Missionary Stories

Thanking God and You! / Part 2

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya!

God has been faithful to me and my family throughout the year 2017. The All Africa Conference of Churches is where I am assigned to serve as Global Ministries co-worker. The department of Peace, Diakonia, and Development under my leadership had planned many activities during the 2017. It will not be possible to share all in this letter but I will just give a few highlights.

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At the right place, at the right time...

Dear friends, partners and co-workers of Global Ministries,

It brings me no greater honor than to bring you up-to-date regarding my work at Kgolagano College, Gaborone, Botswana.

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Congo Reflections

As I reflect back over my last four years in the Democratic Republic of Congo, many advances can be seen at the Congo Protestant University/Université Protestante au Congo (UPC). New partnerships have been created, new systems put in to place, and new relationship possibilities have been presented. Constructing a future is a process that involves the efforts and commitment of many and a process that evolves with time, patience and dedication.

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Enlighten our Ways

Dear Beloved in Christ,

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. I am forever grateful to God for your partnership in the building up of God’s kingdom. The love you have shown towards the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has been a great source of blessing and encouragement.

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The Church is Growing

Springtime greetings on this cold and cloudy first of February here in the Rheingau! And yes, we do feel like spring has sprung – at least for our tiny congregation. Little more than 2 months ago, it was still unclear whether we would be allowed to continue into 2018: our 3-year “test phase” was coming to an end and our congregation had been given the task of raising 15,000 Euros to cover the majority of costs for the 2018 operating costs. One might think that such a sum would be easy in the wealthiest country in Europe, but this is a country where church tax has been in place since 1830. If you check the box ‘Protestant,’ or ‘Catholic’ or ‘Jewish’ on your employment form, the equivalent of 8% of your federal tax is taken from your paycheck and given to the national administration of your faith. So, the old phrase, “I gave at the office,” is a reality here. Weekly offerings are generally a bit of small change. Annual pledging is practically unheard of.

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Teaching and Learning

More than fifteen years ago, a young man named Charles attended my confirmation class at the Groutville Congregational Church (United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, UCCSA). Groutville was the first church I served after ordination. In the past, confirmation at Groutville lasted three or four weeks and consisted of reading, memorizing, and regurgitating a classical catechistical formula. But with Charles and others, class lasted throughout the year. Real questions of faith were asked. Who was/is Jesus? What is sin? Can God be male? What is the church’s role in society? Why are the sacraments important? What are Congregational values?

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Collective Efforts to Keep Girls In School

Before working in a village, it is important to greet the chief because he is the head of the village and needs to be informed of all events. Receiving his approval and support is important before proceeding with organizing any gathering that will be held in the village. I operate a girl’s Safe Center and Boys and Girls club in the Mathora village. Safe Centers provide girls with an after school support group that is focused on keeping girls in school and eliminating child marriage, female genital mutilation, and teenage pregnancies. We also discuss topics relating to health, hygiene, goal setting, and self-love. Our boys and girls club functions to empower young people to reach their full potential. My coworker, Assiatu, and I monitor these programs by creating weekly lesson plans, daily activities, and organizing outreach events. We hire community leaders to serve as mentors who meet with the students twice a week.

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I See You

As I conclude my appointment to Inanda Seminary, I share with you the farewell address to them:

In 1999, Scott and I applied to be missionaries on the continent of Africa with Global Ministries and we ended up here at Inanda Seminary with you.  What an amazing journey it has been.  The first Principal, Mary Kelly Edwards, came from the same area of Ohio where I was born.  I still have relatives living there today.  The only female minister in Ohio that I knew as a child also served this school, Mrs. Naida Sutch.  For the last 18 years, this has been my season at Inanda Seminary.

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Morija Times: May 2018

Lesotho_Mark_Behle_maize.jpeg“…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us…” (Romans 5:3-5)

Dear Friends,

These words of Paul in Romans bring to mind the teachers at Liepeleng Primary School. My last newsletter shared photos and information about the very trying conditions at this school of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA). Having lost in a storm their old stone classroom building, which also served as the local church, the three teachers were making do with a small makeshift shed-like structure to teach 100 students in seven different grades. My visit there with the LECSA Education Secretary was the beginning of a process to build a new classroom building. And now, at last, construction has started.

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Promoting Christian-Muslim Dialog in Africa

The Conference on World Mission and Evangelism is in the tradition of the International Mission Council and the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME). Mission Conferences are held roughly every decade.

The conference seeks to understand mission as multivalent. That includes joyful witness to the person of Jesus Christ and his gospel; commitment to working for justice and reconciliation among all peoples; and participation in interfaith, secular, and ecumenical dialogue that seeks mutual understanding and common witness. It seeks to celebrate the unity of all peoples as it marvels at their God-given diversity. It reflects on issues of missionary practice and seeks new ways of being faithful to God’s mission with the leading of the Spirit. The theme of the 2018 Arusha Conference is Moving in the Spirit, called to Transforming Discipleship.

A representative of the WCC Reference Group on Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, The Program for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) together with Danmission, and Zanzibar Interfaith Centre (Zanzic) conducted a Warsha (workshop) at the CWME Mission conference in Arusha, Tanzania. The workshop was titled: Christian-Muslims Relations in Africa: Dialogue and Diapraxis as indispensable forms of Christian Mission in Africa.

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