Go and see: the holistic ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar
By Rev. Dr. David B. McCarthy
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
Reflection: The psalmist assures us that everywhere we go, the spirit of God is with us, to guide us and protect us in all aspects of our lives. From the ends of the earth, through the darkest nights, God seeks us and finds us. From the loftiest heights to the lowest abyss, in all of life’s circumstances, God’s loving care surrounds us. That was true for the Israelites in exile, for Paul and Silas during their mission trips in Greece, and for Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem. And it is true for the people of Madagascar, who are deeply aware of God’s involvement in all aspects of their lives.
The FJKM, the Church of Jesus in Madagascar and partner to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), shares this holistic understanding of God’s sovereign love. With more than 6,700 congregations, the FJKM also has extensive social service programs. It helps educate more than 189,899 students in approximately 581 primary, middle, or high schools, in addition to several universities and seminaries. The FJKM also supports orphanages, chaplaincies, and an extensive network of medical clinics and programs in community health, nutrition, environmental management, and water and sanitation.
Recently, the FJKM has attempted to bring about peace and reconciliation among rival political parties in the face of growing civil unrest in advance of national elections that many fear are rigged. The FJKM is celebrating its jubilee (50th) anniversary throughout this year, culminating in an October dedicatory celebration for a new classroom and residential building at its seminary in Ivato.
Action: Read Psalm 139. When have you tried to avoid the presence of God? Where have you been surprised to see God at work in the world?
Prayer: Gracious and ever-present God, open our eyes to see your spirit behind and before us, surrounding us and upholding us in all aspects of life, that we might live in peace with all your children throughout the world, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev. Dr. David B. McCarthy is the pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Hastings, Nebraska. David earned his M.Div. from Harvard University and Ph.D. in Religion from Duke University. Before coming to Hastings in 2001, he served churches in New York and North Carolina and taught at Harvard and Duke University. He has written more than 30 book chapters and articles. David traveled with the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program to Madagascar in November 2017.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divide
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.