Friday, March 6, 2015

Sharing the heart of Jesus


Opo women: now adding life-saving Moringa to their traditional “Mapo’ (maize only) meal

A Busy Season
This past season from November thorough February has seen us host 28 visitors to the Gambella Anglican Centre, 2 clergy training events, 2 Mothers’ Union training events, 1 week-long clergy and lay reader conference, and the Diocesan Area Assembly for over 200 representatives. Combined with visits to various church communities including the student-led church of Mekele, visits to Djibouti and Somaliland, and many meetings about exciting ministry development, this has been a busy time! Crises with the clergy, crises with changing governmental regulations, lack of running water, lack of electricity and lack of time alone to rest and recuperate - all this combined has made us very conscious of our weaknesses; our shortcomings, and, very aware of the unfailing love of Jesus, who loves to fill all that we are not, with all that He is.

Highlights from Wendy

~ Sitting under the stars with the Opo at Christmas, watching the Jesus film, when, as one, with their spontaneous and heartfelt applause, they greeted the risen ‘Jesus’ as he appeared to his disciples in the film.


~ Baby Louise’s Oatmeal Eye Infection: 
“Baby” Louise’s Oatmeal Eye Infection:
 a rare moment when this ‘natural ham’ was not ‘crying’


Laughing and yet a little horrified, the Mothers’ union representatives watched as Baby Louise’s mother (me), happily spread the infection (oatmeal) from one of her eyes to both eyes, and then, using the same dirty cloth, to the face of my other “child” as well as to my friend, who, after shaking my (dirty) hand, rubbed the transferred oatmeal on to her eye as well. 
“What have I done?”, I asked my Mothers’ Union reps. 
And then, “Let’s do this again!!” 
“Shall I use the same cloth to wash Baby Louise’s other eye?”, I asked.  
“Noo!!!!” the Mothers’ Union reps shouted in horror


Mothers’ Union watch with horror and laughter


















~Presenting new ways of teaching: Like still-life photographs, the visiting team from South Carolina with one of two gestures then frozen in a tableau brought the reality of the suffering of the woman healed from a flow of blood in a way that enabled our Gambellan women to touch her joy, and to reach out to touch this One who still heals today.

Portraits in “Still Life”: The woman with the flow of blood

As the season of Lent begins, I’ve been thinking, “What is mission”? I think it is walking with Jesus. As you give Him your hands to be available, your feet to follow, and your home to welcome Him, He gives you His heart for others, His perception of who they are in Him and His joy in seeing hearts become open to love. I believe God yearns to love others through human hands and human hearts; that what Jesus wants to be for us in the moment of our need, He intends to give through us to others. Jesus’ very life was poured out on the cross. To meet Him there, where sin and inadequacy have been taken up into His death, is to find life.

Thoughts from Bishop Grant
As Wendy has said, we’ve had a lot of visitors in the last two months or so. We are extremely grateful to each one: my good buddy Chuck from near Toronto, a group from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, a Mothers’ Union staff worker from the UK, a family of long-term missionaries to Ethiopia who joined us for a few days of Christmas celebrations with the Opo people, a young couple from York, UK discerning a call to mission work here in Gambella, and finally a wonderful servant-like group from South Carolina. Each person and group has made wonderful contributions to our life and work here. So many others have contributed to our life and work here from a distance - we are keenly aware of the on-going support, especially in prayer, that we receive from so many. Thank you so much.

But the last few days have been quite remarkable.

To start with, Wendy and I became grandparents this weekend. Well, actually, we became grandparents nine months ago, but the baby has now become visible to all! Samuel Grant LeMarquand was born on Saturday February 7 in Calgary to David and Anna LeMarquand. We are grateful and excited - but it is difficult to be on the other side of the world when such a miracle is going on! Thankfully we’ll be in Calgary for the baptism in May.

Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, our Anuak churches in the new Abobo Mission Centre held a “spiritual conference” - two days of prayer, singing and preaching. We travelled there on the Sunday morning and had a wonderful service with Christians from four churches in the area. All of these are new. The oldest of the four, Bethlehem Anglican Church in Abobo town, was started a year ago. Now Bethlehem Church has given birth to three baby churches. The conference was being held in a tiny village called Ukunne. One of the great privileges I have as bishop is to name churches that I visit. This one, to the delight of the people gathered, received the name “Our Father Anglican Church” - in Anuak “Wuawa”  Anglican Church.

Over in Pilwal, one of our staff was invited to a special, high-powered event. It seems there a man in Pilwal who was possessed by a traditional ancestral spirit named Wiu. This man has spent most of his life serving Wiu, performing sacrifices for many people on behalf of the spirit. Even though his relatives are Christians, they were afraid of this man and the spirit who  possessed him. The family, convinced that Wiu is responsible for the recent deaths of three family members, have been begging him to become a Christian and forsake this spirit. Shaken by the recent deaths, the man spent this weekend in conversation and prayer, and opening his heart to Christ, he decided to burn his ritual sacrificial spears, and the leopard skin, a symbol of his spiritual authority, and to take on a new name, David, as a symbol of new life and new joy. His catechetical training has begun in preparation for his baptism.

~ Please Pray with us ~

Samuel Grant, now a one week old pirate!

Give thanks:
  • for the birth of Samuel Grant LeMarquand
  • for new birth for David of Pilwal
  • for the many groups who have been watching the Jesus film in our churches
  • for the new churches being planted
  • for successful times of training for our Mothers’ Union leaders and our clergy
  • for the good work being done by Johann Vanderbijl in preparation for the launching of our theological college
  • for the wonderful work of Louise Vanderbijl, my ‘partner-in-crime’ in Mothers’ Union training events



Hand-washing stations,
mosquito nets,
dish-drying racks,
safer cooking fires,
and nutritious Moringa - 
The Mothers’ Union are making a difference in Opo!!





Please pray:
  • for ongoing support to pay for programmes, salaries, Bibles, hymn books, new churches,and for buildings for St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College on the Gambella Anglican Centre compound

  • for the right teachers to come and teach at St Frumentius’ and for the right students to come and learn
  • that churches may continue to grow in their ability to take financial responsibility for the life of their churches

  • for true peace in South Sudan

  • for our many refugees











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