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Written by Todd Wilklow, who joined E4 in May to serve with our international and stateside partners.
I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be a part of E4 Project. Having an opportunity to reconnect with an old friend, Eric Schmidt, (he’s not old…the friendship goes way back) and to share in, contribute to, and advance the purpose of the ministry that he and his wife Brynn started is a real blessing.
I am a firm believer in the basic principles and processes that E4 Project is based upon.
- Christ centered
- About relationships
- Indigenous led
My first trip to Gabon provided me with a clearer understanding of the ministries that we partner with, but what may be more important is that it gave me some insight into the challenges faced when operating under the E4 Project model.
As mentioned above, the E4 Project process is relational based and indigenous led. While that sounds and seems all good, I came to realize pretty quickly that this requires a much longer journey alongside our ministry partners. I never would have imagined that we would actually have to go back to the very basics and train our ministry partners how to lead. While they are intelligent leaders, they don’t have the same tools, resources, training and experiences to do some of the very basic strategic planning necessary to sustain the ministries that God has given them heart and vision for.
I am preparing to lead my first team from one of our partner churces (Faith Alliance Church from New Bremen, Ohio) to Gabon. They have made several previous trips so this is not new to them. They understand and embrace the process and are committed to the long haul. They are passionate about serving widows and abandoned/orphaned children in the name of Jesus. In addition to the training they will do with our ministry partner to widows and work with Hope House, this team will include some professionals that will facilitate training for the ministry leaders focused on strategic planning. We will be equipping the leaders to manage their own ministries, giving them the tools required to see their visions/goals realized.
Upon my return from my first trip to Gabon, a friend asked me “Do you think that the things you are doing in Africa are sustainable?” Although the E4 Project approach may be slow for those of us who like to just jump right in and get things done quickly, I truly believe that this model is the only way that will lead to sustainability for our ministry partners. It will give them the ability to plan, develop and move forward with their vision. Will they continue to need our help? Sure. But when your ministry is based on relationships, hopefully those relationships will only grow stronger over time, and we will continue to partner side by side, brothers and sisters in Christ working for His glory and for his Kingdom.
This past trip planned with Grove City Alliance Church did not go exactly as planned. The church put together a construction team and purchased tickets many months ago based on the understanding from our Gabonese partners and E4 that they would work on the first building at our social and medical outreach campus (PK27). They would help put up walls and the roof on the new medical clinic. As time drew near for their trip, we realized that this was not going to happen. Our indigenous led ministry partners did not get the work completed that they had planned to have done before the team arrived. It was a frustrating situation for some of the team before they landed on the ground in Gabon to have their plans changed. However, God had other plans in mind for this team and the work that they did instead was extremely critical and time sensitive.
It was so great for me to be with this team and have an opportunity to really explain and share with them the reason that we were not moving forward with the work at PK27 – our partners were not ready and we expect them to take the lead and have ownership of the project. We also need them to raise funds from within their churches, and we at E4, need much more funding to assist them once they have some funds raised locally. Unfortunately, this takes much more time than we often think it should. The book, When Helping Hurts, discusses this issue and the quote below sums up our thinking on where E4 landed as these plans changed.
We continue to focus on the big picture and the process needed for sustainable projects and programs to exist where we serve. We trust God and believe completely that the timing is in His hands. I explained to the team that we are extremely invested in this large collective campaign – E4 funded the purchase of the land for the future medical and social outreach campus. However, we cannot force this to happen. It may take 1 year, 5 years or it may take longer, but it has to be led by our partners and not by us. So, here is where PK27 is currently – it is a start and we pray that our partners keep moving this forward. However, they need more funding as well as more planning- from within their own churches and from those of us who have much more to give.
We have business leaders heading over with our next team in August to serve with our Gabonese leaders to continue to equip and train them in how to move forward with this large and sometimes overwhelming project. We will get there, we just need to trust God that He has the timing, funding and plans in His hands.
So, the team found themselves in Gabon with changed plans. I think if you talk to the team members now though, you would hear that God blessed their time and gave them the project that was most important to get done right away. They all saw the immediate need for the children and how our dependence on God and His timing always work out. The team switched gears immediately and got to work with our parter ministry, Hope House for abandoned and orphaned children. Pastor Israel and the older teenage boys are working on an addition and remodel for a home for the kids. They desperately needed help and training with getting a roof put on the building. E4 provided funds for the wood and the tin that is the next step – we did this as our team served alongside many people already working to make the house come together.
The team worked so incredibly hard each day – everyone was exhausted, hot and sweaty at the end of the days, but much work was accomplished and there was great connecting time with the kids that were there during breaks that the team had. The next post will focus on the equipping and training that took place as Pastor Israel, older boys and the team served together. The team also built a guard house that will be moved and assembled at PK27 once the project is moving forward. They also helped fund this project by giving program funds to E4 that accompanied their trip costs. They accomplished so much thanks to Pastor Goodman’s experience in Gabon and leadership with his team; and the awesome servant hearts and hard work of the team.
I was blessed to be a part of this team and to see their commitment to our partners and the people we serve. New relationships were made and others were strengthened and deepened for those who had been to serve before. It is hard work – but God never said it would be easy. Giving up our lives in ways such as money and vacation time is a sacrifice, but it is also what Christ expects of us. He talked about the poor and needy so much throughout the Bible for a reason – He loves them and wants those who are more fortunate to serve those with less – with our time, talents and money. I saw this play out during the time that I was there with the team and will be forever grateful for their sacrifice. I think they would tell you that the reward is greater than the sacrifice as they served people with hearts full of love.
I just returned from time in France and Gabon serving with E4 Project in both places with Sarah Lewan. In the next couple of weeks, I will write more specific posts about the awesome things that God did on this trip, but first, I wanted to share about my journey. I want to share with all of you that God calls us all to hard things – even when we are extremely passionate about our faith, causes and ideas. God called my husband and I to start E4 Project and led me again to Africa on this most recent trip. I am scared of flying, not having control in life and public speaking. Those are pretty much my big 3. God and I have many discussions – well, I do most of the talking – about why He has called me to this ministry when I have these huge fears. It seems like He could have prepared me better for the road He was putting me on since I have to do those three things a lot. The hard things that God places before us provide an amazing opportunity though – a chance to be completely obedient to Him and draw closer to Him because He is all we have to get us through and those are the times we cling to Him and grow in our faith. The above quote from Jesus Calling is one that I read over and over regarding my worries and fears.
What I continue to learn and was able to focus on during this trip is that God can use me to do whatever He plans to accomplish as long as I continue to fix my eyes on Him continuously. I believe that I have to rely on Him even more – every day, every hour – because I have these anxieties and fears. I had a lot of anxiety before traveling and even in France as well with more flights ahead of me to Africa. The enemy knows exactly how to get to me and he tried his hardest to get me to believe that I could not do any of this. My anxiety would start to creep up on me and so I was very deliberate about only looking ahead at that day – the day God placed before me. He promises to give us the strength we need for today, not tomorrow (Matt 6:34). It is a daily decision to trust Him and guard my thoughts from the enemy. I also listened to the song by For King & Country a lot called “Fix My Eyes”. A portion of the lyrics are below and these are what I cling to daily as I serve through E4 Project. This is my goal in everything that I do and it was awesome to have this reminder daily.
lyrics from “Fix My Eyes” by For King & Country
So – I spoke at a luncheon fundraiser in France put together by a good friend of mine from Colorado. I spoke to over 50 people from all over the world – my friends are part of a large international community in the south of France. Many people there had spent more time in Africa than I have. There was even an Ambassador from France there. As I met everyone and learned about their backgrounds before speaking, I grew more and more anxious. I felt inadequate to share in front of all these people. Again – I fixed my eyes on Christ and was able to deliver a fairly decent portrayal of what we are doing in Gabon and DR Congo and share our heart for serving the people that God loves. It was very successful and we raised over $2,000 in just that afternoon. All the glory goes to God – I know He spoke through me to share His vision.
I had to take 8 flights to get to France, on to Gabon and back home. The flight from Paris to Libreville, Gabon had awful turbulence for a short period of time (with people screaming on the plane) and this gave me more fear for the flights home – and more conversations to have with God. Those all started pretty much the same way with “Are you serious God? I am being obedient and trying really hard to trust you – can’t the flights at least be somewhat smooth?” I also had to give up any sense of control that I think I have when I fly and travel. The time in Gabon was amazing. We had wonderful meetings with all of our ministry partners and continued to work on our plans to serve with them to advance their ministries. We had an awesome time with the team that was there from Grove City Alliance Church and I was so blessed to have them welcome us in as part of their team. It was such an honor to spend time with people who care so much about our ministry partners. The time flew by and God had every part of it held in His hand.
I am learning so much every day as I spend time with God that all He asks of me is to be obedient to Him and to trust Him with each and every day. I have the passion and the love to do this – I just have a lot of hurdles to cross each time I step out for Him. However, each time He rewards me beyond my wildest expectations and it encourages me to continue to step out in trusting Him and giving my whole life to Him.
We have shared with you over the past couple of years about Jean Claude and his wife, Christine, who are serving at Nebobongo hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Dr. Jean Claude is the first surgeon that this small primitive hospital has ever had. Dr. Christine serves as a doctor here as well and they are parents to 4 young boys. Both Jean Claude and Christine were born at Nebobongo Christian hospital and returned home to serve God after their medical training. That decision alone has impacted so many people in the area as they have been saving lives and sharing the hope of Christ with others.
We have funded several emergency initiatives at the hospital as well as water cisterns. There have been some very dire situations at the hospital and Jean Claude is very overworked as the medical needs are so constant. We are so excited to share with you that the hospital staff is now growing! There are two new doctors who have joined Nebobongo hospital. They have committed to serving here, but there was nowhere for them to live. E4 Project funded a small residence for these doctors so that they can live nearby and serve at the hospital. We just sent funds about a month ago, and the building is moving along very quickly. We are so thankful that we can help in a small way so that the hospital can take care of many more patients.
While this is very encouraging news, Jean Claude shared with us that there have been a lot of very difficult medical cases at the hospital and the needs are immense. He shared two stories with us about current patients at the hospital.
The first story is about a young boy who is at the hospital because palm oil that had spilled all over his legs and feet caught fire. He has horrific burns on both legs and Jean Claude does not know if his legs can be saved. Please pray with us as they do everything they can to help this child. It has been over three weeks since the burns happened and he was brought in to the hospital. The family had sought treatment elsewhere, but the help they had been given did not improve his condition.
Another story has a happier ending as the woman is now healed from her condition. She had a huge goiter growing on her neck and her first husband left her because of it. She had a new man in her life that would take care of her and stay with her only if she had the goiter removed. She came to the hospital seeking help and Jean Claude was able to operate on her and remove the large growth and treat her.
Jean Claude asked that we all pray for the many people that hospital sees every day and to especially pray about this little boy and saving his legs. We are so thankful that there are now 2 more doctors to serve the many patients at Nebobongo, and ask that you would pray for them as well. God is using a small few to change the lives of a region of approximately 250,000 people.
If you want to partner with us so that people can continue to have their physical needs met in the name of Christ, please do so by supporting us financially. We have invested significantly at Nebobongo and have seen the difference that it is is making in saving lives – both physically and spiritually. As of now, we do not have funds available for future programs and projects.
One of the definitions of injustice is inequity – the unjust or unfair action or treatment of others. What has been happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the last 15 years is not only unjust, it is horrific. The war and poverty experienced in this country is devastating and E4 Project has been trying to help where we can at the Nebobongo Hospital near the town of Isiro. While they are not currently in harm’s way due to the war, the poverty in the region is one of the highest in the world. The hospital serves a large area consisting of over 250,000 people and is the only trusted hospital in over a hundred miles. The hospital does not have electricity or running water, and children in the pediatric ward are often 3-4 to a bed during times of disease outbreaks. The surrounding communities and schools do not have access to safe water or any knowledge of sanitation practices. Children die from diseases caused by just the lack of clean water.
The tragedy in DR Congo is overwhelming. Yet God continues to allow us to step into His larger story and help the people that He loves – and He loves them as much as anyone else in the world. He sees their heartbreak, struggles and faith. It must break His heart when we turn a blind eye to the suffering in the world around us.
We have been helping in different ways with Nebobongo Hospital and we are so excited to share that we are now moving forward to serve with Lifewater International in bringing clean water and sanitation programs to this region. We have a long way to go to see this happen, and we are still in the beginning stage. However, Lifewater and E4 Project worked together to send a Lifewater advisor from Ethiopia to meet with the leaders of Nebobongo hospital and the church system that oversees the hospital. Lifewater concluded that the Nebobongo area was definitely a place that they could help, and they have been researching and working towards the goal of introducing their WASH program into 4-5 schools within the surrounding community. The WASH program includes sanitation, hygiene training and access to clean water.
The current goals of Lifewater are to work on curriculum over the next few months and then send a team over in September, at the beginning of the school year, to teach teachers and staff about the WASH program. This team will include leadership from Lifewater and E4 Project. While this program will be led and managed by Lifewater, E4 will help in whatever capacity we can. After the initial training, another team from Lifewater will head over in January or February of 2015 (during the dry season) to build the rain tanks and latrines and incorporate further training.
We are so thankful that God has connected us with Lifewater and cannot wait to continue to update you on progress and plans as things move forward. We will be fundraising aggressively for this campaign and would ask that you all pray about how you could support this awesome project. Please check out the amazing work that Lifewater does around the world here.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Democratic Republic of Congo, here are some statistics that will help you understand the dire need that is there – from http://www.globalissues.org/article/87/the-democratic-republic-of-congo:
“Since the outbreak of fighting in August 1998,
- Some 5.4 million people have died
- It has been the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II
- The vast majority have actually died from non-violent causes such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition—all typically preventable in normal circumstances, but have come about because of the conflict
- Although 19% of the population, children account for 47% of the deaths
- Although many have returned home as violence has slightly decreased, there are still some 1.5 million internally displaced or refugees
- Some 45,000 continue to die each month”
As we share another story of our church partners serving alongside our ministry to widows and marginalized women at Bon Samaritan Ministry, I sometimes feel that we are sharing the same stories from previous teams with similar photos. Sometimes I know we want things to move faster – I want Bon Samaritan to have kiosks all over Gabon to sell the products that the women make. I want training to continue weekly in various skills. I want their building to be finished at the PK27 campus – and I want these things to happen now. We get so used to the pace that we live at here in the States and we want things to happen our way. However, God has reminded me that none of this is about me and what I want – that there is so much more to what we are doing and what our team members are doing as they commit to serve year after year in Gabon. We continue to rely on God’s timing and the pace of the Gabonese people as we trust them to lead. This includes embracing our Gabonese partners and slowing down enough to just pray together and strengthen relationships. Whether it is another seminar to continue to grow the skills of the widows, playing with the orphans and abandoned children, or a prayer walk at the future social and medical outreach campus – we follow God’s lead and our Gabonese partners as they determine what is needed for each team. God is moving in Gabon and growing our partners as incredible leaders and I am amazed at what is accomplished through every team that we send.
These photos are from this past week with our team from Faith Alliance Church in Ohio. If you read our previous blog post, you were given a glimpse into the vision that God gave Vicki to bring many sewing machines and train the other women on her team to sew so that their team could have a great impact with our training for widows. The team has spent a couple days training widows and marginalized women in sewing. We have done similar trainings in the past and will continue to train in this area as we continue to serve.
Some of the women that come to training are there for the first time. Others have come before and can receive more training when they attend more sessions. While it may seem like a small step in our eyes, we believe that God continues to smile down on this ministry. God sees His loved ones, who are often left on the margins of society after losing their husbands, being served and shown how much God loves them. We not only serve through training, we develop relationships as we serve. This is as important as the micro-enterprise businesses that we try and support with our training and funding. The skills that these women receive will allow them to earn income and sell products that they make through the Bon Samaritan Ministry. They will be able to put food on the table for their children. They can earn income to pay for their kids to go to school. Their lives will change and they will be empowered by their ability to provide and serve with their ministry. The relationships that they make provides friendship and encouragement in knowing that others love and support them.
We are so thankful for those who serve with us and who are creating a better life for the poor and needy through their service. Many friendships are formed and skills learned and smiles exchanged – all for the glory of God.
We have had a busy week along with our partner church, Faith Alliance Church in New Bremen, Ohio. Our co-founder, Eric Schmidt traveled with Yoann Makita (Pastor Jean Marc and Mama Jeannine’s son who is currently living with us) to meet up with Pastor Jacob Mouele at Faith Alliance for the weekend. The church had their missions week this past week, and E4 Project and Faith Alliance Church flew Pastor Jacob to the States for this time. Sarah Lewan from our Project Sunset Program traveled to be there as also, as well as several others from her church, Bridge Community Church. All were able to share their vision and how God has worked with E4 and our partner ministries and churches. Today, Jacob leads a team from the church to Gabon to serve with our ministry partners. We ask that you join us in prayer for this team and for our ministry partners as they serve the people of Gabon together.
One of the main areas of service for the women will be training the widows and marginalized women from Bon Samaritan Ministry in sewing – a skill that they can use to earn money to take care of their families and support the ministry as well. The team is taking 13 sewing machines to leave with the ministry, which will be an amazing addition to the micro-enterprise training that we have set up in the past.
The following attachment is a testimony shared by Vicki Quellhorst, who leaves with the team today. Because it is written as her story, it is longer than most of our blog posts, so we attached it as a PDF. We encourage you to read her story of how God has prepared her for this trip to Gabon. She is a seamstress and has collected donations for 13 sewing machines in 21 days for our partner ministry, Bon Samaritan. She has also trained all the women from the team so that they can all teach the widows and marginalized women in the ministry how to sew. God has shown Himself to Vicki in amazing ways prior to the departure for this team. In her story, she goes through the details of how God met her every step of the way with his provision. All that was required of her was to trust in God’s plan and follow His leading. You will see that she was busy purchasing sewing machines and taking donations, but God brought everything to her that she needed for this training of her team and our partner ministry.
I love this quote below that she shares in her story:
This is so true for all of our partners – some of you travel to Gabon, some of you pray, many of you donate financially and have never been to Gabon. So many of you help provide for our indigenous led ministries in so many other ways (some very creative ways as well) and we are so thankful for each and every one of you. We could never serve the way we do without the community that God has surrounded us with. We are thankful to be serving together. We look forward to sharing more with you about the time of service in Gabon this month.
This post is a little different than others that we usually write here at E4. We usually tell stories and share updates about the work that is happening. We share about what we are doing and how God is using E4 and all of our partner ministries to accomplish His Kingdom work. We are about community transformation and helping in ways that bring long-term solutions and sustainability. We are really not a relief-focused organization. However, there are times where relief is just necessary and the only real way that we can help is by providing funds to serve those in immediate need. In this situation, the long-term work in DR Congo cannot continue without immediate assistance. The following update from our friend, Dr. Jean Claude Bataneni, explains why we believe that money is what is most needed right now for the hospital where he serves in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Many of you gave money about a year ago to assist the hospital with an Ebola outbreak and salmonella/malaria outbreak among the children. Your contributions had a significant impact on the hospital’s ability to save lives during the terrible outbreaks. We were able to send more than $15,000 last year for this specific purpose that provided sanitation and supplies immediately to assist with epidemics, and especially care for the many sick children. We are planning on sending funds now for their current situation. I spoke with Jean Claude yesterday and we received an update via email that explained the following situation about the hospital and community. The following is written from his perspective, with a few minor edits to help the English make the most sense to you all:
“A couple months after the Ebola outbreak that affected us, we experienced an epidemic among the pigs and goats. It was so serious that is killed about 99% of the livestock. Pigs and goats are the first means of income for our population. For a short explanation of how the hospital often operates is that we treat patients in an emergency, and then hand the bill to the family members. In normal situations, the family would go back to their village and get a pig or goat. They would sell the animal(s) and pay the hospital bill. For the past 8 months, everyone is cut off from this source of income. This is making things very, very hard for us to run the hospital. We cannot afford to purchase more medicine and pay staff, as well as maintain the hospital. We had a meeting yesterday and discussed that we are only at 47% of where we need to be to pay our staff for August.
Also, for us to keep the prices low and help our patients, we operate on solar power from our solar panels and batteries. Lightning destroyed our system and it is hard to keep operating without this cheap and renewable energy source. We have had to run the generator most nights, and even days while performing emergency surgeries. This is significantly raising the cost of operating the hospital, at the same time that patients are not able to pay. Normally, the surgeries we perform are our main source of income. But this week I did many surgeries and we only received about 15% of what we charged. Also, children return to school in a week and the parents have to pay school fees. This includes our staff who need to receive their pay so that they can take care of their children. We are praying that God opens doors for us to have outside help.”
Nebobongo Christian Hospital is the only hospital for miles and miles around. It serves an area of over 250,000 people without running water or electricity – other than the generator which can only be used some of time. Many people travel for a day or two just to get to the hospital. Dr. Jean Claude Bataneni is the first surgeon that the hospital has ever had. His wife, Christine, is also a doctor. Their family has devoted their lives to serving Christ by returning to their home village after all medical schools and training, to serve some of the poorest and neediest people in the world. The Democratic Republic of Congo has been devastated by years of horrible civil war, major breakdowns of all infrastructure and extreme poverty. This hospital is a light to so many, and their only hope for medical care.
Please consider making a donation here and 100% of funds given will be delivered to Nebobongo Hospital next week through the church system that oversees the hospital. Please put “Nebobongo” in the notes field. We also ask that you pray with us for the trials that Nebobongo faces on a daily basis.
One piece of good news about our serving with Nebobongo hospital is that things are moving forward with a large faith-based water NGO that we are working with. While this will take some time, the site visit went very well and they want to work with us and Nebobongo to bring community development through clean water and sanitation. This will potentially improve the lives of up to 250,000 people in this marginalized region. It will be a slow process as this region is so difficult to travel to and work in, but we continue to move forward and pray that God will pave the way for this monumental program.
* Photos are courtesy of Jean Claude Bataneni and Andrew Randolph
We live in a culture that is extremely “me” focused and allows for many of us to create our own little world surrounding our lives. When we focus only on ourselves, our families, our life problems and experiences; we miss all that God has intended for us in our relationship with Him. We miss true joy. God expects much more from us than just going to church on Sunday. He expects our whole lives – and He gives us more than we could ever imagine in return. When we choose to live each day asking God how he wants us to live and love others, our lives are turned upside down. There is no greater joy than meeting God right where He wants us – in absolute submission and service to Him. This is how we live a radically different life than those around us.
Our ministry partners in Gabon exemplify this choice to follow God completely and enter into a hurting world. They do it every day as they share the gospel while helping the poor and needy with the basic necessities of life. When individuals, churches and organizations partner with us to serve our ministry partners in Gabon and DR Congo in their service, their actions show that they are working towards this life as well. God calls us to love others as much as we love ourselves (Matt 22:36-40). He calls us to give up everything to follow Him (Luke 9:23). We are seeing this right now as our team from Bridge Community Church is serving alongside our indigenous led ministry partners in Gabon. We see what happens when people say “yes” to God.
When we look at the past two and a half years of our partner churches and organizations, as well as all the individuals that we serve with at E4 Project, we see how God is using us all to serve our brothers and sisters in Gabon. We are increasing the tools available for our partners to share the gospel and reach people for Christ. This is the ultimate goal of our partners in Gabon. They serve to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people through mobile medical clinics, eye and rehabilitation services, training and ministry to widows and marginalized women, care to abandoned and orphaned children, support and care for those with HIV and more. As a collaborative group, we have increased their ministries by providing such things as a new truck for the medical ministry, 65 acres for their future medical/social outreach campus, lab for the medical team, 550 wheelchairs, eye clinic equipment, micro-enterprise training for widows and marginalized women and so much more. The more tools that our partners have, the more credibility they are given by the government as well. More people throughout Gabon hear of the work they are doing and want them to help.
Here are a couple of additional examples from just this week with the team from Bridge:
Eye Clinic – Ophthalmologist Liliana Baron has spent the first part of this week setting up the eye equipment that she donated this past year. She donated 4 opthalmology stations from her office to our eye ministry in Gabon (RBC). Bridge Community Church worked with her to get these shipped to a crate that was going to Gabon. She was there last summer training our partner nurses, and this summer she is back to set up the new clinic and do further training. This donation and training will allow RBC to see and treat exponentially more people in need of eye care.
HIV Testing & Training – The team medical professionals trained our partner Martin Mbavu and his ministry HIV Hope in HIV testing. We worked with HIV Hope to partner with OSPAC, our medical ministry partners to then use the experienced nurses and lab materials to perform the tests and take care of lab work for those who test positive. Yesterday, 120 people came to be tested for HIV. 5 people tested positive. They had to turn many people away as the demand for this first round of testing was higher than expected. We are assisting with funding for HIV Hope so that they can test many more people and take care of those who test positive with further lab work, care and medicine.
Medical Lab – Pastor Randy Vinson has a background as a lab technician and he worked with our medical partners last year to create a lab for the ministry and train a couple of the nurses in how to use all the equipment. This week, he is improving the lab and doing more training. This will continue to increase our partners’ tools to serve their people.
Wheelchair Distribution – The team is assembling wheelchairs given to our partners through our relationship with Free Wheelchair Mission. They will distribute some at the village clinics this week, but were already able to give one to a man in great need in Libreville.
Project Sunset – founded by Sarah Lewan who is on this trip with her church (her third trip this year!) – at the first clinic this week, they already passed out over 30 nets to families in need of protection from malaria. Photos will follow in a separate social media post. Please check out the program she started with E4 on our website at Project Sunset. She will be distributing more nets at the next couple of village clinics as well.
Hope House – Some team members spent time at Hope House for abandoned and orphaned children. There were music lessons and a mini concert performed, and lots of reconnecting and love with the children there.
Mobile Medical Clinics – The team has already done a village clinic and will take part in two more clinics this week.
We have already posted about PK27 and the physical work that the team is doing there. They will have another work day there this week as well and will also spend a day focused on micro-enterprise training with Bon Samaritan, our ministry partner to widows and marginalized women.
It is so amazing what God can do when a group of people say, “yes – I will go”. The training and skills of this team are invaluable to our partners. We are so thankful for all of our partner churches who send strategic teams to serve alongside our ministry partners. This week, we thank Bridge Community Church for their long-term commitment to our Gabonese family.
This week we have another church partner team on the ground in Gabon serving with our Gabonese ministry partners. This team is a mixed group from the Bridge Community Church in Troy, Michigan. One of the projects that they are working on is establishing a perimeter around PK27 so that the land is in essence protected from squatters and people who would like to capitalize on the recently cleared jungle to plant gardens and take advantage of the property.
This project consists of a lot of physical labor to install concrete fence posts along the perimeters. This requires making wooden forms, hauling concrete and transporting water for mixing cement from a local stream to the edge of the property to make the posts. We are blessed to continue to have teams involved in every step of this massive project. At times, we can get discouraged because the completion of a project of this scale seems like it is an eternity away, but I am always reminded of an ancient Chinese quote:
Each step in this journey is important and significant. As the team was working at the property this week, there was loud drumming and chanting a little ways away that the team could all hear. Mama Antoinette (a leader of the Gabonese ministries) came up and said that the local people were practicing things against God and then said, “The people around here don’t believe in Jesus. They believe in other practices. This is something important about this land. Once PK27 is here, they will forget about their practices. Once people come here, everyone will know Jesus.” With the drumming and chanting in the background and Mama Antoinette’s slow but super intelligent way of speaking the implications of what the team was involved in deepened to spiritual levels.
The Gabonese are claiming this land that was once used for the occult to be used for God’s purposes. There is symbolism in placing a ‘hedge of protection’ around the property that will be used to further God’s Kingdom. Our ministry partners regularly come to the property to pray over it and the future work of reaching others for Christ that will come with the medical/social outreach campus as well. The team was able to co-labor with the Gabonese in these simple but symbolic steps. This is a long road we are on, but when I realize how significant the work is in relation to the evil that surrounds this place, I am renewed with passion to see the ministry take place.