Ministry Description: Jim works with the EERN and PCOSS to ensure sustainability for clean water and sanitation at the community level and to ensure the church is a strong presence in the rural development of Niger and South Sudan and an effective advocate for the health of its people. Jodi joins EERN in its efforts to create and staff church-run health clinics and to train students in its new nursing school. She will also be working in the EERN clinic on a regular basis.
Country Context: Niger is often called the gateway between North Africa and Sub Saharan Africa. It is one of the continent’s most economically impoverished countries and is at the bottom of the UN’s human development index. Fewer than 50 percent of children are enrolled in school, and its annual per capita gross domestic product is only about $800. Farming is limited by frequent droughts, and the country’s vast desert regions are growing because arable land is falling victim to droughts, excessive cultivation, overgrazing, and deforestation. While 95 percent of Nigeriens are Muslim, the government is secular and there is openness to the gospel. Most non-Muslims in Niger are Christian or adherents of traditional religions. The Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger is the largest Protestant church in the country and is a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. In recent decades, the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began working as partners in mission.
In early 2011 the people of South Sudan voted to separate from the rest of Sudan and form an independent country. The referendum was part of a 2005 peace accord that ended decades of civil war between rebels in the South and government forces from the North. However, just two years later the country was engulfed by fighting when president Salva Kiir accused vice-president Riek Machar of attempting a failed coup. Government and rebels agreed to attend peace talks in Ethiopia in 2014, and a deal was finally signed under threat of UN sanctions against both sides in August 2015. An ongoing and increasingly brutal new wave of violence broke out in July of 2016 and has caused widespread famine. The conflict has displaced more than three million people.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been involved in Sudan for more than a century and has longstanding relationships with two partner churches in South Sudan: The Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) and the South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (SSPEC) as well as Nile Theological College, RECONCILE, Across, and the South Sudan Council of Churches. These years of civil war and conflict have left South Sudan’s infrastructure in ruins and its people traumatized but the region is home to abundant natural resources and many faithful people. The PC(USA) is working with its church and ecumenical partners to help South Sudan maximize the promise of independence and improve the plight of the people.
Jim and Jodi McGill Profile: Jim and Jodi McGill have been under appointment as mission co-workers since 1995 working with the Church of Central Africa in Malawi in the areas of water/sanitation and health.
Jodi holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Arizona and a bachelor of science in chemistry and microbiology from Northern Arizona University. She also holds an MS in nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner and a master’s of public health from Emory University. She has served as a nurse both in the Atlanta, Georgia area and in Africa.
Jim, a member of Columbia Presbyterian Church, Decatur, Ga., Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, received his BS in physics from Wake Forest University before finishing his MS in geological engineering at the University of Arizona. Prior to his service as a mission co-worker, Jim spent many years in Africa doing geophysical research for the Geology Department of Duke University and as the child of Presbyterian missionaries to Congo. The McGill’s are the parents of six children, twins Jason and Michael, Salome, Selina, and twins Joseph and John.
Mission Service Start Date: January 1, 1995