To download the original copy please follow this link: News Update – April 2015
From this issue of News Update:
Our current situation indicates that we will likely have less people going to STM trips to Africa this year. The main reason: the threat of the Ebola epidemic. The media has reported the epidemic infecting and killing thousands of people in West Africa. People who hear these statistics believe that it is just too dangerous to visit a place with such a health crisis.
As a missions organization working in that region for more than a decade, we, CIM, make it our duty to provide further details to better inform our constituency what is really happening there and why we are still organizing STM teams to visit such a “dangerous” place.
First of all, we need to reiterate that our STM teams are not traveling to Ebola-affected countries, namely, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Currently, our STM teams are only going to Ghana and Togo, which is at least eight hundred kilometers away from the borders of the affected countries. Considering most African people do not travel extensively with ease, the chance of Ebola spreading through such a distance to Ghana and Togo is slim. Thus, even now, Ghana and Togo have yet to hear about even one case of Ebola since the outbreak a year ago.
Secondly, on a more positive note, Ghana is now one of the top African countries with the most developed education and health systems. In fact, Ghana’s health care system has been described as the most successful one in the continent of Africa. With the help of the World Health Organization of the United Nations, Ghana has raised considerable awareness to the nation about the symptoms and prevention of Ebola.
Last January, I traveled with our ministry staff and two of our board members to both Ghana and Togo. I hardly detected any panic from the local people or trace of the disease in the vast areas which we have visited. I became very confident in these two countries being ready to fight against the virus if indeed it would come.
Now, are there other reasons why we should make STM trips to Ghana and Togo?
I believe in the last issue, Rev. Isaac Quan, our Associate Executive Director has written in detail to answer the above question. The benefits of STM trips both to the visiting teams and the local communities are vivid and real. Perhaps, the benefits should not be the main driving force of the trips. What motivates and compels us to take action ought to be something much deeper and rooted in the Bible.
I am talking about the issue of sharing blessings from the Lord.
There is no doubt that Chinese churches overseas are very blessed in various ways. Biblical teaching affirms that blessings are not what we deserve, and yet we are blessed purely because of the grace of God. The divine intention of such a gracious act is that human recipients can enjoy it and share it with more people, just as what Abraham was told in Genesis 12:1-2.
Certainly, the blessings that we enjoy are not confined to the areas of finance and material. The blessings are holistic: the blessing of God enriches our entire lives. So, the sharing of the blessing must not be limited to financial giving, which many may have done so sacrificially. The STM ministry of CIM provides a channel for the Chinese churches to share God’s blessing spiritually (gospel), socially (friendship and fellowship), technically (professional training), and financially (funding).
On the other hand, God’s blessing is also channeled to the STM teams from the local Christian communities. We have heard testimonies on how the individual Christian lives and church worship services at the host end have blessed the visiting teams very profoundly. Our African brothers and sisters’ spiritual insights as well as their strong family bonds have always inspired us richly.
All these could only happen when we have a chance to meet the people in Africa by way of STM trips.
As such, traveling to Ghana and Togo is as safe and meaningful as traveling to other non-African countries in the world. I invite you to pick up your plan again to make a STM trip with us for the year 2015.
Rev. Philip Leung (Executive Director)