Saturday, September 14, 2013


In a recent survey conducted by the Anglican Church in Gambella, Ethiopia, it was found that an average of 2 to 4 children survived per an average of 9 to 11 children born into the family. Most of these children die under age 5 from communicable disease and malaria.

With the support of Anglican Aid, a three year training program for the Mothers Union has started to address issues of poverty and health. The Mother’s Union is an integral part of the Anglican Church in Gambella, and is actively engaged in literacy programs, church activities, practical help, prayer and visitations to the sick. The new training program will expand the role of the Mothers Union, providing theological and practical skills to women across 70 villages. This will be done through a ‘train-the-trainer’ program, which will empower women to affect change in their own communities.

Dr. Wendy LeMarquand, the project co-ordinator, reports on the first training session. “On September 4th and 5th, we hosted 34 women representing 20 distinct Mothers’ Union groups functioning out of our 14 Mission Centres spread throughout the Gambella region.

It was wonderful to see how intently the women listened to the introductory story dealing with issues of how we learn and how we can work together to help take care of problems in the community. And it was a delight to see how much they enjoyed using pictures and story-telling as they later practiced teaching this to one another! They had lots of fun looking through magnifying glasses and binoculars in the session on how we are able to see things that contaminate water, and they were amazed (and quite horrified!) at the pictures of microorganisms shown to them on my computer!

Our practice sessions on solar water purification, water filter construction, clean water dispensers and dish drying racks were full of laughter, good questions and good discussion. When each of the representatives left to return to their Mission Centres, they carried the materials to make their own clean water dispensers, carrying these simple, inexpensive and locally available items as if they were carrying costly treasure.

These ‘water dispensers’ that our representatives will make during their own community demonstration/teaching sessions will replace the common open (and never washed) communal pot of water (which is usually kept inside the church office, in the dark), and into which one unwashed cup is passed from one coughing adult to one feverish child, to another with diarrhea, etc.

Some were moved to tears to think that what they are learning may save the lives of their precious children. To think that the occurrence and re-occurrence of diarrhea is something that can be taken care of and prevented was a new concept to many. To communicate these important truths in a way that is fun, non-judgmental and memorable is one of the main goals of the program.

Our Mothers’ Union representatives will return to teach what they have learned by holding a teaching day for all of our 1500 Mothers’ Union members at the Mission Centres, and then by holding a second teaching day at our 60+ local churches where each Mothers’ Union member is encouraged to invite and teach at least one community guest.

The Mothers Union in Gambella requires further support for these training sessions. Please contact Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy LeMarquand for further information.

Friday, September 13, 2013

"He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it."

I sensed the Lord's gentle rebuke during my devotional time this morning.  My reading was from John 8.  In the Message verse 19 reads:  "You are looking right at Me and you don't see Me."  A few verses later, Jesus says, "The one who sent Me stays with Me.  He doesn't abandon Me.  He sees how much joy I take in pleasing Him."

My anxiety with regard to our fund raising efforts exposes my lack of trust in Him.  I'm just not seeing Him even though He is right here with us.  But I have His promise.  He stays with me.  He does not abandon me because He knows that, ultimately, I do find my joy in pleasing Him.

When I prayed, "Lord, please open up my blind eyes that I may see you at all times, I sensed Him saying, "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it."

Amen, Thank you Jesus.

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 2013
Dear Prayer Partners

We are now officially moved out and moved in.  But the process of shedding continues as we embrace a new lifestyle of simplicity. 

The character Nora Walker Hobbs in the musical Tommy sings:  “But what's it all worth? What's it all worth when my son is blind? He can't hear the music nor enjoy what I'm buying.”  Seen from the Christian perspective of eternity, her words take on a whole different meaning.  What’s it all worth?  As Paul said to the Philippians, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.”  In fact, he counted them as dung in comparison to Christ and His cause.  Are we learning the same lesson?  In all humility, I hope we are.

Nathan C. Schaeffer once wrote, “At the close of life, the question will not be how much have you got, but how much have you given. Not how much have you won, but how much have you done. Not how much have you saved, but how much have you sacrificed. Not how much were you honored, but how much have you served.” 

As we rehearse the needs of the people we believe our Lord is calling us to serve, we are reminded again and again of how loosely we must hold onto our earthly treasures, whether they be material objects or our loved ones.  Many in the Gambela People’s Region have lost their livelihood, their possessions, their family members, their friends in a moment of terror.  The Sudanese government continues to persecute our brethren in the Nuba Mountain and Blue Nile districts and the refugees continue to fill the already overfull camps.  With nothing but a patch of land, a small hut, a few odds and ends they were able to carry, and the remaining members of their household, they exist from day to day. 

But things can be so different!  The Lord Jesus came that we might have life and have it in abundance.  Life, not stuff.  And this life is not only free, but it can also not be stolen away by anyone. 

Please pray for us as we continue to tell others about the work of the Vinedresser in that particular part of His vineyard.  Pray that He would raise up people who will be willing to invest in a heavenly portfolio by partnering with us in the work of the Gospel.

In Christ’s Service,
Johann & Louise

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

An honor and a privilege....

Some of you may remember that Louise and I worked in India, among others, with a handful of Anglican churches in the State of Andhra Pradesh.  During one visit, I was asked to evaluate the work in the Kadapa district as there had been complaints that the priest in charge was not fulfilling his duties.  To my utter delight, I found the exact opposite to be true and reported that the word of the Lord was being preached faithfully and that the work was thriving.  This report led to the creation of a separate Diocese and the priest in charge was duly elected and consecrated Bishop.  He was later made the Presiding Bishop over both Dioceses...quite a turnaround for him and his flock.  His name?  Jaya Rao...Bishop Jaya Rao.

During the celebrations following his consecration, his son, Rajesh approached me with a request.  Would I name their baby daughter?  What an honor to name the firstborn granddaughter of Bishop Jaya Rao!  I said I would pray about it, and I believed the Lord wished her to be named Hannah Joy...the Lord had indeed brought them joy, but I also believe that this child will be a prayer warrior and that her petitions which she asks of the Lord will be granted her.  Hannah Joy is still doing well and continues to be a joy to her parents and grandparents.

However, this past week, I received an email from the Bishop and Rajesh, his son, informing us that the Lord had given them a son and that they wanted me to name him as I had named his older sister!  What a blessing!  What an honor!  And indeed, how humbling.   So we prayed about it and this morning I believe the Lord replied.  This is the email I sent them

Dear Bishop Jaya Rao, and Rajesh

మీరు దేవుని మా తండ్రి నుండి మరియు మా లార్డ్ జీసస్ క్రైస్ట్ నుండి గ్రేస్ మరియు శాంతి!

Congratulations!  Thank you once again for the honor you show us in asking us to name your Grandson, Bishop, and your son, Rajesh!  We prayerfully considered your request and believe the child should be named "Joshua David".  

The name Joshua means "YAHWEH is salvation".  He was one of two believing men sent out to spy out the land of Canaan.  Together with Caleb, Joshua believed that God was greater than the giants in the land and that the Israelites ought to fight because God was on their side.  He later led Israel across the Jordan to conquer the land of Canaan.

David means "beloved".  He was chosen by God to be King over his brothers (see 1 Samuel 16:7), and through David, God completed the conquering of the land of Canaan.  Like Joshua, he believed God to be greater than the giants (in David's case, the giant Goliath), and like Joshua, David led God's people to victory over the enemies of the Kingdom.

I believe that the Lord is raising up your Grandson/son to be a mighty man of God in His Kingdom.  I believe God is raising him up to lead His people to victory against the "giants" - against the principalities and powers of darkness.  Joshua David will be a man of vision, a man of faith, and a man who will love God and be loved by God.

As Hanna Joy is to be a woman of power-filled and faith-filled prayer, so Joshua David will be a man of power-filled and faith-filled action for the Kingdom.

May the Lord bless both your children richly, Rajesh, and may they bring happiness to you and Rebecca, Bishop.