The Morning of a New Day

The Morning of a New Day

SAMS is happy to report that Richard and Catherine arrived to serve at Uganda Christian University last week, after a year of delays. Praise be to God! – Communications Coordinator Kate Ulrich

Dear friends –

At last we are in Uganda, all three of us. 

Your prayers have carried us over a couple of substantial hiccups and bumps in the road. We have so many people to whom to extend special thanks, starting with our friends Dan and Ann who bailed us out ‘above and beyond’ when we missed our first flight. Dan drove us to and from Dulles twice, and they put us up in their guest room and provided us with two delicious meals and the loan of their car for the last minute tasks of our last morning before departure. Our travel agent who worked the miracle of reticketing us for only a modest change fee. Our friends Phil and Linda, who purchased our car. Our friends Arnold in Montreal and Franklin in Uganda who assisted us in so many ways with rescheduling our Ugandan arrangements. The many people whose services we relied upon to store, ship, and receive donations who were consistently helpful. Our leasing agent Janice who gave us a day’s grace on our move-out. Vanessa at UCU housing who was unfailingly gracious and helpful. Our SAMS missionary colleagues here at UCU, who also went above and beyond. In the several chaotic moments of this relocation, we were blessed by the kindness, grace – and in Dan’s case, strong shoulders – of others. We could not have done this by ourselves – and, in fact, we humbly confess that we didn’t.

Sunday, around 2:00 pm East Africa Time, our KLM flight crossed above the Egyptian coastline above El Alamain, and we entered African air space. Our route ran west of the Nile, over desert, over scrub, and over savannah, and continued over forest as darkness fell. Upon arrival at Entebbe we cleared immigration without issues, and having been both vaccinated and possessing four day old negative PCR tests, we were not quarantined. Instead we headed off to a lovely Entebbe hotel that generous Ugandan friends had arranged for us, and fell into dreamless sleep.

 Uganda is in a second round of COVID lockdown, with a 6 am to 7 pm curfew. Personal travel is sharply restricted, and there are police checkpoints everywhere. Tourists must hire a tour operator driver for travel to their destinations. Fortunately – again with the invaluable help of our Uganda friends – we knew one of the best from our 2018 trip, so we had a joyous reunion with our safari driver Robert who took us through a much quieter Kampala than we could have imagined to get to our final destination – the Uganda Christian University campus in Mukono.

Our dog, Trooper, who had a separate flight schedule, was met by the animal expediter’s Ugandan handler and kenneled overnight and, as is his practice, he made friends with the handler’s staff, wagged his tail at everyone, and when let out of his cage, he instantly began to stalk and follow his nose like few dogs they have seen. They delivered him here before we could get here, so our SAMS colleague Jessica Hughes took him. He was delightful company for her and barked at the monkeys from her screened porch. He was overwhelmed by the time Jessica brought him to meet us. 

Here at the corner of the UCU campus called Tech Park, Jessica’s warm welcome was echoed by SAMS colleague, next door neighbor, and trove of information Mary, along with our Ugandan neighbors here in little duplex units. One of those neighbors – Immaculate (Ugandan Christian names are wondrous) – made a dinner of simply outstanding matooke (I did not know it could be so), greens, and beef heart. The little children were intimidated by Trooper, who gaily wagged his tail at them. But one, Ebenezer, who will soon be four, told his mother, while hiding behind her legs, that Trooper is his friend. We were also welcomed by a couple of power outages (and it gets cavernously dark if they occur at night) and the shutdown of campus wifi. We are hard by the campus fence, so we hear the voices of the neighborhood across the road (and will hear the noises from a nearby bar when the COVID lockdown comes to an end). 

Our UCU hosts set us up with essential furniture and kitchen supplies in our small apartment and delivered the missing bag when it arrived from Amsterdam. We are just beginning to learn our way around the shops of Mukono to purchase such random necessities as Uganda cell phones, a shower curtain, plastic chairs for our patio dining area, and a tea kettle. We have rediscovered that Uganda has simply the most delicious pineapple in the world. We learned how the water heater operates, and the location of the potable water tap about a hundred metres away where we carry our jerry cans. We have been awakened on our first morning by a crackling African thunderstorm (which prompted Trooper to leap onto the bed between us, and on our second morning by the calling of a bird so loud it must have been right under our window. Then come the roosters and the stirring of the people who live across the road outside the campus fence.

It is the morning of a new day.
In faith,
Richard and Catherine

 

 

 

Stolen Heirlooms and Abundant Life

Stolen Heirlooms and Abundant Life

 Dear Praying Friends,

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10

The first week of June began as a normal week but quickly became quite the “un-normal” week. Kerry’s family shared with us that Mom B was diagnosed with Stage 4 Mesothelial cancer. At 91 years old, there are not many options at this advanced stage. The next day, I had a bad bicycle accident – the bike went left and I was catapulted right. We thank God that nothing was broken but there was much soreness and bruising. Then, the next day, we heard someone in our bedroom upstairs. (We were in my office, which is just below our bedroom on the next level of the building.) We went into our apartment to find an intruder who had come through a usually-locked chapel door and found his way to our home. We confronted him but somehow he ran past and escaped. He had – in less than 3 minutes – stolen my bank card, family heirloom rings, iPad/keyboard and a few other small items. It became very apparent that our enemy was not happy with how the Father is healing and growing this chaplaincy of three congregations. “For we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) However…the young man who left the inside door unlocked, which gave the thief access, came to apologise for his carelessness. I told him that I forgave him and all was fine and that he was more important than the items stolen. Shocked, he replied that he wouldn’t have forgiven me. Wow! An open door to speak of God! I then shared of God’s love for us and that we must allow God’s love to flow through us. It was a time of rejoicing for me as those paltry, earthly things became a down-payment on this man’s eternal destiny.

Serving, and serving with, these congregations, we have had many sadnesses and many joys. We had the privilege to come to the bedside of a dying friend, pray with her, say our farewells and walk with her daughter in the days since her mother’s Homegoing. There have been ongoing Morning and Evening Prayer, another 24 Hours of Prayer Vigil, The Alpha Course followed by The Prayer Course, and Intercessory Prayer Workshops via Zoom by a dear friend in the USA. We are thrilled to hear so many say their desire is that we are a chaplaincy saturated by prayer.

As Covid restrictions are loosening, we are now meeting physically in three locations with limited numbers and precautions. Once a month there is a joint service. Our tech team has made it possible to have those who cannot come participate on Zoom so they feel a part of the congregations gathered. Open Wednesdays are bringing neighbours and visitors as well as congregants who wish to fellowship. This autumn will be the 250th year since worship began in our Groenburgwal building so we are working toward an event that will celebrate God’s faithfulness. During the past 12 months financial support has decreased. This is not surprising with the uncertainty of these Covid times and job losses. Prayers are much appreciated and, if so led, please invest in this multi-cultural, multi-ethnic ministry. 

Highlighted below are a few of the wonderful blessings of God we have recently experienced in the chaplaincy of Christ Church. Thank you for your prayers, words of encouragement and faithful giving.

With love, Cynthia (for both)

Praises! and Prayer Needs

• Several new members for Council and Leadership Teams! (We are still in need of a Safeguarding officer for Centre and Zuidoost (Southeast) and the building up of Kids’ Church)
• Healing of hearts and relationships in the Chaplaincy
• Wisdom for the Council, Mission Leadership Teams, and the Search Committee for a new chaplain
• Provision to continue ministry here in the Netherlands
• A desire of many in the chaplaincy who long for a broader and deeper prayer ministry

Healing Dreams

Healing Dreams

By Denise Cox, SAMS Associate Director

Early in the pandemic I awoke startled by my vivid dream – a dream in which I was once again talking and laughing with a dear friend who has been dead for several years. It seemed so real and so wonderful that I immediately wondered what was the meaning of this night reverie.  I turned to God in contemplation and prayer. At once I knew. I was missing very important people in my life. I was longing for close relationships, for church family and work family. This “covid-dream” revealed my deep longings.

Soon I found out that I wasn’t the only person having dreams that God was using during COVID-19 isolation. A missionary in Africa told me he dreamed that he and his wife were in a road race. They felt excitement to be at the head of the race until they ran low on gas and pulled over to a gas station. The pumps were closed and they watched in dismay as the other racers sped by. Then they looked up to see that there had been an explosion ahead on the road, and they had been spared driving right into it. The missionary awoke feeling God’s protection and providence. He rested in the knowledge that God provided guidance and that God was aware of his frustrations in the midst of a pandemic.

Yet another missionary related a reassuring dream that she had during the pandemic. She had formerly served as a missionary teacher in Latin America. Currently in the U.S., she longed to return but wondered if she was even wanted. She received an invitation to judge an international spelling bee on a virtual platform. The school at which she had taught was the host of this competition. In the midst of the preparations for the event, she dreamed she had returned to the school. The students were waiting for her and welcoming her. She awoke, feeling that God sent her a message. She had a renewed sense that her time of missionary service wasn’t over.

What about you? Has God spoken to your spirit during the pandemic with a meaningful dream? Let me know.  I will share these encouragements with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following God’s Agenda: Todd and Patsy McGregor’s Journey in Missionary Service

Following God’s Agenda: Todd and Patsy McGregor’s Journey in Missionary Service

SAMS is excited to announce the availability of two Missions Coaches for prospective missionaries seeking counsel in their discernment journey. Missions Coach Sarah Blaine is a former missionary to Cambodia who now lives in Colorado, church-planting with her husband, Jesse. Missions Coach Bishop Todd McGregor is a former missionary to Madagascar, and now lives in Florida with his wife Patsy.

Missionary service always has its share of ups, downs, and surprises. All in all, God is faithful and has a beautiful purpose for all who surrender themselves to Him. Read about the journey God has had for Todd and Patsy McGregor below.

The one chapel service Todd McGregor missed in college turned out to be the one that changed his life. A chapel speaker at his Bible college had invited students to go to Nepal on a mission trip. The speaker caused such a buzz on campus that all his friends were talking about this call to go to Nepal, to minister in a place where it is against the law to share your faith and baptize. Despite his not going to chapel that day, the invitation caught Todd’s attention. He encouraged his friends to go, “That’s really good, you guys should do that.” He said he wasn’t interested. Yet the Lord kept bringing this back to him. Todd had felt a pull towards ministry as a teenager while exploring a remote, roadside graveyard with his father. The following words drawn from scripture were on one of the stones: My friends of mine hear my voice, you are my friends if you do what I command. “I sensed that the Lord was calling me to serve him,” Todd recalls.

He felt the call again in college: “Isn’t it interesting that the Lord showed me something earlier in life, and that He kept bringing it back. I kept hearing about Nepal, and I said no, no, I’m not going to do this, and eventually I made a deal with God. I thought it was impossible and would never work out. I said to God, ‘If you can convince my parents to say “yeah, you can go to Nepal and do what’s illegal and there’s a possibility you might get thrown in prison,” if they’ll approve it, and Lord, if you can raise this money, I will go.’ Wouldn’t you know, that the Lord worked this all out: that when I called my parents, they were very encouraging. People started giving, and the money all came in. So, I went to Nepal, trusting and really believing that it was the Lord who was calling me. I was open to whatever he wanted me to do. That was the neat part of experiencing missionary life: being open, not coming with any agenda.

“We knew there was a big risk; we knew there was a big chance we would be thrown into prison. But we trusted in the Lord. If he opened this door, then he would show the way. I was with a group that travelled through Western Nepal — we were able to pray for people, and miracles happened. We saw people come to faith. We were stopped and put in prison, but our trust was in the Lord during this whole time.” The Lord opened doors for Todd to go to Nepal, his release from prison, the Gospel to be spread, and seeds of future calling to be planted in his heart.

After Todd got back from Nepal, finished college, and met and married his wife, Patsy, the Lord continued to tug on his heart for overseas missions. As they both studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, Dr. Bill Taylor’s teaching on missions brought Todd’s mind back to his experiences in Nepal. Todd sensed a call from God to serve overseas as he studied for a Master of Divinity. Patsy, happy to take advantage of opportunities where the Lord led Todd, studied for a Master of Arts in Religion. Meanwhile, the Lord blessed them with two daughters. As they looked to the mission field, neither Todd nor Patsy could see the discouragements they were to face or the unexpected developments in their callings — but they followed their Good Shepherd.

At the time, Patsy felt one clear calling — to be married to Todd, supporting him in his calling as a missionary. Yet this was not a shallow commitment on her part. As they prepared to go to Madagascar, she brought her whole self to the support-raising process with Todd. Not all their loved ones wanted to let them go overseas, and some even opposed their plans. Yet for Todd and Patsy the call became clear. With their departure date approaching soon, they still needed to raise significant funds. They went on a bike ride to pray and process the challenge facing them. Patsy was confident: “I just believed that if God was going to have us go to the mission field, that he would raise up [the support]. We got on the phone and asked people: ‘If you believe this is what God has called us to do, then can you please send us something just to confirm that? And if you don’t, that’s all right, because we’re seeking God’s will.’ And everybody [we called] was very, very much in favor of it. But we had to ask: ‘Do you believe God’s called us? And if so, send something in. It could be 20 bucks, but it’s just saying you believe.’” After these prayerful efforts, God brought in $45,000 in 10 days! Todd and Patsy headed to Madagascar with their two young daughters, ages 11 months and two years.

Todd encourages prospective missionaries: “If God calls you, He will open up a means for this to happen. One thing we have learned over the years — A lot of people say, ‘Lord we want you to open the door.’ Maybe part of it is saying, ‘The door’s already open. Lord, if you don’t want us to go, close it.’ It means we have to step out in faith and trust Him.”

Todd originally shrank back from the idea of ordination. He wished simply to serve as a lay person among the Malagasy people. Yet during the first three years, the archbishop in Madagascar, The Most Rev. Remi Rabenirina, (who was also his bishop on the field) pushed him to get ordained. Todd submissively entered into the process. He expected to get a lot of pushback from his home bishop back in the USA, The Rt. Rev. Calvin Schofield, and thought that might be the silver lining to sidestep this calling. Indeed, Todd did experience a lot of pushback, and he was doubtful he would become ordained. He was in for a surprise, however. When Todd met with Bishop Schofield back in the USA one last time, the bishop opened up the door and said, “We’re gonna make this happen.” What a shock! The Lord had the door to ordination open, and by His grace, Todd walked through it.

Together, Todd and Patsy spent their first 11 missionary years in the capital city of Madagascar, Antananarivo (Tana), opening up health clinics, starting churches, and training leaders in evangelism. Life in a poor city required self-sacrifice and endurance. They saw Christ’s hope transform people’s lives, and the communal culture of the Malagasy began to change the McGregors deeply.

Patsy had her own share of surprises in her calling. While in Madagascar, Patsy had a dream that she was supposed to become a priest. She woke up a bit befuddled, telling Todd about it. Todd responded, “Yeah, I think so. I think that’s right.” Patsy pocketed that dream, unsure of what the Lord was doing in her. In 2002, the McGregor family moved to southern Kenya to enroll their daughters at an international high school. Patsy served at St. Julian’s Centre, an Anglican retreat and conference center, where she experienced great joy serving and equipping the Christian community.  The archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya, The Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi, saw Patsy’s ministry and encouraged her to become ordained. Patsy was already prepared for this step thanks to God’s leading in her graduate education 15 years prior. When she had studied for her Master of Arts in Religion, she didn’t have a clear purpose for it. Today she says: “I needed that training, and I didn’t know exactly why I needed that training, but I was glad for it. There’s never a scrap wasted. God will always use it, however he is equipping you.” She also followed Todd into doctoral studies through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Patsy’s attitude was: “I’ll just sort-of tag along and do the same thing. And it ended up being good because the Lord was always allowing me to be trained in ways that I wouldn’t necessarily have pursued in my own self.”

Todd was uncomfortable in Kenya at first. The ministry environment at St. Julian’s was unlike what he had been used to during their first 11 years in Madagascar. After nine months of searching for purpose, he was given the opportunity to travel to northern Kenya for a few days per week, helping with church planting and evangelism in a primarily Muslim territory. His name was put on a hit list and he needed armed guards, but the lives changed in Christ were worth it.

Rev. Todd and now Rev. Patsy were quite content and fulfilled ministering in Kenya. Yet God had more plans for them. One day, Todd got an email from a delegate of the Diocese of Antananarivo in Madagascar. They wanted him to submit his name for election to be Assistant Bishop, in view of starting a new diocese in Toliara, southern Madagascar. Todd reflects: “One has to be open minded on the mission field. Whatever you think you’re going to do — my experience has been — very seldom does it turn out that way.” Todd did submit his name and was elected. Patsy was stunned. She had just reached an exciting ministry season in Kenya. Her ministry would have to look very different in Madagascar. Their daughters were reaching adulthood, and Patsy was on the verge of empty-nesting. What would be her purpose in Toliara? How would she cope with living in an even more destitute part of Madagascar than before?

 

You will need to read Patsy’s book, Tamana: At Home in Africa (Xulon Press, 2013), to get the full answer to that question. However, we can put a snapshot here. Residing in Toliara tested Patsy with dramatic changes to her lifestyle. They lived in a cramped apartment, which they nicknamed “the box.” Conditions of heartbreaking poverty surrounded them in a hot, humid slum with many strange odors and activities. Yet when the joy of surrender to God’s will found Patsy, she was able to say: “Looking back on the first weeks and months in Ankilifaly [the slum in Toliara], things that had made no sense at the time became vividly clear. Had I not lived in ‘the box’ I would not have understood God’s complete calling on my life.” (Tamana, p. 102)

The McGregor's neighborhood in Ankilifary

Todd and Patsy found it exceedingly worthwhile to live among the Malagasy people again. The friendly, open-souled people of Toliara were hungry not only for food but also for the Lord. In her book, Patsy shares about one Malagasy woman:

“It wasn’t a Mercedes or even a two-wheeled bicycle. She was saving for a prayer book. Having just been given a Bible, her smile spread from ear to ear. ‘Now,’ she said in Malagasy, ‘all I need to save for is a Book of Common Prayer.’ Its equivalency in U.S. dollars would be a cup of gourmet coffee – a grande latte at a specialty shop. For her, it was a week’s wages, that is, if she had a job. In the meantime, she hoped to gather and sell a few used discarded plastic water bottles and save for a Book of Common Prayer. I don’t know how she did it. Perhaps she was able to wash some family’s clothing to bring in a few earnings. A while later, I saw her turning the crisp pages in her prized new Book of Common Prayer. I had been shown through her sacrifice and perseverance the precious value of prayer.” (Tamana, p. 110)

The Holy Spirit was poured out on the Malagasy of Toliara. When Todd and Patsy began ministering there, the diocese started with 11 churches and about 300 people. As of December 2020, when the McGregor’s moved to Florida after 14 years in Toliara, there were 110 churches and 10,000 communicants (people partaking in Holy Communion). Clergy of the Diocese of Toliara, now led by the recently installed Malagasy Bishop Samitiana Jhonson Razafindralambo, baptized 1,189 people in February 2021! [Read more, from SAMS Missionary to Madagascar Jacky Lowe, here.]

Bishop Todd and Rev. Patsy are now serving Christ’s kingdom from Florida after 30 years overseas. Patsy is Director of Spiritual Formation at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Stuart, a sending church that supported them on the mission field. Looking back on her challenging experiences, Patsy sees how God has equipped her to show pastoral care to American parishioners struggling through the pandemic.

Todd is continuing as a SAMS Missionary in multiple roles as a coach, discipler, and mentor. If the Holy Spirit is tugging on your heart to serve His kingdom as a missionary, then Todd, in his SAMS Missions Coach role, would love to talk with you. He is here to help you in the missionary discernment process. You may reach him at: toddmcgregor@sams-usa.org.

Get to know our other Missions Coach, Sarah Blaine, here. You may email her at sarahblaine@sams-usa.org.

Amidst Madagascar famine, over one thousand people baptized into new life

Amidst Madagascar famine, over one thousand people baptized into new life

Matthew 25:35

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.'”

Baptism

Baptism

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

Kitchen Inventory

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.

Bead jewelry

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?

Missionaries in Honduras create job opportunities for struggling parents

Missionaries in Honduras create job opportunities for struggling parents

You’re a parent of two children in Honduras, struggling to provide for your family in a violent and poverty-stricken neighborhood. The loving education your kids receive at the local Christian school is a rare blessing. The school charges a small tuition fee, but it is a manageable cost. Then you hear news of a deadly virus circulating the world. Before you know it, your community has shut down to prevent the spread of the virus. You’ve lost your job, and soon you aren’t able to feed your kids, much less pay tuition.

Such is a scenario many families in Flor del Campo, Honduras experienced when the 2020 pandemic hit. SAMS missionaries Suzy McCall, Amanda Scott, and Stephen and Debra Buckner serve there at the LAMB Institute. LAMB is an extensive ministry with a children’s home and church, a school, and other programs to help at-risk children and youth. Students depend on that community in a place plagued by danger and destitution. The ministry infuses hope into children through Christ-centered education and spiritual nourishment. The pandemic would have threatened kids’ ability to participate. Yet LAMB, led by Suzy, knew they needed a way to keep kids in school while also empowering families to pay tuition with dignity. The solution they created gives parents a chance to work off the payments owed. That is not all – the plan also equips families with start-up small businesses and skills they can use after they have paid off tuition debt.

Suzy describes the project – “We have created jobs for family members of the students who owe money. First, we hired a coordinator for this project, which will initially run for three months. We have selected a young woman in our neighborhood who holds a university degree and is currently unemployed. Several small businesses have already started: a man is selling fresh fruits and vegetables from a cart which he pushes around the neighborhood; another family is selling paper products; another is selling plastic products. A carpenter in our youth outreach program offered to train a small group of people in woodworking, with the hope that they would eventually produce marketable goods, such as furniture. They have completed their first project: three bookcases. Our fund underwrites the start-up expenses, pays the carpenter, and provides stipends for the ‘employees.’ Again, we will underwrite the materials and pay the workers for the first three months, with the stipulation that part of their pay will be applied towards their school debt. If some of the businesses are successful in generating profit, we can turn them over to the operators, and they can continue without our help.” Empowered by God’s grace, this ministry puts legs on our Lord’s calling to proclaim good news to the poor (Isaiah 61:1). Lift up these Honduran families in prayer as they engage in these small business opportunities and interact with the Christian community at LAMB.

In 2021, SAMS World Relief Fund (WRF) provided for a grant of $4,000 for LAMB’s job creation project. SAMS WRF has helped other ministries in Honduras as well. Two severe hurricanes devastated other areas of Honduras in Fall 2020. Stay tuned to read how SAMS Missionaries are helping those communities get back on their feet.

Senders giving generously to SAMS World Relief Fund in 2020 and 2021 have enabled missionaries globally to help their communities in dire circumstances caused by the pandemic and natural disasters. In four rounds of grants, SAMS WRF has given to 18 missionary projects and five diocesan projects, totalling $80,700 since April 2020.