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SAMS-USA missionaries are sent throughout this region to partner with Anglican/Episcopal churches to grow the Kingdom of God. We hope you will be encouraged or inspired by these stories and reports from the field. We also encourage you to consider becoming a sender to this part of the world.

Bishop Grant and Doctor Wendy 2016-08-22 07:46:00

Gambella Moments

Peter’s Story:
“I came to Jesus through a dream,” Peter said. I leaned forward to listen, thankful for the privilege of hearing the life stories of those who had come to our Discernment Conference. Peter Ojulu is a lay pastor from Akobo, seeking to discern a call to ordained ministry.This is his story:
“Someone came to me in a dream, and told me to go to church,” he said. “I woke up. It was Sunday morning. I went to church and found that they were having a conference. At the conference they read Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest.”  I felt like God was talking to me. The words entered into my heart like dew. I decided to follow Jesus. Later I had another dream. In my dream, I saw God giving me medicine. When I decided to follow Jesus, I gave up going to witch doctors. For eight years I had been going to witch doctors, trying to get help for the pain in my legs [knees]. Nothing had helped. After my dream, the pain stopped. Not all at once, but slowly by slowly.”

Discernment Conference Gambella, June 30th-July 2nd

Here’s another story I heard that week, not from a perspective ordinand, but from one of those interviewing:
“We were having an amazing time of healing prayer during the service. All of a sudden a scream tore through the worship. The depth and the agony was unlike anything I had heard before. It seemed to come from something deeper than the woman herself. She went completely rigid and still. I went over thinking, ‘I’d better pray for deliverance.’ On my way, to my surprise, these words came to mind with quiet clarity, ‘This is the cry of the ancestor’s blood.’ Since the beginning of the ethnic violence in Gambella we had been teaching from the book of Hebrews, “The blood of Jesus speaks a louder word than the blood of Abel.” [Hebrews 12:24]  In a culture where blood and honour cry out for revenge, there is a better word. The cry of anguish and pain that once gave rise to a cry for revenge, was now taken up into the compassion and forgiving love of a Saviour. So as I went up to the woman, I just quietly prayed that the blood of Jesus would cover her and bless her. Peace came. Later in the service I saw her dancing. Her face was radiant.”
This past Sunday [August 14th] we set out for the village of Abari. With Darash, our Anuak priest and Regional Dean, we were going to visit the first church of the Mezhenger people, planted by the Anuak congregation of Abobo.  The road presented us with a few challenges. About half way there, we were challenged by a young male lion who stood determinedly in the middle of the road. He was not going to yield his territory! We stopped to take a photo while he stood there in majestic defiance. It was only as we restarted the car, as the engine roared back to life, and we began to move towards him, that he must have decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and loped away ahead of us until disappearing into the impenetrable grass growing alongside the road.

I think the lion thought our car roared at him when we restarted our engines

Here and there baboons sauntered lazily off the road, birds flashed by – scarlet, blue, yellow, glossy black. We drove by a couple of crowned cranes, their crowns glinting golden in the sun. It was a very African drive. The road grew narrower and narrower. Finally we were snaking along in the mud, brushing through eight foot high elephant grass on either side of us, the raindrops on the grass glistening in the early morning sun, until it was as if we were driving through some sort of eco car wash.

Eventually, the mud got the better of us, and the car, sinking down to its axels, became stuck fast. When efforts at digging us out seemed to fail, we decided to continue on foot. After all, the church ‘was only five minutes away’. Of course, it was an Anuak five minutes. Walking along, enjoying the wild beauty of our surroundings, I began to feel very African. Half an hour later, we came upon the incongruous sight of a cell tower. Undaunted, I continued on in my African safari mode, senses stretched out and attuned to the sights and sounds of what now seemed a sun-drenched  jungle. Ahead, Darash  stopped. “The vehicle is coming!” he said. He had heard it. Alas, my finely-tuned senses not withstanding, I didn’t hear a thing. Apparently my hearing was not as African as I had fondly imagined.  Muddy but triumphant, our car pulled up, and once back inside, we drove the rest of the (let’s face it, a lot more than) five minute journey to the Mezhenger church. 

Mezhenger church and home-made pulpit

Quickly learning the Mezhenger greeting, “Digoya bongeh!” we greeted the people. Malchias, our Mezhenger lay pastor, took out a lute-like stringed instrument, and, and for the first time, we joined the Mezhenger in worship.  Their beautiful lilting melodies, sung in the African five tone scale, were truly delightful. They were just as delighted at the deeper, more rhythmic Anuak hymns sung by Darash and Omot (the lay pastor of Abobo who had joined us on the way).

Mezhenger Worship

After a simple service, we drove back through swirling clouds of butterflies and stopped and briefly joined in the worship at the Anuak church of Tiersiru, one of the satellite churches of the Abobo Mission Centre. There is was Grant’s privilege to give the church a name, “St Mark’s Anglican Church” of Tiersiru.  After questioning the St Frumentius’ students about the apostle Mark during their examinations for the African Early Church History intensive, St Mark seemed an appropriate name!

Our final stop of the morning was in Abobo town, and there a lunch of freshly caught nile perch, roasted over charcoal, awaited us, lovingly prepared by Awilli, one of our Mothers’ Union leaders, together with the women of Bethlehem Church, Abobo. It was a good morning!

                                                                                   First day in Addis.

We are delighted to welcome theologians Chris and Suzy Wilson as our newest faculty members of St Frumentius’ ATC, together with their children Abigail and Matthew. Please join us in praying for God’s blessing on their settling into life in Gambella.

 ~ Please Pray with us ~

Please pray for the first year and second year students of St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College.
Please pray for Johann Vanderbijl, our beloved dean, and for Louise, our librarian.
Please pray for continuing peace and unity among the peoples of the Gambella region.

Please  pray for peace and unity among the Amhara, Oroma and Tigray peoples of Ethiopia.

Thank you to all who responded to the needs generated by the recent crisis of ethnic violence in Gambella. Those who wish to contribute to these ongoing needs, please see donate now link above.
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Bishop Grant and Doctor Wendy 2016-06-14 04:46:00

Journey to Peace

“I had a dream,” she explained. The lovely Anuak woman stood before UN officials asking for permission to go to the Nuer in Pinyudu Refugee Camp. Denied permission, she went home and that night dreamt again, dreaming that God told her to go and speak peace to the Nuer. The next day she was not to be denied by any human force and, once in the camp, made her way to one of our 12 Nuer Anglican churches. There she was warmly welcomed. She is one of a growing number in Gambella who are saying, “In God’s eyes, we are all brothers and sisters.” In the aftermath of ethnic violence, peace between Nuer, Anuak and Highlanders is a journey of courage and obedience. 
Early in the morning of April 15th, Murle cattle raiders from South Sudan crossed into the Gambella region of Ethiopia. They killed over 200 people, mostly the mothers of young children, and abducted between 100 to 150 children as well as a few young women and thousands of cattle. Cooperation between the Ethiopian army, the South Sudanese government and a Murle chief of South Sudan has been responsible for the recovery of many of these children. Our Mothers’ Union Coordinator, Sarah Nyabuony is now part of the team in Gambella living with and caring for the rescued children. To date, more than 70 children have been found and returned, staying first in Gambella’s Presidential guest house before being returned to extended family and neighbors in the surrounding villages.
“Slowly by slowly” peace is returning. Our ‘town’ priests Darash (Anuak) and Peter (Nuer) together went to the Gambella Hospital to visit the victims of Murle violence. In response to a government request for donations for the victims, Darash and Peter brought some money to give away. They also brought prayer. Most just wanted the prayer. 
Some weeks ago a group of young Nuer high school students were walking from Pinyudu to Gambella to write their high school exams (buses were not running because of the violence). They were  beaten and waylaid by a group of highlanders. A week later  another group of young Nuer walking to write exams in Gambella town experienced a different reception. They were welcomed part way through their journey by some Anuak in Abobo town who fed them, gave them something to drink and saw them safely on their way. 
When the violence began in Gambella town, it was some highlanders who were the ones to offer shelter and help. Wilson, one of our Anuak priests, while running to find and rescue his family, himself ran into danger and was taken into safety by highlanders. Like shafts of sunlight breaking through the clouds, we are seeing acts of kindness bring light and warmth to the relationships in this area.
Witnessing the reunion of our Anuak and Nuer staff and clergy at the Gambella Anglican Centre brought us a joy that was almost painful. Yesterday, our 3 Mothers’ Union coordinators Achua, Sarah and Sarah together with facilitators Isaac and Darash, met on our compound for the first time since January. Their eyes were bright with joy and with tears. For two weeks our Nuer staff have been driven through Anuak territory to bring them to work. Now a couple of them have dared to walk here on their own. “Slowly by slowly” hope is growing.
Our churches have begun the process of assessing and responding to the needs of those affected by the recent violence. The first load of donated clothes has been brought to Lare where many of the victims of the Murle raid are located. Throughout the whole Gambella region, our clergy and lay readers have been collecting the names of those whose houses were burned or looted. Help is now being channeled to those most in need, especially to those in need of food and clothing. Thank you to all those whose prayers and contributions to our Samaritan Fund have made it possible to bless those so desperately in need of hope and restoration.
Peace in Gambella is a journey undergirded by prayer. Even in the midst of all the turmoil, we continue to see the growth of new congregations. This week I learned of a new Mabaan church in Tongo as well as a new church in Jewi Refugee camp. Darash, our Anuak Regional Dean, recently baptized 153 people in Dimma. There he learned that there are Murle who are asking to become Anglicans! 
We thank God for the peoples of the Gambella Region whose rich ethnic diversity will one day be a part of the ‘treasures brought by the nations’ to the New Jerusalem.  (Rev. 21:24; NAB)
Woman of Peace

~ Please Pray with us ~

Peace in the Gambella People’s Region remains fragile. Please pray for the witness of forgiveness, respect and compassion to continue to grow in our churches and communities.

Please pray for our ordination discernment conference to be held June 30th

Please pray for the selection of our new incoming class for St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College, and for God’s blessings on our 2nd year students

Please pray for Johann and Louise Van der Bijl. Johann is dean of St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College.

We give thanks for Karen Salmon, our wonderful professor of biblical studies who is leaving us to pursue ordination in the Anglican Church of Ireland.

Please pray for Chris and Suzie Wilson who will be joining us as new faculty for St Frumentius Anglican Theological College in September.

Please pray for Jeremiah Maet Paul, our Nuer professor of African Traditional Religion and Islamic studies.

We give thanks for the completion of 2 new faculty houses, the completion of the St Frumentius chapel, and the ongoing work of construction including the building of a new classroom and the completion of the security wall

Please pray for “good rain” and a cessation of the flooding now occurring in the beginning of rainy season

Clothes on their way to Lar
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