Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sudanese refugee crisis - Pinyadu and beyond

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is preparing to relocate 16,000 Sudanese refugees to the existing Pinyadu (also spelled Pugnido) camp mentioned in my earlier report.  New Pinyadu is reported to be one of the largest refugee camps in the world.  

Many more South Sudanese have fled to Ethiopia to escape ethnic violence in South Sudan's Jonglei State.  Apparently, an average of 20 Sudanese cross the border into Ethiopia on a daily basis.  

Many of these refugees arrive with their livestock which makes resettlement even more difficult as grazing land in Ethiopia is scarce. 

Renewed fighting in the Blue-Nile area may bring a fresh influx of refugees from the Benishangul-Gumuz region.  The UNHCR is also investigating reports that another estimated 10,000 internally displaced people from the Gengen area are preparing to cross into Ethiopia.  An additional 33,000 refugees are also currently being cared for in Assosa town.  These may also be moved to the Pinyadu camp later this year.  

As of February about 200,00 people from South Kordofan and the Blue Nile states has fled to either South Sudan or Ethiopia.  There are many cases of severe malnutrition and the infant mortality rate is high.  Indiscriminate aerial bombardment by the Sudanese Air Force and shelling of civilians continues.  

Recent reports state that Ethiopia is facing an increasing refugee population, mainly from strife-torn neighbouring countries, including Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan.  The 17 existing camps scattered acros the nation are simply not enough to deal with this ever increasing population of refugees.  Additional camps are now due to be built.  According to UNHCR statistics for the whole of last year up until February, Ethiopia hosted a total of 388,805 refugees from 13 different countries, including Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Yemen, Djibouti and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Between January and February alone, the agency registered over 10,170 new arrivals in the country.

The fields are white unto harvest.  Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest...

For more information see:


See here for statistics:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Great story, but flawed in the telling...Sent by Hilary Alan

Book Review:  Sent by Hilary Alan
I understand that we are not dealing with Dickinson, Bronte, or Austin here, but one cannot help but wonder if this book ever passed through the hands of an editor.  While there is some charm to a book written as a chat where thoughts are thrown in at random as they are remembered, the repeated refrain of “this was our pursuit of the American dream and we thought we had it made, but then…” gets a little annoying after a while.  Alan often indicates that she found remarks like “you gave up so much” offensive or irritating…so why keep bringing it up ever so often?  One is tossed back and forth from here to there and this type of choppiness can make one sea-sick at times. 

And then there is the tacked on sermon in chapter 30.  Does Alan really think that a non believer or even a nominal believer would have waded through all the previous chapters so that they could be convicted of their sin in the chapter before the epilogue?  And the tasteless Roman Catholic bashing is so unnecessary!  While begging Americans not to judge all Muslims by the actions of some, Alan dismisses all RCC members in a few sentences as people who have no clue as to the message of the Gospel.  Are we talking about glass houses here or what?  On page 237, she says: “I grew up in an incredibly dysfunctional home with infidelity, divorce, drugs, alcoholism, abuse, and broken relationships.  I was taught that education, position, and money were the keys to success and that religion was an obligation.”  Perhaps the finger pointing, if there ought to be any at all, should start and end here…

This is so sad, because this story could have been life changing for so many.  Alan goes for the jugular as far as American materialistic values are concerned and unveils the eyes of the blind Christians who follow the blind world.  She paints a tender picture of a family struggling to come to terms with the cost of true discipleship.  The chapters dealing with her involvement in the personal lives of those in her host culture are precious.  They are refreshing oases where Alan digs deep into her heart and shares the intimate thoughts of a Westerner trying desperately to come to terms with non-Western ways. 

I would love to read this book again once it has been (heavily) edited and reconstructed in a narrative form that easily flows from conflict, crisis, to resolution. 

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Healthy living....

A few years ago I was introduced to an author by the name of Donald Miller in a class taught by Dr. Laurie Thompson.  Blue Like Jazz.  I hated it.  I told Laurie that the only reason I didn't burn the book was because I paid good money for it.  To me it seemed that Miller was so self-absorbed that even the best psychotherapist would not be able to lure him out of his innards.  Imagine my distress when a few classes later, Laurie asked me to read the same book.  In spite of my high regard for Laurie, I, Laurie proposed a compromise.  Why not read another one of Miller's books?  Reluctantly, I ordered Searching For God Knows What...I have been sold on Miller ever since.  I have read all his books (although I admit I have never reread Blue Like Jazz), I went to a live lecture he gave in NC, I am on his email list, on his FB, I am a subscriber to his blog, and I've seen the movie.  Hook, line, and sinker, as they say.

In his most recent post on Storyline (see here: he writes:  "I'm big on vision. I believe people are more healthy when they are heading somewhere. One of the main questions I ask people is, “What do you want to do with your life?” If a person has a solid answer to that, I know they are more likely to be healthy."

For years, Louise an I have been distracted from the life we believe the Lord gave us to live.  No, we haven't done wrong things...we haven't even really lived for ourselves.  We have poured our lives out for others...for our children and for our parishioners and others - our neighbors and our friends...and, by God's grace, I hope we have served them well.  But in the process I believe we slowly drifted away from the original call God had placed on our lives...the call to global missions.

In fact, the very reason we came to the States in 1996 was so that I could work on getting the degrees necessary for me to return to the mission field as a teacher at a theological training center   That was 17 years ago.  However, let me hasten to add, that neither Louise nor I think that these were wasted years.  Both our boys have benefited greatly from our being in the US.  Not only do they have a good education, but they have the best wives any parent could hope for...and they are happy and fulfilled.  We have a beautiful grandson who has a future...a future many children his age in the majority world countries do not have.  And we have touched the lives of many and they have touched ours.  The Lord has worked deeply in our hearts, chipping away at all those many things that tend to get in the way of total obedience to His will.  In my case, God has had to deal with the sins of pride and self-centeredness among many other flaws and failures...and I know He is not done yet.

But now, as we stand at yet another set of crossroads, we know that there are certain essentials we can no longer ignore.  The Holy Spirit has gifted us with abilities that are uniquely suited to our future work in Gambella, Ethiopia, and our reply to the call can only be a resounding 'yes'.  There is no doubt in my mind that this is where the Lord would have us go from here.

But it is not the destination I am concerned about.  We all know that those who walk with God always reach their destination...we know this so well it is a hairbreadth away from being an irritating cliche.  No, rather it is this interim period that bothers is the time between now and August 2014 that troubles me.  True, we will be occupied with the many things we need to do in order to be ready when the time comes, but having the fulfillment of a dream so close and yet so far has the potential of creating all sorts of tensions.  In many ways, this will be the greatest test I have ever faced.  My only prayer is that God will keep me so busy doing the things I ought to do and need to do that I will not have the time to think about all the many things I will do once I am where our hearts are calling us.

So, today I find Miller's words comforting...spiritually, Louise and I have never felt healthier.  So, thank you Donald, for your timely words.  While you may never know it, the Lord has spoken through you this day.  Bless you...and Blue Like Jazz.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Moving along....

Louise and I were so blessed at the New Wineskins Conference this past weekend.  To use the terminology of a younger generation - we were totally blown away!

But this conference also marked the beginning of a new life for us.  We met with Denise Cox of the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders to discuss our future involvement with SAMS as our sending agency.  SAMS has proved to be one of the best mission agencies out there and it would be a privilege for us to work with them.  We also had a chance to meet with our future "bosses", Bishop Grant and Doctor Wendy LeMarquand and to chew the fat over a cup of good Ridgecrest Coffee.

Our discernment has now morphed into a call...and we are all anticipation to see how the Lord will work through the many different things we need to do in order to be ready to go next year August.  We are entering into a brave new world in many respects and cannot wait to see how things will work together for good...not only for our good, but for the good of those our Lord is leading us to serve.

Pray for us.