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. 
+Grant


~ 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.
Wendy

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.
+Grant
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.....
...to 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





Thursday, February 9, 2017

Reflections on Christmas Past



“Bishop, should we cancel Christmas celebrations?”
This rather strange sounding question was addressed to Archbishop Mouneer, the Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa (and therefore my ‘boss’) during the week of December 11, by one of the clergy of the diocese. He brought the question to a meeting of the Cairo clergy gathered for a Communion service mid-week. Both the place where the question was asked and the timing of the question are crucial.
On December 11, a bomb was placed in a church on the grounds of the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. The bomb exploded during the Liturgy and more than 24 worshipers were killed. Almost 60 were seriously injured. It is important to note that it is traditional in Coptic churches for women to sit on one side (often with their children) and for men to sit on the other. The bomb was placed in the women’s section. All of the dead were women and children.
The Coptic Church, joined by other Christians in Egypt, responded, yes with grief, but (as usual) without calls for retaliation. Outside of the Coptic Cathedral protesters and mourners shouted. For those who don’t know the language, the sight and sound of thousands of young men chanting loudly and strongly in Arabic might strike fear into the heart of many westerners. But listen more closely ... they are chanting the Nicene Creed. Yes, it was defiance. “We are Christians. We are here. We, too, are willing to give our lives; willing to be martyrs if need be.” But it was non-violent defiance. Here were Christians in the streets of an Islamic country openly and loudly proclaiming their belief and trust in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For me the response of most Christians in Egypt was remarkable, but not really a surprise. Yes, there is anger. Yes, there is terror. But there is also an amazing trust. And, even more amazing, almost a sense of thanksgiving. I heard Christians saying that they were thankful that God had, once again, counted the Egyptian church worthy of gaining more martyrs, more ‘witnesses’ to the suffering love of God expressed in the suffering of his faithful people. I heard some say how wonderful it was that those who died went to church to have Communion with God, and found themselves continuing that Communion in God’s immediate presence.
But the survivors, the injured and the grieving, still suffer. Lilly, one of the administrative staff of the Alexandria School of Theology - our college in Egypt, lost two relatives in the December 11 bombing, one a very close cousin. In such a situation of mourning, is it appropriate to celebrate such a joyful feast as Christmas? Should we postpone Christmas?
Of course the answer has to be no - precisely because Christmas is not simply a celebration, not simply a joyful feast. Christmas is about joy in the midst of sorrow, light coming into the very darkness of this world. The event of the Cairo bombing reminds us that not all was joy on the first Christmas. Of course we remember that the angels explained to the shepherds that the event happening in Bethlehem would bring joy. But this is not the kind of joy which simply ignores the pain of the world, or pretends it isn’t there. Jesus was born to a poor family, in a country occupied by a violent foreign power. When Jesus was born the local puppet king attempted to murder him by murdering all the baby boys in Bethlehem. The first Christmas was a time of deep sorrow for those living through the events. Interestingly, Jesus’ parents decided that fleeing to Egypt was the best way to avoid Herod’s brutality. Egypt was the place of refuge for the Holy Family. It still is. Jesus is still welcome in Egypt ... even if not by all.
One advantage of being our diocese (Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa) is that we get to celebrate Christmas twice! Some, like the English congregations in Cairo and Addis Ababa an the Nuer churches in Gambella, celebrate on December 25. Others, like the Arabic churches in Egypt and the Anuak churches in Gambella celebrate at the same time as the Orthodox in early January. As bishop I get to do both! A double dose of the reminder that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not [and cannot] overcome it.” (John 1).

Egyptian Madonna

~ Please Pray with us ~

We thank God for 57 recently confirmed in Teirgol, our outermost region in Gambella. Tiergol is accessible only by an (uncomfortable) boat journey, highlighted by passing tens of thousands of antelope and water fowl (as well as many crocodile). The women of Tiergol endeared themselves to Bishop Grant when they broke into spontaneous cheering at the amazing sight of a man (Grant) actually doing his own laundry!

Car Appeal
We have a 22-year old Land Cruiser. It’s great. It works ... but it is beginning to show signs that it won’t live forever. The heat and the rough roads of Gambella take their toll. We’ve had a car fund with SAMS, our mission agency for a couple of years and a number of people have given generously - but a good second hand, but somewhat younger, vehicle costs a lot of cash in Ethiopia where the import duty on cars is huge.
Then, out of the blue a couple of old friends, fellow former Montrealers, have decided to support our car appeal in a big way. They have decided that they will donate two Canadian dollars for every one US or Canadian dollar donated to our car fund for the next few months to a personal limit of $10,000. SAMS will inform them every month so that they can keep up their part of the giving.
Of course we are delighted and amazed. No matter how many times God surprises us like this we are still, well ... surprised! Please help us to raise the funds needed for a new(er) vehicle!
Our friends finished their email to us with a reference to Philippians 4:6-7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep you hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Amen to that.
+Grant

Saturday, December 17, 2016





St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College: 

Recruiting a new Dean, building up the faculty, equipping students for ministry

Standing on the Rock

 We were recently in Kenya, exploring partnerships with the Kenyan church and looking for a new dean for our St. Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College.  The Diocese of Marsabat, Northern Kenya, under Bishop Daniel Qampicha Wario, has been reaching out to those who have not heard of Christ in the south of Ethiopia. We visited the diocese to encourage this work and to teach on mission and healing prayer. In the photo above, Grant and Qampicha are standing on the ‘pulpit’ of the first church in Elabor, Northern Kenya, during an outreach to the people of this area. 

Area Assembly, Nov 24th & 25th, 2016

This is a photo of our St Frumentius' Anglican Theological College Chapel, during our recent, “Area Assembly” the yearly synod-like gathering of our Episcopal Area. At Area Assembly, I received this letter carried by Rev Isaac Pur. It is from the Jum-jum people. There are now only about 200 Jum-jum Christians in the world. Isaac Momma, our Mabaan-speaking priest and the regional dean of the churches in the Assosa region of Ethiopia, is now a full time student at St Frumentius' Anglican Theological College. He reached out to the Jum-jum who were in Sherkole Refugee Camp, Assosa. This work has been continued by Isaac Pur, now acting Regional Dean during Isaac Momma’s  time as a student. Here is the letter they sent; unedited, yet elegant in its cry for the need for theological education.

"Our Dear Father, 

As a Jum-jum congregation, we are here, ready to make our own church. But the problem is the lack of the preacher or we don’t have anyone who is well trained to preach the gospel. Therefore please we need you to help us by giving us the chances when there is second round for the theology or college.
We join the Anglican church from 2011 up to 2016 but there is no any improvement or any changes. But when you appeared, also our names appeared. Therefore we became happy and happy. And we hope everything will continuous like in this way.

So you know even in our home land we have more than 200 Christian within our tribes without any pastor or even not deacon (preacher). Therefore when you will help us we will be strong and lead our people as our heavenly Father want us to do. 

Our main problem is this. Now we have those who know how to preach like Pastor Isaac Momma and Pastor Isaac Pur and so on. But maybe after the short period of time we will go back to our home land (North Sudan) and Pastor Momma will go back to his home land (South Sudan) and what will we do when we still have no pastor? We will remain as it is like before. For example, as you know, when there is no shepherd, the hyena can do what they want. And we hope you will help us to report all this to Bishop.

Second example: The son can make a lot of mistake when the father didn’t teach him properly.

That is all.

by Jum-jum congregation"


~ Please Pray with us ~


~ With thanksgiving for the ordination of three priests and five deacons at Area Assembly Nov 24, 2016


 For a new Dean of St Frumentius' Anglican Theological College and for Bishop Grant as he functions as Acting Dean

~ For Egypt, especially as the church has to endure more suffering at the hands of terrorists

~ For the Reverend Sammy Shehata, bishop elect for North Africa (Algeria ,Tunisia and Libya) as he prepares for his consecration February


~ For a new congregation which is developing among the Tama-Koi people and for representatives to the Koma and Shurma people expressing interest in the gospel.


~with thanksgiving for new partnerships developing with the church in Kenya and Djibouti

~ For the Mothers' Union as they move towards a fully African-led Leadership Training Program


~ For peace and stability in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa

Peter Tut Chol


Peter Tut Chol will be Priest in charge of Holy Comforter Anglican Church, in the Pilwal Mission Centre, supervised by the Rev Peter Ghak




Simon Taidor

 Simon Taidor will be Priest in charge of the All Saints Anglican Church Mission Centre in Nininyang with its eight churches

Stephen Munye




Stephen Munye will be Priest in charge of The Bethlehem Anglican Mission Centre, Pinyudu Refugee Camp with its four churches

Omot Ogud





Omot Ogud, will serve as the Deacon in charge of the Bethlehem Anglican Mission Centre in Abobo with its seven churches

Stephen Choul, will serve as the Deacon in charge of St Peter’s Anglican Church Mission Centre in Matar with its ten churches

Stephen Choul

Daniel Wuor Tap 


Daniel Wuor Tap  will serve as Deacon in charge of the five churches of Jewi the refugee camp, supervised by the Rev Peter Kuel of St Luke’s, Gambella


Joseph Khon will serve as the Deacon in charge of New Life Anglican Church in the Lare Mission Centre, supervised by the the Rev Simon Ker of St Paul’s Anglican Church

Joseph Khon

Gabriel Tut Puok  will serve as Deacon in charge of Church of Christ Anglican Church in the Pinyudu refugee camp, supervised by the Rev Paul Pouk of Jesus Light of the World Anglican Church

Gabriel Tut Puok

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Unity in a divided world


Lampedusa CrossDarash, our Anuak priest for St Barnabas Church Gambella, is a good story-teller.

Recently, his sermon focused on a story of three bulls; One red, one black and one white. “They loved each other as brothers, and together were strong. When the enemy looked at them, he knew that he could not prevail against them. So when night came, he secretly went to the black and to the red one. He told them that the white bull was the problem.  He told them that if they stayed together with the white bull, then an enemy might see them and might attack. They must reject the white bull in order to be safe. They listened to fear and drove the white bull away. When the enemy saw the white bull alone and vulnerable, he came and killed it, and ate. After a while, the enemy became hungry for more. He went to the black bull and said, ‘You are the good one, but the red is not. If you stay with the red bull, an enemy might see you and attack. You must reject the red bull.’  The black bull drove the red bull away, thinking, ‘now I will be safe.’ When the enemy saw the red bull alone, he came and killed it and ate. And then he did the same with the black.”

Darash concluded with a prayer for unity. “If we pray for peace, then we will have peace. If we love one another, we will have peace. We are to love Nuer and Anuak, Opo and Mezhenger, Mabaan and Highlander. As we love one another, we show the love of Jesus to the world around us.”


Darash’s sermon on unity points to the sad reality that our world is full of division - politically, culturally, ethnically, linguistically. We more often see our differences as curses instead of blessings, as reasons to fight rather than as opportunities to learn.

This is true as much in the church as anywhere else. Christians are divided. Some divisions have long and complex histories. Many stem from a right desire to honour and live the truth. Others are just petty. Sorting out which is which is no easy task. I have recently been given the opportunity to be involved in two initiatives which seek to find common ground between Christians and to learn to live and work together.

ILARCCUM Gathering

The first is called IARCCUM - the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission. IARCCUM’s task was not to hold another theological forum to sort out what issues unite or divide us but rather to explore how we could witness to Christ together; to point to the love God seen in the saving work of Christ, proclaimed and lived by the church in the power of the Spirit.

There were many profound and moving moments at the IARCCUM meetings but none more meaningful perhaps than at the vespers service at the church of St Gregory in Rome. (Gregory, by the way, was the Pope who send St Augustine of Canterbury to evangelise the British Isles.) During this service Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin blessed and commissioned the nineteen pairs of bishops to go out into the world together to witness and live for Christ.

At the moment of commissioning we were each given a cross. These were no ordinary crosses - they were Lampedusa crosses. Lampedusa is an island belonging to Italy, the closest bit of Europe to the African continent. Small boats filled (or overfilled) with refugees leave Tunisia or Libya and head for Lampedusa. Many of these boats don’t make it. Many refugees, most from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan, drown attempting the voyage. Moved by the plight of these migrants a Lampedusa carpenter began fashioning crosses from the wood of refugee boats that washed up on the beaches of the island. Each of the IARCCUM bishops received one of these simple, rough crosses, most still covered in the cracked paint or bits of grease which betrayed their origins. These gifts emphasised for us that our ecumenism is not simply a matter of doctrine - no matter how important theological truth is - our ecumenism is an ecumenism of bearing witness to the cross of Jesus and walking in his way with those who suffer in this world.

Back in Addis, I was then privileged to be a part of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative, a dialogue between Orthodox and evangelical Christians. The presence of Ethiopian Orthodox at this gathering was extremely significant as both Orthodox and protestants acknowledged and looked beyond past prejudices to focus on the abundant opportunities for our different churches to pray and work together.

For me these events were signs of hope in the midst of the mistrust, despair, fear and violence of a world which seems more and more divided.

+Grant


Mothers’ Union together across cultures

           Anuak and Nuer Embrace


“I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know Nuer sisters; sisters in Lare; sisters in Jikwo…Now I have many Nuer sisters who I love, and it is very good. When I was sent to Dimma, I was scared to go, and I didn’t know anyone. But now… I have many sisters there too. Every Saturday is dedicated to the health program… We taught clean water, Moringa, clean dishes: this is a very big change in our community. Before the teaching, we were sleeping with mosquitos, and with skin diseases. Now this has changed. It remains to go to the people and ask them to open their hearts. You have created many teachers who will go out and teach the community…”    
Achua Obang, Anuak, Gambella

For the past three years, it has been a privilege to teach women how to teach one another biblical truth, prayer, and health - both prevention and treatment. We held our last ‘Gambella Anglican Centre’-d training session in September, and began the  transition into a fully African-led “Local Training Program”. Here is what the women had to say at the final session of the “Leadership Training Program (Phase I):

“Through this program we feel like we have come alive… We were living with many difficulties, suffering a lot, with many sicknesses in our communities. Many children were dying because of these sicknesses, and people were wondering, “why these diseases?” We came here and got teaching. We never thought such a big change would come. Now we go to villages and take the teachings to the community and we are well received. People like it very much.”  
Cham Ojur Pur, Anuak, Gambella

“We have learned how to make clean water, and how to teach the mothers good ‘life skills’. We put this into practice in our own families. When we are visiting …we share with others what we have learned. More and more women are learning. We know how to care for ourselves and we feel pride. This is the first opportunity to learn that has come to our area.”    
Sarah Nyabuony, Nuer, Gambella

“The love of God has made us willing to speak with white people, even though we have no language with them! Before in the villages, there were no toilets, and no place to shower. Now we shower, and toilets have been made - not just going behind the house. Moringa: people were not aware of it, but people now use, even  it is added to porridge for the young children. Now if we have diarrhea, we give Moringa tea, and we see that the time to healing is made short.The children with wounds on their legs - they took a long time to heal. Now we are taught how to clean the wounds. Now we are not seeing so many wounds. We know how to make healing ointment out of oil and candles. And now we are using this for shampoo as well as for soothing skin. The women are happy because this saves money. We no longer have to go to the market to buy shampoo! …We give thanks in the name of Jesus for bringing together Anuak, Nuer and Opo.”      
Sarah Nyadeng, Nuer, Lare

“We are building people up… and it is like giving sight to the blind. Now we know how to take care of burns by putting into cool water. We had no previous knowledge of this. It is very helpful to the community. We have learned about safe cooking fires. We keep them away from children, not to easily reach. Now we have lots of learning tools to help each other, for example, applying papaya fruit to burns. Thank you for caring for us.”   
Mary Nyabiel, Nuer, Pinyudu

“Sharing of knowledge is the best thing. In the beginning it was only Awilli from Abobo who was teaching there, going to seven different churches. One church was 2 days journey on foot. Now are many who teach in Abobo. With Moringa we have seen very big miracles. Two young children were about to die from diarrhea. Moringa tea was given to them. They were saved. When I would go to Thenyi, there was an old man who had a very big wound for several years. We put Papaya on the wound, and it was healed. In Abobo town, one person was burned. He was going to the clinic, but it was only getting worse.  We made the healing ointment … and put it on the wound twice a day. It was healed. When we go to different villages we see people getting water from the pump. They were washing clothes and emptying the water right by it. They did not use a toilet but would go near the pump. We taught that it was not good to have dirty washing water and waste products near to the hand pump. Now the area around the pump is kept very clean.”       
Awilli Aballa, Anuak, Abobo
Mothers' Union Graduate

“It was a very big and great plan from God who brought people from far away to live and learn together. Most of the points said by my sisters are all correct and I agree. Especially Moringa. Every home has Moringa - no one has to go to borrow. I ask all my sisters and brothers to pray for all my people. Now children are healthy. We know how to protect them from many different diseases”.      
Mary Nyalam, Opo, Wonkay

“I have shared with others what I have learned. Now we have become God’s doctors  for the community. The teaching helps the community - the children, the elders, everyone… Now we can help with the needs there. We have learned to put Neem twigs in the cooking fire, and rub Neem leaves into the skin. This keeps the mosquitos away.”    
Apap Oman, Anuak, Gambella

“Let one help carry the bundle of the other. We have learned many good things which have helped to decrease infection. In South Sudan, there are very big problems. I beg your prayers for South Sudan, that God could make a way to bring people back.”          
Mary Nyakong, Nuer, Akule 2 Refugee Camp  


Johann and Louise Vander der Bijl
for Johann and Louise

We give thanks

We give thanks for Johann and Louise Van er Bijl, now leaving Gambella for medical reasons. Johann told us of their farewell gift from St Barnabas Church. Apparently there was much discussion about this. Finally it was settled that they would receive an Ostrich egg. This, they were told, was because Johann was like the Ostrich. What was it? It could not fly. It looks like a bird, but it acts like an animal. Now Johann “looks like a white person, but he acts like an African!!” 
                                    

Prayers of Thanksgiving:

For the new deacons and priest to be ordained at the Area Assembly November 24th, 2016

For Archbishop Mouneer and the diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, that it will be allowed to keep their property and churches

For the Mothers’ Union as they begin a new phase of ministry in the Local Training Program and especially for Rebecca Nyater, our new MU coordinator for the Nuer

For those who gave towards the new bicycles given to our pastors


Rev. Simon Kerr on his new bicycle
Rev Simon Kerr with his new bicycle.





Please pray with us

For God’s blessing on the choice of a new dean for St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College
With thanksgiving as we explore new partnerships in Kenya and in Djibouti
For open doors to ministry in Southern Ethiopia, Djibouti, Addis, and Somaliland

For the new refugees that continue to flood into the Gambella region (60,000 per month)