Last week I went to Tennessee to meet with some potential partners in Africa. They have a network of established churches and are strategically planting more churches to secure as much ground for the Kingdom as they can.
It’s always great to hear what other ministries as doing to establish God’s Kingdom and then to explore if a partnership with ICM can enhance their vision.
During my last trip to Africa, I visited a school at one of our potential church projects. As you can see from the picture above, the classroom is very basic and the rainy season presents even greater challenges.
The church often becomes involved in improving the community by providing schooling, orphan care, men’s and women’s groups, small business opportunities etc. Once a permanent church building is constructed, it is often used to accommodate the various community needs the church is involved with, including the school classes.
I had the privilege of sharing with the students during my visit. The school buildings are in the background.
I received an email from a contact in a very volatile country in Africa, communicating the desperate need after recent conflicts. Some of the comments from the email follow:
Most Organizations have left and halted their operations. The few remaining are struggling since nothing can operate as usual. I am here because we are encouraging many Christian organizations to include trauma healing, forgiveness and peace building and reconciliation in their programs even if they are not the main ones, since majority of the people are traumatized and will need healing, pastoral care and counseling before life becomes normal and are able to undertake other activities.
They have been involved in relief for displaced pastors and are helping them to deal with their own trauma, resentment, anger, and disappointments so that they in turn will help others.
Please pray for the pastors in this region who are working through their own healing process before they can effectively minister to others in desperate need.
We have just learnt about the departure of our Leader, Teacher and trainer Rev Dick Woodward, that we have come to know and love for some years now and whose teaching has been and still will be the foundation and the guidance to our churches, correcting our marriages shaping our doctrines and illuminating our understanding with the Mini Bible College, he is and will be always a blessing to our churches and pastors and mostly to myself and family.
What will be my excuse before God? What will be your excuse before God? If Woodward could do what he did in the ability of his God, what will be your excuse with the same God?
If Woodward could despise his pain and serve his God to the last day of his life and impact so many lives up to my little village – what will be my excuse?
Let us continue to perpetuate the purposes he lived for.
Our Pastor is not gone he is still with us through his work although he sleeps in death.
Tomorrow (Saturday March 15th), a memorial service will be held to celebrate the life of a man who served the Lord he loved with such passion and determination. Dick Woodward was an inspiration to many and his ministry will continue to bear fruit for years to come.
The paralysis Dick endured did not deter him from choosing to be used by God. There was a fervency in his mission to get the people of God into the Word of God and the Word of God into the people of God which resulted in so many incredible testimonies of how the truth of God’s Word sets people free.
Despite all the limitations Dick faced, his life was a powerful testimony of how God wants to use each of us for the advancement of His kingdom. God’s Word declares “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
While we rejoice in the confidence of knowing that Dick is now free from pain and suffering, our hearts and prayers go out to the family who mourn his absence. How grateful I am to know that there will be a day that those who have received the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, will all be reunited for eternity.
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.