In late July, I brought a team of eight women from the U.S. to participate in a week-long conference in Lebanon which was sponsored by the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. Held in the mountains north of Beirut at a retreat center owned by the Synod, it gathered in more than 100 women for rich days filled with Bible study, worship, fellowship, recreation and learning – the “stuff” which comprises similar events everywhere. But there was one major difference: most of these women had come from the Presbyterian churches in Syria and had traveled over dangerous roads, endured long waits at border crossings and left loved ones behind in the midst of war. They routinely live with shelling, power cuts, massive shortages, sky rocketing inflation coupled with extreme devaluation of their currency and heart-rending separation from family and friends who had fled the country.
Greetings in Christ’s name from an exceptionally hot Cairo! The seminary has become quieter with most of the students away on their summer internships, so it is a good time to look back and reflect on the busy end-of-session period. Amid all the excitement and preparation for graduation in May, the ETSC community received a double blow as it learned of the deaths of Jack Lorimer and, two weeks later, Ken Bailey. Both were missionary giants, who in their different ways made an immense impact on the life of the Egyptian Church and indeed internationally. Both were great friends and advocates of the seminary, and we mourn their passing.
Warm greetings from Bloomington, Illinois! It has been a blessing to be back in the States and to enjoy time with family and friends, and to even witness and experience the changing of the seasons (Bob was taught how to use a snow blower!). This year we are in the United States for our Interpretation Assignment and several months of personal leave. During this time we hope to have a short respite but also make meaningful connections with supporting churches and individuals, helping to interpret the work of the church in Congo so that American Christians feel connected to our sisters and brothers in that part of the world.
Hope eludes many young Maasai girls in Kenya. Through tradition, their culture dictates two tragic events for girls: female circumcision and early marriage to considerably older men, old enough to be their grandfathers. It was from these two untenable situations that nine year old Mary (fictitious name) ran away from home for the Girls’ Rescue Center.
I was part of a mission team that visited Ethiopia and South Sudan in May of this year. I wrote about the Ethiopia part of that visit following my return (“Changing Your World with the Gifts You Bring,” June 7, 2016). In this week’s blog I want to reflect on some of the people we met in Juba, South Sudan, particularly in light of what happened after our group returned home.
When we met the leadership of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan in May, we heard how difficult it is to live. The General Secretary, the Rev. John Yor (third from left), shared with us that the falling exchange rate had made prices for basic food staples almost out of reach of ordinary people. Medical treatment was difficult to come by. People were not being paid on time by their institutions. Even soldiers in the national army had not been paid for months.