News Update – February 2015

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From this issue of News Update:

Last month, Rev. Isaac Quan wrote the News Update to report to you that, due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the number of STM teams going in 2014 was cut to half. No STM teams were sent to Africa since August. Despite the fact that no Ebola case was found in Ghana and Togo, our destination countries, we had preferred a more precautionary measure which we believed was needed both for the physical well being of the STM teams as well as the emotional concern of their friends and families.

Starting December last year, the Ebola situation in the affected countries has improved drastically. I deemed it necessary that we should start traveling to Africa again at the start of the year for the following reasons:

Firstly, CIM Canada has been conducting the ministries in partnership with African churches for years. Our uninterrupted presence in Africa, rather than the sole provision of funding, is a vital element in making our ministries meaningful, relevant and effective. Many times, we have heard from African brothers and sisters that our visits have brought them profound encouragement and joy. The efforts we have made and the expenses involved in every visit were sending them the message that they were invaluable and important to us.

Secondly, CIM Canada is committed to abridge the churches in Africa and Chinese churches in diaspora so they can share visions and resources, exhort and edify each other. Faithful and frequent reporting of what is happening in the fields, which comes through our physical presence and visits, generates better participation and supports from the home churches, and, at the same time, greater accountability from the recipient churches.

Thirdly, because of the cancellation of our trips last August, many are asking, “Is it still safe to travel to West Africa?” The trip we have just made in January would be a loud and affirmative reply to the question. We had two of our board members joining all five ministry staff, making a team of seven people. Our trip covered Ghana and Togo in slightly more than 2 weeks. As we are all safe and healthy after the trip, we can assure you that our STM trips will be business as usual for 2015.

We are very grateful that throughout the entire trip, Rev. Daniel Gbande, the General Overseer of the Evangelical Church of Ghana was accompanying us. We have enjoyed good fellowship together and received helpful counsel from him regarding our partnership ministries in both countries. The following are some highlights of our recent January trip to those two countries:

1. Our team visited all 3 village schools we are currently supporting. Anna and Lynn conducted pedagogical workshops to all the teachers in each of the village locations. Despite the very unfavorable conditions in which they were working, most teachers were strongly motivated and committed in their teaching positions.

2. We visited 2 new church planting locations which we have just adopted. We were able to see the challenges, needs and opportunities the church planters were facing as we met with brothers and sisters there. They were making strong appeals to us to send STM teams to help spread the good news of Christ in the regions.

1. Our team split into 2 groups before we drove to Togo. One group stayed behind in Ghana to carry on teachers training while the other group joined Pastor Matthieu Ayena, our Togo Ministry Director, to visit 3 ministry locations in his country.

2. Togo has been known to have the highest percentage (51%) of traditional faith (animistic belief) worshippers in Africa. However, in this recent visit, we were surprised to see the number and widespread of the mosques everywhere we went. It is very obvious that Islam has outperformed all other religions in the country.

3. We had deep fellowship with the leaders of the local church we have been partnering in the last few years. We visited some of their ministry locations and saw the challenges of planting new churches amidst their current context. We were affirmed, nonetheless, how CIM has been a great help and blessing to them through the labor and commitment of Pastor Matthieu in their ministries.

I hope I have told you clearly that the doors of STM ministry in Ghana and Togo are now wide open. We are looking forward to your response soon.

Rev. Philip Leung (Executive Director)