Above: Mary Chowenhill and Kalo Jusef, a former UCU student from Sudan who equips refugees with entrepreneurship skills.
The economics of God’s abundance fuels SAMS Missionary Mary Chowenhill’s mission work, and also informs the way she counsels entrepreneurship students at Uganda Christian University (UCU). She may not have a car to drive into the city of Kampala, but she sees God’s abundance in neighbors who bring fresh garden produce to her door. A broken hot water heater opens her eyes to God’s provision in a kettle to heat water for her shower. No hot water heater means a lower electric bill, which translates into cash she spends on other things—such as crafts created by a local artisan. Mary does not see the world through the typical economics of scarcity. She sees opportunities to lean on God’s sufficiency. With this experience and mindset, she helps her students start businesses with limited capital.
Mary advises students at UCU’s business incubation center. Edina Kia, a young woman who wanted to start a honey business, only had one hive to start. Now with six hives, Kia is about to sell the fruits of a successful harvest. Another student, Douglas Wegulo, markets char-briquettes made from by-products of sugar and coffee. The briquettes are an alternative fuel to wood—a valuable resource in Uganda. Mary has encouraged Douglas to see that, although he can’t afford two acres of land, the abundancy is in finding like-minded business partners to come alongside him—even if they become competitors someday.
Mary’s mindset is rooted in the Gospel: God’s abundant grace and holiness meets us in our spiritual state of scarcity. This biblical truth touches the lives of students at UCU, which attracts people from across Africa. One of Mary’s students in 2016 was Kalo Jusef, from the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. “Born a Muslim, he converted to Christianity, as did his father and his entire family, as a result of his time here at UCU,” Mary shares. “He came to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and started a ministry in Uganda to refugees from Sudan and South Sudan. He provides them with the practical skills they need to develop their own businesses.” Kalo and his wife, Leah, seek to go back to the Nuba Mountains to minister there. We pray that God may continue to send students like Kalo out from UCU to share Gospel hope through their vocations, as His abundance brought Mary to Uganda through senders who partner in her ministry.
Click through the gallery below to see pictures of Edina Kia’s log-beehives, and Douglas Wegulo’s char-briquettes business!
I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.
I am very grateful to be in America and continuing to heal from surgery. I still work with the people of Madagascar using technology, and once the pandemic is behind us, I hope to return. I am very grateful to those who continue to support me with prayers and financial contributions. Keep reading to see photos and updates from the women’s ministry of the Diocese of Toliara in Madagascar.
Famine in SW Madagascar
The South of the Diocese of Toliara has suffered from severe famine, there has been little rain for three years. IaIy, the Coordinator for Economic Development in the Diocese of Toliara, had family living in the area where the famine was severe. This is a story that Ialy wrote about his family in November 2020.
Ialy, the tallest man with sunglasses, at church distributing rice.
“The woman of this family is my aunt’s daughter, she’s called Anantsoa. She’s 39 years old and married and she has 3 children (10, 14, 16 years old). They lived in the town of Ambovombe. When the famine happened they used to move outside town of Ambovombe, went to the countryside, it is north and it reaches about 78 km from the town. They cut the trees and the dry forest for making charcoal and for agriculture. Every month they visit my aunt at town. The money which was earned from charcoal and agricultural, they used to buy daily food and a zebu and goat for breeding. Their place is very far from the wells, it is around 78 km (48 miles). They have not used water to wash hands, face and even their body; they rarely take a bath each semester because of lack of water.
“Regarding their children education, they couldn’t send their children to school any more so they made their mind on their children to help them.
“Nowadays, the severe famine happens everywhere in southern Madagascar in the region of Androy – that means no rainfall for 11 month in this year, that involves the lowest of price of livestock and to increase the price of the daily food such as rice, corn, sugar, oil, etc… A lot of zebus, goats, and sheep were dying and also no crops in the fields because of the high famine.
“In addition to that, the highest red wind has happened since November. It has not stopped up to now. That wind provokes many sicknesses through people there. The severe famine including the strong red wind happens in southern of Madagascar now. Cassava from Toliara changes zebus, goat, and sheep. For instance, 10 kilos of cassava trades for one goat or sheep.
“To sum up, Anantsoa’s family wanted to exit out but they could not because they are very weak so they were dying in the same day (November 7, 2020). My aunt went there by cart to take them to move to town but she couldn’t because they were already dead for three days so the local authority (chief of village) came and decided with my aunt to bury them there and encourage her.
“It is horrible situation what happened to my aunt (she is widower) and our family.”
Rice distribution to all who live in the village.
In December the first stage of famine relief began and February there was a second distribution by Mr IaIy, Rev. Donne and Gaston in the South where the worst of the famine occurring: Amboasary, Ambovombe and Ft. Dauphin. Thank you to all those who contributed to the famine relief. The rice and beans are given to everyone, no matter what their religion. People in these villages are turning to follow Jesus. Gaston reports that the churches in Amboasary Parish are now packed – an “explosion of people”, he said, “with no more room to fit in people. People are being baptized because they are being touched by the love of God and asking, ‘What religion is this that cares? We want to join you.'”
The last two weeks of February there were 1,189 new baptisms in Amboasary, Ambovombe, Beloha, Tsihombe and Maroaloka. The people were baptized by Rev. Berthier (the secretary of the Province of the Indian Ocean), Rev. Donne and Gaston. The people are being fed with the nourishment of food and the love of Jesus Christ.
Oliviah and the children under an umbrella as it rains
The end of February it rained in Ambovombe and there was great celebration as rain is a blessing in Madagascar. Please pray for continued rain so the people can grow food.
Craft Inventory at the Women’s Center
The women at the center are busy they have formed a committee to help Chretienne and Harisoa run the center, there are four women on the committee, Nivo, Oliviah, Laurichia and Adrienne. The women have completed an inventory of the supplies in the kitchen, the craft supplies, completed crafts and the Days for Girls kits and supplies. The committee is making decisions with Chretienne and Harisoa on how to run and organize the center. The women are not making paper beads for crafts as they have a large inventory. Oliviah has taught the women to make crafts using plastic beads.
Planting Tamarind trees
On March 8 2020, International Women’s Day, Tamarind trees were planted by the women from the center and the Mothers Union at the compound. The women at the center hosted the event outside in the compound and gave a presentation of the Days for Girls Kits using the flipcharts. After the presentation questions were asked and those who answered correctly received a gift of a POD (a DFG kit containing a shield and 2 liners), the youth were given a tooth brush and a bracelet.
Women’s Day Meeting
On Sunday March 15, 2021 the second Bishop of Toliara was elected. Bishop Samitiana was elected, he had worked as the assistant bishop with Bishop Todd Mcgregor.
Bishop Samitiana and his wife Holy
Note from SAMS Communications Coordinator, Kate Ulrich: As Christians, we are called to walk alongside the church globally, lifting up our brothers and sisters in their suffering. Jacky Lowe works in the Diocese of Toliara, Madagascar, sharing the love of Jesus and economic skills with women. Would you partner in her ministry?