A letter from Leisa Wagstaff on home assignment from Cameroon
Dear Partners in Mission,
It seems that lately I have shed many tears—due to the sadness of leaving my community in Cameroon for Interpretation Assignment (IA), the joy of being welcomed by Stateside family and friends, and the affirmation of U.S. Presbyterians’ interest in and commitment to global missions as I speak during worship services, Bible studies, midweek family gatherings, session meetings, university prayer get-togethers, after-church picnics, and Sunday schools. I am truly honored to be able to feel at home and a part of so many different communities. I continue to experience and be uplifted by our connectedness. Truly we are all God’s children. Thank you again and again for doing all that you can to be in covenant relationship with others.
More tears will come at the end of my IA period in late January. There will be the sadness at leaving family, especially the ailing elders with whom I have had the privilege since July to reciprocate their tender care bestowed upon me as a child. Tears will flow as I reunite with a people I have come to know, love, respect and depend upon. And the gratitude and assurance that the PC(USA) is ever faithfully listening for and responding to God’s call always makes me teary-eyed.
Ever since my term of service began with the Presbyterian Teacher Training College (PTTC)/Presbyterian Secondary School (PSS) Mbengwi and extended to the Presbyterian Primary and Nursery School (PNS) Mbengwi (educational institutions of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC)), I always felt that this was where I was supposed to be—that it was destined by God as the space that needed me and, more important, I needed in order to continue my spiritual and personal maturity and to make the most profound contribution to the building of God’s Kingdom. So many of you have supported me in our ministry there and have built bridges that connect people in small corners of the world with each other. I have tried to be the best representation of what it means to be a Presbyterian Christian and have tried to convey to you how Cameroonian Christians live out their faith.
Thirty-five years ago I had my first encounter with the continent of Africa. Although I had always loved learning about the cultures of others, this work-study-travel program was more or less an opportunity to explore my independence, gain a few college credits, and take another plane ride. Touching down in the Sudan, however, was the beginning of much more: a lifelong commitment to global mission that has taken me to wonderfully diverse communities where the churches are growing at an astonishing rate and the Christians are sustaining their faith in the midst of innumerable socio-economic, political and climatic challenges and, often, religious persecution.
The Sudan is one such place where the church has had to stand steadfast. During the first civil war period, more than half of southern Sudan churches were destroyed within a few months. In fact, its southernmost citizens, living under the conditions of civil war and inter-ethnic conflict for most of the past 56 years, have had to just exist, a poor substitute for living.
With the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 to end the country’s long civil war and the 2011 referendum by South Sudan to secede from the north, an opening for stability has returned. The PC(USA) has stood with these people, as they have with many more, for over a century. And now, after much prayer and thought on behalf of the church, I have been given the opportunity to help further proclaim the good news to all creation and use all of my educational training and experiences in working and living in Africa with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS). With the majority of the adult population having had no education due to the unrest, 70 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 never having set foot inside a classroom, only 12 percent of the teaching corps trained, and the dropout rate for girl children who are two-thirds fewer than male pupils being the highest in the world (UNICEF and Save the Children statistics), there is much to be concerned with.
At the end of January I will return to Cameroon to finish up the school year at PTTC/PSS Mbengwi and PNS Mbengwi and bid farewell. It will be hard to leave this place I have called “home” for the past eight years, for they are a part of me and I of them. More tears … many more.
Continue to pray with and support the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon and join me in this ministry—another of OUR ministries—in South Sudan.
God’s richest blessings.
In Service Together,
Leisa TonieAnn Wagstaff
c/o P.O. Box 85
Leasburg, North Carolina 27291
firstname.lastname@example.org (or use the link below)
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 88