Posted by: macahajo | May 24, 2017

the adventure begins

I’ve wanted to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo ever since I started to learn about GlobalFingerprints (the child sponsorship ministry of the EFCA), and from the time we started sponsoring a child.

GlobalFingerprints started in Congo just over 10 years ago in response to the overwhelming needs of orphans in the Congolese church after the war. A child can be sponsored for $35 each month. These funds help provide the child with an education that they might not otherwise have, and help with medical care and nutrition. There are also opportunities for children to hear the Gospel and be discipled. GlobalFingerprints has launched in eight other countries around the world. In addition to Congo, GlobalFingerprints is also in Liberia and Zambia on the continent of Africa.

Since I joined the GlobalFingerprints ministry in the new year, it was important for me to take a trip to where it all began.

But, honestly? I’m a home-body! I love being home! I love being with my family, and it made me sad when I thought about leaving home for 10 days!

While at the same time I was preparing for Congo, Mark was getting ready to travel to Jordan for meetings. He was researching local eateries and places to explore! Mark is like his mom, who loved traveling – trying different foods, meeting new people, and visiting places she had only read about.

This encouraged me. I didn’t want to dwell on leaving my family, home, and personal comforts. Instead, I wanted to look forward to what adventures awaited me! Not only did I hope to learn all I could about the Congo GlobalFingerprints ministry, and meet Congolese leaders and some of the sponsored children, but who knew- maybe I would even eat some grass-hoppers 😉

Following Him to Congo, Cathy Lynn

Our home – Yaounde, Cameroon, is where the heart is. The arrows show the two cities where I traveled to in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa, the capital, and Gemena – a city of 200,000). Cameroon and Congo look relatively close to each other, but I traveled all day to get there- through Togo and Nigeria.

 

Posted by: macahajo | May 9, 2017

the blind can hear

Do you remember when you got your first Bible? Do you remember reading it as a new believer? The first Bible that I ever received as a new Christian, was from my youth pastor at Naperville Bible Church (now called Grace Pointe of Naperville) when I was 16 years old. It was so special to me – to have a Bible I could read and study, to know God better. But, not everyone has a Bible or the ability to read it.

Papa Pierre, one of the faithful volunteers with Hope Social Action, leads weekly Bible studies at a school for blind children in Yaounde.

We found out that the blind students didn’t have Braille Bibles, so we thought that maybe we could raise funds to buy the children and youth MP3’s with the Bible on audio, so that they could hear God’s Word.

While researching the best kind of MP3 to buy, we learned that Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries donates MP3’s, so we contacted them!

In Touch shares the history behind their MP3 player, The Messenger, “When Dr. Stanley founded In Touch, he wanted to get the message of God’s love outside the four walls of his church. He knew the best way to accomplish that was through technology. We use technology in many ways, but how can we reach people who don’t have electricity, internet, television, or radio? Since 2007, our answer is the Messenger, which was originally developed to reach military personnel.”

They went on to describe their MP3’s, “Here are the features that make it a unique tool:

  • Solar-powered
  • Contains many encouraging Dr. Stanley messages as well as the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs
  • Available in 45+ languages (and counting!)
  • Lightweight and pocket-sized, like a cell phone”

Well, In Touch Ministries said yes to our inquiry! They said yes to partnering with us in reaching the blind with the Gospel!  Through their generous ministry, 24 youth and children in Yaounde, Cameroon who can’t read the Bible, can now listen to the Bible with their very own Messenger!

When Papa Pierre (pictured above) passed out the MP3’s to the children, it felt like Christmas. The children were so excited.

One boy came up to Mark to express his thanks and said, “I am very happy.”

Last Spring, when Mark visited Papa Pierre’s Bible study for the first time, he watched seven of these children give their lives to Christ! Read more here: https://africansandinourshoes.com/2016/05/31/stress-cross-cultural-living-and-jesus/

Please pray for the children.. that they would spend time listening to God’s Word, that they would know Him better, and that He would transform their lives, for God’s glory!

In Christ, Cathy Lynn

Posted by: macahajo | May 6, 2017

The CABIN in Cameroon

It’s been a long time since my junior year at Naperville North High School. But I still remember the excitement I felt when May came – the end of the school year was drawing near! There were all sorts of special events and activities. I knew that I would see my close friends throughout the summer months, and pretty much everyone else in my class of five hundred – I’d see again in August!

But, Hannah’s junior year looks a lot different. (Different is okay. It’s just – different.)

Hannah is thinking about her friend, Laura, who is a couple years younger than she is. Laura will leave Cameroon in June, and she will go to Canada, her passport country, with her family for a year-long home assignment. After Hannah graduates next year, our family will leave for our first home assignment, and then Laura will return. So, this June, Hannah will say goodbye to Laura, not knowing when she’ll see her next. This is not an uncommon situation in the missionary community.

Hannah has several close friends in the 12th grade – friends who she’s had since we arrived in Cameroon. They will graduate in June, and like many of my former high school class-mates, most of them will go to university. But, Hannah can’t look forward to seeing her friends over a long weekend, spring break, or summer vacation, like I could. Her friends are going to schools thousands of miles away – Kenya, Maryland, Illinois, Georgia, and NewYork, while Hannah is in Cameroon.

There is an acronym that I learned recently that encourages missionaries and their families who are not leaving, to stay well, in the face of many good-byes and transitions. The acronym is: CABIN. Since we are staying in Cameroon, we are visiting the CABIN more and more these days.

Consider the memories – David wrote in 1 Chronicles 16:12, “Remember the wonders he has done…” The Lord has given our family countless memories here thus far and sweet times with friends. We need to take time to remember special moments with friends when memories were made.

Sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks. – anonymous.

Acknowledge the losses – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pastor and theologian wrote, “There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so; one must simply persevere and endure it.” There is real grieving that happens when people leave. When a dear friend of mine told me that she and her family were leaving Yaounde and not planning to return, I went home and cried! We need to allow ourselves the freedom and time to grieve. Tears are okay. Luke described when Paul left the people he loved in Ephesus, “And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And then they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20:37-38

Bless those who are leaving – What can we do to bless those who are leaving? Pray for them, see them off at the airport, host a farewell party, give them a special good-bye gift, invite them over for a last meal together, or write a note, expressing how thankful we are for them. Little things  mean so much, and it’s important for us to take the time to bless those who have a special place in our hearts.

Invest in your community – Though sometimes it feels like it, not everyone is leaving. We need to think about who is staying and consider how we can invest in them. We also can anticipate the return of missionaries who went on home assignment last year, for example, and will return this July! We can invite a “stayer” or the returning missionary over for a meal and games, host a movie night, have coffee together, watch a young family’s children while the parents go out on a date, or plan a special outing together.

Nest – My friend Wendy said that she talked to her kids about making a safe place in their “nest” for new friendships. There are always new people coming to the mission field in Yaounde, Cameroon. We need to keep our hearts open to the possibility of meeting a new friend.

Every new friend is a new adventure… the start of more memories. – Patrick Lindsay.

We appreciate your prayers for our family in the upcoming weeks, as we spend time at the CABIN in Cameroon; as we prepare to say goodbye to some friends who have become so special to us. 

In Christ, Cathy Lynn

 

While we are staying, some of our friends in Cameroon are leaving. While we are at the CABIN, they are RAFTing. Read more about them RAFTing here:  https://africansandinourshoes.com/2017/04/08/rafting/

Posted by: macahajo | April 21, 2017

one tool

30% of Cameroonians live on less than $2 each day. For the widows and orphans in Yaounde, we have seen that medical bills, school fees and food are some of the major needs they have.

One of the widows we know needs money to pay for surgery because she has cancer. During a visit to one of the children’s homes several months ago, we saw most of the orphaned children at home instead of at school because they didn’t have money to pay for their school fees. On another occasion, we went to the boys’ home around lunch-time, and one of the boys told us that they had not yet eaten that day – they didn’t have food.

The Lord is concerned about the hardships that widows and orphans face. He cares for the poor, and he wants us (the church) to care for them as well.

In Leviticus 19:9-10, God instructs His children, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner…” Some of the Israelite’s income was to be set aside for those in need, and this is an example to us from God’s Word, about how we can help care for the poor.

We realize that we can not meet all of the needs that the vulnerable in Yaounde have, not even close. There are always more needs. So what do we do? How can we best help the poor in Cameroon, with resources the Lord has given us, and without building dependence on us? How can we empower them? We began to pray and dialogue with our ministry partners. Together, we started to think strategically.

One answer came when we visited Mama Pauline and her boys who once lived on the streets. The boys expressed a desire to work, and we learned about the opportunity for them to be porters in their local market.  They only lacked one tool – a wheelbarrow.

We started to communicate with our supporters about this need.  Our home church and another couple jumped on board quickly, and we were able to purchase seven wheelbarrows for the boys at Mama Pauline’s, and two for the orphaned boys in Nsam, a near-by neighborhood.

When we delivered the wheelbarrows, each boy was ecstatic!  The boys at Mama Pauline’s immediately started to assemble them so they could work right away!  The widows who take care of the children were thrilled and praised God!

We hope that this tool will not only bless the boys today, but that it will lay a foundation for healthy life choices in the future.  Martial, a co-founder of Hope Social Action, will lead a study on financial matters from a Christian perspective.  We want to encourage these youth to tithe, save and contribute to the family God has given them. We also pray for unity amongst the boys as they learn to work and support each other.

We’re so thankful for the young children at Elgin Evangelical Free Church and their Sunday School teacher, along with our dear friends –  who gave generously to this project; helping and empowering under-resourced boys they never met, living in Africa, for the Lord’s glory!

In Christ, Mark and Cathy

Posted by: macahajo | April 18, 2017

a new role

Back in 1998, Cathy and I had just gotten married, and we were praying through whether God was calling us to missions. We began filling out an application with a mission organization that was looking for a youth pastor to minister to the upper class youth in Trinidad. The mission organization believed that many people over the years had focused on the most vulnerable in Trinidad, but not the more affluent parts of society. They identified that the more affluent could have a greater impact on society. They wanted to invest in future ministry by reaching this sector of society. God ended up leading us in a different way, but that philosophy and strategy stuck with me.

Fast forward to 2017 – to our life and ministry in Cameroon. Some of my time is given to mentoring and discipling youth at RainForest International School. This past year, while the youth pastor went on home assignment, I also organized and led the youth group at RFIS.

Half of the RFIS student population is Cameroonian – some of the elite in this country. They are the sons and daughters of those who have wealth and positions of power and influence in this society.  As I have spent time with these students, my love for them has grown immensely.

I also began to see what an incredible opportunity there is to influence change in this country through mentoring and discipling these young men and women who are the future leaders of this country. I was reminded of the philosophy and strategy in Trinidad, from so many years ago.

     Mark, sharing during a RFIS chapel.

The Lord has recently opened the door for me to begin serving as Chaplain at RFIS. This is an amazing opportunity to influence the lives of the next generation of Cameroonian leaders and impact missionary kids!

In addition to mentoring and discipling students, and encouraging them in their relationship with the Lord, I will be available to all of the students and staff for any issues they may have.

In this role, I also want to help develop the RFIS community service ministry, so that the students will see and understand the dire needs of the vulnerable in this country.

Mark, along with RFIS students, at Mama Regine’s orphanage.

Please pray that the Lord would give me His help as I transition into this new role. Pray that the Lord would give me His wisdom as I minister among Cameroonian students, missionary kids, and RFIS staff. And also pray that the Lord would guide me as I begin to think about the next school year.

In Christ, Mark

Posted by: macahajo | April 8, 2017

RAFTING

Missionaries face tons of transitions. There are so many hellos to new people. And so many goodbyes to dear friends. In the last three years we’ve been in Cameroon, I’ve lost count of how many families we’ve said goodbye to. While some goodbyes are okay because it’s just for a year, other goodbyes are hard because it’s permanent… this side of Heaven.

This year is going to be harder on our family, especially on Hannah, who has some close friends in this year’s graduating class. These students will finish their time at RainForest International School, and leave. 

There is a popular acronym used to encourage missionaries in how to leave well: Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewells, and Think Destination (RAFT). We became familiar with this acronym when we were in America, preparing to move to Africa.

But now, many families in our community are thinking about RAFTing, as they prepare to leave this mission field.

Reconciliation: We need to take time to think and pray about anyone in our lives who we might need to make things right with, and then do it! Romans 12:18 tells us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Affirmation: We need to acknowledge the relationships that have been important to us, and encourage those people. We need to tell them how much they mean to us – write them a note or tell them face-to-face!

Farewells: We need to say good, good-byes – whether that’s having a good-bye open house, enjoying coffee with my favorite aunt or taking a mini-vacation with our best friends. But, farewells are not only to people, but also to places. It’s good to write down a list of places that are important to us, and then visit them one more time.

Over Spring Break, Hannah and Josh were invited to a Raclette party, hosted by their good friends who will be leaving Cameroon in June. This was an important time in our kids’ friends’ lives as they say farewell, and it was a special time for our kids as well. (Things I learned in Cameroon, #9,345: Raclette is a Swiss dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off the melted part).

Think Destination: In the midst of saying good-bye to the people and places that have been a part of our lives, it’s important to look ahead. It helps to write down what we’re looking forward to when we get to where the Lord is leading us to.

Leaving well requires intentionality. It takes time and energy.

In the midst of grieving, leaving, if done well, can be full of special memories and sweet times.

While some of our friends in Cameroon are leaving, we are staying. While they are RAFTing, our family is in the CABIN. More on that another time!

Serving the Lord our Rock, who never changes, Cathy Lynn

Posted by: macahajo | March 14, 2017

truly the most vulnerable

Children who are developmentally disabled or mentally challenged are among the most vulnerable in Africa. They are often unloved and unwanted, or treated as below normal. They are often laughed at and rejected, even by parents. Most don’t get to go to school. They are not seen as worth anything.

These children need more attention, extra love, better nutrition, more medical care, and special tutoring for school. They need someone who will tell them that they are loved, that they are valued by Christ, and that He died for them.

Rachel, the GlobalFingerprints Congo Country Coordinator told me about one child, heavy on her heart. His name is Nambala. He is 14 years old, and he is mentally impaired. He is ridiculed and even beaten sometimes when he walks through the marketplace.

Like many children with special needs, Nambala’s family doesn’t take care of him. Other people have stolen everything that he was given. He is too different to go to school, even though he is smart in many ways. But in Congo, there is no one to give him special attention in school.

Before Nambala was sponsored, he was dirty and had no shoes; his feet were infected because they were full of jiggers. Rachel said, “When we took his picture to enroll him in GlobalFingerprints, people said, ‘WHY HIM? He’s nothing!'”

When Nambala got sponsored, they did medical tests and even minor surgery to get all the jiggers out. They cleaned him up, and gave him clothes and shoes. They showed him love.

Nambala’s life is forever changed because someone decided to sponsor him. He has been given hope.

Rachel remembers, “Nambala found me in church the first Sunday after I had met him and sat between me and my husband, Gilbert. People even in church were laughing at him. But when we came to the confession prayer time, the Pastor prayed a long prayer. As he said “Amen”, Nambala started singing in a sweet child voice, “Nkolo Yesus limbisaka ngai…” Lord Jesus, forgive me for the wrong that I have done…”

At first people didn’t know what to do, but then it got so quiet as he continued…and one by one, the whole church joined in this confessional song. It was a beautiful moment.

There are many children in Congo waiting to be sponsored. Would you prayerfully consider sponsoring a child? You can make a huge difference in their lives, for today and for eternity. Go here to learn more: http://www.globalfingerprints.org.

Go here to make a special contribution to GlobalFingerprints children with special needs: https://my.efca.org/NetCommunity/SSLPage.aspx?pid=359&des=GFP%20Special%20Needs%20Children%20&_ga=1.26896765.130345133.1473075097#3870

In Christ, Cathy Lynn

Posted by: macahajo | March 10, 2017

through the jungle

According to the United Nations, Liberia has the highest percentage of children not receiving a primary school education. But GlobalFingerprints is stepping in where others are not, and giving children the education they so desperately want and need.

Peggy, the GlobalFingerprints Country Coordinator for Liberia, shared about Peace Community, one of her favorite places in Liberia, about 40 minutes outside of the capital, Monrovia. Children’s lives are being transformed in this place by the ministry of GlobalFingerprints, the EFCA child sponsorship program.

Peggy wrote, “You wind through the jungle past a few rural homes, a cassava field, and small cemetery to Peace Community, surrounded by thick jungle.

During the devastating Ebola outbreak of 2014, this small village was hard hit. The local pastor, his wife, and two of their children died from Ebola, along with others in the community.

But, today Pastor Jefferson has stepped up as the new pastor. This young, enthusiastic pastor is pouring his energy into the church and school.

This small school has children who travel many miles to attend, including many children orphaned by Ebola. Thanks to generous sponsors, two of the pastor’s surviving children, Grace and Isaac, are sponsored (pictured below).

Another family experiencing tragedy left three children orphaned. (Pictured below) They lost their mother to Ebola and had to be in quarantine for a while. Then their father died in 2016.

Their grandfather has taken them in, but cannot afford to pay tuition for their school. The school has graciously been allowing them to attend without paying tuition, but cannot really afford to do that.

Peter is sponsored, but both his sisters Hawa and Alice are waiting for sponsors. Pray for these children who have been through so much in their young lives.

There are many orphaned children in Liberia waiting to be sponsored. Would you prayerfully consider sponsoring Hawa or Alice, or other children in Liberia? You can make a huge difference in their lives, for today and for eternity. Go here to learn more: http://www.globalfingerprints.org.

In Christ, Cathy Lynn

 

Posted by: macahajo | March 6, 2017

a special day

National Youth Day is a special holiday here in Cameroon. The purpose of the holiday is to encourage the nation’s youth to strive for excellence in education and lifestyle while discouraging violence and other detrimental behaviors. On this day, parades are held as well as sports tournaments and other activities.

We, along with Hope Social Action, the Cameroonian Christian organization that we partner with, try to make this a special day for the orphans in Yaounde who we minister to.  This year, we organized two events.

The first event was at Mama Regine’s home for orphaned children.  Cathy and Martial (who is one of the Hope Social Action leaders who regularly ministers at Mama Regine’s home) led songs and games for the children. Then, the Drama Evangelism team from Rain Forest International School (RFIS) shared the Gospel through mime.

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That same afternoon, Mark and Hugue (who is the leader of Hope Social Action who regularly ministers at Mama Pauline’s home) brought the boys who live with Mama Pauline to RFIS to play soccer with some of the RFIS students (pictured below) and share a meal together.

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After the meal, the Drama Evangelism team performed the mimes. Pictured below: Hannah and part of the team performing one of the skits, and one of the leaders explaining the mimes and sharing Bible Truths with the boys.

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These events are fun and can demonstrate God’s merciful love to the children and leaders of these orphanages. Through the dramas, the Gospel was shared and believers were encouraged to live their lives for Christ.

However, without the regular commitments from Cameroonian Christians to go and lead Bible studies, these events would have a much smaller impact.  We praise God for the faithfulness of our ministry partners who go and share the Gospel, and care for the vulnerable children and youth.

-Mark

Posted by: macahajo | February 28, 2017

25 years ago…

25 years ago. Leap year weekend. Do you remember where you were? I was at Silver Birch Ranch when my life changed forever!

I grew up in Naperville, Illinois. I was blessed to have my mom and dad, and one older sister. My parents raised me with good values, and they took me to church.

But, I didn’t become a Christian until I was 16 years old. A friend from school invited me to go with her, along with several other friends I knew, on her youth group’s winter retreat.

So, the last weekend in February, 1992, I went to Silver Birch Ranch in snowy Wisconsin. While I was there, I heard the Gospel for what seemed like the first time; that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Jesus says in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It was as though the blinders had been lifted from my eyes that weekend, and I put my faith in Jesus to save me from my sins.

I began a personal relationship with Christ that weekend, and my life has never been the same.

Continuing to follow Jesus, Cathy Lynn

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

 “… if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10

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