Community visits

Dear Partners in Mission,

Thanks to many generous people, I am now driving and able to offer rides on occasion to folks from my community who are heading my way.  It is a joy to share the blessing of transportation with others.  Chichi, a woman from our church, moved in with her daughter in town over a year ago for health reasons and thankfully has improved her mobility significantly since I started visiting her there.  Being in town, though, few of her church friends have been able to visit at all.  Recently, her husband passed away, so I suggested to the consolation team that we visit her and drove us there.  We chatted, sang, prayed and read the Bible together.  She told us of sitting alone in her room with her Book of Common Prayer and her Bible, reading and praying.  We often say that where 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, the Lord is with us.  She asks that God count God as that second one gathered.  Through our visit, she felt reconnected to her church and supported in this journey of life and faith.  Our group’s visit wouldn’t have happened without the car.  As a special follow-up to that visit, she came to church the next Sunday with some of her family for the first time in over 1½ years!  Thank you for bringing us together with our recently widowed friend, so we could share God’s love and our love with her and her family.  Please pray that I am always willing to share my many blessings with those around me, as God and you have shared with me. 

Ethiopian Martyrs

A new Coptic icon of the 21 Egyptian Martyrs of Libya

Ethiopian Martyrs
I have just learned the horrifying news that as many as twenty-eight Ethiopian Christians have been shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL. This alarming act of violence against those that ISIS calls “people of the cross” comes just two months after twenty-one other Christians – twenty Egyptians and one Ghanian, were beheaded on a Libyan beach.
It is too early to learn the names of these newest martyrs. It is also too early to know what churches they came from. (The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has more than 30 million members, but there are also members of many other churches in this country, including at least 15 million Protestant Christians.) Personal details about the men who have died may emerge. For now we can note the most important things to be said about these victims. Their names are known to God and they are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8). Their denominational affiliation is no longer of any importance: they are among the unnumbered throng from every nation, tribe, people and language gathered before the throne and the Lamb (Rev 7:9) who have come out of the great persecution (Rev 7:14) and have had every tear wiped away from their eyes (Rev 7:17).
The persecution of followers of Jesus is one of the terrible facts about today’s world. Although the popular imagination may still associate the persecution of Christians with the distant past (of the Roman Empire, for example), it is a reality that more Christians have died martyrs’ deaths in the last hundred years than in all the previous centuries of Christian history combined. We are living in a time when the words of Jesus “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also,” (John 15:18) are being fulfilled on a more and more frequent basis.
How are we Christians (those of us in Ethiopia as well as around the world) to react to this most recent atrocity? First, we must look up to God in thanksgiving for the lives of these brothers who loved not their own lives, but followed Jesus in the way of the cross. Second, we must ask for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to abandon the temptation to hate. Instead we must follow Jesus, who not only suffered death on the cross, but also prayed for his executioners to be forgiven. If we are turned to hatred, the terrorists have won. Finally, we must continue to reach out to a world desperate for the love of Jesus. Make no mistake, the terrorists who executed these martyrs of Ethiopia have exhibited the worst of human depravity, but they have also revealed their desperate need of a Saviour. The apostle Paul, a great persecutor of the church of God, was turned to love by his experience of meeting Christ on his way to the Syrian city of Damascus. May God use his church to so act and speak of and from the love of Christ that many former or potential persecutors may be turned and have their names written in the book of life.

+ Grant, The Horn of Africa
~ Please Pray with us ~
~ For our Mother’s Union Literacy trainers with thanksgiving for our recent training at Gambella Anglican Centre

~ For Little Wunwar, for recovery from a serious falling injury. Wunwar is the 4 year old son of our priest, Jeremiah, soon to become one of our faculty at the St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College. Pray also for Wunwar’s mother Elizabeth for recovery from kidney problems.

~ For little Sarah Lual scheduled for open heart surgery June 15, 2015

~ For Wecca – For protection from Pulmonary Hypertension as he awaits heart surgery

~ For those grieving in Libya and in Ethiopia

~ For the St Frumentius Anglican Theological College

~ For Rosemary Burke, recently appointed Secretary General of the Anglican Church in Ethiopia


Ethiopian Martyrs

A new Coptic icon of the 21 Egyptian Martyrs of Libya

Ethiopian Martyrs
I have just learned the horrifying news that as many as twenty-eight Ethiopian Christians have been shot or beheaded in Libya by members of the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL. This alarming act of violence against those that ISIS calls “people of the cross” comes just two months after twenty-one other Christians – twenty Egyptians and one Ghanian, were beheaded on a Libyan beach.
It is too early to learn the names of these newest martyrs. It is also too early to know what churches they came from. (The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has more than 30 million members, but there are also members of many other churches in this country, including at least 15 million Protestant Christians.) Personal details about the men who have died may emerge. For now we can note the most important things to be said about these victims. Their names are known to God and they are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8). Their denominational affiliation is no longer of any importance: they are among the unnumbered throng from every nation, tribe, people and language gathered before the throne and the Lamb (Rev 7:9) who have come out of the great persecution (Rev 7:14) and have had every tear wiped away from their eyes (Rev 7:17).
The persecution of followers of Jesus is one of the terrible facts about today’s world. Although the popular imagination may still associate the persecution of Christians with the distant past (of the Roman Empire, for example), it is a reality that more Christians have died martyrs’ deaths in the last hundred years than in all the previous centuries of Christian history combined. We are living in a time when the words of Jesus “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also,” (John 15:18) are being fulfilled on a more and more frequent basis.
How are we Christians (those of us in Ethiopia as well as around the world) to react to this most recent atrocity? First, we must look up to God in thanksgiving for the lives of these brothers who loved not their own lives, but followed Jesus in the way of the cross. Second, we must ask for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to abandon the temptation to hate. Instead we must follow Jesus, who not only suffered death on the cross, but also prayed for his executioners to be forgiven. If we are turned to hatred, the terrorists have won. Finally, we must continue to reach out to a world desperate for the love of Jesus. Make no mistake, the terrorists who executed these martyrs of Ethiopia have exhibited the worst of human depravity, but they have also revealed their desperate need of a Saviour. The apostle Paul, a great persecutor of the church of God, was turned to love by his experience of meeting Christ on his way to the Syrian city of Damascus. May God use his church to so act and speak of and from the love of Christ that many former or potential persecutors may be turned and have their names written in the book of life.

+ Grant, The Horn of Africa
~ Please Pray with us ~
~ For our Mother’s Union Literacy trainers with thanksgiving for our recent training at Gambella Anglican Centre

~ For Little Wunwar, for recovery from a serious falling injury. Wunwar is the 4 year old son of our priest, Jeremiah, soon to become one of our faculty at the St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College. Pray also for Wunwar’s mother Elizabeth for recovery from kidney problems.

~ For little Sarah Lual scheduled for open heart surgery June 15, 2015

~ For Wecca – For protection from Pulmonary Hypertension as he awaits heart surgery

~ For those grieving in Libya and in Ethiopia

~ For the St Frumentius Anglican Theological College

~ For Rosemary Burke, recently appointed Secretary General of the Anglican Church in Ethiopia


Alleluia!

In my faith tradition, we do Holy Week in a big way.  There have been services every night this week.  Holy Week has always been a special week for me, full of emotion, reflection, and worship.  Living in Honduras has changed Holy Week for me in profound ways.  For example, I find myself having to focus a bit harder on the solemnity of the services as we move towards the Crucifixion.  You see, Easter (by that I mean the Risen Lord and His promise of salvation) pops up all the time in Honduras. You see miracles – sudden miracles and miracles in the making.  You see the redemptive love of God in the faces of the children and in the dedication and sacrifice of the staff.  You see Suzy following the Lamb wherever He goes…even when I wonder how she can possibly do one more thing or take in one more child.  Not to be sacrilege but it is kind of like that Wack-a-mole game.  You try to keep it hidden, put it aside during this week, to focus on the events that led up the Resurrection.  But, POP, up jumps a memory or an image or a feeling of joy.  During Lent, and especially Holy Week, we are not supposed to say “Alleluia” during the services.  I am normally a disciplined Episcopalian and smirk when others forget.  Yet, this week twice it has burst out of my mouth.  I push it down here and it pops out there! I just couldn’t help it.  Easter just popped right up and flew out of my mouth.  It is just too hard to suppress!  Alleluia!

Monday night, we heard about Mary anointing Jesus’ feet. (John 12:1-11) Immediately, in my mind’s eye, I saw the safe house girls dancing to “Pefume a Tus Pies.”  It is a beautiful song that includes:

“With all that I have and that I am,
All I’ve been, I give to you
May my life be to you as a perfume at your feet”

 What moved me to tears was that the girls, just months away from living hell, were compelled to share this with a team.  They had worn dresses to dinner one evening. Suddenly they ran up to me, “Amanda, can we borrow some pants???”  I gave them my work pants (i.e. Target pajama pants) that were several sizes too big for them.  So, in these funny, baggy pants, they shared their hearts and their love for Jesus with a group of Northamericans from Pennsylvania.  They had to.  Easter just popped out of them.  Alleluia!

Tuesday night Gospel reading included this verse:

While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” John 12:36

I am surrounded by children of light – children of God, of all ages.  My mind was flooded with images of God’s precious children.  Of Ronald, an Alonzo member, who told me his dream is to work with children and lead them to God.  Of Jasmine who, through God’s help, traded drugs for praise songs that she sings as she mops our office floor.  Of Gloria, Casa LAMB housekeeper, who falls on her knees to pray for a sick Maribel.  Of Dunia, beautiful Dunia who has rediscovered that she is a beloved daughter of the Risen Lord.  Of Daniel, who is becoming
becoming a child of light more and more each day.  Alleluia!

Wednesday was Stations of the Cross in which we moved throughout the church remembering the Passion of Jesus.  At one station, we remembered Mary, Jesus’ mother, and her anguish as her beloved son was suffering.  At another we remembered Simon of Cyrene who carries the cross for Jesus.  At another, Veronica who wiped Jesus’ blood soaked brow.  Again, I am flooded with memories.  Most recently, the memory of Arely’s office crowded with women to break the terrible news to one of our girls that her mother had died.  We wept with her, held her, prayed for her.  We rejoice with each other so often, there is so much joy in our lives.  But there is pain, sorrow, fear and tragedy.  We come together, crying, in agony, supporting one another in the knowledge that sorrow will not have the last word.  Jesus, who lived, died, and rose again for us, Jesus will have the last word.  Alleluia!

Tonight was Maundy Thursday.  The Last Supper.  The Garden of Gethsemane. The Betrayal.  The Arrest.  The Beginning of the End. No – The Beginning of the Beginning.  During the service we sang and reflected upon a hymn with this chorus:

Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love,

show us how to serve

the neighbors we have from you.

My neighbors began filing through my heart.  Not the expected neighbors – my magnificent children, family, friends, parish family, co-workers at LAMB, not even the SBV children I love so deeply.  No, this parade of neighbors caught me by surprise.  The Lord reminded me that neighborhoods are the places you encounter God’s beloved.  A neighborhood may last just a moment – the time it takes to smile at a stranger, or the time it takes to pull some lempira ($) from a wallet to give to a poor, disabled man, or the time it takes to say a silent prayer for someone in obvious need.  These are my neighbors and the neighborhoods in which I live.  The Lord gives me never ending neighbors in momentary neighborhoods, never ending opportunities to show Him I love him.  Alleluia!