Healing Hearts in Houston

Healing Hearts in Houston

“I feel that God has forgotten me,” declared Mr. G. We stood in his disrepaired living room, plastic tarps covering furniture and the walls down to the studs. It had been over six weeks since Hurricane Harvey swept through southeast Houston, Texas, destroying and breaking down homes, businesses, and hearts. Mr. G’s home was in the path of the devastation, leaving him and his 11-year-old daughter, Steph, with little left.

SAMS, Trinity School for Ministry, and Christ Church Plano all felt a calling to serve. The 12 person team arrived in Houston to Missio Dei Anglican Church, a church who has been called to serve those affected by the hurricane in the city. While we were still unsure of who we would be helping, God soon led us to Mr. G and Steph. As we drove through their neighborhood, some homes seemed perfectly fine, while others had a pile of debris several feet high. The houses reminded us of people. While someone may look fine on the outside, you may never know what struggles they are facing on the inside. Mr. G’s house and spirit had been hit hard.

On our first day, he told us about his heart surgery he recently had and his other health ailments, preventing him from doing much of the repairs, despite having the skills in construction. The look of defeat was prominent on his face as he slouched over and held his chest. Throughout the week we worked to replace drywall and to establish a functioning bath and kitchen alongside Mr. G who taught us some new skills.

When each day was over, the family joined us back at Missio Dei for dinner, and one night we set aside a time for communion. Steph was curious to explore the church, and she noticed the altar prepared for communion. This was an opportunity for me to tell her that we are all imperfect people, but someone came to save us; that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead, that he gave us the gift of communion and the Holy Spirit who is always with us, and that he promises to return one day. Mr. G and Steph took part in communion with us, and we prayed over Mr. G for his heart both physically and spiritually. As we prayed and sang, it was moving to see them both lift their hand up to God in thanks and surrender, and day after day see Mr. G’s slouching diminish.

By the end of the week, there was an obvious change in Mr. G and Steph. The Lord had encouraged them and reminded them that they were not forgotten, but that God loves them and even sent others to care for them. Their house still has a lot of work to be done, but those at Missio Dei continue to pour out their love as they work alongside Mr. G and other teams to see that they return home. I praise the Lord for taking broken things and making them new again.

Missio Dei is looking for teams to help partner with them to help people like Mr. G and Steph. If your church is feeling called to send a team to Missio Dei Anglican Church, contact Lynn Bouterse at 724-266-0669 today.

By Sarah Norris, Writer and Communications Specialist. 
Settling In: Ministry in the Solomon Islands

Settling In: Ministry in the Solomon Islands

Greetings from Trinity School for Theology and Ministry at Airahu Training Center!  I have been in the Solomon Islands about four weeks now—though so much has happened that it feels as if I have been here much longer! This is a beautiful land, with beautiful people, and I hope in my newsletters and blog posts that I will be able to convey just a glimpse of these beauties.

I have begun to settle in at Airahu, an Anglican center that hosts a monastic order, a rural training center, and a theological school.  This institution is quite unlike anything I have experienced in the United States.  Each component—the Melanesian Brotherhood, Trinity School for Theology and Ministry, and the Rural Training Center—function independently of one another. Yet, they share the land together, regularly come together for times of religious activity, social events, and occasionally meals.  There is no sense of competition among the groups, and each seems to be working toward the same goal—to tangibly apply the teachings of Jesus to life in the Solomon Islands.

Continue reading below to learn a little more about each of the three programs at Airahu

Rural Training Center

Education is a real social challenge in the Solomon Islands.  Most of the Islands have no secondary schools, so teenagers travel to the capital city of Honiara for high-school education.   There are increasingly limited and highly competitive opportunities for students the further they go in their education.  Nor does education does necessarily lead to employment—many good jobs are given to “friends and family.”

The Rural Training Center provides vocational training to students throughout the island of Malaita.  There are several different tracks available—agriculture, carpentry, homemaking, etc.

The students and staff at the Rural Training Center are eager to learn different styles of agriculture.  In the image below I am explaining a permaculture design to a few of them.  The Banana Circle (pictured below) will be a feature in a future newsletter or blog.

Melanesian Brotherhood

The Melanesian Brotherhood is a religious order that was started by Anglican Melanesians in the 1920s.  Brothers take a vow to chastity, submission, and evangelism.  They are a missionary order, regularly traveling two-by-two across the countryside providing pastoral care.  They are an asset and an aid to the parish priests who serve throughout the villages.  At Airahu, several brothers live and help teach at the Rural Training Center.  Some are students at the school for Theology.  The Brothers also host morning and Evening prayers daily, and a Eucharist service on Sundays.

In the image below, one of the Elder Brothers expresses his gratitude for those who prepared lunch for us.

Trinity School for Ministry and Theology

Not to be confused with Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA (where I just graduated from!), TSTM offers a diploma program in Theology and Ministry also located at Airahu Training Center.  Students attend for three years before graduating.  After graduation, most students are ordained to the diaconate before becoming parish priests.  Students at TSTM come from all over the Solomon Islands.  Many are from Malaita, but some students come from as far away as the Western Province, Guadalcanal and San Isabel.  In this picture, I am teaching some of the TSTM students at the Chapel of Melanesia at Airahu.  Jon and were the speakers at a campus retreat a few weeks ago, facilitating discussions about the Lord’s Prayer.

Arriving to the Solomon Islands

Arriving to the Solomon Islands

SAMS Missionary Bridger Dean Baldwin shares the latest from his recent arrival to the Solomon Islands.

I’ve been in the Solomon Islands (locally: the Sols) for about a week now, it is good to be here.  Thanks for all your prayers!  I am beginning to settle in with Jonathan and Tess Hicks, and their five wonderful children.

Last Friday I was welcomed by staff, faculty and students to Trinity School for Theology and Ministry.  The welcome ceremony was quite humbling, wow, some time I will have to write about it!

Jon, Tess and I have had some great conversations together.  I am thankful for your prayers that we quickly bond as a team.  It seems like once in a while I will be able to head into town to send out  and check emails, etc.  In the mean time, to inform your prayers please remember me in the following areas:

  • That Jon, Tess and I continue to form a relationship of trust, mutual encouragement and good communication
  • For opportunities for me to learn Pidgin and engage int he students at Airahu
  • That I will wisely get into a healthy routine.

Thanks for all of your prayers, we are off to a great start here.  I hope to be sending another update in another week or two.  It turns out I can get online fairly regularly in Auki, a short bus ride from Airahu.  The connection is not the greatest, but it will suffice.  Hoping to take care of bills and essentials in my short time.  Thanks!