But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
— Galatians 4:4-5
Have you ever studied about the timing of Jesus’ arrival on Planet Earth and some of the reasons why that particular point in history was ideal? If so, you were probably struck, as we have been, by the ways that our Lord perfectly wove history and culture to accomplish His will. From a human standpoint, would we have ever chosen the cruel Roman Empire as the time and place for the Messiah to come? Would Mary have chosen the month of her firstborn’s birth to coincide with a declared government census that would require her to travel? Yet when we see the outcome, and the fulfillment of prophecy, we are in awe. It also reminds us to trust the Father’s timing in our lives and ministry. Rejoice with us in events from the past three months that the Lord’s timing allowed us to accomplish as ministry partners. Thank you so much for your part in making it possible!
A TIME TO START (see Hallmark)
In early September, the first-ever Scientific Congress hosted by the Public Health Department of the Felix Houphouet-Boigny University happened in Abidjan. The two-days of reporting began the equipping of professionals throughout West Africa to participate, train, and support those learning to use Community Health Engagement/Evangelism (CHE) strategies. Of the 54 community development projects presented, 19 of them were led by people we had trained in CHE during the previous six years at the university. The two-day event was heralded a great success. A second congress to precede the annual CHE exposition training is planned for 2021.
Numerous participants were astonished at the success of CHE projects, especially when they saw pictures of the rural settings and local villagers who had not received outside funds to accomplish their goals. Here are some noteworthy remarks from the opening ceremony:
- “You can take by force, but you cannot give by force. Those receiving must be prepared to receive and to use what is given.” — KONE BAMBA, Dean
- “This community approach to health is one of the strategic priorities adopted by the Department of Health of Cote d’Ivoire, having been implemented in several programs … making a contribution to improving the health of our populations.” — SANOGO SALIF, Ministry of Public Health
- “The sharing of CHE by Verlin and his follow-up has given us the tools to enter communities and share so that villages can profit from university knowledge. — KOUADIO LUC, Chief of the Department of Public Health UFR SPB. (He was recognized as the person who carried out the CHE vision.)
A TIME TO TRANSFER (see Servants Leading)
In addition to the scientific congress, the university team hosted the 7th annual CHE training at the Department of Public Health in mid-September. Thirteen trainers helped us this year as we completed the initial objective of training over 300 professionals in CHE. The university team also continues to take on more of the administrative duties for the CHE conference every year. Within a year or two, they should be able to host the event by themselves, although we may attend to lend moral support. We rejoice at their determination and progress!
One FWB pastor who used principles of CHE to grow his village church from about 25 to over 150 while establishing satellite groups in several surrounding villages has moved to a new location in Cote d’Ivoire. In just a couple of months, he has a small group meeting at his house on Sundays, a Discovery Bible Study (DBS) with an unbelieving family, young people in training to start DBS in all the major neighborhoods of the city, property bought with government permission to put into evidence CHE agricultural projects, and many new contacts. He and Verlin exchange information and brainstorm about how to advance in his new locale as they did at the beginning of his first pastorate.
It is also time for a transfer of political power in the government of Cote d’Ivoire. Just like us, they have presidential elections in 2020. The whole process is fraught with many unresolved issues. People are uneasy because of problems experienced in the past. They really desire that you pray with them for peaceful, uncontested results and for no violence in months leading up to the election.
A TIME TO GROW (see Growing Things)
We share a picture of the first fruits from the mushroom training that started this summer. Progress slowed in this Ivorian trainer-initiated project from the lack of mycelium (growth from mushroom spores) that was to have been provided by the Togolese trainers. Nevertheless, we helped the local team discover ways to grow their own mycelium. As a result, their “home-grown” confidence deepens as they realize that they can find solutions to the problems they face. The two men pictured here are DBS leaders who have trained more than a dozen other people to lead DBS. This mushroom project will eventually fund individual CHE trainers and perhaps build a co-op that will provide for their families.
A TIME TO SUFFER (see One Life)
Before we left Bondoukou in November, we invited some CHE trainers working in northern Cote d’Ivoire to informally share and plan at our house for a couple of days. We heard these co-laborers exchange on using DBS with Muslims and children, and for church-planting; making compost; teaching health lessons; building church buildings; starting literacy programs; gathering for profit the fruit powder from baobab trees and praying for persecuted believers.
One common theme expressed was the reality of suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Trying to reach people of other faiths, plant churches, and foster community transformation through a CHE process is not for the faint-hearted. It demands a long-term, integrated approach. It requires endless patience. All intend to produce living faith that reproduces itself in others’ lives, not that just grows numbers quickly.
FINANCIAL TIMING (see Haves to Share)
For several months we asked you to pray about the if and when that we should take a stateside assignment to visit ministry partners. Once we had a chance to catch our breath from September’s whirlwind activities, review our account balance and mission policy, the Lord gave clear direction. Donations were excellent during this year’s second quarter, thanks to you, faithful, long-term ministry partners. Five new friends gave generously too! Despite the superior second-quarter numbers, our ministry balance remained too low for us to stay and work in Cote d’Ivoire through November 2020. (Ivorian CHE partners had asked if we could stay through that timeframe.) Waiting to see if the third and fourth quarter giving filled in the gap would risk our later being absent during the more critical period of August and September 2020. Additional CHE initiatives are expected to launch soon after that.
So, we are taking the next 8 months to report to partners and rebuilt our available cash base by $20,000.00. We also need to increase our average monthly mission income by about $1,800. Our goal is to confidently assure Ivorian, West African, and American ministry partners of our ability to stay on the field and help them multiply the number of disciples.
Before returning to Cote d’Ivoire in March 2016 to begin a term as full-time CHE missionaries, we estimated what our monthly costs would be. Our work includes more travel and lodging expenses than our previous routine as missionaries. The monthly expense projection turned out to be accurate, but two conferences that did not self-fund in 2018 surprised us. Our account never fully recovered from those investments. The goal when we arrived in 2016 was to complete a three or four-year term of ministry. In February 2019, we passed the initial three-year goal! Thank you for all your prayers and sacrificial giving that helps equip West Africans and enables this ministry to multiply. We could not imagine more encouraging or faithful ministry partners!
- Thank the Lord with us that the first scientific congress in Abidjan was a door and eye-opener for spreading the concepts of CHE among professional Ivorians. The event received national attention. Over 30 attendees then participated in the university CHE training the following week. What they saw during the congress motivated them.
- When you pray for the polarized political situation in our own country, and for elections next year, please include prayers for Cote d’Ivoire’s presidential election of 2020. There are many volatile issues, including several unresolved questions about who owns lands, as is seen in the government reclaiming some for the national forests.
- Pray for the pastor using CHE who moved this past summer to a new town quite resistant to the Gospel. Ask the Lord to bless the Discovery Bible Studies started in neighborhoods, the Sunday service that meets at his house, and his insight and direction. They already have permission and access to use some land for CHE projects that will benefit the whole community.
- Keep us in your prayers as we arrange travels to visit ministry partners. Of course, we need commitments for the additional $1,800.00 required in our budget, and to replenish our cash base by $20,000.00. Our greater desire is to see you, and others encouraged that God is actively building His Kingdom around the world. We also expect to disciple others in using CHE and DBS in which some of you can participate personally! Political mayhem and third-world poverty do not thwart our Lord’s will and timing. He accomplishes His will on earth through us, His children, as we make ourselves available and trust Him.
Your partners in the Gospel,
Verlin and Debbie Anderson
FINANCIAL REPORT SUMMARY
See this 3Q-2019 PDF report to check donations
Last weekly: Sunshine and Shadow – 191130.PDF
Last prior video: Contagions — 191012.pdf
2019 Q2 Report: A New Thing . . . – 2Q 2019 Report 190831 PDF
2019 Budget: CHSC-0118_ANDERSON-Budget_2019
AWA represents Andersons Witness in Africa.
It is also a brand of bottled water in Côte d’Ivoire where we serve
Something to ask? Write: [email protected]