August 2017

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News Update from Mark and Diane Vanderkooi

August 31, 2017

Dear family, friends, and supporters;

Every once in a while we pass another milestone in our lives among the Kwong – translating our first book of the Bible (James, 1996); opening the radio station (2006) and beginning the treatment of malnourished children (2015). Now we have passed another such milestone – the opening of the Kwong School of Discipleship and Pastoral Training. Please share our joy with us in the following letter.

Your fellow servants,   Mark and Diane

A dream gives birth

For something like five years, we have dreamed, strategized, written proposals, worked the system, PR’ed anyone who cared to listen,  written and published 100’s of pages of materials, poured countless cubic meters of concrete, recruited staff, recruited students, written governing documents, travelled innumerable miles, and worn ourselves out – especially these last two years – with a single objective: to see a new generation of Kwong men and women prepared to take the spiritual helm of the Protestant church in Kwongland. This past week, to our great relief, the dream gave birth, and the Kwong School of Discipleship and Pastoral Training opened its doors.

Larry and Jan Gray, our dear colleagues and veterans of many years of theological education in Chad, now retired, have returned to Chad to lead the school during its first year and train the Kwong staff that will run it in subsequent years. The focus of the school during the first two years will be on discipleship, and on the recommendation of the staff, those students so gifted will be promoted to a third and fourth year focused on pastoral training. Pray for the staff and the students. Pray too that we figure out how to keep the translation effort going in the midst of the teaching effort, since both of our translators are now on the teaching staff.

A legacy of two books

It has been our dream for many years to leave a legacy of two books for the Kwong: the Scriptures, and as an interpretive companion to them, the Kingdom of God discipleship lessons.  These lessons, which were conceived in a series of sermons Larry preached on the subject to the Kwong in 1998, have morphed through 5 editions into a Biblical theology of some 500 pages covering the story of the Kingdom from Genesis to Revelation. Besides offering the Kwong a coherent framework in which to read the Scriptures, they include the full translation of probably over a thousand verses from parts of the Scriptures which will not otherwise be translated in our lifetime. This material is the cornerstone of the teaching program of the Bible School, and as such is now the object of yet another round of revisions, additions, and proofing by Mark. (The last time was when they were recorded for broadcast on the radio station 11 years ago.) 

In the grand scheme of our ministry in Kwongland, perfecting these materials, probably for the last or next-to-last time, represents, along with the opening of the Bible School, another step toward seeing the “Big Things” of our labors here brought to a conclusion. (The two other outstanding “Big Things” to finish in the next decade or so before we retire are, of course, the publication of the Kwong Scriptures, and completing the Old Testament oral history project which we started with Papa Jonas 11 years ago, but which ground to a halt for various reasons after 134 episodes at the Exile.)


Staff and students in front of our classroom building. We accepted 13 couples out of 21 applications. 10 showed up. Both husband and wife attend classes.


Larry and his teaching staff, plus Mark who functions as administrator. From right, François and Joseph, (who are also our translators), Larry, and Laurent. Diane, Jan,  and a Kwong lady named Augustine teach the women’s section of the school.


Jack and Nancy Snyder have been running Team’s print shop for about 30 years and are retiring in a few months. Here they are with a bunch of the materials they just printed for our school.

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Last modified: January 08, 2018