West Africa Happenings: July-August 2014

Greetings once again from West Africa to all of our brethren throughout the world. We thank God for your prayers, love, encouragement and support as we strive together to preach the gospel of our precious Lord. During this reporting period, time was spent preaching at a seminar in Ghana, participating in an evangelistic campaign in Burkina Faso, teaching a week long class in Cameroon, and meeting with the brethren at the various Bear Valley schools in West Africa. I now find myself in Ghana once again preparing for another evangelistic campaign. In this newsletter, I will attempt to outline some of the significant happenings.

The Fear of ...
“Are you afraid of ...?” The object changes, but the question that often confronts me is the same. “Are you afraid of ... malaria, Muslims, and now Ebola!”

The media is continually in a feeding frenzy upon the fears of people as they report on events throughout the world. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears with 239 passengers aboard, and the plane has never been found. An American journalist is beheaded by Islamic militants with the promise that more executions are to come. And now Ebola hemorrhagic fever is ravishing West Africa with over 1,500 dead, and an estimate by the World Health Organization that 20,000 will be infected over the next nine months.

Ebola is a terrible disease that kills from 50% to 90% of those who are infected. It is spreading rapidly in the countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, and has made its way to Nigeria and Senegal. It is now on the doorsteps of Ghana! You can see the concern when you enter the airport, and notice the immigration staff with latex gloves, and masks. The opening of schools in Ghana was delayed, and governmental meetings are presently taking place on how to control any outbreak here. Many of our brethren in other West African countries are suffering, and have requested our assistance to buy gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and food to help those in need. At least 20 members of the congregations of our Lord’s church in Nimba County in Liberia have tested positive for Ebola, and some of those have already died. Many others are under quarantine. I am attaching to the email copy of this newsletter a letter from the Central church of Christ in Nimba County Liberia with a request for assistance. I will gladly forward any donations to them quickly. The preacher for the congregation is a graduate of the West Coast School of Preaching in Takoradi Ghana. Many will die before this epidemic is brought under control! We can help alleviate some of their suffering.

That leaves the question, “Are you afraid of Ebola?” Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” As human beings, we will all encounter both death and the judgment during our eternal existence (unless Jesus comes before we die). If we are prepared for the judgment, then there should be no fear of death! However, if we are not prepared for the judgment, then we should fear both death and the wrath of God. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 tells us that Jesus is coming to take vengeance on those who have not “obeyed the gospel” and “do not know God,” the two requirements necessary to be ready for that great day. God says we can have “confidence in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17), and that we should have no fear (1 John 4:18). Obedience to the gospel, and diligence to “walk in the light” should alleviate any fear of death! Have you obeyed the gospel of Christ (Romans 6:17; 6:3-4)? Are you walking in the light (1 John 1:7)? Are you ready for the judgment day (Luke 12:40)?

Bear Valley Preaching Schools
There have been many wonderful and exciting happenings at the West Africa Bear Valley extension preaching schools during this reporting period. The Southern Institute of Biblical Studies in the Eastern Region of Ghana continues their labor of love as they train preachers in southern Ghana. A new congregation was planted by the school on the campus with an average Sunday attendance of 27. Future evangelistic efforts are planned. Brother Jerry Bates with Bear Valley spent a week at the school teaching a class on leadership. 

I had the opportunity to teach a week long class at the Cameroon Bible Institute of Wotutu on Biblical Geography. While I was there, a shipload of tracts from Mission Printing arrived from the USA to be used for evangelism and edification throughout the country. The school’s open air preaching and evangelism continues to show great success with the Wotutu congregation building bursting at the seams! Brother David Ballard is doing a wonderful work with this school, and arrived in Cameroon as I was leaving. 

The Center for Biblical Studies in Kpalime, Togo had many successes and a few challenges during this period. A lectureship and seminar were held that edified local members, and helped some denominational pastors learn more about the “One True Church” of the Bible. The adopt-a- congregation program is showing promise as a number of new buildings have been erected, and preachers hired. Some of the students continue to endure significant persecution from their denominational pasts, and two students were forced to leave the school due to financial threats from their previous members. 

The West Coast School of Preaching near Takoradi, Ghana have asked for our continued prayers for brother Daniel Ampadu Asiamah as he recovers from his stroke. Students at the school had evangelistic campaigns during the period that resulted in around 20 baptisms. Recruiting efforts are going well with 19 students scheduled to begin later in the year. Unfortunately, some prospective Liberian students may not be able to attend due to the Ebola crisis. 

The Southwest School of Evangelism near Ibadan, Nigeria continues to preach the gospel and to bring souls to Christ in the challenging field of Nigeria. They also enjoyed a week-long visit by brother Jerry Bates who had the opportunity to teach from the book of Romans. Entrance exams were given for the next class and the full roster of twenty five plus students has been filled. They continue to seek financial support for this effort. 

The Tamale Institute of Biblical Studies in Ghana has their hands full in northern Ghana, as they build up leaders in this difficult portion of the country. They have repeatedly needed to deal with false teachings throughout the area relating to miracles, polygamy, and congregational autonomy. A seminar was held for church leaders regarding Biblical church organization which was very well attended.

Financial Support
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.

Contributions by check need to be made payable to:
Mountain Home church of Christ
For: West Africa Mission

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 at:
Email: samtnhome@yahoo.com

USA Phone: 971-270-8535

Please email Steven if you would like to receive this newsletter by email.

Thanks So Much, With Christian Love
Steven Ashcraft

To see Steven’s report with pictures, please click here.

Posted on September 7, 2014 .