Missionary Stories

The Importance of Leadership

In the midst of current political turmoil in the United States of America (USA), we realize all too well how important ‘leadership’ is. How mature is a leader? To what degree is he or she able to keep his or her impulses and emotions in check? Does the leader understand the ‘big picture’? Does the leader understand history, precedent – the mistakes and blunders of the past? Has the leader had mentors who educated and inspired? Is he or she selfless? Is the ego in check? Informed? Nobel? Wise?

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International Day of the Girl - October 2017

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. 

–Former President of South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela 

Educate a woman, you educate a nation.

 –Former deputy President of South Africa, Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka

Inanda_Seminary.jpegInanda Seminary, an all-girls secondary high school in Durban, South Africa, has equipped girls with the ‘weapon’ of education for nearly 150 years and is leading the way currently in the education crisis in the country. Over 85% of South African children attend under-performing schools and only 40% will graduate from upper secondary school.

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The Taste of Honey Brings Hope to Lotumbe

The Development Office for the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo (CDCC) is constantly seeking new ways to generate income for rural posts. These posts operate programs that serve the population with healthcare and education. Local residents also need additional means of generating income to support their families. To meet these needs, the Disciples of Christ post at Lotumbe has initiated a project to train members of the community in beekeeping. Honey is widely consumed in the Equator Province, but is considered a specialty product because there are not enough beekeepers to keep up with the demand for fresh, wild honey. 

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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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