Mission of the Month - African Bible Colleges
Westminster’s Mission of the Month for July is African Bible Colleges. African Bible College was founded in 1976 by Dr. and Mrs. John. W. Chinchen. After training pastors in the interior of Liberia, the Chinchens realized the great need for a Bible College that would meet the educational and spiritual needs of high school graduates emerging from an awakened Africa. African Bible College was designed to hold the highest international university standards and meet the qualifications to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies. Dr. John Chinchen went to be with our Lord in February of 2019. His son, Dr. Paul Chinchen, has served as head of the mission since 2008. We reached out to Dr. Chinchen and he promptly responded with a personal letter to Westminster. He appreciates our concerns and covets our prayers. He also asked that we share several of their most recent newsletters that address the COVID-19 crisis. Please see those below Dr. Chinchen’s letter. For more information about African Bible Colleges, click here to visit their website.
Dear members in Westminster Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, Mississippi,
Thank you very much for your long-time prayers and support for the ministry of African Bible Colleges. We hope that God has protected and sustained you during the recent COVID-19 crisis. We want to say a special thank you to the members of Westminster Presbyterian Church for their support of our students in Malawi. Your sponsorship towards our college students is very important to their education and making it possible for young students, especially students in rural villages, to attend a good Christian university like African Bible Colleges.
At present all three of our college campuses in Africa are closed at this time. The education at our colleges in Malawi and Uganda has continued during the COVID-19 crisis. We currently have over four hundred and fifty students in our undergraduate and graduate programs at ABC Malawi. All of those programs have continued via online. We plan to continue with in-person classes in August. Do pray for our faculty and students, that the government will allow the re-opening of universities by that time. We do thank and praise God that the number of COID-19 cases have been minimal in all three countries where ABC is located. In Malawi we have just over 100 cases and seven deaths. We hope that trend continues.
We would love your prayers for our on-going work at our ABC Mission Hospital in Malawi. They continue to see over 6,000 patients a month. They have remained very busy during the COVID-19 crisis. But it has been difficult with the closing of borders to the country and the closing of the international airport making it impossible to bring in much needed drugs and PPE’s. One of our ABC graduates handmade PPE’s and face masks for our hospital staff. They also passed out over 2,000 face masks to patients coming to the hospital in the last two months.
Right now our most important need is to get laptops in the hands of our students. This tremendous need was magnified during the COVID-19 crisis when our students were called to work from home. Less than 20% of our students have their own laptops. Many of them were having to borrow a computer or were using their smartphones to download their assignments and take pictures of written work to send back to their professors. This will help give our students the ability to have an uninterrupted education when we have a crisis like COVID-19 or recent Ebola that shut down our campus in Liberia for a year. We are currently raising funds to buy all 700 of our students in Malawi, Uganda, and Liberia laptops at the cost of $300 per student. We would be very grateful if Westminster Presbyterian Church would consider making a donation to this important project.
Paul Chinchen President & CEO
April 14, 2020
ABC MISSION HOSPITAL OPENS NEW EYE CLINIC IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CHRISTIAN BLIND MISSION (CBM)
(Left: ABC Graduate Mrs. Malia Kawale who is the director of ABC's Mission Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi) In the midst of the worldwide Coronavirus crisis, the ABC Mission Hospital has good news to share with you and the people of Malawi. On March 20th we held the opening ceremony for our brand new ABC Eye Clinic, in partnership with Christian Blind Mission (CBM).
Our ABC Mission Hospital is located in Malawi’s capitol city, Lilongwe, which has a catchment population of over 2 million people. In this area there are very few affordable eyewear and eye surgery options. ABC's new Eye Clinic will be a shining light on a hill for the people of Lilongwe. It will provide vision-care and surgical services that few other medical facilities in Lilongwe are able to offer, including general eye consultations and vision-wear services, but also cataract and glaucoma surgeries. The guest of honor at the opening ceremony was Dr Dan Namarika, the Malawi government's Secretary of Health.
Other guests included the Acting Director of the Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM), the Country Representative from CMB, and the Deputy General Secretary of the Nkhoma Synod. Also present was the Vice Chancellor of the African Bible College campus in Malawi, Dr Maggie Madimbo.
Our new ABC Eye Clinic is partnering with Christian Blind Mission (CBM), an international Christian organization committed to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities in the world's poorest countries. CBM has been in existence over a hundred years and has given improved sight to tens of thousands of people across Africa.
The new clinic will be staffed by trained nurses and our own Ophthalmic Nurse Practitioner, Alfred Kapyepye, as well as eye physician, Dr Vincent Moyo, who will schedule eye appointments at the new ABC Vision Centre one to two days a week.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers for our entire ABC Mission Hospital ministry, as well as this new Eye Clinic which will be providing critical care during this COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 UPDATE FROM ABC PRESIDENT
Dear Friends of ABC,
Thank you for taking a few minutes to listen to this update from ABC President Dr Paul Chinchen, as he describes how the Coronavirus is affecting ABC's work in Africa and how you can pray for and support our students and staff in Liberia, Malawi, and Uganda.
ABC Family and COVID-19
Dear ABC Family,
I hope this email finds you well. I am sending this message to a very widespread ABC family in Liberia, Malawi, Uganda, Brazil, and America, but I want to ensure we’re reaching everyone involved with African Bible Colleges.
First, I would like to share an important verse from Isaiah, reminding God’s people that during days of uncertainty we are called to faith, not fear:
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
The COVID-19 situation is obviously evolving daily, therefore, I would like to kindly ask that you read through this entire email as it contains information and plans for keeping your family and our campuses safe, and how you can help.
At this time, there are no reported cases of the virus in two of the countries where ABC operates (Malawi and Uganda), but that could change at any time. Just hours ago the Liberian government announced its first case in the capital Monrovia, a government official who had recently been abroad. Additionally, there are challenges to obtaining tests and test results in all three countries where ABC operates, therefore, it is possible that unidentified cases already exist. This means we need to remain attentive, but not fearful.
However, if a case is confirmed in any of the three countries where we have campuses, our plan is to close that college for a minimum of 30 days and revaluate at that time.
Here is our current plan for the various ministries of ABC; as mentioned above, the situation is fluid and these plans could be altered at any time:
ABC LIBERIA: Graduation was moved up three weeks to April 18, and a modified schedule was being put in place to ensure students received full instruction and credit before ending the semester, but just hours ago the Liberian government ordered all schools and universities closed for one week due to a confirmed case of the virus in Monrovia. Dr Beauchamp and Academic Dean Bob Andrews are now making plans to suspend classes.
ABC UGANDA: To date, no changes have been made to the college’s schedule.
ABC MALAWI: No changes have been made to the college’s schedule, but staff will reevaluate at the end of the week. It is possible the college’s two-week Easter Break will be rescheduled to the two weeks prior Easter, (right now Easter weekend falls in the middle of their two-week break), but that decision has not been made yet.
ABC CHRISTIAN ACADEMY: Our teachers and administrative team are preparing for distance learning options should the Academy have to close. This will include using Google classroom, email, teacher instructional videos, apps for teaching, WhatsApp communication, online-links, etc. In case of a closing, weekly student work packets will be submitted and returned for grades Reception-5th. Grades 6-12 will continue with Google classroom and Chromebooks. In this situation, teachers will be at school alone in their classrooms for limited hours to grade, plan and prepare.
ABC MISSION HOSPITAL: The hospital is setting up an isolation room if a COVID-19 case is diagnosed at the clinic. However, any confirmed COVID-19 cases will be immediately transported by the Ministry of Health to an isolation ward prepared by the government a few years ago during the West Africa Ebola outbreak. The Ministry of Health has ambulances on standby to transport patients or suspected patients. Meanwhile, ABC Hospital staff have been advised to wear masks while interacting with all unwell patients. As you might imagine, there is an acute shortage of the most efficacious N95 masks.
Here are some things that you can do to cut down on the spread of the flu, coughs, and colds:
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds in soap and water.
- Stay home if you're sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and advise your students to do likewise.
- Increase your efforts to regularly sanitize highly-touched surfaces such as desks, door handles, cafeteria tables, and office counters.
- Make sure soap is readily available in all bathrooms and dormitories.
- Inform students not to share towels.
- Provide paper hand-drying products in offices and campus bathrooms.
- Get in the habit of NOT touching your face as often; especially avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-used student computer keyboards.
- Students with chronic health issues or experiencing severe health problems should be evaluated by a medical professional and may need to study from home for the rest of this semester.
- Forgo shaking hands or using other physical contact (courtesy hugs). A wave, a smile, or a forearm bump can be just as friendly and warm!
Implementation of other safety precautions or restrictions will be put into place by, and at the discretion of the head of each campus or ministry.
This pandemic will affect many things at ABC for months to come. We had over 200 visitors planning to visit our campuses this summer; most of those trips will probably not take place. This affects the colleges and our students who are dependent on visitors for scholarships and assistance. Additionally, the stifled worldwide economy will affect giving to ABC, since many of our donors give out of surplus when their businesses or investments are doing well. Therefore, whenever you feel it is appropriate, I would encourage you to write donors and churches to remind them that the work of the Gospel goes on in Africa. We are on the frontlines of the battle for a magnificent continent. Just two days ago, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about Mauritania having to cut off almost a third of the country from all travel due to violent insurgence by extreme Islamic groups. This is not the time to falter. Our goal is total conquest for Christ through the courageous graduates of ABC and the invincible preaching of God’s Word.
The uncertainty of this outbreak is creating anxiety in every corner of the world. Yet we remain certain of God’s steadfast presence and careful attention to all that is happening. Please join us in praying for those who are affected by this illness, as well as their caregivers and those who are working around the clock to minimize the impact of this virus.
In Psalm 46, we are reminded that it is God who is our refuge and strength, and our ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, let us not fear, but with confidence use this opportunity to demonstrate Christian love through our prayers and our care for others.
Questions or concerns?
If you’d like to share your thoughts, concerns, questions, and ideas with us as we navigate our response to this situation, I would love to hear from you. Your input and feedback are truly important to us. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.
Trusting in King Jesus who is sovereign over all,
Paul D Chinchen, Th.D.
African Bible Colleges
PHONE - 601-922-1962
AFRICAN BIBLE COLLEGES
PO BOX 103
CLINTON, MS 39060
STATESIDE OFFICE IN SAN DIEGO