Lebanon #3: 48 hours in: What we’re learning about showing up and being present

by Susan Parker, for the team (John Knox Presbyterian Church, Seattle)

The ministry of presence might be defined as the ability to communicate value, regard, worth and respect. It is the ability to make people feel significant, honored, and esteemed. It is about being with someone, without the need to do something for them or even to say the right thing—or maybe anything at all. It is also about receiving—because being present to someone else inevitably enriches our own lives.

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Lebanon #2: Advent

by Julie Burgess, for the team

“On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him.” (Luke 9:37)

Most of our team has arrived; Kate’s delayed flight delivered her up to the conference center about three hours ago and Susan W. will be here in the next two. It will be good to be a whole team, but the work proceeded apace without all of us in place on this day.

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Lebanon #1: A Faithful History

by Marilyn Borst, for the team

This is the sixth time I have brought an Outreach Foundation team of “faithful women” to Lebanon, first, in 2010, and then, every year since 2015. We have come over the years at the gracious invitation of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, our Presbyterian family here, to share life for a week with sisters whose countries’ modern histories have been complex and often violent. This women’s conference is a week of rich worship and Bible study, of learning and laughter, of rest and refreshment. 

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Ethiopia/South Sudan/Kenya #3: Greetings from Gambella

by Frank Dimmock

Greetings from hot Gambella. We completed the advanced trauma healing training on Sunday evening and prepared for the second group (initial TH training) beginning on Monday morning. The rains have not interrupted our trainings under the ‘training tree’ on the church compound. Participation has been good and trainees have been submitting their reports and end-of-training tests.

The new group is larger and represent three from each of the six refugee camps as well as several from local parishes. This group will practice facilitating a healing session where testimonies of trauma will be given.

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Ethiopia/South Sudan/Kenya #2: Trauma Healing Training

by Frank Dimmock

We have successfully completed the second day of advanced trauma healing training with Nuer refugees from the 6 camps in Gambella. These are trainees who conducted and reported on 40 ‘healing group’ sessions in the camps since their initial training in 2018. They reached more than 450 refugees among the 36 congregations and community members of the camps. Each of the sessions included 10+ hours of group work and additional individual support. The 12 trainees who are receiving the advanced training will now be helping to train others in facilitating ‘healing groups.’  This is a priority program of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan that The Outreach Foundation has supported since 2017.

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Ethiopia/South Sudan/Kenya #1: Greetings from Addis Ababa

by Frank Dimmock

Greetings from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. This was our first day here and it has been a national religious (Muslim) holiday - Eid. All offices that we had planned to visit were closed. We were able to follow up on lost luggage and meet many friends who were waiting to see us. Now we must squeeze 4 ‘official’ visits into our only full day here!

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Worship and Mission: Around the world and in our own neighborhoods

by Juan Sarmiento, Associate Director for Mission

Over the last ten months, I have had the pleasure of coordinating a project of The Outreach Foundation that has brought together an intergenerational group of mission and worship leaders from a variety of Presbyterian and Reformed congregations and ministry contexts around the United States. The focus of our interaction has been around these questions:

  • How are worship and mission interrelated in the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition?

  • What can we learn from the reflection and practices of Presbyterian/Reformed churches in other countries?

  • What specific practices may help our congregations embody that interrelation in our own contexts?

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Rwanda #9: Imana Ishimwe (Praise God)

by Frank Dimmock


After the FPC Nashville group left for the airport, Saturday afternoon, the Outreach team drove together with the EPR vice president to Gisenyi in the Northern Province. We arrived very late, but rested in a wonderful convent guesthouse that the church had arranged. It was on the shore of Lake Kivu just across from the city of Goma, D.R.C..


We were excited to see the new Buganamana sanctuary and worship with them. The sanctuary is beautiful and they were SO joyous! They have about 700 members in regular attendance and many had worked hard to carry building materials and help in the construction. Rev. Ndagiro, Presbytery moderator, preached the sermon from John 11:25 Jesus as the resurrection and the life.

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Rwanda #8: All Creatures of our God and King

by Erika Shapiro, for the team

Friday, Day Seven.

Our alarms went off before the sun came up this morning, and we eagerly greeted our driver for an absolutely incredible experience in God’s creation. We picked up Ebralie’s sister Mary and Pastor Julius as we headed for Akegera National Park. Our bus, which became our home for the day, was well-equipped for our journey with big window seats for everyone, plenty of seat belts, and even room to stand up for a better view in the park. Driving to the park gave us a great picture of daily life in Rwanda, as we traveled through the busy city of Kigali and then into the countryside. We witnessed the hustle and bustle of the city as we drove through town, and then as the topography changed to accommodate Rwanda’s rich agricultural backbone, we saw workers of all ages in the fields, tending to their growing crops. The rural area is so beautiful, and the people work so hard to yield fertile crops in this land of 1000 hills.

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Rwanda #7: Wounds are Deep but Reconciliation is Deeper

by Sara DeVries, for the team

A new Outreach Foundation member, Frank, joined our team last night. We met him at breakfast and peppered him with questions, mostly related to his family of 10. He spoke of his wife’s ‘big heart’ and a home of 8 kiddos. His story is beautiful and inspiring and the way he answers God’s call was a real treat to listen to.

We hopped in two cars just a few minutes after our scheduled departure time and headed for Remera, a countryside village. The drive there took us out of Kigali in a way we had yet to travel and we passed through some very busy intersections where a passive driver might find themselves stuck all day. We passed the bus hub and food markets and a million motorcycles and a zillion walkers. There was so much movement.

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Rwanda #6: Welcomed with Open Arms and a Full Plate

by Kendall Posey, for the team

We were treated to a nice morning of sleeping in after a wonderful welcoming dinner at the Kicukiro church the previous night.  Our breakfast consisted of fruit, eggs, and our newfound favorite, African Donuts! What a delight! Decked in scrubs and a childlike excitement, our day began!

We traveled to a mother and son's home next to the ITETERO School. There, we learned to dust with homemade brooms, till the dirt, and plant beans alongside members of the Kanombe and Kicukiro congregations. The planting was a meaningful experience for the group. We haphazardly threw the beans into the soil, hoping that it would sprout into something good.   When we finished, the group gathered inside the family's home and the mother shared her story. The woman's son was diagnosed with schizophrenia 9 years ago and the mother struggles to provide. She told us that she never thought that so many people would show up and care for her. Our work in her yard seemed to be a small feat, and gratitude simply for our presence there was a touching reminder for what being a brother or sister in Christ truly means. We must reach out and make connections in our community and beyond, showing everyone the love and grace that Christ extends to them.

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Rwanda #5: Murakoze chane (thanks so much!)

by Tinsley Sheppard, for the team

My face hurts from smiling so much today! We enjoyed an unintentionally late start this morning as the jet lag and packed days of fun caught up to us (and the mosquito net covered beds are just so comfortable!). Breakfast was so delicious with passion fruit, breads, eggs, veggies, and even peanut butter to go on our mini bananas!

Feeling refreshed, we enjoyed the ride through beautiful Kigali to the Itetero school for special needs children. The singing and dancing of these sweet children and their parents was so heart warming and free. They even dusted off our feet as a way to symbolize rest for our weariness. The life and light in the hearts of these twenty children, their parents, and their two teachers was so precious as we got to color and make bracelets with them. We heard stories of progress and hope in their lives through the Itetero school and their staff of teachers and a temporary physiotherapist. 

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