Flooding in Sierra Leone.

Major floods have been impacting much of Sierra Leone in recent days. As of August 5, five persons were reported dead, 41 communities affected, and in Freetown alone, 459 homes flooded and 5318 people displaced. In Sulima, where the UB Sierra Leone Conference has been working among the Muslim majority Vai people, Rev. Tucker’s home was flooded, forcing him to seek shelter elsewhere. Please be lifting them up in prayer.

Pastor César Obregón

We were shocked to learn of the murder of Pastor César Obregón, one of the United Brethren pastors in Guatemala. Witnesses claim a local sorcerer/witch-doctor brutally attacked him with a machete. He died soon after from his wounds.

Pastor Obregón had served as a church planter since our earliest days in Guatemala, which go back to 2000. He had planted numerous churches. The most recent was located in San Antonio, Suchitepequez, a three-hour drive from the capital of Guatemala City. There, the congregation met on a property they had purchased, under a bamboo-framed structure covered with a heavy mill black plastic. People were hearing the Gospel and were being saved.

Pastor Obregón left behind a wife, children, grandchildren, and a very new congregation.

Jeff Bleijerveld, executive director of UB Global, writes, “Pray for our Guatemalan brothers and sisters as they mourn his loss and seek to reconcile what took place in a country that is overwhelmingly Christian. Indeed, darkness often rages against the church where its light shines the brightest. However, the victory is ours because the battle has already been won, and our dear brother César has gone on to receive his reward. Pray that even this tragic event might be transformed for God’s glory, and that many would come to know Christ as Lord and Savior.”

Rev. Armando Lopez (right), national leader of Nicaragua Conference, provided the following update on his country’s ongoing national crisis.

The economic situation has deteriorated rapidly, with immediate consequences for our churches, which are struggling to support themselves. As an example, in one church with an average number of attendees, only 20 Cordobas ($0.59) was collected, which is very rare. I tell you this because [I am] very concerned about the situation and the crisis that we have been experiencing over the last year. We still do not know how it will end.

The closure of many companies and the decline in exports has forced the dismissal of many people, including many church members. There is also been an increase in electricity and water rates, and people and churches have to pay more for these services. In addition, new tax reform was passed that forces companies and citizens to pay more taxes to cover the federal budget.

We had been using much of our financial resources to legalize church properties that were never officially registered. We managed to legalize three, but the problem with legalizing them is that doing so exposed old debts to be collected for garbage collection, property improvements, and property taxes. We did not have the money needed to pay all these debts, so we are paying in installments for two of the churches. This has been a huge challenge for the conference that is not currently generating income.

We also have six pastors who are sick with Dengue Fever. These are pastors for small rural churches and have not been able to receive treatment. I’m worried for them as they cannot afford medicines. Without further ado, I am thanking you in advance for anything you can do for this conference. Bishop Armando Jose Lopez – UBIC Nicaragua.

The Buchanan church, with walls going up around the existing church.

The walls going up at the Buchanan church.

Earlier this month, the Liberia Missions District conducted a seven-day pastoral leadership training event in which 35 pastors and lay leaders participated. Bishop Moses Somah was thrilled with the number of participants. The mission district, which is under the supervision of Sierra Leone National Conference, currently has nine churches.

Also in Liberia, reconstruction of the Buchanan United Brethren Church is underway. As you can see in the photos, the congregation continues meeting in the old building, while the walls for the new building are going up around it. Buchanan is the second-largest city inf Liberia.

Michael Mudge, pastor of Bethany House of the Lord, a United Brethren congregation in Cumberland, Md., wrote about the Buchanan project on March 27.

“The building was destroyed a year ago in a windstorm and replaced with a make-shift replacement. Last fall, during the U.B. Connected event at Rhodes Grove Camp, churches of the United Brethren in Christ were challenged to raise funds to build a new sanctuary.

“The last check from pledges made in November was received at UB Global last week. Total raised for this project from UB churches in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia exceeded $14,600! Total giving during the event exceeds $32,000!”

Lamar and Karen Crumbley as missionaries in Honduras.

Karen Crumbley, 82, a former UB missionary in Honduras and Macau, died March 26, 2019. She and her husband, Lamar, were finishing a cruise to celebrate their 51st anniversary when Karen suffered a massive heart attack during the night.

Lamar and Karen Crumbley were missionaries in Honduras over a 15-year period beginning in the late 1970s, and also served a short-term stint in Macau in 2003.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at the Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Canton, Georgia.

A two-room Birth Waiting House, for women with high-risk pregnancies, opened at Mattru Hospital on March 8. Special thanks to Summit Church Missions for donating the funds needed to make it happen.

According to Elaine Metzger, Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. One reason is the lack of hospitals. Mattru Hospital is one of only two in the Bonthe District, and the lack of roads and transportation makes it difficult for women to get to hospitals.

Elaine writes, “Thankfully there are more village health centers where high risk pregnancies can be detected earlier. Now those women can travel to Mattru earlier in their pregnancy and live in the Birth Waiting House until the baby arrives. Being on hospital grounds, they will have access to medical support as soon as labor begins.”

The Chiang Rai International Christian School (CRICS) is looking for teachers to fill a variety of needs in 2019-2020. The school serves expats, like the children of UB missionaries Brian and Rachel Glunt, as well as Thai students. Hannah Barrett, a UB Global Jump Start staff member and Huntington University graduate, is currently teaching elementary education at CRICS.

Current Needs:
Secondary Math
Secondary Social Studies
Computer Teacher (Gr 2-12)
Art
Elementary
Special Education Teacher and Assistant
Speech and Language Pathologist
Substitute Teacher
English as a Second Language Teacher
Curriculum Coordinator

Contact them at recruiter@crics.asia

Presenting the check to UB Global. L-r: UB Global director Jeff Bleijerveld, associate director Michelle Harris, Rich Beaver, and Cindy Krumanaker.

The Rotary Club in Huntington, Ind., has long been a supporter of the Mattru Hospital in Sierra Leone. On March 6, members Rich Beaver and Cindy Krumanaker presented Michelle Harris and Jeff Bleijerveld with a check for $11,300. Their contribution will pay for the electric meters being installed throughout the community, so the hospital can charge customers for the electricity provided from their solar array. The proceeds will be used to help pay the salaries of the hospital staff.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of UB Global

Although many news sources no longer cover the civil unrest that began in April 2018, Nicaragua remains in the midst of a national crisis.

According to the US State Department, armed and violent uniformed police or civilians in plain clothes acting as police (“para-police”) are targeting anyone thought to oppose the rule of President Daniel Ortega. These groups often cover their faces, sometimes operate in groups numbering in the hundreds, and use unmarked vehicles.

Rallies and demonstrations occur daily around the country. Government forces, uniformed police, and para-police have attacked peaceful demonstrators leading to significant numbers of deaths and injuries. Looting, vandalism, and arson accompany unrest.

While many of the roadblocks, demonstrations, and lootings have decreased in Managua and other major cities, they may still appear and limit availability of food and fuel.

Our United Brethren have remained neutral politically, while praying fervently for their country. With the generous support that many provided, UB Global has sent funds for relief supplies, the repair of one church building hit by homemade mortars, and sufficient funding to guard and protect the conference buildings (including the new 40-bed conference center in La Ceiba).

When the situation changes, we will be happy to resume sending teams to partner with our Nicaraguan churches. If you would like to help provide relief, send your gift to UB Global marked “Nicaragua Relief.”