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New Beginnings

A Letter from Sharon Kandel, regional liaisons for the Horn of Africa, based in South Sudan

Winter 2022

Write to Sharon Kandel

Individuals: Give to E132192 in honor of Sharon Kandel’s ministry

Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of Sharon Kandel’s ministry

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)

 


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New year, new beginnings! At least, that is how it feels to me. The last two years have been long years for many, and for some, it has just been a continuation of fear, disruption and uncertainty.

For me, the new year has meant moving to a new place to live – another temporary home. I am thankful for this new place as we are a lot warmer here. The new year has meant taking on more responsibilities, learning new technologies, and reading, reading and more reading.

The new year for our church partners has looked quite different. When I look at the church partners that I am so privileged to be working with, I am inspired. This is a new year for them as well. The last two years have affected them as well, but not quite like they have affected me and many other places in the world.

The last two years have been as hard on the partners as they have been for the co-workers, who had daily responsibilities and had to leave. Our partners had to find a way to fill that gap. They also had to navigate a drop in financial support, which affected their daily lives. While it is true that you could say the same happened to many people and small businesses here in the United States, our partners do not have governments that send them checks. So, what did they do? What do they continue to do? They continue to go to church, they continue to do what they can to help their church survive, and they continue to do whatever they can to find work to provide food for their families.

The South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC) has grown during these last two years. Ethiopia’s West and East Gambella Bethel Synods have continued stewardship training, ordaining pastors and Community Health Evangelism (CHE). Oh, yes, and don’t forget the commissioning of a missionary Rev. Omod Oriew by East Gambella Bethel Synod to the people along the border with South Sudan. The church in Sudan continues to pray for its country’s leadership, and even though they have some internal conflicts, it has not stopped them from doing the work of the church. The Presbyterian Church of South Sudan has continued its work with the Education Department and in reconciliation. All of these partners and others I have not mentioned ask how they can pray for me and the United States.

This new year brings with it General Assemblies for both the PC(USA) and the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC). The PC(USA) GA takes place every two years, while the SSPEC will celebrate their GA as the first one in at least seven years. How do you have a General Assembly when people are scattered around at least five countries because of insecurity in the home country? Doing an online GA is not always possible when internet connections are not good or cost way too much money. So, please be in prayer for the SSPEC GA that will take place at the end of March this year.

New beginnings can be seen in a new vision within the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA). It will take time to see how this new vision will be implemented, so let us continue to pray for the leaders at PMA and those anxious about the changes. Let us pray that God is at the heart of these changes and that everyone is willing to listen to each other.

New beginnings can be seen as I watch my grandchildren grow (how can I have a grandson that is now learning to drive?), our parents get older, and we may be facing a future with some loved ones having moved on to heaven.

Are there some things I miss and grieve for? Yes, but what would life be without change to challenge us to grow in our faith and our love for each other.

New beginnings and yet a return to normal? I hope to be able to travel again this year. Not just to visit the Horn of Africa but to visit congregations, presbyteries, and friends across the USA. I pray I will remember the new things I have learned over the last two years and build on them.

I thank you for the prayers you have said for not just me but the people in the Horn of Africa. Thank you for the financial support that makes it possible for me to do work that I love, to which God has called me.

Pray for Sudan because many people of Sudan are fighting for a civilian-led government and are dying for that cause.

Pray for South Sudan as tensions rise over anticipated elections. Pray that the leaders’ hearts will be touched.

Pray for Ethiopia as the conflict continues and affects people across the country.

Pray for the United States as tensions and division rise here.

Sharon


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