Twenty-four years ago, we began our ministry vision and journey in Holland, Michigan, more specifically with Christ Memorial Church. Here is a brief excursion back in time:
In 1994, I flew from Gambia, a tiny nation in West Africa, to the United States but could not reach my destination of Holland, Michigan due to cash-flow shortage. I landed in New York City and with the assistance of a young Ghanaian student, Kingsley Gamfi, whom I mentored in Gambia, I was able to purchase a bus ticket to Holland, Michigan. The bus ride seemed to take forever, but many hours later I finally arrived in Holland. Upon arrival, my dormitory was not yet ready for me to move in, and so I temporarily stayed in a church guesthouse. On the table that night, I spotted a handwritten note welcoming me to America. The writer, Dr. Gordon Van Wylen, and his wife, Margaret, came by to greet and welcome me, but I had not yet arrived. In the note they promised to pick me up Sunday morning for worship at Christ Memorial Church (CMC).
In Holland, I had my first American worship experience. That morning I was introduced to the senior pastor, Dr. Tim Brown, and then to the whole congregation. I began my pastoral studies at Western Theological Seminary and finished with my Master of Theology in Theological Studies in 1996.
In 1995, my family was finally able to join me in Holland thanks to the sponsorship of Pastor Tim Brown and CMC. My wife and I became a part of a Bible study there, and the group graciously befriended and loved our entire family that led to a great meaningful relationship with one another in Christ. We were named the church’s missionary in residence and continued to build numerous relationships within the congregation.
CMC became the first supporters of our ministry. We were able to raise additional support with their help for both our family’s living expenses and for my post-graduate studies at Loyola University, where I eventually received my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. They joined our support team to help me fulfill my vision to build Liberia International Christian College in Liberia (LICC).
Why is this a new beginning?
On this past Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2018, my wife and I were back in Holland, Michigan. We were once again celebrating Thanksgiving with CMC just like we did when we first arrived 24 years ago! Christian Leadership Training International was selected to be one of the organizations to receive CMC’s annual Thanksgiving offering gift. This offering will cover the expenses of building CLTI’s Aquaponic Projectsituated next to the college preparatory high school currently under construction in the city of Gompa, Nimba County.
This really is a new beginning! We had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with Rich and Jean Schreur, and their son, Craig. Twenty-four years ago, Jean and Rich were a part of our Bible study group, and we have not seen each other since that time. God reconnected us in Holland as this godly couple invited us to their home for Thanksgiving dinner.
We were also hosted at the home of Dr. Jolee Wennersten whom we first met when we arrived at CMC. She states that she will never forget us talking to the church when our family arrived in the USA. That was one of the reasons she joined the church.
Yah and I are so grateful for you, Christ Memorial Church! You are a valuable part of our newbeginning to now bring the gospel to thousands of young men and women in Liberia and around the globe. Your faithfulness makes a pathway for Liberians to hear the gospel in a way they understand.
I share the Apostle Paul’s heart in his thanks to the Philippians:
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the ‘FIRST DAY’ until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).
Similarly, I am thankful to all of you who are our friends and our partners that pray and support CLTI as we reach Liberians all across the nation and beyond.
In this new beginning, and in view of this Thanksgiving week, we encourage your generous donations to CLTI Ministry.