Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Leaving Gambela...

We have now left Gambela…for good. Saying goodbye to the folks we have come to love dearly ranks as one of the most difficult things we have ever done in our lives up to this point…but we knew we simply could not stay any longer. My heart and my head just could not cope with the extreme weather.

We are in Cape Town for the present time staying with family. While this is meant to be a time of rest, relaxation, and recovery, it is also a time of prayerful discernment as we seek the Lord’s will regarding our future.

I simply have to get my health back on track again…that is priority…otherwise I won’t mean much to any mission. So, I will be seeing my doctors this week, working on a heart healthy diet, and getting this body back into shape again with an emphasis on cardio-vascular exercises. My sister-in-law has promised keep me true to the exercise challenge as long as I keep her true to the (rather strict) diet! Mike and Marianne are such an encouragement to us…what would do without their very real and tangible support? Of course the Queen is overjoyed that we are here…ah, however did I earn such love from my dear mother-in-law?

We will also be chatting with the “Growing the Church” (see here: http://www.growingthechurch.org.za/site/home.aspx) leadership while we are here to see if we are able to discern a call to work together in the future. SAMS-USA Missionaries Wayne and Nicole Curtis work with them and Fr Trevor Pierce came to the Christian Barnard Hospital to pray with and for us when I had my heart surgery…we have always sensed a strong bond between us, so we just need to find our what the Lord has in mind.

We are trying to read up as much about the Cape Area as possible so that can become reacquainted with it…much has changed since we were here in seminary at George Whitefield College in 1992! One book I am finding very interesting is called “Gang Town” (see here, although they only seem to have the Kindle edition https://www.amazon.com/Gang-Town-Don-Pinnock-ebook/dp/B01DMDBPEG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479109213&sr=1-1&keywords=gang+town) about the two sides of the city of Cape Town. If we are going to grow the church, then the marginalised must surely be part of the equation, right? I am also reading two books by Mark Batterson…The Circle Maker and the Grave Robber…actually I am rereading the latter. Good books to read now as we contemplate the future…we are asking great things from a great God.

Thank you for your on-going prayers and for your unbelievable support! So many have told us that they support us as people and not the project and that has meant so much to us, you cannot even begin to imagine! To know that we are not simply commodities to be spent is so encouraging…ah, but that’s what friends and family are for, right?

We have come through a rather dark valley…but we are sensing the light. Walk with us into His brightness…

Friday, September 9, 2016

Introducing our new students: Achara Ogut Omot

Achara Ogut Omot is a 27 year old Anuak student. He is not married, and, like Ojulu, this is not by choice. In his case, he has no parents to do any negotiations on his behalf. 

Achara has been leading and preaching in the church for a number of years in the southern part of the Gambela People’s Region. His dream is to study further once he is complete so that he might teach in a seminary one day…a worthy goal, indeed.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Newsletter August 2016

Newsletter August 2016

With views of lions, spectacular thunderstorms, and the long awaited arrival of a new faculty member and his family, it is hard to know exactly where to begin. Perhaps Maria von Trapp’s wisdom is best. “Let’s start at the very beginning…”

We arrived back in Addis from a quick medical trip to Cape Town, South Africa, but did not stop there…we followed the signs for those in transit (first time ever – how exciting not having a clue of where to go or what was waiting for us at the end) and were shuttled to the domestic airport where we competed with a flight from somewhere in the Middle East to have our passports stamped and our residents cards checked. Then we simply walked up a short flight of stairs into the waiting lounge. Ah, bliss…no struggling through the first security checkpoint.

And there we met up with Tekle Belachew, a dear and very learned friend who was flying down to teach African Church History (I) and (II) – Early and Modern. The beginning of our second year – yup, we have one year behind us already! – was a very good beginning. We had all our students present – 1st years, 2nd years, and part-timers…all rearing to go. Many of our students expressed surprise when told that Africa played a huge role in shaping Christendom, as we know it.

After Tekle left, I started teaching four courses to both 1st and 2nd year students. Theological English (I) and (III), African Traditional Religion/Philosophy, and the Intertestamental Period. While I was teaching one year, Louise read one of our more difficult prescribed books with the other year…this is working so well that we will continue doing this even after that particular course is ended. Most folks here don’t read so Louise demonstrates how to read and study, using dictionaries and other reference books when there are difficult words or concepts. The students love it and so does Louise!

Chris, Suzy, Abigail, and Matthew Wilson arrived on August 22, together with another Chris, also from the UK – a seminary student who is doing practical work here – and the Rev Roger Kay from Addis. Roger taught our students how to do cultural research as a project, while Chris (not the faculty Chris) led morning devotions. At one point we asked him to give his testimony as he had grown up in a church only to discover years later that he wasn’t really a believer at all. The students loved that! The culture here is so community oriented that many people end up joining the church, not because they believe, but because that’s where they find community! Not a bad place to start, but they can’t stop there…so his testimony hit a solid home run!

Jeremiah, our Nuer faculty member, is now our College Chaplain, the Coordinator of our Field Education Programme, and the Director of our College Research Programme. He certainly has his work cut out for him, so he would appreciate your prayers.

The renovation of the old classroom is now complete and the 2nd year students moved in this past Friday. Chris Wilson will start teaching his subjects on Monday…one week before the arrival of two lecturers from the US, Clark and Carol Smith, who will be teaching on the book of Ezekiel.

We are both doing exceptionally well in every way…I have a rather heavy teaching load, but I am as content as a warthog in a mud hole. Our students are amazing and eager to learn…what more could a teacher ask for?

Our little grandson, Jeremiah, turned five years old today…we are missing so many of our wee ones milestones, but hopefully we will get to Face Time with them this evening.

Oh yes, the lions…+Grant saw two lions on two separate trips not too far from Gambela. So there is life out there after all! Speaking about +Grant, he is down with malaria now too…seems we like to take turns getting sick here…but please pray for him.

Monday, August 8, 2016


Sudan Tut Bithow is a 22 year old Nuer student. He is married to Nyaduoth James Gadet and has one son whose name is Tesloach Sudan Tut, both of whom live in Pinyadu, about three hours drive from Gambela town. 

Sudan was born in Panyang in South Sudan, but came as a refugee to Ethiopia in 2005. He was raised in the church and his mother is a member of the Mother’s Union. In 1998, after hearing a song in a Sunday school class, Sudan gave his life to Jesus and has served Him ever since. 

His dream is to be a pastor of a church…but for now, he wants to study.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Newsletter: July 2016

When Louise was considering my proposal of marriage 32 years ago she thought: “Well, if I marry him, I will never be rich, but my life will never be boring.” So, she married me and life has never been boring. But we are rich…rich in the Lord and rich because we have each other…and rich because serving the Lord is always rewarding, especially when one thinks it isn’t. That’s the time to keep your eye peeled for the real treasures in life.

July has not been a boring month. We ended June on a very high note having just had nearly two weeks of prayer with James and Julie Conlon from South Carolina. We started July on a very high note too with the arrival of Frances Metcalfe…she came as a SAMS Bridger (http://samsusa.org/content/go-bridger) to teach our compulsory English Intensive Course…and boy, was she good! We hope to have her back next year, with Charlie, her husband.

We had a number of applicants, but it soon became clear that some could not understand even simple instructions in English. To cut a long (and somewhat painful – it is never enjoyable to send a prospective student away) story short, we now have eleven brand new students starting – YIKES! – next Tuesday! You have been receiving short bios about them for two weeks now and we will continue to send them out until you know them all.

The special thing about this year’s intake is that three of our students are from the Mabaan people group...history in the making. Praise God for these three men! Please pray that the refugee camp authorities will allow them to relocate to Gambela so that they may attend the College.

WE NEED SCHOLARSHIPS FOR EVERY ONE OF OUR NEW STUDENTS! Please pray for us. If you know someone who might be willing to sponsor a student, please let me know asap. We need US$ 3,500 per student per year, which includes their tuition, board and lodging, travel and per diem (for going home, field education and research placements), and basic medical costs. See how to give below.

On a personal note, Louise and I have been in South Africa for two weeks seeing doctors and dentists. Louise had to have a root canal done and I had to have several follow-ups with my cardiologist. My heart is fine…even the battery in my pacemaker is doing great…but apparently I have a wee bit of a holdover from the postoperative seizure and stroke…something they call focal epilepsy…which sounds far worse than what it actually is. So, new meds for me…zip-a-dee-doo-dah…and no driving for a while.

We leave for Addis tomorrow night and for Gambela early Monday morning. We start the new College year with a bang. A professor from Addis will be coming down with us to teach African Church History to our second and first year students as well as our part-timers. Thanks to the gracious gift from Pastor Mike Hellum or Westmark Church (https://westmarkefc.org/) to Langham Literature (http://us.langham.org/what-we-do/langham-literature/) in our name we have been able to buy all the books we need for our students this semester. 

We have found that the postal service in Gambela is working well…Karen Salmon used to receive small care packages on a regular basis and we have received letters and a book so far. So, if you would like to mail something small to us, try the following address:

St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College
Gambella Anglican Centre,
PO Box 177, Gambella, Ethiopia

If you would like to make a donation to the College, here’s how:

In the UK

If you live in the UK you can send £ Sterling cheques*, payable to “FACE” to:
Friends of the Anglican Church
in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa
Gresham Lodge
52 Westerfield Road
Ipswich IP4 2UT
* Donations made by UK taxpayers through the Friends of the Anglican Church in Ethiopia may be eligible for Gift Aid. If you would like to Gift Aid your donation visit the FACE website for more information.

In the USA

If you live in the USA you can send US$ cheques**, made payable to “FADE” to:
2104 Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC 27607
** Donations made by US citizens through the Friends of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt (a 501(c)3 organisation) may be eligible for tax relief. 

In Canada

If you live in Canada you can either send a cheque to:
PO Box 224
Barrie, ON L4M 4T2
or donate online using PayPal or your credit card right HERE.

If your donation is for scholarships, please make sure you make that clear on the check memo line or the space provided online.

Thank you again and again for your support and love and your encouragement. I know we seem to say this every time, but we really do mean it: we simply cannot do this without you.

Many blessings and tons of love

Johann and Louise