Posted Wednesday, April 11
Jill Stucker writes from Dubai Airport
From Brazzaville, Alan departed Africa for meetings in the U.S. Lamech, our Africa Program Manager, and I traveled to our final countries in West Africa: Cameroon, Togo, and Ghana. Everywhere we visited, our fellow Christian Scientists greeted us with love, warmth, and so much gratitude for ABF. Cameroon and Togo are French-speaking countries, but the ever-present love and graciousness of our hosts overcame all potential barriers.
In Cameroon, we were warmly greeted by ABF’s volunteer In-Country Representative (ICR), Dominique Bita’a, a high school teacher of accounting, and Angele Zeh, a Christian Science nurse and First Reader at First Church, Douala. They both are ABF beneficiaries! I was so inspired by the humility, grace, and pure Christian Science love they both demonstrated so naturally. ABF is so fortunate to have them on our team!
After our meeting with local ABF beneficiaries and church elders, we received very positive feedback. They told us how grateful they were for our open communication, and our willingness to listen to their ideas. They especially love that ABF supports their growth and practice of Christian Science. We all concluded that we are one family, all working together in support of our practice of Christian Science healing. I would never have imagined that I’d be spending Easter Sunday with friends and extended Christian Science family in West Africa! I really can’t describe how lovely it was–and memorable!
Next, we traveled to Lome, Togo, where the airport is new and the roads are too! We expressed many thanks to our outgoing ICR, Rodger Glokpor, now a full-time Christian Science practitioner and Christian Science lecturer, and welcomed our incoming ICR, Semenyo Koffi Anifrani. We met with him along with one of ABF’s beneficiaries, Maxime Youbi Kelonto, communication coordinator for The Mother Church, and thanked them for the wonderful, loving work they are doing to encourage and mentor students in Togo.
Lamech and I felt so inspired hearing how Semenyo, Maxime, and other fellow church members each found Christian Science. Every one of them related how they had been in a time of dire need and how they had felt a deep yearning for God to show them the way. In their search, they each found Christian Science. Everyone shared testimonies of healing, many of which have been published in the Christian Science periodicals !
Our meeting with beneficiaries provided the setting for a good exchange of ideas and information, as the members had many thoughtful questions. They are enthused about the opportunity to give back and even to contribute financially to ABF. The Wednesday testimony meeting was filled with love, inspiration, and testimonies of healing. A reception afterwards in the home of Rita and Paul Yakpo gave us even more time to get to know the church members. We found that Lome, Togo, thrives with progressive ideas and a Christian Science field dedicated to healing. I can’t say enough how appreciative they are of ABF! They feel that as individual Christian Scientists increase their capacity through education, their study and practice of Christian Science, and their church involvement, that the Christian Science Movement is lifted. This progress leavens the thought in Africa, bringing enlightenment and healing. That is what is happening in Togo!
We wrapped up our trip with our final meeting in Accra, Ghana. I was immediately impressed by ICR Daniel Koku Atidzon, a beneficiary of ABF in Accountancy and who is now a Journal-listed Christian Science practitioner, and George Sognon, currently working towards his Master’s in Development Finance. (See 2 min. video!) We had an enthusiastic and energizing meeting with current and potential beneficiaries, along with church members from all over Accra.
Our beneficiaries couldn’t express enough appreciation to ABF for providing them the opportunity to attend college and at the same time, continue to grow in their understanding of Christian Science. Potential beneficiaries were so grateful to be invited to the meeting and to learn more about ABF. All of the beneficiaries are currently working in their respective areas of study, in good positions. So now they wish to give back to ABF. We learned of the marvelous work going on in Ghana within our Christian Science Movement!
As Lamech and I wrap up our travels and return to our respective homes, I am filled with immense gratitude for the privilege of serving on the ABF team, and to have the opportunity to come to Africa so early in my tenure. First-hand experience is truly the only way to understand ABF’s purpose, design, and effectiveness in Africa. It has been awe-inspiring beyond words to witness the progress and significant impact the program has had — not only on individuals and communities, but on the CS movement worldwide. And it could be a “best kept secret” for many Christian Scientists who are not aware of the impact that the African Program is having on our church universal!
It is also a privilege to be working with such an outstanding Africa team. Lamech and Jean Leonard truly are stellar metaphysicians, professionals and leaders. Everywhere we traveled, the feedback was that of respect, admiration and appreciation for the prayerful care and dedication they express to our beneficiaries and ICRs, as well as to church members and perspective recipients.
An overarching insight for me has been to “connect the dots” between ABF and tangible church development and growth here in Africa, as Alan has depicted so beautifully in previous communications. In every country visited, we have seen that it is often the student beneficiaries of ABF who form Christian Science Organizations on campus, and later as alumni they move into their communities to form groups that become Christian Science Societies. And these naturally evolve into Churches! I had no idea how much ABF alumni have helped to forge the Africa field in the development and growth of churches. And it is the youth and alumni who often carry the torch forward through serving in church leadership roles. What a tremendous impact ABF is having on individual lives and entire church communities across Africa, and what a blessing they are for the Cause of Christian Science, worldwide!
My deepest gratitude to everyone for your prayers and support,
Jill Stucker, Program Manager