Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell - March 2017 Update

Dear friends and family,

We are south of the equator, so this time of year is our summer. It has been very hot and unfortunately seriously dry. Our church work, however, has NOT been dry, but lively and refreshing. Presbytery meetings here are held yearly and last from Friday to Sunday, beginning with committee meetings on Friday afternoon. We have only seven churches in our presbytery spread out over this large state. The last few meetings have been in a meeting center in the capital, Salvador. We hosted the January 2017 meeting. It was a wonderful experience for us and those who attended. There were about 40 people there. Our church members have the gift of hospitality and are realizing they can serve the Lord by opening their hearts and homes to others. They are good cooks, so their meals are delicious. The attendees spent two nights and ate five meals with us. They slept in our homes and ate together at the church. Our church used to have an elementary school, so it has a small but nice kitchen in which large meals can be cooked. The presbytery meeting began with a meeting of the Adult Group on Friday afternoon.

Syria Appeal

God with Us

Note: An Outreach team of ten traveled in January to Lebanon and Syria. They visited some of the 18 Presbyterian churches in Syria, meeting with pastors and church members. Jack Baca, an Outreach trustee, reflects on a part of the journey…

One of the key affirmations of Christian faith is that, in Jesus, God came to be with us. The angel said to Joseph that the child to be born would be called precisely that: Immanuel, God with us. We Christians take our clues for how we are to live from what God did and does in Jesus, and so we, too, go to be with others. This is an expression of love: to do what it takes to be with others.

This ancient theology kept running in my mind on Saturday, the second full day of our time in the Middle East, as we spent the better part of the day traveling. Early in the morning we left Beirut for the arduous trip through that bustling city, into the countryside and through farmland, across the border, and into Syria, as we made our way to Latakia, on the coast.

Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo - March 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Warm greetings from Cairo. We have completed our short January term, when the students have intensive classes over a three week period. During this term, we invite international scholars to come and share their knowledge with our students. In past years, we have had people like Professor Iain Torrance, President Emeritus of Princeton, and Professor Mark Labberton, President of Fuller.

This year we were fortunate to have Professor Jostein and Professor Gerd-Marie Adna from the VID Specialized University in Stavanger, Norway with us. Both of them taught classes to the senior students: Jostein on New Testament and Gerd-Marie on Religious Symbolism. Neither are strangers to ETSC, having visited on a number of occasions in the past. Gerd-Marie first came to Cairo in 1985 to study Arabic and stayed for just under a year. During this time, she found the seminary library a haven of peace and started to develop a lasting friendship with ETSC. Gerd-Marie  married Jostein in 1987, and she introduced him to Cairo in 1990. 

John McCall - February 2017 Update

Dear friends,

This past weekend was a four-day holiday in Taiwan to commemorate the February 28th memorial when thousands of people were slaughtered by incoming forces from China in 1947. Many of the Taiwanese leaders were taken away at night and jailed or killed. For years this was a taboo subject, but as democracy flourished here it became a part of the history of this land.

Last year we took a group of pastors to Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina (see September 2016 update). We planned to have a retreat here in Taiwan for these pastors six months after our return, to check in with each other and to see how this experience shaped them and is still shaping them. We had pastors from every corner of Taiwan join in this experience, so Sunday afternoon they drove down from the high mountains, or took a several hour train ride from south, east, north, and west.  

Bethlehem Bible College - March 2017 Update

I was a stranger and you did not take me in, I was naked and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit me.   Matthew 25: 43

Dear friends of Bethlehem Bible College, 

What we do for one, we do as if we are serving Jesus. This was the mentality of a group of BBC staff who visited the governmental hospital in Bethlehem to spend time with patients in need of dialysis. The staff spent time sitting, talking and laughing alongside those that were undergoing treatment.

This BBC group was the first to visit the dialysis section in the hospital. It was a big room with around twenty-two patients that undergo the process three times a week for five hours each time. In the Bethlehem area alone, there are one hundred patients including children.

Tumaini Children's Ministry - February 2017 Update

Dear friends and Tumaini partners,

Thank you to all of you who pray for our children at Tumaini. God answered your prayers and has blessed us with success. The Tumaini children are blossoming and doing well in school. We are so excited to report their progress.

Due to their outstanding performances, some of the children have earned university scholarships and others have received high school sponsorships from local sponsors. 

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,  you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

Mercy is a Tumaini  child who was awarded a full university scholarship by Kenya Methodist University... 

PCEA Stone Church Construction - February 2017 Update

Sunday January 29, 2017 was a big day here in Kenya as we dedicated two churches for the PCEA Church, one in Rugongo and one in Karura outside of Nairobi. 

There is something unique about every church we dedicate. PCEA Rugongo Church has only thirty members. The area is quite poor, but these thirty members persisted and even completed their church in three years. Most of the church members are senior citizens, and all the church officers are women.

When PCEA church officials visited with me about nine months ago, they were completely exhausted and needed some assistance to complete the church building. They didn't need much. They only asked for windows and doors and some finishing touches. All they needed was a little encouragement and a small push.

Linda's Library - February 2017 Update

Dear friends and family,

We are happy to report that the building for Linda’s Library at Grace Girls’ High School is now complete! In January, we had the furniture made, tables and chairs. They were delivered to Grace on February 7. On February 8, Annie, David and I went to the site to place the furniture in the two main rooms. Traveling to the site is always an adventure – especially when you leave the paved road. It is about an hour’s drive through the bush on a bush “road.” On the drive, we saw about 200 camels in one herd and two dyk dyks, which are the smallest antelopes. We did not see any elephants on this trip, but the water supply at Grace was interrupted the previous night when elephants broke the pipe looking for water. 

The library is really taking shape. We only have about 200 books, but all the groups coming this year will be bringing books (including me). That furniture is being made. 

The Outreach Foundation
Rwanda Church Construction - February 2017 Update

Dear friends and family,    

January 22, 2017 was a glorious day of celebration in a small village in the rolling hills of Rwanda – we dedicated Karwihura Church in the EPR Zinga Presbytery. The Karwihura congregation began in 1981 with only six families in a small mud church. Since then, the parish has grown to five congregations. In 2014 the Karwihura congregation started building this new church. The people in the village are very poor and have suffered through one drought after another. They are subsistence farmers, and you wonder how they can survive in this situation. They contributed labor, sand, stones, and stone fill to the construction project, and they also gave some money, really sacrificially. The women gathered sand and stones by hand daily. This was truly a labor of love and dedication especially considering that it is difficult for them to even find food for their families. 

Bob and Kristi Rice - February 2017 Update

Some will know that Kristi and I have been in a “holding pattern” for several weeks, waiting word regarding our future and whether we can return to our home and ministry in Congo. The day after Thanksgiving, we received a text message that changed the trajectory of our current life situation and altered the plans made and later confirmed when we left Congo in early 2016. A few days after receiving the fateful text message, a Skype call confirmed this reality. We are not returning to Congo this month as planned. In short, due to the continued political trials faced by the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, coupled with an ongoing church conflict which has lasted four years and longer, our mission leaders have been advised by our partner church, the Congolese Presbyterian Community, that Kristi and I and another colleague should not return to Congo until a more favorable time. When that “favorable time” pokes its head from the clouds of the current political and ecclesiastical impasse remains anyone’s guess. 

Bill and Bette Bryant Crisis Nursery - February 2017 Update

Gifted with a New Name

Life began in a very difficult way for Gift. He was abandoned very shortly after birth and was brought to the House of Moses by the authorities in early 2016. After exhaustive investigations were carried out, none of Gift’s relatives were found and six months after his admittance to the House of Moses, he was cleared for adoption.

At the same time, Kevin and Mary Mabwe were dreaming of adding a son to their family. The devoted parents already had two daughters but longed to complete their family and had opened their hearts up to the idea of adoption. They were soon matched with Gift and began bonding with him at the House of Moses. Bonding progressed so well that Gift was permanently placed with the Mabwe family and was renamed Kevin Jr., after his new father. 

Inyambo Mission Center - February 2017 Update

Greetings in Jesus’ name from the Western Province of Zambia,

Praise be to God for his grace that is sufficient all the time. I would like to share my sincere gratitude to God Almighty for answering prayers concerning our general election, which went well despite some tension. In this report, I will focus on testimonies coming from the field where our trained evangelists are serving the Lord. I will also share with you some progress from our current Live School classes. 

The first report comes from Obby, an Inyambo graduate who shares a story about one of the current Live School students. Lemmy Simataa is confined to a wheelchair. He is an amazing evangelist. He pushes his wheelchair in the sandy soil of Mwandi reaching out to lost souls, praying for people in their homes, and serving as a volunteer at an orphanage in the village.

New Church Development in Egypt - February 2017 Update

God is at Work in Egypt!

When thinking of contemporary Egypt, several thoughts may come to mind: Arab Spring, Muslim Brotherhood, bombing of Christian churches. Although true, today they are moderated by words only God can make happen: new churches, evangelism, revitalization of old churches, sending out new pastors. That’s what the Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church of Egypt is focusing on through the efforts of the Synod of the Nile.

Currently, there are 392 Presbyterian churches within the Synod, including 95 church plants, or “fellowship groups” as the Synod labels them. In 2016, the Synod started 17 new churches in cities, villages or slums of Egypt. They are also focusing on church revitalizations of old churches in small towns and villages. It is amazing work when considering the vulnerability and marginalization of Christians in Egypt.

 

Home of Hope - January 2017 Update

Dear friends,

We greet you once again in the precious and mighty name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts overflow with gratitude and awe at how great the love of our heavenly Father has proven to be, and we give thanks for the gift of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ when we do not deserve such unconditional love. We are also grateful that he has blessed us with the ability to handle and cope with whatever situations he allows to come across our paths, drawing us ever closer in fellowship with him.

We know that in many ways 2017 will be a year of new challenges, but we also know that our Heavenly Father is always there to provide a way and a means, because nothing is impossible with our God of the universe. These scriptures are so meaningful to us:
Proverbs 3:5-6   Trust in the Lord in all your ways and lean not on your own understanding… and he will direct your paths. 

Caring for Vulnerable Children in Uganda - January 2017 Update

Grateful for your passion in reaching the unreached and vulnerable children
in Kamwenge, Uganda

Dear friends,

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus. Our gratitude goes to all the people who have upheld this work from inception until now. Your prayers, labor and support are not in vain. We always have you in our prayers.

Graduations
Congratulations to Florence on her graduation from Uganda Christian University on October 21, 2016. With financial help from her sponsor, Florence began attending Kamwenge Secondary and Vocational School (KSVS) in 2007, the year the school opened for classes. She graduated with the first class of students. Her sponsor remained with her and offered her a scholarship to attend university.

EERN Church Outreach to New Areas: Rickshaw Taxis - January 2017 Update

Dear friends and partners,

As I was driving on the main road out of our city through the scrub-filled desert toward the Bible school where I would teach that morning, I was surprised to catch a glimpse of a small yellow three-wheeled taxi driving towards me on the open road in the distance. I tried to reach into my bag for my camera before our paths crossed but settled for a safer two-handed grip on the wheel as I glanced at the driver’s smiling face and the unique blue flowered cloth insulating his back window as I looked in my rear view mirror. It told me what I was hoping for; I was finally seeing the practical application of all the prayer, giving, planning, and footwork of the rickshaw taxi project I’d been involved with for the last year with our partners in the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN).  

Don and Martha Wehmeyer (Antioch Partners) - January 2017 Update

From Mérida, Martha and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

We want to thank each of you, our blessed supporters, for your faithfulness during the past year. Additionally we want to thank the staff of The Antioch Partners, our sending agency, who take care of our insurance, tax and budgeting needs so we can focus on our ministry, and the team of The Outreach Foundation which supports theological education and leadership development around the world. May your cup overflow with the grace of the Lord.

This year we are also especially grateful to have Guillen with us. There were some scary weeks while he was in the hospital, six weeks in neo-natal intensive care. 

Presbyterian Street Children's Ministry - January 2017 Update

The “Centre Presbytérien d’Amour des Jeunes” (CPAJ) is a faith based non-profit organization working under the authority of the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda. Started in 1998, CPAJ has a vision of reducing the social-economic vulnerability of children and their families/guardians. CPAJ focuses mainly on improving the well-being and developing life skills of children and youth from the most disadvantaged groups in Rwanda through mainstream education and skills (vocational) training. 

The Current Situation of CPAJ
In 2016, 51 street children came through CPAJ – 46 have been reintegrated either with their families or with foster families. CPAJ now has 36 children in residence,