Angola and D R Congo – East & West
There are about 18 ecclesias in this part of DRC, ranging from 2 to 20 members. Of those, 13 can only be visited by local brethren because of their geographical inaccessibility or the political and military environment which continues to be unstable due to rebel activity. A small number of baptisms have taken place, but only in those ‘inaccessible’ places. There was a visit from the UK to 2 of the ecclesias in the east during the summer, and several members from the outlying areas were able to travel in and participate. The one isolated brother in Angola was able to visit 2 of the ecclesias in DRC West and spend time with them
The one ecclesia in Cotonou received a visit that completed the April visit to Nigeria. This small ecclesia has reduced a little more with the return of a further long-standing member to Nigeria.
The situation is stable, and the gospel continues to be preached, despite an economic embargo.
Rumonge, Mabanda, Buganda, Mirwi and Cibitoke ecclesias were visited, and discussion proved fruitful and constructive. There were 8 baptisms plus 5 baptised before our trip, and more contacts.
As the authorities insist that religious groups meet in their own property – Burundi now has CBM buildings in Buganda and Gasorwe; and we have submitted all the paper work for the new registration process. A laptop has been provided for Bro Denis to translate the 40 lesson Bible course from Swahili into Burundian. There is a new ecclesia in Murwi with 5 newly baptised brethren supported by Buganda.
The conflict between the Cameroon government and the Anglophone region continues and during the year there were demonstrations and rioting throughout the Anglophone area, this resulted in many deaths and imprisonments. Our prayer must be for the continual safe keeping of our brothers and sisters and their families. This has meant our brothers and sisters living in fear, especially in the districts of Bamenda and Buea. Despite this, there has been a continuation of the growth of the truth.
The U.K. visits made in the early part of the year saw over 30 baptisms, and throughout the year more followed. Witnessing continues and the harvest in both the N.W and S.W. will come in the near future. A visit is unlikely in 2018 because of the troubles.
D R Congo – South
Visits were made to the Kalundja and Baraka ecclesias – with 5 baptisms for both; but unfortunately, we could not reach Kazimia, Fizi and Misisi due to insecurity in the area caused by the Maimai militia. At Uvira there was one baptism, plus discussion with contacts from Kiliba and Mboko. The 3 ecclesias at Kalemie were not visited individually due to a flight cancellation, which changed our schedule. There was a baptism for Mamba; and we visited the Kaseke and Sinfo ecclesias to check on the state of the buildings. At the Kipushi ecclesia we had 4 baptisms and were able to secure the plot documents in the CBM name.
As has recently been the norm, the visit this year was focused around the annual Bible School held at Kumasi. The theme was ‘The Coming Kingdom of God’. Unfortunately, none from Moseaso could attend and so a later visit there and to Subri by local brothers was planned. CB: representatives were, however, delighted once more to share fellowship with members of the Abidjan (Ivory Coast) ecclesia.
Under the guiding hand of our Heavenly Father His work has continued to prosper in the 8 ecclesias of the coastal and forest areas, extending from Conakry and N’Zerekore respectively. This resulted in 14 baptisms and the total membership now exceeds 120. A visit from UK in February supported the 4 ecclesias in the coastal region. Initial difficulties in securing appropriate meeting places were finally overcome and rental agreements were secured. UK ecclesias have given generous support through Project Aid especially helping with funding for chairs. A widowed sister was given support for
a baking project. Supplies of drugs, sent through the Welfare fund for the treatment of malaria have been gratefully received.
This was a difficult year with social unrest, storm damage to the meeting room, issues surrounding the registration of ownership of the building and drainage problems. The Bible School at Kumasi was a highlight with the opportunity for fellowship with the Ghanaian brothers and sisters, but Brother Yves Bayoro was not well there and later fell asleep in Jesus back in Abidjan. We pray that we might be reunited in the kingdom.
A visit was made from UK in November to support the ecclesias. This coincided with the second stage of Presidential elections and an increase of tension within the country. This was diffused when the Supreme Court in Monrovia postponed the electoral process. 12 baptisms have taken place during the year and a new ecclesia established at Dulay, close to the border with Ivory Coast. This growth has arisen out of preaching initiatives taken by the Sanniquellie ecclesia.
The ecclesias are grateful for support given through Project Aid. CMaD has continued to generously support Monrovia Academy and children of brothers and sisters have benefited from the educational opportunities afforded. Some ecclesial members are teachers in the school.
A visit took place in April, supporting the national gathering over the Easter Weekend, as well as extensive visits to ecclesias around the country. The gathering, which was well attended, was orientated towards the youth, and was on the theme of marriage. It also witnessed 7 baptisms, for 5 ecclesias. In the North a plot of land has been bought at Akwanga and action put in place to secure the plot both physically and legally.
In the East, major refurbishment and expansion of the hall at Alayi has begun and a new build hall at Umuahia has reached an advanced stage. Lagos ecclesia has been supported with a replacement minibus through Project Aid to assist with the logistical challenges of the largest city in Africa.
Sierra Leone still continues to recover from the Ebola outbreak and the flooding during the year; and with a very flat economy and little paid employment, the standard of living has not really changed.
Generally, brothers and sisters fall under the poverty line, although there are some exceptions.
There were just under 100 baptisms; most of these new brothers and sisters are in provincial village ecclesias where Western influence still remains minimal. All the ecclesias are actively preaching, and CYC’s are very well attended.
St Helena & Ascension Island
‘Glad Tidings’ magazine is advertised in the local press each month, and a monthly letter which highlights our beliefs is also sent to 21 contacts on the island, and to 3 islanders now living in the UK. The response to our ‘Adwords’ advert has increased significantly – which may be due to the introduction of a mobile phone service earlier in the year.
The Island’s airport has now finally opened to a weekly flight from Cape Town, thus reducing the travel time from 5 days to less than 6 hours. It is hoped that this will result in more interest.
The Gambia & Senegal
Until November there had been no visits from the UK for 18 months – due to political unrest in The Gambia which had severely restricted even local travel. Movement in both countries was further exacerbated by heavy rains which turned the sand roads into river valleys – making it impossible for motor vehicles or even horse carts to reach many of the villages where our brethren live.
Disheartened again by the vegetable garden crops being destroyed by red spider-mite just prior to harvesting – they were delighted and uplifted by the ‘good news’ of the spread of God’s Word which resulted in two baptisms at opposite ends of The Gambia; one at LatriKunda and one at Basse.