WACA Team Meeting and Côte d’Ivoire Blitz

Week 1: Abidjan WACA Team Meeting for West Africa

When I was praying about what to cover in our region-wide meeting I knew that I didn’t want it to be “business as usual.” In fact, I was somewhat concerned that I would be able to keep up with those types of demands, as I am still recovering/re-gaining my stamina. I told the Lord that it would be so neat to have John Scholtz, the WMC chairman of the board in South Africa, come and give us his teaching series on Christian World View and to explain to us about Farming God’s Way (http://www.farming-gods-way.org/home.htm), which is a “game-changing” course that was added to Live School late last fall. He was a medical doctor before he was called into ministry which was also a blessing, in case I were to have any problems related to my recovery. I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Why not?” His voice was so clear, it almost startled me…and it motivated me to promptly send John an email inviting him to our West African WACA Leader Meeting. After praying about it for a day, he wrote me back saying that he believed he was supposed to come, and he would like to bring Grant Dryden who oversees Farming God’s Way (FGW) with him. Though there was an apparent schedule conflict for the dates Grant was to be with us, the Ethiopians, where he was planning to be, “accidentally” booked his trip to Ethiopia the week after ours (Eph 3:20)! I had already asked Duane Erickson who is a pastor, close friend and also a board member of Sonrise International to come minister about equipping and mobilizing the youth. There is a huge “youth bubble” in WACA. Duane arrived in the middle of the 1st week, and went with me to Daloa in the middle of the country the 2nd week, while Kathy, John and Grant flew home at the end of the first week. With these three experienced ministers joining us, I felt like we had hit “a trifecta!”

When someone watches the promotional video of Farming God’s Way, he or she learns that the landmass of Africa is larger than the size of Europe, China and the U.S.A. combined and has some of the best soils in the world. But Africa is considered the “begging bowl” continent of the world. Though it has amazing resources, poverty continues to climb…from 10% of the world’s poor in 1970 to 50% of them in 1980. Eighty percent of Africa’s 900 million population live in a rural environment, and 3/4 of Africa’s farmers are subsistence farmers.

How does a entire continent with such rich resources become so poor and continue getting poorer? One of the main answers is that the dominant worldview in Africa is fatalistic and hinders innovation. Though there may be a river of water close to a farm, if it does not rain, there is a bad crop. Irrigating with water from the river is not even a consideration, because the world view is that the ancestors, in African Traditional Religion, did not allow the rain. The result is that there is a bad crop…when water is a stone’s throw away! John Scholtz addressed this issue and many others head on by renewing our minds to a Christian worldview and the Father Heart of God. Grant gave us practical principles and ingredients common in every culture to farm in a way that drastically increase productivity and yield. Many of our modern day farming principles are exactly opposite of God’s plan. In FGW one does not plow at all. Most of us have heard the adage, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime!” This is what Farming God’s Way does. I’m pretty sure when someone comes up to me here asking for a handout, from now on I will tell them to go through Live School. Farming God’s Way is a treasure to be mined in Africa! It is truly a game changer!

Our goal is that each Live School intake will implement Farming God’s Way to help provide the needed resources to maintain the school and to help fund the compulsory outreach component. When the students have each taken part in doing Farming God’s Way during the curriculum phase of the school, they will gain the practical experience to teach the communities they are sent to reach as well. When these communities realize the tangible blessing that these missionaries bring, we believe and history shows that bridges of trust will be built, opening the hearts of the unreached to listen more intently and believe in the truth of the Gospel. “It is hard to hear the Gospel when your stomach is hungry,” but FGW will result in the prosperity of the people; both those we seek to reach with the love of Christ and those who go to share Christ. We and the leaders from each country represented left the first week with renewed hope and full of zeal in our hearts. Our minds have been freshly renewed by God’s amazing Word through John, Grant and Duane’s ministries to us. May the Lord bless them for the sacrifices they made to come and make an impact upon us all to God’s glory! Thank you John, Grant, and Duane for being such a blessing to all of us!

Now begins the good work of creating test plots and implementing Farming God’s Way across WACA, even as we continue to roll out Live School to effectively train indigenous missionaries. As Grant says, Farming God’s Way is “the Gospel with boots on!” When we began the WACA LS Project, out of my spirit came the phrase, “Transforming cultures for the glory of God!” He is doing it! I believe FGW is one of those practical steps He has given us to transform cultures for His glory in WACA, where 6 out of 10 of the poorest nations currently exist!

 

The Lord has orchestrated my re-entry back into Africa carefully, which definitely helped allay any concerns Kathy may have had. She did not want to have me life-flighted to the U.S.A. again!

Kathy

A highlight for me was meeting some of our team members’ wives. We shared from our hearts the things we all have in common and were able to make connections for prayer support. We have some amazing families volunteering for Live School. Please pray over them as you are prompted.

Though I was hesitant to agree on our traveling so soon, I am so proud of Chip for pressing through, even with his limitations, and going back to the field. It sure wasn’t easy, but he was invigorated by being with his African friends and co-workers. He is currently in Nigeria holding meetings and gathering information about a possible new translation of the Live School in Hausa, the largest unreached people group in WACA and a large trade language many other unreached people groups speak as well. We need to raise funds for another translation, but we trust the Lord to provide, since a huge portion of West and Central Africa will be reached through the Hausa translation. There are about 30 million Hausa people, and it is a trade language used by many, in areas where English and French are not well understood. Most of the Hausa live Northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, and Cameroon, but they can be found in 15 different countries.

Chip – Week 2: Côte d’Ivoire Blitz

Originally, we planned to go to 10 different towns across the nation, but we ended up going to 5. My normal attitude tends to be “More is better,” but in this instance the wisdom of God prevailed (Rom 8:28). Our Cote d’Ivoire team will have quite a chore following up on the 5 areas of the country to which we went.

The “Cote d’Ivoire Blitz” became a great time to train some LDA grads and those still needing more help in doing LS rollout to get hands on training. We matched the less experienced with our more experienced leadership for this reason. When each person returns to his or her respective country, I expect the coordination teams there to be much more effective in their work. We thank God, not only for the 25-30 Live Schools we conservatively expect to start across the nation from north to south and east to west but also for His guidance to use this time to better train our leadership on the field.

So, on Monday, July 23 we traveled upcountry in smaller teams to hold Pastor Meetings (PM), Facilitator Trainings (FT) and to minister to the churches who hosted us. Duane Erickson, Nathalie Guyo (our coordinator for Senegal and amazing translator), and I went to Daloa in the middle of the country.

Still being in the process of recovery, I was glad to find out that our schedule was to hold a Facilitator Training (FT) each morning until early afternoon, and then each evening we were to hold revival meetings in Marcel’s church. The schedule allowed me to have an afternoon nap, which was invaluable! Duane and I took turns teaching and preaching in the evenings, and Nathalie Guyo interpreted the whole time, somehow keeping her strength. The almost 100 potential facilitators from the 25+ churches across denominational lines that attended the FT were hungry to learn, equip their people and mobilize them to the unreached.

Pastor Marcel & Family with Chip
Hearing the stories from the different teams at debriefing was so encouraging. After debriefing everyone traveled home on July 28 and me to Abuja, Nigeria on July 30.Pastor Marcel KROU and his wife, Perfect, have a wonderful family and make a powerful ministry team. In 2016 he and Pastor Wodji (from Abidjan) went to Comfort Farms near Port Elizabeth, South Africa to attend a Leadership Development Academy (LDA), though we didn’t call it that at the time. Fanus and Anantha Louw facilitated the school. It was not without a great cost that Marcel left Daloa and his family to go to the South African training. Aside from leaving his family for 3 months in Daloa, he had to decide to leave his church of 500 members to attend the training. Upon his return he found that more than 200 of the members had left the church…almost half the size. Knowing this, I did not know what his response would be when I asked him to explain the impact that Live School has had in his life! To my surprise he replied with an, “Oh! All of my people are ready to plant churches now!” I asked him how many churches he has planted. Out of the 10 Foursquare churches in Daloa, he has planted 9 of them! He counted 8 more churches in villages that they have established too! More than half of these he has planted since returning from the LDA. I had no idea! My mouth actually dropped open in shock. In fact, his wife too is a church planter. Right now, each Sunday he preaches in their headquarters church, and she preaches in another church of 70-80 members that she is establishing across town.

This is just one testimony of the 5 groups that went out for the week. Besides Daloa, we also sent teams to Guiglo in the far west of the country, Korhogo in the far north, Abengourou in the far east, and Diego and the surrounding villages outside Yamasoukrou (See map).

I believe that all of us have been changed by what the Lord did in and through us during these two weeks. Conservatively, at least 25-30 Live Schools should start across Cote d’Ivoire in the next 3 months.

Hearing the stories from the different teams at debriefing was so encouraging. After debriefing everyone traveled home on July 28 and me to Abuja, Nigeria on July 30.

Mobilization of Yet Another Large Denomination to the Nations!

In addition to the many FT’s we held across the nation, while we were in Abidjan, we were able to meet with the president and the missions director of the Assemblies denomination of Cote d’Ivoire. They plan to select 2 men to attend our upcoming LDA in Senegal, in order to prepare them to roll Live School out among their denomination. We look forward to helping them achieve their bold missions strategy to see 5,000 churches planted across Côte d’Ivoire by the end of 2020. It is honestly all we can do to just take in all that God is doing in WACA! To Him be all the glory!

Be looking for my next update on the amazing time I’ve had in Nigeria! Thank you for your continued prayers and support. While it has not been “easy,” it has been SO GOOD to be back in Africa and to spend time with my brothers and sisters here. GOD IS GOOD!

May you experience the life-giving love of Christ, today!

Chip and Kathy