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Leaning into Visions that Transform Individuals and Communities

A Letter from Paula Cooper, serving as regional liaison for East Central Africa

Fall 2021

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As you may recall, I serve four countries: Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia. As I reflected on the Matthew 25 vision that PC(USA) has adopted, I wondered what passages our international partner congregations in my region endorse or what passages they may embrace as their visions. I wanted to know what passages they leaned into for their vision. I learned that their “patterns of Christian praxis in Church and Society” are validated in the ministries they govern to cultivate and nurture spiritual growth and encourage their members and the communities surrounding their churches.

They practice ministries that visit the sick and the prisoner, feed the hungry and clothe the naked. They practice the directives that Jesus Christ has given us even if they’re not necessarily motivated directly from the Matthew passage that PC(USA) has adopted. This letter will focus on two of those partners.

Our partner here in Zambia, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Zambia (CCAP Zambia), understands itself to be responding to “God’s work that lines up with the Matthew 25 passage.”

They have five foci:
• Caring for the people who are in need.
• Providing education to the vulnerable people in the communities surrounding the churches.
• Providing clean drinking water to the people who are in rural areas.
• Providing good health facilities to the people in rural areas.
• Providing better services to alleviate poverty.

This partner’s heart is for the oppressed who experience inequalities and need justice to prevail in their lives. They have executed trainings for the Village Saving and Loan program. Many families cannot afford to pay the school fees required for children to attend government-sponsored schools, so the CCAP Zambia sponsors community schools that children can afford to attend. Providing education for these children, so they have an opportunity to grow into productive members of society is another way to alleviate poverty. Some of the schools offer a feeding program for the community’s children. CCAP Zambia has an Early Childhood Development program running in many church schools. They attempt to work with the schools to help young girls return to school to assist with decreasing gender-based violence. CCAP Zambia also visits the sick and the prisoner. Their partners work with them in providing shallow wells in the rural areas. CCAP trains and prepares young men and women for the ministry in Lundazi, Zambia, at Chasefu Theological College (CTC). At CTC emphasis is placed on theological courses and courses that address the root causes of poverty in rural congregations. Church vitality is key and can only be achieved through holistic education.

On the other hand, the vision of our partner, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Kenya (PCEA), comes from John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” In Kenya, their ministries are about giving life and giving it more abundantly.

Their three foci are:
• Sharing the good news of abundant life in Christ through vibrant congregational worship, including commitment to prayer, fasting and sharing the sacrament.
• Addressing the root causes of poverty and deprivation especially by empowering women and children in areas of sustainability, agriculture, food security, access to education and access to clean water.
• Addressing the legacy of colonialism, especially through the theology and missiology of “Jitegemea,” which is a Kiswahili word meaning “movement toward self-reliance,” but the Jitegemea spirit is much more than that. It recognized the inherent worth and value of the Africa church, African leadership and African community. The PCEA recognizes the immense resources available in East Africa – human, financial and theological resources. PCEA also seeks to build relationships with partner churches that are based on mutuality, respect and shared mission.

The PCEA runs several boarding and vocational schools for girls and boys. One such home is for young girls threatened by early childhood marriages or female genital mutilation (FGM). Many young girls have run away from homes where the threat of being sold into marriage is extreme because, for their parents, it is the only way to survive. Many of these children have been rescued from the streets where they are forced to join gangs or enter into prostitution. Their philosophy is that “the value of education disrupts the cycle of poverty.” Since the pandemic, they implemented an Adopt-a-Family program. Their partners have assisted them with digging boreholes for several communities in rural areas to have clean water – “Maji ni maisha” means “water is life.” The PCEA recognizes that access to healthy water “increases hygiene standards, access to education and food security.”

In my next newsletter, I will feature two other partners.

Thank you for your continued support to these partners and the ministry that God has called us to! We are forever grateful for your prayers, engagements and financial contributions to our work!

May you and yours be blessed immeasurably during this Advent Season of the Expectation of the Second Coming of Christ!

Shalom,

Paula

As we anticipate the coming of Jesus, the Christ, may our hearts and minds be transformed into the people He will be coming for!

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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