A letter from Nancy Collins, regional liaison for East Africa
Dear Family and Friends,
On their fourth try, PC(USA) World Mission staff managed to figure out a seating arrangement in The Grail conference room that accommodated all 84 attendees. Although the room was “bursting at the seams,” the only sound first thing each morning was the voice of Rev. Ken White, telling a story about “Walking with Jesus.” Eyes, minds and hearts of the 84 participants to the 2013 Mission Co-worker Gathering outside Cape Town, South Africa, were focused on Ken, a master storyteller and our daily leader in Spiritual Reflection. Daily worship and spiritual reflection were one of the highlights of the Gathering, which was an opportunity for training, team building, and renewal and reflection around personal and professional issues. Participants included 43 PC(USA) mission co-workers from sub-Saharan Africa, their 22 children, 5 Young Adult Volunteers from the Kenya YAV site, 9 PC(USA) World Mission staff, plus Ken and the fabulous team of 4 from Pittsburgh Presbytery responsible for the children’s program. April 2-9 was a phenomenal week of praying, updating, discussing, questioning, clarifying, meeting, sharing, laughing, crying, bonding, learning. And great eating!!
The mission co-workers at the Gathering had the pleasure of meeting new World Mission staff. These included General Manager Greg Allen-Pickett and interpretation assignment “coach” Michelle Lori, also a fantastic storyteller.
The newest PC(USA) colleagues were Shannon Beck, Haemin Lee and Frank Dimmock, newly appointed with World Mission as “catalysts.” Their job is to invite PC(USA) individuals, congregations and presbyteries to mobilize their international mission around three broad campaigns for “collective impact.” The three campaigns are designed to (1) address root causes of poverty through education, (2) empower pastoral candidates through theological education coupled with skills training, and (3) promote reconciliation in societies by focusing on issues of violence against women.
It was so exciting to have the opportunity to meet the three catalysts at the Africa Mission Co-worker Gathering and to dialogue with them to better understand their work. I am thrilled by this World Mission strategic direction, and I am eager to continue to learn more details. I am very happy I will have the opportunity to do just that this summer in Louisville.
This event reminded me how closely all of us work together in responding to God’s call: individuals and local churches that direct their gifts to Presbyterian World Mission and pray daily for our mission workers, churches and presbyteries that take mission trips and participate in mission networks, skilled mission professionals in Louisville who support us as we work in the field, our partner churches and institutions throughout the world. What a joy and privilege as mission workers to form part of this faithful family. Thank you for your gifts and prayers!
During my time in the U.S.A. this summer I will attend Rwanda and Zambia (ZZM) Mission Network meetings immediately followed by the Mission Co-workers Sharing Conference and the PC(USA)’s Big Tent event, all in Louisville, Ky. If you are involved in mission in Rwanda or Zambia—or thinking about becoming involved—the network meetings will be a wonderful opportunity to learn about the work of PC(USA) individuals, congregations and presbyteries in those countries.
Big Tent includes, among many programs, the World Mission Partner Conference and Pre-Conference. The Partner Conference is titled “The Power of ‘We’: Collective Impact in God’s Mission.” I am looking forward to reconnecting there with Shannon, Haemin and Frank to learn more about their vision of best ways of working strategically and with greater impact in international mission. I am also really looking forward to hearing the Pre-Conference keynote speaker Dr. Robert Lupton, author of Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It).
It would be wonderful to see you in Louisville. If you wish to join me at Big Tent or at any of the associated programs/meetings, check out the following link: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/world-mission/world-mission-big-tent/.
I promise you’ll leave Big Tent energized and informed, and ready to bring World Mission home to your congregation!
On the home front, Charles completed his sophomore year in Mizzou’s Engineering Department, where he did great in his media course and continued to struggle with computer programming. As a result, he has decided to transfer to Oklahoma State University, where he can receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Media and Strategic Communication. He will be able to continue with digital media design without the hard core programming requirements. I believe it will be a better fit for him.
Since the first of June I have welcomed a steady stream of visitors to Zambia. The first was Rev. Christine Foster, pastor of my “home” church in Providence, R.I., who came to learn firsthand about CCAP Zambia’s Chasefu Theological College and Farm. She was able to meet the theology students and CTC faculty and watched workers in the process of molding 100,000 bricks for the new classroom building. Chris was followed by a group from Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas; and now I am hosting Dr. Machelle Bielke and colleague, who are conducting training for teachers of CCAP Zambia Community Schools. Just before I leave for the U.S.A. I am looking forward to welcoming Rev. Dr. Bill Warlick, known to many of you. It has been a busy winter here south of the equator.
Wishing you all the grace and peace and joy of Jesus Christ.
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 115
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