Marta Bennett - Update

Dear friends,

How can it already be July? This past month or so has been eventful – let me share just a few of the highlights. In addition, I would like to let you know that I will be in Oregon from July 22-August 7 and would love to catch up with any of you who will be there. Then from mid-September 2018 until early January 2019, I am planning to be based in Seattle but traveling throughout to meet with churches and individuals to reconnect, to share what we see God doing in East Africa these days (many amazing ventures in both church and marketplace), and to thank partners as well as meet potential supporters who make this all possible. I look forward to seeing many of you then!

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Rwanda Church Construction - July 2018 Update

Dear Outreach friends and partners in the work of the Kingdom,

Greetings from the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda (EPR). I am writing to bring you an update on the current situation of churches in Rwanda due to the new rules and standards set by the government for all churches, including the EPR.

As you may be aware, some churches in Rwanda have been closed by city leaders for many reasons including cleanliness and building construction regulations. Church buildings must now meet required standards to be used for worship. Worshipping in tents and/or outside is no longer allowed.

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Church Construction in Jimma - Update

Waqtola Cheneke Gebisa, pictured here, has served as the vice chair for Jimma Ginjo Guduru Bethel Mekane Yesus Church for the past two years, and he continues to serve as an elder. Currently, he is also serving as the vice chair for Jimma Presbytery. He is an assistant professor at the School of Medical Laboratory Sciences at Jimma University. Waqtola recently sent this update on his congregation’s ministry and building program.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Peace and grace be to you!! I thank you very much for your email and concern about our church. I know that you are always praying for us, thank you very much. On Sundays there are usually more than 2,500 people gathering for worship in our congregation, which is still using our old church building. Since The Outreach Foundation’s last visit to Jimma, we have opened another two preaching places and grown up two preaching places to the status of full congregations.

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Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo

On June 1st we celebrated a wonderful time of graduation. The church was filled to overflowing with students as well as friends, families and our own seminary community, people who came to share our joy celebrating the graduation of 44 students. Eight of the students graduated with M. Div. degrees and will become pastors in congregations throughout Egypt; ten with Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership; twenty-five with Master of Arts in Theology and one student with Master of Theology. We praise God for the wonderful ways he is working through ETSC.

We are also grateful for the faithful support of our friends and partners inside and outside Egypt through which ETSC continues to provide affordable quality theological training to prepare pastors and lay leaders to serve the church and society in Egypt, the Middle East and Arabic communities abroad. Please join us in praying for our graduates as they face their daily challenges of ministry. Pray that each one of them will be able to fulfill God’s calling in serving the church and society.

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Rev. John Tong Puk 1956-2018

Bob and Kristi Rice shared sad news about Rev. John Tong Puk at Nile Theological College in South Sudan. Please keep Rev. Puk's family, Nile Theological College and the Rices in your prayers.

"If the Lord Does Not Come"

As I nestled into the large outdoor couch overlooking the majestic African valley deep in Murchison Falls National Park during the early evening hours, I took out our iPad and quickly glanced at a few personal emails. One message grabbed my immediate attention and kept it. News had come from Khartoum that morning, Wednesday, June 13th, that Rev. John Tong Puk, a close colleague and friend, a leader in the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC) and Dean of Studies at Nile Theological College (NTC), where I teach, had died that morning. I read the message over and over in disbelief. I had just been with him and greeted him before his journey to Khartoum to see family. Could it be? It was like a dream. For the next twenty-four hours I kept saying to myself, “John Tong Puk is dead,” a statement of sheer disbelief and quiet quandary. 

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Bob and Kristi Rice - July 2018 Update

A Proud Teacher
A proud teacher, like a proud parent, marvels and rejoices in the success of his or her students. I was thrilled with my students on the final examination day. For my two classes, Contextual Theology and Church History, I had grouped students together to present for our class, to share with us and teach us what they have learned. For my Contextual Theology class, I asked my students to create a local or contextual theology, a lived theology which speaks to the realities and concerns of the South Sudanese people. For my Church History class, I assigned each of the eight groups a question to respond to, each question covering a significant historical issue and/or person which we have studied together. For each of the two classes and their final group presentations, I was "tickled pink" to see my students use their imagination, their creativity, their gifts and their hard work in sharing with us and helping us learn together as a community.

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A Mid-Year Update on the Ministry of The Outreach Foundation

Dear Outreach supporters,

We are deeply thankful for the trust that you place in The Outreach Foundation as you support our work with partners around the world. Thank you for your gifts and your prayers in 2018. Already, it has been a very busy year.

Outreach teams have traveled to meet with global partners in Haiti, England (to visit ministries with Iranians in the Diaspora), Lebanon and Syria, Egypt and Mexico. And members of our mission staff have been actively serving in Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and the U.K.

On April 29 Outreach joined with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa to dedicate the 300th church building that we have built together. It was a glorious celebration!

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Caring for Vulnerable Children in Kamwenge, Uganda - June 2018 Update

From Humble Beginnings
The Kamwenge region became the home for 40,000 returning Ugandans who had fled the country during Idi Amin’s presidency (1971-1979). During this period more than 250,000 Ugandans were murdered and millions more fled to neighboring countries. As time passed and democracy came to Uganda, these refugees returned but lived in abject poverty. The government settled a large number of them in Kamwenge on small parcels of land where they could eke out a living through sustenance farming.

Rev. John Mulindabigwi reached out to the Kamwenge community with the Gospel and began to support these people with relief supplies. Even though people responded to the Gospel, their future remained uncertain due to a lack of education, no sustainable income sources – really a hopeless way of living. John believed that a long-term solution could come only through educational opportunities, economic development, family engagement, and creating collaborative partnerships.

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - June 2018 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings from Zambia. I (Dustin) find it enlightening to listen to my students talk openly about their experience with the church. I think you would, too. Recently, I sat with three students and asked three big questions of each. This time, I wrote down their answers to share. Perhaps their words will touch your hearts and give you insight into the church in this part of the world.

1. When you think of your church in your home country, what encourages you and leads you to thank God?
Naomi Daka (second-year student from Zambia): The zeal that people have to worship God really makes me thank God. People have zeal for Sundays. There are a variety of motives, but it’s still encouraging to see. People really want to be part of church. Something additional is the inclusiveness … [towards] female ministers; this really makes me thank God for my church.

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Namumu Orphanage Center - June 2018 Update

Dear friends,

We have seen tremendous progress at Namumu Orphanage Center since the beginning of this year. We have already celebrated high school, nursing and teaching degree graduations. Namumu now has cattle and poultry to supplement the children’s diets and is earning revenue from selling milk and eggs. The local Siavonga Rotary Club has been involved in helping with renovations, and we are looking forward to more graduations.

This garden is also being revamped. The children are involved in this project which not only imparts a sense of ownership but also trains and equips them in how to earn money and helps to prepare them for a bright future. 

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Holistic Evangelism in Tete Province, Mozambique - June 2018 Trip Report

Dear friends and supporters of Tete Province,

We had a wonderful trip to Tete Province. Our six-person team sponsored by The Outreach Foundation departed on Monday, June 11. After three flights, we arrived in Blantyre, Malawi on Wednesday, June 13. We were met at the airport by Nedson and his daughter, Esther. We enjoyed a lunch at Nedson’s home prepared by his wife Sarah. After unpacking the medical supplies donated by our home congregations, we drove about three hours to the Malawi town of Ntcheu near the Mozambique border in the northeast portion of Tete Province. On Thursday we had a full day of visiting remote congregations in the Angonia District of Tete Province –  places we had never visited. We were welcomed warmly with singing and dancing. We saw newly constructed church buildings at Melenyangu and Mtangowatsanja.

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Baryé Fè High School - June 2018 Update

The energy and commitment of the students at Baryé Fè High School were palpable when the team I was leading on a discernment trip to Haiti back in January visited. It was around the time that a leading political official here made some disparaging remarks about Haiti and its future. All I could think about were the students we met, working hard and full of hope.

I am so thankful for the vision of Haiti Outreach Ministries which through its schools, including Baryé Fè High School, is teaching and raising up children who will become the leaders of their country in the coming years. We have been told by Haiti Outreach Ministries that as of mid-May the shell of the second classroom building has been completed which includes construction up to the third (and top floor). Interior work has commenced including installation of windows and security bars.

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José Carlos Pezini - June 2018 Update

Dear brothers and sisters,

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. After spending some time in the U.S., I returned to Brazil at the end of May to find that the SARA Retreat Ministry for Pastors continues to grow. In this update I want to share with you the testimony of a fellow pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, the Rev. Marcio Tenponi, whom God gave me the privilege of helping in his ministry. This is the Rev. Marcio’s testimony:

At the age of 17 I began to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I served the church as a lay leader until I received God’s call to the pastoral ministry. I surrendered to God and went to the Presbyterian seminary.

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Berea Presbyterian Seminary - June 2018 Update

Equipping God’s people for ministry, Berea Presbyterian Theological Seminary is committed to developing leaders to serve faithfully and effectively, primarily among the Ch’ol people in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas. The Ch’ol language, which can be traced directly to its Mayan origins, is the native tongue of approximately 150,000 people in the state. 40,000 of those are monolingual (Ch’ol only) speakers.

Since the 1940s when pioneer mission work among the Ch’ol people was first undertaken by Presbyterians, much attention has been given to appreciating their language, cultural identity and formation of their own leaders. When the growth of the churches indicated the need for more formal theological education, Berea Bible Institute was established with support from missionaries from the Reformed Church of America and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

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Refugee/Internally Displaced Persons Appeal - June 2018

They are the most vulnerable of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, these babies…

Izdihar Kassis, director of an outreach ministry called Together, for the Family, met Muhammad when he was only one month old. His family had fled Aleppo and ended up in the Beqaa Valley in western Lebanon. His father found part-time work in construction, but the only home they could afford was a tent – leaky and cold – on top of an apartment building. The mother had to undergo a C-section since there were some complications during Muhammad’s delivery. The United Nations helped with birth expenses, but the family didn’t have resources for Muhammad’s basic needs like milk and diapers.

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University Student Ministry - May 2018 Update

Background of the Ministry
The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) launched University Student Ministry in the early 1960s. Since the beginning, the focus of the ministry has been on making students disciples of Christ regardless of their denominational affiliation. After the fall of the communist regime in Ethiopia, the Church established her own University Student Ministry at the national level under the Department for Mission and Theology of the Church.

A Brief Activity Report
Even though Ethiopia has been under a state of emergency for the past two years, USM has tried hard to reach students at their various campuses. Many campuses are now centers of political instability. However, the unrest hasn’t stopped the students from holding their spiritual gatherings. 

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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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