A Letter from Dan and Elizabeth Turk, serving in Madagascar
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How did you start off your New Year? We were visiting friends in Ranomafana where we lived when we first came to Madagascar. Starting the first day of the new year worshiping with our Malagasy brothers and sisters in Christ was great. Being in Ranomafana made it especially meaningful. The FJKM (Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar) is PC(USA)’s partner church. Every month, the FJKM focuses on a certain theme. The theme for January was “The Lord is the creator of the universe.” On January 1, the pastor noted the amazing things that God has created and pointed out that God expects us to care for creation and not destroy it. His sermon reflected FJKM’s holistic view of the church’s role in society.
In 2021, FJKM set out an impressive four-year plan during its General Assembly. It is based on the belief that the Gospel transforms lives and that the church should be a transformative agent in society living out Christ’s call. The FJKM sees its work to do this as “Hazakazaka Masina” or a “Holy Race.” The Holy Race involves sharing the Gospel, strengthening families, standing up for justice, promoting education, protecting the environment, working for better health and development for all, and promoting good governance. FJKM’s Holy Race resonates well with Matthew 25 as Christ calls the church to be involved in transforming all aspects of society for the better.
Already in 2023, the FJKM has carried out many aspects of its Holy Race: sharing the Gospel, promoting healthy families, promoting justice and good governance, and caring for the environment. In FJKM’s annual New Year’s worship service on January 15, FJKM leaders noted the importance of following God’s principles of justice and service to others. The church called on the government to serve the people and promote free elections. At this same event, the FJKM National AIDS and Epidemics Committee (KPMS) offered free HIV testing as well as education about COVID-19.
As part of FJKM’s Holy Race in caring for the environment, FJKM is calling on churches, synods and branches to hold reforestation events. January and February have been very busy. The Fruits, Vegetables, and Environmental Education (FVEE) Program have provided trees and technical advice for many of these entities as they do their reforestation events. On January 21, the FJKM held its national reforestation day. FVEE provided the seedlings as well as logistical and technical support. Even though it rained the whole day, President Ammi, FJKM Secretary General and Head of the Church Department attended with more than 40 other people. Over 7,500 seedlings were planted.
During the week of Valentine’s Day, FJKM carried out another part of its Holy Race. FJKM churches all over the island had “Family Week” activities that included teaching and fun events for youth, couples and entire families. The FJKM now has a Family Committee that helps prepare events and puts out an annual booklet of teachings for the week. KPMS is a member of this committee. The FJKM Family Committee sponsored a six-day event from noon to 2 p.m. in the capital city and Toamasina from February 13-18.
We are happy to be working with our colleagues to take part in FJKM’s Holy Race. It is encouraging to see the FJKM include health and environment activities as an important part of the church’s work. Thank you for all of the support you have given to us and the FJKM. The work we do together shares God’s love and is making a difference in people’s lives.
Please keep Madagascar in your prayers as it prepares for the presidential elections. Please keep the FJKM in your prayers as it carries out its Holy Race to spread the Gospel and transform Madagascar.
Elizabeth and Dan
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