The Mathews Family
We just wanted to let everyone know we arrived safely back in the states for a short 5 month furlough. We are looking forward to spending time with family, friends and visiting some of our churches. It has been a few years since we have been home in the winter, so of course, the kids are praying for a lot of snow! The boys will also get an opportunity to play basketball for our church’s Christian school in Maryland.
The last few months have been filled with activity. Kandi, Joshua, and I all have had Bible studies that we wanted to finish or get to a good breaking point before we left. Kandi’s class has just finished up studying the Old Testament. God has really been working to help the ladies to have an understanding of God’s nature and character, their own sinfulness, and Christ’s saving work through His death, burial and resurrection. Some of the ladies had heard different Bible stories here and there, but did not understand the Bible as one book. Some of the ladies did not know anything about God and His Word. Kandi goes very slow, repeats a lot, and keeps it very simple. About half of the ladies cannot read or write. The poor women are so ingrained in the animistic beliefs. To them, all things that happen in life are because of secret powers, forces, ancestral, and bush spirits. It is so important that they grasp the true worldview of the Bible and the Bible’s truth starts to tear down the false worldview that they have believed for so long. Kandi is looking forward to getting back in March to start teaching the New Testament and see how God works in their lives.
Joshua also finished up his Bible study with the teenage boys. It was a great day. The boys in his class all got a soccer jersey and the top students got soccer balls. The boys were so happy and excited. They worked very hard to study their Bibles, pray, and learn the lessons. The teenage boys are on a much higher educational level than the women. Most of them are in school and learning how to read and write in English.
I finished my Bible study in town at the AC shop. I have been teaching them for many years and they know and understand the chronological story of the Bible. They know the gospel message very well and can explain it clearly to me. Many have made professions of faith and I have seen some changes in their lives. We talk about the struggles in their lives and how to handle them Biblically. They told me before I left that they did not know anything about the Bible or God until I came and they thanked me for teaching them. I told them that my prayer for each one of them is that they would truly be saved and live a life of faith and obedience to God, in Liberia. This will be impossible to do in the Liberian culture unless God empowers them to do it.
We had our last teacher/preacher training in the village for the church plants. Each church plant has enough Bible lessons for several months until we return to Liberia. Pray for the teachers and preachers in these new church plants.
The presidential election is under way in Liberia. The first round was held on October 10th with 20 candidates running for president. If no one gets 50% plus one vote there will be a runoff in November of the top two candidates. This will be a major test for Liberia to see if we can have a peaceful transition of power with very few UN peacekeepers left in the county.
We had a very special baptismal service before leaving. Our son, Joseph, wanted to be baptized in Liberia, in front of all his friends and the community. He asked us if our close friend, Pastor James Togba, a Liberian Pastor, could baptize him. Early Sunday morning, a parade of people left Liberty Baptist Church singing and marching down our road. Everyone was headed down the hill to the river. Our family met the group at the end of our drive way. Joseph joined in the procession with the other 4 people who were going to be baptized that day. Pastor James proclaimed the gospel to onlookers washing their motorbikes and people standing on the bridge looking down. Joe wanted to be first in line maybe because he can swim and the others couldn’t. This was a great testimony for the Lord that Joseph was baptized, in an African river with his friends, the church, the community, and onlookers who just stopped to watch.
We thank you all for your prayers and financial support. You are all such a blessing and encouragement to our family!
The Mathews Family
Liberia, West Africa