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A New Thing . . .

Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.–Isaiah 43:18-19
 
From the beginning of earthly time until now, our Lord is always in the process of doing “a new thing.” It is incomprehensible to us that there are people who think that following the All-Powerful and All-Knowing Creator and Ruler of the universe is a boring endeavor. Living this life APART from Him is what makes our time on earth meaningless and dull! That is not to say that being in the center of His will is always easy, but no other place can give life as much purpose and joy. We rejoice that together we have roles of service in His Kingdom. We thank many of you who read this for being faithful ministry partners to see Christ’s purposes unfold in Cote d’Ivoire.
 
It is our privilege to briefly share with you some of the “new things” the Lord is doing in our ministry and personal lives during the past few months.
 
“A new thing”….in illuminating darkened hearts
Ever since we arrived in Africa in 2000 for the first time to reside as missionaries, we have had a burden for the many peoples of another prominent religion who are perceived difficult to reach with the Gospel. Like many Ivorians, we wanted to see many saved from among those hardened hearts, but few were recognizing Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Light. Believers of all evangelical groups we met felt ill-equipped to confidently share the Good News with them and most were simply scared of that prospect, imagining conflict.
 
Praise God that is beginning to change as we train Ivorians to lead Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) and as they put Community Health Evangelism (CHE) into practice. In our local town, we are aware of about 10 adherents from that other faith who have become followers of Jesus in just the past few months. One business woman was given the New Testament to listen to on a MegaVoice device, and then a DBS leader met with her weekly to discuss what she had heard. In less than a month, she became a Jesus-follower. She has now been boldly sharing her faith ever since, even though it may cause severe persecution in her setting. Her husband, who is not yet a believer, has agreed to stay with her even though they practice different faiths – obeying the Apostle Paul’s instruction (1Cor.7)
 
Among the greater than 100 people in Bondoukou who have been equipped to lead DBS groups, many express a deepening awareness of the power of Scripture as they learn to practically apply it to life. One leader was surprised to recently learn that his group of young people has already multiplied into second and third generation groups. In other words, someone in his class started a DBS and now a member from that second class has started yet a third class. Others in his group then shared of groups they lead. Verlin encouraged the leader this week to shift their weekly meeting to a ‘multipliers’ meeting in order to pray and troubleshoot group dynamics that may limit rapid multiplication. Another local Bondoukou church of Swiss Bible Mission origin has six DBS groups that meet, including one for elderly women. They recently saw two of their members come to Jesus. We hear new stories almost weekly of unusually fast and powerful transformations happening in DBS groups that now spread throughout our town.
 
“A new thing”….in CHE trainers and expansion
The 2019 West African CHE Internship took place in Ghana in March. Nineteen participants came from all over West Africa (and 1 from the USA) to have in-depth training in CHE. It was Verlin’s privilege to facilitate 11 hours of training at the center, demonstrating how to lead Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) and leading some discussions with experiences from Micro-Enterprise Development (MED). His eleven days in Ghana included 24 separate meetings with individual or groups who represent more than 10 unrelated Christian organizations—at least 51 contacts. In addition, he enjoyed visiting 3 other Christian Health Service Corps missionaries in their fruitful places of service in Ghana. All of them seek or envision a means to integrate CHE or otherwise implement portions of the strategic approach in what they are doing.
 
In May, Verlin also spent time in a rural village counseling a church as they refocus to train a CHE committee that will supervise CHE efforts in their own setting and 4 satellite villages. They prayed over whether to set up a church-based or community-based committee to expand their witness. The CHE trained pastor who led them to initiate efforts in roadside clearing, well digging, and assistance in public education (they provide housing for a school teacher) has seen his congregation grow from a 30-year average of 15-25 in weekly attendance to 100+, not counting another 200+ who meet in surrounding villages.
 
“A New Thing”.…in mission staffing
After returning from Ghana, Verlin welcomed Joel White, a new member of our Christian Health Service Corps (CHSC)’ U.S. staff, to Cote d’Ivoire. Joel https://thecabinjournal.wordpress.com/about/participated in the CHE internship in Ghana, assisted in the Samaritan’s Purse intervention in Mozambique, and then took time to visit several of our fellow CHSC missionaries in West Africa. In his new role as Program Coordinator for our mission, he presently focuses on producing a portfolio of projects to facilitate the writing of grant proposals that should prove helpful for the more than 35 CHSC medical missionary families scattered around the globe. It was a joy to show him various aspects of CHE ministry developing all over Cote d’Ivoire.
 
“A New Thing”.…in agricultural skills
In mid-May, we carried three men to Bouake (central Cote d’Ivoire) for training in some components of the Farming God’s Way–technologically appropriate farming methods. (Verlin dropped them off while checking on a village using the CHE strategy with literacy that is north of there.) All of them came back grateful to have further tools to sow as “mustard seeds” in reaching people in wholistic ministry. One of them is beginning to practice the farming methods in our yard so that he can readily share the techniques with others.
 
“A New Thing”….in parenting and health
There is something very gratifying, and a bit sad, about seeing your youngest child settle into productive adult living after college. While Debbie is in the U.S., she has had the great joy to be alongside our youngest, Corbin, as he makes the transition to living and working in Missouri. He just moved to the St. Charles area for an engineering job opportunity, and she has helped in the apartment search. It is definitely a “new thing”—a new season—for us as parents to see our youngest child begin to find his place of calling and service in the world.
 
Debbie also thanks the Lord for the success of her arthroscopy. The procedure greatly reduced her daily knee pain and allowed her to regain some mobility and restart certain exercises that previously were too painful to allow her active accompaniment of Verlin in travels.
 
“A New Thing”….in financial provision
We continue to be encouraged by several new donors who have become monthly financial ministry partners. If we had just 20 to 30 more individuals, or groups of people, like them, that would entirely meet our ministry needs. Just think, of the nearly 240 million Christians in the United States, it only would take 20 or 30 more to allow us to minister unhindered. Knowing we serve the Lord of “new things,” we trust Him to help us find those remaining ministry partners. For now, the returned strength of the U.S. dollar and the 5% increase in overall giving is keeping our account hovering near or above our return threshold when depreciation reserves are factored in. See the third page which, as always, is our quarterly report of donations received.
 
Prayer and Praise
  • Pray for the new believers who were won to the Lord in Discovery Bible Studies. Ask for grace to withstand the persecution that usually comes from switching spiritual allegiances, and for strength to boldly share the gospel in spite of trials.
  • Pray for CHE teams all over the country (at least 11 now functioning) which are at various stages of ministry. Ask for wisdom for those who train committees and house-to-house evangelists.
  • Thank the Lord for the success of Debbie’s knee arthroscopy. Pray for complete healing, especially her capacity to walk long distances and not to be hindered in daily activities.
  • Continue to pray for Corbin’s smooth transition to life and work in Missouri. Pray that he finds a local church that both welcomes and challenges his daily walk in obedience to our Lord.
  • This year’s fall university training will have several new components that require much preparation. Also, we tentatively plan a second CHE training in Abidjan focused on churches to follow the week of training at the university focused on public health. Pray for wisdom, grace, and extra strength to prepare and carry out these added responsibilities.
Your partners in the Gospel,
Verlin and Debbie

[with our family in images – 1985 to 2018]

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