I have had the privilege of travelling with my wife Claire and daughter Hannah in Uganda. Claire shares the following experience from our travels:
It was our final stop in Uganda, at the end of a long but joyous day dedicating a church. We drove down a dusty, bumpy road to a church orphanage where 12 beautiful little children lived. As we jumped out the car 12 little hands were extended, eager to shake ours. We were taken into the church where we gave them gifts of candy and clothes – they were received as if we were giving them precious gifts of gold! And then they sang for us – beautiful harmonies accompanied by the beat of an African drum, worship songs that must truly have made the Father smile.
At the end of the visit we prayed for the children and then they were asked if anyone would pray for us. A little boy in an orange t-shirt stepped forward, maybe 10 years old, he clasped his hands together and began to pray. I felt like all of heaven stood still and listened to the fervent, passionate prayer of this young man, surely he couldn’t be only 10 years old? I couldn’t understand what he was saying as he spoke in Swahili but the power in his prayer was evident. As he finished praying he looked up at me and tears glistened on his cheeks, oh how I wanted to bring him home! I was reminded of the scripture in James 5:16, ‘the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much’, truly this young man was both righteous and fervent and I knew that his prayers were heard right in the throne room of heaven.
Today I am travelling to Zimbabwe. This will be my first trip back to the country I was born and raised in since our last visit in December 1998. The trip will be even more special as I get to travel with my wife and daughter. This is the first time my fourteen year old daughter will get to experience Africa.
I am so thankful to have the opportunity to have my family with me for part of my work trip in addition to being able to have some vacation time together.
I traveled with our new partner in Rwanda today and we stopped at a potential building project site. The partner explained how he wants them to be invested in the building by contributing towards the labor and supply of material. Because they are so poor, they don’t have much financial resources to give so they decided that each time they meet for church, they will bring rocks.
Pictured below are the rocks they have gathered so far. The rocks will be used for the foundation of their new building when it is approved and funded, allowing them to move from meeting in the structure seen behind the rocks.
I visited the project site of one of our partners in Ethiopia this week. The picture above is the church they used to worship in and their new building is shown below.
The construction of church buildings has had a profound impact in Ethiopia. I met up with one of their Pastors who had been to another ICM project where they baptized 265 new believers. They are due to go back to the region again to do more baptisms.
The first stop on my current work trip was to launch a new partnership in Senegal. This is a new country for ICM and we are excited to have the opportunity to be part of what God is doing in this beautiful nation. The day was spent training the leadership team on our procedures for church construction and preparing them for the implementation of the Mini Bible College (MBC).
I leave for Burkina Faso today and will travel by road into Mali tomorrow to visit some projects there. I will also be travelling to Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
I am pictured below handing over the first solar powered audio players loaded with MBC to the leader of the new partnership in Senegal. These players will be used by the congregations of the first two building projects due to commence soon.
We received the following testimony from one of our partners in Africa about Mini Bible College:
“We were privileged to have 36 non-saved ones who attended MBC (Mini Bible College) with us and were able to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. We thank the Lord for this program. It is not only impacting biblical knowledge to the saved ones, it is also serving as a context in which men and women are receiving Christ.”
ICM provides solar powered audio players to our partners in the field with the Mini Bible College (MBC) fully loaded on them. MBC (www.minibiblecollege.org) is a comprehensive survey of the Bible and includes a series on Sermon on the Mount and Family and Marriage. Our partners use the audio players in small group settings similar to the picture below.
This video shows just how much a church building means to a congregation in rural Africa. The footage comes from a dedication I attended during my last visit to Africa and is a representation of the joy and excitement congregations across the continent have.
Church project in Madagascar.
We closed off 2013 with a total of 97 projects that were started in Africa during the year. That brings the total number of projects in Africa close to 1,200 with just over 4,700 projects throughout the world. Amazing – Our God is great and worthy of praise!
As we start a New Year, new goals are set and plans formulated as to how we reach those objectives. Ultimately, our trust is in God’s ability and we look to Him knowing it’s not by our might, nor by our power, but by His Spirit within us.
I set off for the first of four work trips during the year on Jan 21st and will be travelling to 9 countries. Please pray for all our existing partners in the 20 countries we are presently active in and the new partners we are looking to add. Some of the potential partners will allow our work to extend into some very challenging countries where the gospel is being proclaimed amid incredible opposition and persecution.
Season’s Greeting’s. May you be filled with much joy as you celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ this Christmas.
For a child has been born—for us!
The gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God, Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He’ll rule from the historic David throne
over that promised kingdom.
He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing
and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
beginning now and lasting always.
Isaiah 9:6-7 – The Message
Children from an orphanage in Uganda wish you a Happy Christmas!
Our new partner in Rwanda dedicated their first project yesterday. The congregation will be one of many around the world that will be celebrating Christmas in a new building.
By the year end, we would have started close to 90 new projects in Africa in 2013 and currently have over 100 projects under construction. The need for more church buildings continues to grow especially as doors open in new countries.