A Letter from Sharon Kandel, regional liaison for the Horn of Africa, based in South Sudan
Write to Sharon Kandel
Individuals: Give to E132192 in honor of Sharon Kandel’s ministry
Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of Sharon Kandel’s ministry
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)
I have been thinking a lot about family. What does family mean and how do we act in a family?
I have been blessed with being near my children and grandchildren for the past almost three years. Before that, I was living a long way away from them, at least physically. Things like Zoom have made staying in touch with family around the world so much easier. Family is about so much more than just our biological family. I live near my family, but I am blessed with being able to go and visit my other family in Africa. When I visit my family in Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan, I am called “sister,” “mother,” or “aunt.” If I were not as old as I am, I might be called “daughter” as well. I also get called “friend,” which, honestly, in many ways, is the most humbling. We can be family but that does not always make us friends.
There is just something so special in having family and friends from different places. They challenge us to think outside the box we are comfortable living in. They challenge our faith, ask the hard questions and stand beside us even when we make mistakes, especially when we make mistakes.
How then do I stand beside this family when they are having difficulties? I don’t mean just political difficulties or things like floods, hunger and war but rather when the family is disagreeing on theological lines or just not getting along with each other for any number of reasons. I don’t have a biological sister, but I do have women I have considered to be my sisters through the years. Do we disagree about things? You bet we do. Are we jealous of each other? Well, I know I have been. So how do we handle that kind of difficulty especially if we are having those things across cultural lines? The first thing we need to do is stop and pray. Pray together. Pray often. Ask others to pray. Then listen. I know I talked about listening in my last letter, but listening is so important. Listen to each other. Listen to hear and understand. Give time to hear about the cultural differences and then spend time in the Bible to see what God has to say about these things.
The hardest part is putting our pride to the side and being willing to learn. We may not always agree with each other, but can we still sit and learn together? If we can do this, I truly believe God will guide us all to a newer understanding of each other.
I have been challenged by my family in Africa to really look at why I am doing what I am doing. Why am I coming to Africa? Is it to feel good about myself? To look good to others? Because it is home to me but not home to me? I have had to look deep at what I am doing. Yes, I have felt called to the work I am doing, but how is that work helping my worldwide family? That same family can challenge how PC(USA) does its work and what it believes in. We do not have to agree on everything, but we can still have a relationship with one another and through that relationship grow in our knowledge of God.
I had the privilege of hearing one of my sisters talk about the work she is doing, and I was so humbled by her heart for people. She has learned how important it is to reach beyond her biological family to create a bigger family of support for herself. In doing this, she is now that same kind of family to others around her. Often, this is how we learn from each other and are challenged to do more – hearing what others are doing can cause us to look at ourselves.
This international family that I have is something I pray others can experience. I know that for me it has caused me to think beyond my own culture and even beyond what I was taught about my faith. By reading scripture together, talking about what this means from different perspectives, and learning together what God is asking us each to do, makes the family stronger. Yes, we will disagree on things, maybe even want to just ignore each other, but families should always be willing to pray together.
Please join me in praying for our family in Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan. Pray for wisdom for the church leaders so that they can be a voice of peace and reconciliation in countries that are in varying kinds of conflict.
It is important for you to know that they are all praying for us, for PC(USA), and the United States. That’s what families do – we pray for each other.
I thank you for your prayers for me. Those prayers give me strength for all I do.
Please read the following letter from Rev. Mienda Uriarte, acting director of World Mission:
Dear Partners in God’s Mission,
What an amazing journey we’re on together! Our call to be a Matthew 25 denomination has challenged us in so many ways to lean into new ways of reaching out. As we take on the responsibilities of dismantling systemic racism, eradicating the root causes of poverty and engaging in congregational vitality, we find that the Spirit of God is indeed moving throughout World Mission. Of course, the past two years have also been hard for so many as we’ve ventured through another year of the pandemic, been confronted with racism, wars and the heart wrenching toll of natural disasters. And yet, rather than succumb to the darkness, we are called to shine the light of Christ by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.
We are so grateful that you are on this journey as well. Your commitment enables mission co-workers around the world to accompany partners and share in so many expressions of the transformative work being done in Christ’s name. Thank you for your partnership, prayers and contributions to their ministries.
We hope you will continue to support World Mission in all the ways you are able:
Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel (E132192). This unified fund supports the work of all our mission co-workers as they accompany global partners in their life-giving work. Gifts can also be made “in honor of” a specific mission co-worker – just include their name on the memo line.
Pray – Include PC(USA) mission personnel and global partners in your daily prayers. If you would like to order prayer cards as a visual reminder of those for whom you are praying, please contact Cindy Rubin (firstname.lastname@example.org; 800-728-7228, ext. 5065).
Act – Invite a mission co-worker to visit your congregation either virtually or in person. Contact email@example.com to make a request or email the mission co-worker directly. Email addresses are listed on Mission Connections profile pages. Visit pcusa.org/missionconnections to search by last name.
Thank you for your consideration! We appreciate your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Rev. Mienda Uriarte, Acting Director
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
To give, please visit https://bit.ly/22MC-YE.
For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
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