“Bishop, I want you to release me from being a pastor.” As a young man, he had been required to marry his uncle’s widow. This was to ensure that his uncle, though deceased, would have children. In Nuer tradition, having children is the only way one is remembered in the after-life. He had been obedient to the family and married a woman he barely knew. It turned out to be a good and happy marriage. They had eight children, two now grown and married. Now his extended family have made a new demand. Since the wife and children are not “his” but his uncle’s and because all Nuer must marry and have children, the family he has known as his own for over twenty years have been taken away. Now, they insist, he must marry in order to have his own children so that he too can be remembered in the after-life.
This faithful priest faces faces a dilemma. Should he remain alone, yet true to his long-time wife (now no longer in the country), or should he resign from the priesthood, honour Nuer tradition, and marry a “new” wife? Can he honour his family by pointing them to Jesus? Can he witness to the fact that we are remembered in the after-life because we are already known, loved and saved by our risen Lord? Can he trust in the power of Jesus to save from the retaliatory curses visited on a disobedient son?
After some weeks of agony, he made his choice. We believe it was a good one. He is still a pastor.
Pray for our clergy.
...In Another Place
In a very different part of our Episcopal Area, the peace of a Bible study and prayer group was suddenly shattered. Imagine, what it must be like...arrested for having a Bible study. Then you hear that they have gone to your house and interrogated your children. The youngest, two years old, can’t even understand the questions; “What does your Father do for a living?” An urgent prayer request is sent. Without your knowing it, two hundred people attending a diocesan synod several countries away, knelt to pray for you. Funds for a lawyer were quietly and quickly transferred. Miraculously you and six others are released. Sadly, the owner of the home is sentenced to three months in prison for propagating the Christian faith. It could have been much worse. The charge carried a possible sentence of three years. In other parts of the same country, it would have meant a death sentence, carried out without a trial.
Pray for the persecuted church.
“Tiergol is flooded with refugees. All the food in the market has been eaten. People are starving.” Armed Sudanese raiders were destabilizing the regions of South Sudan adjacent to this area of the Gambella region of Ethiopia. Michael looked at Grant hopefully, “Can we do something?”
A trip to the World Food Program office revealed that the organization was aware of the problem but still waiting for permission to deliver food to the region - the situation was deemed too insecure to allow them access.
An Anglican priest, however, did have access. In God’s provision, as Grant and Michael discussed the situation, a member of the Anglican Board of Mission (Australia) sat in our living room listening and quietly typing on her keyboard. “I have Australian dollars for emergency relief,” she said. Within a few days, thanks to ABM and to Michael’s organizational ability, twenty villages received much needed food supplies. A second shipment was taken to Tiergol just last week.
We give thanks for your prayer and partnership!