As a young man, Ojullu Obilla Ojaho was hostile to the church. “Why do we accept the law of the white man and his Bible?” But a persistent Christian friend finally persuaded Ojullu to come to church with him and Ojullu’s life was forever changed as he bowed the knee, not to the white man, but to Jesus. Ever since then, Ojullu has been committed to preaching and teaching the law of love. Ojullu has a sad history. After his first wife died, he married Akello Ojullu Nyigwo, the mother of his only son, Anena Ojullu Obilla, now five years old. On the 12th of June 2015, we received the news that Akello had passed away. But Ojullu is still determined to push on with his studies, as his desire is to teach. He completed a nine module Theological Education by Extension program and served as a tutor to others in the program. Many of our current pastors had him as their tutor. Ojullu is a serious student and loves to read. I have often found him the library reading Bible commentaries.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
“My intention is to bring people to be part of the new life I am enjoying.” Awar Otho Odol has served as a lay evangelist for years, bringing the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ to many women in various villages in the Gambella People’s Region. She is also involved in leading worship in her church and as well as leading a spiritual enrichment program. Awar has a shepherd’s heart and she wants to learn more so that she may “gain knowledge and skills” to better reach out to her people. She is married to Obang Omod and has two handsome sons, Omod Obang Omod (14) and Ojulu Obang Omod (11). She has a teaching Diploma in English and, in addition to her service in the church, has served as a teacher in a local primary school.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
In 1980, Missionaries visited a remote village named Gog in the southern part of the Gambela People’s Region. They preached the Gospel and a young seven year-old boy accepted Jesus as his Saviour. Today Okello Omot Oball still remembers the message of love and forgiveness and wants to share that same good news with others. One of his dreams is to translate Bible commentaries into his mother tongue, Anyuak, so that those of his people who cannot read English, but are able leaders in their respective communities, may have access to these books. Okello has a diploma in TEE and a Bachelor of Science Degree in statistics. As well as being an active member of his local church, Okello is currently employed by the Red Cross as a zone coordinator. He is married to Agnomi Oju Kwot and they have two daughters, Beer and Rahel.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Gatluak Jock Kier, like many of our Nuer brethren, does not have a birth date – he was born at a time when life was difficult and papers and dates irrelevant. But Gatluak does know when he was born again! On December 28, 1990, he bore witness to his new found faith and was baptised in a church in Jikow and has not stopped bearing witness to Jesus ever since. He is currently the lay-leader of one of our newest churches in Jikow and, according to his pastor, he is a hard worker and serves his people well. The church council specifically elected him to come to St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College. Gatluak is married to Martha Nyahoth Rom and they have three children, Naymir, Nyakong, and Nyatut.
It is hard to believe that we were in the United States just 20 days ago! So many things have happened since we visited with our children, grandchildren, and our dear friends. Louise just returned last week from a quick visit to her mum in South Africa who turned 90. While she was in Villersdorp (near Cape Town), I started the process of renewing my work permit and our residency…sadly, we still don’t have our residency, but we have been cleared by Federal Affairs and the Department of Labour…so, two very important steps have already been taken.
Karen Salmon, one of our faculty members arrived on August 9 and we immediately began to work on all the many things one needs to do to get a College off the ground. It is such a blessing to have someone to bounce ideas off of as we move forward with this new and exciting adventure! There is still so much to do!
Jeremiah Maet Paul, another new member of our faculty, arrived in Addis from Cairo with his wife Elizabeth and their son, Wunuar, on August 17. They will be coming to Gambella this Thursday and staying in our Guest House until we can secure the funds needed to build them a modest home on the compound.
Karen will be teaching two courses, an Introduction to the Bible and Biblical Interpretation, and Old Testament 1. She will also be heading up the student chore program. Jeremiah will be teaching an African Traditional Religion course as well as heading up our fieldwork program. I will be teaching English: grammar, reading, writing, and speaking. Bishop Grant will teach an intensive course on Biblical Theology in December and two teams, one from the US and the other from Addis, will be taking two intensive course slots on trauma counselling, healing, deliverance, and prayer. A full plate to be sure…
We just completed a two daylong selection conference in which prospective pastors and leaders, recommended by their church councils, elders, and/or their pastors, were interviewed by a few of us to help Bishop Grant make decisions with regard to future ordination. It was a wonderful time of prayer and fellowship as well as a great time to get to know our leaders better. The presence of the Holy Spirit was evident throughout the two days and especially when the interviewers reported back to the group – there was a general holy consensus. Thank you Lord!
We are in the process of interviewing our prospective students and I would like to introduce them to you one by one as we go along so that you will know their names and see their faces. Be on the look out for sporadic emails! I will try to include photographs, but that is not always easy. Please do continue to pray for scholarships as we are in need of a few more. We may have as many as 12 first year students and 15 part-time students…plus a presently unknown number of those who will come in for training from time to time…there are so many who do not speak, read, or write English and we will have to find creative ways to train these very able men and women in the future – exciting, but challenging stuff.
New student arrival and registration starts on August 26, orientation on August 28, and the College opens on August 31! This is the stuff dreams are made of!
Items for Prayer:
1. Pray for our students. This is a very steep learning curve for most of them.
2. Pray for Louise as she works hard at getting the library up to standard among the 110 other things she does on this compound! She has nearly 5000 books to catalogue and shelve and there are boxes yet to be unpacked! Praise God for those who have donated so many good books.
3. Pray for the many administrative things yet to be done. Rosemary Burke, our Diocesan Administrator General, has been such a help to us with budgeting matters and dealing with the scholarships as they come in.
4. Pray for the process of accreditation that must be started sooner rather than later. I have been invited to attend an international conference in Turkey the first week in November where all the accrediting agencies will be present and I need to raise the funds to make that happen as well!
5. Pray for the many refugees still pouring into the Gambella Region. The war drags on, as leaders simply cannot bring themselves to commit to a form of lasting peace.
6. Pray that our Residency Cards will be issued soon.
7. Pray that we may be able to raise all the necessary funds for scholarships for both full-time and part-time students.
8. Pray for our clergy, lay-leaders, Mother’s Union representatives and members, all our church members, many of whom are refugees, our faculty and staff, and for the many who have yet to hear the Gospel in the Horn of Africa.
9. Pray for rain – the rains have been late and insufficient. This has been catastrophic in the past as farmers have not been able to plant their crops causing countrywide food shortages.
Thank you all for your encouragement, your prayers, and your support. I know I say this all the time, but it is worth repeating…we cannot do what we are doing without you.
May the Lord bless and keep you all.
Johann, Louise and all in Gambella