CLING TO HIS CANDOR (see Travel Tips to Trust)
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? – Numbers 23:19
Our holy and loving Father comforts us because He does not lie. Unlike social media activists and aspiring politicians, His words ring true—always. He is the Truth. Accordingly, the Lord does not distort reality or abuse people to gain power. His Word brought our world into being, and He exercises control over the universe through its power with unfailing consistency. Only when He speaks again do current processes change. The steadiness of this Word-framed worldview undergirds the scientific understanding that now prevails in our world to identify the cause(s) of disease, create vaccines, and let us soar above the earth’s surface in metal machines. Everyone experiences a world of improved order and beauty due to either an a priori understanding, or a growing one, that stems from their knowledge of the Lord. Knowing Him in person and through life in community is the beginning of wisdom, the discovery of truth for life.
Conversely, the Lord’s unfailing Word rings warnings. People who deceive, destroy, incite hatred, applaud evil, or otherwise gradually die in disobedience experience His wrath. Apart from choosing to repent, or change their self-focused manners of thought, their self-imposed doom is as certain as the daily sunrise. The mouth of the Lord has spoken. He has determined by His Word what can and will be. For that reason, we choose not to fret about those who selfishly do evil now (Psalm 37). We do not want, in any way, to pitch a tent in that camp. Instead, we seek to use our lives and resources to promote truth for life that yields good. Thank you for partnering faithfully to let Ivorians hear and understand the choice that we each have!
CALL ON HIS NAME (see Checking Upstream)
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. – Jeremiah 33:3
This week we spoke or exchanged with Ivorian ministry partners. As always, we rejoice to hear their news and learn how Jesus uses His children who press on and overcome obstacles. Your prayers break down strongholds and speed them on their way.
- A teacher who is a Community Health Evangelism (CHE) trainer began a Discovery Bible Study (DBS) in a village. The witness to Jesus-Christ, the Word of God made flesh, by followers had dwindled to a small group of believers who met irregularly. Within two weeks of starting, another person decided to become a disciple of Jesus as they met in Bible study! Recently, those who began the DBS visited other villagers who formerly claimed faith in Christ. Some of these now join the DBS and begin other study groups as a renewed fellowship of heartfelt obedience to God takes hold. We did not ask for the number of converts yet. Criticism of the teacher for not starting in another location indicates some jealousy over the growth in number. The village church using DBS has long been considered a satellite ministry of another community, and that church now wants to be trained to begin DBS! A participant who came home because of COVID returns to Abidjan this week. He plans to begin a study there with his neighbors in the city.
E., the president of the CHE Global Network affiliated Ivorian CHE association, continues tirelessly to work and bring hope in Christ while raising awareness of COVID-19 prevention approaches. (See CHE Network site for training and a Corona Virus Disease manual being used by Ivorians and their churches.) E.’s team received $18,000 of the $20,000 from West African and French donors, although he initially sought funds from the CHSC (See Feasting Crisis.) As they received the gifts, they began a radio broadcast to identify local places where health needs and COVID responses could be addressed. He and the affiliated CHE team have trained pastors and local missionaries in ways developed to help churches and villages deal with the virus. They create and distribute example kits of locally produced masks, hand sanitizer, and other bits of help.
- K., the brother in Christ who watches our property and dogs, reported that churches meet again with 200 or fewer people. Police occasionally come to take pictures, making sure that congregants maintain one-meter social distancing and wear face masks. The children in his DBS class that gathered under an avocado tree in his courtyard ask almost daily when they can hear his Bible stories again. He assures them that as soon as possible, they will resume meetings. He also expressed sadness for believers who did not know how to lead DBS at home during the pandemic. Because they depended solely on the Sunday church services for their spiritual food, their faith and outreach to others weakened. He has known the joy of seeing the faith of many strengthened in this time.
- Pastors in western Cote d’Ivoire, trained in CHE right before COVID-19 hit, also used the DBS approach during the lockdown. They broke their churches into 300 smaller groups that met. (See Normal is Nice.) The number meeting doubled before ten weeks passed!
- Just this week, unrestricted travel resumed from our town of Bondoukou to Abidjan, the coastal economic capital that is 440 kilometers further south. Fifteen reported cases of COVID-19 exist in Bondoukou. Nationally, as of August 1, there have been 16,047 cases,102 deaths, and 11,428 recoveries. International flights resumed in mid-July with some restrictions.
- The CHE university training scheduled for mid-September is postponed until next year because of the difficulties of travel imposed due to the virus. (See Follow the Leader.) This cancellation allows us to continue visiting individuals and churches through the fall without interruption.
CONSIDER HIS KINDNESS (see Wind ‘s a Blowin’)
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? – Romans 2:4
Not only does the Lord’s goodness lead the obedient to repent, but the kindness of His people is a constant source of blessing and encouragement. While our country experiences riots and turmoil from political polarization, we have been wrapped in the generosity of faithful ministry partners. Thank you so much for extending welcoming arms to us, which is not only for our sake but for the Ivorian people to know and share the life given by our Savior.
It has been our joy to visit friends and partners while giving reports in Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia during the past six weeks. Of course, COVID-19 has complicated the process, but “where there is a will, there is a way.” Sometimes the meetings have been on front porches in masks to protect those at risk. Other times, we have met during services using creatives ways to social distance. In all circumstances, the Body of Christ has blessed us with good lodging, delicious food, sweet fellowship, and funds to offset our costs of travel. The upcoming months will find us if the Lord permits, in Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Michigan, and Idaho.
COUNT ON HIS PROVISION (see Grace Touches)
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing. – Psalm 34:10
Progress has stalled regarding the goal of adding $20,000 to replenish our operating balance to $45,000. This needs to happen before we return to the field for another 3 to 4 years and jump-start educational ministries. The stall probably occurred due to canceled travels during March, April, and May. The shortfall might be met in another way over time by some new monthly donors as we stay a few months longer than planned. Despite the reported financial crises in the U.S., several new partners have recently pledged financial support. Our diminished expenses while here, accompanied by some one-time gifts, let our operating cash balance stay nearly level since we made the 1Q report. Over our years in ministry, funds available for ministry typically diminish during the 2Q. We appreciate the love offerings given as we continue to share ministry reports. The Lord’s faithfulness assures us that He will touch hearts to supply the $1,100 average in monthly support still needed.
PRAISE & PRAYER REQUESTS
- The Prime Minister of Cote d’Ivoire died from an illness in early July. He was a presidential candidate for the election scheduled this fall. The president in office has returned to toying publicly with the idea of running for a third, unconstitutional term. Ivorians desire peace, and no cheating during elections. Pray to that end, as you intercede that stoked volatility ceases in our own nation.
- Praise the Lord that we received an airline voucher for our defunct tickets initially purchased for an August 7 return. Since we have seen only about one-third of our ministry partner base, we now expect our return will be in January and February of 2021. In that way, we can confirm that donations given annually by partners during the 4Q will lift our operating cash balance over the needed $45,000 threshold to sustain 3½ to 4 years in Ivorian residential ministry.
- Rejoice with us that the request made by our son and daughter-in-law regarding our granddaughter’s schooling was approved! This related to what is best for Chelsea as a hearing-impaired child. The positive outcome came only after an appeal and supporting letters from several others involved in her educational process. This victory does not address her schooling situation as to whether she can attend class at school. Both of her parents are essential workers. They face a dilemma like many others.
- We asked you to pray for our Ivorian pastor’s wife, who suffered a stroke last year. She was taken to Abidjan about a month ago for testing. They discovered an ulcer. Since she started taking appropriate medications, she feels better. Continue to pray for her complete healing.
- Pray for us to have good health, continued safe travels, and Spirit-filled meetings with individuals and churches.
2020 Budget Info:
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Andersons Witness in Africa.
It is also a brand of bottled water in Cote d’Ivoire where we serve.
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