A letter from Nancy Collins serving as Regional Liaison for East Central Africa, based in Zambia
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Dear family and friends,
I found the following story in the Nov. 9 PC(USA) daily digest of stories that arrives each day in my email inbox. Perhaps you have seen it too.
“I think it has moved us to a new place as a presbytery,” says the Rev. Heidi Worthen Gamble, mission catalyst for the Presbytery of the Pacific, referring to the presbytery’s approach to engaging in the three critical global initiatives of Presbyterian World Mission. These initiatives are reconciliation in cultures of violence, addressing root causes of poverty, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
“This framework has produced so much rich conversation for church mission teams in our presbytery,” Worthen Gamble says. “Now we ask, ‘Is this mission work witnessing the deep peace of Christ in places of violence?’ ‘Is it addressing root causes of poverty and changing systems that make people poor?’ ‘Is it building up the church today?’”
Would you, your congregation, and/or your presbytery like to participate in such rich dialogue about mission? Let me know and I will be happy to direct you to a variety of resources. To encourage you in the process I want to share in this newsletter something about my experiences with an international partner deeply involved in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ by “Training Leaders for Community Transformation (TLCT).”
According to Rev. Juan Sarmiento, TLCT campaign catalyst, “One of the most effective ways to grow the Church around the globe is to train local leaders to address the specific challenges they face in their own community…. Our global partners have challenged U.S. Presbyterians to help equip their leaders to be agents of transformation.… This movement, “Train Leaders for Community Transformation,” focuses on holistic leader training that can lead to life-changing solutions for the world God so loves.”
The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Zambia (CCAP Zambia) established Chasefu Theological College in rural Eastern Zambia in 2007. It is an especially good example of an institution that has made a commitment to “train leaders for community transformation.” In addition to well-rounded theological studies, theological students at Chasefu study and implement best practices in agriculture, Community Health Evangelism (CHE), and Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). These courses provide the graduates with a “tool box” of approaches they can use to address the endemic poverty they find in their congregations and communities.
Although Chasefu Theological College currently has only the bare basics in terms of infrastructure, CCAP Livingstonia and Harare synods also send students there for theological training. According to the Rev. Dr. Levi Nyondo, General Secretary of CCAP Livingstonia Synod, students trained at Chasefu make especially positive contributions in the congregations they are sent to pastor.
And according to the Rev. Maleka R. Kabandama, General Secretary, CCAP Zambia, “These days, when proponents of the ‘prosperity gospel’ sway many Christians, Chasefu graduates have a special heart for ministering to the rural poor.”
In October I had a chance to visit Chasefu, greet the students, and witness some of the latest Chasefu infrastructure developments:
- Three deep wells are now providing abundant supplies of clean water for the theological students and local community members. These replace the one shallow well that dried up in an August timeframe.
- The student hostel now sports a roof equipped with five solar panels and rooms with overhead lights and electrical outlets—thanks to the efforts of Dr. Karl Klontz of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, Maryland. I was impressed with the way Dr. Karl invited the students to assist with the installation, and with their eagerness to do so. Electricity has come to Chasefu!!
- I saw mounds of sand and gravel to be used in the construction of a new administration and classroom building. It is a lovely, elegant building that will have a significant impact on the functioning of the college.
Rev. Lazarus Chilenje, Chasefu lecturer in Development Studies, returned to Zambia in October from a five-week internship program in Community Health Evangelism (CHE) held in the Nairobi, Kenya, environs. Rev. Chilenje is now in the process of developing the CHE program, which he will teach at Chasefu. PC(USA) mission co-worker Luta Garbat-Welch, regional community health facilitator, is available to answer his CHE questions and provide backup.
Charles and Melissa Johnson, new PC(USA) mission co-workers, completed mission personnel orientation in October, and after several months of speaking they will arrive in Zambia mid-March. Supported by Melissa, Charles will serve as CCAP Zambia Development Specialist with special focus on collaborating in implementation of Chasefu agricultural curriculum and activities.
On another front, I am sure many of you have heard about the mission co-worker funding crisis. I’ve been recently notified of the funding level of the sending and support for my position in 2015. Unfortunately, even at this late date my ministry hasn’t been fully funded for this year. Will you please pray about this situation? If possible, will you increase your gift for this year? Would you consider advocating for this ministry with neighboring congregations to see if they would join us? I would so appreciate your help in these ways.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve God in this place, at this time. If you have not already made a commitment to this work, please prayerfully consider joining with me and PC(USA)’s East Central African partners in ministry in being a part of the wonderful work our Lord is doing here!
May the God of peace and power bless you richly during this season in which we anticipate the advent of Jesus Christ.
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 154
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