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Serving in ‘God’s vineyard’ in Niger and South Sudan

Ministries of water, sanitation and health join hands in partnership

by Jim McGill | Mission Crossroads Magazine

The national president of the EERN, the Rev. Mai Aiki Kadade (second from left), and a Nigerien village resident (left) join the village repair person (center) and mission co-worker Jim McGill in repairing a locally made rope pump. (Photo by Josh Heikkila)

When it came time for my wife, Jodi, and me to accept a new call because of our children’s educational needs, it was difficult. Malawi was our home.

We wondered how we could move away from our relationship with the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian (CCAP), which had supported and encouraged us for more than two decades.

When we discussed stepping away from our work to serve a different church and different partnership, the general secretary of the Synod of Livingstonia, the Rev. Levi Nyondo, spoke about its long partnership with the PC(USA). “Biblically the word partnership, in the context of the church’s understanding, means working or fellowshipping together as brothers and sisters in God’s vineyard,” he explained. Rev. Nyondo said the Livingstonia Mission and the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia have been in partnership with many churches since the 1800s. This “vineyard work” continues today through improved health and educational attainment, more employment opportunities, church growth, and sharing of knowledge and expertise through mutual visits.

“Partnerships among churches are good,” he said, “provided the partners are walking side by side, bringing glory to God through fellowship and work, so that neither becomes a burden to the other.”

Mission co-worker Jim McGill (right) meets with water vendors in Niamey, where water delivery is a sustaining livelihood for many Nigeriens. (Photo by Josh Heikkila)

After being chosen to serve with the Eglise Evangelique de la Republique du Niger (EERN), I was able to have a similar conversation with External Partnership Secretary Issaka Moussa regarding the EERN’s view of partnerships. He explained: “In a country that is nearly entirely Muslim, the EERN — the oldest and largest Protestant denomination in Niger — recently launched a program to expand the reach of the gospel of Christ from about 150 towns and villages to more than 200. Its evangelists are committed people, living by faith. Most receive no salary, no retirement benefits and no health care. They are working in areas of great need where we feel called to serve.  We feel it is not only our call, but a call to all brothers and sisters to work together in showing Christ’s love throughout Niger.”

To assist with that vision, the EERN and PC(USA) agreed in 2014 to host three PC(USA) mission co-workers in Niger to help with youth activities, Bible schools, new church development and empowerment of pastors and evangelists through community health evangelism. In 2017 Jodi and I were asked to transition to Niger to help extend the gospel through EERN’s health programs and water, sanitation and hygiene programs. In another aspect of this partnership, the PC(USA) invited Issaka to the U.S. as an international peacemaker to teach while sharing with congregations the experiences of the EERN in living peacefully with Muslims, even in times of conflict.

Jim and Jodi McGill serve in Niger and South Sudan at the invitation of the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN) and the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS). Jim is facilitator for water and sanitation programs, and Jodi is nursing and public health educator.

Support the ministry of Jim and Jodi McGill in Niger and South Sudan:


This article is from the Summer 2018issue of Mission Crossroads magazine, which is printed and mailed free to subscribers’ homes within the U.S. three times a year by Presbyterian World Mission. To subscribe visit

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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