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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.