World English Institute & Bible Correspondence School
Quarterly Update: January - March, 2021
30 BAPTISMS IN BUYENDE, UGANDA
Can you believe it? God has used WEI and WBS to plant another church in Uganda during the past three months—in the village of Buyende.
After teaching Jackson Mayanja the WBS materials, Mary McKinney began teaching him the WEI lessons in November 2019
Jackson is married with children and teaches seventy-six pupils at Redlands Primary School in Buyende.
As Mary and Jackson studied together, his knowledge of English and the Bible improved greatly. She noticed that Jackson was eager to serve the Lord, so she contacted Isaac Sanyu, a dedicated WBS follow-up man in Kampala, and asked him to visit Jackson. Isaac drove ten hours, from Kampala to Buyende, to make the initial contact.
After studying with Mary further, Jackson decided to be baptized, so Isaac and two brothers from Jina drove a Gospel Chariot vehicle to Buyende. When they arrived, no one but Jackson wanted to be baptized. Members of the church for which he preached had been warned by outsiders that they would die in the water. To prove otherwise, Jackson set a good example. When he came up out of the water alive and smiling, everybody’s fears disappeared, and twenty-nine members of the congregation, including his wife, Rita, were born again of water and the Spirit.
Jackson wrote, “People here believe a lot in witchcraft and sacrifices. Glory to God that I was the first person to be baptized. It relieved people’s hearts. Many had been told that the moment one is immersed, he will die immediately as a sacrifice to the vehicle. Now, everyone was silent. I pray that God will continue changing this village.”
Today, there is a new congregation of thirty members in Buyende. Mary writes, “Many left when he removed instrumental music and began New Testament worship. Now they are coming back.”
Jackson is eager to establish a relationship with the new congregation in Kamuli Municipality that we described in our last WEI newsletter. Amazingly, the two congregations are only 16 miles apart.
Praise God for Jackson and the new congregation, Isaac Sanyu, WBS, the Gospel Chariot, Mary McKenney, and the other WEI teachers who are sharing their faith with others.
It is inspiring to watch God work. He can use you to spread the Good News around the world.
Editor’s Note:The preceding article, and the next two articles, were written by WEI President, Tom Langley. Thanks, Tom.
Dick Towell’s tips for teachers
Jan Towell uses an analogy based on the Parable of the Sower to encourage teachers saying, “Keep Sowing.”
Dick Towell, Bob’s younger brother and an elder of the Lakeview Church of Christ in Tacoma, Wash, became a WEI Internet teacher about a year ago with Jan’s encouragement. Since then, he has claimed 511 students in 100 countries. He has kept impeccable records, and his observations have opened our eyes to many important lessons.
Dick often uses an analogy based on Jesus’ call to Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mat-thew 4:19).
Both analogies carry important tips for teachers. When we sow the seed (God’s word), some seed falls on good soil, and God gives the increase. Some seed fall son hard soil, some on rocky soil, and some in thorny soil and produces nothing. Our job, as teachers, is to sow the seed, water it, and let God do his work.
As fishers of men, however, we attract prospective students with English grammar mixed with reading assignments from the Bible. We set the hook quickly by responding with warm words of welcome, kindness, and encouragement.
When he first began teaching, Dick T. became discouraged by the huge number of drop-outs. This forced him to re-think his strategy. He began focusing on the students who showed an interest in learning. When a student dropped out, he claimed another from the student board, and kept doing this until he had as many good students as he could teach.
Dick’s second priority was to retain students by developing warm personal relationships with them. Dick says, “Always encourage them. Guide them through the lesson study process. Listen for openings, and wait for an invitation to move from their ‘secular’ space to their ‘spiritual’ space. Do not let your students slip away. View student retention as a mission. The [WEI] lessons teach them the Bible. Your priority is to keep the students choosing to study. Do not push the students away by correcting their essay thoughts too sharply. Do not let them drift away. Communicate, encourage, and demonstrate personal interest in them. Finally, rejoice.”
Dick has discovered that 35% of his prospective students become “real students”. Even if these students drop out before completing the basic courses, “they have invested much time in Bible study. They have much more knowledge of God’s word than when they started. Some will return, even months, or years later.”
Dick concludes, “The Lord is working on me, too. I am now an evangelist going, with the Gospel, into all the world. I am learning more perfectly how to love others. I am so encouraged in my own Christian walk.”
An inspiring story from Texas
Justin Speer, a member of the WEI board of directors and the Deacon of WEI at the Katy Church of Christ in Katy, Texas, has a heart-warming story to share with us.
Justin writes, “This quarter, we relay an uplifting message about a WEI Internet teacher, Steven Sykes, who resides in Katy, with his wife Laura, his daughter Ellie and son Ethan. Steven has been a source of encouragement for many brothers and sisters at the congregation in Katy.
“What makes Steven’s story unique is that he was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) nearly eight years ago.”
At that time, Steven was a natural athlete (6 feet 3 inches tall) who loved to run and bike and play sports. Today, walking is a struggle. He often falls, and painful muscle spasms grip him at night. It is hard for him to eat and talk.
Justin says, “His life has been turned upside down physically, but I’ve never seen him stronger spiritually. It is rare not to see a smile on his face—even after he falls. He is a tremendous example of inner strength and grace.”
Steven said to Justin, “The great Physician is our Creator, and what he has created, he can heal.”
Justin asked Steven when and why he became a WEI Internet teacher, and he replied, “October 8, 2016, was a great day—the day I was approached to teach others. WOW!!! Think about it. It was awesome. Why? The best way to learn more is to teach others, and I love sharing. What a great feeling it is to share the Bible. It is Good News. We create and develop relationships with people around the world. Don’t forget: It is the ‘World’ English Institute. Another benefit is that I work with the godly brothers and sisters at WEI.” Justin asked Steven how many students he had taught, and he replied, “I am working toward 100 students, and I am almost there.”
When asked if he had any advice for individuals who are hesitant to teach English through WEI, Steven said, “WEI is a limitless opportunity to teach English and God’s word. All teachers are planting seeds. That’s it. So, open your laptop and get online. God will give the increase. Oh, by the way, the WEI website does all the heavy lifting. It provides a pool of students. It provides the online curriculum. It does the grading, and it provides encrypted private email. If you can point and click and write an email, you’re perfect.”
Finally, Justin asked if he had any words of wisdom for WEI readers and teachers. Steven replied, “Evangelism is a work of communication. Keep talking to students with enthusiasm. As followers of Christ, we must teach others about him. Why not use factual biblical stories to teach people about Christ? Also important, don’t forget to pray.”
As Justin said to Steven, “Thanks so much for sharing a little of your story and your work with WEI. You are an amazing example and source of encouragement.”
The Amazing Thurman Brothers
Tom Langley writes, “If World English Institute had a record book, two retired businessmen, Robert and Rocky Thurman, of Celina, Tennessee, would certainly hold the record of the most students taught by siblings. Together, these brothers are teaching, or have taught, more than 13,000 students in 76 countries, and they continue to take students
“Both have some special memories of those early teaching days. For Rocky, it was Edwin [Vicente] in the Philippines. Edwin finished all his lessons in just a little over a month.” Robert explained, “We connected Edwin with Steven Prine who makes regular trips to the Philippines to preach the gospel. I got in touch with Edwin, and he wanted to meet Steven on his next trip to the Philippines. On that trip, Edwin was baptized.”
W.E.I. THANKS YOU!Your contributions and donations allow WEI to continue to reach people in all nations with the word of God.
Edwin’s walk with God
When Rocky found Edwin E. Vicente on the WEI student board, he found a jewel. God used Rocky to polish the jewel until it glistened.
Shortly after Steven Prine baptized Edwin into Christ, the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the Philippines. Schools closed, and Edwin lost his job. His meager life savings soon vanished, and he traded virtually all of his possessions for food and lodging. Instead of complaining about his adversity, Edwin used his free time to gather thirty children, young people, and adults under a grove of shade trees and taught them what he had learned from WEI. The story of his walk with God is recorded in the past four issues of the WEI newsletter.
The latest episode in Ewin’s spiritual journey is exciting. Thanks to a generous gift from a Christian couple in Texas, Edwin was able to rent an inexpensive house that gives him a place to live and a venue for teaching his WEI students. The donors’ gift also covered the cost of a sign for the learning center, eighteen student chairs, a canopy covering the outdoor teaching area, and Edwin’s living expenses for three months.
On April 6, after much praying, planning, preparing, and advertising, Edwin launched the new WEI Learning Center. Almost 70 people attended the Grand Opening Ceremony.
Edwin wrote, “It was a very successful and memorable launching. Brother Erben L. Gonzales, the preacher in Calasiao Church of Christ where I was baptized, was our main speaker.”
Following the Opening Ceremony, many of the parents expressed an interest in studying the Bible with Edwin. He estimated that thirty parents would be in his adult classes three days a week, but a violent storm tore through the city and destroyed the sun canopy. Edwin must now repair or replace the canopy before he can use the outdoor teaching area again.
Edwin’s walk with God is approaching a grand crescendo. He has taught his daughter and his three volunteer coordinators the way of the Lord more perfectly. All three coordinators are convicted and are ready for baptism. His daughter is almost ready.
The three coordinators were scheduled to be baptized on April 9th, but the COVID-19 pandemic flared up in the Philippines, and the government ordered another shutdown. The beaches are off-limit, and the baptisms must be postponed until the lockdown is lifted. When that happens, Erben Gonzales, the preacher in Calasiao where Edwin began his spiritual journey, will return to San Fernando and baptize the three coordinators into Christ. Edwin is praying that his daughter will be ready by then.
Edwin’s ministry is off to a good start, and God continues to provide the resources he needs to move forward with this good work in the Philippines.
Surviving in Papua New Guinea
Thanks to the generosity of an American family, Arthur Tatara, the dynamic young preacher in Papua New Guinea, is surviving the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, Arthur is able to continue preaching the gospel.
Arthur says, “I love preaching and teaching the word to lost souls in Papua New Guinea. I made another trip to Waria from February 4th to 20th. I was asked to conduct a class for ladies and to meet with youths at the Waria Valley church of Christ.
“During the class, one soul was added to the Lord’s Church. The lady’s name was Junita Erick. The teaching was new to her, and it really helped her decide to become a member of the Lord’s church.
Arthur concludes, “This year, December 2021, I will host the Morobe provisional youth camp in Waria Valley. The estimated number of participants will be 1,000 plus. I am also sending a letter to denominational churches inviting them to the camp.”
W.E.I. NEEDS YOUR ASSISTANCE!More and more national preachers around the world are using WEI courses in their local outreach ministries. National preachers are our most efficient and productive partners in world evangelism. Additional funds for printing and mailing these materials are needed.
WEI IN THE CAMEROON JUNGLE
Anthony Oben, a long-time WEI teacher and native of Cameroon, is now in Nigeria working with Aniefiok Akpan as part of the WEI International Digital Evangelism in Africa ministry.
Recently, Anthony made an evangelistic trip to the town of Akwaya in the troubled southwestern part of Cameroon. This area is covered by rain forests, mountains, and raging rivers making it inaccessible to ordinary vehicles.
Anthony writes, “The journey from Obudu, Nigeria to Akwaya took 6 hours on a motor bike and on foot through horrible roads. On the boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon, we had to cross the river in a canoe. I set out on Thursday, 1st April at 2:00 p.m. and arrived at 9:00 p.m.
“Our house-to-house evangelism was carried on for two days (on Friday and Saturday). We contacted two students who had been studying with WEI, and they were baptized”.
“I preached an open-air lesson on “Salvation,” and the results were great: 3 ladies and 4 men were baptized.”
Akwaya is located in the English-speaking (Anglophone) section of Cameroon. This region has been ostracized by the French-speaking government because the Anglophone people have tried to secede from Cameroon and form an English-speaking nation.
Anthony writes, “Being an area affected by the Anglophone crisis, the people are living in extreme poverty: no health facilities, so many unwanted pregnancies among teenagers, constant harassment from militia fighting in the crisis. I have registered 50 persons interested in studying with WEI. I will be visiting again sometime next month.”
WEI-IDEA World Conference
Aniefiok Akpan, long-time champion of WEI in Nigeria, West Africa, has visualized using the WEI teaching website to evangelize the entire continent of Africa.
He has named this proposed outreach ministry “International Digital Evangelism for Africa” (IDEA).
Aniefiok was ready to launch WEI-IDEA more than a year ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to change his plans. Instead of meeting in person at the Uruk Otong church building, he has organized a worldwide ZOOM meeting, one hour a day for seven days, May 1-7, 2021, with seven keynote speakers from Nigeria and the USA.
Keynote speakers in America will speak to the world from their own homes or offices without traveling to Nigeria. God willing, this is the first of many worldwide WEI-IDEA digital conferences.
NEW BROTHER IN MADAGASCAR
Moses Born Again in Malawi
The following email comes from Vicki Murphy, one of our finest WEI Internet teachers.
Vicki writes, “Gael Manana Rabadson, a student with whom I started teaching in WEI, dropped out, then returned to another WEI teacher. Finally, he was transferred back to me, and now, he has been baptized in Toliara, Madagascar. In this case, I planted, she watered, and I saw the increase.
“After about three lessons, I just asked him if he wanted to be baptized and become a member of God’s family on earth and to serve him for the rest of his life. He said, ‘It is what I want most in my life.’
“I think he was ready when I got him back. It just took someone asking him point-blank. Anyway, Hallelujah, we have another brother in Christ. God and WEI are good.”
Former WEI student resurfaces
Moses Born Again in Malawi
In 2005 and 2006, Deusdedit C. Konunu, a citizen of Tanzania, studied with the late Fred Uptagraft and earned a WEI diploma.
Fred encouraged Deus to establish a non-denominational church in his community, but Fred died before a plan could be worked out for planting the New Testament church.
Now, fifteen years later, Deus has resurfaced. During these years, he has earned several university degrees, including a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. Currently, Dr. Deus is the Managing Director of Radio Uhai FM and Uhai Online TV in Tabora, Tanzania.
We are happy to report that Dr. Deus uses WEI extensively in his radio and television ministry, and he is still interested in planting a non-denominational church in Tabora Tanzania.