Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Report on Ethiopia: Part Four

The following report is based on personal observation, interviews with Bishop Grant LeMarquand, and quite a shameless amount of "plagiarism" from various reports written by a new and dear friends from Egypt, Rosie Fyfe, who work with Bishop Mouneer in the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.

I will be posting these in bite sized if you come in on some part of the tail end, please scroll down to the beginning...
Unfortunately, there are no images as in my original documents, but, if you go to my Face Book site ( you will find pictures galore.
As always, please pray for the Horn.

5.  Gambella Anglican Centre
The Gambella Anglican Centre, which was officially opened in November 2010, currently hosts the St Barnabas congregation, library facilities, sports programs, an agricultural program and hosts groups from the community and local churches. In addition, it is the central gathering place for the 70 Anglican congregations in the Gambella Region, and hosts clergy training for 2-3 days each month, various ecumenical gatherings, literacy training, and Mothers’ Union training. It is currently the residence of the Area Bishop, and it is the administrative centre. In the future, we plan to start a small theological college to train current and future clergy, as well as a guesthouse which will bring in income. The Gambella Anglican Centre is in urgent need of upgrading in order to accommodate these developments.

6.  Current and Future Projects
a. Building a church
St Barnabas is an Anuak congregation, led by the Rev. Girma Obong. The Anuak people group makes up 21% of the population in Gambella Region. There is also a Nuer Anglican congregation in Gambella town, but the Anuak live on the same side of town as the Gambella Anglican Centre.

There are approximately 200 members at St. Barnabas’. The priest-in-charge is the Rev. Girma Obong. There is also a Mothers’ Union group which meets on Sundays, and a church choir. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, there is a children’s program, which prepares them for baptism, teaching them about the Christian faith and how to be a member of the church. Bishop Grant LeMarquand recently baptized 30 adults and children at St. Barnabas.

Before the Gambella Anglican Centre opened in 2010, the church met under a tree, using plastic sheets as shelter in the rainy season. Pastor Girma says that after the congregation moved, the church grew as they had a worship space and a place of belonging.
The congregation currently crowds into the training room at the Gambella Anglican Centre. Often there are too many people to fit inside the room, and the children then stay outside. Pastor Girma says that many people stay at home on Sundays, but when there is a new church, the congregation will grow.

The congregation, theological students, clergy gatherings, and ecumenical gatherings will be hosted in the new church building when it is built.  The church will be a circular shaped building, with a diameter of 30 metres. It will be multi-purpose; used by the St. Barnabas congregation, as a chapel for the theological college, and to host large gatherings that frequently use the centre.
b. Building a well
A sustainable water supply is urgently needed to host large groups and all of the current activities at the centre. The water supply from the town is unpredictable, causing problems for the many people who use the compound. A 5 metre deep well was recently built for the agriculture project, and a second 10 metre deep well is needed for drinking water. The well needs a windmill to draw the water up, and a lid will be placed on the well to ensure a clean water supply.

The Gambella Anglican Centre is increasingly being used by community groups, as well as hosting training and visitors. The wells are critical to supporting these groups, as currently there is no reliable water source on the site. Local people who come to the centre often complain about the lack of water.

The clergy and Mothers’ Union representatives will receive training in how the well was built and how to ensure that it is kept clean, so that wells can be built at each mission centre and church.

c. Library improvements
Unfortunately, the original architectural plans for the library building were not followed, and the library is currently difficult to use as it has low light and is very dusty. Light comes in through very small holes in the walls which are covered with wire mesh making it the darkest building on the compound. The small holes also let in dust and a lot of ash during the burning season as they are not able to be closed. Most of the other building have large windows, and are therefore in no need of electric lighting during the day. Furthermore, the current florescent lights use a lot of power to turn on. Large glass windows and a protective screen of wire mesh to stop the mosquitoes will be installed. Also, the tin roof will be re-fitted with carbonate or fiberglass sheets, instead of the current tin roof.

As well as serving school students, the library will also be used by the theological college in the future. Ten more book-shelves will be installed to house these books. The Area Bishop has donated his own library of about 200 boxes of theological books to form the basis for the library collection.

The library is currently under-utilized because of the distance from the town and the poor light. The improvements will let more light into the library, allowing it to be increasing used by the local community as well as the theological students when the theological college opens. Also, Gambella town is rapidly growing and there are more people moving to the part of the town where the centre is.

d.  Nehemiah Project: Vertical Garden and Security Fence
Since its establishment, one of the goals of the Gambella Anglican Centre has been to model small-scale agricultural projects and provide training, so that food gardening can be reproduced across Gambella. There is already a section of land on the compound which will be planted with mango, pawpaw and banana trees, maize and vegetables, a new well has recently been built to provide a sustainable water supply, and there are two agriculture workers.

The Gambella Anglican Centre aims to provide models of agricultural techniques which can be used around Gambella, as well as training in efficient use of land in order to promote effective agricultural methods. One of the planned projects, a ‘living wall’, or a ‘vertical garden’ which could grow the vegetables and fruit vines so desperately needed for nutrition, is an extension of this goal.  In the Gambella Region, there is a high level of malnutrition due to a lack of variety in peoples’ diets, a shortage of agricultural land, and inefficiency in land use. The purpose of the vertical garden is to provide a model where fruit and vegetables can be grown using a small amount of land, will efficiently use water, and be reproducible in villages around the region.

The water used for the top levels of the garden would be funneled down and used for the lower levels as well. Many families and churches have security walls, which could be transformed into ‘living walls.’ The staff at the centre and church community members will each be responsible for part of the wall.

Local peoples’ land in Gambella is being expropriated leaving them with less land for cultivation. Most people in the villages and in the Anglican congregations in Gambella don’t have any substantial land to cultivate. Many villages also don’t have wells so water availability is a problem during the dry season. There are Anglican Churches in three refugee camps in Gambella, where there is little space available for cultivation. Hence the idea of a vertical garden allows people to increase their crop yield within the present land and water constraints.

Families in Gambella have a small plot of land, but few families have a garden on their property. In addition, agricultural land in Gambella is often used inefficiently. There is little crop rotation, a limited range of crops and no use of compost or manure. Burning is an extremely common method of clearing the land, which alters the cycling of nutrients and the biotic, physical, moisture, and temperature characteristics of soil.

There is also a lack of knowledge about agriculture. Both Nuer people (who make up 47% of the population in Gambella) and the Dinka are traditionally pastoralists. However, the Dinka and Nuer have far less cattle then before as they were forced to flee the war in Sudan. At the same time, they do not know anything about agriculture. In addition, the literacy rate of women is approximately 23%, which leaves them with few options to learn with about nutrition or cultivation.

The vertical garden will provide a model for the local community, and the many people who come to the Gambella Anglican Centre from around Gambella. Agricultural training will be provided for local people, as well as Mothers’ Union representatives and clergy. Simultaneously, Mothers’ Union representatives will learn about nutrition, how to cook vegetables. Outside ovens will be built at the Centre, both to provide a model of a safe outside oven where children don’t get burnt, as well as a place for cooking lessons.

e.  Community Health
There are many diseases in Gambella which could be addressed through a community based health program. Dr. Wendy LeMarquand is a GP with experience of community health in Africa. Her work in Kenya of educating people about simple nutrition, water purification, and hygiene showed a dramatic reduction of hospitalizations and deaths related to burns, diarrhea, malnutrition, etc. She will work particularly through Mothers’ Union representatives to spread health education and awareness. Also, one of the Gambella clergy is training as a nurse, and will work in community health after he finishes his training.

The Gambella Anglican Centre will host training courses.  In some parts of Ethiopia, there is a high level of malnutrition especially among children. There is a high frequency of nutritional problems such as rickets, beriberi, pellagra, kwashiorkor (malnutrition with swelling). These nutritional problems decrease the ability of children to fight off diseases, and affects brain and body development.

f.  Theological Training Centre
There is a critical need for theological training among the current clergy of the churches in Gambella. The first clergyperson with a theological degree will graduate in 2013, and another priest is currently studying at the Alexandria School of Theology (AST) in Egypt. However, most of the clergy have only done some Theological Education by Extension courses, which provided very basic teaching. Their only ability to think theologically is to read the Bible themselves, and what they learn from others.
When Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, the Diocesan Bishop, travelled to Gambella in 2011 and asked the Gambella clergy what they wanted in a new Area Bishop, they asked for someone who can teach theology. Since Bishop Grant’s appointment, many of the clergy have said to him: “we can lead people to Christ and plant churches, but we can’t make disciples.” In a previous role in Kenya, Bishop Grant noticed that those who have better theological education are better pastors. The goal is for the next Bishop of the Horn of Africa to be a local person, and strong theological training is a key part of this future development.

There is also an urgent need for more clergy and, therefore, to provide theological training for these future clergy. There are currently only 16 clergy serving 70 congregations. They are supported by a deacon and volunteer lay leaders. There are people who want to be ordained, but who are not ready. The new church will serve as a chapel to the new small theological training college which will start at the Gambella Anglican Centre.
7.  Area Bishop Grant LeMarquand and Dr. Wendy LeMarquand
Bishop Grant was consecrated in 2012 on the Feast of St Mark (April 25) at All Saints’ Cathedral in Cairo and installed as Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa in September of the same year.  Before coming to the Diocese, Grant was Full Professor of Biblical Studies and Mission at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.   His interest is in the New Testament, the Synoptic Gospels, the Bible and Mission, African Christianity, Biblical exegesis, Greek, and liturgy.  Very committed to mission, evangelism, and ecumenical relations, Bishop Grant has served in various countries, including Canada, USA, and Kenya where he taught at St Paul’s Seminary where several African Anglican bishops and archbishops were students under him.  Bishop Grant holds a BA (1977), STM (1982) and MA (1988) from McGill University, Dip Min from Montreal Diocesan Theological College (1983) and ThD from Wycliffe College, Toronto School of Theology (2002).  A Canadian citizen, Bishop Grant is married to Wendy, a medical doctor.  They have two adult children; their son David and daughter Chara, who are both living in Canada.

Report on Ethiopia: Part Three

The following report is based on personal observation, interviews with Bishop Grant LeMarquand, and quite a shameless amount of "plagiarism" from various reports written by a new and dear friends from Egypt, Rosie Fyfe, who work with Bishop Mouneer in the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.

I will be posting these in bite sized if you come in on some part of the tail end, please scroll down to the beginning...
Unfortunately, there will be no images, but, if you go to my Face Book site ( you will find pictures galore.
As always, please pray for the Horn.

4.  Churches outside the Gambella Region, but in Ethiopia
Sherkole Refugee Camp, located in the north of Gambella, opened in 1997. There are currently 7,764 people and 2,817 households in the camp. This refugee camp is made up of Mabaan, Arabic, Dafurian, Nubian, and Dinka people groups. 
The priest-in-charge is the Rev. Isaac Momma. St. John’s is a Mabaan congregation, a Sudanese people group, many of whom are now being repatriated to South Sudan. The Mabaan are acknowledged by all to be the best singers in Gambella.
 Christ the King Church is a Dinka congregation, served by Deacon Gabriel. The Dinka are the largest people group in South Sudan.

The Tongo Mission Centre is a Nuer congregation and is situated just north of the Sherkole refugee camp.  The priest-in-charge is the Rev. William Deng.

Mekele is a city in the Tigre Region, in the North of Ethiopia. The congregation is made up of approximately 70 university students, and the services are in English. Many are from Gambella, but there is also a substantial number from South Sudan.  The congregation started in 2013, when the students contacted the Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa requesting to become part of the Anglican Church. The congregation meets in the church building of the Mekane Yesus denomination.

St Matthew’s Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, provides Anglican worship and ministry to a very diverse international community. On an average Sunday, it is common to have over 20 nationalities at our Sunday services, from all over Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and America. Addis Ababa has a large number of foreign embassies, and is also the home of the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa.  Consequently there is a great diversity of people living here. The main services at St Matthew's are in English, but there are also services in Amharic and Somali. 

Report on Ethiopia: Part Two

The following report is based on personal observation, interviews with Bishop Grant LeMarquand, and quite a shameless amount of "plagiarism" from various reports written by a new and dear friend from Egypt, Rosie Fyfe, who works with Bishop Mouneer in the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.  
I will be posting these in bite sized if you come in on some part of the tail end, please scroll down to the beginning...
Unfortunately, there will be no images, but, if you go to my Face Book site ( you will find picture galore.  
As always, please pray for the Horn.

3.  Churches in the Gambella Region
An Anuak congregation served by the Rev Girma Obong and Dcn Darash Thatha
Daughter Churches are Illea, Kir, Pohal, Imar, Abol, and Bonga.  The Anuak are the indigenous people of the Gambella region, and make up approximately 20% of the population of Gambella.

St. Luke’s  was the first Nuer Anglican congregation in the Gambella region. The church, located in Gambella the capital of the Gambella region, has a long standing relationship with St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Addis Ababa. The priest-in-charge is the Rev. Stephen Kuany.  The Nuer people live in the border regions between Sudan and Ethiopia. Many of the Nuer people who are now in Gambella were originally from Sudan.

Dimma is a gold mining area in the southern-most part of the Gambella region. The first Anglican church in Dimma was planted in a refugee camp, which is no longer there. Most of the people who were in that refugee camp were Dinka, and have now been repatriated to Sudan. When they left Dimma, they gave their church to the local Anuak people.

The priest-in-charge is the Rev Wilson Okwello. As well as the daughter churches in the surrounding villages listed below, the congregation has also an outreach program to the Tsamako people, an unreached people group.  Daughter churches in surrounding villages are Gedu, Markes, and Remu.

Considered a permanent camp, Pinyadu is one of the oldest refugee camps in the Gambella Region. It is located in the south of the Gambella region. Most of the churches are Nuer, although there is one Dinka congregation and two Anuak congregations in formation.  There are approximately 40,000 people in this refugee camp which is divided into two, Old Camp, and New Camp.
Old Camp
Six Nuer congregations, two Anuak, and one Dinka all served by the Rev Paul Puok.
 New Camp
A new section started in 2012 to accommodate the 16,000 new arrivals, mostly from the Blue Nile region of South SudanTwo Nuer Mission centres served by the Rev Michael Lual

The congregation at St. Paul’s are mostly Nuer people, with some Anuak members. The priest-in-charge is the Rev. Simon Ker. He is responsible for the mission centre, as well as the following daughter churches:  Duk, Kuachthiang, Koatngoal, Waken, Kuerroh, Luakdong, and Kowkow.

Tiergol is located on the border with South Sudan, and consequently can be unstable. Currently, the only way to reach Tiergol is by boat, although there is a road under construction. Most are the congregation are Nuer people.  The priest-in-charge is the Rev. Michael Anyar Garang, serves 3 Dinka and Nuer congregations.  Daughter churches are Lol-kwac and Babbe.

St. Peter’s is a Nuer congregation. The priest-in charge is the Rev. John Gach. The congregation are very active, and have four daughter churches, Rotlong, Burebiey, Tonyler, and Gade, all connected to the mission centre.

Pilwal Mission Centre is a Nuer congregation and one of the more recently established mission centres, but it has six daughter churches connected to it. Peter Gak is the Deacon-in-charge.  The daughter churches are Wath-gal, Malow, Thorow, Yom, Thiaajak, and Pal-deang.

All Saints’ Mission centre is a Nuer congregation. The priest-in-charge is the Rev . Peter Kuel. In 2012, the whole town of Nininyang was flooded and the congregation have almost finished rebuilding their church on higher ground.  Daughter churches are Wiy, Bil-dak, Puldeng, Adura, Gear, and Jikow.

Itang used to be the home of the largest refugee camp in the world, made up mostly of Dinkas who have since returned to South Sudan. Itang now has both Nuer and Anuak people groups.  There are four Nuer congregations in Itang with one Anuak congregation in formation.  There are an additional four Nuer and three Anuak congregations in the surrounding areas and one more in Illea.  These churches are served by the Rev Isaac Pur Wal and layman Peter Tot Chuol (Nuer), and the Rev Gimar Obang and Dcn Luke Gala.

Jesus Prince of Peace is the Mission Centre for five Opo congregations served by the Rev David Onuk who is also the Opo Missioner.  The Opo have only been Christians for 6 years, having been evangelized by Dcn Gordon Rock.  Their entire ethnic group numbers approximately 5,000 people. They do not have a Bible in their own language.
 Until they became Anglican Christians they had no written language. They now have Morning Prayer and Holy Communion in their language, and they desire the Bible in their own language.  Daughter churches are Bonga, Lungkey, Mera, Lulbare, and Pamdin.

Report on Ethiopia: Part One

The following report is based on personal observation, interviews with Bishop Grant LeMarquand, and quite a shameless amount of "plagiarism" from various reports written by a new and dear friend from Egypt, Rosie Fyfe, who works with Bishop Mouneer in the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.  
I will be posting these in bite sized if you come in on some part of the tail end, please scroll down to the beginning...
Unfortunately, there will be no images, but, if you go to my Face Book site ( you will find picture galore.  
As always, please pray for the Horn.

Report on Anglican Work in Gambella, Ethiopia
1.  The Horn of Africa Episcopal Area
The Horn of Africa Episcopal Area includes work in four countries: Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti.
The vast majority of the Anglicans in this area are in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. The approximately 70 congregations are divided into 12 Mission Centres, with new Mission Centres under development. Averages of 6,000 people attend church services each week.  This includes churches in three refugee camps.  These Gambella churches are served by 16 clergy and a number of lay readers. The congregations worship in a variety of languages including Anuak, Dinka, Nuer, Mabaan, and Opo. English-speaking churches in the Episcopal Area serve both ex-patriates and Africans who use English. These churches include St Matthew’s in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and St George’s in Asmara, Eritrea. A new English-speaking congregation has recently formed in Mekele in northern Ethiopia. The Area also includes Somali speaking Christians.

As well as church life centred on worship and biblical teaching, the Episcopal Area is also involved in literacy training, training school teachers in non-violent conflict resolution, providing libraries where school children can study, sports ministry, agricultural projects, community-based health care, among various other events including ecumenical gatherings.

2.  Geographic Location of the Gambella Anglican Centre
The Gambella Anglican Centre is in Gambella Township, the capital of Gambella Regional State. Gambella is in the west of Ethiopia, bordering with Sudan, and has a population of 307,096 (2007 Census, Central Statistics Agency of Ethiopia). Gambella is one of the poorest and least-developed of Ethiopia’s nine states.
The Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa is part of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A list for my rope holders....

The term "rope holders" comes from a reply made by William Carey after hearing an account of the spiritual needs of India.  The secretary of the meeting remarked: "There is a gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the center of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?" "I will venture to go down," said Carey, "but remember that you must hold the ropes."

Every believer who seeks to extend the borders of the Kingdom of our Lord needs rope holders.  Jesus warned us that we ought to expect resistance...after all, we are turning the spotlight of the Gospel on in hearts and minds where Satan's dark kingdom holds sway.  Paul reminds us that we are engaged in an epic battle against hidden spiritual forces of evil and Peter tells us to remain vigilant at all times because our enemy is relentless in seeking to destroy and devour.  Without rope holders, those of us who venture in to mine the priceless hearts and souls of men, women, and children for the heavenly treasury, are at an immediate disadvantage.  

So will you be our rope holders?

Here are a few items for prayer:

1.  Pray for Louise.  It is not easy to stay behind for many reasons, but the main reason is our love for each other.  Louise and I rarely do anything on our own as we truly enjoy each other's company.  I will miss her as much as she will miss me.  So please pray for my dear wife.

2.  Pray for the people who live in the Horn of Africa.  There are so many needs, but spiritual poverty, drought, and starvation are the greatest as they have an eternal dimension to them.  Ethiopia is the oldest Christian Nation in the world, having been exposed to the Gospel from the days of the returning Eunuch to the present, and yet there are millions who have either not heard the Gospel or who are so bound by false religions that they are blind to it.  Others are fearful to respond to what they perceive to be the truth.  Pray for the Horn!

3.  Pray for journeying mercies.  For the roads trips from Greenville to Charlotte and back again (2X) and for the road trips we will make in Ethiopia.  Pray for the flights from Charlotte to Washington to Addis Ababa to Gambela and back.

4.  Pray for Bishop Grant and Dr. Wendy and their work in the Horn.  It is a huge task that lies before them and they need wisdom, strength, endurance, perseverance, ongoing spiritual renewal, and so many other things that only our Lord can give them.  They also need wisdom as they pray with Louise and me about our relocation to Gambela to help get the theological training school and the medical work up and running.

5.  Pray for me that I may stay healthy in every sense of that word.  Pray that I might discern the Lord's call clearly.  Pray that I might learn what I need to learn - ask all the right questions - have a clear mind to process the information - identify the real needs, not just the more obvious, surface needs - but above all, that I might be a blessing to Grant and Wendy and to everyone I meet from Charlotte on and back...

Hold my rope, please...

Lord, what is man...?

David the king, in his song to the Lord who preserves and prospers his people, asks the question: "Lord, what is man, that you take knowledge of him?  Or the son of man, that you are concerned about him?"

As I look over the entries in my prayer journal for last week, I see one answer to prayer after the other.  All that I needed, the Lord provided...and more.  We were not only able to pay for all the expenses concerning this trip to Gambela, but we were also able to replenish the small missions fund we had depleted at the beginning of the week!  I really don't know why I am amazed.  We have seen the Lord do this before.

Perhaps our amazement has more to do with the folks at Resurrection Fellowship and other friends of ours who dipped deep into their pockets to give sacrificially and cheerfully to the Lord.  It is a joy to see how serious our Fellowship is when it comes to missions!  Clearly, their hearts have been shaped by the heart of the Lord of missions!  It truly is a privilege to be part of such a family!  We may not be many; we may not have all the trappings of larger churches; we may not have much in the way of resources...but we have the Lord and he has proved to be sufficient all the way.

Then perhaps, that is where the sense of amazement really comes from.  Like David, we may well ask, what are we that our Lord should deal so bountifully with us?  Amazing grace....'tis mercy so amazing, so divine...great is Thy faithfulness...David wasn't the first and certainly wasn't the last to write songs of praise and adoration in response to the kindness of our God.

Referring to God's bountiful provision for his people, David ends his Psalm with this statement: "How happy are the people to whom such blessings fall; How happy are the people whose God is the Lord!"

Indeed.  We have been blessed...we have blessed so that we, in turn, may be a blessing.

I will sing praise to you, O Lord, among all the people groups; I will sing praise to you among all the nations!