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Goodbye to Dear Friends

A Letter from Michael and Rachel Ludwig, serving in Niger

Fall 2021

Write to Michael Ludwig
Write to Rachel Ludwig

Individuals: Give online to E200513 for Michael and Rachel Ludwig’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507575 for Michael and Rachel Ludwig’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,

We’re writing to thank you for all the ways you’ve supported us over the years! We’ve been part of a great partnership working with PC(USA) World Mission, but we’ll be ending service at the end of December 2021. We wanted to write this last letter to look back with you on the impacts we’ve seen during our time and to encourage you to continue to be active in what God is doing with our partners.

Even though we’ll no longer be serving as mission co-workers in Niger, the partner work of the PC(USA) will continue in Niger through the connection with our partner church, the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN), mission co-worker Jim McGill (water and sanitation) and Regional Liaison Josh Heikkila.

Please consider supporting them as generously as you have supported us!

We have so much to be grateful for over the eight years that we’ve worked with the PC(USA) and our EERN partners. Especially for all the grace and help God provided for us through learning a new culture and language, making new friends, and working with new initiatives.

Over these years with our partners, we’ve grown close to each other through sharing the struggles of living as religious minorities. We’ve experienced the joys of finding deeper community. Together we’ve found ways to meet the challenges of living as witnesses to God’s abundant life in the face of the reality that many pastors and their communities are struggling to survive.

We’ve definitely been inspired by the development of our partner’s vision to be a positive agent of change in their country. The scope of their efforts to care for the health, education, spiritual life and livelihoods of their communities is a testimony to their belief that God cares deeply for the people around them.

We have so many memories of what has been important to us and the church. At the top of Michael’s list are the times he got to lead hands-on trainings in Community Health Evangelism (CHE). The level of cooperation it stimulated and the excitement to try things that will help them practically are things we think will have a lasting impact on the church.

We cherish the memories we have from when the whole family would travel to the Bible school at Aguie (about an hour from our house) while Michael taught CHE lessons there. That was the best experience our children had of playing with local children, who taught them the art of making toys out of millet stalks. Rachel especially appreciated connecting with the women’s fellowship group at their week-long conferences. She got feedback from many women about how they felt valued and “seen” on a new level because of her presence and sleeping outside with them in rustic conditions.

Our most inspiring moments happened while sitting with church members and pastors while hearing their stories of living out their faith in a non-Christian culture, or how they saw God providing for them despite their troubles. We also think of the time we rode with a rickshaw taxi driver who had gotten the taxi through the EERN’s youth initiative. It was refreshing how hard he worked to buy a second taxi so he could employ and help others.

We were also at a large meeting once where one of the leaders announced that someone had stolen his phone off its charger in the back of the room during a break. Right away an old pastor stood up to offer a new cellphone his kids had got him, but he didn’t think he needed. Again and again we saw how the Christians in Niger were so quick to give something to others if they happen to have what is needed.

It was inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time to be with our Nigerien siblings when churches and Christian buildings were burned in the 2015 “Charlie Hebdo riots.” But it was amazing to see the EERN’s response of forgiveness and invitation for reconciliation the next day on national radio.

We also thank God for the fruitfulness of our time working with our partners. Together with the EERN national CHE trainer, we planted lots of seeds of the CHE method, as we trained pastors in every region where there is a church. During that time, we mentored specific pastors in 18 communities to go deeper in the CHE method. They’ve helped neighbors improve health with many things like handwashing, growing crops, reducing firewood usage and providing better access to latrines.

Together with the EERN we’ve dreamed and experimented in ways to help make the national church’s ministry sustainable through local income and small business opportunities. A CHE fish project, rickshaw taxis drivers and loaning groups have all come out of that. It’s also been a joy to help the EERN enact their vision of providing places for students from small villages to stay while they’re continuing their education in larger towns in five places (so far).

We look forward to watching how the EERN will continue to reach out to their country strategically. We’re confident that they’ll keep growing in reaching out with physical and spiritual help, through CHE and water and sanitation work, to communities that are looking for more holistic solutions.

Thank you for your ongoing love and support for Presbyterian World Mission and of the mission we all do together in the name of Jesus Christ. We could not have served and grown with our siblings in Niger without the help you’ve provided!

Michael and Rachel Ludwig

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
World Mission
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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