A letter from Andres and Gloria Garcia in Equatorial Guinea
March 31, 2009
Dear Friends and Family in Christ,
Greetings to you once again in the precious name of the everlasting God, to whom we lift our prayers every day that His loving grace be upon all of you and your loved ones. This newsletter goes out to you from Charlottesville, Virginia, where Gloria and I have been staying for the last two months so that I could get some required medical treatment.
We didn’t imagine that my health problem was truly deadly, but according to the lab tests and diagnosis, I was infected by a parasite carried by a deer fly last October while we were at home in Equatorial Guinea. The disease is called “Loa loa filariasis” and is popularly known as “African eye worm.” The doctor told me if I didn’t get medical treatment right away I could die. Now that the treatment is complete and I am fully recovered, we are on our way back to Africa.
The circumstances of my health and recovery have moved us to reflect on how our lives in mission service are so fragile, particularly when facing the risky frontier of the unknown paths of God. There exists the possibility of achieving either something transcendent or of being unworthy sacrifices. This occurs when the existence of those who serve Christ ends in a forgotten place on earth. Our reflections made us feel in vivid terms the silent cry of those mission pioneers whose graves are abandoned today deep in the jungle of Bolondo. The cemetery that holds their remains is in San Benito, the first Presbyterian mission station in the belly of West Central Africa. The fruit of the labor of those faithful servants in Christ currently amounts to 21 Presbyterian congregations scattered throughout the Equatoguinean lands. One-hundred and sixty years after their arrival, Gloria and I feel honored to follow in the footsteps of those early missionaries here. It is our fervent wish to help church leadership enhance the legacy of our Reformed faith, passing it on to the new generation of Presbyterians.
The Presbyterian Church in Equatorial Guinea has the potential to become a great partner in mission. It has everything it needs to become a church full of vitality, a dynamic place for the worship of God and an institution meaningfully involved in ministering to the people of Equatorial Guinea.
Nevertheless, there are still challenging obstacles to overcome. By my count, there are three crucial factors that Presbyterianism here must establish in order to become a national and self-supporting church.
First, they need an institution based on democratic principles and constitutional law. This can help them move from a state of underdevelopment to a more open, inclusive and less fearful church, tearing down the barrier of tribal ethnocentrism.
Second, they must build bridges to connect with the outside world. As it is, they are blindfolded by the isolation imposed by domestic totalitarian political powers.
Finally, they need a commitment to create a partnership that recovers the spirit of mission done by the pioneer mission workers, which is an endangered spiritual legacy, practically wiped out by pseudo- and non-Christian religions.
We know that in every corner of our Presbyterian family there are many who believe in Jesus Christ’s mandate to witness His name at home and abroad. For this reason, Gloria and I want to share once again the gospel of Jesus Christ in Equatorial Guinea, where the church itself needs to be re-evangelized. On our way to Africa, we lift our prayers to the one Lord of this mission — that He may grant us courage, wisdom and the readiness to strive for the most supreme goals of the mission work of Jesus Christ on earth.
Yours in Christ
Andres and Gloria
The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 31