The third week in June found Jerry in Nigeria. I had never been in Nigeria before so this was a new experience. Most of you have probably heard something about the violence in Nigeria, but that is primarily in the north, and I went to the south. There have been no problems in the area in which I traveled. Nevertheless, Paula was glad when I left Nigeria.
The main reason for this trip was to check on the progress of the Voice of Truth. We have mentioned before about the great increase in shipping rates, so we had one issue printed in Nigeria for the first time in February of this year. So far it looks good. The first issue was of acceptable quality, and the distribution worked better than we had thought it might. Other than India, we have been sending more to this country than any other. The native preachers have several large preacher meetings, thus the distribution within the country was not as much of an issue as we thought it might be. Probably 90% of the contacts that had formerly been receiving the magazine as well as many other preachers received this issue. Thus, we are very encouraged that we have solved the issue of distributing the magazine in Nigeria. As a bonus, this costs nothing to ship.
Our coworker in Nigeria, Makinde Ebens, also directs a school of preaching, the Southwest School of Evangelism. In addition, he serves as a distribution point for World Bible School and preaches for a local congregation in Ibadan Nigeria, so he is a very busy individual. This congregation does a most unusual thing. Every third Sunday, instead of having Bible class, everyone goes out evangelizing for about 1.5 hours. After preaching to this congregation on Sunday morning, I taught a week in the school, which made the trip much more rewarding and effective. I taught the book of Romans to 32 preacher students, the staff and several visitors who came in for the special class, which amounted to a total class of over forty students. I was able to teach in English, and everyone seemed to enjoy our discussion.
After teaching in Nigeria for a week, I traveled to Accra, Ghana. A new Bible school, the Southern Institute of Biblical Studies, had begun just outside the main city, which is directed by Seth Larbi. He also directs a literature distribution center, and he is scheduled to receive the Voice of Truth, which is being sent to him from India. We thought that magazine would be there by the time I arrived, but it took so long for the books to be shipped that they were still in transit. Nevertheless, it was good to meet Seth and talk about the distribution.
Many preachers come to him to pick up material from World Bible School and Mission Printing, so he can distribute much material without any shipping costs. Some will have to be shipped in bulk to the northern part of the country, probably to the Bear Valley School, and it can distribute the books in that area. People in these countries love to receive these books.
On Sunday, I preached to the congregation with which Seth works. This seemed to be a very thriving congregation with big plans. About 100 souls gathered for worship that morning, and the singing was beautiful. This group is also very evangelistic having started about five other churches in the area and actually could have been bigger because some of their members are continually leaving to plant other congregations, which of course is a good thing. On Wednesday night I visited one of those church plants, which has been in existence about six years, and that congregation now has about 100 on Sunday.
I taught a week in the school, called the Southern Institute of Biblical Studies. It has only been operating a few months. Twelve students are currently enrolled with one woman auditing the classes. I taught Leadership to this group, and the students seemed to really enjoy studying this badly needed subject. I was the first foreigner to teach in this new school.
July will be especially busy since we will be visiting many churches. We also have several shipments of books to be packed and sent to various overseas countries. In addition we are planning to make a trip to Mission Printing in Dallas, TX. They are sending a container to Nigeria in August, and we have many song books, old VBS materials and other things that we have collected which can be put to great use by this predominately English speaking country. On July 30th we leave again on our fall trip. This trip begins with two weeks in Arusha, Tanzania in the southern part of Africa. This is the same place that Jerry traveled last year. This year Jerry will once again be teaching in the school, and Paula will be kept busy working with the local missionary’s wife, Stephanie Stafford. From there, we journey to Nepal, where Jerry will spend a week teaching at the Bear Valley school in Kathmandu, and Paula will again be working with the ladies at several locations. Next, we will spend about three weeks at various locations in India, finally arriving back in the states on September 10th.
As always, we continue to thank you for your interest and support of our work.
May 4th was the first day for telecasting from the city of Churachanpur in the state of Manipur in India. This will encompass four 1-hour programs per week for a cost of only $140/month. Thang Lien who has been translating the Voice of Truth and other basic study books is the speaker. Interestingly, this was not his idea. Just in conversation on our spring trip, we asked him what was the situation with Christian TV broadcasting in his area. He was not very encouraging because it seemed that other religious groups in the area had a monopoly on the programs. Yet, he did some checking and was able to arrange broadcast times. These TV broadcasts are going out to a very limited area, basically just close to his city; nevertheless, it has the potential of reaching over 250,000 viewers! Since they have only a few channels available to them in their area, the likelihood of them tuning in is much greater than it might be even in other areas of India. Thang Lien is already reporting that they are having several contacts, and since they are local, it will be much easier to follow up on these people searching for the truth. Since the first time we met them, Thang Lien and his wife have impressed us. They have the hearts of servants. We are so happy that through World Evangelism we can help them spread the true Gospel to the good people in their part of India, and you are helping when you help us.
Jerry & Paula Bates