profile dignitaries attended: the city mayor, the city municipal director, the director of education for the province, and various representatives from prominent NGOs in the city of Baraka. We’re excited because this kind of social visibility is an excellent way to help break people’s stigmas and re-calibrate the low expectations they have for deaf people and deaf education in general.
In the fall, Baraka was hit with flooding from torrential rainwater rushing down the mountainside. Some of our students saw their family homes destroyed. Pray for them as they rebuild.
In the city of Uvira, we’ve finally broken ground on new school construction and are rapidly finishing phase 2 of the project. The plans exceed the funds we have available, so we’ll be building just the first floor for now. Pray with us that the first floor will be completed in time for the beginning of the fall semester, and pray with us that the transition to the new property will go smoothly.
After two years of construction, our new two-story multi-purpose building is mostly complete! We’re very grateful for those of your who have chipped in to support this project!
In November, director Yves was wrongly detained by police when he tried to give testimony about a traffic accident that he had witnessed. Although he was quickly released, the police impounded his motorcycle. When they finally released it two weeks later, they charged him $25 (a week’s salary) for court fees, even though they lost the key. Very frustrating – but we’re glad that’s behind us now.
Congo Bible Camp
One of the most exciting things that I look forward to each summer is our Congo Bible Camp, where ~120 deaf participants from about 25 churches in three countries all come together for fellowship and studying God’s word. Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing an increased need to shift our teaching away from general Bible education, in order to focus more on Bible study tools, methods and skills. We want to increase our ability to equip church leaders and help them lead their congregations to dig deeper into God’s word. This change in our camp structure will allow me to increase the quality of the Bible teaching that we provide, trusting that the attendees will return to their respective churches and teach what they’ve learned at the camp. We welcome your prayers as we work out the various logistics of this transition.
Indeed, your prayers are coveted!