This is a story about a congregation in Kenya and how brothers and sisters there are reaching out to the community. In 2013, we partnered with Kinamba Church to help build their place of worship. The building was dedicated on November 10, 2013.
At the dedication ceremony, I challenged the congregation to start a school in their old church – and they did. By the end of 2014, they had forty children in their school, Green View Academy. In late 2016, they came to Outreach to see if we could partner with them to build two classrooms as their student population was getting close to 100. We helped build two classrooms in late 2016 and two more in August 2017.
Green View Academy is expecting approximately 200 kids in January 2018, and they are well on their way to providing classes for kindergarten through eighth grade. Besides providing a quality Christian education, they also feed these children. For many it may be the only meal they get all day. The church has also started feeding children on Sunday – they provide meals for about 200 children every Sunday.
Aisifuye mvua imemnyea. One who praises rain has been rained upon.
In much of Africa, where a large portion of the population depends on agriculture for survival, rain is strongly felt as a blessing. Therefore, the Swahili proverb above means that those who count their blessings are able to do so because they have experienced blessings.
We have been rained upon. We are blessed, and this letter is meant to express our thanks to all who in various ways engage in God’s mission with us.
Every three or four years, we leave our area of service to spend half a year visiting congregations in the U.S. to give witness to how God has been at work through the global church. That is what we have been doing for the last couple of months, and we will continue to do so until November. While in the U.S., we are sharing about the work of the Church in Africa. We share about how ministries with vulnerable children help them heal from the trauma of armed conflict. We tell of families finding one another again after abandonment. We describe how education reaches about 220,000 children each year through the nearly 1,000 Presbyterian schools in the Congo. And we explain the instability congregations in the Greater Kasai region encounter because of intensive militia activity in their area.
The Outreach Foundation celebrates your continuing generosity to our Refugee/IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Appeal. Your gifts have allowed us to undergird the ministry of our partners in the Middle East as they work to renew hope and healing in Christ’s name. The following story was written by Julie Burgess, a member of West Hills Presbyterian Church in Omaha, who has traveled often with The Outreach Foundation to the Middle East.
The Gift of Grace
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 1:3)
We know that grace is a gift of God and it comes through Jesus, as Paul so aptly reminds us when he begins his letters.
Grace to you…
There is a ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, where those words are not only lived out, but they are lived out literally by a woman named Grace, who is a gift of God to the thousands of refugees who have found their way from the war zones of Iraq and Syria to Our Lady Dispensary. Our Lady Dispensary is housed in a nondescript building supplied by the Syrian Orthodox Church whose bishop is in the church across the street. It is one of those places where the phrase, “you can’t judge a book by its cover” comes to mind.
Occasionally in life, we are able to experience a slice of heaven here on earth. I recently saw God’s Kingdom in technicolor.
For the seventh time, we took a group of 28 Taiwanese male and female university students, seminary students, and young pastors to a Christian community called Taize in the rolling hills of rural France. Many of you know Taize from singing Taize prayer songs. But Taize is so much more than a style of singing.
Last week, there were 2,300 young people from all over the world who came to Taize by bus, by train, and by bicycle. As we waited to join the orientation on that first Sunday, we met a large group of Indonesian youth who had traveled farther than us to get to Taize. Our group sang a song to them in Mandarin that says, “In Jesus Christ we are one family.” The Indonesians then borrowed a guitar from one of our students and sang the same song in Indonesian. During the week, we enjoyed learning some Indonesian from our new friends and also heard from them something of what it is to be Christian in that largely Muslim land.
That first night, I also met a very tall young man from Lithuania who plays on the national basketball team for his country. He told me that he loves music. I mentioned to him that we have a young Taiwanese man whose voice sounds like an angel.
By God’s grace, I am about to return to Iraq for the 10th time since 1998. In preparation, I have been rereading my journals and share this memory from 2002 when I was making a third visit to the Presbyterian Church in Basrah. I had just left the “safety” and camaraderie of the group with whom I had been in Baghdad and had ventured south on my own – a bit nervously, I can now admit. This required a flight through a “no fly zone” where my own country’s military had permission to shoot down unauthorized planes – a fact that I was oblivious of until I had settled into my seat and was reminded of it by the man sitting next to me! [Cue: fervent prayer….]
...On previous visits, while a part of larger delegations, I had always stayed in a hotel in town, but I was now solo, and everyone was eager for me to accept the hospitality of the church’s guest room. Not many visitors had been hosted, of late, in the shabby-but-adequate guest quarters which the church kept in its run-down education wing.
Day two in Siavonga, on the edge of Lake Kariba. The vulnerability of children and families in the Siavonga district of southern Zambia is obvious and has been affirmed by our visits with children at the Namumu Orphanage Center and by others we have met during the last two days. Today we began by meeting with the government District Commissioner, together with the Namumu director and board chairman. We expressed appreciation for the support that the District has promised to the Namumu orphanage and their concern for the well-being of the children.
This meeting was followed by a visit to the local fishing boats on the shore of the lake. In planning for financial sustainability of Namumu, the decision was made to launch a fishing business on the lake. The Outreach Foundation and other supporters assisted in the purchase of four fishing boats for Namumu.