We wish to extend our deepest gratitude for your unwavering support. Most of last year was spent in the heat of battle when we faced the Ebola outbreak that literally ravaged every facet of our nation. Though there has been tremendous progress but it is yet far from over. However, we are still counted among those who are alive, because you did not cease praying for my family and country. Please continue to pray for us to be declared an Ebola freed country. Accordingly, we have now gone over 45 days without any known case.
When the crisis began, we sent SOS calls for assistance to help do awareness in areas where we served. We did not get the expected response, but we are pleased to inform you that we were able to stretch donations we received, to do interventions in two major areas. In early December, we visited Larkeyta where we have one of our network of pastors with 22 churches since 2006, we provided 50 buckets with 3 month’s supply of chlorine with soap for hand washing. After the visit, we received calls that the donations benefited the communities as well especially the chlorine supply. Pastors shared the chlorine with members of their congregations and the communities. This situation has stretched families economically, because every family was required to have a bucket with a mixture of soap and chlorine to wash hands daily. It is still part of our routine activity.
We also took our awareness and distribution campaign to Todee where SEED Farms is located with over 30 villages. We reached out to only 18 of those villages with Ebola materials (buckets, soap and chlorine). The villagers were overwhelmed by our visit, because we were the only Christian group that had gone there with materials to assist them. It was an opportunity to let them more about Lead's work. We took up time sharing about the disease and the need to prevent it from our families and communities and to report any suspected case to health authorities. By the grace of God these communities where not directly affected by the outbreak. I want you to know that we could never have acted promptly without your help. Since our humanitarian effort the leaders and others are now aware of our farm and the purpose of our existence.
Pastoral Conference (February) after a year of praying and visiting churches and helping in little ways with Ebola materials and food, we finally had the privilege of reconvening our training activities. Our first conference was held in Pleemu upper Todee with pastors and church workers for four days. These participants came from 12 local churches in that area. We have previously worked with 6 churches but now have six additional churches added to the network. This area had an entire family quarantined after the lost of family member died of the deadly Ebola virus. Most families in this area lost love ones in Kakata, one the areas hard hit by the virus. About 36 health workers died with hundreds of residents. This happened at the earliest stage of the outbreak when people were still in the denial stage. Thank God for robust awareness campaign that helped to stop the spread quickly.
Continue to pray for the restoration of our remaining conferences in Nimba with about 3 major networks in Karnplay, Gblorlay, and Bahn with a total 100 churches. We are planning major partners meetings with leaders of these networks in May/June. We worked in these areas for 8 years. Our last activity was a one year advanced leadership training in 2011 using BTCP materials. We graduated 64 pastors. About 30 of those we worked with who were previously church workers, are now assigned churches as pastors. Richard Mabea is one of my trainees, but is now the area coordinator (District Superintendent) of his denomination. He shares with me this testimony: "Rev, please do not think that Lead's work was in vain, today most of those people we rely upon in ministry are those your ministry trained. The training materials we have is what you made available to us and are now using them to train others". This made my day, just knowing that my years of long travel and teaching is yielding much fruit for His glory.
Meeting with them would be intended to reengage, evaluate the impact and see where gaps are that might need mitigation. As a matter of fact three of the guys we worked with went to Bible College after the advance level training, graduated and have returned to their churches. Pray along as we look forward to that meeting that God will help us find a strategic direction for the future. It will also be a time to introduce the SEED concept and we can get them to get involved.
One of the most critical aspect of life at this time is striving to keep a healthy balance between ministry and means in order to maximize impact in a post-war country. In light of this fact we continue to work the land to make it productive and fruitful. This year cleared 20 acres of land for farming. The plan is to plant rice (upland/lowland), cassava, corn and plantain/banana. The cultivation has begun but we a major challenge with finding workers. Pray that this situation does not delay planting because we have invested so much into land preparation already.
Update on Partners Pine Project
Our partners and friends were gracious in supporting the farm initiative. From what we received we were able to purchase a cow for the farm as per the donation. We purchased a pair of guinea fowls, 5 hens and a rooster, 3 goats (females) 1 (male). For our tools donations we got one power tool (circular saw), 10 rolls of chicken wires, 1 role of 75 feet of fence wire, 10 cutlasses (machete). One water reservoir and initial contribution to our water storage. Seedling- palm, pineapple, plantain/banana. The project is a great way to help us in the farm building process.
Recently we got a big boost to our farm development when we received a donation for the purchase of a tractor. We have acquired the tractor with initial attachments (5 ton tilting wagon, bucket and a harrow disc plough). We have the tractor in country, but the remaining pieces were ordered from John Deere subsidiary company in Turkey. A tractor means multiple things to our farm needs: road improvement, ploughing and planting, transportation, etc. As it is the more attachments we have can give us huge advantage in developing the land.
ministry opportunities are opening up as we develop the land. Firstly, to set up a farmer field school to give life skills in crop and animal husbandry training to household heads that would empower them economically over time. Secondly, adult literacy school and church planting activities.
despite these opportunities, we have a lot hurdles to overcome. A need for adequate land clearing means for ploughing of land to be immediate. No assess to clean and safe drinking water for human consumption and all season agricultural activities. Theft in the area by community youths due to lack employment.
- Equipment to clear land to increase land space for easy use of tractor and stump ripper to remove stumps from already cleared land by traditional means.
- Water well for the farm and communities
- Fencing to curtail criminal activities
- Need to hire a ministry person to serve as our church planting leader.
Thanks a million again for standing with us as we serve on the front line.