It was the methodical beat of a small drum, the singing of the St Barnabas Choir, and the wailing of women that heralded the arrival of the body of our brother, Ojulu, Obilla Ojaho. Bishop Grant had asked the family’s permission to have him buried in our newly consecrated College burial ground and they had graciously granted it. Many came to pay their last respects to a man who was, in many ways, larger than life. In his years as a follower of Jesus, Ojulu had been a church lay-leader, a TEE tutor, a Mother’s Union Literacy Trainer, an assistant librarian, an excellent interpreter, Anuak tutor (for us), and a student, and he was looking forward to being ordained to the Diaconate this November. But most of all, Ojulu will always be remembered as a gentle, kind, compassionate friend of all. “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
In conjunction with the Area Deans, our Field Education Director, the Rev Jeremiah, selected specific areas around Gambella where our students served in various capacities for one week. Students were assigned to work with certain lay-leaders and/or pastors in supervised roles in and around the church. We have heard nothing but praise since, for which we are grateful. The Lord is doing such a deep work in these young people and to watch them grow and mature so rapidly is very rewarding.
A team from SOMA-USA came to compliment the teaching our students received on Trauma Healing this past September. For us personally it was a wonderful time of fellowship with dear friends from Camp St Christopher in South Carolina…but for everyone of us it was a time of blessing as the team not only taught the students about inner healing and other related subjects, they also prayed for them repeatedly. Two of the team members were from Kenya. One said that the College reminded him of where he comes from, ten years ago – that small beginning is now a full-scale seminary. What an encouragement! But I think they also provided the students with a glimpse of what can be done in Africa by Africans!
Karen Salmon has completed her two courses on Interpretation and Introduction to the Bible and Old Testament Introduction (I) and she will be returning to Ireland at the end of this month to start her re-entry process. Please pray that the Lord will provide for whatever she will need in order to get a work visa and residency for her new adventure with us in Gambella! Jeremiah continues to teach African Traditional Religion (the students love him!) and I continue to teach English (I) as well as try to be the Dean of the College (!). Bishop Grant is preparing to teach Biblical Theology (I) in December and we have given the students various reading assignments already for this course.
Building on the compound continues as generous donors from all over the world give to further the Lord’s work here. Work has started on the compound wall (praise the Lord!) as well as Jeremiah’s home! We have had some issues with power recently – one whole section leading to the library burned out and needed to be replaced. Water has also been a huge problem…the town pump broke down last week and we have not had any water coming into the compound since then…this means that no-one in the area has water and we have to watch our precious rain water tanks as they can emptied in a jiffy if we are not careful. But thanks be to God! He has sent us rain almost on a daily basis and we have not run out yet.
Louise and I leave next week for Addis and then on to Turkey to attend the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education consultation entitled, Engaged and Effective: The Impact of Theological Education. Pray for us as we meet Theological Educators and others from all over the globe. There is much we both need to learn! Thank you to each one who gave to make this trip possible.
At the final Communion service last week, Bishop Grant reminded us, “The ministry in this place is a battle.” The SOMA-USA Team challenged us to constantly put on the armour of God. We know that you all pray for us and that is such comfort. Thank you.
You remain in our hearts.
Johann and Louise