A letter from Ruth Brown preparing to serve in Zimbabwe (formerly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo)
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What a positive name for a committee of the church! The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Harare Synod in Zimbabwe has invited me to be a resource and advisor to CCAP’s Chikondano committee. The committee works to reduce the incidence of HIV and AIDS and to better conditions for vulnerable populations, including widows and orphans.
Chikondano means “love” in Chichewa, a language originating in Malawi, the native land of the founders of the CCAP Harare Synod. Migrant workers from Malawi seeking agricultural and mining work in Zimbabwe settled in Zimbabwe and formed the Harare Synod Church in 1965.
The Harare Synod leaders requested assistance from PC(USA) World Mission in creating sustainable community health programs to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS as well as heart and vascular disease, cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera and malaria. I look forward to giving this assistance!
While working with the CCAP to identify and develop resources to sustain the CCAP’s health ministries and to explore strategies to enable vulnerable or marginalized populations (including widows, orphans and unemployed people) to achieve security and sustainable livelihoods, I’m hopeful that my experience in D.R. Congo will be useful. For example, what I’ve learned about creating and maintaining micro-savings and loan programs for women may be very helpful to the community of the CCAP. I recently heard that all six women’s micro-savings groups are still functioning along the outskirts of Kananga, even with all the conflict in the area. This speaks well for the ongoing supervision and support of their leader, an elder in the Presbyterian Church of Congo, Victorine Manga.
Additionally, I hope to introduce to the church in Zimbabwe the concepts of Community Health Evangelism (CHE) as a method for supporting faith communities with ongoing guidance, education and encouragement. Currently, communities in more than five countries around the world where our PC(USA) mission co-workers are serving are developing CHE programs. If you or your church would be interested in assisting the CHE program by developing Bible Study components for CHE lesson plans, please contact me for more information.
So many of you have called and written with your support during my discernment and transition after serving in Congo. All your words and prayers have been a great help. Please know, too, that all funds you have donated to my sending and support will follow me to Zimbabwe. I am hopeful that you will consider continuing your support of me in this new country. And I look forward to providing more information about church life in Zimbabwe, especially in Harare, where I will be based for the next four years. More information about the CCAP Harare Synod may be found by searching online.
As I begin to prepare for life in Zimbabwe, I remember that I am simply, like each of you, running “with perseverance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1-2). What is very much on my mind as I prepare for this new lap of the journey is the “great crowd of witnesses” that surrounds us during this race. Every month since last May, I have been surrounded by believers who have encouraged me greatly through their loving involvement in their communities. Some of you are accompanying friends and neighbors, parents, siblings, spouses and children in tough times—caring for them during their illnesses, attending NA and AA meetings with them and supporting disabled children in public schools. You are encouraging incoming refugees and other neighbors to seek food banks and social services. Some of you are creating supportive environments for disabled youth. And you have been generous and thoughtful to me in my own travels to your homes and communities. You welcome the stranger.
In his Commentary on Hebrews, Calvin wrote of the “great cloud of witnesses” who surround us during this race: “As we run the race to meet God . . . we are so surrounded by this dense throng, that wherever we turn our eyes many examples of faith immediately meet us . . . . We, relying on them as our guides and associates, ought to go onward to God with more alacrity.”
“Alacrity!” A great word, meaning “brisk and cheerful readiness.” Perhaps a variation of “alacrity” would work for the name of my next yellow lab retriever?
Well, I likely won’t be having a friendly dog by my side in Zimbabwe, but I’ll have the memories, the examples and the witness of all of you, my guides and associates in this race! And I find this thought very encouraging!
Please keep in touch!
And let us all go forth in cheerful readiness — and chikondano—to God!
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