Bishop Grant and Doctor Wendy 2015-11-04 03:07:00

Shaped by Our Stories…   Transformed by His Love

A little girl shares with her brother
Gatluak spoke softly, his demeanor peaceful. “My mother died when I was 2 years old, and my father had another wife.” “Did the other wife raise you and care for you?” I asked. “No! She refused me. She did not cook for me. I spent my time with the cattle so I had milk to drink. My older brother was the one who cared for me. He became a pastor. So did my uncle. When I was 12 years old, I fell very sick, and was close to death. I received healing prayer. I felt the Presence of God. Something told me that I was loved, and that I would not die.”
Stephen was matter of fact. “My parents died when I was a small boy. I do not remember their faces. My uncle took me to be his son. My aunt and uncle had only one child of their own; a daughter. One day, my uncle called the community together. He wanted to make an offering to the local ‘small god’. He gave four bulls. But the evening that the four bulls were sacrificed, his daughter fell into a water hole and died. It was then I began to question and to look.”
Altogether we had 11 young men attend our Discernment Conference held August 17th -19th, sharing their stories; praying together for discernment. In their own way, each of them told us this about God: “He suffered for me.”  
When we were talking about how to help others to learn what it means to serve, I asked Gatluak, “How would you teach this to an old woman who was blind and who could not walk?” “By speaking very loudly,” he answered!

Discernement Conference  Aug 17-19,2015
 
One month later, in the middle of a “Trauma Healing Workshop”, an intensive course for clergy, lay readers and the students of our St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College, Gatluak and Nassir were woken up in the middle of the night. Both students at St Frumentius’, they had become friends and were rooming together. Two of Nassir’s brothers had been shot and killed by two of Gatluak’s brothers. In total eighteen were dead in a clan conflict in nearby Jikwao.  Gatluak and Nassir’s friendship, shaped by grace and now marked with tears, forgiveness and prayer, continues to grow. 

Artwork form the Trauma Healing Intensive Course Sept 15-19,2015
“A tree on Fire”      Nassir
A couple of days ago, one of our staff came to give us an update on his children and to tell us that he had just lost his teeth. We often thought that this gentleman, with his remarkable gift for losing things, would ‘lose his head if it wasn’t attached’. He came close to expectation with the loss of his partial denture. 
Several months ago, his wife had suddenly left, taking their young children with her. Rumour had it that she was headed for Khartoum, apparently intending to sell the children. The next news was that his wife had been imprisoned in Khartoum after starting to make and to sell home-brewed alcohol (alcohol being illegal in Islamic Sudan). His children, the oldest of whom was only 8 years old, were alone and fending for themselves on the streets of Khartoum. In Nuer culture, it is the father who has legal custody of the children in the event of a separation. Accordingly, he sent his brother-in-law to find and bring the children home. The next thing we heard was that the money sent with his brother-in-law was not enough to purchase additional ‘exit visas’ for the children. More money was procured. Then right at the border, some armed men arrived with a letter written by the wife, stating that her brother was trying to steal her children while she was in jail. End result: now brother-in-law was in jail. So much pain; for him, for his wife, for their children, for the extended family.
Recently, as we sat with Ojullu in hospital, he spoke of going to Addis ‘to eat good Ethiopian food, and to stay in one of the big, big hotels’. Too weak to stand, unable to walk, dying of AIDS, he avowed, “Nothing will stop me from getting to Addis.” Confused and occasionally incoherent, was he alluding to heaven, we wondered. So loved by us, by his fellow staff at the Gambella Anglican Center, and by his fellow students at St Frumentius’, he lay there, in the stench of uncontrollable diarrhea, and revealed the gentle dignity of a beloved friend undiminished by degradation.

Our stories – they aren’t over yet.

Beloved Ojulu

Gatluak

~ Please Pray with us ~

~ for our full time and part time students of St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College

~ for our newest refugee camp churches in Jewi, Pinyadu 2, and Sorre

~ For Stehen Munye and Simor Taidor to be odained deacon

Nassir

~ With thanks for the recent Trauma Healing workshop and Inner Healing teams

Students pray for each other in our recent Inner Healing intensive course led by SOMA, USA

~ for the dedication of St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College and the blessing of the chapel  by Archbishop Mouneer to take place November 24, 2015

Work continues on St Frumentius’ Chapel and multipurpose building
Beauty in a Knitted Cap

Prayer Letter: October 2015

“…lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”

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.”

~o~

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