Sambatra ny mpampihavana
Blessed are the Peacemakers
It was a fascinating day in Madagascar! The leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (known by its Malagasy acronym, FJKM) shared their knowledge on an extraordinary range of subjects. In the morning we learned about the background of the FJKM, its Reformed tradition, its structure (eight different branches of different responsibilities) and its exciting growth.
We had a wonderful opportunity to hear about the Church’s holistic ministry, and its work addressing social justice, reconciliation, ministry, and environmental stewardship.
Some of the shared news was fascinating: of the church’s work in a country of superstitions and faith healers, a country of twenty-four million souls, almost half of whom practice ancient traditions.
Some of the shared news was saddening: of corruption, of children stunted by inadequate nutrition; of terrible environmental destruction.
But other news was hopeful and inspirational: of FJKM’s pride “in its vision of Mission”, of its efforts to engage the community and interact with a broader world, of its hopes and plans to expand – and how nearly one in five Malagasy people belong to FJKM, and three of every five of those members are 24 years of age or younger.
We look forward to learning more about the church programs in the upcoming days, and its efforts towards reconciliation, restoration, and protection.
It was a good day, one filled with finona, fiadanana sy ny vavaka: faith, hope, and prayer.
Contributed by Melinda Nye of Lamington Presbyterian Church in Bedminster, New Jersey
About the Travel Study Seminar –
The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s partner, the five million-member Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (known by its Malagasy acronym, FJKM), has multifaceted and holistic ministries that seek to respond to the challenges of poverty, human exploitation, social and political conflict, and environmental degradation as an integral part of what it means to follow Christ.
A group of ten US Presbyterians is visiting Madagascar November 7 to 17 under the auspices of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and Environmental Ministries to learn more about the FJKM’s various ministries of reconciliation and peace-building, as well as its efforts to promote sustainable human development whilst protecting the integrity of creation.
The group includes Rev. Carl Horton, the coordinator of the Peacemaking Program, and Douglas Tilton, the PC(USA)’s Regional Liaison for Southern Africa. In-country leadership is provided by PC(USA) Mission Co-workers Dan and Elizabeth Turk and two representatives of our FJKM hosts: Pastor Lala Rasendrahasina, the immediate past President of the FJKM, and Pastor Lala Nirina Rakotoarisoa, the former head of the FJKM’s Chaplaincy Program.