Missionary Stories

Surrounded by Mountains

Lesotho_-_Behle_May_2017_animals.jpgBut the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys
that drinks rain from heaven.” (Deuteronomy 11:11
)

In the Deuteronomy quote above Moses is describing the Promised Land to the Israelites but the picture he paints easily conjures up Lesotho for me.  The mountain areas of the country generally receive more rainfall than the lowlands and often glisten in the sunlight from a recent shower, snowfall or simply moisture seeping out of the ground. I always enjoy being up in the mountains and have been spending more time there thanks to the classroom construction project at Mafa Secondary School.  The scenic mountains and valleys you pass through are beautiful at any time of the year.  However, if you are the one driving, you have to be very cautious, especially around the curves, as encounters with domestic animals are almost guaranteed as the shepherds move their flocks and herds from place to place. 

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Going the Distance to Reach the Faithful

Congo_-_Turner_Spring_2017_IMG_4816.JPG16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

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Adventures in Itineration

Mozambique_-_Frees_Spr_2017_Bishop_Munoz.jpgWell, for those of you that don't know, Kim and I had to return a year early from Mozambique due to political unrest with armed fighting too close to where we were working in the rural areas. Thankfully, we have been able to remain in contact with our church partners and colleagues in the area around GoiGoi and know that they are keeping as safe as they can, though life is very difficult. Farming their fields is often impossible due to the fighting, making food scarcity an even bigger problem than it has been in recent years.

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Not Losing Heart

Lesotho_-_Behle_Spring_2017_inside_old_building.jpgIn 2 Corinthians 4 Paul writes about being “…pressed on every side, but not crushed” and “struck down, but not destroyed.”  Despite his many sufferings he did not lose heart.  These words seem appropriate to describe the situation at the Mantsonyane Parish of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) located up in the central mountains of Lesotho.  That is where Mafa Secondary School is located.  This small school currently consists of one old, dilapidated 2-room stone building.

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Witnessing Healing, Growth, and New Life

South_Africa_-_Susan_Spring_2017_IMG_5099_(2).JPGInanda Seminary

The joy comes in participating and witnessing healing, growth and new life.  This is the core of the message of Jesus that is fully revealed during the Season of Lent and Easter.  John 10:10 I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

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The Cows are Coming, the cows are coming

Kenya_-_Byrd_Spr_2017_Cows.jpg“I will plant trees in the barren desert cedar and the acacia, myrtle, olive cypress, fir and pine”
                                                                 Isiah 41:19 (Living Translation)

It was a day like any normal day in December. I was on my way to work in the morning driving through one of the beautiful areas in Nairobi. The landscapes, the houses and the manicured lawns could have been on the cover of “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine. As I admired the scenery the cars began to back up. Traffic jams are normal in Nairobi, but at this time of the morning it was unusual for cars to be backed up this much. What is that I see? Cows? The road, the sidewalk, the lawns everywhere you looked there were cows. Some grazing on the manicured lawns while others blocked the road while two young herdsmen with a stick trying to get the cows off of the road. This was a usual scene in the middle of the suburbs of Nairobi. I knew that this was a sign of things to come. When the Maasai (ethnic group in Kenya) herders walk their cattle for miles from the Ngong hills to the suburbs of Nairobi this can only mean that the country side was in a serious crises of lack of water. No rains meant they had to find grass to feed their cows, and where better to find grass? At the “Homes and Garden” manicured lawns in the suburbs of Nairobi.

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Hope and Transformation for Street Girls in Cape Town

South_Africa_-_Sullivan_Spr_2017_Ons_Plek.jpgWhen sharing the news of my move to Cape Town, I pause to take in the shear excitement and awe that people convey to me. In response to this news, I’m often given a list of tourist activities to partake in and various sights to visit. Many tourists share their stories of unparalleled relaxation and breathtakingly beautiful accommodations while visiting the motherland. To them, Cape Town is paradise. However, scores of South Africans who struggle daily from the unaddressed injustices that flow from apartheid see this land quite differently. Accordingly, travelers who look underneath the city’s glamorous surface learn of the often-unreported realities of Cape Town citizens who live in unspeakably horrible conditions.

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Resilience

Congo_-_L_James_Spr_2017_LJUMKCHIVProject(Dec2016).jpgMay peace and prosperity be a part of Congo’s 2017!

As we renew ourselves and our missions for 2017, it is beneficial to reflect back over the past year on the challenges and successes! These reflections guide me as I continue to work hand in hand with the Congo Protestant University (Université Protestante au Congo - UPC) initiating and implementing projects. After a year of political uncertainty, I am again amazed at the resilience of the Congolese people to insist on moving forward with their daily lives. Their tenacity can be a lesson to us all!

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Praying for Politicians

Lesotho_-_Praying_photo_Mar_2017.jpgI urge…that requests, prayers, intercession…be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority…”
(1 Timothy 2:1-2
)

For being such a small country and having less than a million registered voters, you wouldn’t think there would be many political parties in Lesotho.  But you’d be wrong.  Parties have proliferated in recent years.  Many of them have been formed by splitting off from existing parties or by disgruntled politicians who have quit their party to form a new one.  Currently there are around 25 parties and every week the papers have no shortage of political stories and drama to write about.  In November some members of parliament from the ruling coalition broke off to form a new party which, according to most observers, left the coalition without a majority.  Parliament was suddenly adjourned “indefinitely” before a vote of no confidence could take place.  Last week parliament finally reopened and the opposition is pressing hard to see that a vote soon takes place.  The uncertainty which has become the political norm here lately continues to reign.

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Doing Things for God

Swaziland_-_Barker_Spr_2016_pic2.jpgIn the last two months the church has been remodeled in the pulpit area by one of our very own, Babe Gumedze, who is a pastor or “mfundisi” at Kukhany’Okusha. He has put new tiles around the perimeter of the windows as well as around the back wall where the main stage is. I watched him and was his assistant when he needed an extra pair of hands. Babe Gumedze has been doing this since he was twelve years old, more than thirty years. I learned that his favorite book in the Bible is Hebrews because no one knows who wrote it. It is also his favorite book because it is one of the books that talks about the relationship of connecting the Old Testament and the New Testament together. His work made me realize that doing things for God and the church are not always perfect. Babe Gumedze’s work was done by hand, which took patience and time. Babe did this out of love for the church; these are all things that God praises.

I found a new way of looking and perceiving the church’s role in my faith. I also, think it is more of a blessing doing things with your hands rather than machine. There is a humility and humbleness with hands. Babe Gumedze’s handcrafted work is beautiful and a blessing for the church. We all thank you Babe Gumedze for your hard work.

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