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Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance. (Ps 2:8)


Increasing In Knowledge

Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch

21 October 2005




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Dr. Claudia R. Wintoch
Centre Apostolique Malien
BPE 1654
Bamako, Mali
West Africa




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For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and … love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

That you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God (Col 1:10)


Paul and Peter admonish us to strive for knowledge, to increase in knowledge, for the glory of our Lord and God. At the time, Greek culture was dominant; a culture where knowledge was elevated to a high position, the quest for knowledge a most noble task and end in itself. Also today many cults and religions have made it their highest goal to increase in knowledge, often secret knowledge, and have made knowledge an idol. Even some Christian groups elevate the knowledge of the Bible seemingly higher than a living relationship with God, while other Christians have stopped striving for knowledge to pursue relationship with God and His presence only.

The Hebrew culture was all about relationship, but not at the expense of knowledge. Knowledge is necessary for relationship, and we all need to increase in knowledge while going higher in our relationship with God. Let's find the right balance, instead of neglecting one for the other. So that would live a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in every way and bearing fruit in every good work (see above).

As a passionate teacher, I feel most fulfilled when teaching people and seeing their progress, how they acquire knowledge and put it into practice. It is only natural for God to use me in that way at in Bamako. In fact, my first two years in Mali I taught German at a little Malian High School, which was a great and stretching experience, that also provided me with a work visa. Today I teach at our church and now I'd like to introduce to you the different classes and courses being taught at Centre Apostolique Malien. (By the way, I finally got my visa for year #3. Praise God! Go to my blog to read the details.)


The English class was the first course I offered while still at the High School. Mali being a French-speaking country, many people have the desire to learn English, and so it's been a great way of Muslims and Christians coming together in a non-threatening setting. Some of the Muslims in the class have come to movie nights or services or the children's program, helping out at times. Some of them are Hassan, Seybou's cousin, who was healed by Jesus and spends much time here, and then another Hassan (I call them "Hassan 1" and "Hassan 2"), who is also a university student and who comes by for other events occasionally. Both of them are practicing Muslims. Then there is Kassim, another university student, who has recently started coming to the children's program on a regular basis. He said he was fascinated by the teaching (I use a lot of illustrations), and he also comes to the movie night quite often. Kassim is only a nominal Muslim, not even keeping the Muslim month of fasting going on right now.

The other half of the classes are Christians from our church (eg. Marie and Paul) and other churches. And imagine, the police officer who took care of my visa and who's treating our government recognition papers wants to join us, starting next week!

I've just had to split the one class we had into two groups, to accommodate for the different levels people are at. We now have a beginners' class and a class for advanced students, both on Tue night, one after the other, 90 minutes each.


Before I teach English for three hours on Tuesday, I teach the literacy class. We started off with two groups this year, one for beginners and one for advanced students, but reduced it to one, so that I'm teaching all levels at the same time. For some reason the beginners' class was much smaller this year. However, I added another day in the week (Friday), because one hour per week is simply not sufficient.

Seybou, Elisabeth and Ari are making a lot of progress in their reading and writing skills. As you know, Seybou was a lot more advanced before I left in summer, being able to read everything. However, all that time we had somewhat neglected writing skills – which is a lot more difficult for them. Sometimes they get pretty frustrated. We now spend half the class writing and half reading, and it's great to see them learn and advance. Elisabeth reads very well, while Ari writes really well. I'm excited to know that pretty soon they will be able to read God's word for themselves. Elisabeth now has her stepson Paul read God's word to her, but not for much longer.

Our new students include Sekouba and Hassim. Sekouba is the street kid that came to the Lord and had a dream of Jesus. Sekouba now sleeps in a tent I pitched in the garden most every night. He is a sweet kid, and yet he has so far to go. Hassim is a guard at a nearby house and came a couple of weeks ago to our service, wanting to become a Christian. We prayed together, and he comes whenever he is allowed by his boss. Brahima is another street kid that is not in our literacy class yet, but will be soon, I believe. Brahima decided to follow Jesus, and he seems more serious than Sekouba. When I teach the children on Wednesdays, he is the most attentive of all kids. Yesterday he showed us a horrible wound he has on his foot. We prayed for him, but I knew I had to act. We went to the pharmacy, and thankfully it wasn't me taking care of the wound. He has a huge hole full of rotten flesh in his foot. Pray that God will heal him! I've also offered Brahima to spend the nights here. Today he came during the day to just lie down and take a nap. Seeing him sleeping, the word "refuge" came to my mind. It's like he knew, coming onto our property, he'd find refuge from the world out there. While Sekouba laughs at times, Brahima is always serious and sad-looking.


The last weekend in November we celebrate our first anniversary as a church. At our inaugural service last year, we did our first and only baptism so far. I've felt that the time has come for another baptismal service, even before the multitudes that come in through the crusade with Cliff are ready for that step. What better occasion than our anniversary service, where there'll be many people and a banquet. Plus, it is going to be Cliff's last day with us.

Since three out of the five baptism candidates don't speak French, and to give my pastor-in-training some opportunity to step out and grow, I asked Emmanuel to teach the three sessions to prepare them for baptism, and to do so in Bambara. Without the language barrier and with Emma's discernment, I believe he will know who is truly ready to be baptized. The five candidates are Elisabeth, Paul, Seybou, Sekouba and Hassim.


A year ago we started with 3 students that were reduced to two. This year we started with 4 students and are down to three. And those three students are not doing the same school that one of them did last year. In fact, we started from the beginning again, with a different program - the International School of Ministry (ISOM). ISOM is an accredited video-based school that has been translated into over 50 languages, with every course being taught by a different teacher, an expert in his field of study. Some of the teachers are Reinhard Bonnke, Jack Hayford and Joyce Meyer. They teach with an interpreter on the video, and all the written materials are already in French.

So why did I not continue last year's program? I believe this program was an answer to prayer for me. First of all, I'm saving a lot of time by not having to translate all the materials myself. And the school is truly preparing students for the ministry, with excellent teachings by excellent teachers. The disadvantage is that students already have to have a good foundation of faith and certain level of maturity to follow.

Emmanuel, Paul, SimeonWhich is why Paul is being stretched a lot by the school. On the first day of school I found out that he doesn't have a Bible. He had never had a Bible or read one – well, all of that has changed by now. Paul has such a pure heart, such a desire to know God and to serve Him, it's beautiful. He is giving his best, learning how to find passages and reading God's word eagerly, as well as giving his all to do the homework. If you'd be graded by effort, he'd be on the top!

I'm also glad that Emmanuel can do the school this year. As the most mature Christian, coming from an evangelical background, the school is perfect for him. He's especially eagerly drinking in the teachings on the things of the Spirit.

The third student, and only one to do his second year (though it's back to first with that school), is Simeon.

And tonight (Thursday), all three are writing their mid-term exam.


Last year I translated and taught three of the twelve courses of the Faith Bible College program. It's a good school, and I didn't lightly choose NOT to teach it this year. We might continue with the other classes at a later time. Right now, I have an assistant pastor doing a correspondence course through me as the Bible College representative in Mali, and a pastor is also interested in getting his degree that way.

As you can see, our church members and friends, Christians and Christians-to-be, are growing in knowledge of one kind or another. My goal in all our classes is to point them to Christ, to fill them with truth that will lead them to repentance, to stir their hearts to know the One who sent me and who LOVES them.

How you could support those ministries:

* All three of my Bible students do not have the means to pay for their training – one doesn't have a job, one is a High School student and one is a university student, without money to even come to the school. School fees (tuition and supplies) are $28 (23 EUR) per trimester.

* Because of a formal mistake, Paul was forever refused the chance to go to a public High School. He was devastated, yet grew a lot in his trust of God through this situation. He has worked very hard to get to where he is (as an Albion he has special physical and social challenges), and to even reach the level of being able to go to High School. So I sent him to inquire how much the private High School costs, and gave him the first payment. He's now attending school and very excited. Paul's family is very poor, barely having enough to eat, and school even requires more expenses (e.g. school uniform). Paul's heart is to proclaim the gospel and serve God for the rest of his life. Would any of you like to become a sponsor to enable Paul to do his three years of High School (lycée) to complete his schooling? Tuition is $310 (260EUR) a year. Also, I'm excited to tell you he went today to have glasses made (Albinos have bad eyes), so from now on he will see clearly in the physical as well. Just the glasses, without the doctor's visit, cost $70 (60 EUR).

* I'm requiring a little fee for English class, for the expense of photocopying the materials, but again, many students cannot afford that. Literacy class is free, a service of love, and none of them would be able to pay even a cent anyway. So, maybe you can imagine how much paper and ink I use for all the classes above. Additionally, because of the climate, ink runs out quicker (evaporates). So, expenses for printer cartridges and paper are a considerable item.


Next week I'm flying to Paris for 5 days, to meet up with Dr. Cliff Pash and his wife there, at our sister church. I'm honored and rejoice that I'm able to introduce Cliff to my friends in Paris, and he will have a chance to minister to them twice. Cliff & Julie haven't spent time in Paris yet, so it will be a special occasion for them. As for myself, I'm glad to have a few days of "filling up" with my brothers and sisters, some rest from the stress and craziness of preparing for the crusade in Bamako, and ministry in Timbuktu and Koutiala. The enemy has been pounding on everything, as well as me, causing much trouble in his attempt to keep God's plan from moving forward, but, praise God, God always prevails! So, please keep praying as we're entering the hot phase – for the team and for all that needs to be done.

Oct 28-Nov 2 Paris, France
Nov 2 Cliff and I travel to Bamako
Nov 3 School of Ministry
Nov 4 movie night THE PASSION with Cliff, prayer night
Nov 5 day-seminar with Cliff for English-speaking missionaries in Bamako
Nov 6 Cliff preaching in another church in the morning, at CAM in the afternoon
Nov 7 two more team members arrive – Randy and Brad
Nov 8 last team member arrives – Alex; morning: evangelism school, evening: addressing crusade team
Nov 9 morning: evangelism school, noon: children's program, evening: crusade
Nov 10-12 morning: conference, evening: crusade
Nov 13 morning: Cliff at yet another church, afternoon: Cliff at CAM
Nov 14 traveling from Bamako to Sévaré
Nov 15 traveling from Sévaré to Timbuktu
Nov 16-20 Timbuktu
Nov 20 traveling from Timbuktu to Sévaré
Nov 21 Dogonland
Nov 22 traveling from Sévaré to Koutiala
Nov 22-26 Koutiala
Nov 27 CAM 1st anniversary service with baptism, Cliff preaching
Nov 28 Cliff's departure

In HIS service,