So many things happened during the year that it has been difficult keeping track of them all. Here are a few of the highlights…
- We started the year in Senegal and Guinea, West Africa. We spent time with our missionaries at a couple of very profitable workshops designed to help with the development of Bible teaching materials.
- In February, shortly after returning to our village in Ivory Coast, I came tumbling off my motorcycle when I slipped on the edge of a deep rut in the road. It was a frightening and painful experience, but thankfully no long-term damage was done, well, apart from my pride being wounded!
- During the following months we saw encouraging progress in the Bible teaching among the Loron children, Bible-teacher training, and also new openings for gospel outreach into more Loron villages.
- One of the most thrilling events of the early part of 2014 was when the Loron believers made a concerted effort to gather money to help translate the Bible into their own language. They raised around £650/$1,000, and plan to make it an annual effort.
- The Loron Christian ladies had another good conference during 2014 with around 150 gathering for prayer, Bible teaching and worship.
- During the summer the Loron believers decided to give their churches a name. They will call themselves Grace Evangelical Churches of Ivory Coast.
- In August we were delighted to be able to purchase a new Ford Ranger for our ministry. We will use it primarily to travel between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, but may also use it to travel to other parts of West Africa.
- Interest in literacy among the Loron people, especially the believers, continues to grow. Dozens of students are at various stages of the 120-lesson course and many are becoming very good readers and writers. A number of these are young people who missed the opportunity of an education because of the 10-year war in Ivory Coast.
- October saw us on the road again. I spent a couple of weeks in Senegal visiting NTM missionaries, while Marina travelled to Mozambique in southeast Africa to assist in a literacy seminar/workshop for missionaries.
- We were pleased this year to be able to build a small house for one of the Christian widows who contracted HIV from her husband before he died. She takes regular medication, which helps delay the onset of full-blow AIDS. She is a Sunday School teacher and also helps with literacy.
- A couple of times during the year we visited our missionaries in Burkina Faso. The door to missionary work in Burkina is not only open, it’s off its hinges! Pray for labourers!
- One of the most challenging periods of the year was when, as mission leadership, we had to make the difficult decision to withdraw our missionaries from Guinea and Liberia because of the rapid spread of Ebola. Since the outbreak over 20,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leane have become infected and around 8,000 people have died.
- Probably the most exciting event of 2014 was being asked to help baptize 48 new Loron believers in October. (50 sec Video)
So, all in all, it was a pretty busy year.
We enjoyed our time over Christmas and the New Year with family and friends in Northern Ireland, and we are now making plans to return to West Africa. I will be returning in early February to make a trip to Burkina and then around Senegal to visit our missionaries. Marina will join me in March and we will go back to our village in Ivory Coast to continue the work among the Loron people.
Thank you for the part that you have played in supporting the various ministries in which we are engaged around West Africa. We appreciate your involvement in our lives, and especially your interest in what the Lord is doing among the Loron people.
May the Lord bless you and encourage you in His love and grace in 2015.
Because of Calvary,
Paul and Marina