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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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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.

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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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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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