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New Beginnings

April 7, 2009

"If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace." Norman Borlaug

Spring greetings from the Barnes'!  We continue to serve with the Kei Region of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, working primarily with issues around HIV/AIDS and food security.  We continue to enjoy the work, but even more the relationships and friendships that we have with our South African colleagues.  The children also continue to grow and we enjoy so much being parents!  Khaya (5) and Aly (4) are both blooming into wonderful children with great life experiences here in South Africa.

We have entered into a new year, 2009, and with each new year comes new beginnings. The United States has a new president; our 5 year old son, Khaya, has entered into a new phase called Grade R or kindergarten; and new year's resolutions have been put into place. As we look towards Easter, we think of new beginnings as well. We see the cross as a symbol of hope and even the Easter egg as a symbol of new life and fertility. It is a time of newness and a yearning for peace.

The quote above is from the website It is a website that donates cups of food to the hungry around the world if you simply go there and click.  And one day, as we were on the website, this quote struck us and made us really think about the year ahead and what our role will be to bring about peace.

As we think about peace and the part God has called us to play in our world, many issues come to mind: the crisis in Zimbabwe, Dawn's grandmothers who are both elderly, Gaza, the South African elections, our parenting skills, the Congo, and violations of human rights such as Guantanamo Bay. At first, it simply seems overwhelming. Especially in the face of catastrophes such as Zimbabwe and Gaza, it is easy to feel powerless.  But when we start to feel helpless, all we need to do is look around at the place where God has called us to serve.  We can do our part to fight injustices here in the Kei Region of the Eastern Cape. We can give of ourselves to the congregations of the United Congregational Church, both physically and spiritually. We can reach out to those who are HIV+ at the Samaritan Care Centre, and we can help plant spinach in vegetable tunnels. We can spend time with our kids, making sure that they always know that they are loved.  That is how we can begin to bring peace in the place where God has placed us. We can not change every situation in every land, but can do our part just where we are. What about you?  Where has God put you?  And what are the situations around you where you can take a stand on the side of justice and peace?  In this new year, as we look forward to the changes and challenges ahead, as well as to the Easter season which teaches us to have hope even when things seem hopeless, may we seek ways to sow seeds for justice, peace and for bread, and may the Lord of the harvest bless us and be with us.

Revs. Jon and Dawn Barnes

Jonathan and Dawn Barnes are missionaries with the Kei Regional Council of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, South Africa.  They serve as development officers in the Kei region of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

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