Frank Dimmock - December 2017

Dear friends,

2017 has been a year full of new experiences, blessings and lessons learned. I am thankful that during the challenging times, both personally and for those around me, God has been calling us to trust in him. I am reminded by Isaiah 58:11: “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

The newest country in the world, South Sudan, is at the top of the Most Fragile States list. More than two million South Sudanese are living as refugees. They are part of my concern and my ministry as Africa Mission Specialist with The Outreach Foundation.

During my visit with South Sudanese refugees in June, church leaders stated that healing trauma wounds and memories was a priority for all refugees, adults and children. We then began planning to conduct a training of local facilitators to work with children from each of the six camps for South Sudanese refugees in the Gambella region of Ethiopia.

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Nile Theological College - December 2017

Dear friends,

Nile Theological College carries on its ministry in North-East Africa through its campuses in Juba (Republic of South Sudan) and Khartoum (The Republic of Sudan). Each location has its own unique character and lives out the calling to develop Christian leaders in very distinctive ways amid formidable ethnic and religious tensions. The Khartoum campus recently sent us a moving update worth celebrating.

Leading to a bachelor’s degree, Nile Theological College (NTC) in Khartoum offers the highest level theological training institution in the Republic of Sudan. Presbyterians, Episcopalians and members of other Protestant traditions attend school there. 

With ninety-eight percent of the population of the country being Muslims and seven percent of the population having access to college-level education, the school plays a crucial role in the current and future life and witness of the church. As only eight percent of those attending college in the country are women, The Outreach Foundation comes alongside the efforts of Nile Theological College in support to its female students.

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Philemon Project Preschool - November 2017

GROW Receives License!

GROW Early Childhood Development Center provides wholistic Christian care for at-risk families by providing a safe, high quality, early childhood development program for one to four-year-olds as well as adult mentoring programs for their parents/caregivers. GROW creates a Christian environment where children thrive and parents become active participants in the success of their child through the love of Christ. 

The Philemon Project has grown since our beginning! We have 16 full and part-time staff members and three volunteers committed to carrying out the best Christian early childhood and adult mentoring program. We hired legal counsel and an outside accounting firm to ensure organizational strength, and by God's grace moved the project through various challenges and obstacles. One essential obstacle we needed to overcome was gaining our license with the Ministry of Health. Without our license, we could be closed down at any moment and disrupt a thriving ministry. When we face challenges, God's word encourages and instructs to gain perspective. 

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The Outreach Foundation
Haiti Outreach Ministries - November 2017

Dear friends,

In this season of gratitude, we at Haiti Outreach Ministries would like to say thank you for your support of our ministry over the past year. Your generosity, encouragement and prayers along with God’s grace have made possible many wonderful achievements. Thanks to donors like you we have accomplished so much; a few of these larger achievements include:

•    Needed classrooms and kitchen installed at Cite Soleil
•    Basketball courts built at the three primary schools
•    Cite Soleil library expanded
•    Services expanded at the Cite Soleil clinic with the addition of an Ultrasound exam room
•    Classrooms, church offices and bathrooms at Repatriote constructed
•    Expansion of the Terre Noire sanctuary started
•    Phase II classroom building at Baryé Fè started, on schedule to receive 9th grade students fall of 2018

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Bethlehem Bible College - November 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings from Bethlehem Bible College! I hope you are well and prospering in all that our Lord has called you to do.  

As we approach the end of 2017, we look back over the year to evaluate how we have managed what the Lord has given into our hands and to look forward to planning how we can best follow in his footsteps in the future. We are happy to share the success of our college programs. We have students studying for their BA degree in Biblical Studies and Christian Education, for their MA degree in Christian Leadership and Ministry, and for their diploma in Tour Guiding and Mass Media. 

God has opened yet another door for us at Bethlehem Bible College – our Online Diploma Program in Biblical Studies has attracted students from around the world! Refugees from Syria and Iraq, Palestinians living abroad, and others from the very heart of the Muslim world study together in this interactive program.

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New Church Development in Egypt - November 2017 Update

With a Capital “Z

“Ig-ZOO-ber-ant” is the way we say it. “Exuberant” is the way we spell it. Its meaning is defined as effusively and almost uninhibitedly enthusiastic, abounding in vitality, extremely joyful and vigorous. And now I know the place where this adjective might have been invented: the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Zagazig, Egypt. “Zagazig… Zagazig” …say that a few times and you almost have to smile – it’s one of those words that is just, well, fun

Rev. Wael Nashat, Zagazig’s young pastor, is full of zest and that is much-needed in overseeing this growing, active congregation which is also experiencing a revival as the Synod of the Nile focuses resources here to revitalize an old church (dating back to 1886) as a strategic part of its vision for New/Renewed Church Development in Egypt. 

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - November 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings from Zambia. Being on a Southern Hemisphere schedule, we at Justo Mwale University are rapidly approaching the end of the school year. Eighteen of our students are finishing the main program, the Bachelor of Theology. At least fifteen have congregations awaiting their arrival as pastors. I’ve had the chance to talk with four outstanding students about their hopes and fears as they move on, and I’d like to share their words with you.  

Two of the four students I talked with have not previously pastored a congregation and are eager to start. Watanga Ngoma is the youngest graduate in his class. He says, “I am excited that I will be serving as an ordained minister at a congregation... I am happy that I will be in full-time service to the Lord, a thing which is upon my heart and which has been my desire. This brings joy to me that I will be able to contribute more to the church and body of Christ.” 

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Presbytery of Zimbabwe Ministry for Children at Risk - November 2017 Update

Dear friends and partners,

We would like to share some news about the Presbytery of Zimbabwe (POZ) Ministry for Children at Risk and specifically about the Lovemore Home boys. It has been a long journey placing the boys with foster parents and in schools after Lovemore Home closed. In August 2017, Lee Cooper from South Highland Presbyterian Church, Frank Dimmock and I traveled to Harare to visit with the POZ. Doug Tilton, PC(USA) mission co-worker and Southern Africa Regional Liaison, also joined us. Included on the agenda during our visit was the Lovemore Home boys’ reunion, among other things. The reunion was held on August 19. Many of the boys living in Harare came to the reunion, and it was a joy to meet each of them. They have grown into handsome young men. 

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Syria Appeal - November 2017

With Every Act of Love

I was recently listening to a favorite song by Jason Gary and the refrain reminded me of the many, many ways in which your gifts to the Syria Appeal have encouraged the work and witness of the Presbyterian Church in Syria over these past years of war: supporting families so that they can remain despite the awful economics of war; undergirding the mission and ministries of individual congregations; helping to train the next generation of leadership for those churches.

We bring the kingdom come
With every act of love
Jesus, help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the kingdom

The photos included here give glimpses into the ways in which your generous gifts – your “every act of love” – for the Church in Syria to The Outreach Foundation have allowed us to respond quickly to requests from the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. The Outreach Foundation is blessed by a long, deep and trusted relationship with the Synod and with its General Secretary, the Rev. Joseph Kassab. Over the past few days, I asked him to reflect upon the current situation of the Presbyterian Church in Syria by responding to a few questions:

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Hope for Syrian Students in Syria and Lebanon - November 2017 Update

At the Top of the Hill: Hope

When I was anticipating knee replacement surgery, I once counted the steps: 106 of them leading up a steep hill to an old school building in Kab Elias owned by the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon in western Lebanon. Into this small country, about the size of Connecticut and with a population of only four million, Syrian refugees had been streaming (over one million now registered, 60% of those being school-aged children). Our Presbyterian family there (the Synod) discerned fairly quickly what God was calling them to do in this crisis – educate those children, many of whom had been out of school for several years because of the war or had never had the chance to even begin their schooling. This “re-purposed” school overlooking the Beqaa Valley, where a sea of white refugee tents is visible, would be joined by four others: Tripoli, Tyre, Minyara and Rayak. All five (with a sixth planned) are under the oversight of their local Presbyterian church with many of the teachers coming from those churches. More than 350 little lives are being embraced by this demonstration of Christ’s love and imparted with Christian values that are impacting their families, as well. 

Just a few weeks ago, I revisited the school at Kab Elias and spent some time with Ramak Abboud, the principal. Her husband, Tony, is the pastor of the Presbyterian Church down the road in Khirbet Kanafer. Since I was here in July, Ramak has had to add two more classes as her student body has increased to 102. 

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

The Years the Locusts Have Eaten

How does one keep faith following a sustained tragedy? The prophet Joel importuned God, in the aftermath of a disaster in Judah, concerned that even the priests were doubting God’s presence asking, “Where is their God?!?” God responded, taking “pity on his people”: I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations…I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…

In August, I spent a week with Outreach partners in Jordan who are ministering to refugees in Jordan. The Orthodox Initiative, which we support, is under the umbrella of the Middle East Council of Churches; its director, Wafa Gassous, has a huge heart for Iraqi Christians who were driven out of their homes by ISIS in Mosul and from the surrounding villages. 250 of these families have found a haven at the Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman. I was with them on the morning when modest food parcels were distributed: rice, sugar, flour, pasta, tomato sauce, tuna, corned beef, oil and tea filled bright blue bags, neatly arranged in the courtyard of the church. Inside the crowded church hall, the families gathered. As their names were called, they came up to a table in front and presented their “ID” – for all of them, this was a photocopy of their UNHCR Asylum Seeker Certificate. They were given a slip of paper and then took that “receipt” out to the courtyard to receive their parcel. 

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Musalaha - October/November 2017 Update

Musalaha has been increasingly active in bridge-building between Christians and Muslims in Palestinian communities, applying the same principles used in reconciliation work between Israeli and Palestinian believers. Through these initiatives, we have introduced Musalaha's curriculum to Muslim communities and have been learning how we can use our knowledge and experience to ease some of the tensions between Christians and Muslims. This pressure is mainly caused by historical prejudice, stereotypes, and politics, and has increased dramatically in recent years.

When one of our Palestinian staff members was asked to put a committee of young leaders together to discuss activities and reconciliation work between the communities, she quickly found fellow Christians ready to join the cause. Reaching out to Muslim leaders, however, turned out to be much more difficult. This wasn't because they were not interested; she just didn’t know any on a personal level, even though she lives in a mixed neighborhood.

This skepticism towards the other community has many reasons, most of which go back to religious stereotypes, fear of the unknown and even racism. As humans, our opinion of the other tends to be based on what we think we know about their culture or religion before we have our own experience with individuals of that group. We also tend to judge other people based on the extreme manifestations of their culture and religion, rather than considering nuance and individual faith and experience.

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Iraq Appeal - November 2017 Update

“Joyful, patient, faithful…” is a pretty apt summary of the Presbyterian Church in Iraq which I encountered, yet again, on my trip to this beleaguered country just a few weeks ago. Iraq makes the “Top Ten List” of the most difficult places to be a Christian; 75% of all Christians have left since 2003 with only about 250,000 remaining, mostly in the Catholic and Orthodox communities. And yet this Presbyterian presence, with its small “footprint” (less than 200 families in three cities), is making a big impact. Ben McCaleb, First Presbyterian, San Antonio, and Steve Burgess, West Hills (Presbyterian), Omaha, were making a return trip with me as we spent time in both Basrah and Baghdad. We were guided by the Rev. Dr. Nuhad Tomeh, mission consultant to The Outreach Foundation and Syrian Presbyterian pastor. Following the Kurdish referendum vote, Rev. Haitham Jazrawi of Kirkuk advised us not to come north but instead came down to Baghdad to meet with us. 

All three congregations (Basrah, Baghdad, Kirkuk) have some things in common: they all run kindergarten/nursery schools which are so well-respected by the non-Christian families who attend them that they have been urged to open elementary schools as well; all three either run or are setting up Christian radio stations; for the first time in a long while, all three congregations have an ordained pastor to serve them; and all three congregations open their doors to those who have never heard the Good News, and the Holy Spirit is bringing hungry souls to receive the Bread of Life. 

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Women's Ministries in Africa - November 2017 Update

Dear friends of women’s ministries in Rwanda,

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I hope this note finds you well. 

Bibles
We are grateful to you and to The Outreach Foundation for the support we received for Bibles for both women and children. It is a great gift to receive a Bible especially for people newly evangelized who cannot afford to buy one for themselves. It may be hard to comprehend how much it means and the happiness your gift brought to these believers. I cannot put a value on the joy I see on the faces of the children and mothers as they return home with a Bible in their hands, holding it tightly to their chests like a highly valued treasure. 

Dear Outreach friends, with part of the gift you sent we were able to procure 300 Bibles for women in Gitarama Presbytery, as well as children’s Bibles and hymnals. We gave Bibles to those who did not have one and who could not afford one themselves, most of whom are women and children. We purchased “Bibiliya Yera” Bibles with large print which is easier for everyone to read, especially older people. We also distributed 300 Bibles to children in other communities. Each of these recipients appreciates this life-giving gift which strengths their spiritual life and knowledge of the word. Having a Bible in their own language is a great gift. The presence of the word of God in their homes brings hope to families.

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Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo - October 2017 Update

Celebrating ETSC’s Online Program    
Exciting things are happening at ETSC this fall! We are absolutely thrilled to announce the introduction of three new programs this fall semester, all of which will be by E-Learning (Distance Learning). We thank God that this has happened and also thank our faithful partners who have made this possible. The programs are:
•    MAT–Master of Arts in Theology Online    
•    CTS–Certificate in Theological Studies    
•    CCM–Certificate in Church Ministry

They will target students in Egypt who are not able to study at one of the ETSC campuses because of distance or due to family responsibilities or work commitments. They will also target those from the wider Arab-speaking world who may not have access to good theological education in their home country. The programs are obviously filling a need, as 126 applications were received out of which 98 were accepted. Successful applicants come from all over Egypt and also from countries such as Lebanon, Syria, United Arab Emirates and even two from Namibia (admittedly they are Egyptian, so well able to cope with the Arabic!). There were also successful applicants (again Egyptian) from the United States and Europe where Arabic-speaking pastors are doing great work among the refugee communities. 

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Namumu Orphanage Center - October 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Some of you have traveled to Namumu in Siavonga, on the edge of Lake Kariba, and fallen in love with that place and even more so with the children being cared for in that place. God has changed so many lives since Namumu’s inception. Frank Dimmock and I visited Namumu Orphanage Center in August and would like to update you on the situation there.

The vulnerability of children and families in the Siavonga district of southern Zambia is obvious and has been affirmed during our visits and by others we met there. During the three days we spent at Namumu this summer, we met with the children; Mr. Simamba, the director; Ms. Rudia Mwela, the nurse; the Namumu Board; and the government District Commissioner. They expressed appreciation for the support given to the Namumu children and addressed some of the concerns for the children’s well-being. 

We also met with the board of management and went to see the fishing boats on the lakeshore. Several years ago, The Outreach Foundation and other supporters assisted in the purchase of four fishing boats for Namumu to generate income with the goal of creating financial sustainability for the orphanage.

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José Carlos Pezini - October 2017 Update

Dear friends and supporters,

It is a joy to share some great news with you. Three years ago, Steve and Kay Wright came to Brazil to visit the church planting projects that their church, Zionsville Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, has supported. I had the privilege of accompanying them and during the days we were together, they shared with me about the Great Banquet, a retreat ministry which had greatly impacted their congregation. They invited me to attend a “Great Banquet,” and I did so the following year. Seeing what God was doing through this three-day weekend largely led by lay people, I heard the Lord whispering in my heart that the Great Banquet would be a wonderful gift to the Church in Brazil.

Steve Wright agreed with me, and we began planning for a Brazilian version. Zionsville Presbyterian Church started inviting Brazilians who spoke English to its semi-annual banquets to become the seed group of a Brazilian leadership team. In two years twenty people, ten men and ten women, traveled from Brazil to attend a Great Banquet. Steve and Kay returned to Brazil two years ago to guide this leadership group in preparing for the banquet. Then, with the blessing of God, we set the date for the Great Banquet in Brazil.   

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PCEA Mabati Church Construction - October 2017 Update

Dear friends,

East Africa Mission Catalyst Stu Ross writes this summer from Kenya:

Building Churches in Distant Places    
Mission work is not easy…that's what Daniel and I always relay to each other when we send men off to distant places to do difficult tasks in the mission field.

We had such a challenging task. We loaded materials to build two churches in Boruhalo and Karare way up in northern Kenya not far from Ethiopia. The area also borders on the dangerous northeast province of Kenya where Somali bandits roam. The two churches are close to a town called Marsabit, a ten-hour drive from our base in Kikuyu.

We worked all day loading the twenty-foot truck. First, we loaded all the mabati for the two churches in the middle of the truck, then the steel for each church, one on the left and one on the right. Then we added the cement and all the doors and windows which were already fabricated in our shop. 

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