Scholarships for Presbyterian Students at the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) and Kay Day - September 2019 Update

Dear friends and family,

In August, I witnessed what God has been doing with your support through the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) for the ministry and the church here, and I was humbled by it.

Each August, the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda holds a church-wide-evangelism rally for four days, hosted by a different presbytery each year. The culmination of the rally is the annual ordination service on Sunday. This year the event was held in Zinga Presbytery, in the eastern region, about four hours from PIASS. Ten new pastors were ordained. Seven of them had been my students. I had preached at five of their weddings, baptized two of their children and been on the dissertation team of four of them as they completed the requirements for graduation. I was delighted to watch as they raised their right hands to pledge to serve Christ and the church and to see the presidents of their respective presbyteries place robes and stoles on them. Then all ordained pastors in the congregation were invited to come forward and lay hands on them as they were prayed for. What a joy to be a part of these bright young men and women accepting the call of Christ on their lives.

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Refugee IDP Appeal - Update

Wars and invasions seem to happen very quickly. The recovery FROM them takes a long time... I was reminded of this, again, from time spent with two Outreach ministry partners in Lebanon which your gifts to our Refugee Appeal support.

Izdihar Kassis lives in Zahle, Lebanon. She was at first overwhelmed by the number of Syrian refugees she saw on the streets of her town. Many came from the nearby tent camps set up by the U.N. in Beqaa Valley. She soon discovered that others were not living in these “formal camps” but in small communities of tents pitched on rented land where they could be closer to local agricultural work. This was the work with which they were familiar in Syria and might provide some small income to sustain their families. Izdihar’s faith compelled her to reach out and her heart was touched by the women with babies, whom, she knew, could not possibly have access to medical care, diapers, and nutritional supplements. A Baby Ministry was launched. Izdihar built a small team to meet monthly with multiple groups of these women where clothes, diapers, and formula are given out. A story of Hope is shared. Relationships are formed that give Izdihar and her team access to the broken lives of these women and, in that crucible, Good News is offered.

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The Outreach Foundation
Syria Appeal - September 2019 Update

“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have” is a familiar quote of Corrie ten Boom, the courageous Dutch Christian whose family sheltered Jews in their home during WWII and who, along with members of her family, would be found out and sent to a concentration camp where she watched her sister die of starvation.

On my 20th trip into Syria, just a few weeks ago, I encountered an entire congregation whose lives give witness to what many of us sing and to what Corrie ten Boom professed. This congregation was from Kharaba, a small city in the far south of Syria, near the border with Jordan. When terrorists overran the city in 2014, most of the inhabitants were forced to flee to the city of Sweida, about 20 miles away. I met with that congregation when they gathered in a special worship service for the purpose of meeting me. That was a humbling experience. I brought then a word of encouragement and an assurance of our oneness with them. But mostly, they encouraged me by their faith and their faithfulness.

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The Outreach Foundation
Dustin and Sherri Ellington - September 2019 Update

Dear friends,

Several weeks ago I found myself increasingly anxious as I waited and waited at Lusaka’s small international airport for one of the Zambia Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) to arrive for his end-of-year departure. He was great at keeping me posted every step of his journey across town with his host family, but good-byes after a full year are not easy and, if possible, not to be skimped on. The previous day the other YAVs and I had attended his church as the congregation bade him a festive and heartfelt farewell. Today, en route to the airport, Miguel stopped to see a few close extended family members for final good-byes. As many as could fit piled into the family car for the ride. I had offered to pay for booking a taxi so more people could come, but everyone seemed pretty adamant to all ride together for this final good-bye.

A second YAV, Sophia, was fortunate to have her biological family arrive at the end of the YAV year, and they made the long trek across Zambia and all the way to her village to meet her host family and the surrounding community, including a visit to the clinic and school where Sophia had volunteered all year. This extra connection between host and biological families across miles and cultures was very meaningful all around.

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The Outreach Foundation
The Presbyterian Church of Rwanda - Update

We received this letter from the Rev. Julie Kandema, who serves as vice-president of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda (EPR) and is in charge of church growth for the denomination:

Dear friends,

Over the last five years, we have been teaching our people about decentralization within the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda. As a result of many training sessions, people have testified that they now understand the idea of taking responsibility for church operations in general and the development of its people in particular. The results have been positive, leading people to take charge of projects such as building new churches and renovating existing church buildings.

To accomplish these projects, the parishioners organize fundraising activities and collect tithes and contributions. When the church is blessed with a partner in support of these activities, it is truly an encouragement and means that the congregation is not alone.

Last year when the government decided to shut down churches which were not meeting standards, the EPR was not spared. Many of our congregations struggled and our members had to work hard to have their building reopened.

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Clean Drinking Water in Kenya - Update

The Outreach Foundation and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), along with various local churches, have been partnering to provide clean drinking water in Kenya. Much of this work has concentrated on Maasai households in the Loodokilani Mission Area. The work provides water tanks to families and boreholes in communities.

The PCEA Women’s Water Tank Project in Loodokilani Mission Area was initiated by Presbyterian women in 2015 in partnership with The Outreach Foundation. This project is a wonderful mission agent, bringing many Maasai to Christianity through the Presbyterian Church in Kajiado West Sub-County.

The focus of the project is to address the acute need for water in the Maasai community. Through this project, 441 water tanks have been distributed to Maasai households (88% of the targeted 500 households). The Presbyterian women, Maasai families (the beneficiaries of the project) and PCEA Loodokilani Mission Area thank Outreach and U.S. Presbyterians for the generous financial support that has led to the success of the initiative.

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Todd and Maria Luke - September 2019 Update

“Few things are more transformative than to go to another culture where many of your assumptions are not shared. You have to examine what you’ve always taken for granted – that your point of view is right.”

Dear friends,

Our little cistern partnership continues to roll along. Thank God for your participation.

Fifty-six family-owned cisterns were built in 2019. Our Mexican partners Victor, Raul, Isaias, Ezequias, Felipe, Lucas, and Diego guided nine American teams at the work sites. Seventy-six Americans came to Xpujil to lend a helping hand. They came from places like Jonesboro, AR; Los Angeles and Hollywood, CA; Northbrook, Gurnee, Evergreen Park, and Palos Park, IL; Caruthersville, MO; Roxboro, NC; Moncks Corner, SC; Brownsville, Collierville, Germantown, and Memphis, TN; and also towns in New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Our mission team members’ ages ranged from 14 to 77.

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Girls' Education and Rescue Centers/Linda's Libraries-August 2019 Update

Dear friends,

Several years ago, we partnered with Books for Development, a great organization in Houston that collects and sends books to needy schools and organizations. They have sent us two containers of books which have filled the shelves of two Linda’s Libraries and will fill two more we are constructing this year.

Thogoto Primary Library is one of our first primary school libraries and we are very happy with the outcome. We previously had a relationship with this school because we provided computers for their computer lab, which is now part of the new library. Our second primary school library is in Shalom Academy.

We have changed our library strategy slightly. We are still building Linda’s Libraries, two more this year, but we are also building smaller libraries at primary schools like Thogoto and Shalom.

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PCEA Church Construction in Kenya - August 2019 Update

Enjoy these joyful stories about church dedications from Stu and Annie Ross, Outreach East Africa Mission Consultants. They work in partnership with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) and U.S. congregations.

PCEA Karima Church
Located near the town of Maai-Mahiu, this church began in 1967 when a group of Christians from many denominations gathered to worship under a tree. In 1977, the PCEA sent an evangelist to gather the Presbyterians for worship in an elder’s house. By 1979 they raised enough funds to buy a plot of land and continued to raise funds to build a church in 1984. By 1995, there were 75 members! Unfortunately, the congregation began diminishing between 1995-2005 due to tribal clashes and the condition of the 1984 church, which was slowly falling apart. A decision was reached in 2016 to build a modern church, which we dedicated several weeks ago. This new church will allow the congregation to grow once again and provide ministries to the surrounding communities. At the dedication, the church was overflowing with visitors and friends. We had a good time with everyone on that day of celebration.

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Pakistan Bible Correspondence School - August 2019 Update

Dear friends,

We are thankful to God for all the mercies and blessings he has poured upon us. In 2018, we issued 4,603 certificates. We sent 217 Bibles, 704 New Testaments and 4,000 Christian books to Christian and non-Christian students. We received these encouraging student testimonies:

“I am thankful to PBCS for providing me this opportunity. It is very beneficial for my understanding of specific aspects of the Christian faith.”

Another student shared: “During PBCS courses it is very encouraging to learn that through the Holy Spirit, God himself helps people live godly lives that would otherwise be difficult for anyone on their own.”

After completing the course on Romans, a student said this: “From A to Z, this letter to the Romans is filled with Truth. I was living an ignorant life, but this course has opened my eyes.”

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Don and Martha Wehmeyer - August 2019 Update

Greetings from Yucatan,

In July I was in Bogota, Colombia for a seminary visit with the Disciples of Christ. San Pablo Seminary is working to establish several new diploma programs with this denomination. I participated in a missionary conference with Elaine Vaden, one of our Antioch Partners, Juan Sarmiento from The Outreach Foundation and several other leaders. The conference lasted four very full days. We commissioned Rev. Moises Mendoza to go for three months to serve a mission startup of the Presbyterian Church in Giradot, Colombia.

In August, I go to Agua Azul in Chiapas to give a three-day conference with the Chol Presbytery and the following week to Oaxaca to do the same with the Mixe Presbytery. These are rural mountain presbyteries that do not often get visiting teachers, so I am very happy to be able to help out.

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The Outreach Foundation
Musalaha - August 2019 Update

Musalaha’s summer camp in Bethlehem: Is it about serving 85 children with 20 volunteers and 7 interns in 6 days? Is it having fun, playing games, making new friends, and enjoying summer? Sure. But what makes a difference in the lives of the participants that lasts more than a few days?

That’s Musalaha’s intention: Planting seeds of RECONCILIATION between the participating children – half of them Muslim, half of them Christian – and teaching them the golden rule “…do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). Seeds of bearing “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22:23). These two themes were the topics we planned this year’s camp activities around – that was the well-prepared plan for the group of kids with diverse backgrounds, coming from different areas around Bethlehem.

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John McCall - Update

Faith in Adversity

Dear friends,

A number of years ago I was teaching at the Aboriginal Seminary on Taiwan's East Coast and a staff member told me that an incoming student had the same Mandarin name as me. When I came to Taiwan, I was given a Mandarin name (Ma Yueh-Han). Almost no one in Taiwan uses or even knows my English name. I am always referred to by my Mandarin name. Up to that point, I had never heard anyone else with my name. So, I called this incoming student, who is from the Bunun tribe. He didn't happen to be at home, but I met him on the first day of class. I told him that since we had the same name if I was ever sick, he could preach for me. He replied, "No if I am ever sick, you can take the test for me."

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Bob and Kristi Rice - Update

Embracing Hope: The Gift of Presence

Dear friends,

I looked over at the faces of the choir members, rigid with intensity and dripping with sweat as they sang and danced down the road. The drums beat loud, but the people sang even louder, lifting their hands in the air. I was humbled by their enthusiasm and energy. This was something of a “welcome parade” to greet the moderator and the team that accompanied him on a visit to Bentiu. We were walking (or dancing and marching, with the choir) through the large camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), ending with a celebration at the church. Being met by such an enthusiastic crowd was humbling, and then we were welcomed in traditional Nuer fashion by having our feet washed. I was overwhelmed by the welcome and realized how significant it was for this remote congregation to be visited by their leaders and feel connected to the church in other places.

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Home of Hope - Update

Christ is Our Light!!

“the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16 NIV

Dear friends,

No matter where we are or who we are, no matter if we live in darkness no matter how great it is…when Christ comes darkness flees. Much darkness is here in our land but all we can say is that God the Light of the world is amazing, his mercies and love know no bounds. No matter how many sins we committed or how we failed him, he calls on us to remind us that we are created in his image and therefore he loves us, and through his great love and mercy we can turn to him as he sent his One and Only Son Jesus to die for our sins. Whosoever believeth in him will have eternal life. That eternal life is a great light. It’s Heaven living inside us when Christ lives in us. Amazing. We rest in Jesus only for our salvation.

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José Carlos Pezini - Update

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since Odete and I returned from the U.S.A. at the end of April, we have been traveling to fulfill an intense agenda with commitments in various denominations all over Brazil. The Brazilian church faces many dilemmas these days. God has given me the privilege of being able to help pastors, lay leaders, and congregations in different areas including mentoring pastors, lay leadership training, church revitalization, and discipleship.

In all these places, I feel encouraged by God to motivate Christians to engage in discipleship by sharing their faith with non-believers as well as helping new converts grow in their intimacy with God through prayer and meditation in the Scriptures. I have also led the church to rethink its missionary action in the context where it is located and to rethink the reason for its existence.

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Scholarships for Presbyterian Students at the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) and Kay Day - July 2019 Update

Dear family and friends,

Greetings from Rwanda. We are still rejoicing about the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) graduation held last month. Since we utilize a 12-month calendar for studies, graduation is usually held in late September or early October, but this year it was postponed until June so that we could hold it on the new campus of PIASS in Karongi, in the western province. The delay was so the new building could be finished and inaugurated. Although the building was not quite complete, the graduation was still held there. It was a major undertaking. Since most of our classes are held on the main campus in Huye, where I live, almost everyone and everything had to be transported to Karongi. Several of the staff went ahead of time to set up the venue. On graduation day, June 19, the rest of us followed in an elaborate caravan.

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Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo - July 2019 Update

ETSC Celebrates 148th Graduation

Among the portfolio of tasks I am called upon to perform as president of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, none give me greater personal pleasure than presenting diplomas to our graduates. It was with great joy that I was privileged to hand diplomas and certificates to 29 graduates on May 31st at the 148th graduation ceremony held at Heliopolis Evangelical Church in Cairo. The graduation ceremony recognized 9 graduates who received Master of Divinity degrees and 14 who received Master of Arts in Theology (8 from Cairo and 6 from ETSC's online center in Minya). Taking advantage of our new online platform to complete their work, 2 graduates earned their degrees from abroad and 1 graduate earned a Master in Leadership and Management. 3 received certificates in Christian Ministry. ETSC is especially pleased to see the growth of the online studies program as it makes theological education accessible to students across Egypt, the Middle East, and Arabic speaking communities across the world.

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