Leisa occasionally returns to the U.S. and is available to visit congregations. Email her to extend an invitation to speak with your congregation or organization.
About Leisa Wagstaff’s ministry
The Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) has requested an education facilitator to work in primary and secondary schools in Jonglei and Upper Nile States. These two states are among the most underserved areas of South Sudan in terms of government support, provision of educational and health services, and police protection. Leisa Wagstaff, who has been called to this position beginning in July 2013, will be working with some of the most vulnerable communities in Jonglei and Upper Nile. She will help the PCOSS’s school system establish a teacher-training program and develop logistical and curriculum plans.
“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 of working and living in Africa as I serve alongside the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan,” Leisa says. “With the majority of the adult population in South Sudan having had no education due to the unrest, 70 percent of the 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 students, 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.”
In early 2011 the people in southern Sudan voted to separate from the Khartoum-based government 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 (mainly black Africans) and government forces from the North (mainly Arabs). Most people in the South are Christians or adherents of traditional African religions, while most in the North are Muslim. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been involved in Sudan and the region now known as South Sudan for more than a century and has longstanding relationships with the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church and the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS). The years of civil war left South Sudan’s infrastructure in ruins, but the region is home to abundant natural resources and many faithful Christians. The PC(USA) is working with South Sudanese partners to help the country maximize the promise of independence and improve the plight of the people. South Sudan is among the world’s most impoverished nations.
The two states where Leisa will work, Jonglei and Upper Nile, have many pastoral communities that are always on the move with their animals in search of pasture and water in the dry seasons. After South Sudan won its independence in 2011, a large number of people have come back to these states from Internally Displaced Persons camps and refugee camps in neighboring countries.
About Leisa Wagstaff
In her new role Leisa will be working in a place that was instrumental in her call to mission. She made her first visit to what was then Sudan as a college student enrolled in a work-study-travel program. Like most college students, she was drawn to overseas study for the adventure of travel and to encounter new cultures while earning academic credit.
“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,” Leisa says.
In Cameroon, where Leisa has served since 2004, she teaches at the Presbyterian Teacher Training College (PTTC) and a secondary school related to that institution. PTTC trains students for teaching roles in the 300 primary and secondary schools related to the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, other church-related schools and government schools.
Leisa has also served in education-related mission assignments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe.
While thousands of miles separate Leisa from the Presbyterians in the United States who support her ministry, Leisa tells Presbyterian audiences back home that they are never far from her mind. She says, “I serve as your representative, your mission co-worker, and the embodiment of your desire to share the good news of Jesus Christ in every corner of the earth.”
Leisa holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta and a master’s degree from another Atlanta institution, Interdenominational Theological Seminary. She received a second master’s degree from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia.
Leisa – March 8
Burkley-Brooks ’Mabotle – February 8