January news and review
As I prepare the reports for our annual IMOF Inc. board meeting each year in January, I am always amazed at all that God has done throughout the year through our partners’ ministries in Africa. Every year there are new goals and visions to plan for, but then of course new obstacles and challenges are also encountered! As in many parts of Africa right now, we see governments in turmoil as the people rise up against long-time regimes. Through Internet access and increased contact with other cultures around the world, even those living in remote areas of Africa are recognizing that corruption, human rights abuses, and the dictatorship that often comes with long term familial heads of state do not have to be tolerated. But sadly the violence and instability that often ensue as the search to instigate a better government continues only further complicate the problem and the transition can take years.
For Christians living there it just means even more hindrances, danger and unexpected problems. Yet GOD IS GREATER – and for them to know that we are praying for them, committed to support and encourage them through whatever comes, can be a great comfort and strength. Not everything that was planned was accomplished in 2017, but God has shown His faithfulness and poured out blessings so that there HAS been great progress and there is MUCH to praise Him for! We want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of YOU, our wonderful partners, for choosing to be a part of this ministry and what God is doing across Africa through our IMOF coworkers. May 2018 far exceed all our expectations both in the ministry and our personal lives! God Bless, from Gerald and Shirley!
Pastor Honoré and Clarisse in C.A.R. held a special Christmas program at their church with Nativity scene and special drama skits sharing the Gospel. These photos show children with a “Baby Jesus” and youth acting in the drama. The program was very well attended by over 400 people from the surrounding area and the congregation continues to grow, with more baptisms planned soon. Pastor Honore is planning a seminar for children’s ministry soon as well as other leadership training. Clarisse is also shown here with their new baby son Bryan Blessing Eraste, born December 7th, and doing well. We pray 2018 will bring more stability in C.A.R. with fewer problems with electricity and communication; better government and increased food availability so that the people can begin to enjoy a better lifestyle; and we pray that construction of the building on the CEERCA ministry site will at last be completed.
Michael in Kenya has had his usual very busy December helping with the Kenya Assembly of God annual children’s camps, which host several hundred children for a week each year. He also took a group of teens to a huge Teen camp in Nakuru. This past year he shared about the pressing need to address sexual immorality in the schools he visits, so Shirley wrote a new bible study guide called “Discovering the Truth”, to tackle this important subject. It includes teaching on homosexuality and divorce, in an honest and practical way that follows biblical guidelines and encourages young Christians to stand strong on their beliefs in a worldly society today. Mike reports that the bible study has been well received in many schools and has gone on to be shared in other schools and ministries as well. The first photo shows a bible study group at a camp, and the other shows a children’s ministry team that he is helping in Kitale. One of our new supporters has knitted some awesome new puppets for Mike to use in his children’s ministry – which is a great blessing as his are well-used and he had been praying for new ones! God is good!
Pastor Sika in Togo just sent us a long report with photos that we will add to our website soon. We will share some of the news here and more next month. The present group of children have now been living at the orphanage for about 18 months and seem well settled in. There are about 17, including 3 who are HIV/AIDS positive and need special treatment. Pastor Sika wants to help them avoid being socially rejected and so makes a special effort to provide for their needs. All the children are in school, and the JP staff seems to be much better organized and more dependable than in the past. The children help with the crops, which include corn, cassava and peanuts as staples and several fruit trees have also been planted. They all enjoyed a special meal at Christmas and each received some small gifts including money which they were able to spend on a special visit to the town, some 10 miles away – a real treat!
Considerable improvements have been realized inside the compound this past year. With the destruction of the bathroom block in a bad storm last June, a much better one was finally completed – in spite of long delays due to heavy rains. Also the new office/dormitory building was finally completed after almost 2 years of sporadic construction! The well has been improved; and thanks to a family in Lomé, there is a new larger church site inside the compound with a good foundation and nice strong roof. It is a big improvement providing much more space for the growing congregation, and it is hoped the walls can soon be built to complete it. There are plans to possibly enclose two small rooms, one on either side of the preaching platform but accessed from outside, that could be used for an on-site nurse and small clinic in the future. Pastor Sika is pursuing possibilities, along with future registration of the orphanage with the government – although due to the great recent unrest politically it has all had to be put on hold.
Pastor Sika continues to evangelize in schools, work with Operation Christmas Child, and pastor Bethany Baptist Church in Lomé – where finances have come in to enable construction of a larger church and Sunday School rooms on the original site in the Moslem neighborhood of Lomé (see photo above). He has also been able to purchase two plots of land for churches in the two hostile villages of Fiokondji and Agbanakin where he has presented the Gospel several times in the past couple of years. Undoubtedly there will be much spiritual warfare ahead as a result, so he asks for continued prayer in these ventures also.