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Today in the Mission Yearbook

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

Ministries of water, sanitation and health join hands in partnership

August 30, 2018

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 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “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 McGill, serving in Niger and South Sudan, Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger and Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, facilitator for water and sanitation programs

Today’s Focus:  Niger and South Sudan

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers

Jim McGill, Niger and South Sudan
Jodi McGill, Niger and South Sudan
Shelvis Smith-Mather, South Sudan
Nancy Smith-Mather, South Sudan
Bob Rice, South Sudan
Kristi Rice, South Sudan

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Cameron Stevens, PMA
Mark Stewart,PMA

Let us pray:

Gracious God, we give thanks that you multiply our offerings and efforts as we work to care for those in need. We ask that you sharpen our focus on you and on ways that we may serve. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 143; 147:12-20
First Reading Job 8:1-10, 20-22
Second Reading Acts 10:17-33
Gospel Reading John 7:14-36
Evening Psalms 81; 116