THOMAS' TRAVELS - JUNE 2011
This newsletter is a special report on Equatorial Guinea
MALABO, BATA, EVINAYONG:
Malabo is the city of international arrivals and departures by air into the country. It is located on the island of BIOKO. The other two cities are on the African mainland. Spanish is the official language of communication. Some years ago, the Southern Baptists in the U.S. handed over the mission work to the Spanish Baptists.
The challenges are many: sexual laxity is one of the biggest. In Bata and Evinayong it is rare to find a girl of fifteen years old or more who does not have an illegitimate child. By age 20, many of them have two or three children by different men. Aids is widespread. Another challenge is family curses and sorcery. Some parents take their children to the sorcerer where they are dedicated to demons. When the child is ill, he is taken to the 'medicine man'. Alcohol is ruining the lives of thousands of men and destroying family structure.
There is a dirth of trained leaders and workers in the Baptist community. Only three Spanish missionaries and one full-time national worker are working in the three cities I visited. Julio and Démaris are in Malabo as pastors of the church, and also directing a school of 700 pupils. Sara Marcos is pastoring the church in Evinayong and also directing a school. Jose Luis Asema is pastoring a church in Bata; all the training he has had is three years of Bible school with World Evangelization Crusade. All of these missionaries are overworked.
I was invited for two weeks of seminars on the family, leadership training, the Holy Spirit, and deliverance from the occult. At no point did I have time to share all of my material, as there were so many questions to be dealt with. In Bata, the sick and afflicted came to be prayed for. Individual requests required some counseling as well as prayer. I met with them in the morning in the guest house where I was staying. Two cases in particular stand out. Valérie, a thirteen-year-old from Gabon, who was a new believer, came for prayer. She was suffering from head pains and bad dreams. At one time she had become so violent that three men had to hold her down. When she was younger, her mother had taken her to a 'medicine man'. Other people had prayed for her in the past. She said to me, "I do not know what is wrong with me." I prayed for her also and urged her to get into the Word and let the Word get into her. I remember the words of Jesus who said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free." As I prayed with her, I took authority over the evil spirits. When I saw her four days later, she seemed radiant and happy.
Margarita, a seventeen-year-old, was suffering with eye problems and a constant irritation and a burning feeling in her eyes. She too had been taken to the 'medicine man'. I prayed with her and the Lord had mercy on her. I urged her also to get into the Word and let the Word get into her. A few days later she gave an encouraging testimony of having been healed. She said, "I even went down to the beach to swim, and still had no problem."
In Evinayong, on a Sunday afternoon, Sara Marcos and I spent three continuous hours counseling and praying for some very difficult cases including a lady with Aids. Next door to the church lives a young man called Juan, who was constantly crying out for much of the day and night. I was praying for a chance to meet him. That Sunday, for the first time, his mother brought him to the church. In talking with Juan, it seemed clear to me that it was a case of mental illness and demonic attacks. Sara and I ministered to him and led him to renounce Satan and surrender his life to Christ. A little while later, he joined the people at the church who were holding a pot-luck lunch. Thank God that the church is there to carry on ministering, for some battles are long-term, and I had to leave the next day.
It was a tough two weeks in Equatorial Guinea. The heat ranged from 35 to 40° Celsius, and the humidity was very high, especially in Malabo. Sometimes the water and electricity shut off for several hours, and this caused some problems with ventilation and hygiene.
As I was leaving Bata for the local flight back to Malabo, Jose Luis asked me if I would be willing to come back for a large-scale crusade. I told him I would pray for the Lord's leading on that question.
Thank you for your prayers that accompanied me to Equatorial Guinea. The last six months have been very demanding physically, emotionally and financially, for as you have seen in my previous letters, I have been ministering almost non-stop. At this present juncture, I need your financial support in order to continue.
My next port of call will be Rwanda (June 13 to 21). I am counting on your prayers and support.
Church in Evinanyong, Sara Marcos Spanish missionary
Church in Malabo. Julio and Démaris on from row
Church in Bata; Margarita wearing green blouse and black skirt
Bill preaching in Malabo