Love, Hope, Joy: Returning to Madagascar

Love, Hope, Joy: Returning to Madagascar

Come with me and I will make you fishers of men” and at once they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:17-18

At the Women’s Center in the Diocese of Toliara, Madagascar

Needlecraft, embroidery, crochet, and culinary arts are fulfilling hobbies for many of us. To women in Southwest Madagascar, skills gained in these crafts enable them to launch small businesses and lift their families out of poverty. God is using SAMS missionary Jacky Lowe to provide them the training that makes these transformations possible. Jacky first served in Madagascar as a Bridger. She was called to serve after hearing SAMS Missionary Rev. Patsy Mcgregor speak at the Diocesan conference in Flordia. Now, she will return there this March to serve long-term.

Jacky will train women in these crafts in the Diocese of Toliara.  When she was first there she says of her time, “For five weeks I lived in community with people who have nothing and are full of joy. I hope to carry that joy with me every day.” Now, carrying out that Joy, she prepares to return.

Teacher and students give what they have – knowledge and joy, willingness to work cross-culturally in community – and grow what they have established. Workshop students “go back to their parishes and teach the women there,” Jacky says.

Since last summer, new crafts are being taught. One, in particular, is bead and jewelry making. One young mother is able to take care of her child with the money she earns from making the beads.

Jacky (left) with Rev. Patsy McGregor

“A committee of women in Toliara, with SAMS Missionary Patsy McGregor’s help, sets standards and prices paid to women,” Jacky adds. “We hope, with time, that women throughout the diocese of Toliara will be able to develop work and leadership skills to provide for their families.” As she prepares to leave very soon, you can visit her SAMS page and consider praying and supporting her.

“Join us in a journey of hope, to empower the women and children of Madagascar to overcome poverty through education and the love of Jesus Christ.”

Support Jacky here. You can also support by check:

SAMS USA, PO Box 399, Ambridge, PA 15003
Checks should be payable to: SAMS USA; memo:  Jacky/women

by Howard McClellan, SAMS Staff

The Rest of the Story…

The Rest of the Story…

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

In 2009 your Society featured a story on the front page of The Messenger about the Rev. Patsy McGregor (center of the top picture and a SAMS Missionary serving in Madagascar with her husband Bishop Todd) mentoring young women. One of those women named Nolavy desired to be an evangelist, but her father, the local shaman at that time, forbade her to be one. Nolavy and the McGregors prayed persistently, and eventually, her father gave her the blessing to go to Kenya to prepare to be an evangelist. Another beautiful aspect of Nolavy’s testimony in her own family is that shortly before her father died he, too, gave his life to Christ.

Despite living in poverty and facing many obstacles, today Nolavy is the first Malagasy woman from the Diocese of Toliara to receive her Bachelors in Divinity. Upon completing her studies with the help and support of SAMS Senders, Nolavy said, “By the grace of God, I have finished my schooling and I have returned to Madagascar. I could not hold tears from falling down my eyes when I was writing my final college paper. It was beyond my imagination that I could one day get a chance to study for a Bachelor of Divinity!”  She currently serves as the Diocesan Children’s Ministry Coordinator and Diocesan Evangelist.

Nolavy knows firsthand that the Word of God is not merely confined to the mud and rice-straw thatch she usually inhabits when preaching the gospel.  She knows that the people will take it out in their hearts and souls to serve their community.  She serves people who, in turn, go on to serve others.  This, for Nolavy, defines the joy of Christian service.

Recently, in recognition of her faithful and tireless service, e the Anglican Communion selected Nolavy to represent rural women in the Province of the Indian Ocean at the United Nations.  She is coming soon to the USA in order to participate in the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.  Rural women and girls face unique needs in every nation, often suffering from lack of attention compared to women in cities – resulting in fewer registrations at birth, minimized opportunities for education and work, more likelihood of forced early marriage, early childbirth, increased rates of maternal mortality and infant mortality, neglect of opportunities for learning, earning, and loans, and a greater chance of neglect in old age.  Please pray for Nolavy’s cultural adjustment, her husband and two children at home, and her testimony to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Next month there will be an opportunity to meet with Nolavy. If you are or will be in the vicinity of Southeast Florida, she will be at the following churches:

Thursday, March 1 – ECW – St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church Boca Raton – 6:00 PM Please call if you will be attending. (561) 395-8285

Saturday, March 2 – St. Mary’s Episcopal – Stuart – 5:00 PM Followed by PowerPoint with Q & A  (772) 287-3244

Sunday, March 4 – St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church Boca Raton – 8:00 AM (561) 395-8285

Sunday, March 4 – Chapel of St. Andrew Episcopal Church Boca Raton – 10:30 AM (561)-271-7151

Tuesday, March 6 – ECW at Chapel of Saint Andrew Boca Raton – 6:00 PM simple soup and salad dinner. Please call Cheryl Harman at 561-271-7151 if you are attending.

Wednesday, March 7 – St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, Boynton Beach – 5:30 PM Supper followed by a Lenten service, Power Point and Q&A. Please call the church if you will be attending. (561) 732-3060

 

The Rev. Patsy McGregor and her husband, the Rt. Rev. Todd McGregor, minister in Toliara, Madagascar.  They live in sometimes difficult circumstances among the people they serve.  Through evangelism and discipleship, the Diocese of Toliara finds many coming to love and serve the Lord Jesus.

Small Gifts Making a Big Difference

Small Gifts Making a Big Difference

The World Bank’s estimate is that 70% of Malagasy live on less than $1 a day. SAMS Missionaries have been called to serve the people of Madagascar.

The Malagasy community is all too easily forgotten by most of the world, but your generous monetary contributions have allowed churches to be built, families to be fed, children to go to school, and student evangelists to spread the Gospel.

You might believe that your donations are minuscule but be assured they are not. Recently, a local priest approached the Rev. Patsy McGregor and thanked her genuinely for a clerical collar she had given him years prior. She was astonished he was still able to remember the small gift that she had completely forgotten. He proceeded to tell her how the collar was damaged by an electrical fire that destroyed 300 homes in his village. His eyes were sad and Patsy could tell the importance of the collar to him. He was so grateful, and to him this was a great treasure to possess for his calling and a reminder of hope in his life.

This priest’s story is an example of how even a small and seemingly unimportant gift to us can change the trajectory of another human. Your Missionaries in Madagascar were only able to give to this local priest because of the sacrificial donations from people like you. Someone like you first gave the McGregors extra collars and subsequently they could give collars to those in need.

Today Jacky Lowe a SAMS candidate is preparing to serve in Madagascar alongside the McGregors. After serving as a short-term Bridger, the Lord has called her long-term there. She will be working in the Women’s Center in the Diocese of Toliara teaching skills like sewing and cooking in order to help women start their own businesses. Would you prayerfully consider supporting Jacky and this ministry? May the Lord bless you all and guide you as you continue to be a blessing to others. Thank you for changing people’s lives in Madagascar.

 

 

God calls us to mission. We are chosen. How we answer the call is the important part of the equation.

Jacky Lowe

SAMS Missionary to Madagascar

Hope Among Turmoil: Mission in Madagascar

Hope Among Turmoil: Mission in Madagascar

By Kevin & Rev. Donna Steckline – Christ Episcopal Church, Gilbertsville NY, Episcopal Diocese of Albany.

When we arrived in Madagascar and got off the plane, we immediately saw poverty, garbage strewn streets, blank faces and stares at each street corner.  We realized the reality of the starving world right in front of us, the same as if we were in Sudan, Haiti or any other third world country.

The same feelings well up inside me bringing me close to tears as in times past, asking the Lord, “How can I help these people?  What can I offer in order to help this mass of poverty and illness that is before me?”

Ladies stripping the leaves from a tree to cook and put over rice – commonly used for blood pressure issues.

We soon arrived in Toliara, the 5th largest city in the country but has limited industry, and the poverty is starkly apparent, even more than it was in the Capital.  Bp. Todd and Patsy started with 3 churches in 2006. They have established 80 churches in 10 years in a diocese that is the size of Florida. It takes 6 days to travel through the diocese.  Unfortunately, the ratio is only one priest for 10 churches and transportation is mostly by foot or bicycle.  The Diocese of Toliara has 1.5 million people who are “Food Insecure.”  This means they do not know where their next meal is coming from, which became very apparent when examining the children and the elderly in the medical clinics.

We traveled to five different locations for the clinics, serving the many people who came for care.  Many of the patients, both young and old had diseases that have progressed well past the available treatments.  Many needed diagnostics that just are not available in the local area and people cannot travel to the capital nor could they afford to, so they suffer.  We saw mothers with malnourished children with no social support systems to obtain food or formula for their babies, so they are fed a rice gruel that has minimal nutritional value.

Praying for patients before they see the doctor.

We witnessed children who were 1-2 years old, not yet walking with flaccid extremities and could hardly keep their head up to nurse due to malnutrition.

Despite this turmoil, there is a community of hope, set in the midst of deep darkness and despair, severe poverty and starvation.  It is a community which has been planted by Bp. Todd and Rev. Patsy McGregor as they planted this new diocese of Toliara. Today there is a cathedral and gathering place in the diocese. Malagasy have come to worship, learn skills to start their own business, and participate in training for evangelism. They are filled with the hope of Jesus Christ and they grow in their faith and come together as a community.

The Malagasy people, as a population are in the same situation across the diocese.  Their faith gives them hope for the future.  Perhaps God’s ultimate plan for us is a ministry of presence.  We walk alongside our brothers and sisters assuring them that their toil is remembered by us, we have not forgotten them; they remain on our hearts. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen,” (Hebrews11:1) so we remain hopeful.

Click here for original story and more about Madagascar.

A Lesson in Takkies

Sunday 28th August: Throughout our stay and especially after our Eucharist service on the 28th, we gave various small gifts (e.g.–t-shirts, South African beanies, sweets, games, takkies{sneakers}) to the young people; and I had the nudge that I was supposed to give my training shoes to someone who really needed them. I told one of my teammates, Nkosinathi, that I felt that God was nudging me to give my training shoes to someone who really needed them, but I was not sure how my wife, Nicole, would feel about my giving away a gift she had given me. But Nkosinathi said that I should follow my heart and explain to Nicole when I got back home.

dscn1627
dscn1634
dscn1234
dscn1653
dscn1699
dscn1835
dscn1775
img_2208

Earlier during our stay, when we had just arrived, another pair of training shoes was donated to a young person; but they were trying to find someone whose foot size matched the shoes so that that person could have them. The days passed, but I still didn’t feel that I had found the right person to whom to give the takkies. Then one day I felt that the person was nearby. I looked around and saw a boy crying. I asked one of the locals to ask the boy while he was crying. I dscn1845was told that he was crying because we would be leaving soon; other youth had received small gifts and he had nothing to remember us by. I asked if he had any takkies and was told that he didn’t have any because they were too expensive; it would take his parents two-three years for them to save up to afford a pair of takkies. To this family, of course, having food to eat was far more important than takkies, so the boy walked around barefoot. I then went to him, giving him a pair of socks and the takkies to try on. He went inside his home to change (he lived near the conference site), and guess what? They fitted as snug as a bug, as though they were meant for him. He hugged me and the smile on his face was so big; if it wasn’t for his ears, the smile would have gone right around his face. I then knew that the takkies were meant for him. I then gave him a short and long sleeve t-shirt to wear. How could I have missed this boy?! He had so willingly helped us carry our buckets of water, luggage, or any other goods during our stay. God has a funny sense of humour; the young person for whom the takkies were meant was right under my nose, and I didn’t notice it.

The people in Toliara were extremely welcoming, nice and prepared to share whatever little they had with us. This was truly an emotional, heart-warming and humble feeling. The many things that we take for granted in everyday life they just didn’t have. The amazing thing was that they were content with what little they had and yet praised God with hymns of praise and dance, sometimes until the early hours of the morning. There is a phenomenal commitment to God here, and I pray that they will never let go of it. I am truly grateful and blessed for the time I spent in Madagascar, and I can honestly say that I didn’t want to leave that God-enriched, humble place. I can’t wait to go back on the next mission trip.

#Madagascar4Jesus blog series: 4
Wayne Curtis

His Call, My Answer: A Journey in Becoming a Missionary.

His Call, My Answer: A Journey in Becoming a Missionary.

Jacky Lowe is preparing for missionary service to Madagascar. She is thrilled to be heading back to where she once served as a short-term bridger partnering alongside the women in Toliara. There, she taught them essential skills such a sewing and bead work that would enable them to start their own business..

November 2007: At the Diocesan convention in SE Florida I heard Rev. Patsy McGregor speak about her mission work in Madagascar. I knew then I wanted to go and help.

2009-2015: I worked on three short term missions in 2009, 2010, and 2015, but I knew the Lord was calling me for full time missionary service. The people in Madagascar so want to learn about the Lord and develop skills for life, and I have a passion to serve them. In 2014 I was busy making plans to visit my family in England when Patsy phoned me and asked me to come to Madagascar summer 2015. At first I thought, “I can’t go I want to see my Dad!” But God had greater plans, so I went to England summer 2014, spent a wonderful 5 weeks with Dad, and he died January 2015.

January 2016: When Patsy asked me to work full time with the women in Toliara at the new women’s center, my first reaction was joy. Now I can do God’s work. Quickly after fear entered. “How am I going to do this?” I thought. For two weeks I talked with people and prayed to make the decision to say yes. Two weeks later fear came again, but I knew just to rest in God’s arms.

April 2016: What an amazing experience to attended SAMS & New Wineskins conference. My roommate Mary McDonald, a SAMS vet missionary, helped me to discern. “In ten years will you have regrets if you do not go?” she asked. I knew I would have regrets. We are to follow Christ no matter how hard it is. I knew God wanted me to follow him to Madagascar.

Today: As I make plans to go to Madagascar for 1-3 years to work with the women there I think, “I can do all things through God who gives me strength,” Philippians 4:16. I still have days when doubts enter, especially when people ask me, “Why don’t you just retire and spend time with your grandchildren?” or “Why do you have to go so far away?” As I said at the beginning it is a call from God. He says, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1. Now, most days I feel a deep peace because I have answered God’s call. Looking back this journey of preparation has equipped me with all the tools I need. I have supportive friends and family, but most importantly I have God. Let the work begin!

By Jacky Lowe, Missionary preparing for long-term service to Madagascar. Would you prayerfully consider supporting Jacky today? Pray, support, and give here.

God calls us to mission. We are chosen. How we answer the call is the important part of the equation.

Jacky Lowe

SAMS Missionary to Madagascar