Greetings to all our brothers and sisters across the ocean and throughout the world. Our Lord is continuing to bless the work here in West Africa as we anxiously await His return. Although we face many challenges the schools are continuing to train Christian leaders, as new congregations are established and existing congregations are edified. We continually thank our God for giving us the strength to continue, and for providing faithful brethren to partner with us in this work. May the Lord bless each of you for the sacrifices that you are making for Him.
The Bear Valley Program
As a coordinator for the Bear Valley Extension Program in West Africa, part of my time is spent overseas directly assisting the schools, part of my time is spent visiting with congregations in the U.S. to find the support we need to operate and expand the schools, and part of my time is spent in communication and meetings with the extension school staff in Denver Colorado. After returning from Ghana in March, the extension staff for all of the Bear Valley schools throughout the world had the opportunity to meet in Denver. We spent time discussing many different aspects of the extension program including the role of the coordinator, the curriculum for the extension schools, problems that are being experienced at different schools and potential solutions to these problems. We all had the opportunity to meet one another and obtain a view of how things were working at other schools in other countries. The meetings proved very beneficial to all that were involved, and helped us to see even more clearly the need for training leaders in their native lands!
Many Baptized in Ghana
One of the great rewards of working with the Bible schools in West Africa is the opportunity to experience our students going out and teaching others the word of God. If you have been keeping up with the reports from the schools in Tamale and Takoradi, you will see that taking place. You can see these reports updated regularly on the Bear Valley Bible Institute extension web page.
The latest reports from Tamale talk about a new congregation established by the students and instructors of TIBS in northern Ghana where one of our graduating students will be working. Beginning on April 23, the students spent five days and nights in the town of Damonko where fifteen souls were baptized into Christ. The students at TIBS also had the opportunity to make an overnight field trip to a Mango farm where they were able to study how to establish and operate this type of venture. We are continually looking for ways that our graduates can help to support their families when they go out to teach others what they have learned here at school. You can also read about the radio work that the congregations in Tamale have embarked upon. It is all very exciting news!
Challenges of the Work
I have written in the past about many of the challenges that we face in the work here in West Africa. The traditional religious system of offering animal sacrifices and consulting diviners and soothsayers is difficult for many local Christians to leave behind. The influence of Islam upon large groups of people in the northern regions makes it very difficult for them to choose Christianity. There are hundreds of different groups that claim to be teaching the truth about Christianity while they are all teaching different doctrines that are contrary to the Bible. This causes mass confusion upon those who would like to learn the truth. The marital system in West Africa allows for multiple wives (polygamy) which makes it very difficult for the older more respected members of society to make the changes necessary to become faithful Christians. The answer to all of these challenges has always been very simple in theory but difficult in practice and that is to teach the TRUTH. When people come to understand and believe the truth, they will leave the religions of their fathers as many of those in the Jewish religion turned to Christianity 2,000 years ago. When people come to understand the true Christianity revealed in the Bible then they are no longer confused by the many different doctrines taught by the many different religious groups in the world. That is one reason that the Bear Valley Extension Schools are so important. They are teaching the truth as found in the word of God to the indigenous people so that they can go out and teach others. What a wonderful concept!
There is another challenge that is making the work more difficult throughout the world. Some of the missionaries that go to West Africa and other parts of the world are practicing and teaching false doctrines. These missionaries go out in the name of the Lord’s church but they teach doctrines contrary to the word of God. They receive support from the body of Christ but they plant congregations that look nothing like the church of the Bible. Many times they fellowship those who are teaching error and attack those who are attempting to teach the truth. It is unfortunate that many of those who should be our allies are now our enemies. In Galatians 4:16 Paul said, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Let us make sure that we are supporting those who teach the truth! May the Lord give us the strength to withstand all the evil forces that are attempting to destroy HIS work!
… and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
(2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
We want to thank all of the supporters for their contributions to this exciting work in West Africa. Without you, this effort would not be possible.
All checks need to be made out to:
Mountain Home church of Christ
For: West Africa Mission
And mailed to:
Mountain Home church of Christ
380 North College Street
Mountain Home, AR 72653
Any questions can be directed to the church office at 870-425-4330.
Or you can contact Steven Ashcraft at:
U.S. Cell Phone: 971-270-8535
U.S. Message Phone: 870-425-4330
Ghana Cell Phone: 233-24-614-6022
Please e-mail Steven if you would like to receive this newsletter with photos by email.
Thanks So Much,
With Christian Love