Posted by: macahajo | June 27, 2017

She never went to school

The Tabitha ministry leaders realized that many of the young ladies attending the Tabitha Centers in Kinshasa are illiterate which makes it very difficult to learn a trade. So, in partnership with GlobalFingerprints, the child sponsorship ministry of the EFCA, there is opportunity for young ladies to learn how to read and write at a Tabitha Center, and then learn a trade like sewing or hair dressing.

This beautiful young lady (pictured above) is 20 years old, and she has never been to school. Her mother died, and she lives with her grandmother. Can you imagine her life?

If she gets sponsored, then she will have the opportunity to learn how to read and write! She also wants to learn hair dressing which she can study at the Tabitha Center!

If you would like to sponsor her, please contact me! Your sponsorship can make all the difference in her world, for today and for eternity.

In Christ, Cathy Lynn

To learn more about the Tabitha ministry, go here: https://go.efca.org/resources/project/tabitha-center

Read how the Tabitha ministry made a difference in Miriam’s life:  https://africansandinourshoes.com/

 

Posted by: macahajo | June 24, 2017

just like their mom

Orphaned

Abused

Alone

Uneducated

Homeless

Hopeless

These are words that describe many young ladies who live in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo – a city of almost 12 million people.

But, they can find hope.

Young ladies can find hope at a Tabitha Center, a partner ministry of ReachGlobal. The first Tabitha Center began in 2013, and now there are 74 across the city of Kinshasa. Tabitha Centers are launched through the partnership with local churches. Currently, there are 2000 young ladies being impacted by the Tabitha ministry. The vision is “to see the Tabitha ministry continue to expand to provide healthy alternatives for young women throughout the city of Kinshasa.​”

Miriam recently graduated from a Tabitha Center. It was there that she learned how to sew. Now, she makes clothes and sells them out of her home.

But Miriam learned more than just this trade. She learned about Jesus. She told us that Jesus is her Savior and King. She told us how the Lord looked for her in the dirty life she was living and that He selected her. He is making a difference in her life and for generations to come.

Miriam has two young daughters. They both want to be seamstresses, just like their mom.

In Christ, Cathy Lynn

“Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up…” (Acts 9:36-42)

 

 

 

Posted by: macahajo | June 12, 2017

April Showers Bring May Flowers

A special post from our daughter, Hannah –

“During the last youth group of the year, earlier this past spring, the reality that the season of goodbyes was starting slapped me right across the face. I cried hard as I, and others, had the opportunity to walk around the auditorium, praying for each senior and individual who would be leaving RFIS. (Pictured below, another special time of prayer for dear friends who are leaving Cameroon).

My friend jokingly commented to me later, in an attempt to brighten my mood, that “April showers bring May flowers,” with April showers referring to all the tears being shed that night.

About a month later, the RFIS community gathered together in a more formal setting to continue the process of saying goodbye- that formal setting was Banquet. My class (pictured below), the Class of 2018, planned the event, with an enormous amount of help from the incredible Alvine Melone. The evening progressed wonderfully, with lots of photos snapped, plantains eaten, and dances shared.

One of the most memorable moments of the evening was the time of sharing- both from the seniors themselves and the underclassman. It was a beautiful time to hear personal testimonies and words of gratitude from each individual about their years at RFIS. It was wonderful to see what an incredibly unique, God-given community we have had the blessing to be apart of – one that is so rich with cultural diversity and experience.

Often when May and June roll around on our calendars, we can tend to look at them with dread and misery. Here we go again. This is the time when we hear about RAFT (read more here: https://africansandinourshoes.com/2017/04/08/rafting/) and Transition. This is the time when heart-wrenching and tearful goodbyes are said. This is the time I wish would never come.

Hannah pictured above, a little teary-eyed, preparing special notes and gifts for friends who are leaving.

But, “April Showers Bring May Flowers.”

In retrospect, I see how this simple cliché captures this distinct period of the year. Though this time of transition brings tears and goodbyes in “showers,” it also brings blessings and beauty that pops up all around us like “flowers.”

Banquet was a great way to represent that phrase- to reflect and shed a few tears, but also to celebrate the seniors and the people God has given to us, and to commemorate their legacy. Banquet helps remind us that this is not a time that is completely composed of sadness and emotional-fatigue (though these feelings are definitely present, and are certainly not wrong or out of place in and of themselves), but also of beauty and joy.”

By Hannah Lynn

*Hannah wrote this article recently for her school newspaper, The Golden Chat.

Posted by: macahajo | May 31, 2017

Elikya means hope

In 2005, the Congolese Evangelical Church, in partnership with ReachGlobal, began the Elikya Center. Elikya means hope in Lingala, the language spoken by many people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and at the Elikya Center, older orphans and widows can receive hope. They hear the Gospel and have opportunities to grow in their relationship with the Lord. They also learn a trade so that they can provide a better income for themselves.

Rachel Bahlia, the GlobalFingerprints Congo Country Coordinator said, “Our joy is that every year, more than half of the students decide to follow Jesus and are baptized. Yes, we offer hope here on earth, but more importantly, eternal hope through Jesus Christ.”

The Elikya Center sits on just under 200 acres of beautiful land where the students live, learn, study, and grow. There is a Tilapia fish pond, cows, rabbits, and gardens. Students can study agriculture and get hands on experience. There are 20 acres of Palm trees (used to produce soap), and the students can learn how to make soap in the soap factory on the property. Students can also study mechanics; they can learn how to construct hospital beds, wheelbarrows, and hand-driven trikes for the disabled, all in the Elikya Center garage. There are other trade options available, such as masonry, hair styling, sewing, and construction. Literacy classes are offered for all students who cannot read or write.

In 2013, the Elikya Center started to be used specifically for orphans in the GlobalFingerprints sponsorship program who may not be able to finish school and would benefit from learning a trade. There are currently 34 GlobalFingerprints orphans and 7 widows (also sponsored, but not through GlobalFingerprints) at the Elikya Center. I had the privilege of meeting one of these orphans. His name is Bwazu, and our home church, Elgin Evangelical Free Church, has been sponsoring him for over five years.    Bwazu wants to get a good job so he can help his brothers and sisters in his village. Currently, he is taking literacy classes to help him improve his reading and writing, in anticipation for job training next year. Jesus is Bwazu’s Lord and Savior. He is happy when he gets to pray with his friends.

Please join me in praying for Bwazu, and other orphaned youth at the Elikya Center – that they would come to know Christ as their Savior and grow closer to their heavenly Father who will never leave them, and that they would learn skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.

In Christ, Cathy Lynn

*** Even though ELIKYA kids are from the GlobalFingerprints program and remain sponsored while at ELIKYA, around 20% of them have lost their sponsors. So, if you would like to help one of them through their ELIKYA stay, send an email to: Rachel Balia at globalfingerprints@efca.org and ask about a GF ELIKYA child.

Posted by: macahajo | May 29, 2017

the death of a parent… in congo

While in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we traveled outside of Gemena, which is a city of 200,000 people, to a smaller village about 15 km away.

There, we helped the GlobalFingerprints team update the information of about 50 sponsored children. We gathered together in a Congolese Evangelical Church and met with each of the children individually, collecting information including how often they’ve recently needed medical care, how often their supervisor visits them, and how we could pray for them.

We confirmed that most of these children have received chickens or ducks from GlobalFingerprints to help feed them and their family. They have also been given supplies needed for school including books, a uniform, and a pair of shoes.

I was blessed to meet some of these children who are sponsored, but my heart goes out to them and the struggles they face, especially how their lives are so impacted by the death of a parent.

One girl asked for prayer as she follows Jesus in her life. She will be baptized in November. She also asked for prayer that her step-mom would treat her kindly. (Her mother died, and she lives with her father and step-mom).

A boy told me that the hardest thing for him is not feeling loved by his family. He asked for prayer for peace in his home. (His mother died, and he lives with his aunt). He asked that God would give him wisdom and knowledge to finish high school. He wants to be a mechanic.

Another girl shared with me that she and her sisters don’t get enough food to eat – but her uncle’s children do. (Both of her parents died, and so she and her siblings live with their uncle). She asked for prayer that God would help her to realize her dreams – she wants to be the director of a school and serve God.

And then there was another boy – His father died, so his mother remarried. When I asked him what the most difficult thing for him is, he told me that his step-father does not love him, and that he sometimes beats him and his mom. The boy said that he must work harder than his step-brothers. He would like to move to a different home with his mom. His story broke my heart.

The hardships that the children are experiencing, that they shared with me, have been communicated to their GlobalFingerprints supervisor – these Congolese Christian leaders have such an important ministry as they each oversee the well-being of up to 50 children. They visit the children monthly or even more often, confirming that they are going to school and that they are receiving medical care when needed. But the supervisors do so much more as they get involved in the children’s lives. One supervisor that I spoke to has taken in three children during his time of service because he discovered them to be in very bad living situations. Other supervisors have also started to care for children in their home when such circumstances arise.

In addition to praying for the children and the requests specifically shared above, please pray for the Congolese GlobalFingerprints supervisors as they lovingly minister to the sponsored children – that the Lord would give the supervisors protection on the rough roads as they travel to visit the children, wisdom and understanding to know how to help the children, and good health to continue in their ministry.

In Christ, Cathy Lynn

**If you would like to sponsor a child in Congo, go here: https://go.efca.org/ministries/reachglobal/globalfingerprints

* Something to note: No money is given directly to the guardian of the sponsored child. The supervisor gives the funds from the sponsorship directly to the school or to the hospital as needed. GlobalFingerprints doesn’t normally give food to the children, but instead wants to create sustainability. For example, ducks and chickens have been given to the children so that they learn how to take care of the birds, eat the eggs, and even sell the eggs for a little money.

Posted by: macahajo | May 25, 2017

waiting

While in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we visited children who are in the GlobalFingerprints system, but still waiting to be sponsored. First, we met Daniel (pictured below) who is 9 years old. He wants to be a pilot!

His grand-parents are taking care of him because his mom died. They take care of many children, including Daniel’s two brothers, so they are very strained to provide. Sometimes the children don’t go to school because the funds just aren’t available. That’s why often, when a child enters the sponsorship program, they are quite far behind in school.

Daniel’s grandma, with her grand-children and some neighborhood kids

Daniel’s supervisor told me that he has just been waiting for one year. Some have been waiting five years! This would be so hard! I can imagine the hope that the child and his family would have when he registers with the program. Sometimes, only to wait and wait.

One of my team-mates on the trip, Carol, with Daniel

One of my team-mates on the trip, Carol, with Daniel

Pray with me that Daniel and other children who have been waiting for a long time, would be sponsored.

If YOU are interested in sponsoring Daniel or another GlobalFingerprints child who has been waiting to be sponsored, go here: https://go.efca.org/ministries/reachglobal/globalfingerprints

In Christ, Cathy Lynn

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

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