A letter from Michael Weller in Sudan
I am here in Southern Sudan working with our church partners. Many changes are facing their nation and their church communities in the coming year. It is difficult to discern what an independent Southern Sudan might look like and what it means for the Presbyterian churches here that have congregations on both sides of what could be the new border. Those in the North fear separation and isolation in a predominately Islamic region, while those in the South are eager for new possibilities and new challenges. Please keep our brothers and sisters in prayer.
Rachel continues her studies in Pittsburgh and the kids are all fine. Brian has set up home in Fayetteville, N.C., working for the Air Force, Amira continues to study at the Pittsburgh Art Institute, Thomas has only seven more months of training before he will be a certified airplane mechanic. Lydia is looking at colleges as she turns the corner in her senior year of high school. She reports that she has three acceptance letters.
I will get back to the family on Dec. 9. I will spend Christmas with them and then I hope to be selected as an official observer for the Sudan Referendum to be held on January 9. I will then travel to Addis Ababa to attend the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) partnership meeting, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mekane Yesus Theological Seminary and make preparations for a PC(USA) team that will travel to Ethiopia and Sudan. I expect that I may get back to the States in March.
From about the middle of March to the middle of August I expect to be in the United States and available for speaking engagements. I hope to be re-appointed as regional liaison for the Horn of Africa. There are still a few questions to be answered regarding Rachel’s educational goals, but there is a strong possibility that the two of us will return to Ethiopia in August 2011.
I conclude the personal part of this letter by saying thank you to the members the PC(USA) for your faithful support through the years and for the continuation of that support in the years ahead. Your prayers are an encouragement, especially during the long absence from family. In this season of thanksgiving and expectation, I thank God for those who support the mission work of the PC(USA) and our partners, for a family that understands my absences and appreciates the reasons for them, and for the incredible work that God continues to accomplish through the witness of the people of Ethiopia and Sudan.
In answer to some of your questions about extra commitment giving, I am looking ahead to 2011. There are many needs for the schools in Ethiopia and at least two critical priorities for extra giving in Sudan.
The first has to do with a talented Sudanese medical doctor who, after many years of separation from his family and community, returned to his home town of Akobo in Southern Sudan to provide medical service there. I was with him when he returned and spent Thanksgiving there in 2007. He has remained in Akobo for three years serving his community. The infant mortality rate dropped from 8 percent to 0.5 percent because of his presence. His wife and children have remained in Nairobi because there is no suitable housing for them at present. For three years we have been trying to find a solution. It would not be appropriate to build a personal home for Dr. Michael, but we hope to build a hospital residence for the doctor who fills the position. The location of the hospital is optimum for the region it serves, but building materials are not easily available here, so the cost will be high. We are getting close to beginning construction but are still very short on funding. I will get the final cost estimate in the coming weeks, but I expect we will need to raise at least another $75,000 in addition to the $30,000 we have available. This is a lot of money, but the impact on the community of having a doctor available for full-time service is significant. Funding can be sent to the ECO fund E862759 “Health Work, Presbyterian Church in Sudan,” or you can give online. To give by mail, please send your check, marked for ECO E862759, to:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.
The other opportunity for extra commitment giving is to the Nile Theological College (NTC). This institution has provided training for evangelists and pastors serving the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church of Sudan. These Presbyterian churches serve the whole of Sudan and they are now confronted with the fact that their country may soon be separated, North from South. The NTC plans to continue its important work in the North despite the many challenges represented by continuing its Arabic track in Khartoum. NTC also plans to open an English-language seminary track in the South. Both tracks are important if pastors are to receive the quality training they need to serve congregations in both the North and South of Sudan. Your gifts to this ministry will come at a critical time. Gifts can be sent to the ECO fund E862765 “Nile Theological College.” Again, you can give online or by mail. [You can always give online from the links in the “Give” box in the left column of every page. —Ed.]
Thank you for the opportunity to share these projects with you, and thank you for giving them your consideration. Also, thank you for writing! My Internet connection in Juba, Sudan is down frequently, but it is always wonderful to hear from you.
Peace and grace,
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 57