Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Story is Larger...

Grant says good-bye to Gambella clergy
One of the gifts of following Jesus is seeing how the small, almost thoughtless things we do actually fit into the overarching larger story of God’s love and amazing provision. Here is an excerpt from an email I received shortly after returning home to North America.

Dear Wendy,
Thank you so much for the medical equipment from Gambella which Rosemary gave me today - my stethoscope has a broken diaphragm so yours will continue in use in Ethiopia! More wonderful, I just took the pedi and infant sphygmomanometer [blood pressure cuff]
 around to Dr Mary Bernard at CURE [Hospital] and was amazed at her shocked face. "Oh", she said, "I only just wrote an email to our requisition guy in the US asking for these, as ours are broken!” So please enjoy a smile at your part in this wonderful Divine economy! Tim and I continue to pray for you and Grant as you begin this next chapter…

This next chapter”
The beginning of ‘this next chapter’ was wonderful. The farewell events marking the end of our time in Ethiopia also celebrated many new beginnings in ministry, especially in Ethiopia.

At our farewell at St Matthew’s Church, Addis Ababa, three new deacons were ordained: one works with our Somali congregation in Addis Ababa, one has started a new Amharic congregation, and one ministers to M*B* believers. 
3 New Deacons
5 New priests

Our official farewell at the Area Assembly held in Gambella also celebrated the ordination of five priests; one Anuak and four Nuer; all godly men, well grounded in biblical training; all committed to building up the local church in their regions.

I was so thankful, it was hard not to weep as the Mothers’ Union gave their report at Area Assembly this past October. Let me share with you some of their words.

About Malaria Prevention and Treatment:
Many children died… so now we learned how to prevent and how to treat malaria. Especially about how to prevent the malaria because no one considered that the malaria came from mosquito. No one thought about it. So when it gets a rainy season like this, you can even sit and eat with your children. You make a fire and put some Neem twigs in the [cooking] fire and let it smoke. And then the mosquito will not like the smoke of Neem. It will go away. Also .. you can make a mosquito net. You put it there. Don’t let the children sleep without mosquito [nets]…
Mothers' Union Teaching Story: Malaria and Scabies

About “Making Water to be Clean”:
Many children are dying below five age. People, they know the problem is there - especially diarrhea - many children are dying in the Gambella region. Now the teaching was very, very interesting for anyone. They love it too much. Because it address the problem. The need of the Gambella community. They know that this dysentery has come because of the lack of clean water. And they understand it. Because people understand the benefit, we plan always Saturday. Saturday in the afternoon always in Gambella town here, we are taking from village to village this program. And people are giving two birr each woman for coffee and tea. [In their congregation each woman contributes 2 birr (less than one cent) to buy coffee and tea to serve to those who come to the teachings]. Now we are receiving very good report from any village here in Gambella where we give the teaching. Even [while the teaching] is still going on in many village, [we are asked], “Why don’t you come and give the teaching again?” And also they are very happy because their children are not getting sick with children disease.

About Nutrition:
[An] other story [we taught] is about the Wise Woman - that woman who fed her children. Obviously any woman, they know that the food available in Gambella is only one type of food. [[Now we know that] to give them different type[s] of food is very important. The children will be strong. Even the family will be strong.
[And] many people are interested about the help of the Moringa - Moringa tree. It is now obvious people are using it because they know the benefit. Any person now has Moringa in his home. This [amazing source of nutrition] helps [to fight off and to recover from] every disease.
Moringa grown and harvested at Gambella Anglican Centre
About the work in general:
It is a very great joy because I [Achua] have journey to Dimma and different places for this work. [Also] I met with many sisters and brothers here because of the program. The sisters came from different place. We met here together. We know each other now. And it increase the number of women in the church because it [is] going on with a scripture - Bible reading - a story and [with] prayer. And taught women also how to pray for the sickness. So now women are praying for themselves about different diseases and other [things].
Mothers' Union at prayer

So now we become useful even in the community. When there are problem, people, they call us, and they call us asking us to show them how they could help their children. They are very happy with this program. And it is very interesting and very good approach -  easy to understand for anyone. This year in 2017 the program is handed to African - especially Achua and Rebecca. We took the program. This health teaching help people a lot in the region. Now children are health. Family are health.

I give thanks to Mama Wendy because she really brought us the first seed. [She] opened the minds of the Mothers’ Union [to] make them aware about all these - where the sickness are from and how they can save their children. So now many children will become alive because of what we have learned. Those [teachings] will be help for us and they will help our children and even to our grandchildren. We [will] keep passing on the knowledge to the generation[s].

Our farewell also marked a new beginning in Newlands, a section of Gambella town, where our ‘good-bye’ was combined with the dedication of St Luke’s new church building. Six hundred (not including children, goats, chickens or dogs) gathered in the spacious, light-filled, beautiful brick building. (Actually, the goats were outside - they were much more interested in eating the surrounding shrubs). It was a joy to see this Nuer congregation welcome Anuak and Opo presentations during their dedication service. Our Anuak and our Nuer Youth Co-ordinators jointly presented our farewell gifts. 

St Luke's Anglican Church, Newland, Gambella

The Gambella Anglican Centre community has also seen new beginnings.
At our St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College, we met for a special good-bye with our Mabaan students. We were joined by our one Dinka student and our new Jum-jum student, the first of his people group (who are brand new Christians) to come for theological training. We still treasure the letter we received from the Jum-jum asking us to train one of their own to serve as priest. “As you know bishop, where there is no shepherd, the hyena, they can do what they want.”

A dear friend and a gifted teacher, Moses Hoth, a Nuer gentleman well known for his integrity, has joined Chris Wilson and Jeremiah Maet Paul on the faculty of St Frumentius’. Wycliffe Bible translator Josh Smoulders and his family have joined the “GAC” community. Josh has formed and is now leading a Opo Bible translation team to be based at the Centre.
Nuer Faculty St Frumentius' College
Moses Hoth and Jeremiah Maet

We are so grateful to those who have partnered with us in mission. Thank you to those who gave of their time (in visiting teams) and to those who gave of their resources; helping to build new buildings for our now over 145 churches; helping in the construction and/or renovation of  buildings at the Gambella Anglican Centre and St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College; and in the construction of the new ‘Nehemiah’ wall designed both with protection and with vertical gardening in mind. Most especially we thank you for the outpouring of prayer and of love for us and for the people of the Horn of Africa.

We will continue to work for SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) for the next 6 months, travelling to as many of the churches, who have partnered in the work in Gambella, as possible -  although we will not be able to visit all. For those of you who desire to continue to partner with and to contribute to the ongoing mission in the Horn of Africa and especially in the Gambella regions, reliable channels for donations can be made through:

F.A.D.E. (Friends of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt)
Please designate for Gambella
F.A.D.E. is pronounced ‘Fah-day’, which in Arabic, means, ‘Faith”
To contribute see link below - please

In Canada: Devxchange - see link below
In UK: F.AC.E. - see link below

Although the health problems Wendy developed while in Gambella remain both serious and intractable, we remain filled with gratitude at having had the privilege of sharing with Jesus, His love for the people of the Horn of Africa, and especially for those in the Gambella and Asosa regions. It is a joy to care for one another and to see each other in the Light of His love -  the One who made us, and in Whom all things are made new. Isn’t it amazing to discover that we all are family?

Good-bye to Mothers' Union

Monday, September 11, 2017

Did I Mention...?
A Gambellan Eucharist

Did I mention that there is never a dull moment in Gambella? I think I must have mentioned that...

Every morning we have worship on the Gambella Anglican Centre compound. On Friday mornings, at least when St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College is in session, we have a service of Holy Communion. Our small teaching staff, our 23 students, and our staff of about 15 all attend. It is usually a fairly quiet dignified affair (depending on who is leading the singing it may be less quiet and less dignified). But this is Africa; anything can happen. I have been in many Eucharistic celebrations in Africa in which a dog or a goat would take up residence beneath the holy table. Less often but equally interesting have been eucharists with live chickens in the offering, once a small snake quietly killed, once a bat clinging to the “fine linen”, and the usual contingents of hyperactive flies and marching ants. Africa is alive - sometimes frighteningly so.

This particular morning I was the presider. As I listened to the sermon another sound drew my attention. It was coming from the speaker system at the other side of the sanctuary - but the sound was not on - we don’t need it for our weekday services. Then I noticed a few small bees escaping from the speaker, and then a few more. After a few minutes it became clear that no one would be able to receive communion at that end of the sanctuary. At the peace I went to Jeremiah Maet, one of our faculty. Pointing out the growing number of bees in the sanctuary I asked him to set the table during the offertory while I  got some bug spray from the house. So here is the now undignified (I told you we are not always dignified) bishop running to the house and running back with my can of bug spray. I quickly got to work spraying the place in the speaker from which the bees were emerging. Well, now the bees start pouring out of the speaker by the hundreds. Thankfully they were too stunned to be angry, so only one person got stung (Darash, one of our staff, who decided that maybe he, rather than the bishop, should finish the slaughter of the bees).

As extra offertory songs were being sung Jeremiah, James Lual (the crucifer for the service) and I moved the communion table and all of its contents down into the middle of the congregation. No one panicked. No one screamed. And, of course, the singing kept going until we were set up. And so we proceeded with the prayer of consecration, the sanctuary area behind me literally carpeted with dead and dying bugs.

I opened the announcement time after the service by saying “this is Africa.” Everyone laughed. Staff went to work. Students went to class. I just shook my head and wondered if Jesus (or Francis of Assisi) would have handled this situation differently.

+ Grant

       Worship team present...

...and future

~ Please Pray with us ~

~ for the Anglican Church in Ethiopia as they await the appointment of a new Bishop for the Horn of Africa. 

~ for God's call, equipping, and blessing on those called to leadership in this area

~ for the faculty and students of St Frumentius Anglican Theological College, especially for a new Dean,  and for our newest incoming 'first year class'.

~ for Grant and Wendy as they discern and move forward into whatever their new sphere of ministry will be

~ for ongoing healing for Wendy. Her health issues are proving to be both quite stubborn and quite serious 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Never a Dull moment in Gambella!

Back in Gambella    
 August 2017
There is never a dull moment in Gambella. I’ve been back for a week or so and here’s what happening.

St Luke’s Church.
We are building a new church (with real bricks and cement) for our Gambella town Nuer-speaking congregation. This has been made possible with combined donations from overseas, from our congregation in Addis, and from the Nuer themselves. Construction started a few weeks ago. We have finished the foundations and the walls. The cement floor, the roof and the vestry are yet to come. We hope to dedicate the building in October.

Mothers’ Union training.

Mothers' Union in the community

Wendy handed over the leadership of the Mothers’ Union Health programme to African leadership a few months ago. Since then our facilitators and coordinators have been hard at work, visiting and teaching. The Anuak groups decided (because it was the beginning of rainy season) to concentrate on teaching about the benefits of the Moringa tree - the leaves of which could eradicate malnutrition. They thought that since people would be planting at the beginning of rainy season, they would make sure that people planted Moringa! 
The story that the Nuer groups decided to focus on at the beginning of rainy season had to do with malaria and how to prevent it (another wise choice since rainy season means lots of malaria). Rebecca, the Nuer MU coordinator, reported that the groups of trainers she talked with were incredibly grateful for the teaching. They knew that with the rainy season came a drastic increase in people getting sick and often dying from malaria. They had thought, though, that the malaria was being caused by the rain itself. They knew about mosquito nets - but they thought the nets were basically to help you sleep; to keep the annoying bugs out of your ears. Now that they know that it is mosquitos that cause malaria, there are things they can do - use the nets, use Neem leaves to keep mosquitos away, drain standing water. “They are very happy, because they are not powerless now.

Marriage blessings.
Clergy weddings! Isaac Pur and his bride

It is rare that marriages in Gambella are celebrated in church. Usually couples are ‘married’ traditionally - after negotiations there is an exchange of bride price (usually cows) and then the marriage is considered valid. Many want their marriages blessed in church, but the expectation is that there will be a big and costly celebration, which most can’t afford. We are trying to change the culture a bit and help our people to see that vows before God should be a major and normal part of a Christian marriage. While Wendy and I were away, the Nuer clergy, whose marriages had never been blessed in church, had a blessing ceremony in Gambella town led by Simon Ker, one of our Regional Deans. The couples - and their families and congregations - were overjoyed. A similar blessing ceremony will be held for the Anuak leaders soon. These will be followed by many ‘large group weddings’ in local congregations.

A stunning loss for our Anuak volleyball team - or was it?Obang (our compound manager and amazing volleyball coach) brought a group of young men north of Gambella to the Asosa region to have a return match against a Gumuz-speaking team from the Mekane Yesus church. We beat them in an exciting match last year at the Gambella Centre. Sadly we lost the return match. But Obang came back ecstatic - because a number of the young men from Gambella were introduced to Christ for the first time. More exchanges are being planned.

St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College.
In July two very helpful volunteers (Jo from the UK and Frances from the US) taught English to staff, students, and prospective students of the college. The result, after interviews and lots of testing, is that we have a new first year class of ten students. Most are Nuer and Anuak (our largest language groups), but we also have a new Mabaan student, our first Jieng (Dinka) student, and a Jum-jum student.
Our two full time staff are being kept busy teaching Bible, African Traditional Religion and Preaching. A third full time teacher (Moses Hoth) will join us soon. Next week I’ll teach an intensive course on Medieval and Reformation Church History - with help from Roger, our priest in Addis Ababa, and Timmy, a British/Nigerian theological student.

On Sunday August 13 I’ll do baptisms and confirmations at St Barnabas’ Church (an Anuak-speaking congregation). 

Over the next month I have multiple confirmations and new church dedications planned.

Intensive courses on Systematic Theology (taught by Steve, an old friend from Montreal now living in Lagos, Nigeria) and on Peace and Reconciliation (taught by John Chol, another old friend from South Sudan) are being planned.

We are hoping to have more than one librarian come in the next months to catalogue books and train one of our staff.

~ Please Pray with us ~

~ For one of our local youth leaders (Ochala Lul from Jur) whose finger was bitten off by a crocodile.

~ For Wendy in Pittsburgh. Her lung infections are proving to be very stubborn. Pray that the new (and rather expensive!) treatment regime will be effective.

~ For the continuing search for a new Dean for St Frumentius’ and for the search for a new Bishop.
~ For the clergy, Mothers’ Union, staff and parishioners here as they adjust to the news that Grant and Wendy need to leave.

~ For Grant and Wendy’s future.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Looking Ahead

 ...And leaving our hearts behind 

Letter of Resignation
It is with a heavy heart that today I must announce my resignation as the Bishop for the Horn of Africa within the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa. This decision has not been taken lightly but after consultation with Bishop Mouneer, with spiritual counsellors, and with our medical doctors. Wendy and I will leave Ethiopia at the end of October this year, although our work for the diocese will continue for a time. 
The reason for our needing to leave is that Wendy’s health has made it impossible for her to continue to live in Africa. As many of you know, a few months ago Wendy experienced terrible pain in her back leading her to seek medical testing and advice. The tests revealed five broken vertebrae and a broken rib. The fragility of the bones have been attributed to osteoporosis and the fractures were due to coughing. Originally we believed that the coughing was due simply to asthma, but after further testing it now seems that Wendy has also had lung infections, perhaps several. Wendy’s doctors have been clear that returning to live in Africa would put Wendy’s lungs (and ultimately her heart) at grave risk. She will stay in Pittsburgh for the next two months while I continue to work in Ethiopia. She will come to say farewell during the month of October.
Our hearts are heavy because we love the people in our churches in the Horn of Africa, and we have known God’s presence in our work there, especially in the Gambella region. At the same time I have been clear with the clergy in my charge that married people should live together in order to support and uphold one another. And so although it has been suggested by some that one option for our future would be for me to remain as bishop in the Horn of Africa and travel back to visit Wendy from time to time, such an option seems to us to be untenable.
With the permission of the Diocesan Bishop of Egypt, I hope to remain as a bishop in the Diocese of Egypt and continue to visit and contribute in some ways to be determined.
Please continue to keep Wendy and me in your prayers as we seek God’s guidance during this time of transition.
+Grant LeMarquand
The Horn of Africa

A note to our supporters
Wendy and I will remain as missionaries of SAMS-USA (the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) for some time while we visit churches that have supported us for the past five years, while we participate in de-briefing and in events for returning missionaries, and while we discern our next steps in God’s mission. We will then continue as ‘Associate Missionaries’ of SAMS. We hope that those who have been supporting us financially will prayerfully consider continuing to do so for some time even after we leave Africa while we discern next steps. We will certainly continue to update everyone on a regular basis through our e-newsletter.
Of course the needs of the Anglican churches in the Horn of Africa are many. We will continue to inform interested and prayerful people about how they can pray for and help the churches there. 

~ Please Pray with us ~

~ for all our senders who have partnered with us in loving and caring for the people of Gambella, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa

~ for the ongoing empowerment and equipping of the priests and laity of our churches in Gambella, Addis, and elsewhere in Ethiopia

~ for Grant and I as we walk through this next season of discernment and handing over

~ for the ministry in Djibouti, Somaliland and Eritrea 

~  for His protection and care for Gambella

Monday, July 3, 2017

Thoughts on Healing

Many years ago I had a discussion with African theological students. “Western medicine shows how you get malaria,” I was saying. “Yes," one replied, "but it does not tell you who sent the mosquito!” Together we were exploring worldview and how it shapes our view of health and disease; how it shapes both what we do for healing and how we pray for it. It was fascinating to see how our cultural insights into these issues reflected biblical principles.
In general, the Africans tended to view disease as resulting from a disruption or a break in relationship. Traditionally, to seek healing, one went to a witch doctor who would do something to restore relationship. Healing, restoration of relationship, was costly. Therefore healing usually involved the sacrifice of an animal - a transaction that is both costly and binding. (Africans understand covenant). There was a shared belief, that although the spiritual realm was well populated with many entities (including the ancestors), there was only one God. They believed this God to be so far away as to be unreachable. Therefore sacrifice would be made to the ancestors, or to other spiritual beings, as they were considered to be closer to the one God, and perhaps able to move His heart in their favour. When they learnt that God Himself had opened the door to restored relationship, providing the costly sacrifice of His own Son, then they said, “Now we can open our hearts to God. He has provided the Way.” 
The traditional western medical view of health and disease is also resonant with principles set forth in Genesis: we were to “have dominion” [Gen 1:26]; we were to “tend the garden"[Gen 2:15]. We were to take charge of and to take care of creation. As a medical student, I remember disease being described as a disruption of, or a disorder in the normal functioning of the body. At that time, the focus of healing was restoration of normal function. To study and to wisely use creation was foundational to traditional medical practice.

I have found there to be a depth of hunger to learn about and to put into practice the full scope of healing ministry - from community outreach through health teaching, to healing prayer for physical, inner and generational healing, deliverance and freedom from curses, to how to start a healing ministry in the local church. My sense is that teaching on healing has all too often been fragmentary, confusing, and in a way, passive. Healing prayer and health interventions have been perceived merely as things to be received rather than also to be given. There is a quality of joy when African saints are “equipped for ministry”, and it is a privilege to be a part of it.

Notes on the Horn of Africa
Over the last five years of newsletter we have spent most of our ink telling stories of Gambella - and especially in the Anglican churches there. With good reason - when we came there were fifty Anglican churches in the region; now there are one hundred and twenty-five including our Assosa region. We have conservative estimates of 15,000 worshipers on Sunday mornings. The church cuts across ethnic divides: although most churches have one language group worshiping together on Sunday mornings, a good number have several language groups meeting together to pray and learn.
But the Anglican church in the Horn of Africa is not just Gambella. St Matthew’s Church in Addis, founded as a chaplaincy church for British ex-pats has been around since the 1920s. St Matthew’s in Addis continues to hold services in English - but not just for Brits - congregants come from every corner of the world these days and on most Sundays at the two English services there will 20 first languages represented. At the beginning of May a very joyful confirmation service saw young people and adults confirming their faith in Jesus.

But St Matthew’s has become a home for other Anglicans as well. On Sunday afternoon a group of Nuer and Dinka Anglicans are worshiping together - a miracle given that Nuer and Dinka are killing each other in South Sudan. At the end of May this ‘Nilotic’ congregation will have its own confirmation service. Once a month a group of ‘Equatorians’ - South Sudanese from the southernmost part of the country - gather for fellowship. They use some English and some ‘Juba Arabic’ as there languages are many (Bari, More, Zande). And in a classroom in another part of the compound a small fellowship of Amharic believers is now meeting on Sunday mornings while the English congregation uses the church. Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Christ for All Nations Anglican Church, also known as the Saris Centre, is the home for a small Somali congregation.
Outside of Addis one of our clergy has recently travelled to Bahir Dar near Lake Tana to help found and organise a student-led church in that town. Most of the members are Gambellans, but there are students there from many countries studying in English. In another town near the city of Ambo an independent Oromo congregation has been meeting for some time. The pastor would like the congregation to be less ‘independent’ - to be related to a wider body of believers. So we are meeting and going slowly to see if perhaps the Anglican Church might be the right place for them. We have hopes that other Oromo congregations might emerge near the Kenyan border with the help of the Diocese of Marsabit in Kenya.
Pray for these developments and for other possibilities developing in Djibouti and Somaliland. Pray for St George’s Church (called All Souls’ at first) in Asmara Eritrea, started in 1941. St George’s continues to function in an extremely difficult and confusing situation. And please pray for Egypt and for North Africa. May the light of God's love shine.
Good Samaritan icon - Egypt

Update: Wendy's Health

~ It's not cancer!!!
~ "Slowly by slowly" the back is healing from fractures (5 vertebrae and 1 rib)! The full saying is, "Slowly by slowly the egg learns to walk" - an excellent saying and one that is applicable to most things African and otherwise!
~ Wendy has been diagnosed with multifocal bronchiectasis with bilateral pulmonary nodules. Medically, bronchiectasis is irreversible, but I am in the hands of the One who was wounded for my healing. Please pray for healing of the lungs, and protection from strain on the heart.
~ Apparently lots of calcium, vitamin D and good exercise wasn't quite enough to keep my bones from developing severe osteoporosis. I'm dwelling in the words of Psalm 6:2, "Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled"! There's actually quite a lot about bones in the Psalms. Here's my favourite:   "..My soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in His salvation. All my bones shall say, "O Lord, who is like You..."  Psalm 35:10

~ Please Pray with us ~
~ For a new Dean for St Frumentius' Anglican Theological College

~ For our newest faculty member,  Moses Hoth, a Nuer Gambellan now graduated with a Masters degree from the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology in Addis..

~ For safety and blessing on the new babies soon to be born in our Gambella Anglican Centre community; Bless the families of Chris and Suzy Wilson, and Josh and Jenny Smolders as they prepare for our newest and littlest members.

~ For peace in South Sudan. One thousand new refugees continue to arrive daily into the Gambella Region.  Food is scarce in South Sudan due to the conflict having prevented the planting of crops for this rainy season.

~ For ministry opportunities opening in Somaliland, Djibouti, and the university towns of Ethiopia.

~ With thanksgiving for the plans and purposes that God has for us personally and for those we dearly love in Gambella as we walk through this season of decision and discernment regarding stewardship of health issues and future ministry.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

More time given..... love

Life lately has been reminiscent of a well known childhood game; only instead of “He loves me…He loves me not”, it’s been, “It looks like cancer… It looks like not”.  
We now know I have atraumatic fractures in four of my thoracic vertebrae as well as a broken rib. My initial suspicion of a slipped thoracic disc or osteoporosis combined with prolonged coughing from asthma prompted me to get an MRI. Abnormalities on the MRI led to other tests and the discovery of other abnormalities on five of the other tests - some expected (osteoporosis), and some not. Could it be cancer? Walking through further testing and referrals, I think at this point we can safely say, “it looks not”!  Alleluia! I give all the glory to God, and much thanks to my dear family doctor, Dr. David Hall, and to you who've been praying for me and for Grant and our children. We asked for life, and this has been granted to us. Could all five abnormal tests have been due to artefact or lab error? Or is this more like the story of the woman who, on setting out from home, prayed, “Lord, when I arrive, give me a parking space”. Then, upon arriving and finding a space to park, she said, “Oh never mind, Lord, there’s a space right here!” 
Please do continue to pray as we have not yet completed a full work up, especially with issues regarding my lungs, and the risk of further fracture. Pray for Grant as he prepares to travel to Egypt for synod and then on to Gambella. Please pray for a place to stay for me while I heal from these fractures and complete the medical investigations, and that I may be able to return to Gambella to complete my work there. My Mothers’ Union teaching program has already transitioned to a fully African led “Local Training Program”. Now, instead of bringing women from all over the Gambella People’s Region to the Gambella Anglican Centre to receive the health training that they will take back and share with their local communities, the women will attend locally held trainings led by Mothers’ Union leaders. It’s been so wonderful to watch these strong and dedicated women grow in knowledge with practical skills, and in the knowledge of their worth and their ability to help their families and to help one another. Is there any greater gift than that of sharing in the amazing love of Jesus - a love that builds up and blesses, a love that spreads a fragrance of the knowledge of God?

In hope and in trust xxx Wendy


One of the small groups in our first, fully African led, Mothers' Union training program

After receiving an intensive course on Healing Prayer Ministry, our theological students and clergy then taught what they had learned to our 100 lay readers. (January 2017)
The day after the teaching on deliverance ministry, one of our lay readers came up to me. Knowing his long struggle with pain from a malicious injury inflicted many years ago, it was wonderful to see his quiet joy as he said, "Now I am healed. I know it deep within me."

~ Please Pray with us ~

For the ongoing work of the Anglican Church in Gambella, Djibouti, Somaliland, Egypt and North Africa

Monday, March 27, 2017

He is with us...... in the Furnace
Ethiopian icon
 An icon often seen in the churches of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, North and South, is that of the  four in the fiery furnace: Shadrach, Meshach,  Abednego, and “the One”, whom the Babylonians described as “like a son of the gods”. (Daniel 3:25) In the suffering of the long war between North and South Sudan, it was this God, 'He who suffers with us', who was the comfort and the hope of many Christians. “Our God is able to save us from this fiery furnace”, the three young men declared, “but if not” (in this way), we will cleave to Him (“not bow down to Nebuchadnezzar”). Throughout northeastern Africa the message of this God is one that resonates with the African heart.
During our time living in the Horn of Africa we have been witness to the reality of ‘the fiery furnace’. Here there is much suffering. Cruelty, greed and fear conceive poverty, war, forced migration, inter-ethnic violence and hunger. These in turn, give birth to anguish, grief and trauma. But in one sense this suffering is not ours. We share it with the people with whom we live; we “weep with those who weep”  (Romans 12: 15), but it is their suffering. 
During these years, we have not written much about our personal griefs - the loss of our parents, and of very dear friends to disease - to cancer and to AIDS. We have seen it as our task to bear witness to the realities of Africa, the place and the church here, and to let the African story be known rather than our own.  But now we must share a bit of our own story. 
About three weeks ago, although we did not know it, our world started to turn upside down.  Wendy began to experience an unusual and worrisome pattern of mid back pain. This prompted a series of tests. And three days ago, one of the tests came back showing very high levels of a tumour marker for cancer - most often ovarian but it can be associated with other cancers as we begin to suspect may be true in our case. We are leaving today for Pittsburgh for further testing and treatment.
We are grieving. Like the waves of the sea, grief comes and washes over us. When it goes, there is the joy of being with friends, and soon with family. And when it comes - there is Jesus. We know Him present - sometimes by faith alone, and sometimes in manifest love. 
One of the lessons we have learned in mission, is that every difficulty can be an invitation to know Him more deeply; to know the overcoming love of Jesus. And in knowing Him, something else wonderful happens. We begin to see others differently. More and more we see their beauty, and their indescribably precious value. Surely, to “love God with all our heart, our minds and our strength” is God’s greatest promise to us. And with it comes a marvellous gift - to love our neighbours as ourselves. (Mark 12:30-31)
It may be that God will save us from the fiery furnace of cancer. But right now, He is with us in the flames. You know, in our culture, we tend to substitute pleasure for joy. And suffering can destroy pleasure. But joy flows from love. And suffering cannot destroy love. Love ultimately overcomes. So “we do not grieve as those without hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
If it is my time, it is my time. If it is not my time, Jesus will heal me.     in tears, in love and in hope   xxxx Wendy
Do pray + Grant
March 27, 2017
Grant and Wendy