Recruiting a new Dean, building up the faculty, equipping students for ministry
Standing on the Rock
We were recently in Kenya, exploring partnerships with the Kenyan church and looking for a new dean for our St. Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College. The Diocese of Marsabat, Northern Kenya, under Bishop Daniel Qampicha Wario, has been reaching out to those who have not heard of Christ in the south of Ethiopia. We visited the diocese to encourage this work and to teach on mission and healing prayer. In the photo above, Grant and Qampicha are standing on the ‘pulpit’ of the first church in Elabor, Northern Kenya, during an outreach to the people of this area.
Area Assembly, Nov 24th & 25th, 2016
This is a photo of our St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College Chapel, during our recent, “Area Assembly” the yearly synod-like gathering of our Episcopal Area. At Area Assembly, I received this letter carried by Rev Isaac Pur. It is from the Jum-jum people. There are now only about 200 Jum-jum Christians in the world. Isaac Momma, our Mabaan-speaking priest and the regional dean of the churches in the Assosa region of Ethiopia, is now a full time student at St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College. He reached out to the Jum-jum who were in Sherkole Refugee Camp, Assosa. This work has been continued by Isaac Pur, now acting Regional Dean during Isaac Momma’s time as a student. Here is the letter they sent; unedited, yet elegant in its cry for the need for theological education.
“Our Dear Father,
As a Jum-jum congregation, we are here, ready to make our own church. But the problem is the lack of the preacher or we don’t have anyone who is well trained to preach the gospel. Therefore please we need you to help us by giving us the chances when there is second round for the theology or college.
We join the Anglican church from 2011 up to 2016 but there is no any improvement or any changes. But when you appeared, also our names appeared. Therefore we became happy and happy. And we hope everything will continuous like in this way.
So you know even in our home land we have more than 200 Christian within our tribes without any pastor or even not deacon (preacher). Therefore when you will help us we will be strong and lead our people as our heavenly Father want us to do.
Our main problem is this. Now we have those who know how to preach like Pastor Isaac Momma and Pastor Isaac Pur and so on. But maybe after the short period of time we will go back to our home land (North Sudan) and Pastor Momma will go back to his home land (South Sudan) and what will we do when we still have no pastor? We will remain as it is like before. For example, as you know, when there is no shepherd, the hyena can do what they want. And we hope you will help us to report all this to Bishop.
Second example: The son can make a lot of mistake when the father didn’t teach him properly.
That is all.
by Jum-jum congregation”
~ Please Pray with us ~
~ With thanksgiving for the ordination of three priests and five deacons at Area Assembly Nov 24, 2016
~ For a new Dean of St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College and for Bishop Grant as he functions as Acting Dean
~ For Egypt, especially as the church has to endure more suffering at the hands of terrorists
~ For the Reverend Sammy Shehata, bishop elect for North Africa (Algeria ,Tunisia and Libya) as he prepares for his consecration February
~ For a new congregation which is developing among the Tama-Koi people and for representatives to the Koma and Shurma people expressing interest in the gospel.
~with thanksgiving for new partnerships developing with the church in Kenya and Djibouti
~ For the Mothers’ Union as they move towards a fully African-led Leadership Training Program
~ For peace and stability in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa
Peter Tut Chol
Peter Tut Chol will be Priest in charge of Holy Comforter Anglican Church, in the Pilwal Mission Centre, supervised by the Rev Peter Ghak
Simon Taidor will be Priest in charge of the All Saints Anglican Church Mission Centre in Nininyang with its eight churches
Stephen Munye will be Priest in charge of The Bethlehem Anglican Mission Centre, Pinyudu Refugee Camp with its four churches
Omot Ogud, will serve as the Deacon in charge of the Bethlehem Anglican Mission Centre in Abobo with its seven churches
Stephen Choul, will serve as the Deacon in charge of St Peter’s Anglican Church Mission Centre in Matar with its ten churches
Daniel Wuor Tap
Daniel Wuor Tap will serve as Deacon in charge of the five churches of Jewi the refugee camp, supervised by the Rev Peter Kuel of St Luke’s, Gambella
Joseph Khon will serve as the Deacon in charge of New Life Anglican Church in the Lare Mission Centre, supervised by the the Rev Simon Ker of St Paul’s Anglican Church
Gabriel Tut Puok will serve as Deacon in charge of Church of Christ Anglican Church in the Pinyudu refugee camp, supervised by the Rev Paul Pouk of Jesus Light of the World Anglican Church
In many ways, Advent has taken on a new meaning for us personally. It has always been a time for expectant reflection, but as we now find ourselves in a period of transition between two ministries, the sense of expectation is heightened as we look to the one who loved the world so much that He came and gave His life for us. His coming and giving compels us to come and give too so that others may know Him and His love.
In this season of holy expectancy, would you prayerfully consider joining in what God is doing through us in our new ministry context? There are so many ways you can be part of our ministry – through prayer, through various forms of communication, through being our ambassadors in your contexts, and, of course, through financial support. Also, if you know of anyone who might be interested in our new ministry, please put them in touch with us.
Our personal SAMS page still lists us as missionaries to Ethiopia, and this will change once we have greater clarity on our new situation, but the giving link remains the same. https://secure-q.net/Donations/SAMS/3723
As always, we covet your prayers.
Thank you so much for all your love, support, and encouragement.
Advent blessings to you all.
May the reality of His birth and its blessed consequence in our rebirth touch you deeply this Christmastide and throughout the new year.
Who can believe we are nearly at the end of yet another year…and at the beginning of a new one filled with all sorts of God-ordained moments?
Like being seated next to a male stripper on a plane from Johannesburg to Cape Town…
I had a captive audience for nearly three hours as I witnessed to the love of God shown so clearly in Jesus! Wynand and I parted as if we were old friends and I pray now for his journey with Jesus every day.
As you know, Louise and I have been on a journey since leaving Gambela. So many of our dear friends and family confirmed our move that if it wasn’t for the emotional ties with our dear brethren in Ethiopia, the transition might even have been classified as easy.
We have explored different options, but believe that the Lord is leading us to work with an Anglican organisation named Growing the Church, or GtC for short. However, this move is subject to SAMS approval.
So far, we have met with the GtC Director and team members (several times!), the GtC Board, Diocesan Coordinators, and Elders. Tomorrow, we will be meeting the Archbishop and the Suffragan Bishop as well.
GtC works in seven southern African areas: South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, and the island of St Helena.
In many ways, GtC is a logical extension of what we have been doing for so many years of our life in Africa, India, and in the US. Mobilising church members to do what they are called by God to do is very much part of who we are as His servants. (We have included the GtC Job Description below for your perusal.)
God willing, we will return to the US mid January to meet with SAMS Leadership, take a course in Discipleship at Trinity, take a course in short-term missions training at SAMS, visit our children and grandchildren, visit as many of our supporters as humanly possible (what would we do without y’all?!), attend a debriefing session in PA, and seek our more support as the cost of living in South Africa will be higher than that in Gambela. The timing of our return to the field will be contingent on sufficient funding…so we really need your prayers!
Please walk with us as we seek to walk further with Jesus into His future.
We wish you all the most blessed Christmas and the happiest of new years. May our gracious and merciful King grant you all your heart’s desire and may you come to know that His every thought towards you as His child is always for good only and never, ever for evil.
Many blessings and tons of love.
Johann and Louise
GROWING THE CHURCH (GtC)
Job Description: Johann & Louise van der Bijl –
Joint Coordinators – Training in Mission & Ministry
1.Leadership Development and Team Formation
WPrimarily to transition GtC into our 28 dioceses through assisting with team formation, and capacity building through appropriate training.
WTraining at least 15 people in each diocese who will immediately begin to pass their training on to at least 10 other persons within one year. This equates to 420 primary people trained in 3 years and 4200 secondary trained persons in that period.
WThe Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-making training process will be the primary means of team formation so as to instil a missional DNA from the start.
2.Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-making (ID&DM)
WTo develop skilled faculty from among those being trained above who will assist with passing their training on both within their dioceses and regionally.
WThe aim is to spark an ID&DM movement which will grow exponentially and impact virtually every parish. Disciples making disciples is thus a critical component.
3.Mission Teams – Formation and Training
WA mark of a disciple’s maturity is that they intentionally reach out to others both within their ambit and beyond.
WHolistic missional engagement is considered to be one of the best means of growing mature disciples as we seek to fulfil the great commandment and the great commission.
WOur primary focus will be weekend and short-term missions.
4.Research relevant to Church Health, Mission and Ministry
WSpecific research in relation to items 1 & 2 above – so that we may serve dioceses in accordance with their needs and context.
WGeneral research as regards church health that serves our bishops, clergy and leaders, and serves GtC as we seek to be more focussed and intentional in our work and ministry.
Darash, our Anuak priest for St Barnabas Church Gambella, is a good story-teller.
Recently, his sermon focused on a story of three bulls; One red, one black and one white. “They loved each other as brothers, and together were strong. When the enemy looked at them, he knew that he could not prevail against them. So when night came, he secretly went to the black and to the red one. He told them that the white bull was the problem. He told them that if they stayed together with the white bull, then an enemy might see them and might attack. They must reject the white bull in order to be safe. They listened to fear and drove the white bull away. When the enemy saw the white bull alone and vulnerable, he came and killed it, and ate. After a while, the enemy became hungry for more. He went to the black bull and said, ‘You are the good one, but the red is not. If you stay with the red bull, an enemy might see you and attack. You must reject the red bull.’ The black bull drove the red bull away, thinking, ‘now I will be safe.’ When the enemy saw the red bull alone, he came and killed it and ate. And then he did the same with the black.”
Darash concluded with a prayer for unity. “If we pray for peace, then we will have peace. If we love one another, we will have peace. We are to love Nuer and Anuak, Opo and Mezhenger, Mabaan and Highlander. As we love one another, we show the love of Jesus to the world around us.”
Darash’s sermon on unity points to the sad reality that our world is full of division – politically, culturally, ethnically, linguistically. We more often see our differences as curses instead of blessings, as reasons to fight rather than as opportunities to learn.
This is true as much in the church as anywhere else. Christians are divided. Some divisions have long and complex histories. Many stem from a right desire to honour and live the truth. Others are just petty. Sorting out which is which is no easy task. I have recently been given the opportunity to be involved in two initiatives which seek to find common ground between Christians and to learn to live and work together.
The first is called IARCCUM – the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission. IARCCUM’s task was not to hold another theological forum to sort out what issues unite or divide us but rather to explore how we could witness to Christ together; to point to the love God seen in the saving work of Christ, proclaimed and lived by the church in the power of the Spirit.
There were many profound and moving moments at the IARCCUM meetings but none more meaningful perhaps than at the vespers service at the church of St Gregory in Rome. (Gregory, by the way, was the Pope who send St Augustine of Canterbury to evangelise the British Isles.) During this service Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin blessed and commissioned the nineteen pairs of bishops to go out into the world together to witness and live for Christ.
At the moment of commissioning we were each given a cross. These were no ordinary crosses – they were Lampedusa crosses. Lampedusa is an island belonging to Italy, the closest bit of Europe to the African continent. Small boats filled (or overfilled) with refugees leave Tunisia or Libya and head for Lampedusa. Many of these boats don’t make it. Many refugees, most from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan, drown attempting the voyage. Moved by the plight of these migrants a Lampedusa carpenter began fashioning crosses from the wood of refugee boats that washed up on the beaches of the island. Each of the IARCCUM bishops received one of these simple, rough crosses, most still covered in the cracked paint or bits of grease which betrayed their origins. These gifts emphasised for us that our ecumenism is not simply a matter of doctrine – no matter how important theological truth is – our ecumenism is an ecumenism of bearing witness to the cross of Jesus and walking in his way with those who suffer in this world.
Back in Addis, I was then privileged to be a part of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative, a dialogue between Orthodox and evangelical Christians. The presence of Ethiopian Orthodox at this gathering was extremely significant as both Orthodox and protestants acknowledged and looked beyond past prejudices to focus on the abundant opportunities for our different churches to pray and work together.
For me these events were signs of hope in the midst of the mistrust, despair, fear and violence of a world which seems more and more divided.
Mothers’ Union together across cultures
Anuak and Nuer Embrace
“I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know Nuer sisters; sisters in Lare; sisters in Jikwo…Now I have many Nuer sisters who I love, and it is very good. When I was sent to Dimma, I was scared to go, and I didn’t know anyone. But now… I have many sisters there too. Every Saturday is dedicated to the health program… We taught clean water, Moringa, clean dishes: this is a very big change in our community. Before the teaching, we were sleeping with mosquitos, and with skin diseases. Now this has changed. It remains to go to the people and ask them to open their hearts. You have created many teachers who will go out and teach the community…”
Achua Obang, Anuak, Gambella
For the past three years, it has been a privilege to teach women how to teach one another biblical truth, prayer, and health – both prevention and treatment. We held our last ‘Gambella Anglican Centre’-d training session in September, and began the transition into a fully African-led “Local Training Program”. Here is what the women had to say at the final session of the “Leadership Training Program (Phase I):
“Through this program we feel like we have come alive… We were living with many difficulties, suffering a lot, with many sicknesses in our communities. Many children were dying because of these sicknesses, and people were wondering, “why these diseases?” We came here and got teaching. We never thought such a big change would come. Now we go to villages and take the teachings to the community and we are well received. People like it very much.”
Cham Ojur Pur, Anuak, Gambella
“We have learned how to make clean water, and how to teach the mothers good ‘life skills’. We put this into practice in our own families. When we are visiting …we share with others what we have learned. More and more women are learning. We know how to care for ourselves and we feel pride. This is the first opportunity to learn that has come to our area.”
Sarah Nyabuony, Nuer, Gambella
“The love of God has made us willing to speak with white people, even though we have no language with them! Before in the villages, there were no toilets, and no place to shower. Now we shower, and toilets have been made – not just going behind the house. Moringa: people were not aware of it, but people now use, even it is added to porridge for the young children. Now if we have diarrhea, we give Moringa tea, and we see that the time to healing is made short.The children with wounds on their legs – they took a long time to heal. Now we are taught how to clean the wounds. Now we are not seeing so many wounds. We know how to make healing ointment out of oil and candles. And now we are using this for shampoo as well as for soothing skin. The women are happy because this saves money. We no longer have to go to the market to buy shampoo! …We give thanks in the name of Jesus for bringing together Anuak, Nuer and Opo.”
Sarah Nyadeng, Nuer, Lare
“We are building people up… and it is like giving sight to the blind. Now we know how to take care of burns by putting into cool water. We had no previous knowledge of this. It is very helpful to the community. We have learned about safe cooking fires. We keep them away from children, not to easily reach. Now we have lots of learning tools to help each other, for example, applying papaya fruit to burns. Thank you for caring for us.”
Mary Nyabiel, Nuer, Pinyudu
“Sharing of knowledge is the best thing. In the beginning it was only Awilli from Abobo who was teaching there, going to seven different churches. One church was 2 days journey on foot. Now are many who teach in Abobo. With Moringa we have seen very big miracles. Two young children were about to die from diarrhea. Moringa tea was given to them. They were saved. When I would go to Thenyi, there was an old man who had a very big wound for several years. We put Papaya on the wound, and it was healed. In Abobo town, one person was burned. He was going to the clinic, but it was only getting worse. We made the healing ointment … and put it on the wound twice a day. It was healed. When we go to different villages we see people getting water from the pump. They were washing clothes and emptying the water right by it. They did not use a toilet but would go near the pump. We taught that it was not good to have dirty washing water and waste products near to the hand pump. Now the area around the pump is kept very clean.”
Awilli Aballa, Anuak, Abobo
Mothers’ Union Graduate
“It was a very big and great plan from God who brought people from far away to live and learn together. Most of the points said by my sisters are all correct and I agree. Especially Moringa. Every home has Moringa – no one has to go to borrow. I ask all my sisters and brothers to pray for all my people. Now children are healthy. We know how to protect them from many different diseases”.
Mary Nyalam, Opo, Wonkay
“I have shared with others what I have learned. Now we have become God’s doctors for the community. The teaching helps the community – the children, the elders, everyone… Now we can help with the needs there. We have learned to put Neem twigs in the cooking fire, and rub Neem leaves into the skin. This keeps the mosquitos away.”
Apap Oman, Anuak, Gambella
“Let one help carry the bundle of the other. We have learned many good things which have helped to decrease infection. In South Sudan, there are very big problems. I beg your prayers for South Sudan, that God could make a way to bring people back.”
Mary Nyakong, Nuer, Akule 2 Refugee Camp
for Johann and Louise
We give thanks
We give thanks for Johann and Louise Van er Bijl, now leaving Gambella for medical reasons. Johann told us of their farewell gift from St Barnabas Church. Apparently there was much discussion about this. Finally it was settled that they would receive an Ostrich egg. This, they were told, was because Johann was like the Ostrich. What was it? It could not fly. It looks like a bird, but it acts like an animal. Now Johann “looks like a white person, but he acts like an African!!”
Prayers of Thanksgiving:
For the new deacons and priest to be ordained at the Area Assembly November 24th, 2016
For Archbishop Mouneer and the diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, that it will be allowed to keep their property and churches
For the Mothers’ Union as they begin a new phase of ministry in the Local Training Program and especially for Rebecca Nyater, our new MU coordinator for the Nuer
For those who gave towards the new bicycles given to our pastors
Rev Simon Kerr with his new bicycle.
Please pray with us
For God’s blessing on the choice of a new dean for St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College
With thanksgiving as we explore new partnerships in Kenya and in Djibouti
For open doors to ministry in Southern Ethiopia, Djibouti, Addis, and Somaliland
For the new refugees that continue to flood into the Gambella region (60,000 per month)
We have now left Gambela…for good. Saying goodbye to the folks we have come to love dearly ranks as one of the most difficult things we have ever done in our lives up to this point…but we knew we simply could not stay any longer. My heart and my head just could not cope with the extreme weather.
We are in Cape Town for the present time staying with family. While this is meant to be a time of rest, relaxation, and recovery, it is also a time of prayerful discernment as we seek the Lord’s will regarding our future.
I simply have to get my health back on track again…that is priority…otherwise I won’t mean much to any mission. So, I will be seeing my doctors this week, working on a heart healthy diet, and getting this body back into shape again with an emphasis on cardio-vascular exercises. My sister-in-law has promised keep me true to the exercise challenge as long as I keep her true to the (rather strict) diet! Mike and Marianne are such an encouragement to us…what would do without their very real and tangible support? Of course the Queen is overjoyed that we are here…ah, however did I earn such love from my dear mother-in-law?
We will also be chatting with the “Growing the Church” (see here: http://www.growingthechurch.org.za/site/home.aspx) leadership while we are here to see if we are able to discern a call to work together in the future. SAMS-USA Missionaries Wayne and Nicole Curtis work with them and Fr Trevor Pierce came to the Christian Barnard Hospital to pray with and for us when I had my heart surgery…we have always sensed a strong bond between us, so we just need to find our what the Lord has in mind.
We are trying to read up as much about the Cape Area as possible so that can become reacquainted with it…much has changed since we were here in seminary at George Whitefield College in 1992! One book I am finding very interesting is called “Gang Town” (see here, although they only seem to have the Kindle edition https://www.amazon.com/Gang-Town-Don-Pinnock-ebook/dp/B01DMDBPEG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479109213&sr=1-1&keywords=gang+town) about the two sides of the city of Cape Town. If we are going to grow the church, then the marginalised must surely be part of the equation, right? I am also reading two books by Mark Batterson…The Circle Maker and the Grave Robber…actually I am rereading the latter. Good books to read now as we contemplate the future…we are asking great things from a great God.
Thank you for your on-going prayers and for your unbelievable support! So many have told us that they support us as people and not the project and that has meant so much to us, you cannot even begin to imagine! To know that we are not simply commodities to be spent is so encouraging…ah, but that’s what friends and family are for, right?
We have come through a rather dark valley…but we are sensing the light. Walk with us into His brightness…
Achara Ogut Omot is a 27 year old Anuak student. He is not married, and, like Ojulu, this is not by choice. In his case, he has no parents to do any negotiations on his behalf.
Achara has been leading and preaching in the church for a number of years in the southern part of the Gambela People’s Region. His dream is to study further once he is complete so that he might teach in a seminary one day…a worthy goal, indeed.