A letter from Nancy Collins in Zambia
Dear Family and friends,
Christian greetings to you all in this season of Pentecost. May the power of the Holy Spirit work richly and deeply in your lives.
In my last year’s annual review, I listed monthly newsletters as one of my goals. Since I wrote my last newsletter in February, clearly I will not achieve that goal! The extensive traveling my position requires in Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia and Malawi as well as the United States has really challenged my ability to handle routine ongoing tasks. I will keep trying!!
Earlier in the year I made an extended visit to Kenya. As those of you partnered there know, Kenya is a study in contrasts.
The Presbyterian University of East Africa, operating under a letter of interim authority, currently offers degrees in theology, computer science, and business. The University is in the midst of a major building and expansion campaign designed to complete and furnish the infrastructure necessary to obtain a full university charter. Plans call for that charter to be obtained during Summer 2011. With the charter fully established, the University will bring under its umbrella various colleges of the Church including the Polytechnic Institute and Regati Teachers College.
A strategic priority for the University is the new School of Health Sciences. The Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) moderator, the Right Rev. David Gathanju, escorted me on a tour of the Anatomy Block currently under construction. This impressive facility, begun a year ago, will contain classes and laboratories equipped with the most advanced medical technology. It will become the center of the new medical program, which the University targets for Fall 2011. This immense technically advanced multimillion dollar construction project is representative of one face of Kenya—that of development, progress and capacity.
In the following days I saw the “flip side of the coin”—Kenya’s poverty, gender inequity, and marginalization—persons struggling to care for families and eke out an existence. Using creativity, determination, and perseverance, folks in the PCEA Kibera parish, Bahati Community Center, and the PCEA Women’s Guild work with poor people to address these issues.
In Kibera parish, known to some as a "slum," home to an estimated 300,000 residents, I walked with Rev. Mukundi Cheche, pastor of Kibera parish, from his PCEA Emmanuel Church through several miles of densely packed shacks and kiosks to his Silanga Church. In his two congregations Cheche struggles to address the needs of congregation members and residents living precariously in an informal community without government-provided schools, clinics, water connections or sewage facilities.
The next day at Bahati Community Center of the PCEA Bahati Martyrs Church, program director Jane Gitubia introduced me to programs providing care and nurture to street boys and income-generation for local widows.
A few days later I traveled with Mrs. Veronica Muchiri, national coordinator of the PCEA Women’s Guild, to see some of their programs for marginalized groups—Tumaini Children’s Home for HIV-positive children, Thogoto Home for the Aged in Kikuyu, Renguti Presbytery Children’s Center, and a home for children with physical disability. Next to the home for children with physical disability I saw the school that enables these children to receive an education, something that would not be possible if they lived in their isolated rural homes.
PC(USA) constituencies have made major contributions to the PCEA’s University as well as to Bahati Community Center, Tumaini Children’s Home, Thogoto Home, Renguti Children’s Center, and the home for children with disability. Hats off to PC(USA) congregations and individuals who partner with these PCEA entities. Many thanks also to those congregations and individuals who sponsor PCEA projects.
For those of you looking for partnership ideas, PC(USA)World Mission has identified three critical global issues (CGIs) as its focus for world mission moving forward. The CGIs are (1) sharing the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ, (2) addressing root causes of poverty, especially related to women and children, and (3) engaging in reconciliation amidst culture of violence. Please reflect on these CGIs as you pray and study to hear how God is calling you into international partnership.
Son Charles is now officially a high school graduate! The month I spent with him in May was packed with activities related to my brother’s family and to Charles' graduation and his university registration. Beginning in August 2011, Charles will pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Praise God for the providence showered on us so the cost of his education is not a worry.
I will return to the United States on September 20 for three months of interpretation assignment. From September 23 to October 12, I will participate in World Mission’s “Mission Connection Live!” speaking program. From October 18 to 23, I will speak in the Presbytery of St. Augustine in Florida. After I return to Louisville, my plan is to drive through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut, ending in Rhode Island in mid-November. If you have requested that I speak to your congregation I will be in touch soon about scheduling. I will be returning to the United States to speak for another three months in the fall of 2012.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers, your encouragement and your support. They are essential to my job. I am very grateful. And contributions to my regional liaison travel account (ECO E051735) or to my ministry account (E200471) are always welcome. The cost of travel just keeps increasing.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Your partner in Christ,