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.