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Jan will next be in the USA mid-September 2014 through mid-March 2015. Email her or the Mission Connections office (Rachel.Anderson@pcusa.org) to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Jan Heckler’s ministry
The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) has 3.5 million members with congregations throughout the country. The FJKM was founded in 1968 through the union of three churches which arose out of the work of the London Missionary Society, the Paris Missionary Society and the Friends Foreign Mission Association. It is heavily involved in health and rural development ministries, evangelism, environmental concerns, HIV/AIDS prevention, Christian education and leadership development. The church has invited Jan Heckler to help its wide-ranging ministries be even more effective. She will assist with planning, goal setting, assessment and resource allocation.
Download a prayer card that lifts up Jan's work in Madagascar
Listen to a 'dialogue' with Jan's sending church Pastor at North Decatur Presbyterian Church
Madagascar remains one of the world’s poorest countries. Eighty-five percent of its population live on less than $2 per day. Located in the Indian Ocean 250 miles off the eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and is home to many unique species of mammals, birds and plants. The Malagasy are thought to be the descendants of Africans and Indonesians who settled on the island more than 2,000 years ago. In January 2009 the country’s president resigned amid political unrest that turned into violence. Andry Rajoelina assumed power with the military’s backing. Just over 40 percent of Malagasies are Christian, 50 percent adhere to traditional beliefs, and 7 percent are Muslim.
About Jan Heckler
While teaching adult Sunday school in 1999, Jan realized that Christ’s command to love our neighbors is not restricted by geography. “It was during this time that I was called to his service to work on behalf of people in developing countries, primarily in Africa,” she says.
Seeking to be faithful to her calling, Jan developed a small non-governmental organization and donated her time as executive director. In this role, she sought to improve basic education and literacy throughout the developing world.
Jan made seven trips to Africa that lasted an average of 10 months each. She served as a teacher educator in Ethiopia, Namibia and Malawi. She also was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zimbabwe.
“I realized that much of my training and education was needed overseas and that these things could be shared with others,” says Jan, who has done graduate work in both psychology and computer science. “The mandate of my service in this form only grew greater as I continued to discover the great value of these things to individuals living in developing countries and also of my growing passion to help fueled by empathetically experiencing these peoples’ suffering and discovering their many unmet needs.”
Since Jan’s faith pointed her toward Africa, she has long wanted to serve through the church. “To serve through the church is one of the greatest honors I can imagine,” she says. “It is an opportunity of immense personal and spiritual importance to me.”
During her short term visits to Africa, Jan developed some close relationships with many people on the continent and holds a deep admiration for the tenacity and faithfulness of Africans. “They have touched my soul in a most profound and continuing way, and I know the Lord has made this happen,” she says. “I will never forget their resolve and their love of the Lord, and I will never stop trying to help.”
Yet she realizes her assignment in Madagascar is not a rescue effort, but a ministry built on mutuality. “This partnership can only be successful when they guide the nature of the delivery of the help received,” she says. “This to me is a hallmark characteristic of sustainability. When it works for them, their friendship and their success become part of the many gifts reciprocated.”
In addition to her international service, Jan has several years of experience working in education, public health, mental health and social service positions in Georgia and Florida. Jan earned both her undergraduate and master’s degrees in psychology from the University of Florida, and she also completed all requirements for a doctorate in psychology except the dissertation. She studied computer science at Florida State University.
Since 1983, Jan has lived in the Atlanta metro area. She is a member of North Decatur Presbyterian Church.
Birthday: June 12
Jan, You are one of God's blessings on this earth! May you continue to know the blessings that are yours as well. We think of you often at NDPC and keep you in our prayers.
How is that dissertation coming? Just a little levity in the direction of my old friend. In your spare time, you can write about your use of evidence based techniques in Africa and submit it belatedly.