Roger and Marilyn Reeck (right) are UB Global endorsed missionaries serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators. They are based in La Ceiba, Honduras, but a lot of their work involves consulting and training in other countries. They sent this update:

“Over the last several years the Lord has taken us to several countries, and we have had the privilege of meeting and knowing so many of His chosen people. Now, we feel a very strong burden for them.

Honduras. There are many cases of coronavirus, and the country is under complete shutdown. They do have good hospitals and hospital staff, but medical resources are limited. We pray for God’s children in these countries.

Guinea Bissau (in West Africa). There are very few hospitals, they are not well staffed, and they have few medicines, masks,etc.

“Venezuela. The hospitals are lacking even the smallest supplies. That includes not even having gloves or soap. The people are already malnourished and have no built-up immunity. All we can do is to call out for God’s mercies.

We know that His love extends to all and is revealed to others through His children. May God help them to be that Light.

We were in Honduras from November to the middle of February. During that time Roger travelled to Brazil and checked the translation of the Yaminahua language. His time was very profitable. In January he was to spend three weeks in Colombia leading a Joshua Translation Workshop, but that was cancelled. Another event to take place the end of March was cancelled also.”

Two of their daughters work in the medical field. Christy Andino and her husband, Rigo, are UB Global missionaries with Commission to Every Nation. Christy is a nurse with a mission hospital in La Ceiba, Honduras. Marilyn writes, “At the moment, many decisions have to be made about the care of coronavirus patients.”

Amanda is a doctor of Internal Medicine at the University Hospital in San Antonio. They already have many coronavirus patients.

Roger and Marilyn have been in the states for several weeks visiting churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and attending a conference in Dallas. They have decided not to return to Honduras right away. They are spending this time with their daughters in San Antonio. They write, “The great thing is that we can do our work from anywhere there is internet.”

Sierra Leone is one of the few countries that hasn’t yet confirmed a case of COVID-19. But they are bracing for it. President Julius Maada Bio said on Thursday, “It is no longer a question of whether the coronavirus will come to Sierra Leone, it is a question of when. We cannot afford to wait for a positive case.” The country lost nearly 4000 people during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak.

Sierra Leone has banned all public gatherings of more than 100 people, banned all sporting events, suspended overseas travel by government officials, and deployed soldiers at the airport and land borders. All passengers coming from countries with over 200 cases must undergo a quarantine.

Airlines were given 72-hours notice to stop all flights to Sierra Leone effective March 21. Learning of this, Dr. Richard and Cathy Toupin, UB Global staff at Mattru Hospital, made a hurried trip to Freetown. The last we heard, they secured passage on a plane leaving the country–perhaps the last one for a long while–and have begun their journey back to Indiana.

During the Ebola crisis, the Chinese built a high-containment Biosafe Level 3 (BSL-3) lab in Sierra Leone (the highest level being 4). This, according to the country’s health minister, made them one of only two countries in Africa with the facilities to test for the virus before it even arose. He said they have established three sites that can do 40 tests per day. (The US has 13 BSL-4 labs and hundreds of BSL-3 labs. There are BSL-4 labs in South Africa and Gabon, and BLS-3 labs in 3 or 4 African countries.)

The Chinese government announced that they were donating to Sierra Leone 1000 test kits, 1000 surgical masks, 1000 medical gloves, 500 respirators, 500 sets of protective gowns, and 200 medical goggles.

On March 18, a Kenya Airlines flight landed in Freetown with a suspected COVID-19 case. There were four Japanese passengers, and one of them had been coughing. Sierra Leone officials were given advance notice when the plane landed in Liberia prior to departing for Freetown.

Sierra Leone health officials required that all disembarking passengers be quarantined for 14 days. All four Japanese passengers stayed aboard, as did a number of other passengers who were not Sierra Leonean; they were probably returned to the country where they had boarded. The rest, all of them Sierra Leonean, were taken to one of the quarantine facilities already set up.

L-r: Randy Magnus, Mark Wallace, Matthew Robertshaw, Brian Magnus, Neil Cudney, Jeff Bleijerveld.

Christian Horizons presented Excellence in Action Awards to the United Brethren of Canada and the United States. It recognizes their sponsorship of children in Haiti and participation in ministry to special needs children and adults. The awards were presented by Mark Wallace and Neil Cudney, both leaders of Christian Horizons and United Brethren ministers

The US Thanksgiving is just around the corner. By now, all UB churches should have received bulletin inserts and any additional materials requested in advance of this year’s missions offering.

The focus this year is on raising funds to help our international partners join us for General Conference. The meeting will be held March 14-18, 2020, in Jamaica. Each country does all it can to raise as much, if not all, of what’s needed to pay their way. Your gifts will serve to supplement what may be lacking.

This conference becomes increasingly strategic as more of our fellow United Brethren engage in mission ministry beyond their borders and in some cases beyond their continent.

Use this link to download a short video that describes the project. It can be used in the weeks prior to and including Thanksgiving Sunday.

Abdul Mustapha

by Michelle Harris, Associate Director of UB Global

Abdul Karim Mustapha is the Administrator of UB Mattru Hospital and of UBC Hospital Enterprises. He talked recently about his story with Michelle Harris, associate director of UB Global.

Sierra Leone United Brethren in Christ

Abdul grew up in a Muslim family and began studies at Bumpe UB school in 1980. There he became friends with many believing students and started following them to church. One year at the church’s New Year’s Celebration, his friend James Barnett stood, and instead of giving his own testimony, presented Abdul as his gift, calling him up to the altar. Initially, Abdul didn’t know if he was joking, but he went to the altar, where John Jusu (current dean of Education and Social Sciences at African International University) prayed and Abdul gave his life to Jesus.

UB missionaries June Brown and Shirley Fritz served at Bumpe during those years. Abdul attended weekly evening Bible classes with them and worked through monthly Bible correspondence classes.

Currently, Abdul serves in leadership in the Sierra Leone Conference as an Executive Member of the UB Masters International Conference and is a member of Kissy UB Church in Freetown.

Family

Abdul met Hawanatu Mary when she was doing an internship in the company he worked for. They married and have two children: Gloria, who is fifteen years old, and Natacha, who is 12. Both are doing well in school.

Abdul’s family has stayed in Freetown as he works in Mattru. Abdul takes long weekends in Freetown, and Hawanatu comes for longer stays in Mattru.

The Work in Mattru

Abdul was working at another job when he heard of the urgent need for a business manager for the solar and water project. His previous experience in logistics and administration led to his applying and being hired by the conference.

As business manager, he has brought order and clear direction to the projects. The solar and water projects not only provide electricity and clean water, but are a source of regular income to support hospital salaries. Thanks to a gift from the Huntington Rotary (Huntington, Ind.), 60 customers are now metered. The next steps of care and expansion for the system will involve a back-up generator to produce cash flow and dependable electricity during the rainy season, and additional meters for larger customers.

In May of 2019, Pamela McKee, who served as hospital administrator, needed to leave earlier than expected to receive medical attention in the US. Abdul stepped in to help, much as he did in 2018 when the need for a business manager was urgent. Pamela recuperated and traveled to Mattru in August to pass the baton, pack up, and celebrate with hospital staff her time there before returning to a new position in Ohio. God has been faithful in opening a door for her to travel twice a year to the hospital to continue her work of training and encouraging staff.

Abdul is taking his time to understand the hospital staff and learn the situation of the hospital. He likes the job. He says, “Let us all work together. We need prayers for all who are working, that we will be as one. When we have a problem, in good faith, that we will find a solution together.”

Abdul asks for prayers for unity for the staff.

We are thankful for Abdul and the many others who serve at Mattru Hospital.

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.