Medical Clinic in Nigeria Serving Rural and Urban Poor Receives PPE Through World Relief Fund

Medical Clinic in Nigeria Serving Rural and Urban Poor Receives PPE Through World Relief Fund

SAMS missionaries are still serving and sharing the gospel in the places they are called during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are living out their Great Commission call, and the SAMS’ incarnational service value.

The Rev. Tom Furrer leads Kateri Medical Services, a medical ministry to the rural and urban poor in Nigeria. Tom received a World Relief Fund grant to provide personal protective equipment [PPE] to all of the clinic’s staff. The funds have also been used to purchase sanitizing equipment and food for the people they serve.

Below is the transcript of Tom’s video update:

Hello. I’m the Reverend Tom Furrer. I’m an associate missionary with SAMS, and also I am the executive director of Kateri Medical Services. And we work in conjunction with the Anglican Church of Nigeria. We have six clinics in Nigeria, in partnership with local dioceses, wherever we are. And our goal is to bring simple, decent, affordable medical care to the rural and urban poor in Nigeria.

Nigeria has a population of about 180,000,000 people. Half of whom, 50% about 90 million people live on less than $2 a day. And those are the people we try to reach with our medical clinics. Those who can’t afford medical care otherwise. So, we run six clinics. And just recently, SAMS through your World Relief Fund has given us a grant of $3,000.

And what we did with that grant of $3,000 was we bought PPE’s personal protective equipment for all of the staff of our six medical clinics. And we bought sanitizer equipment. So you’re going to have a sanitizer station and each of the medical clinics. So patients and staff could wash their hands and sanitize their hands regularly.

We also bought, face masks for people in the churches because the churches have a lot of very poor people in them and can’t afford face masks and the government requires facemasks to be worn in churches. And lastly, we also purchased food because of the lockdown there. Just like in this country, a lot of people on the bottom of the economic ladder, when you have a lockdown, they have no means of income. And so, people are starving to death. And so, the churches there are trying as best they can to bring food, just basic sacks of grain for people who don’t have anything to eat. And so, because of your grant, we were able to buy some food for those folks.

And if we get more grants, we’ll buy more food. So, we want to thank you very much for this great grant that you’ve given us. And we have added that with our own funds, so that we’ve supplied about $12,000 worth of PPEs and sanitizer equipment and food for the rural and urban poor in Nigeria. So we on behalf of all of them, thank you very much. We really appreciate it.

World Relief Grants Help Inject Funds into Local Madagascar Economy

World Relief Grants Help Inject Funds into Local Madagascar Economy

SAMS missionaries are still serving and sharing the gospel in the places they are called during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are living out their Great Commission call, and the SAMS’ incarnational service value.

Jacky Lowe, missionary in Madagascar, received a World Relief Fund grant to build concrete benches at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Toliara, providing work for local builders and businesses. This video update is from Jacky who serves at the Women’s Center on the St. Patrick’s Cathedral compound in the Diocese of Toliara. Jacky is helping to establish the Women’s Center and is an anchor for prayer within the Diocese. As Jacky mentions in her video, people travel on foot for hours for meetings and services at the cathedral, and the old benches on the compound were recently eaten by termites.

Below is the transcript of Jacky’s video update:

Hello. My name is Jackie Lowe and I’m a missionary in Madagascar. I live on the St. Patrick’s cathedral compound in Toliara, where I work at the women’s center. I also live in the women’s center. In the afternoons when I’m there, I sit on two benches by the labyrinth and these two benches are made of wood.

And in 2018, and again in 2019, they made a wonderful banquet for the termites. So at the end of 2019, I decided we needed to build some benches for people to sit on made of a material that was not edible. Piave, the night watchman helped me. He got a quote for the benches, for the materials and for the building.

I returned to the US in January 2020 to raise the money for the two benches. They cost $125 each. The bare materials for the benches were purchased in Toliara. So it helped the businesses. And local men built the benches. Beanie, one of the women who works at the center, her son actually helped. So many people were helped. On my return, I learned that SAMS had a world relief fund offering grants to missionaries, and I applied. They awarded me $1,200 to build more benches on the compound. The benches will be built by the building committee and they will decide where they are. They will provide a place for people to sit and pray or read their Bible, or just to meet with others.

Many people walk an hour each way to come to the cathedral for meetings and services. So the benches will provide rest for them. If you are interested in helping to build more benches, if five people donate $25, that’s enough for one bench. Thank you for listening and thank you for helping. May God bless you.

“We had to send students away…” Pandemic Complicates Pastor Training at Solomon Islands Seminary

“We had to send students away…” Pandemic Complicates Pastor Training at Solomon Islands Seminary

Because of a lack of proper sanitation facilities at the Trinity School for Ministry and Theology at Airahu in the Solomon Islands, faculty and staff, including SAMS Missionary Jonathan Hicks, were forced to send students training to become pastors home when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Thanks to the support of SAMS senders giving to the World Relief Fund, the seminary is receiving funds to build the proper facilities to support students in their studies.

SAMS missionary Jonathan Hicks provides this update to show where the new facility is planned. Video transcript is below:

George: Welcome to Airahu School of Ministry and Theology. I’ve been here for attending this school for three years. I am just walking around in the campus with Father Jonathan to show how campus is like.

Jonathan Hicks: We wanted to give you a picture of our bathroom situation.

This is the road that leads to our outdoor pit. And the new plan is to make a bathroom facility that would go underneath the new, the dormitory. Here’s some of the housing, that’s our house. And then over there, you can see the site where the school was founded as well as the new classroom building, and then this is the dorm here.

So we had to send our students home because of the COVID outbreak, because of a lack of water and sanitation. And our, our hope has been to put a sanitation block under this building here. And, thanks to your help, it looks like we’ll be able to put in a block that will have two shower heads and two toilets as well as two rain tanks as well. So this is, these are the students at Trinity. And they’re just having their breakfast before class right now. And that’s the site of the new sanitation block.

George: That’s all. I’d like to thank you for your generous support towards this project. And we are very happy for the support you give to us. Thank you.

“I thought to myself – they’re not going to die from COVID, they’re going to die from hunger” – Video Update from Margarita

“I thought to myself – they’re not going to die from COVID, they’re going to die from hunger” – Video Update from Margarita

SAMS is sharing missionary updates about ways ministry is adapting because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many missionaries are already called to areas of great need, and those needs are increasing in light of the pandemic. We invite you, as you are able, to provide these dioceses and communities resources through the SAMS World Relief Fund. More information is on our website.

[Video Transcript Below]

We have four shelters that care for about 150 children. I received a video from one of the administrators, that showed the Ministry of Health in Honduras talking about the first two cases of COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, like a couple days later, the country went on lockdown. It was very frustrating for me whenever I heard that the government had completely shut down. And I thought to myself, “They’re not going to die because of COVID. They’re going to die from hunger”.

For example, we have a case of a mother who prepares tortillas and she sells tortillas for the neighborhood. Well, under COVID 19, she can’t do that. So whatever little living she could provide for her family, it’s gone. She can’t do it. And that’s where we really felt like we needed to come in so that we can at least provide for food. So I became very concerned and, I, I’m always communicating with the administrators.

So I started a group chat with them in about how could we help them out? One of the shelters is in the mountains, which is a more remote area, and therefore not as affected by COVID-19. But they had the same lockdown as everybody else. The administrator of that shelter said that he and his wife and his family would prepare meals. And have the families come and get a prepared meal to take home. Because the country’s in lockdown, it was interesting trying to figure out how could they provide food for the children. I am so proud also of our young graduates. Some of our graduates participate and help each of the shelters buy food and put it in bags to provide for one or two weeks of meals. And we really have seen God at work in many ways.

We have an administrator that has diabetes and she has an elderly mom, so she was really scared to go out. So we brainstormed, and we thought about a graduate from that neighborhood. And it’s, it’s a slummy kind of neighborhood, and it’s kind of a dangerous neighborhood. And, this young lady who graduated with us from high school two years ago and it’s now going to university and working also volunteered to go ahead and go get the keys from the shelter. Her mom is a cook at the shelter, so the two of them, they like got it together to be able to get the food.

Goats, the Gospel, & COVID-19

Goats, the Gospel, & COVID-19

The van door slid open and as Dr. Mary stepped out, a deafening cry arose from the village grandmother as she hurriedly shuffled towards us, shaking her cane in the air in an enthusiastic greeting.  The other women quickly took up the welcome cry and soon Dr. Mary was engulfed in an excited swarm of villagers, all eager to welcome her back to St. Luke’s Church in Gulu, Uganda.  Two years earlier, Dr. Mary had taught an animal healthcare workshop and distributed female goats to parishioners as part of a revolving goat loan.  Villagers are required to return the first female goat offspring back in to the program as payment for their goat loan, and then they are free to keep all goat offspring after that.  The goats (and the knowledge of how to properly take care of them) provide a sustainable source of income for the villagers, empowering them to start climbing out of material poverty.  The income earned from the goats allows these villagers to buy enough food to have a daily meal, or pay school fees and provide an education for their children, or pay for basic healthcare needs, and so much more.  It is no wonder at all that Dr. Mary was received with such joy.  She had revolutionized this little community by encouraging them in their faith and by providing for their physical needs.  In front of my very eyes, she was living out Jesus’ words, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) 

Our team was ushered into the church and greeted warmly by the men of the village.  As the day’s training lessons began, we had the wonderful privilege of hearing testimonies from community members who had received a goat from the previous distributions.  One lady stood proudly at the front of the church and shared how she had not received a goat during the initial distribution, but she had waited patiently for someone to return a goat back into the program for her to take home.  After much waiting, she was overjoyed to receive her very own goat kid.  Unfortunately, a few weeks later the goat broke loose from its rope and wandered into a latrine pit where it died.  The owner was devastated.  Patiently, she waited to receive another goat.  God was faithful to provide for her need, and she soon was given a new goat.  In less than two years, her goat produced eight goat kids!!  She was so deeply grateful for this gift that when her time came to pay back her loan, she returned two goats back into the program instead of just one!  Truly, the Lord loves a cheerful giver and has blessed her generosity.

We proceeded with the training, a repeat of the workshop we had done with the Batwa.  The Acholi people of this Gulu community sat attentively in their church pews, soaking up every word of instruction and laughing hysterically at our whimsical “goat birthing” demonstration skits.  Dr. Mary reiterated to this group that we are blessed in order that we may be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2-3).  The success of the revolving goat loan program depends on this concept.  If we hoard all the blessings we are given, the blessings cease to flow and no one else will benefit.  But if we bless others out of the blessings we have been given, the blessings continue to flow through us and reach many more lives.  The congregation of St. Luke’s understood this message and lived it out, as they had already given over 50 goats back into the program.  After the training workshop, we were approached by a young man named Boniface.  He had come to thank us for teaching him the basics of how to care for a goat.  “I have not received a goat from the program yet,” he explained, “but I think the knowledge that I received today is worth far more to me than receiving a goat today.  I will continue to wait for a goat, but even if I do not get one through this program, I know that I can now properly take care of a goat, and maybe one day I can buy one.  Thank you so much for teaching me!”  

“Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.”  ~John D. Rockefeller Jr.  

The story above is about the ministry of SAMS Missionary Rev. Dr. Mary McDonald. Her former student Lina Godine wrote this account after a mission trip to Uganda. Mary, a veterinarian and deacon, organizes a health and economic development outreach in Gulu, Uganda. Over the past ten years she has been doing goat revolving loans with the poor. In this picture, she and some women pray a blessing over a goat. During the training and the distribution of “Gospel Goats” the good news is shared. Many come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. As part of our World Relief Initiative, Mary and SAMS are helping the Anglican Diocese of Northern Uganda to provide food for families struggling under COVID-19 lockdown. Food relief enables families to continue to raise their goats for milk rather than for meat.  Also, funds are being sent to the diocese to provide more goats to needy families. In this situation, the World Relief Fund provides both short-term relief and long-term development.

Christ’s Love Made Known Through Maize

Christ’s Love Made Known Through Maize

A pandemic is difficult any place in the world. Yet, it is especially difficult in the towns and villages of rural Uganda, in East Africa. Uganda has been very aggressive in restrictions attempting to stop the spread of COVID-19.  Because the health system was inadequate before the pandemic and is woefully prepared for the disease now spreading here, the restrictions are very harsh: all public and private transport forbidden and all but essential stores and businesses closed.  The severe lockdown has left many hardworking people suddenly stopped from their jobs with little or no savings and no economic assistance from the government. There is some government distribution of food, but it is not enough and generally focused on the most urban areas in and near the capital city.  Our diocese, Masindi-Kitara Diocese, Church of Uganda, is upcountry rural, and people here are mostly expected to fend for themselves. So, someone who say runs a clothing, stationary, or sewing supplies store here or pretty much anything other than food stores, pharmacies, agricultural supplies and designated essential services has had to suddenly close their stores. People working in hotels, bars, clothing stores, and so forth have lost their jobs. Public taxi drivers (which function like busses in the US) and private taxi drivers have no work.  Further, while some people might have relatives in a farming village who would feed them, travel is virtually impossible for most people due to our health laws.   Even if they are willing to walk for days, a night curfew forbids this, too. 

As a result, many people are scrambling looking for food. The other day, I had an elderly woman at my house who couldn’t do her regular work. Her food pantry consisted of only one 2-pound bag of cornmeal. There are lots of people in such situations–trying to stretch what little food they have or going hungry. Many families here have a number of children to feed also. No one should have to face choosing between risking jail or getting shot for breaking the laws versus having their family starve. Family food stores have been used up. Many people have little to no food—surviving on handfuls of maize meal only, eating one meal a day, or even sleeping hungry. Food relief, basic survival food like maize, is needed. People here need help to live through the crunch of this pandemic, and later will need food to help them work back towards a normal life.

Through my SAMS Special Project and a grant from SAMS World Relief Fund, the Masindi-Kitara Diocese is receiving direct funding, in addition to what they have raised and are continuing to raise locally, to provide food. The diocese is purchasing basic foodstuffs, primarily maize meal, which is being distributed to the needy with the cooperation of the Ugandan Government COVID-19 Taskforce in the three government districts covered by the Diocese. The bags for the maize meal are marked as coming from the church so the community can see how the church is active in helping mitigate the hunger problem. The Diocese is eager to continue with helping to provide food relief should additional funds become available. Additionally, after the immediate emergency food relief is done, in order to assist children in educational institutions the diocese would like to provide food to church-related educational institutions for when they resume schooling. It is very clear that with the economic hardship many parents will be unable to provide lunches for their school-children. This has historically been a challenge and food aid will assist the children who are a significant part of the vulnerable population here.

A basic Biblical principle is that Christians are to care for other Christians in need and also for other people, especially the very vulnerable (James 1:27.) This is not limited to teaching or praying, though those be important, but also extends to the physical needs. (James 2:16) Indeed, real love is a hallmark of following Jesus and a key to evangelism. There is an old saying, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Every bag of maize delivered, labeled as being from the church, is showing in deed the love of Christ.  The love of Christ draws people to the Father. When the Church shows love in practical, tangible ways meeting severe immediate needs this makes Christ’s love known, leading to more people knowing God.

 

An offering of maize in church, during better times.