Nancy Collins - October 2017 Update

Dear family and friends,

Greetings to everyone from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have been spending time with my 24-year-old son Charles, who finished his nursing program on September 21. I managed my schedule so that I was able to be there with him. YAY!!

It is also interpretation assignment time again – I have the opportunity to spend time with many of you who support my ministry as regional liaison in East Central Africa. It is wonderful to see folks face to face and hear in more detail about the important ministries of your congregations. Partnership has been a theme sounded in the visits I have made to date.
July 29 was the 20th anniversary celebration of the partnership between Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery (EOP) and the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia (CCAP Livingstonia). CCAP Livingstonia General Secretary Rev. Dr. Levi Nyondo and Mrs. Ruth Nyondo were present at a special worship service with some of the key leaders in the EOP partner team. They shared the ways the partnership transformed their lives. 

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Rwanda Church Construction - October 2017 Update

Dear friends,

We would like to share a joyful update sent to us by Outreach Mission Staff Stu Ross on the dedication of two churches in Rwanda. Stu traveled to Rwanda during World Communion Sunday weekend to dedicate Nyabubare Church on Saturday and Karambi Church on Sunday. Both churches are part of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda (EPR) with whom The Outreach Foundation has a strong relationship.

Stu writes: The dedications were well-attended by the congregations and leaders of the churches including the new President of the Zinga Presbytery, Rev. Daniel Dushimimana. Rev. Daniel told the congregations to remember where they came from. 

The bulk of the work building these churches was done by the congregations. They made bricks, collected sand, brought water, collected stones, and did other manual labor. 

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Scholarships for Presbyterian Students at Protestant University (PUR-formerly PIASS) - October 2017 Update

Dear friends and partners,

We are happy to share the following exciting news from Professor Elisee Musemakweli, Vice Chancellor, PUR: Complying with the PIASS Strategic Plan (2013-2017), the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) General Assembly voted in August 2016 to transform the institution into a university. The Rwanda Governance Board responded favorably to the request, and PIASS changed its name to the Protestant University of Rwanda (PUR) therefore increasing the scope of its operations. This decision was based on achievement in terms of academic activities, research, community service, and partnerships with other local and international universities. 

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Alan and Ellen Smith - October 2017 Update

Dear friends,

After a very busy summer in Russia, Ellen and I are back in the U.S.A. for a couple of months of mission interpretation, combined with a bit of family time and the Russia Mission Network meeting in Pittsburgh at the end of September. Although we have been somewhat overtaken by events over the past few weeks, it is high time to tell you about this year’s Roma children’s camp.

All of the camping programs of our Russian partners have been affected by new legal stipulations. After several tragic mishaps that occurred last summer in secular camps, the state has become much more stringent in enforcing various safety, health and sanitation rules involving children’s camps. These rules can be very specific and sometimes unrealistic especially when the camp involves children staying in tents rather than in fixed cabins. 

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - October 2017 Update

Dear friends,

A church that supports our ministry recently sent us interview questions focused on prayer and God’s presence. I (Dustin) responded and thought I’d share the results with you. The questions are based on a book by Walter Brueggemann called Praying the Psalms. He says that Christians pray for all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, and he mentions three ways of knowing how to pray for others. One way is to attend to what’s happening in our own lives and surroundings, since we share a “common lot” with all people.

As you read my answers, Sherri and I would also invite you to consider: How might you answer the questions below for your own life, and for the unique place where God has placed you?

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Syria Appeal October 2017

What is the Church Supposed to Look Like?

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Romans 12: 10-12

What does YOUR church look like as the fall activities get under way? Perhaps Paul’s “litmus test” is a good way to assess its vitality, visibility and vision. The same “test” could be applied to the Presbyterian Church in Syria – which your gifts to our Syria Appeal have supported and encouraged over these past difficult years. Consider these glimpses into the mission and ministry of these congregations of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon and judge for yourself – and then thank God for the work and witness of the Church in Syria, even in the midst of war! 

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Dan and Elizabeth Turk - October 2017 Update

Dear friends,

We are in the U.S. now for a few months, where our two children are in college. Robert is a senior and Frances a freshman. We visited Frances’ campus as a family. She got the feel for where her classes will be, and now we know where she will be living for the next four years. We also enjoyed hearing about Robert’s plans for life after college, most likely graduate studies in counseling and art therapy.

In the next two months, we will be visiting as many churches as we can fit in, from Florida to New York to Iowa. Unfortunately, we won’t see all of you during our interpretation. So, here is a brief description of some of the exciting ways God is working in Madagascar to give you a flavor of the growth which we are blessed to be able to participate in with our partner church, the Fiangonan’i Jesoa Kristy eto Madagasikara (FJKM). 

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Todd and Maria Luke - September 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Recent natural disasters dominate the headlines.  Stories of loss and heartbreak in parts of Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico fill the evening news and our electronic devices. In light of these emergencies, I delayed sending an update. But early this morning, something grabbed me by the neck, pulled me out of bed, dropped the laptop onto my lap, and demanded that I send this letter before the sun gets warm.

The recent hurricanes and earthquakes have put hundreds of thousands of people into temporary situations where clean water is scarce and phone/internet access is inadequate. Welcome to everyday life for thousands of families living in the Xpujil region.

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Caring for Vulnerable Children in Uganda - September 2017 Update

The Outreach Foundation has been in partnership with Partners in Mission caring for vulnerable children in Uganda since 2009. During that time, a generator for the Kamwenge Secondary and Vocational school was purchased and a girl’s dormitory, teachers’ housing, and classrooms have been built. The new STEM Science and Math building is nearing completion and will serve as a valuable asset for empowering the Kamwenge community and educating children from Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya and more and more vulnerable children from the refugee camps (in South Sudan, Burundi, DR Congo…). Please read the following inspiring stories from Kamwenge students and understand the impact of your gifts on a child and a community. There is no doubt that education is a sure way to change minds and transform communities.

Sylvia is a 15-year-old student at Kamwenge Secondary and Vocational School (KSVS). During the school break in April, Sylvia's parents decided it was time for her to drop out of school and get married, as is common in the rural villages of Uganda. The family would receive one cow as a “bride price” for her. Sylvia was distraught about the situation and shared her concern with a friend from KSVS. When school resumed in May, the friend conveyed Sylvia’s story to Rev. John Mulindabigwi, founder and director of KSVS. 

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Michael and Rachel Weller - September 2017 Update

Dear friends,

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written. Truth: We’ve been arguing about who is going to write this one. Since February, Michael has been officially “only a teacher.” I think that means he has time to write a newsletter. He doesn’t think he has anything to say! So, we argue (silently) instead of write.

We’ve been mostly together since February, a significant life-change for us. A good change. Michael spent the winter and spring months (northern hemisphere – we don’t have those seasons here) “just teaching” at the two EECMY Bible Schools in Gambella. He learned a lot in those months. Neither school is functioning at top quality. Most of the students are not prepared to be studying at the level in which they are studying. He was teaching in English; many of the students cannot understand simple English. He learned that he speaks “difficult English.” He also learned that people do a lot of comparing of the two of us – especially in our ability to communicate. He hasn’t been living in Gambella as much as I have and so hears a lot less Nuer than I do and speaks it less than I do. Africans have no taboo against saying, “She is much better than you are.” Being “just a teacher” has proven to be more difficult than he imagined.

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Resources for Lay Leaders in China - September 2017 Update

The backbone of the rapidly growing Church in China is its lay leaders. They want continual training in how to bring the millions of new believers into mature Christian faith. Your gifts will enhance their efforts by supplying discipleship training materials and other publications for lay leaders. This year, we have collaborated in the distribution of close to 4,000 sets of materials and many other digital books. The following stories convey the impact that the work of our partners is having with 42 schools and training centers located in 29 of China’s 34 administrative units. 

Qian serves in an established church located in an urban area of China. The expectations that the senior pastor has for her are high as she was trained in one of the nation’s top seminaries. Qian was tasked with providing a leadership role in the church and building up the next generation. She feels that the leadership and discipleship resource materials will be key as she works to instruct servant-leaders. Please keep Qian in your prayers that God may lead her to face those immense pastoral challenges.

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Church Construction in Kenya - September 2017 Update

Dear friends,

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.

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Jeff and Christi Boyd - September 2017 Update

Dear friends,

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.

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Refugee/Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Appeal - September 2017

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. 

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John McCall - August 2017 Update

Dear friends,

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.

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Compassion Ministries - August 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Traveling in the name of the Kinsler Foundation, I brought Rev. Ed Kang, Rev. Dayoung Kimn, Elder Kenneth Park and his wife, Rev. Julie Park, to North Korea in May. The purpose of this visit was to introduce Rev. Dayoung Kimn, who will be working with me in the future. Rev. Kang and the Parks traveled to visit the handicapped work and to meet relatives. 

Arrangements were made during my March visit for the purchase of a 15-passenger-van. The vehicle had enough room for the group and our luggage as we traveled to the Haebangsan Hotel. On the way, our guide gave details of our travel schedule including information about family reunions and a visit to the Wonsan Deaf School. 

Pyongyang’s streets and buildings looked cleaner and more orderly than previously. We saw green trees and flowers. There were more cars and taxis and it seemed as though there might even be traffic jams now! The group had a three-day visit scheduled to see the Chosen Jangae Hweibokwon (school for physically and mentally disabled young children), the Korea Federation for the Protection of the Disabled (KFPD) Cultural Center, the Dongdaewon Disabled Persons Fitness Center building, and the KFPD sponsored nationwide table tennis competition for the disabled at Kim Il Sung University.

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Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell - August 2017 Update

Dear friends at The Outreach Foundation,

The grace and peace of the Lord be with each one of you. Dorothy and I are doing well. In July, we attended the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPU) which was held in São Paulo. Our Regional Liaison, Dennis Smith, and Valdir França, PC(USA) Mission Coordinator for the Caribbean and Latin America, were present as well. The IPU invited us back for another term beginning in January 2018. This will be the first time in over 23 years of ministry in Brazil that we have been invited back to the same location (Mangabeira) in which we have been serving. We are comfortable with that decision. We have served in seven different locations during our time in Brazil as a couple.

During our first two years here in Mangabeira, the adult group at our church lay dormant. This year they decided to come alive and participate in the life of the church. They plan special events and commemorations and are in charge of making things happen. They were instrumental in helping one of the ladies of the church, Dona Maria, celebrate her 80th birthday with a devotional and cake. She was most appreciative. For Mother's Day, the ladies in the adult group made aprons to put clothespins in to make it easier to hang clothes to dry since folks where we live do not have dryers. 

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Philip and Bacilia Beisswenger - August 2017 Update

Greetings to you from Cobán in Jesus’ precious name! 

Psalm 133 declares, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in harmony!” Such harmony, explains the psalm, is like the dew of Mt. Hermon falling on Mt. Zion. As it turns out, snow-capped Mt. Hermon stands at Israel’s northern limits, whereas Mt. Zion is down south, near the desert. The message seems clear. Harmonious living isn’t just a local affair. Its blessings extend from north to south and vice versa. 

A lot of “dew” has fallen upon Cobán in recent months. In April, a mission team from Toronto, Canada helped break ground for the theological training center at the Presbyterian Complex. Since then, one Presbyterian partner after another has descended, coming from Nashville, TN; Fairhope, AL; Charleston, SC; and Cincinnati, OH. They each brought a harmonious spirit, injecting enthusiasm and energy, reaching out to the needy, to children and the community as a whole. Now the training center’s first level is nearly finished. We’re boldly praying it can be dedicated by year’s end.  

Other fantastic teams came from churches in middle TN; Williamsburg, VA; and Dothan, AL. They all enjoyed serving in partnership with churches in remote places like Sayaxché, Petén; Chajul, Quiché; and Limón Sur, Alta Verapaz. 

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