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Nigeria Evangelism conference 2017!

The Nigeria evangelism conference was a powerful time—The conference was held in a building that seated 1,000, but there were 2000-2500 additional people outside! The theme of the conference was, “The True Gospel”. Each of the speakers spoke about the nature of the true gospel, and warned about alternative gospels (such as the prosperity gospel and the gospel of good works). The prosperity gospel especially has taken root in Nigeria and other West African countries; everyone was greatly encouraged to hear so many wonderful teachings about the true gospel!

FFICM’s staff and volunteers conducted follow-up trainings with the 3000-3,500 evangelists that were there, along with smaller group sessions. Although we had some technical difficulties related to the printing of the materials, everyone was greatly encouraged by the teaching.

The governor of plateau state even showed up with his entire staff! He shut down the government in order to come and attend the conference. 

Rich also spoke on the true gospel on Friday following an all-night prayer vigil with all of the evangelists.

The FFICM team met with the Cameroonian delegation, and the Cameroonians urged FFICM to consider cancelling our post-conference trip to Cameroon, as there were youth from the English-speaking part of Cameroon planning to declare independence in early October. The military had increased its presence, and there was talk of shutting down the borders (which would have meant that the staff would have been trapped in the country, unable to return home.) FFICM decided to reschedule tentatively for November.

Please pray for the evangelists as they will conduct a massive joint outreach in the north at the end of October, and pray also for peace in Cameroon!

Thank you for your prayers and support;our hearts were greatly encouraged by this conference. We are in awe of the love, courage, and devotion to the true gospel shown by all brothers and sisters present–and we pray that you are encouraged with them as well as you are true partners with them in prayer!

Rich GardnerNigeria Evangelism conference 2017!
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God’s Bridge

Bonga is an economically depressed area far out in the wilderness, where there is no running water. They ended up changing accommodations mid-trip, because half the team got tired of having only Rich’s old coffee pot to heat water to bathe with!

Animism is the main competing religion to Christianity; the evangelists from the area told Rich there are over 1,000 witch doctors active. Bonga is well-known for a couple of other reasons as well, it is within a half a mile of where coffee was discovered, and has a beautiful natural bridge called “God’s bridge”. 

When Rich, Roman, Eskendir and Eyasu arrived, their local hosts urged them to come on a walk to see it before the training, saying it was only ten minutes away. They decided to go see it, as Eskendir also told the group that he had been baptized there in secret during communist times!

By the time Rich, Roman, and Eyasu realized it would take much longer than ten minutes, they had already been fighting their way through deep mud down treacherously steep terrain for so long that they did not want to give up. Rich said that this was by far the most physically challenging trip he has ever gone on–and he has hiked over mountains to reach people groups in Nigeria!

Along the way, they also saw a poisonous green snake that their guides told them if it bit any one of them, they would die if they didn’t get help in time.

The bridge was stunning to see, and Rich was glad to have seen it. However, on the trip back up, he fell completely down at last, was covered in mud, and had to be dragged out by the arms by the others. By the time they fought their way up to the training location, they were an hour and a half late. The rest of the team wanted Rich to take time to clean up, but Rich walked straight into class, and said, “Now, the rest of the team may remember it differently…” and proceeded to tell a long tale wherein he singlehandedly pulled all of the other men up the hill of mud, and fought off a poisonous snake to save their lives. The entire class howled with laughter through the story, and the training began with everyone in high spirits.

In Bonga, we had planned for 60 evangelists, but the local church paid for twenty three more of their people to come and join, calling back missionaries and workers from hundreds of miles away. Eyasu has already reported that they have begun training 1,121 church leaders and members in the evangelism and follow up training.

They need prayer as they begin doing this! Please pray for us and for them as we need more resources, more personnel and more funding, to do more trainings in Ethiopia to meet the need, and as they continue to work for the Lord in this challenging area!

Rich GardnerGod’s Bridge
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Eyasu’s report: trainees to reach 2,667!

Our training went very well by God’s grace, though it was so exhausting! Rich’s commitment is very encouraging. I’ve known him since 2007, studying together at Western Seminary, and the more I know him the more I see his commitment and strength.
We had two trainings in two weeks.The first week we trained 81 evangelists. We invited and budged for 60 but church leaders wanted to train more; at their own expense, they added 21. It was so awesome.

The second week we invited 60 again, as it is always our plan to train effectively and to have enough ministers for the area but again, 4 more people came, so we trained 64.

The total number of trainees was 145. When they go back to their assigned areas, they promised to train and disciple immediately, and have already written down the names of 2,667 people that they plan to train and disciple in how to evangelize and follow-up!

At the same time the trainers and trainees will evangelize and bring people to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I discussed with Rich that as we train them how to follow up new believers we have also to follow our trainees up too so that they may do as they have promised.

Please pray for Ethiopia and for all of these committed new trainees!

Rich GardnerEyasu’s report: trainees to reach 2,667!
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Peter’s report: Taraba

In May we went to Takum, where the headquarters of CRCN and RCCN are located, to conduct a refresher training for those we trained in October of last year. Some of the leadership of the churches and denominations were there. The leadership of New life for All also participated throughout the training.

This refresher training opened my eyes to see how much we need to go back to places where we have trained people, to see what they are actually doing, and how they are doing it—and to learn how we can help them. We need to know answers to questions like these: What are the challenges they are encountering as they begin to use the training? How can we help them to overcome some of these challenges they are encountering? What were their plans during the strategic planning and how are they working on achieving them? How can we improve on our trainings or materials? We were able to ask these questions of our trainees in Takum and to help them work through the challenges they were facing.

We had series of obstacles and challenges on the trip.  As we left Jos, after we had picked up all of the seven sets of the follow-up materials, we forgot the Gospel cards in the office! The good thing was that all those who were with us in Takum were people we had trained before, so all of them came with their own materials and that made it easier to teach. But on the second day we discovered that the follow-up materials we had brought had been printed with mistakes—some of the pages had been mixed up. So we had to call Jos so that they could print the materials correctly, and send them to us.

We then left for Jalingo, but on the way, the top gasket of our car blew off, and the car had to spend the night being repaired. We arrived in Jalingo to discover that there had been serious miscommunication between the leadership there and the training schedule had not been arranged—so we had to immediately work to reschedule the trainings for the middle of the week, and split up into two groups.

We started in the first group with just 12 people, but by the time of our short break, there were 26 people. The people that came had all come for the training before. Because of this, it ended up being a refresher training. We asked them to tell us what has been happening with the training they received before. They started by the explaining how they had been going out as individuals to use the materials, but not as a group. We strongly encouraged them to strategize together and to support one another. Those we had trained from CRCN (in Takum) had gone out as a team to use the materials. They were able to plant a church—their ministry was much more effective when they worked together! Also, those who went to Kebbi State with New Life for All for the outreach in October used the materials there. 

Others shared that they have not been using the materials because they did not fully understood how to begin to use them on their own, but with what we have taught them now, they understand how to work together and think strategically, and will be able to effectively use the materials.

 One of the leaders said that he did not actually fully understand the materials when we taught them the last time, but with this second teaching he now understands exactly how we expect him to use the training to evangelize and to work with new believers.

After that week, we went to a different location in Jalingo, where we were to meet pastors from different denominations based on the arrangements we had last year with one of the reverends from Reformed Church of Christ in Nations (RCCN). He was to work on the arrangement with other pastors in his denomination as well as the bishop of the Lutheran church (who was also among the people we trained at Numan in 2015). The bishop was to talk to 20 pastors from his denomination. There was a miscommunication when the man we sent to set the training up went to see Reverend Ande. The second time he went, he did not meet him personally, but left the message with his secretary, who did not deliver the message, and so they were not expecting us. This was why the mobilization was a failure. Also, a part of the United Methodist Church refused to come, because we had invited a faction of the Methodist church which is revolting against their bishop.

With regard to the Methodist faction that is splitting, the General Secretary for New life for All went and talked to the bishop to let him know that we were coming again this time to train pastors from the Methodist Church. But when we arrived at the venue, there was nobody in the venue. So Reverend Ande called some of the leaders of his denomination, and asked them if they could send some of their pastors and evangelists to attend the training starting Wednesday. Also  a man we who came with us from Jos called some his friends from the Redeemed Peoples’ Mission church, and we were able to have 23 people who came from Wednesday to Saturday.

The vice president of RCCN (who is one of those that sent his pastors to be part of the seminar) came again to see how we were doing and how many of his pastors were there. He said, “This is what the church needs now in a time like this”. He wants to speak with us to find a time we can come and do a presentation about our training to the general counsel (of which he and Reverend Ande are members). He wants us to come next year, or at the end of the year to train more than a hundred people. He also said that the RCCN and CRCN together have over a thousand pastors (five hundred in each denomination) that he would like us to train.

After the training, some of the pastors gave their testimonies;

One of them said this seminar is different from any seminar he has attended because this training made him understand that we need to go back to the basics, to the foundational issues of our faith, when working with new believers. He said that this seminar taught him how to relate with new converts. He said, “The materials were very simple, and I learn how to bring my teaching to the new believer in simple terms, the way one would talk to a young child.”

Another pastor said, “I went somewhere and opened the Gospel card, and some people were just looking, and they started coming to me. I started preaching to them, and they all gave their lives to Christ.”

One of them said, “I believe with what I have learned here, my life will never remain the same. From the gospel card through the seven follow-up lessons, the new believer will now not be a foreigner to me. I want to assure this ministry that I will go back and impact the church and the pastors that have not been able to come here.”

One of them said that before they were using a theological strategy in which they tried to impress the new believer with how much they had learned about the faith and how much they knew, but this training showed us how to keep it simple, to keep our teaching at the level of the new believer just as one would approach a new born baby. He said, “This actually changed my perspective, and now I will not over-feed the new believer.” He is among the eight people who will be going to a village where there is no church in order to plant a church there. So he believes that the materials will be of great help to them.

In the same way Rev. Collins said that even though this is his twenty second year in ministry but he has not attended a training like this anywhere, in which people are taught to relate to new believers, and how to translate wha they have learned to a new believer in order to enable them to have assurance in their faith. He said, “I have also learned how to be a model to the new believer. I have already planned to start the training with the elders of the church, the leaders of the agencies in the general church. I want to be sure that every member of the church knows his or her faith in Christ.” 

We then concluded with the presentation of certificates the the prayer of dedication. They also wrote down their phone numbers and emails so that they can communicate with one another. They want to call the group together again some time to hear what is happening with each member.

 

Rich GardnerPeter’s report: Taraba
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God’s people rise from the ashes

The Ekklisiyar Yan’uwa Nigeria-EYN (Church of the Brethren) headquarters is at Kwarhi, roughly 10 kilometers from Mubi, a town that was destroyed by the Boko Haram fighters. We were 30 minutes from the Sambisa forest, which is the location the Boko Haram operate from. Most of the churches, if not all, in the town had been destroyed last year, and many Christians burned alive within. Our coming there was a great encouragement to the church, as they saw our co-worker Rick had come from overseas and the rest of us had come from other places to help them rebuild the spiritual lives of the people.

The training was originally planned for 120 people, but we ended up with only 51 people. Some of the church leaders whose job it was to pass along information to the coordinators did not do so. This denomination has about 70 districts, and all the district coordinators and secretaries were invited, along with the evangelism leaders of other churches. But the president of the denomination was there to welcome us and the director of evangelism and all of the other coordinators stayed all through with us during the training. We had to start the training early in order to be done in time for people to make it home by 6 pm—all of the roads are blocked by 6 in an attempt to protect travelers on the road from being killed by the Boko Haram.

The first day of the training was about the gospel tract presentation, and they were trained in how to communicate the basic things that a person needs to know to accept salvation, as simply and clearly as if they were talking to a small child. This approach was interesting to many; they said after the training that they felt as though they now knew how to reach out to people in their area. So when it was time for the field practical, they all went out to evangelize, and used the tract. The next day they came with reports of how they were using it; of how many were giving their lives to Christ and of how effective the tract is in catching peoples’ attention.

The outreach was an encouragement to all who participated, even in the midst of fear of the recent attacks. The trainees were surprised that when they went out and shared their faith, many people were anxious to receive Christ, and were willing to come for the next day for the follow-up training. The trainees think that the receptivity of the local people to the gospel has a lot to do with what the Boko Haram have done—people are afraid of death.

The director of Evangelism of the EYN Church, Rev. Daniel, who stayed throughout the training time and listened to all the sessions as we were teaching, said, “You have really helped the EYN church. This is what the church needed, but I was not sure who to call on to come and help us…I believe the Lord is going to do greater things than the outreach we have had already, as a result of this training.” On the last day he spoke and said, “We want to thank Firm Foundation for honoring our invitation to come and train us in this follow-up and evangelism and how to begin to disciple the new converts.” He also pleaded that we not be discouraged by the number of the people who had not come, because now that they have seen what we can do for them, they will do everything they can and prepare even beyond what we expect.

Evangelist Helen said, “I have been attending seminars on evangelism in Jos and in other places but I have not learned what I learned during this training; how to relate with the new believer and to follow him with the mindset that he is like a new baby that I have to handle with care.”

Another man said, “This is quite different from the way we pastors have taught people here. We have been more like fault-finders. But I have learned a lot from the trainers since we have started this training. They were not looking for faults in people. Even in the training, they did not focus on pointing out what people did wrong, they asked each trainee to think about what they would do differently, which makes the person feel confident and encouraged and willing to try again.”

Mr. Luka, who is from Gombe State, said he has learned how to take initiative in evangelism and follow-up without waiting for his leader to give him constant direction on what to do or where to go. During the devotions, he felt that he learned that some pastors are like wheel-barrows; when you push, they will move, and wherever you stop, there they will remain until somebody pushes them again. He said, “I was waiting on my superior to give me directions, but during this training I felt convicted about doing that and I am ready to move on with what I have learned from here. I pray that the Lord will give wisdom as I begin to put it into practice”.

Another trainee said, “I have known God since I was a child, but I became lost, I was not praying as I am expected to, I was not witnessing to others, I was not living to the standard that God has required of me. When I came here, I listened to the teaching and I was just weeping quietly. I feel refreshed now, and I want to continue with this work. I have learned not just how to witness to unbelievers with patience and how to follow them up, but also how to relate to God personally as a son relates to his father.”

A trainee called Martha lamented that she has a lot of unbelievers in her house that she has not yet taken time to reach out to, and here we had in our company a white man (Rick) who traveled all the way to come and teach us how to reach out to our people in spite of the risk of this area. She said, “This training encouraged me about the need to devote my time and life to witness to others.”

Elder Aminu spoke on behalf of the coordinators and said that the life the trainers had led among them during the training was also a lesson to all of them, especially the way the trainers were relating with one another without showing any seniority or racial differences. It encouraged the coordinators as to how they should work with others under them. He then begged that we not be discouraged with the turnout and decide not to come to EYN again, that even though there were few of them there, they will put what they have learned into practice, and EYN will experience a change, and we will see the result of our work.

So far, one of the women that we trained has come and collected materials because she is preparing to train 150 people! Please pray for her, and for the other trainees as they minister in this highly dangerous area where they all have suffered terrible persecution.

Richard GardnerGod’s people rise from the ashes
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More on the Mbingo, Cameroon training–Peter Wash

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The training at Mbingo was a huge success with a good number of attendants. It took us by surprise, as the number of trainees we expected was 100, but the leadership in Mbingo begged that others be allowed to come in, so in the end we had over 200 participants.

The first day was the day of training on the use of the gospel card. To our surprise it took less time than usual for the trainees to understand the concepts on each successive page. They seemed to grasp right at the outset what we were trying to communicate and understood each page better because of that.

The participants after the training went out to practice what they had learned. They were deeply impressed by their experience of witnessing using the gospel card. Many of them told us that they love evangelism, but hadn’t felt equipped to go out and share, but with the gospel card, they can now go out with all boldness, feeling confident that the card is appealing to people, and is an effective tool to bring them to repentance.

Before they all went for the sharing, they were divided into groups: Mbingo 1, a. Lower quarters b. Upper quarters, Mbingo 11 a. lower quarter’s b. Upper quarter’s, Jones quarter’s, Jichami quarter’s, Mbingo Village etc. The outcome of the sharing was massive, we had over 107 people give their lives to Christ, and this the number only from those who kept track and submitted their results.

The follow-up series was a new experience for the trainees. They were glad and excited to learn how to provide follow-up for new believers, because they had not had it when they had first come to the faith. Some of the pastors shared with us that while they do have books and manuals on discipleship, they found our training to be both simple and effective. All of the trainees, after learning the follow-up lessons 1 & 2, were commissioned and prayed for as they then went out to follow up with the people who had come to Christ as a result of their sharing.

The participants got together to discuss where they all came from and formed an evangelism team so that they can continue to work together to share the gospel and follow up with new believers after the training!

Please pray for the trainees as they continue to share their faith and follow up with the new believers! Praise God for his work in Mbingo.

Richard GardnerMore on the Mbingo, Cameroon training–Peter Wash
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Nigeria Advanced Training and Testimonies from Cameroon–from Peter Wash’s report

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We started the year by receiving news of the wonderful results of the trainings FFICM has run in the past year. Then, after one week of prayer and fasting, we held a one week training in Jos for those who lead trainings. People all over the world flew into Jos.

We had Richard Gardner and Rick Cordell from the US, Roman Baronowski from Poland, Eyasu Farenj and Eskindir Elemeyahu from Ethiopia, Habibu, Umar and Tsahiru from Niger Republic. Of the Nigerian FFICM team members we had myself, Sunday Mallam, Ishaku Pate, Ibrahim Itse, and from other ministries in Nigeria, Joshua Izang, Samuel Adang, Moris Izang and Sarah Izang from Rural Frontier Missions, Innocent Samson and Benjamin Yamden from New Life for All, and Samuel Fom from COCIN. These people were all drilled as to how to teach in such a way as to stimulate a change in attitude that results in action on the part of the new believer; and not just to teach to impart information. They were also taught how to draw new believers into a relationship with God, to begin to love God and to put their faith in God more. After that we picked some of those that we had trained and went with them to Cameroon so that we could all run a one week program for trainees there.

The training in Fundong began with over 120 people (as apposed to the 100 that we planned for). In our next area, in which we had also planned to have 100 participants, there were more than 200, so we had to begin to make arrangements as to how to stretch the few materials that we had. When we asked them to go out to evangelize as part of the practical, every single person went out, including the leaders of the local churches that were there.

They all came back with testimonies of how people were listening to them, and prayed to receive Christ, from even the most hostile religions. One of the groups shared the gospel to 65 people in one night and 36 prayed to receive Christ. In a second group, they shared with 67 people and 58 of these prayed to accept Christ.

After this we separated them into four groups so that each trainer could observe and evaluate how they were doing, and so as many people as possible could practice teaching the class.

By Thursday when we invited them to worship God, people started dancing and singing with joy because of what they had learned. When we asked them to write and let us know what they valued most of what they had learned, many people wrote that they loved the gospel tract, which was so simple and straight forward; others stated that they were most excited about what they have learned about follow-up. A lot of them said they hadn’t known before that it was important to follow up with new believers; some even wrote that they were not followed up and had struggled with a lot of challenges, such as not knowing how to pray or study the Bible, having no interest in witnessing, or they did not actually love God or other believers. On Thursday evening, one of the trainees kept us awake for two hours, from 8 to 10 pm talking to us about her life and how this training has brought her back on track with God—she had previously decided not to have anything to do with the church anymore, but as we were teaching, she felt that her love for God will draw her back and enable her to continue relating with those of her church that have offended her.

 

After the teaching, we had the joy of presenting certificates to all of the trainees. After this we prayed to commission them, and all that were trained were asked to kneel while all of the ordained ministers and trainers present prayed for them.

We have over one hundred testimonies from the trainees, here is a small representation of some of them!

One pastor who was trained shared that he went out and began talking about the gospel with somebody, but the person did not want to listen because he was sick. So the pastor and his companion asked him whether he was willing for them to pray for him? They prayed for him that he would be healed from his illness, and left. The next day he called them to tell them that they should come, he wanted to accept Christ, because yesterday he was healed after they prayed, so he wanted to give Jesus his life. So the pastor went and led him in the prayer of confession. He was very happy after that, and they arranged another day that the pastor could come and meet with him to follow up with him. This pastor also spoke with a woman named Marceline who prayed to receive Christ. The next day, when they met Marceline for follow-up, they met another woman there who had given up on life and was considering committing suicide, but instead, she prayed that day to receive Christ.

Another woman from the training shared with five members of her family, and they all prayed to receive Christ. She shared the follow up materials the next day, after which her neighbor asked her to come to her house to speak with her family. So she went and shared with six people in that house, and they all prayed to receive Christ.

The Director of Evangelism of the Baptist Church was among the participants who stayed throughout the training said, “This is what we have been longing for in this Church.  We have been wanting to go out to evangelize as a group, but we didn’t know how to do it. You have come at the right time.”

A lady who had been trained with Campus Crusade for Christ said, “I have neglected the work of witnessing that I used to do before, but I have been revived by what you have taught us! I shared with many people during the three days we all went out together, and I feel so encouraged. Your materials were so simple to handle and speak right to the level of a new believer.”

Ebang Eric also said, “I have been struggling in my spiritual life to live a victorious life; it felt impossible for me, but I have learned during this training how I must live in the Spirit by allowing Christ to control my life, and to listen to Him through his Word and other believers who God can use to speak to me. I also learned that I need follow-up to be able to stand firm in my faith, and I need to follow up new believers to help them become mature in their faith.”

Nkwain Betila Mbu wrote, “Before I came here I could not really share the word of God with boldness but because of this training I am able to do it. When reading my Bible, I used to just read to extract a couple of points, but with this training I have learned how to look for what is God teaching me about Himself, about my life, and  about others. I have learned that nothing can snatch me from the Father’s hand. I have learned how to preach to people irrespective of their denominations.”

Marvelous Nanye also wrote that before coming to this training her spiritual life was weak, “I had no zeal to share my faith with others, I felt too proud.  I used words that are not good for a Christian to use, I didn’t pray, but I expected God to answer me. Because of this training, I realized my mistakes. I prayed to God, I went out to witness, and many souls were won to Christ. I pleaded with the Holy Spirit to direct me in my spiritual life now.”

Rev Joel said, “This is a very special training that is very clear and shows how to present the gospel briefly without causing any arguments. The follow-ups are wonderful, they relate easily to everyday life experience.”

Another trainee wrote, “I am so glad because of this program— before the seminar began, I had not learned how to preach, and any time I wanted to preach fear would just fill me. In this program I learned how to be bold.  I have always been ashamed to preach to people of other religions, but during this program I was able to preach to a Muslim who prayed to receive Christ. He asked me several questions, but I was able to give him the answers. I believe it was the boldness you people gave me that made me to be able to preach. I promise you before we meet again you will hear of the many things I have done with this training.”

Ngong Sandra said, “This training has done a wonderful thing in my life. Before coming here, I was born again, yes, but I had never undergone any follow up. I had a list of things I knew I should do as a Christian, but the greatest challenge in my life was sharing Christ with others. I wondered how to start and worried about what to do if the person said no or was already a Christian. Here I have learned so many things that I did not fully understand. Leaving here, I believe that I will be a good evangelist by God’s grace. It has always been my dream to do so, and so I thank God I have been trained to do it well, and I trust God to help me. I hope that the lives of the people around me like my family, friends, and classmates, will never be the same, with God being my helper. From the bottom of my heart I thank God and the trainers for this training, it has been wonderful.”

We thank God for his work among the trainees, and look forward to continuing to work in Cameroon, by His grace!

Richard GardnerNigeria Advanced Training and Testimonies from Cameroon–from Peter Wash’s report
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Safe arrival in Bamenda, and a flood of eager trainees

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We praise God for our team’s safe arrival in Cameroon! It was a difficult journey. The temperature on the trip soared above 100 degrees, and they could not make almost any stops because of the danger of kidnapping. The team sounds exhausted from dehydration during the journey, but thankfully the location where they are now are at a higher elevation and is cooler.

When they arrived, they found that many more trainees than had signed up were hoping to join. Rich’s group is going to try to train 190, by teaching into the night. Peter’s group will have at least over 120. Unfortunately, they’ve had to turn many people away, as they are already well over their capacity.

The team is staying at a hospital compound in Bamenda, and there are many doctors and nurses who are asking to join the training, because they want to minister to their patients. It is hard for our team to turn people away, but Lord willing, we can make a return trip to continue to offer trainings!

They all appreciate your prayers, and are excited by the level of enthusiasm in the region, despite the difficulties of the journey.

We will keep you updated as we hear more!

 

Richard GardnerSafe arrival in Bamenda, and a flood of eager trainees
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Sunny’s follow-up with our devoted trainees in Niger

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Sunday Mallam, our Trainer and Organizer, recently took a trip to Niger to follow-up with those that we had trained last year. He asked each trainee a number of questions geared towards finding out what their needs are, and how we can continue to improve our trainings. Here are some of their replies:

Reverend H.–

The training has given me new ideas for reaching others with the gospel; the training is so simple to understand and attractive to the person you are to reach. I have been changed by experiencing the joy of seeing others understand what I present to them. The help I will need from you is to provide more of the training materials and to come back again for a refresher training! I have been training others, but I no longer have gospel and follow–up materials because one of my trainees has been using them… What I have learned, I am passing on to as many as I can. We have a school here and I use the materials with the students I interact with. It is helpful to have the materials in Hausa, but there are other languages we need the materials in as well. We also need prayer for the new converts as they face much opposition in their faith.

Pastor U–

I give thanks for the training, because it has given me more exposition on these topics than I received going through seminary. I like the eagerness to go out for the gospel that the training has worked in me. It has improved my relationship with all I meet with regarding the gospel. You can help me and others by coming back to give us more of such training. I have stopped the use of the usual Sunday school book teaching in Sunday school. We are now using the follow-up materials for the Sunday school classes for both adults and children. All of the adults that are leaders of various groups in the church have been trained in using the evangelism and follow-up materials, and I have asked them to use their own homes as a training ground, so they will reach out to their families. The Hausa is fine for me, but I would love to have the Fulani version if possible as well as the Fulani Bible. I have so many parishioners and converts that will want to hear it in the Fulani language.

Pastor S–

The training has helped me to interact better with those I am reaching out to with the gospel. As for my improvement in the future, I hope to attend another such training to help me the more. I am changed in my way of reaching the lost for the Lord. I need more of the materials. I have trained all my church members and have asked them to reach others with same message.

Pastor Y–

This training is truly a Godsend. It lifted me from my shallow method of reaching others with the gospel to a simple but effective way of evangelizing. I like its simplicity; I see my family changed also because of the training I did with them. It has improved my eagerness to reach others with the gospel. The materials seem to have a magic of attraction when I teach with them. I love it in Hausa.

We gave all of the pastors and workers that asked more materials, and are hoping to start the translations they’ve requested as soon as we can!

Richard GardnerSunny’s follow-up with our devoted trainees in Niger
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God’s powerful movement in Nekemte and Dembidolo!

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This is the report so far from Nekemte and Dembidolo as to what the two groups of trainees have done with their training since last year! More reports continue to roll in, but as of now….

  • Collectively, they have trained 1,011 people how to use the gospel tracts and follow up with new believers.
  • As a result of their evangelistic work, 2,508 people have heard gospel message.
  • 843 people came to know Christ as their Lord and Savior, 281 of which have already been baptized. 
  • 74 people who had walked away from their faith have returned.
  • They planted 22 new churches, and are planning to plant 10 more.

Additional Encouragement and Prayer Requests:

All have reported that the trainings brought love and unity among the believers. As a result of this, denominations outside of the Kale Heywet denomination (which we have been collaborating with exclusively up until now) are requesting that the trainees come and train their people. Church attendance in Kale Heywet churches has been increasing.

One trainee took the initiative to translate the material into his own language, but he couldn’t figure out how to format the images. We will need to help him do this, so he can have the full benefit of the materials the way they are meant to function (one simple image per concept.)

The gospel tract and follow-up materials still need to be translated into the Oromo language as well, so that those who have been trained who work in Oromo areas can train the Oromo people to reach out to those who only speak Oromo!

Another evangelist prepared official certificates of completion for all those that he taught, and relayed that it highly encouraged his trainees. We’ll want to consider this for the future—it seems to be an effective way to encourage trainees in this culture.

Many people don’t have bibles in the Oromo language. We are considering supporting distribution of Oromo bibles to trainees.

As so many have come to Christ, the question of having places to meet to worship has become pressing for the local churches, particularly the new ones!

The continued political instability continues to present a challenge to the trainees and the new believers. Please pray for peace!

Eyasu is still collecting information regarding what the trainees from the Butajira and Arbaminch areas have done. He would like to plan two additional trainings in April and May, and wants to take trips to follow-up with the trainees from the Arbaminch, Butajira, and Jimma area trainees.

Praise God for the powerful ways he has moved through His people in Ethiopia! Please pray that we will have wisdom to know exactly how we can best support His work.

Richard GardnerGod’s powerful movement in Nekemte and Dembidolo!
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Tri Country Outreach: Team Schedule

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February/March Outreach

  • February 2nd: Rich leaves for Nigeria.
  • February 6-10: Nigeria Advanced Training

The team’s first stop in Jos, Nigeria is of great strategic importance. Head trainers from Niger, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Poland will meet together for an advanced training to ensure that all the trainers who are responsible for the quality and depth of FFICM’s trainings in each country are on the same page. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to move in power in this training, uniting our team members and bringing clarity and joy in the work that we all have been entrusted with!

  • February 10-12 Rich, Peter, Rick, and other members of the advanced training will travel by road to Cameroon.
  • February 13-17th Cameroon training

The training during the week of the 13th will take place simultaneously in two separate locations in Baminda, Cameroon. Rich will lead one training of over 100 leaders and evangelists with the aid of advanced trainers from the first group, and Peter will lead the other training of 100 leaders and evangelists, also with the aid of advanced trainers. This training, apart from serving as a practical for the advanced trainers, is also critical, as it will be the first training FFICM has run in Cameroon! The leaders in Cameroon have been a delight to work with, and are so eager to have FFICM work with them that they are funding all of the expenses for the training themselves, apart from the travel of our team members. Please pray for our team’s travel to Cameroon (which is a rough trip by road) as well as the border crossing. Please pray also that this excellent working relationship with the Cameroonians will continue, and that God will richly bless the training in response to their selfless eagerness to learn how to more effectively share the gospel and to follow-up with new believers!

  • February 18th: The team leaves Cameroon, and the West Africa contingent travels through Taraba state.
  • February 19th: Rich travels to Poland

Our West Africa team, led by Peter Wash and Rick Cordell, will travel again by car through Taraba state, Nigeria and will visit those areas that we trained in October that have requested additional trainings. It is particularly exciting for our team to return to Jalingo as the Lord has opened several doors for interdenominational cooperation in training in the area, as well as the training of the seminary students of Gindiri Theological School. Please pray that the Lord will continue to demonstrate his sovereignty in the area by bringing continued collaboration between denominations (which was a huge stumbling block for the first training in Jalingo) for the work of evangelism and follow-up.

Rich will travel to Poland, where Roman has business to attend to before the trip to Russia. Please pray that Rich receives his visa to Russia at this point! Rich also is hoping to connect with a pastor and seminary leader that he had met before in Poland to explore the possibility of partnering with him.

  • February 22nd-March 9, Rich and Roman travel to Russia

Rich and Roman will work together in Russia! For more information on the Russia schedule in order to pray, e-mail daravgardner@gmail.com.

Thank you for your prayers and continued support! God bless you.

 

 

Richard GardnerTri Country Outreach: Team Schedule
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Breaking Spiritual Strongholds in Rabwak

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In January, Peter led an important training in Rabwak. This area was believed to be cursed, because for two months out of the year, May and October, people would die for no apparent reason. Christians were beginning to leave the church to dedicate themselves to traditional religion, in an effort to protect themselves. Peter organized a strategic training where they would run a follow-up program as well as invite experienced pastors to come and talk to the community about spiritual warfare

They planned the program for 100 people, but by the third day, 300 people came. By Sunday there were more than 500 people in attendance. Twenty-one people gave their lives to Christ. They worshiped and prayed together and believers and pastors from outside the community came to pray for the people. On Sunday, after days of praying, they discovered a large charm used in witchcraft that had been placed under the church carpet by the pulpit. The pastor called Peter, and together they prayed and destroyed it. Everyone was greatly encouraged. On Monday, Peter went to visit those that had come to the training, and they were all overjoyed and said that Peter and his co-workers had helped deliver the community from the giants–that Peter was the David of the community. The villagers are now returning to the church! An elder spoke with Peter after the team left and told him that that because of the training, the church continues to meet together to worship in the morning every day. 
Please pray for these believers as they join together to pray, grow in their faith, fight the enemy’s attacks on them, and reach out to their neighbors with the gospel!

Richard GardnerBreaking Spiritual Strongholds in Rabwak
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Jalingo

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Peter Wash, Rick Cordell, and their team went to Jalingo in October as part of a longer trip throughout Taraba state. All of the other trainings were well-attended, but the Jalingo turnout was surprisingly poor–only ten people turned up out of the 120 registered. Peter reported that the divisions between denominations and churches had been behind the poor turn-out; they just couldn’t work together. Reports from the area were that the Church is so divided people from the community were being enticed away from Christianity. Despite this disheartening beginning, the team decided to stay, in large part because of the enthusiasm and eagerness to learn demonstrated by Reverend Musa.

During the training, FFICM staff were approached by Gindiri College of Theology in the area and after their evangelism and missions class attended the training, were asked to return and do trainings for all of their seminary students! Our staff were greatly encouraged by this door opening during a time of disappointment with the turnout for the training–and continued also to be encouraged by Reverend Musa.

We received a letter from him after the training in which he said, “In my seventeen years of post-ordination experience, I have received advance ministry training in Singapore, Nairobi, and the US–but nothing so valuable as the training from Peter Wash and Rick Cordell and the FFICM staff here in Jalingo in October…The Gospel tool that they gave us is a simple, down-to-earth explanation of the mind of God towards the lost…None of my theological trainings gave me such a useful tool…I can now confidently lead people to Jesus and get them started in their new life as a disciple”.

Sunday Mallam took a trip later to find out what had happened since the trainings in Taraba state and found that Reverend Musa has already used the follow-up materials with many people, and has equipped many from his congregation to go out witnessing and following up. The local lutheran bishop was so impressed with Rev. Musa’s work that he wants FFICM to return and train all of their pastors from the area. Rev. Musa’s large congregation is inspired as well, and would all like to be trained with LCCN (the Lutheran denomination). We praise God for this demonstration of unity within the Church and pray that God will bless the upcoming training! Peter is now planning to take a team to the area in February after the trip to Cameroon.

Please pray that God blesses the training in February and continues to foster unity within the Church in Jalingo, and the work of the Lord will go forward in power through these newly-unified brothers and sisters! We praise God for the faithfulness of his servant, Rev. Musa.

Richard GardnerJalingo
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Praise God for a Year of Growth for FFICM!

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FFICM’s vision is to develop national leaders through partnerships with local organizations and churches and to train them in evangelism and follow-up. Our passion is to see nations of people who have not only committed their lives to Christ, but are also equipped to be lifelong followers of Jesus.

Fulfilling our mission through organizing and teaching trainings

We started by running evangelism and follow-up trainings in Nigeria alone. Now we are training in Ethiopia, Niger, the US, Uganda and Poland. In February of 2017 we have trainings scheduled for Cameroon and Siberia.

Through the addition of our new staff this past year, we have been able to train 578 national evangelists, pastors and church leaders in the countries we serve. We also taught and followed up over 500 more church members.

We also helped organize and teach at the yearly conference on evangelism and discipleship in Nigeria which we started 10 years ago with our partner New Life for All. Over 3,000 attended that conference from Nigeria, and the surrounding countries. After the conference more than 1,000 left Jos and shared the gospel in Kebi state, Nigeria for a week.

At least 493 people have been trained in evangelism and follow-up by those we trained this year, and 717 people have received Christ and are being discipled. 4 new churches were planted. In addition, there was further impact from the Kebi state outreach in particular (as well as other areas) but we don’t have statistics yet.

Fulfilling our mission through personnel growth and developing partnerships

Personnel Growth

FFICM formed in late 2013. Rich became the first full-time employee in 2014, and remained the only employee for several years. This year we added Rick Cordell, Peter Wash, Sunday Mallam, and Dara Searcy-Gardner to our staff. Rick Cordell, as an International Trainer, has been able to support our Nigeria branch in developing their local trainers, and Peter Wash has joined as Nigeria Coordinator! He has been organizing trainings, choosing and developing volunteer personnel, and teaching trainings. Sunday Mallam joined as a Trainer and Organizer, and has been able to help us improve the quality of our programs exponentially by traveling to set up trainings and meet with everyone to make sure all arrangements are in place, as well as doing critical post-training follow-up, meeting with trainees and finding out what their needs are as they put their training into practice.

The addition of Peter and Sunday our staff represents a special kind of fulfillment of our goal to put nationals in charge of reaching their own people. The effectiveness of this strategy has been demonstrated this year not only by the sharp increase in the amount of trainings we have been able to run in Nigeria (14 this year alone!) but also in the improved quality of the trainings as Sunday provides on-the-ground feedback. We hope to develop Peter into the role of West Africa Director, with Rich supervising in an advisory capacity. We are also developing other trainers in Nigeria for future roles in FFICM.

Dara Searcy-Gardner joined the organization this year as Director of Communications and has been working to ensure that we have all of the stories and information from our overseas team that we need to effectively support them, and also communicates what the team is doing to our supporters through newsletters and social media. She is in an expanding role, as she has also taught follow-up classes in the US, is helping to re-work our materials, and takes on additional projects as needs arise. 

Developing Partnerships

In Ethiopia, we do not have any FFICM staff, but we have found an effective partnership in Eyasu, who is in charge of evangelism in the largest denomination in Ethiopia (Kaleheywet). Eyasu has a network in place to recruit evangelists and pastors to our trainings, as well as to follow up with them to let us know if there are more trainings, materials, or support needed. Iskandir has been an important partner as well! He is an independently funded missionary who does not need our monetary support, but is passionate about the work and has been attending and running trainings. Through partnerships with people like Eyasu and Iskandir, FFICM is empowering Ethiopians to reach their nations for Christ, without currently needing to have full-time staff of our own active in the country.

In Nigeria, we have collaborated effectively with national organizations and denominations, including CREI, COCIN, ECWA and many more. Our most effective partnership in Nigeria has been with New Life for All, where our participation in their conference for their evangelists has resulted year after year the training of thousands of Nigerians in evangelism and follow-up.

Our partnership with Roman continues to bear fruit as well. After training church leaders in Poland last year, as well as visiting Russia and observing his work, we now have opportunities this coming year in Russia.

We have new partnerships that are in the early stages of development in Uganda, Niger, and Cameroon–these have already resulted in multiple trainings being carried out and planned in those countries!

Through our personnel and partnership development we are discovering what patterns are most effective in accomplishing our mission, not only in different countries, but within different areas of the countries in which we operate. We are learning how best to keep track of each area’s fluctuating needs! We want to make sure that we emphasize follow-up not only in our evangelism training, but also in the way that we run our ministry.

Fulfilling our mission through development of our materials

Artwork

Many of those we minister to are only semi-literate, so the artwork in our materials is absolutely essential. Indeed, we have been told that our art is what sets our materials apart from others. We have a graphic illustration to follow every major concept that we want to communicate to new believers, as part of achieving our goal of getting rid of confusing jargon in training new believers. Many trainers have told us that this is particularly effective in explaining theological concepts in ways that people can easily grasp and remember. This year Dara and Rich have been working with a graphic artist to improve and unify our artwork so that it is uniform, of higher quality, and communicates more clearly the concepts that we teach. We have been in constant contact with countries in which we use the materials to make sure that the artwork translates well cross-culturally, and will use different images for different cultural contexts as needed.

We believe strongly in the effectiveness of discussion-centered teaching as well, and we are hoping our revamping our artwork will facilitate this even more effectively. Our trainees often tell us that they have never been taught like this before—they’re used to being told to memorize facts. Simply memorizing facts, however, is not the best way to internalize truth about God! Through artwork and question-centered discussions, we are better able to help trainees find their own words to relay truth about God and his work in their lives.

Training Manual

Rich has also been working on writing a training manual that will enable the trainers to all be on the same page as far as how they teach and what they teach!

Translation

Our materials have already been translated into Hausa, Amharic, Oromo, Lungandan and Russian. More languages (such as French, for Niger) will be added this coming year.

Thank you for your support! May God bless each and every one of you, as well as the thousands of people He is calling to be His own.

Richard GardnerPraise God for a Year of Growth for FFICM!
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Sarah–suffering persecution and in need of prayer

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Sarah came to Christ twelve years ago, when a Catholic friend of hers shared with her the prophecy about Jesus from Psalm 22. He asked her if David was talking about himself or someone else. She said she knew that David was not crucified, so it must have been someone else. He told her about Jesus. She said that the verses about Jesus crucified for the people struck her heart and she thought about it day and night. She started going to church in secret. Two months later, her family found out, and her father drove her from the house. She was in eighth grade.

Her community tried very hard to kill her, so she had to leave the city. She was alone and friendless, no one would take her in. Sarah became seriously ill. She was homeless, slept on the road, and expected to die at any moment. A young man who was a believer found Sarah dying on the road, and had mercy on her. He took her home and gave her a room to stay in, bought her medicine and took care of her. In a culture where women are often treated brutally, he cared for her tenderly, nursed her back to health, and told her more about Jesus. He was an evangelical Christian. Sarah received Jesus as her savior. Eventually, she and the young man who had mercy on her were married.

After this, Sarah felt called to be a missionary and to work to share the gospel to the people who had tried to kill her. Her area is one of the most dangerous in all Ethiopia. Their reputation is this, “killing is easy for them.” The people in that region have attempted three times to kill the church supervisor in the area, but have failed, praise God! Understandably, it is very hard to find people to work in this area, and especially those who are as steadfast and courageous as Sarah. The church is entirely underground.

The Ethiopia director heard much about Sarah from the church leaders in the area. He heard that she is smart, and has the mind of a strategist–earnestly desiring to find the best way to reach her region for Christ. She loves discipleship and carefully teaches those that she leads to Christ as she goes from house to house, working as a servant, and waiting for opportunities to share about her faith. She has led three of her sisters to Christ, as well as at least ten others.

When Sarah saw that people were taking pictures at the training, she told Rich that she has faced persecution because people have been careless with pictures on social media before–and while she is willing to endure persecution if it advances the cause of the gospel, she would prefer it if we were careful. We are blotting out all of her face from the pictures, and omitting any identifying details.

Sarah was delighted by the training, and extremely grateful because there are almost no opportunities for her to learn about evangelism and follow-up, as it is not safe for any Christians to go to her area. She is hopeful that with the new materials and training, she will bring many more people to Christ.

Sarah needs prayer especially for protection. When we told Sarah that we would ask others to pray for her, it brought tears to her eyes. She and her husband have two small children, pray for their protection as well! We cannot tell you their names, but God knows how to direct your prayers.

We will continue to keep you updated as Sarah’s work progresses over the next few months. Praise God for her obedience to His call, and for her great faith!

To donate to support the training of people like Sarah, click here.

Richard GardnerSarah–suffering persecution and in need of prayer
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Esther’s Story

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Esther and her family, pictured above with Rich

Dasenich, where Esther grew up, is a violent region with a harsh climate. The people often suffer from hunger. During one of these times of famine, when Esther was young, her mother died in childbirth, and her father abandoned her, her sister, and her brother. Esther provided for her siblings by working for an evangelist who worked in the area, cleaning his house and making food for him, and in return he gave them room and board.

Soon, Esther, her sister and brother became Christians. The people in the region where they live detest Christians. Esther said that they will often try to beat a person until they recant their faith. They don’t intentionally kill people, but if the person dies, they do not care.

Already considered outcasts by their community because of their fathers’ abandonment, Esther and her siblings were shunned also because of their new faith. Esther and her sister were outcasts on another level as well. The community has a custom– when a girl reaches 13 or 14 years of age, they perform female genital mutilation, and marry her off. Because Esther and her sister did not have a parent to facilitate this, they did not go through this cultural rite. Their community considered them unfit for marriage.

However, when another young man from their village became a Christian, he and Esther’s sister married. This young man owned 7 goats, and these goats became the little family’s lifeline. They could sell milk from the goats and provide for themselves.

Esther did not feel called to marry yet. Although custom dictated that girls marry at 13 or 14, she wanted to continue school, and she did. At 14, she was called by God to be an evangelist, and would go after school to speak about the word of God to her community, risking beating and death. The villagers did beat Esther at first, but later, often something happened to distract or prevent them from carrying out their plans.

Soon, Esther’s sister became pregnant. Everyone in the village expected her to die in childbirth, because she did not carry out the cultural ritual of shaving her head during her pregnancy. She did not die, and had a very healthy baby! Still, the villagers waited, expecting someone in her family to die as a result. But instead, they watched as God blessed Esther and her family and gave them more than enough food and provision. They began to wonder about this God who had protected and provided for Esther and her family.

Eventually, the aging evangelist that Esther had worked for left the region, but he connected her to a church that began supporting her in her work. Esther married a young man who had become a Christian as a result of her evangelism, and had a baby at 16, having completed 8th grade. Despite her increased work and family responsibilities, Esther continued working as an evangelist.

Then, Esther’s father came home. The community despised him for abandoning his family, and he was too afraid to go and see Esther and her brother and sister, so he lived at his sister’s house, and hid from them. When they heard of this, they went to him. First, her sister, and then Esther, invited him into their homes and forgave him. He now lives with them, and has became a Christian also.

Today, Esther is 20, with a four-year-old son, and has led over forty people in her region to Christ!

When she came to the conference to be trained this year, Eyasu and Rich were immediately impressed by her intelligence and dedication. She is fluent in local languages as well as Amheric, and translated the entire week of training for the other workers from her region. Eyasu is excited about her, as the denomination has an extremely hard time recruiting evangelists to go to Dasenich at all, and their success rate is very low. Esther is called, passionate, uniquely equipped as a native of the area, and already seeing the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in her life in her community.

We will continue to update you as we hear from Eyasu how Esther’s work is going now that she has received training! Please pray for her, as she continues to work in a region where few people will go.

To support the training of people like Esther, click here! 

Richard GardnerEsther’s Story
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Equipping the Church through Follow-up Materials

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niger-pastor

This pastor was trained last year through FFICM’s outreach in Niger. He testified that this training was unlike any other that he had ever experienced. He said that these materials are exactly what they need, and better than all other gifts that they have ever received, even clothing and food. He said that clothing, when you use it, becomes old, but these materials, and the fruit that will come from them will stand the test of time. To hear his testimony in his own words, click here!

To donate $20 to provide materials for a hundred people in follow-up classes, either send a check to FFICM and write in “follow-up materials”, or donate online, and send Dara an e-mail at daravgardner@gmail.com with a note as to how you would like your funds to be used!

Richard GardnerEquipping the Church through Follow-up Materials
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Faithful Trainees and the Work of the Lord

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This is Abraham, he was trained at our most recent training in Butajira. He served in the local church for 12 years before becoming the missions department head of 1,307 local churches in the largest evangelical denomination in Ethiopia! He told us that the thing that makes FFICM’s training unique is that it is very practical–you can take what you have learned and immediately put it into use. He believes that this training will make it much easier for them to be successful in ministry. It is his goal to train all 1,307 local pastors in evangelism and follow-up. He is also in charge of equipping missions and witnessing groups that meet four times a year to go out and evangelize. He wants to train all of these groups as well, and encourage them to train others! He has many more plans for the training and those who work with him. May God bless his work.

For his full testimony about the training and his plans, click here, and for his brief, heartfelt thank-you and invitation click here!

To donate to send a trainee to a training in Nigeria or Ethiopia, you can either send a check to FFICM, and write “send trainee” in the description, or you can donate online and send Dara a note as to how you would like to designate your funds at daravgardner@gmail.com!

Richard GardnerFaithful Trainees and the Work of the Lord
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Supporting our trainees with additional training and encouragement

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Throughout the year, FFICM sends our staff members that work within countries like Nigeria and Ethiopia on trips to check on the trainees that have come to the larger sessions. Intra-country trips like this cost around $250 and are vital for encouraging and supporting the trainees as they carry out their ministry! The FFICM staff members meet with the trainees to find out what has happened since they left, see if they need any further explanation of the materials, give them additional training and encouragement, and provide more materials as needed.

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Recently, Eyasu went on a trip to check on the trainees from Jimma, Butajira, and Wolega (Nekemte and Dembidolo). He found that in the Jimma area there are 234 new disciples as a result of the work of the trainees, in Butajira, 199, and in Wolega 284 for a total of 717 new disciples. In the Wolega area, four new churches have also been planted! This information is crucial for FFICM to know, so that we may know better how to schedule further trainings, and to ask how we may continue to support the workers who are dealing with so many new disciples at once!

If you would like to support an intra-country trip, you can send a check with “Intra-Country Trip” in the description, or you can donate online and send a note to Dara at daravgardner@gmail.com.

Praise the Lord for His work in Ethiopia and Nigeria!

Richard GardnerSupporting our trainees with additional training and encouragement
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Open up a Country: FFICM’s work in Siberia, Cameroon, and Niger

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roman-teach-2016

In Siberia, it is illegal to invite people to church. Roman has developed an innovative strategy to reach the local people for the gospel. The economy is so poor in Siberia, people rarely can afford to go out to dinner. In one area that Rich visited, which was home to about 20,000 people, Rich only saw one restaurant! Roman invites groups of about 60 to come to dinner for free and hear a gospel presentation. People are grateful for the hospitality, and are more than willing to hear what he has to say. 

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Roman was trained in follow-up by Rich last year, and has been training church leaders how to follow-up new believers. However, there is currently not a link between his evangelistic efforts and his follow-up training, as he cannot invite those who receive Christ at the dinner to come to church. Rich would like to obtain a religious visa (so that he can teach) and take a trip to Siberia this coming year to join Roman in his evangelistic effort, train the local believers and church leaders in follow-up, and also develop with Roman a plan to follow-up with the new believers that result from his evangelistic outreaches.

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FFICM’s idea at this point is to have a follow-up meal for those who have received Christ the next day, perhaps a lunch or breakfast, and begin going over follow-up materials. It only costs roughly $2 a person to provide these meals, and it will be easier to emphasize the importance of meeting with other believers in the follow-up meeting without extending a direct invitation to church (which would be illegal).

If you feel called to donate particularly to FFICM’s efforts to open up Siberia, send a check, and write in “Open up Siberia” in your check’s description! Or visit our Donate page and send a quick line to daravgardner@gmail.com after making the donation as to how you would like your funds to be directed!

cameroon-contingent

FFICM is also planning a trip to Cameroon. The Cameroonian leaders from Baminda have begged FFICM to come, and have made all of the necessary plans and preparations. The plan is to have a week long pre-training in Nigeria to help develop the Nigerian trainers as leaders so they can run some of the training and continue to resource Cameroon afterwards. Then, the team will drive to Cameroon and do a two-week training in Baminda to train 80-100 evangelists, pastors, and church leaders!

If you would like to donate to the effort to open up Cameroon you can either send in a check and write “Open up Cameroon” in the description, or visit our Donate page and send a note to Dara at daravgardner@gmail.com.

 niger-2016

Lastly, FFICM is looking to expand in Niger! If you’ll remember, this year we trained almost a hundred evangelists and lay leaders. Our plan for 2017 is to send one of our workers up from Nigeria (Sunny, a dedicated worker who we’ve recently hired to be our logistics point person in Nigeria and the surrounding countries!) Sunny will meet with the trainees from the last training, find out how they are doing, and strategize with them what would be the best area in which to hold a training. He will find out which area is in the most need, has the most committed workers etc. We will then hold a training in Niger, by the Lord’s grace, in 2017.

If you would like to donate to the effort to open up Niger you can either send in a check and write “Open up Niger” in the description, or visit our Donate page and send a note to Dara at daravgardner@gmail.com!

Richard GardnerOpen up a Country: FFICM’s work in Siberia, Cameroon, and Niger
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The end of the Butajira training!

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The Butajira training has ended! The trainees were excellent and dedicated workers in class and outside of class, meeting together to strategize how best to reach Ethiopia for Christ.

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They worshipped and prayed together, encouraging one another in the work that they have before them.

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They also sharpened each another as they learned to follow-up new believers, as part of the training they practiced on one another after which they received guidance from the trainers and the other trainees!

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Our trainers were greatly encouraged by working with these Ethiopian leaders, and we eagerly anticipate hearing from them as they train the thousands of Christians that they are responsible for in evangelism and follow-up!

(Pictured: Eskendir, Endeshaw, Eyasu, Rich, Carl Palmer, and Peter Wash)

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Thank you for your prayers!

 

Richard GardnerThe end of the Butajira training!
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Four more evangelists join the training

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Here are four of the women evangelist who were able to join the training. Two of them are in very difficult regions, and we’ve concealed the face of one who is facing intense persecution. Amiletu is on the far right. She wanted to be trained before but couldn’t make it. We invited her to this training, but she was away from communication. We tracked her down and she and her husband came on Wednesday. We made sure we took the time to go over all of the material they had missed. They are now on track with the rest of the group! Please pray for her and her husband as they seek God where to be assigned, and for the delivery of their first child in a few months. 

Richard GardnerFour more evangelists join the training
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Peter’s report from mid-October Nigeria training!

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In mid-October Firm Foundation in Christ Ministries travelled to Taraba state in collaboration with New Life For All in Taraba State to do a training. We were initially scheduled to go to the Mambila plateau (Gembu) Area but they could not mobilize their people to come for the seminar in time, so the training was shifted to Bali area. The Bali area is ripe with need for the gospel, as we saw when we went out for the field practical—there was a lot of drunkenness, immorality, traditional worship, and more.  This is one of the local government areas where people are still unclothed and steeped in traditional worship. This is one of the target areas for the outreach next year that will be run for New Life For All.

On the first morning of the training we had over sixty people registered, but by evening we had over seventy. On the second day, even more people came and we ended up with about ninety people in training.

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The field practicals are powerful times where we get to see how God uses ordinary women and men to reach people for the gospel. Rich Cordell taught the trainees in the personal sessions about how God uses ordinary people, and encouraged them to remember that we are working with God not working for God. At the end of the training a woman came forward and gave testimony as to how God had used the personal sessions to change her perspective about her children and the people that are under her.

We then went out for the practical and spoke with a Muslim who said that no Christians had yet come to preach to them like we were doing, and that this is why they have so many problems in their society. In another drinking joint, we met a man who said that he would not have continued drinking in the past, if someone had come to speak to him directly about his problem, as we were doing now. We witnessed to more than 70 people of which more than 20 gave their lives to Christ.

The people that we had witnessed to began inviting others to come and listen to us when we went for the field practicals. At one house in the village, one of our groups met two women. One was not from that compound, and invited them to come the following day to her house. When they came, she had already invited four other women to come and listen to the gospel. So, instead of sharing the follow-up materials with her, they started again from the beginning with the gospel card. All four women prayed to received Christ!

The class sessions were a wonderful time for spiritual nourishment, where both pastors and evangelists were sharpened for their work. One week after the training a pastor called Joshua sent a text to tell me how transformed he was as a result of the program.

At the closing ceremony we came up with a strategic plan where we discussed the total population of the two dominant local government areas. We estimated the population to be 80,000 people, of which 20,000 may be members of a church. Out of the 20,000 Christians, perhaps 10,000 thousand are true Christians. One of the evangelists said at the closing ceremony, “I thank God and these organizations for helping me to be a true Christian, bound for heaven. Before coming to this seminar, I was not a Christian at all. I had not truly given my life to Christ, and nobody had ever followed-up with me. I had no assurance that I would make it if Jesus was to come.” He added, “I am a politician that knows how to convince others. I pray that I may now use my gift to convince people to come to faith in Jesus.”

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Sarah also testified that she was not planning on coming, but had come because her friend insisted. She said, “I was thinking that I would not be able to stay in the program because of a sickness that I am suffering from, but since I came, I have forgotten that I was sick and that I was thinking of going home. I stayed throughout the whole five days and I even went out to preach the gospel, which is something that I had never thought I will be able to do. I did not feel the sickness that I use to fear before. I went home and shared the gospel card with my husband, who then said, ‘If this is what you are going to church for, then you can keep on going!’” She also said, “I was waiting to see what kind of special food they would serve the white man among us, but he takes up his own plate and gets his own food which is something that our ‘leaders’ here will never do. And if one of us has a need to ask anything from the trainers, they all respond with smiles and we do not feel looked down on. This humility has touched me and has taught me that I need to be humble too.”

We then moved on Jalingo after the closing ceremonies in the Bali aria, to continue the training which was scheduled to be conducted for the United Methodist Church of Nigeria (UMCN), churches within the area. The turn-out was very poor, we were expecting 120 people but on the first day only less than ten people showed up and were not focused exclusively on the program (they often went out to conduct personal business.) We stayed because we were to stay again there for the next week to go to another zone, if not we would have had to cancel the next program as well.

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We also decided to stay, because the masters students from Gindiri College of Theology all came, including their lecturer. They are studying missions and evangelism. Two of them, the deputy provost’s wife, and their lecturer (who is the registrar of the school) now wants to invite our ministry to their school to train all of the students how to witness and how to follow-up new believers. They are excited to about this, because our training will give their students the basic principles as to how to build up new believers from the beginning of their faith.

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Another person for whose sake we stayed, was this reverend pictured above. He is the pastor of the venue we used. He has more than 2000 people in his congregations, but he forfeited all other engagements and stayed for the training throughout. He even went out witnessing to a Catholic house where he knew that they knew about Jesus but they they did not have a personal relationship with him. So the pastor and Rick went and witnessed to the five children as well, and all prayed to receive Christ. The youngest, who was six, was sick, but insisted on reading the John 3:16 verse. She did it perfectly! They invited Rick and the pastor to come for follow-up training, and they witnessed to the next house as well. As a result of that, the family offered to prepare lunch for all 13 people from the training.

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During the closing ceremony, a trainee named Geoffrey said, “I have preached to people before, some of whom have even gone to Bible schools, but I did not follow-up with any of them. It was the grace of God that some survived to stand in the faith. But what I have learned in this training is that, ‘I will never give birth to new babies and abandon them by the roadside.’ I have learned how to continue on to build up their faith.” Evan Zebedee said, “I did not understood how to approach Muslims in my preaching, but through the use of this gospel card I even tried it with a friend of mine who is a Muslim and it was successful.”  Daniel Sale said, “I have learned a new way to approach unbelievers now. I used to think, ‘The fish that is already in the net does not need to be cared for,’ but now I know how to care for new believers.” Another trainee said that he used to be of the opinion that Christians need our time so much that we don’t have time for the unreached. This training had opened his eyes to the need for witnessing, and had showed him how to start building up leaders in the church to help do the work.

We then moved on to Takum. The participants were to come from the two largest denominations in the area, the Christian Reformed Church in Nigeria, and the Reformed Church of Christ in the Nations. One of the signs that this would be a successful training was that on Sunday, when we visited the church, the choir that sang included many from other denominations—they had great unity among the Christians of this area. We started with over 70 people registered, and the number increased to over 90 on the second day. They all went out together for field work. Even the President and the General Secretary of the CRCN came for the training and field work, which motivated all the pastors that were nominated to come.

They have all agreed that now that they have received this training they need to begin praying as a team in order to plan how to reach the people here in Taraba, especially the ones that are still traditionalists and have not heard the gospel at all. They have learned through the training that when they work together as a team irrespective of their denominational differences, they can accomplish much for the gospel.

The biggest challenge in the other areas is that there are serious divisions in the churches which makes it difficult for the Church to come together. This was what caused the training in Jalingo to have such a poor turn-out. Secondly, the Muslims in the area are developing a strategy to bribe Christian women with money and marriage in order to convert them. We need to pray for their protection. We also need to train more people who will be able to handle the new converts as the New Life For all will be coming in the next year to Taraba for an outreach to villages!

Richard GardnerPeter’s report from mid-October Nigeria training!
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Training continues in Arbamich

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Everyone is having a great time at the training! The family pictured with me is the family of a 20 year old evangelist–she has a four year old boy and lives in a violent area. Her brother, sisters and cousin (gathered with us) have already suffered a lot for their decision to follow Christ.

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The trainees are enthusiastic and joyful despite the many hardships they have faced! It is a privilege to teach them.

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Richard GardnerTraining continues in Arbamich
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Beginning teaching in Arbamich

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We started training 64 evangelists Monday. Some of them walked 2-3 days for the training. They work in un-evangelized areas where some of the tribes fight and kill each other. We have native evangelists from those tribes attending–in Christ they have peace with one another.

Richard GardnerBeginning teaching in Arbamich
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Arrived in Arbamich

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My colleague Carl Palmer doing an exploding fist bump during a travel break to Arba Minch. We were told it was a 6-hour drive was 11 hours. In a few hours we will begin training 60 evangelists the least of which traveled 120 miles from their “bush”-station locations. Please pray for all of us.

Richard GardnerArrived in Arbamich
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Nigeria conference and on to Niger

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Hello Everyone!

Rich, Peter, Carl, Stephen, Rick, and their faithful co-workers have had an amazing trip this past two weeks. They want you to know your prayers are greatly appreciated, and that God has moved in unprecedented ways.

They started off, as you know, by teaching at the Forum for Nigerian Evangelists. It was an incredibly encouraging and powerful time with some of Nigeria’s most influential evangelists.

The team moved on and I received this note from Rich:
Greetings,
This conference was the largest and best ever in terms of impact. People really responded to the messages. The conference had been fraught with technical problems from the beginning but God overcame them all. In addition to two speakers dropping out a few weeks ago, the biggest issue was that three days before the start of the conference the manager of the venue cancelled our booking. Nuhu (the leader of New Life for All) had to work very quickly. There were people coming from all over Nigeria and some from Cameroon. He had to redirect them to the new site, which is the one we used last year.
We were only expecting 700 people this year because of the economy. The Nigerian Naira has lost half of its value in the past year. Nuhu only received that many registration. Now with the change of venue to a place that people had to sleep outside we thought only 500-600 would show up instead of the usual 3,000.
But we all were amazed that even with the change of venue at the last minute, well over 3,000 attended! There is a large tent outside holding hundreds more. Not only that but people responded very enthusiastically to the messages. It was awesome to witness and be a part of. I have not experienced such a reception before.
Rich ended up speaking more than he anticipated–he filled in for one additional session, and also taught a “small” break-out session for 600:
Then, the team made the dangerous journey up to Niger. Thank God, they made it to Niger safely!
We have had no verbal updates from them, but we’ve received a few pictures, and we are all eagerly anticipating hearing how the Lord moved in Niger.
Please pray for Rich and the team as they make the journey down from Niger on Saturday!
Please also pray– Rich had a surprise opportunity come up–on Rich’s layover in Paris, he will be meeting with a French pastor and his wife that he made contact with on a trip to the East Coast. He has changed his ticket so he can spend two days with them, preaching to their congregation and teaching the leaders about follow-up. Praise the Lord for this opportunity! Rich will now be flying back to the US on Tuesday.

Thank you for your unwavering support, and for participating so faithfully in prayer in this good work of the Lord’s!

In Christ our Lord,

Dara Searcy-Gardner
 Director of Communication
FFICM
Richard GardnerNigeria conference and on to Niger
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In Nigeria

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Greetings everyone!
The response to the teaching on follow-up here at the Forum for Nigerian Evangelists has been great!  The evangelists and leaders said that they have never been taught like this before. One woman evangelist went home and said to her husband (who told me the next day) “Why does Rich have to be so insistent that it is only faith in Jesus Christ that saves you? Don’t our works count for anything towards that? He was so adamant that it is only the sacrifice of Jesus that pays for sins. We have not been taught this in our church.” The woman’s husband said to her, “What he is saying is true. Works are a result of our saved life, but only the cross pays for sins.”
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We had lively discussion all throughout the teaching, and similar questions in reaction to all our statements. How can we know our sins are forgiven? How can one man’s death pay for it all? There was much joy after the classes, and people kept saying, “We are not taught like that in our churches.” They asked for the full training later in the year in all their areas. One man has many evangelists under his leadership and wants them all trained. They asked for more materials so that they can teach those they lead to Christ as well as their own church members.
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I am joyful! We are so happy people are accepting the message of grace and faith and are willing to share it with others.
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We didn’t have any problems driving up from Jos. We joked together that we all saw a sign on the road with a clock pointing to 4 saying,” We are away for breakfast and family duties. We will return at 4 pm sharp —signed, Armed Robbers.
However, in all seriousness, a pastor was killed on the road to Mangu last week by armed robbers. It was
about 6pm when it happened. So keep praying…
Richard GardnerIn Nigeria
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Rich (continued)

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700 converts in one meeting, not one of whom remained in the faith…

making JF 1In 2001, Rich and Janice Gardner partnered with the Great Commission Movement to dub the Jesus Film for the Afizere people of Nigeria in their native language. Teams from America came to Nigeria to help show the film in 40 villages in 10 days. The impact seemed to be tremendous. Four thousand people made decisions for Christ. In one village alone, 700 people had come forward.

A month later, Rich returned to this village to see how all the new believers were doing–anticipating that the churches would be full to bursting. He went around the village and asked at every church. He could not find a single convert from the Jesus film showing. He asked the pastors if any of the new believers had been followed up with, and they said no.Watching JF

Rich was grieved and wondered, “What have I done? Will they be less likely to respond to the gospel ever again because they will say, ‘I tried that, and it doesn’t work.’” Rich vowed to never again show the Jesus film without a plan to follow-up new believers.

jesus film showingRich and Janice partnered with Bitrus Dasar from Great Commission Movement, who had also become disillusioned by showing the Jesus Film without an effective follow-up plan. He had seen situations where after they had shown the film in a village three times and had many commit their lives to Jesus…later they could not find even one disciple. 

They decided to show the film again, but this time they trained hundreds of workers from many denominations in follow-up, and picked 52 of their best workers to be in charge of each village where they would show the film. The workers were to meet with the new believers in groups twice a week to help them understand their new faith, for as long as was needed to help them transition into the local congregations where they could receive further discipleship and support. This time there were 5,800 people in classes, and they started ten new churches in addition to swelling the congregations of the existing churches.

Rich and his colleagues were excited—they knew the churches in the area had been strengthened, and they knew that the new believers were well-equipped to grow in their relationship with Christ. All those that had been involved with the training praised God and were greatly encouraged!

Jesus speaks izere

Jesus speaks Izere

Rich GardnerRich (continued)
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