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About three years ago, Brian Odhiambo lived a life of “survival of the fittest” on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya. He was rescued from his street boy existence and taken to Eastleigh Community Center (ECC), a vocational skills training primary and secondary school of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) that promotes peacebuilding at every grade level.
The Presbyterian Church of Rwanda (EPR) is a few weeks into its annual 100 days of remembrance of the genocide against the Tutsi, which extends from early April through July 4. Each year these days are devoted to helping bring healing to survivors of the genocide who continue to struggle with poverty, unemployment, sickness and other issues. All 212 parishes in EPR’s seven presbyteries are focused on the transformational power of the gospel to bring unity, reconciliation and restoration to all who have been traumatized — from one generation to the next.
As one of the newest regional liaisons hired to serve East Central Africa, I have been traveling a lot, and sometimes it feels as though I am living in and out of airports more than in my home in Lusaka, Zambia. You know what, though? I can’t complain! As I travel within the countries that I serve — Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia — I have the opportunity to see God’s amazing work through the hands, voices, eyes and feet of our international Presbyterian partners. Partners who are trying to repair the brokenness among God’s children. Partners who, in their own ways, are attempting to serve and provide for “the least of these” — through means like building and maintaining community schools and theological institutions; building health facilities and clinics; and ministering in hospitals, clinics and prisons.
The Rev. Paula Cooper describes her leadership style as one that “deliberately works toward developing a culture that values a collaboration of God’s people and their gifts for ministry.” And now she has answered God’s call to help the people of East Central Africa do just that.