Dr. John Smith, Dr. Augustine Hibaile, and Ryan Aument partnered to create a US-based web site to encourage and suport CIDEL, a ministry led by Dr. Hibaile.One of the amazing things about the Internet is how it can cross thousands of miles in an instant, bringing information to people half a world away.
With that in mind, a website was built in Lancaster, Pa., for the purpose of encouraging a ministry in the Central African Republic (CAR), more than 6,000 miles away.
That website is friendsofcidel.org, representing Friends of CIDEL, a group based in Lancaster. Its purpose is to encourage and support CIDEL (The Center International for the Development of Ethical Leadership), located in Bangui, CAR.
CIDEL was founded by Dr. Augustine Hibaile, a graduate of Brethren Biblical Theological Seminary in CAR and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Ind. Hibaile taught in the Bible Institute and Seminary in CAR for 20 years.
In 2005, he founded CIDEL, a ministry to people in positions of authority. CIDEL promotes godly ethics and leadership training in the CAR and other African countries, where corruption is widespread. Hibaile conducts seminars on ethical leadership and related topics to top government officials with very positive results.
How did the CIDEL/Lancaster connection begin? Dr. John Smith, lead pastor of the Grace Church at Willow Valley in Lancaster explains:
“In February 2009, Dave Guiles (Encompass World Partners executive director) asked me if I had ever considered traveling to the CAR to come alongside of Dr. Hibaile in his ministry. (I had met Dr. Hibaile in 2007 when he visited our church.) Dave asked me, given my back- ground in police chaplaincy and higher education ... in addition to the pastoral ministry.”
Within a month, God opened the door for Smith to go. He approached his son-in-law, Ryan Aument, about going along. Smith thought Aument’s experience in government work would be valuable in connecting with officials in Africa. (Aument has served in the Pennsylvania legislature since 2010 in addition to a term as the Lancaster County Clerk of Courts and other political experience.) Aument enthusiastically agreed to go.
“When Ryan and I returned from our 2009 trip, we were so impressed by the ministry of CIDEL that we both felt a need to come alongside of Dr. Hibaile in some way,” said Smith. ”We decided to attempt to bring together individuals who had a heart for what Dr. Hibaile was attempting to accomplish through CIDEL.”
The result was Friends of CIDEL. With the help of Philip Weaver, whom they refer to as an “IT genius,” the website was established. (Philip is the son of Marlin and Sue Weaver, former Encompass missionaries in France.)
Has Friends of CIDEL and its website accomplished its purpose of providing support and encouragement for Hibaile’s ministry?
“I believe the fact that we have been able to give him and his ministry vis- ibility through the website has been
a huge encouragement to him,” says Smith. “In facing so many obstacles in his ministry in central Africa, knowing he has a group of supporters regu- larly praying for him and giving to his ministry certainly must give a lift.”
Currently, Friends of CIDEL is help- ing to raise funds to build a Center for Ethics/Chapel on the University of Bangui campus. The university rector has asked Hibaile to assist in this project, which will provide needed space for teaching ethics/leadership courses.
Hibaile says, “The rector of the university is doing all he can to maintain a Christian influence on the campus, but he needs help.” And Friends of CIDEL is a means of pro- viding that help.
Editor’s Note: Judy Daniels is the former editor of Grace Magazine. She and her husband, Denny, live in Winona Lake, Ind.