A Letter from Dan and Elizabeth Turk, serving in Madagascar
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Greetings from Madagascar! It is great to finally be back home in Madagascar, where we have reconnected with friends and colleagues in the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), PC(USA)’s partner church. Dan arrived back in mid-November 2021 and Elizabeth in early December. It is wonderful to minister in person alongside our FJKM colleagues and not just via Zoom or WhatsApp!
Madagascar is facing many challenges at this time: COVID-19, famine-like conditions in the south, and recovery from six cyclones since January 22, 2022, one of which was one of the worst cyclones in the last 20 years. All of this with a population that is worn down after two years of COVID-19. In spite of the difficulties and heartbreak, FJKM is present and bringing hope to those in need. We are amazed at the faith and perseverance of our FJKM brothers and sisters in Christ.
The cyclones did much damage, especially in southeastern Madagascar. FJKM has cataloged 330 churches that were damaged or completely destroyed and 89 classrooms at FJKM schools that were destroyed. At one point, over 8,000 FJKM students were out of school. Efforts are currently underway to rebuild these churches and schools.
Efforts are ongoing to bring relief to the famine-like conditions in the south. FJKM is bringing a combination of direct distribution of food and seeds, helping communities dig wells and install water storage systems, and building schools and training new teachers to teach in the south. Seed distribution before the rains came brought much hope.viewed on YouTube or by searching “Conversation with FJKM Feb.2022” on YouTube.
FJKM’s theme for the next four years is “Filling Madagascar with the Gospel, the Gospel that Changes History.” The idea is that faith in Christ is a living faith that changes every part of a person. Changed people change their families, churches, communities and nations for the better. Listen to President Irako Andriamahazosoa Ammi to learn more about FJKM’s goals and visions.
In August 2021, FJKM’s Synoda Lehibe (General Assembly) voted to expand the mandate of FJKM’s HIV/AIDs committee (KPMS) to include other epidemic diseases such as COVID-19. Plans for carrying out this new mandate were discussed during KPMS’s yearly meeting in December. We thank God Elizabeth arrived in time to make the meeting even though her flight back to Madagascar was delayed. Since the December meeting, KPMS has been able to share educational messages about COVID-19 on the radio and produce an educational flyer in collaboration with the FJKM Development Department that has been distributed to over 10,000 people! The first COVID-19 flyer that the Development Department made in 2020 was produced with funds from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and World Mission. KPMS has also sponsored several COVID-19 vaccination sessions in collaboration with the local health district. Madagascar is at the end of its third COVID-19 wave (November 2021–April 2022).
Another decision at the Synoda Lehibe was that all FJKM churches should become “green churches” and that the work of the Fruits, Vegetables, and Environmental Education Program (FVEE) should be spread to all 37 synods. So, FVEE has been busy helping this to happen by providing native trees and fruit trees for two pilot green churches from each of the FJKM’s 37 synods in Madagascar and by training two volunteer technicians from each synod to help the synods carry out this mandate. In February, the FJKM president and other leaders of the FJKM planted fruit trees and native trees at the new chapel at the Ivato seminary as a way to demonstrate their commitment to helping churches become green. The FJKM president is also taking a tree to each church he visits within the FJKM. Another exciting time was having the synod presidents and leaders of the FJKM visit the Mango Palace on April 28 and 29, 2022, to learn about the resources FVEE has to offer the FJKM as it works to have “green churches” and protect God’s creation.
It is a blessing to be here ministering with the FJKM and walking alongside them in the midst of the challenges they face. This would not be possible without your prayers and support. Thank you for being there for us, for the FJKM, and for the people of Madagascar. “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).
Peace in Christ,
Dan and Elizabeth
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Tags: and Environmental Education Program (FVEE), COVID-19, cyclones, famine, FJKM Fruits, FJKM General Assembly, fruit tree grafting, HIV/AIDS, Madagascar Mission Network, Matthew 25, vegetables
Tags: Dan and Elizabeth Turk
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