Thursday, August 13, 2015



As Area Bishop of the Horn of Africa and as a medical doctor, Bp. Grant and Dr. Wendy LeMarquand are training pastors for 83 churches, teaching basic health care, and reaching out to unreached people groups and to 350,000 refugees in Gambella, Ethiopia.

In their plenary presentation at New Wineskins 2016 “Hope Amid Poverty, Powerlessness, and Persecution,” Bp. Grant and Dr. Wendy will talk about the present day realities of Gambella, Ethiopia. “We live in a poor part of a very poor country,” said Bp. Grant. “Poverty is not just about money—it’s about fear, and it’s about knowledge.” Lack of educational opportunities and the stripping away of cultural identity are two of the many problems which affect both Gambella’s natives and the refugees who fled there from civil war in South Sudan.

Those from South Sudan come culturally impoverished, traumatised by violence, and are often naked, starving, and sick by the time they reach the outer border of Gambella. Since they can only bring what’s on their backs, most bring only their children, leaving behind their possessions and their community elders. Their ties to the wisdom of their tradition and culture are cut off. Bp. Grant and Dr. Wendy are asking, “How do we do ministry with people who are poor on every level—with people who have no power or voice to improve their situation?”

Nonetheless, Bp. Grant and Dr. Wendy will not only address poverty, but also the blessings and opportunities of both the Gambella natives and Sudanese refugees. “What surprises visitors is the depth of their faith and trust in Poverty is not just about money—it’s about fear and it’s about knowledge God, and the amount of joy in the midst of suffering,” said Bp. Grant. “Yes, people are traumatised, poor, and lack education—they need all kinds of things. But looking through our photos of people who are just living their lives, there is also abundant laughter and joy.

People in Gambella are open to learning about Jesus. They see how He fits into their culture. Each day more of them are discovering that God wants to be close with them.” Dr. Wendy added, “There are so many obvious needs, and there are also so many things that are good in this culture.” As opposed to the common western mantra of “I think because I am,” cultures in Ethiopia emphasise “I am because we are,” and view their identity through the lens of community. The culture is more interconnected and more like the Bible times, and Dr. Wendy strives to help those around her discover, “What does it mean to walk with Christ in this context?”


Bp. Grant and the Rev. Johann van der Bijl’’s workshop at New Wineskins 2016 will focus on discipling leaders. “We have 83 churches in Gambella and only 16 clergy—none of whom have been to theological college. They have very little training,” Bp. Grant shared. They have told him that they know how to lead people to Christ and plant churches but not how to make disciples. Bp. Grant and Rev. Johann are establishing St. Frumentius Theological College in Gambella to make sure that the next generation of clergy are much better trained with a better experience of full-time study with books and teachers. Because they don’t want to leave the present clergy without training, they will have intensive courses so the pastors can come join in with the full-time students.

The students attending the college will be working with congregations that are mostly illiterate. The clergy themselves will be reading books and studying, but Bp. Grant will be helping them translate what they learn into teaching and disciple-making for an oral context—very different from a didactic “fact A-fact B” approach to education. Many assignments will require interacting with the congregation and learning about their local church history, with questions like, “Who brought the Gospel here the first time? What difference did it make?” Clergy will be able to put into practice what they learn right away as they preach and lead Bible studies in local congregations. Bp. Grant will supplement the curriculum with practical work, prayer, and worship as major components of college life. “Discipleship is not just a matter of the head, it’s also a matter of the hands and feet.”


In an engaging and interactive workshop, Dr. Wendy and her colleague Louise van der Bijl, RN, will demonstrate teaching disease prevention and empowerment through educating women. “On average, women in our area have 9 to 11 pregnancies each, out of which only 2 to 4 children live up to age 5 years,” said Dr. Wendy. “Most of the children are dying from preventable problems such as malnutrition, dehydration, respiratory problems, malaria, and accidents—all of which can be helped by simple preventative measures.”
Through interactive drama, songs, and stories, Dr. Wendy and Louise are developing relationships and educating women to empower their own communities. The women are excited and are taking what they learn back to their villages—saving the lives of hundreds.


Both Bp. Grant and Dr. Wendy mentioned how refreshing it was for them to reconnect at New Wineskins 2013 with other Anglicans closer to home after their first year in Ethiopia. As the LeMarquands said, the New Wineskins conferences bring together people who have a passion for mission, people who are working in various cross-cultural situations, and people who just want to learn more about missions. “It is a great opportunity to share what God is doing through Anglicans all over the world,” said Dr. Wendy. “We are grateful for the opportunity to connect with people who have a heart for blessing the world.”

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