Ghana #6: Identity in Christ

by Rafael de Castro Guedes, Member and worship leader of the Central Independent Presbyterian Church of Presidente Prude nte (Sao Paulo State) and Lawyer.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)

This section reveals that the Son of God in intimacy with the Father, prays for all believers, conferring the identity of the children of God to all who believe in Him.

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Ghana #5: It's All About Jesus! 

Reflection by Rev. Fabio Quintanilha, Pastor at Thomaz Coelho Presbyterian Church in Rio de Janeiro 

All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. (John 17:10)  

During these days in Ghana we have been faced with a lot of poverty, and so we often refer to the Ghanaians as those having very little, and indeed many do. On the other hand, we realize that our “little” is very much in the face of such difficult situations. But the question that catches my attention in the words of Jesus is not knowing how much we have but saying that everything belongs the Father. They may have little, but if everything belongs to the Father, it will be very much. On the other hand, we can have a lot, but if everything is ours alone, it will not be worth anything! Father, that all I have, whether little or too much, may all be really yours in my life! So, I put myself in your hands, Amen! 

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Ghana #4: We Are One

by Rafael Guedes, Worship and Small Group leader. Independent Presbyterian Church of Presidente Prudente, São Paulo State.

During our journey throughout Ghana we have been meditating on Jesus’ prayer in John chapter 17. The verse that spoke most to my heart on this day was, "I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves" (John 17:13). During the time I have been in Christ, I had never had the privilege of seeing joy as pure and genuine as I have seen in the life of the brothers in this place. Joy that I could not only see, but also feel! An incredible feeling that began at 7am during the praises sung by young people who in the early hours of the day displayed smiles that penetrate right into our souls. It was impossible not to surrender in worship to God and the presence of the Holy Spirit in that place. Another great source of joy I felt today was to see during Bible school how these brothers are spiritually mature, convicted in faith in Jesus Christ, firm in the word of God with a strong desire to proclaim the gospel. Finally, in the rural church I saw what God really meant to say to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, when he said, "My grace is sufficient for you," Jesus is enough for the brethren in that village, the Grace of our Salvador does who materially has absolutely nothing, to have absolutely everything! What is the "fullness of joy" that belongs and comes only from Jesus Christ!

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Ghana #3: Reflections from Ghana

by José Pezini, Coordinator for Portuguese Language Ministries, The Outreach Foundation

And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

My mind wanders from one thing to another. Not because of questions, but rather reflection about everything I have seen and felt in the midst of this people.

Maybe this verse makes more sense today than it did before. The people we saw today have absolutely no material wealth at all. They live in very simple homes, including the pastor. In their homes there is no furniture, no electronics etc. They have no cars or possessions that we would consider essential. The lunch they graciously shared with us did not come from the supermarket, but from something harvested right there.

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Ghana #2: Reflections on the First Day

Reflection by Rev. Fabio Quintanilha, Pastor at Thomaz Coelho Presbyterian Church in Rio de Janeiro

More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8)

What does Jesus mean to me? This question cannot be answered from a theological concept, but from a relationship. Attending a youth service today in Ghana made me think of Paul's words. To the Ghanaians, Jesus is pure joy! The passion in each gesture made me think of how passionate Jesus is! It is possible to have everything and not have the joy of those young people. The joy of Jesus has nothing to do with what we have, but to know who he is for us. It is possible to have that joy and I want to have that joy!

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Ghana #1: Giving thanks with the Church across continents 

 by Juan Sarmiento

“To those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom  of God” 1 Corinthians 1:24 (New Living Translation) 

The word “mission” often brings up a set of negative connotations and assumptions. There is no doubt that missionary work has all too often been done as the attempt of the powerful and wise by the standards of this world to come to the rescue of those seen as weak and foolish. It is no wonder that mission, undertaken in that attitude of implicit superiority, can evoke adverse reactions.  

But what if we begin to see mission less as the initiative of benefactors and more as the grateful response to the amazing grace of God manifested in Christ.

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Ethiopia #6: Traveling from Ethiopia to Kenya

by Frank Dimmock

Today I say good bye to Ethiopia and hello to Kenya. Yesterday was a wonderful day visiting the Outreach work with South Sudanese Presbyterians in 3 refugee camps. We traveled in convoy to the camps due to security concerns, but then were free to see the pre-schools and meet with many of the trauma healing trainees in their settings. It was good to hear the reports and concerns of those who are conducting regular healing groups in the camps. There are 14 in Kule camp and 12 in Nguenyiel camp. They also shared their priorities for making their work more effective. We were able to demonstrate the audio device that will be used in each camp for listening groups. They were very excited to hear the voices and dialogue in Nuer.

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Ethiopia #5: Sunday in Gambella

by Frank Dimmock

Sunday in Gambella is reserved for worship and for visiting friends and families - still a wonderful tradition in much of Africa. I walked from the guesthouse where I am staying to the main Newland church for their 8:30 service. This is the Nuer church of the West Gambella Bethel Synod of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), our Presbyterian partner. They are collecting funds and constructing a larger church building to accommodate the ‘mega church’ numbers of worshippers. The service was shortened to 3.5 hours due to a scheduled funeral for the wife of an elder. By then, I was cooked (finished a liter and a half of water) but honored to bring greetings from The Outreach Foundation. The lectionary reading was from Romans 13, submitting to authority, which was appropriate following inter-ethnic violence in town the day before. Attendance was more than 2500 inside and the ‘nursery’ with countless young children and mothers were in the ‘annex’ outside. There were many choirs, wonderful singing and several offerings. The entire service was in Nuer, but the Synod President, Rev. James Gadet (also preacher for the day) provided translation for me. I was blessed!

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Ethiopia #4: Pinyudo Refugee Camp

by Frank Dimmock

From Thursday, November 8th, through Saturday I was visiting the Pinyudo refugee camp, 5 painful hours South of Gambella. The camp has approximately 86,000 refugees with more than 50,000 children. One zone of the camp has refugees remaining from the conflict in South Sudan in the 1990’s. The Outreach Foundation has helped to train eleven refugees in Pinyudo 1 camp and three more in the smaller sister camp Pinyudo 2. I was able to meet most of them and learn of their progress with healing and listening groups. I also met four of the children who participated last year in the children’s trauma healing camp. I am encouraged by the efforts of these committed volunteers. There is much work to be done in helping the refugees understand and release their trauma, experience forgiveness and rebuild hope. In Pinyudo there are 8 parishes and more than 40 churches where we are working to build communities of healing. It is exciting! 

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Ethiopia #3: Audio Trauma Healing Training

by Frank Dimmock

There is too much to report since my last blog. Day two of the audio trauma healing training was focused on rape and domestic violence in the morning and on releasing our pain at the foot of the cross and forgiveness in the afternoon. Needless to say, we went overtime and were exhausted. Personal stories were shared, tears were shed and we ended in prayer. On our final day of the training, we covered “How can we live as Christians in the midst of conflict?” and “Looking ahead.” The participants had the opportunity to practice using the audio devices and solar speakers. As they graduated, a designated trainee from each camp was issued the recorders and speakers to take away. They have plans for forming listening groups.

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Ethiopia #2: Trauma Healing for Refugees

by Frank Dimmock

It has been a very busy and long day 1 with the audio trauma healing trainees.

We reviewed 6 lessons, listening to the Nuer audio recordings and going through the discussion questions. They remembered many of the stories and exercises we had done in the June training. It was a good review. There are 6 women and 7 men representing five of the six camps in the region. They are part of a team of trained trauma healing refugees from each camp.

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Ethiopia #1 - Greetings from Gambella

by Frank Dimmock

Greetings from Gambella, near the border with South Sudan. I arrived here on Saturday following two busy days in Addis. I managed while there to: get permission from the authorities to visit the refugee camps in this region; buy and transport a bicycle for the South Sudanese education and trauma healing coordinator in the camps; meet with the evangelist in charge of the Nuer Presbyterian Congregation in Addis (Gabriel Chieng Tot); visit with a South Sudanese medical doctor completing specialty training in OB/Gyn; spend time with an American group from Shenandoah Presbytery; and have dinner with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) President Rev. Yonas Yigezu Dibisa.

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