By Kris Yeomans
As many of you are aware, the security situation in N**** has deteriorated since opening the work there. Not long after eight people, including six foreign aid workers, were gunned down while visiting the beautiful giraffes about an hour outside of N*****, the government imposed new restrictions on travel outside the city for all foreigners. Every time we leave the city, we are required to have an armed escort with us, usually consisting of six to eight armed police officials. It is a time-consuming and costly process, and one that weighs heavy on us each time we take a team of armed guards with us to share about the love and peace that Christ offers. We understand and appreciate the government’s concern for our safety, but it is an emotionally heavy experience to process each time.
We are thrilled to see how God is continuing to work through our national brothers and sisters in establishing our first church, as well as our first two ministry centers, but the fact remains that we are limited in the work we are able to physically do ourselves because of the security restrictions and the violence that seems to be increasing in the region.
So, in light of the current risk, after much prayer and discussion with Director Mark Powell and a few close friends, we will be relocating from N***** to D**** for the foreseeable future, where an additional General Baptist field office will be opened. Our church-planting ministry and outreach centers will continue under trusted national leadership in N***** with our supervision. Our West Africa field headquarters will remain in N*****, where we are in the process of establishing our West Africa field council. Nicole and/or I will be visiting every two to three months to continue working with our national partners and to establish our leadership and discipleship programs.
There is no anticipation that the church planting ministry in N**** will be hindered or will suffer. In fact, the possibility of advancing the church planting network in West Africa may actually be accelerated by this turn of events. If the security situation in N**** returns to a more stable situation, it is anticipated that we will return to N***** full-time, or at least divide time between the two areas. After MUCH prayer, Nicole and I have peace about this decision because, while our hearts are here with the N******* people, our vision is to establish churches across the West Africa region, from S****** to M****, N****, and C****.
Please keep our family and the work here in West Africa in prayer as we make this transition. It is not a big transition for us, but it does present a few logistical challenges as we move and get set up in another city, so we would greatly appreciate you remembering us over the next few months as we look to make this change.
We realize that this may generate a lot of questions for you, so we wanted to try to answer a few up front and just provide some additional information.
Why D*****? D**** is the capital of S******, located in the westernmost part of West Africa. Our desire has always been to work with unreached people groups in villages, and D**** is surrounded by unreached people groups (just like N*****). However, it is a more stable place, and there are fewer security restrictions. For example, we are able to travel to and work in villages in that area without armed guards. S****** is French-speaking, and uses the same (West African) currency as we use here in N**** as well. S****** is less than 2/10 of 1% Christian, so there are plenty of evangelistic opportunities, just like N******. To sum it up, it is a lot like here (N******) but with fewer security issues/restrictions.
What will happen to the ministry centers and church(es) being sponsored? The ministry center plans will continue, and our church will continue as planned. Nothing is changing with that, except that we are praying for more partners in the United States, and for God to continue to expand the work so that we have at least two more churches this year! Our plans all along have been to have nationally-led churches and ministries here in N****, so our ministry plans are not changing. We will just be overseeing it from western West Africa.
How much is this move going to cost? While D**** is a bit more expensive than N***** in some areas, we are able to save in other areas, offsetting the additional expenses, so our share support and budget will not be changing overall, which is great! However, our initial setup will cause us to incur some upfront costs from our deputation. If you would like to give to our deputation account to help offset some of this, you can give by going to donate.generalbaptist.com, then find our names there from the dropdown box to give to our deputation. Thank you!
When are you moving? We plan to make the transition over the next few months, after the girls finish the school year, and we have our N**** field office set up for our national leader.
What about school for the girls? Like here in N*****, there is a missionary school in D**** where the girls will attend. I will also be working at the school, similar to what I’ve been doing here at S**** Academy. Nicole will not be working at the school next year, so she will have more time for women’s ministry and outreach in addition to our other church-planting tasks.
What are some prayer requests you have? Please pray for at least two more churches to partner with us to establish a third new church here in N**** by year-end. Also, pray for partnerships to emerge for the work in S******. Pray for Aziz as he takes on more leadership of our work here. Pray for Pastor Z working out in the village at our first church. Pray for our transition and for God to provide the extra funds needed to help us get set up in D****.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to us and let us know. We are happy to answer any questions you have!
We are looking at this as a great opportunity to expand the church-planting network in the West Africa region. Furthermore, we want you to continue to be a part of what God is doing here! Contact us for ways to be involved through prayer, support, or to come over and work with us, both in N**** and S******!