Sharon is periodically in the United States and available to speak to congregations as her schedule permits. Email her to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Sharon’s ministry
Sharon is serving as the regional liaison for the Horn of Africa, alongside PC(USA)’s partners in Sudan, Ethiopia and South Sudan to strengthen relationships, work together in ministry and build mutual understanding of what mission means. She also provides support to mission personnel in her region and to the individuals/congregation/presbyteries in the USA or the Horn of Africa who want to connect with each other.
In early 2011 the people of South Sudan voted to separate from the rest of Sudan and form an independent country. The referendum was part of a 2005 peace accord that ended decades of civil war between rebels in the South and government forces from the North. However, just two years later the country was engulfed by fighting when president Salva Kiir accused vice-president Riek Machar of attempting a failed coup. The government and rebels agreed to attend peace talks in Ethiopia in 2014, and a deal was finally signed under threat of UN sanctions against both sides in August 2015. An ongoing and increasingly brutal new wave of violence broke out in July of 2016 and has caused widespread famine. The conflict has displaced more than three million people.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been involved in Sudan for more than a century and has longstanding relationships with two partner churches in South Sudan: The Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) and the South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (SSPEC) as well as Nile Theological College, RECONCILE, ACROSS, and the South Sudan Council of Churches. These years of civil war and conflict have left South Sudan’s infrastructure in ruins and its people traumatized but the region is home to abundant natural resources and many faithful people. The PC(USA) is working with its church and ecumenical partners to help South Sudan maximize the promise of independence and improve the plight of the people.
Sharon’s call to South Sudan is a call back to where her life began. Sharon was born in Ethiopia while her parents were working as PC(USA) mission co-workers in what was then, the Sudan. Africa is in her blood as her grandparents were also co-workers in Egypt, where her father was born.
“When the opportunity came for me to become the regional liaison for the Horn of Africa it was a bit daunting – do I have the needed skills? I was reminded of the verse in I Peter 4:10: “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” and also Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” I am not sure we always know what our gifts are but if we trust in the Lord then he will guide our path and our gifts will be used.
I truly feel God has called me to this place at this time in my life and I feel so blessed to be even a small part of the partners’ lives in the Horn of Africa.
The Kandels are members of Martins Creek Mennonite Church in Millersburg, Ohio.