San Pablo Presbyterian Theological Seminary - May 2018 Update

Over its 36 years of ministry San Pablo Presbyterian Theological Seminary has trained almost eight hundred students from twenty-one of the thirty Mexican states. The Yucatán Peninsula is known in the U.S. for the splendid beaches of the Cancun area, a 700-mile shoreline, and its astonishing Mayan ruins. Not as common is to find people who see the region as a place that has experienced a remarkable multiplication of Presbyterian congregations over the last decades.

The initial classes of the San Pablo Seminary were held on September 19, 1982 in the facilities of Divine Savior Presbyterian Church with Rev. Lucio Ek Canul as the first full- time instructor and Rev. David Brainerd Legters as the first president. The son of a missionary couple that coordinated the translation of the New Testament, Legters’ first language was Mayan, his second was English, and his third was Spanish.

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Todd and Maria Luke - May 2018 Update

Dear friends,

Below, you can read about:
•    twentieth anniversary for sanctuary 
•    twenty cisterns in January and February  
•    “Curious Creature” paradigm success
•    new cistern molds with a 10cm annulus
•    five cisterns in March and April – Mexican labor, Mexican funding  
•    invitation for 2019

Happy 20th Xpujil Sanctuary
The Xpujil Presbyterian Church sanctuary opened in the spring of 1998. Presbyterians from across Calakmul County recently joined the local congregation for a special worship service to celebrate the twentieth anniversary. Stories were shared about the early days of our new partnership, rooted in a simple “Amigos en Cristo” spirit. Also remembered were those Mexican men and women who came to Xpujil to teach, preach, and lead: Pastor Francisco Chan, Pastor Manuel Pech, Pastor Francisco Mutul, Obrera Ernestina Chan Pantí, Pastor Isaias Beh, Obrera Vernonica, y Obrero Abdiel. God used our little partnership to bring them to the region and make their families feel at home. Twenty years later, the Xpujil church is active and serving their neighbors.

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Syria Appeal - May 2018

In April, I was able to take a small team into Syria to meet with three of the congregations of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, which your generous gifts have sustained and encouraged. I cannot but be enormously grateful for those who chose to defy all of the possible “no’s” to come on this journey and be present to our sisters and brothers there: 
Rev. Tom and Joy Boone, Julie Burgess, Rev. Jim Wood and Brian Collins. The fact that their families and congregations (Bethel Presbyterian Church, Cornelius, NC; West Hills Church, Omaha; First Presbyterian Church Norfolk, VA) sent them off with their (somewhat anxious?) blessing confirms their discernment that God’s YES preceded our journey. What follows is part of our daily trip blog, this one written by Julie Burgess while we were in Aleppo in April.
–Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development

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Church Construction in Kenya - May 2018 Update

Dear friends,

We recently received this joyful report from Stu and Annie Ross, The Outreach Foundation’s East Africa Mission Consultants:

Yesterday was a very eventful day for us. We dedicated PCEA Manyatta Church, the 300th church that The Outreach Foundation has assisted in building in East Africa. This is a great milestone but we reached this milestone only with the help of many partners and donors....and of course, God protected us and was with us throughout. As we do this Kingdom work, we move farther from our base to very difficult, remote and sometimes dangerous areas. Our aim is to spread the gospel to many that have not heard and to add capacity to those that have heard and can reach out and spread the good news of Jesus Christ themselves.

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The Antioch Partners - April 2018 Update

Dear friends of The Antioch Partners (TAP),

Easter was celebrated and together we affirmed, “The Lord is Risen! He is Risen indeed!” Our shared belief that in Jesus Christ, God has revealed himself to the world and with his death and resurrection, triumphed over sin and death, forms the basis of our mission and our calling. We have Good News to share with the world!

TAP's Commitment
TAP is committed to supporting our Partners (“Partners” is the term we use for missionaries) as they seek to share (and be) the Good News – as church planters, Bible translators, business people, community developers, teachers, language learners, pastors, friends and neighbors. Such support is often referred to as “member care” and reflects our desire to care for our missionaries so that they can be healthy and effective and able to thrive in their cross-cultural contexts and ministries.

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Alan and Ellen Smith - April 2018 Update

In Their Weakness, the Lord’s Light Radiates
For the last 18 years, most of the ministry we have been involved with in Russia has been with small churches. The largest is a church of about 300 members but most are between 12 and 50 members. The 12-member churches are not a part of the partnership program, but they are a rich part of our lives. We have not yet connected American partners with them because the size of most Presbyterian churches could overwhelm them but remember the “not yet.”

I spend time reading about the small church movement and the simple church movement. I think I am drawn to these topics because of our rich experience with the small churches of Eastern Europe. I know the depth of fellowship, the courage and the inspiration of small churches struggling in an often-hostile environment. I need their witness. Their witness is a complex mixture of humility, courage, tenacity and grace.

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Bob and Kristi Rice - April 2018 Update

Mama Sarah
Mama Sarah stood and spoke before the large group of mostly men, those being trained at Nile Theological College to serve as pastors and community leaders. While women are unheralded and not valued in this culture, Mama Sarah quickly and easily gained the rapt attention of everyone in the room, sharing her own story in the context of our teaching on forgiveness… 

One of the great joys in life is the people we meet. Last month Kristi traveled to Rwanda for a training in healing and reconciliation with three South Sudanese colleagues. One of these colleagues is the inimitable, irrepressible, and unforgettable Mama Sarah.

Mama Sarah is a widow in her late forties; her husband died almost twenty-five years ago. Mama Sarah has raised four children on her own. She has also taken in children not her own from other clans and tribes, an unheard-of reality here in South Sudan. Mama Sarah is a grandmother and she relishes her role as “matriarch,” calling others sons and daughters and cherishing her well-deserved title and status as “Mama Sarah” (Mother Sarah).

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Bethlehem Bible College - April 2018 Update

In February of this year, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was temporarily closed by Jerusalem’s Christian leaders in protest of a new taxation imposed upon the Christian institutions by the city of Jerusalem. This was an unexpected break in the status quo going back to the Ottoman era which had previously granted tax-free status to the city’s religious institutions. The shocking announcement included a century of back taxes, totaling almost $200 million; an expense that would have forced many ministries out of the land. Some leaders felt this imposition was a way to continue to weaken the presence of Christians in the city. In protest, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Jerusalem’s most-visited sites was closed.

Because this event took place about a month before Easter, there were worries that the church would remain shut during our holiest season. Thankfully, after three days of closure the situation was at least temporarily resolved, and the doors of one of the world’s oldest churches were swung back open.

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Presbytery of Zimbabwe Ministry for Children at Risk - April 2018 Update

Progress Report for the Lovemore Boys
Allow me to begin by extending profound greetings from the Lovemore boys’ family to our beloved partners, The Outreach Foundation and the Presbytery of Zimbabwe (POZ). Thank you so much for offering spiritual, material, emotional and financial support. Indeed, this support has made us very happy and we want to give glory and honor to the Almighty God.

Student Transfer Issues Settled
Nyasha Runodada transferred from Glen Forest High School to Mhondoro Presbyterian High School at the beginning of 2018. He is happy and has settled well in school. School fees for Nyasha were high due to the costs of supplies and other school fee requirements for a first-time student, but he will be paying the same fees as the boys at Mhondoro for the following terms. Many thanks to our treasurer, Victoria Chatikobo, who works hard to ensure all payments are made on time.

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Dan and Elizabeth Turk - May 1 Update

We recently received updated information on the situation in Madagascar from Dan and Elizabeth Turk. Scroll to the end of this article for news they shared April 24th.

Dear friends,

Madagascar is still experiencing daily ongoing protests in the capital city of Antananarivo. Large crowds were expected Saturday April 28th and again on May 1st, a holiday. The demonstrations are being led by members of the National Assembly upset with new election laws that they insist were passed with the assistance of payouts to other members of the National Assembly. These laws are seen as favoring the current president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, and making it hard or impossible for the two other major contenders, Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, to run. People joining the demonstrations are expressing their frustration at the high level of corruption in the government, judicial system, and armed forces. They are voicing the increasing difficulty of living with low incomes combined with rising prices and insecurity.

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José Carlos Pezini - April 2018 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Let me begin by thanking you for your prayers. God has been great to us. In January I had prostate surgery. Thanks to God’s grace, I recovered well. Within two weeks of the surgery, I was ready to return to my regular ministry activities including my international travels. Odete and I are so thankful for your lives and the care that you have demonstrated towards us.

The SARA ministry has grown exponentially in these last couple of years. Today there are 13 mentoring core groups spread out all over Brazil. Each one of them has two retreats per year. This year alone, we have scheduled 26 different retreats. It is through God’s mercy that we have already reached around 500 pastors in 13 different denominations. We have helped them through their daily struggles. Many of them have testified that through our personal mentoring and spiritual formation retreats, they have been able to conquer depression and other signs of burnout. As they recover from their personal burnout, they feel motivated to perform their ministry with enthusiasm and great joy again.

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Continuing Education for Chinese Church Leaders - April 2018 Update

Walking with Chinese Pastors
“The average pastor in our province has a congregation of 6,500 members.” With those words Rev. Keyun Zhang, chairman of the Provincial Committee of TSPM and president of the Theological Seminary, explained why the development of Chinese pastors is so important for the ongoing health of the growing congregations in the Jiangsu Province.

During the week that he spent in the United States last fall, Rev. Zhang led a delegation of eight high ranking leaders in visits sponsored by The Outreach Foundation to University Place Presbyterian Church (Tacoma, WA) and First Presbyterian Church (Wilmington, NC). He used the opportunity to share how even with such significantly high pastor to member ratios, the church in China is committed to improving the quality of its spiritual life and its ministries in their communities. “We have nine times as many congregations in the Jiangsu Province as we had in 1950,” he stated. “We have gone from 540 to 4,639 churches.”

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PCEA Mabati Church Construction - April 2018 Update

The Outreach Foundation’s East Africa Mission Catalyst Stu Ross recently shared the following news from Kenya:

We just dedicated Mary Hill Church, which is located in Aberdare Presbytery. Working with our partner, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, we have completed ten churches in this presbytery. There are two more churches on our list here to finish. By building this sanctuary, we brought the congregation from under a tree to this beautiful structure.

Why We Dedicate Churches
There are several reasons we dedicate a church. By dedicating a church, we let the whole community know that the new church is open. Secondly, many friends bring gifts of money and articles needed for the church to the dedication. Seventy plastic chairs and cash were donated at this dedication. Thirdly, it is a time thank people for all their help.

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Tumaini Children's Ministry-April 2018 Update

Vulnerable children's ministries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, have developed out of the desire to care for children either left as orphans following their parent’s death or due to abuse or neglect, in most cases dictated by extreme poverty. The Outreach Foundation's Projects Coordinator Ebralie Mwizerwa, Africa Mission Specialist Frank Dimmock and former Outreach trustee Rev. Dr. Eve Tolley recently traveled to Kenya to visit children’s ministries partners at the Riamukurwe Parish. On March 5-6, they met with the board of Tumaini Children's Ministry and worked on important recommendations for the children’s benefits. In this update, Ebralie gives a report of the trip and issues an invitation for the next trip, tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2019.

Upon our arrival at Nyeri, we were well-received at Tumaini and shared a delicious meal with Rev. Nicholas Miriti, parish pastor; Eunice Kago, Tumaini home manager; Peter Mucheru, session clerk; Virginia Munyiri, board secretary, and Fred Magua, Tumaini board chair.

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Nancy Collins - March 2018 Update

Dear family and friends,

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ from Justo Mwale University (JMU), Lusaka, Zambia where I have my home. It is quiet, very green, a lovely place to live. I enjoy having the theological students and faculty as my neighbors, and I appreciate when they stop by calling “odi” to say hello.

The 2018 JMU Bachelor of Theology (BTh) program is well underway now, although it got off to a bumpy start. Cholera broke out in Lusaka in October 2017. By January 12, 2,840 cases were recorded with 64 deaths. At the end of December, the Minister of Health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, banned gatherings of more than five people (including worship) and outlawed street vending. Military police patrolled the streets to enforce the bans. At the beginning of January, Dr. Chilufya postponed the opening of schools nationwide. The ban on public gatherings was lifted February 3.

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Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo - March 2018 Update

Warm greetings from ETSC where we are now in the middle of the spring semester and our final year students are beginning to be excited at the prospect of graduation and what lies beyond. It has been an eventful year so far, including two big book launches!

Perspectives
On Friday, March 9th ETSC celebrated the book launch of the Arabic translation of Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. 150 people gathered to hear speeches by Dr. Atef Gendy, ETSC's president; Steve Hawthorne, the general editor of Perspectives; Dan McNerney, a representative of Frontier Fellowship; and Swailem Hennein, the translation supervisor. It is the culmination of over ten years of work, which was initiated by Swailem Hennein in 2006 and involved 17 people translating the136 articles on mission which make up the collection. The book has two volumes and is accompanied by a study guide.

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Home of Hope - March 2018 Update

Dear friends in Christ,

We are excited about what has happened in our country and the possibilities of what can happen to bring the much hoped for and prayed for change for the better in the lives of Zimbabweans. Some of the important promises made at the change of government are slow in being fulfilled. However, we know that our God who has started a good work will bring it to completion.

With the elections speeding closer, we have peace and confidence that our God who sits on the throne is the One who puts leaders into place or removes them according to his plans and purposes. It is wonderful to hear how our current president acknowledges our one and only Creator God in speeches when he addresses groups of people. Our prayers are that God will keep him faithful and rooted in him.

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Palestinian Bible Society - March 2018 Update

The Palestinian Bible Society held its fourth annual Bible Day in Bethlehem on October 20. Entitled “Let the Children Come to Me,” this year’s Bible Day focused on getting the message of the Bible into children’s lives and hearts. Nearly 1,000 children from all around the land took part, along with group leaders, parents, and church leaders from all denominations. Songs, videos, crafts, outdoor games, puppets, and a live drama engaged everyone with the message in fun ways throughout the day. At the end, each child received a gift bag with a children’s Bible and a USB drive containing several versions of the Bible and audio Bible stories.

The event was broadcast live on Palestine TV and on the Radio Mawwal Facebook page. The next day, Director Nashat Filmon was interviewed on national TV and radio and received calls from Gaza residents who had seen the live broadcast.

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