And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end will come.
A few years ago, a Discovery Bible Study facilitator gave us a challenge during training in Cote d’Ivoire. He recommended that participants highlight every occasion that the New Testament refers to the Kingdom of God. More specifically, he asked everyone to notice how often Jesus mentioned it. It is a startling discovery to realize that Christ spoke about the Kingdom over 100 recorded times! Since He repeatedly emphasized how to enter and live in the Kingdom of God, should we not likewise make the primary pursuit of our lives to help others enter the Kingdom? Besides, sharing Kingdom truth can start good conversations with people who follow other religions. In general, they want to enter the Kingdom of God, too!
Reflecting on God’s Kingdom also brings comfort to the servants who follow King Jesus. In our world filled with international and political chaos, natural disasters, and the persecution of Christians, we need stability—and we have it! Christ rules His Kingdom as a just and merciful Sovereign. His servants must trust Him with child-like faith and do more than say, “Lord, Lord.” They obey their King. His Kingdom is not of this world. It cannot be shaken. It has no end. These realities console us when battles are fierce.
KINGDOM PREPARATION (see Persist in Prayer)
The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It happens quietly. It happens inevitably. Don’t underestimate God’s power.—Alistair Begg
At times, missionary life feels more like a constant dress rehearsal than the actual play itself. Starting with years of specialized studies, fundraising, psychological evaluations, and mission orientation, then progressing to selling homes, acquiring passports and residency papers, completing language school, and adjusting to a new culture, the banal preparations seem to never end. The lesson of the mustard seed reminds us of the goal. God is at work growing us during those minute details to equip us and move His Kingdom forward.
For example, in January, we devoted over two weeks to improve our capacities, reflect on our past 3.5 years in Africa, and train others. The first week at Christian Health Service Corps’ (CHSC) mission headquarters in Grand Saline, Texas, was an orientation and info-sharing time. We updated our understanding of mission policies, honed our partner-building and social media skills, connected with new missionaries, and debriefed from our missionary term with a member care specialist.
During the second week in Texas, it was our pleasure to assist CHSC’s Program Director, Laura Smelter, with a week-long Community Health Evangelism (CHE) training. What a joy to rub shoulders with young missionaries just preparing to go to the field, and others who desire to use CHE in expanding ministry opportunities!
KINGDOM PRIORITY (see Hallmark)
“People must not only hear about the kingdom of God, but must see it in actual operation, on a small scale perhaps and in imperfect form, but a real demonstration nevertheless.” Pandita Ramabai
One of our greatest ministry blessings is to see Ivorians, whom we have trained in CHE, demonstrate the Kingdom of God to the world. Their compassionate and informed efforts offer hope to the distressed. Below is one such story from a pharmaceutical professional. She provided the details of her Bible study groups’ ministry at the Scientific Congress held at University FHB in September of 2019.
J.S. is a faculty member of the pharmacy college at the university. She participated in her initial CHE training in 2013. She then began to pray and analyze how CHE principles should affect her personal and professional life. An ardent follower of Jesus, she belongs to an evangelical church whose structure divides believers into smaller groups scattered through the megacity of Abidjan. She brought the CHE strategy to this smaller group of believers with whom she walks out her faith. Using CHE principles, they devised a plan to minister in a nearby shantytown called “New Jerusalem.” Their interventions in the neighborhood made lasting impacts.
Sunday worship attendance at their church grew by more than a thousand people! Here are some of the ways they practiced the love of Jesus alongside others who entered the shantytown. They offered:
Free medical screenings as a Seed Project;
- Adult literacy program;
- Training seminar on how to resolve conflict;
- Training for prevention of infant ills at home;
- Methods for preventing malaria at home;
- Children’s Bible Camps during the summer.
Ivorian government workers bulldozed the shantytown during 2019, where J.S.’s team had invested so much love and time. However, her team kept contact with the displaced people. For months, they have been praying and putting together a new plan to launch multiple outreaches through these scattered, prior connections. Praise God with us for His servants who use their local talents and resources to share Jesus and provide measurable transformation in needy communities!
Each of us will eventually give away all our earthly possessions. How we choose to do so, however, is a reflection of our commitment to the kingdom of God.” ~ Charles Stanley
Words lack for us to adequately convey our appreciation for you, our incredible ministry partners. Your faithful prayers and generous giving never cease to amaze! Our last quarterly donation report follows our prayer requests, as usual.
Are you ready for some great news? Giving from October through December of 2019 was the most we have ever seen in a quarterly period since we became full-time CHE missionaries! It makes our account solvent after a year of more costs than anticipated. We are within $20,000 of meeting the goal to have an operating balance of $45,000 when we return to Cote d’Ivoire. Thank you, Father, and thank you, friends! Also, we have noted several first-time donors in the past few months.
The progress gives us hope that we will be able to return to Cote d’Ivoire in early August of 2020 as planned, and stay. What remains is the very do-able but time-consuming task of finding new ministry partners who can pledge individual portions to meet the additional $2,500 needed per month. We trust the Lord to lead us to people who sense the call to help His Kingdom advance in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa.
- Pray for J.S.’s Bible Study team as they expand outreach to several poor communities in Abidjan.
- Thank the Lord with us for the most significant 4th quarter ministry giving since we became full-time CHE missionaries! Your generosity helped fill-in some holes and positioned us around halfway to the required cash base for our return to Cote d’Ivoire. Pray that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears to find the additional monthly partners to provide the $2,500 still needed.
- We visit ministry partners and make new friends in Michigan beginning the last Sunday of February. We will stay through March. Ask the Lord to give us Spirit-filled encounters as we share some incredible histories of what the Lord does in our part of Africa.
- Continue to pray for the November presidential elections scheduled in Cote d’Ivoire. Pray that peaceful choices of word and deed dominate the months leading up to the election.
- Pray for our Ivorian co-laborers in CHE to work wisely. Only one serves as a full-time CHE facilitator. The rest are busy pastors, doctors, nurses, administrators, and other professionals or workers who volunteer their time to lead people to Christ and to be involved in community transformation using CHE strategies. A few have significant financial needs. Others work tirelessly to balance life and ministry. All need the wisdom to know how to apply Biblically-founded CHE principles within their particular settings. Your prayers on their and our behalf make a huge difference.
- Remember our beloved parents as they age. Choices are not always easy to make, in regards to health and housing options. Also, ask the Lord to give us the wisdom to know how to best honor and help them during this season of life.
Your partners in the Gospel,
AWA represents Andersons Witness in Africa.
AWA is also a brand of bottled water in Cote d’Ivoire where we serve
Something to ask? Write: [email protected]