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