A Letter from Dan and Elizabeth Turk, serving in Madagascar
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Elizabeth and I are excited about the prospect of returning to Madagascar in November.
Fortunately, Madagascar has not experienced a major wave of COVID infections from the Delta variant. Daily new infections remain quite low, despite Madagascar being in the bottom 10 of countries in terms of percentage of people who have been vaccinated against COVID. Life in Madagascar has returned to some semblance of pre-COVID normality with two major exceptions. The economy remains quite depressed meaning that poverty and hunger are daily realities for people all across the country, especially in the south. In an effort to keep out the Delta variant, Madagascar has been closed to people coming in from outside for many months but has now reopened its borders.
Thank you very much to all who prayed for the FJKM General Assembly (Synoda Lehibe) of PC(USA)’s partner denomination in Madagascar, the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), which was held in August. FJKM President Irako Andriamahazosoa Ammi was re-elected for another four-year mandate. In mid-October, FJKM leaders met and elected a new General Secretary, Pastor Jaona Rakotonindrainy who was previously head of the work of the church.
Two decisions from the Synoda Lehibe will directly impact the paths of our work. The Synoda Lehibe voted to expand the mandate of the FJKM HIV/AIDS committee (KPMS) to include other epidemic diseases such as COVID. Plans for carrying out this new mandate will be developed at the KPMS yearly meeting in December. The Synoda Lehibe voted to extend the work of the Fruits, Vegetables, and Environmental Education Program (FVEE) to all of FJKM’s synods in Madagascar. This is a vote of confidence in the FVEE’s work to promote growing fruits and vegetables as a means to help reduce poverty and malnutrition. Also, the FJKM decided that all its churches should become “Green Churches,” which will include beautifying the churches by growing trees, shrubs and flowers. The FVEE has already been asked to provide fruit trees and native trees for these efforts.
At the Synoda Lehibe, my colleague Rolland Razafiarison manned a stand to help people learn more about the activities of the FVEE. He brought fruit trees and native trees that got planted at the church where the Synoda Lehibe was held and the FJKM school at Antalaha. See update, “Synoda Lehibe in Sambava,” on our Mission Connections profile page.
After the Synoda Lehibe, Rolland met up with our colleague Germain Andrianaivoson. The two went to Antsiranana in the far north to conduct a fruit tree training for representatives of six churches in response to a request from the Synod President. They also gave recommendations for the use of land an FJKM church has near Antsiranana where it wants to install a fruit nursery. The FVEE will provide training for a nursery worker as well as most of the mother trees that will supply the nursery with propagation materials. See update, “Starting New Collaboration in the Far North.”
After Antsiranana, the next stop was Mandritsara where the FJKM has a seminary and the FVEE has been helping to install a fruit nursery. Rolland and Germain did a training for pastors and volunteer technicians for seven churches in the Mandritsara area. The nursery is progressing well under the leadership of Jeremia Ratsirahonana; Rolland and Germain set in place plans for planting mother trees in the nursery and to construct the shade structures needed to complete the nursery’s infrastructure. See update, “Training and Nursery Progress at Mandritsara.”
On September 24, the FVEE was invited to speak at a meeting of the Evangelism Department in Manakara. There Rolland met Pastor Tafita Razafindranaivo, an evangelist pastor from Angarazy near Morombe in western Madagascar. Applying the training he got from the FVEE as a seminary student, Pastor Tafita has grafted 1,500 citrus trees using the seven citrus trees he got from the FVEE as sources of scions. He now has 700 trees that are producing fruits. See update, “Seeds in Good Soil: Training Pastors in Holistic Ministry.”
Rolland, Pastor Tafita and many other evangelist pastors from that meeting then went to the fruit center where 28 pastors and 24 volunteer technicians got trained in how to grow and propagate fruit trees from September 28-30. Most of those who got trained are from southern and western Madagascar, where mangos produce well. Each participant took home six fruit trees including three grafted mango trees. The FVEE will be doing follow-up to help some of the evangelist posts set up fruit nurseries. This is part of the FVEE’s efforts to extend work into southern Madagascar where drought and climate change have resulted in severe malnutrition for thousands of people.
We would appreciate your prayers for our safe return to Madagascar. We are grateful that we and our daughter Frances were able to attend our son Robert’s graduation from graduate school (MS in Counseling and Art Therapy from Adler University). Please pray for the new leaders of the FJKM as they lead the FJKM in the next four years to be salt and light for the nation.
We are very grateful for all who support us as mission co-workers through prayer and financial support.
Peace in Christ,
Dan and Elizabeth
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: pcusa.org/missionyearbook.
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
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
To give please visit https://bit.ly/PCUSAmission
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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