Beginning a New Chapter in my Life

Beginning a New Chapter in my Life

It’s now official: As of the end of December 2009, I have traded in the hot, sultry breezes of Luanda for the cold, bone-chilling winds of Chicago.

It’s now official: As of the end of December 2009, I have traded in the hot, sultry breezes of Luanda for the cold, bone-chilling winds of Chicago. For me, it is relatively easy to contemplate layering up to ward off the cold, but it is far more challenging to contemplate warding off missing the good folks of IECA (Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola) with whom I have worked during a two-year term of mission service.

In saying farewells to my IECA Family, I assured them that although I’m ceasing my work on the ground in Angola, I am not giving up my work on behalf of Angola. I am, once again, a member of the Illinois Conference Angola Partnership Team and trust that as I travel in the coming months, within Illinois and beyond, my sharing of my experiences within IECA’s Department of Social Assistance, Studies and Projects (DASEP) will help to strengthen existing partnership efforts and perhaps create some new avenues of collaboration with our Angolan sisters and brothers. I hope that during my travels I’ll see some of you who are receiving this newsletter!

I remain grateful for the hospitality extended and the learning afforded by people as I worked in Luanda and traveled to the provinces to visit IECA congregations and DASEP projects. In every location – through worship, reporting and planning meetings, ecumenical forums, and formal and informal conversations – people spoke of the challenging social, economic and political realities in which they function and expressed their hopes that God will continue to empower them to help make a way forward for their church congregations, their communities, and the nation as a whole.  After centuries of colonial occupation and over three decades of armed struggle, people are relieved to be at peace, but they also are aware that the current peace is not one that holds justice and opportunity for the great majority of Angolans.

IECA’s commitment to address these challenges is demonstrated in its mission and vision:

Mission slogan – Evangelize, teach and promote integral and lasting peace in Angola by word and works;

Vision summary – To create a more just Angolan society, founded on ethical-moral and biblical principles, leading to a better world for all

Throughout two recent planning cycles, IECA has identified strategic priorities to fulfill its commitment to witnessing to God’s call for love, peace and justice through: sharing the good news of the Gospel; providing education and health programs; promoting sustainable, integrated rural development projects; training people for church and community leadership; seeking to ensure greater gender equity and protection for children; and concentrating on efforts to extend peace, justice and reconciliation.

IECA has invited its church-based, international partners to join together in efforts in ways that reflect a spirit of equality between partners and contribute to mutual growth and understanding. Through Global Ministries at the national level, statewide partnerships, and initiatives at the local congregations, mission needs to be embraced in a consistent, holistic manner. Mission is much more than just the people we may send to live and work abroad or, for that matter, the people who may come here to visit or work among us in the USA. Mission is a mind set, a spirit set, if you will, which acknowledges that we are the one Body of Christ in many places. We need to understand each other so that we can better understand that God is at work in many ways in our world. We need to acknowledge that we are all neighbors with a stake in each other’s lives. We need to hold each other up in prayer and by sharing faith, ideas, information, experiences, expertise, and resources. We cannot fully know ourselves until we catch glimpses of ourselves through the eyes and experiences of others. When we reach that point, we are empowered to work together in ways that will lift all and people up.

So, as 2010 continues to stretch out, it is my hope that you will continue to support, in whatever ways possible, the work of IECA, that you will continue to enable Global Ministries to practice “critical presence” in Angola and other nations, and that together we can raise awareness here in the United States regarding how we can be faithful to our God and to each other, both at home and abroad.

Once again, my thanks for your sharing with me my time in Angola. Peace,


Donna Dudley serves with the Evangelical Congregational Church of Angola.  She assists with development projects and staff leadership training programs.