Posts in Africa
Rebuilding Hope in South Sudan - April 2017 Update

South Sudan has been in crisis since December 2013 because of a civil war which has devastated the land, killed tens of thousands of people, and driven millions into Internally Displaced Person camps inside the country or into refugee camps outside the country. The Outreach Foundation has re-framed our mission with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) to rebuild hope among the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled to camps in Ethiopia.  

One of those refugees is John Jock Gatwech. I met him in 2013 when he was a teacher at the leading school of the PCOSS, Good Shepherd School in Malakal. John also worked in the Department of Education of the PCOSS. In addition to being trained as an educator, he has also studied theology.

The next time I met John Jock was in Gambella, Ethiopia in 2015. He had fled for his life when the civil war reached Malakal, headquarters of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. Living in Gambella with an uncle, John had no income and had lost most of his belongings. But John wanted to make a difference through his calling as a teacher. 

After we met John Jock on our initial visit to the refugee camps, he sent us a proposal to establish preschools in three of the parishes of the PCOSS that had been established in the camps. The target group would be almost 400 children. Additionally, adult literacy classes would be started. All the classes would be taught by volunteer teachers. 

Bob and Kristi Rice - April 2017 Update

Just after Thanksgiving last year we got a text message from our leadership at Presbyterian World Mission: “Don’t buy your tickets back to Congo yet. We need to talk.” In the ensuing conversations with our leadership we learned that our church partner, the Congolese Presbyterian Community (CPC), had asked us and another mission co-worker not to return to Congo because of instability in the country and conflict within their denomination. There were discussions between Presbyterian World Mission and CPC through December and January to see if the door might still be open for us to return as planned. In February, it was concluded that the door has indeed closed, and we would not be able to return. If you receive the e-mail version of our newsletter you should already know this news, but we wanted to say it again for those who get only the print version.

God has given us peace and hope in the midst of uncertainty during these months of transition. Plenty of other emotions have also hit us. We grieve having to give up our Congo home and leaving friends we had grown to love. On the other hand, we also felt relief when the decision finally became clear. We are grateful for the prayers and words of encouragement and comfort received from so many of you who have heard this news. We worry and grieve for our friends in Congo living in the challenging reality of conflict. 

Tumaini Children's Ministry - April 2017 Update

A message from Rev. Nicholas Miriti, new parish pastor

Dear Tumaini ministry partners and friends, 

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Bwana Yesu Asifiwe” which means Praise the Lord! I am humbled as I write this inaugural message as your new pastor. As I introduce myself, I would like to first thank the Almighty for his provision of life and for giving me a flock to shepherd here in Kenya and abroad. 

Nehemiah 2:18 says, “…Let us arise and build.” During this time of  Lent, it is worthy to remind ourselves of the noble work of building that is being continued through the death of Christ on the cross. Building means either starting a new structure or repairing an existing one. Christ came in order for us to be established and built up as Christians. 

As Christ sacrificed his own life in order for us to be united with God, we also need to sacrifice in order to help our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate. Through our partnership with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, Riamukurwe parish, and The  Outreach Foundation, Tumaini and Huruma schools care for hundreds of vulnerable children. 

John and Gwenda Fletcher - April 2017 Update

When we first met Idriss, he was 12 years old. He came to our house seeking medical treatment for his friend Jean, who had a sore leg. The two boys had formed a bond when they met at a center for homeless children a few years earlier. Jean was diagnosed with osteomyelitis (an infection of the bone) and admitted to Good Shepherd Hospital where over the next several months of treatment, he slowly recovered. Throughout Jean’s hospitalization, Idriss slept on the floor beside him, brought him food, helped him get to the bathroom, cajoled him into taking his meds, entertained him, and otherwise played the role of patient guardian. That was quite a responsibility for a 12-year-old, but Idriss had grown up fast in the year since his mother died and he was left on his own.

Idriss was born with albinism (a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes), and his father had abandoned him and his mother shortly after he was born. In Congo, people with albinism are said to be “people without a race” and they are widely discriminated against and ostracized. The biggest medical threat here to people with albinism is skin cancer. 

City Evangelization, Busanza Vocational Training Center

Dear friends and partners of the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda,

Through your generous gifts God is doing amazing work in Busanza! Last July, we dedicated the Vocational Training Center comprised of a vocational training school for both men and women and a school for special needs children. The special needs school was built in partnership with Legacy Mission Village (a not-for-profit ministry based in Nashville, TN). 

A lot of exciting things have been taking place at the new center. Students in the Sewing and Tailoring School (both men and women) have learned how to make dresses. The sewing students are pleased to be learning these skills. The center also offers hair dressing and hair styling classes. Students in these classes are now able to cut, curl and style both men’s and women’s hair. 

There has been a big improvement in the lives of children with special needs as a result of the new school, which is managed by the EPR Kanombe parish and the parish education committee. Most of the children come from poor families, so the church serves them breakfast to help them focus and learn. 

Bill and Bette Bryant Crisis Nursery - March 2017 Update

Lolo and her foster mother, Ms. Agness Pumulo Nyambe

Lolo has been under the care of Christian Alliance for Children in Zambia (CACZ) since January 2016. Lolo had been abandoned by her family. A good Samaritan found her and brought her to the police station, where she was transported to the District Social Welfare Office (DSWO) by the Child Protection Unit (CPU). The police and DSWO have tried to find her family, but their efforts have been in vain. 

Lolo lives in the Bill and Bette Bryant Crisis Nursery. When she first came to the home, she was a quiet little girl who often blended into the background because she was so soft spoken. She was respectful to others and a fast learner. She quickly learned how to follow the routines of the home and did not have any trouble adjusting. 

Today, Lolo is no longer the shy, introverted little girl she was a year ago. Her vibrant personality is now evident. She has a warm and loving heart and at just four years old, she already seems to understand the importance of sharing her toys, caring for others, getting along with other children, and respecting her elders. 

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.

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.

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).  

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, 

University Student Ministry - January 2017 Update

The University Student Ministry of the Mekane Yesus Church (EECMY) ministers to students on many campuses by gathering them in small discipleship groups for training and growth. In collaboration with the EECMY congregation closest to each campus, USM facilitates leadership development and Christian growth conferences as well as Christian education activities. Seminars led by different experts are also held at each campus.  

A female student network established by the Mekele EECMY congregation brings female Christian students from Mekele University in to share experiences, opportunities and challenges. Training is given on topics 

Justo Mwale University - December 2016 Update

Dear friends,

From time to time we have conversations in ministry that help us to see afresh why we are here in Zambia, and also make us grateful for supporters who make our ministry possible. One of my students recently asked to talk with me in my office. I was a little surprised when he arrived and said he actually wanted to discuss what salvation means. He’s soon to graduate and be ordained, and my experience in America and in Egypt was that pastors and future pastors tend to know fairly well what they think about salvation. But this student was really wrestling with the topic, on account of what he had gone through in his various practical ministry experiences.