In 2018, we desire to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2) and get further along on the path He has set for us. He alone is salvation and victory. In circumstances where the wisdom and resources we see appear puny in the face of the task before us, may we respond as King Jehoshaphat did when he was confronted by what seemed to be an undefeatable foe. Lord, we have no idea what to do, but our eyes are fixed on you. (An Anderson paraphrase of II Chron. 20:12). May the same be true for you!
In regard to the budding agricultural exposition that introduces Community Health Evangelism (CHE) ministries in the village of “Gimi” (not the real name), we have shared about the toll taken on several bodies. The beaten, elderly man has mostly recovered. A tribal king has judged his case. He was surprised and touched by the meals prepared and prayers offered by Christians while he was recovering in Bondoukou.
The young man bitten by a snake is able to work again. Our brother M., who wants to reach his birth village for Christ and offers the land for use, is recuperating from a motorcycle accident and broken arm with no complications. Verlin’s seriously infected leg limited his activity for greater than two weeks, but it finally resolved with three oral antibiotics and lots of prayer. We are grateful that the infected injury stopped spreading when it did and that retreat to a hospital was not necessary!
Ministry obstacles of spiritual warfare, financial constraints, political and physical environments, and health setbacks are regular, even daunting realities here. The Ivorians we worked with in 2017 were beset with hardships, losses, sicknesses, and other challenges. Yet in Christ, their Hope and ours, they did prevail!
Despite some full stops, all persevered to see progress in every aspect of ministry. Souls were saved from false faiths during Disciple Making Movement (DMM) Discovery studies. Ivorians continue to be trained in order to lead such Bible studies. Several influential evangelical groups decided to use CHE as a major means of evangelistic outreach, some using it with integrated DMM approaches. The university CHE program expanded to new villages, and they are step-planning to meet their goal of being active in over 100 locations. Churches, para-church organizations, and NGOs stepped up to be trained and to participate in the Million Village Challenge (MVC) also using CHE. Doors opened that might permit CHE ministries among children. The CHE agricultural efforts created interest, enthusiasm, and hope in several arenas, secular and Christian. Thank you. Thank you for praying and giving to make this progress possible!
- FIXED DATES
This year we want our quarterly updates to begin focusing on upcoming ministry opportunities rather than simply reporting on what has happened in the past. The problem with that goal is cultural: many dates change here when others lead, and change can happen last minute! While participating at an event is important, the subsequent implementation of what was learned may not be easy! CHE trainings scheduled for months can be delayed for weeks just days before they are set to begin. These are but two of our most frequent frustrations as Americans, but walking through such is necessary if Ivorians are to learn to manage the ‘ins and outs’ of planning to advance in free union! So, with a grain of salt, we list below what are the scheduled activities as of today. They will still need prayer. Even if the dates change, the events will happen.
Feb 1-21: a) follow-up to further mentor Ivorians trained to lead Discovery Bible studies, and b) follow-up with several villages seeking CHE training in our Gontougo region.Feb 26-Mar 2: Abidjan CHE Training (Lagunes).Mar 5-9: Second CHE training in Téapleu (18 Mountains region).Mar 16-30: Continuing Medical and Dental Education (CMDE) Conference in Marathon, Greece where participating missionaries of our CHSC will meet, refresh, exchange, and plan.April 9-13: CHE training in Bounkani region.
- FIXED DATABASE
Keeping the physical and email addresses of ministry partners updated requires constant effort. That is a struggle anywhere, though it is complicated by life and ministry in Africa. Verlin’s mother, Elsie Anderson, does a fabulous job of managing the changing database and adding new ministry partners. Still, last year, we learned information which led us to realize that perhaps several hundred people who signed up to get our weekly email updates were not receiving them. Debbie, Elsie, and a friend from West Virginia will spend hours trying to contact those left behind by new Internet email protocols. We need those people praying and connected in ministry with all of us!
If you prefer to receive our quarterly updates by email, instead of by snail mail, along with our weekly updates, let us know. Connect with us using either firstname.lastname@example.org or Elsie’s e-address in this newsletter’s header. If getting both snail mail and email copies suits you, that is good too.
In an effort to spend efficiently and streamline our contacts, Elsie is also learning to use the USPS Business Customer Gateway Intelligent Mail Small Business Tool. This will enable us to identify wrong addresses or those that are no longer valid among the 830 or so letters that we send each quarter. Perhaps the tool would help your church or business, too! A hearty “thank you” to Verlin’s home church, Central Oaks Community Church, for their help in processing our ministry newsletter and thank you notes.
- FIXED BUDGET
In the last quarter of 2017, giving to our mission account was strong. Numerous people gave generously to help us end the year well. These annual donors, joined with our faithful quarterly and monthly partners, keep us in witness here! Our hearts are full of gratitude for all of you. Yes, we need more to fund some uninitiated efforts, about $800 more per month, but we do have a better sense of how to plan our priorities this year. FYI, there is more budgetary detail newly available at a link in the last phrase of the financial page explanation of the PDF, orhere.
- PRAY ALWAYS
Pray that week-long CHE trainings planned for late February and early March take place. Another is scheduled in April. Two of the weeks target separate denominational groups. A third brings several together. All who are responsible for the planning have full time employment obligations besides this ministry.Pray for great progress in the agricultural fields during the next few weeks. Join us in asking the Lord to soften the hearts of the people in “Gimi” to receive the Gospel. There is a deep- seated hatred of the Good News, and those who carry it, that has revealed itself again in recent weeks. When successful, the field’s production will bring healing to populations by what is sold and will fund additional CHE initiated endeavors.Ask that the Lord’s guidance becomes clear for believers recently trained to lead Discovery Bible studies. Pray that they will be effective in reaching their families, neighbors, and co-workers for Christ while being strengthened in their own faith.Thank you for lifting up our children and granddaughter on a regular basis. We do not mention them often, but they are always in our hearts and minds. Pray that they will be fruitful and content in both life and ministry.
Your partners in the Gospel,
Verlin and Debbie