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Bridge Building Together

A Letter from Jim McGill, serving in Niger and South Sudan

Fall 2021

Write to Jim McGill

Individuals: Give online to E200385 for Jim McGill’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D506718 for Jim McGill’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)


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Dear friends and family,

I have been reminded recently of the long evolution in communication over the years of overseas living – from when ships took letters across the ocean, and one had to wait for the ships to bring responses back, on to trans-continental cables that allowed access to telegrams and telephones in some of the larger cities to then airmail and aerogrammes that just took a couple of weeks to get a letter across the ocean. Today, my family has an internet-based family chat, such that I can converse almost anywhere and anytime at very little cost. Since returning to Niger this year, I have participated in a virtual tour of daughter Salome’s dorm in Greece simultaneously with Jodi and the other children at Mission Haven in Georgia (USA). And as always, as the world changes, so too does our work, our outlook, and who we are as we live amongst all of the changes.

As most of you have experienced, a spin-off of the pandemic has been a significant increase in virtual participation in many different forums. Professionally, as a mission co-worker, this now means that we attend staff meetings with our colleagues from around the world and attend trainings for Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) employees. We can worship together with almost every congregation within the U.S. I am now invited to participate directly within a PC(USA) group examining the Matthew 25 vision in addressing issues of poverty, sharing our partner church’s experiences in addressing poverty in Niger. Professionally as someone working in Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), it means that our team can attend and even participate (internet allowing) in weekly meetings of supporting organizations, and also attend and present at various annual fora taking place all over the world that previously could only be experienced by being present in person.

All of these opportunities to participate in life in real-time around the world make for often interesting days. In the past, we normally had a day or two sitting on an airplane making the transition from one culture to another, and when it was done frequently enough, it became quite easy to make the transition to “this is the way it is here.” However, with communications today, I am finding myself one minute in conversations with our Nigerien Church colleagues regarding villages that have never used latrines and have no desire to use latrines, to literally the next minute being on a Zoom conversation with PC(USA) colleagues discussing the adaptations needed to change existing toilet facilities to be gender-neutral to fulfill the Church’s very important goal of being all-inclusive. While at times, these real-time differences can be a bit confusing, at other times, we find that the differences can present opportunities for bridge-building.

Since our last letter, a young man named Amos Mohammadou has joined the Simple, Market based, Affordable, and Repairable Technologies (SMART) Centre. He is currently attending the “Serving in Missions” (SIM) Bible College. He has plans to marry, get his Master’s in Divinity degree, and spend an intern year under the tutorage of a pastor in Tunisia. Amos’s father was a welding workshop owner, so Amos has been fabricating metalwork all his life and is himself a skilled metalworks artisan. Most importantly, he has the heart and spirit that is needed to help a team thrive. As I try, not-so-subtly, to let him know that he can minister more effectively and to many more persons through his fabrication talents, so far, his heart is set on ministry through the Word. Amos has friends with similar fabricating skills who he will introduce to the Centre, so we see bright opportunities ahead.

Schools opened on October 4, which means that our Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) training work has begun again. Madame Jamima Mamane is re-joining the team to work directly with the students in our EERN Church School at Banifandou, here in Niamey. Madame Jamima and our Chef de Projects, Madame Saratou Djadi, will be strengthening MHH partnerships with UNICEF, UN Femmes (UN Women), and WaterAid, all of whom are very involved in MHH work here in Niger. What is learned through the MHH work here in Niamey will be shared with two other EERN schools west of Niamey in Dogondoutchi and Tibiri (Maradi Region).

A partnership between EERN WASH and the Pan-African Sanitation Association (PASA) has begun to gain strength. The Niger Sanitation Association, a member of PASA, has active membership among owners of vacuum-truck evacuators, but they have not been able to connect to the many manual emptiers that exist in the region. EERN WASH works with these emptiers, introducing options to improve how they can perform their jobs. PASA has agreed to help the Niger Sanitation Association increase the number of waste treatment facilities that are badly needed, as 65% of all septic waste within Niamey goes untreated. We are working to bring attention to the very important role of the manual emptiers to better improve health within the City of Niamey.

I am planning to be home with the family at Christmas and then return to continue working with the EERN WASH programme. We very much appreciate all of your continued prayers and support.


Please read the following letter from Sara P. Lisherness, the interim director of World Mission:

Dear partners in God’s mission,

I don’t know about you, but daily my heart grows heavier. News about the pandemic, wars, wildfires, gun violence, racism, earthquakes and hurricanes cloud my vision. It’s hard to see hope; our world is in a fog. Yet we trust that God’s light and love transcend the brokenness of this time.

God is at work transforming the world, and you, through your prayers, partnership and encouragement, are helping us share this good news. Thank you for your faithful and gracious support of our mission personnel.

How can we see through the fog? What will the church be after the pandemic? Could it be that God is doing “a new thing” and is inviting us to perceive it?  Through all the uncertainty we know that God’s steadfast love and care for all creation will prevail and that God’s Spirit is at work in each of us.

We all have an integral part to play in fulfilling God’s mission. As we seek to grow together in faithfulness there are three important steps I invite you to take in supporting our shared commitments to God’s mission:

Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel. Your support helps mission personnel accompany global partners as together they share the light of God’s love and justice around the world. Invite your session to include support for mission personnel in its annual budget planning.

Act – Visit The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study to delve deeper into the work God is doing through the PC(USA) and its partners in ministry around the globe:

Pray – Include our mission personnel, our global partners, and our common commitments to share God’s grace, love, mercy and justice in your daily prayers.

Thank you for your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church. It is my prayer that you will continue to support this work with your prayers, partnership, and financial gifts in the coming year. We hope you will join us and our partners in shining a beacon of hope throughout the world.

In the light of hope,



Sara P. Lisherness, Interim Director
World Mission
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

To give please visit

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

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