This summer delivered some much anticipated progress for our foundational project with our Gabonese ministry partners. The foundation is being laid for the first building at PK27 that will become the first Christian hospital to serve the capital city of Libreville. Those of you who have been following us for several years may remember hearing about PK27 (which simply means kilometer number 27 along the main highway). This sixty five acre piece of land was purchased by E4 Project, for the Gabonese church to develop a campus for Christian social and medical ministries. The project launched with much fanfare in 2011 but never really took off and stalled completely in 2014. The years that have passed taught us a lot about waiting on God for his timing, working with cross-cultural partners and was the inspiration for our newsletter called Embracing the Journey of the Sailboat.
Last year the winds began to change with new leadership in Pastor Jacob Mouele and renewed support from the Gabonese national church. In February of 2016, Pastor Jacob traveled to the USA and communicated to us the renewed focus of the church and their desire to make construction of a new hospital the first priority for PK27. He explained that over the last few years the medical system in Gabon has deteriorated further due to medication shortages, frequent strikes and corruption and shared about the difficulties securing treatment for even his own children when they are ill. The situation is especially dire if you are poor since there are no hospitals in Libreville that will provide any care to people who have no means to pay. The government hospitals will literally let people die on their doorsteps. The national Christian and Missionary Alliance church denomination already operates a regionally renowned hospital in the rural south of the country called Bongolo Hospital that draws patients from all over Gabon and as far as Angola because of its reputation for excellence and compassion. The church now recognizes the huge opportunity PK27 provides to meet acute spiritual and physical needs in the heart of the most populated part of the country.
Using plans for the first medical buildings drafted by our ministry partner, Engineering Ministries International, Pastor Jacob presented us a budget of $50,000 for the first (and most expensive) phase of construction. This phase includes laying the large foundation and erecting the walls, setting up an overall timeline of building completion in 2 years. We agreed to provide the Gabonese church with a matching grant of up to $25,000 for the first phase of the project and began scheduling teams to take part in the first brick laying ceremony and to work with the Gabonese side-by-side as the project gets off the ground.
The arrival of our teams created an occasion and a timeline for the Gabonese to come together and begin making this dream a concrete reality. Money from churches all over Gabon began coming in and our medical team in early June arrived to help kick-start the church’s new mobile medical team that will be holding clinics to raise funds for the new hospital. Then in mid-June, with the arrival of a construction team from Bridge Community Church, the day we had all been waiting for arrived. The leadership of the national church, scores of pastors and a crowd of about 200 people gathered to celebrate the ceremonial laying of the first bricks for the new hospital. It was a joyous occasion with speeches, singing, praying, and a collection for the work ahead.
That week our team was joined by dozens of Gabonese volunteers and in a few days they had dug out by hand the footprint of the first building. When our team left the work did not slow down. In the following weeks, the small team of professionals who led the work were joined by local youth groups and the second building was excavated and all of the re-bar was installed for the foundation and support pillars. By the time our next team from Faith Alliance Church arrived in late July, the concrete work had begun and by the time they left the footer was nearly finished in the first building. Construction is on schedule to finish the foundation before the rainy season arrives in September.
It is clearly evident for the first time that the Gabonese truly feel ownership for this project and are coming together to make it a reality. The hope is to have next summers teams working on installing the roof, with completion of the buildings slated for 2018. One of our new partners, Medical Ministries International, has already expressed an interest in sending a container of donated medical supplies and equipment to outfit the medical center once it is completed, saving the church tens of thousands of dollars. For the first time, this project is quickly moving from being a dream to reality. There is a huge task still ahead of us, but the winds are favorable and look to remain steady, making now the time to act.
Thankfully our $25,000 commitment has been fully funded by our church partners and a small group of donors. Plans area already being made for a new matching grant and construction team to head over in the summer of 2017 to support the next phase of construction.
For the Gabonese this is a huge deal. Several of the Gabonese that came out to volunteer expressed that they were honored to be a part of history. They recognize the huge impact a Christian hospital in Libreville will have for the people of Gabon and the ability of the church to proclaim the gospel through word and deed to thousands of people for generations to come.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 6, 2016
Updated Photos as of the beginning of October, 2016. We are amazed by the progress that the Gabonese Church has made with the first building: