A Letter from Sharon Kandel, regional liaisons for the Horn of Africa, based in South Sudan
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Life goes on around, and, in spite of, COVID. We continue to get up each day, smile at our neighbors, buy our groceries, send emails, sit in countless ZOOM meetings, read our Bibles, do our devotions, and just get through each day.
It is getting easier in some places in the USA and around the world, while in other places, the third and fourth waves of COVID are hitting. In some places, people are vaccinated, while others are only just beginning this process while trying to figure out how to get the vaccine to people in remote locations where there is no way to keep the vaccine cold.
The life of the Church in the Horn of Africa continues as well. Things are a little harder to do during lockdowns, including worshipping together, but God’s children always find a way to meet and encourage each other. Ethiopia has a history of house churches, so congregations are comfortable worshiping with a small number of people. South Sudan and Sudan have the kind of climate that makes meeting outside in small groups possible when the country is not in complete lockdown.
So, what is happening in these places? Trauma Healing and Reconciliation workshops and training are taking place in South Sudan, yet there is also hunger, flooding, and unrest. In Ethiopia, wonderful reconciliation events and ordinations are taking place, but there has also been fighting and great unrest. In Sudan, the Church is being asked to take a more prominent role in the reconciliation process within the country, and there is new freedom for Christians. Yet, there is also hunger and economic crisis. And in the United States, there is unemployment and a significant intolerance of each other. There is also an examination of injustice on many issues and a challenge for the Church to step into the gap.
So, what am I doing during this time? I am learning all kinds of new technology skills that I hope to remember from one day to the next! I spend more time writing emails, talking on the phone, sitting in ZOOM meetings than I ever have before. While it is harder this way, I am also finding that I communicate more because I do not have the fallback of knowing there is a chance I will run into someone. I am also finding that I am asking for prayer from more people and learning in more detail what their prayer concerns are. I am learning that there are so many ways to communicate these days – phone, text, WhatsApp, Zoom, Teams – and many others, that there really is no reason not to be in touch with people if they have access to these services. I am also learning that there is a time to turn it all off and just be. Just be with those around me with no distractions, just spend time reading my Bible, just take time to see God’s wonderful creation all around me, just be reminded of what is good in life, and just be thankful for life.
Sometimes it is hard to know what to write about in these letters, so I apologize if this letter seems to ramble. I am afraid that is how my mind operates these days. I do know that I appreciate your prayers, as do the people in Sudan, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. It is important for you to know that they are praying for you too.
While this is not a long letter, it is full of thankfulness for each one of you! Thank you for your support of me both in prayer and financially. I hope one day soon to be able to visit in person!
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