International Ministries

Noyes - International Ministries The latest from Ed and Miriam Noyes https://internationalministries.org/teams/85-noyes.rss Pastoral Team to Lead Twa Lay Pastor Training <p>It has been an extremely busy summer.&nbsp; Whew!&nbsp; There was the last push to finalize the lay pastor training program and get it to the printer.&nbsp; Then there was a month of intensive research and writing (in French, not my best language) the brief history of the CBCO Baptist women's organization here, prepared for their 50th anniversary celebrations.&nbsp; What a story!&nbsp; Then there was the 50th anniversary itself: a week chocked full of activities attended by women from all over the convention, hosted here at the Kinshasa headquarters. &nbsp;</p><p>At the same time we were working with a foot-dragging printer to get the lay pastor training booklets in Lingala ready for distribution.&nbsp; A two-week job turned into a 7-week contest of wills.&nbsp; He has promised the final booklets today, but he still has to correct the defective books.<br><br>Finally, the Baptist convention held its elective general assembly to choose new leaders at the end of August.&nbsp; Again we were inundated with out-of-towners.&nbsp; The three-day general assembly aired the deep concerns of delegates for the future of the Convention and ended with a clear-cut commitment to restoring the focus on God’s call to effective witness and mission – sorely neglected over the past five years.&nbsp; The dust has settled and the new team is now at work.<br><br>Amidst all the flurry, we have moved forward on the long awaited training for Twa Pygmy Christian leaders: pastors and evangelists.&nbsp; Pastor Jacques Mayala and his wife, Rose (our literacy coordinator), leave for Inongo on Wednesday September 16.&nbsp; They will lead the 5-week training.&nbsp; This is a key step in planting authentically Twa, authentically Christian churches. I have been working on this for over a year.&nbsp; You have given for it.&nbsp; You and we have been praying for it.&nbsp; Now the plane tickets have been bought and it is happening. &nbsp;<br><br>The training covers five modules, broken down into 204 lessons, each with questions for assimilation by the participants: <br>o&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;each person looking at their own allegiance to Christ and its implications for their life and work as a leader, then<br>o&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;an orientation to the Bible, especially some of the key stories, <br>o&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;training for discipling new Christians and inquirers, <br>o&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;a look at what the Bible says about common problems of life, <br>o&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;how to plan worship and other services, including how to preach, <br>o&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;all about the church: what it is, the church in Congo, and ministries of the church.<br>It is a challenging schedule for just one month with people not used to absorbing knowledge this way.&nbsp; We covet your prayers even more during this month, for teachers, participants and everyone involved.<br><br>The town of Inongo has recently become the capital of a new province carved off of the northern part of Bandundu Province, so there are lots of new administrative personnel without housing, hotels are full, and the resources are stretched to their limit.&nbsp; Although Jacques and Rose will start out in a hotel in town because of a lack of housing among our Twa friends, we will finance the building of a modest guesthouse in the Twa settlement from forest materials, where the Mayalas will stay as soon as it is ready to move into.&nbsp; We will beg room in a local church for the training sessions.<br><br>Our theme in mission this year is Stretching Forward toward the Goal of Advancing God’s Kingdom.&nbsp; The Twa outreach is a stretch for the Baptist Convention.&nbsp; Many of you have chosen to join with believers here in stretching toward this goal.&nbsp; The World Mission Offering is another vital part of the puzzle that makes this possible.&nbsp; Please give generously.<br><br>World Mission Offering 2015<br>Join us in STRETCHING FORWARD toward<br>the goal of advancing God’s kingdom on earth!</p> Sat, 12 Sep 2015 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/59804-pastoral-team-to-lead-twa-lay-pastor-training https://internationalministries.org/read/59804-pastoral-team-to-lead-twa-lay-pastor-training Translating lay pastor training course with Pastor Makwala <p>Some of you know that in June I unexpectedly started rather intense work on the Lingala revision of CBCO's lay pastor training program.&nbsp; Lay pastors are an important part of the organization of rural churches in Congo, given that most pastors are circuit-riders responsible for congregations in multiple villages.&nbsp; Elements of the program are also very useful for pastors and deacons in urban churches.</p> <p>The Lingala version had been on my agenda ever since Brother Thomas and I finished the program revision in Kituba in early 2012.&nbsp; I had expected to find someone to just do it on their own.&nbsp; That proved harder than expected.&nbsp; In June I met up with Pastor Makwala, an old retired pastor and Bible translator.&nbsp; He explained his situation: in poor health, no pension, grandchildren dependent on him.&nbsp; He asked for help. &nbsp;<br><br>In past years I had often visited Pastor Makwala's church.&nbsp; He had planted many churches and he had faithfully pastored difficult congregations.&nbsp; He had worked with my parents on the first versions of the lay pastors' training program.&nbsp; Immediately I thought he might enjoy translating the new Lingala version.&nbsp; And it would give him a reasonable income supplement for a while.&nbsp; I gave Pastor Makwala the materials to work on and showed him what needed to be done.&nbsp; Then Ed and I left for 6 weeks in the U.S. for International Ministries' Bicentennial celebrations. &nbsp;<br><br>When I returned, I saw that he had lost sight of the translation task; he had merely proofread what he had in hand.&nbsp; His still has a keen proofreader's eye.&nbsp; His skill at oral translation is undiminished.&nbsp; Still, it was evident that he needed someone to keep him on task to accomplish the translation.&nbsp; It was also plain that walking from his house to mine for work sessions would be too much for his weak heart. &nbsp;<br><br>So most afternoons since the middle of August I have been working with Pastor Makwala at his house.&nbsp; It is just a few minutes away by taxi-bus.&nbsp; Together we discuss the text for each lesson, revise and translate into Lingala.&nbsp; The best part of project is wrestling together with the material in each lesson.&nbsp; This week we were contemplating how Christian families and others deal with the birth and raising of congenitally handicapped children. What does the Bible have to say?&nbsp; What does life hold for these children?&nbsp; What are the responsibilities of parents and the church? &nbsp;<br><br>Pastor Makwala's comments on the Kituba version have improved and enriched the Lingala version.&nbsp; In 2010-2012 Brother Thomas and I found it difficult to find rural pastors with the critical thinking skills necessary to give the text a serious review.&nbsp; Pastor Makwala has the time and the experience to correct that weakness. &nbsp;<br><br>The program is divided into 5 training modules of more or less 40 lessons.&nbsp; We are ¾ of the way through the third module: Doctrine and Practice.&nbsp;&nbsp; The work is stimulating.&nbsp; In fact it has been reviving the good pastor.&nbsp; Ill health has kept him from getting to church and participating, let alone contributing.&nbsp; Before June, he was spending a good part of his days in bed, deteriorating.&nbsp; Now he has a reason to get out of bed, a chance to contribute again in a meaningful way, and the work is exercising his mind and using his pastoral experience.&nbsp; His wife, Mama Jeannette, is grateful.<br><br>They do need the money.&nbsp; Pastor Makwala and Jeanette are raising 5 orphaned grandchildren and paying for their education.&nbsp; The architect-contractor son who normally supports them has gone through a rough spot recently.&nbsp; Mama Jeannette dyes batik cloth and sells it to support them.&nbsp; She also does some urban farming.&nbsp; I bring them contributions from my garden sometimes.&nbsp; Some of your donations to “the work of Ed and Miriam Noyes” have been funding this translation effort.&nbsp; Perhaps by the time we have finished the translation, maybe the end of March, their son will be able to take up the level of support for them again that he used to give.<br><br>The association has been a positive experience for me too.&nbsp; I didn't know Mama Jeannette well before, but she was one of the founding members of the Baptist Women's organization in the 60s, the first president of the urban women later, then a founder of the pastors' wives association.&nbsp; This year we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the CBCO women's organization.&nbsp; Recording her memories has been an unexpected blessing. <br><br>Many people in the Baptist Convention continue to press us to finish the Lingala lay pastor training modules.&nbsp; You may remember that the Twa pygmy evangelist who leads a church in Inongo (planted through our literacy work) has only one week of formal training with Campus Crusade. &nbsp;He needs and is looking forward to learning from this Lingala lay pastor training program, as is the leader of the other pygmy congregation in Inongo. &nbsp;At the Baptist convention meetings in November I was inundated with requests from pastors on the south Bateke plateau and those in the Bayaka people's area. &nbsp;Pastor Makwala keeps remarking on how much the leaders he knows in the Kinshasa churches need it. &nbsp;<br><br>The urgency of these demands push us ahead.&nbsp; The task was unexpected.&nbsp; The work is time-consuming, at times frustrating. But it is a rich experience. &nbsp;And we know that the finished training program will help many lay pastors slogging on with minimal guidance to be more effective leaders and disciplers of people trying to follow Christ faithfully.<br><br>Pastor Makwala and I thank you for the chance to contribute in this way to the health of the church here in Congo.</p><p><br></p><p><i>Reminder: for a more printer-friendly version of this journal (with pictures embedded) you may want to look at our blog here:&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href="http://noyescongo.blogspot.com/2015/01/by-miriam-noyes-some-of-you-know-that.html">http://noyescongo.blogspot.com/2015/01/by-miriam-noyes-some-of-you-know-that.html</a></i><br></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/57068-translating-lay-pastor-training-course-with-pastor-makwala https://internationalministries.org/read/57068-translating-lay-pastor-training-course-with-pastor-makwala Update on Mama Luti Makunu I told <a href="http://internationalministries.org/read/32079-mama-luti-learns-to-read-and-lead">Mama Luti's story</a> in January 2011. Mama Luti Makunu Mayumbu was one of our very first literacy graduates in the Vanga area. She had started school, but was pulled out in early primary school to care for her sick mom, who subsequently died. Then she continued to care for her younger brothers and sisters, and keep house for her dad. <br><br>When she grew up she married and continued the same life. But she always regretted leaving school so early and never learning to read. Over the years she developed a hunger for God's word in the Bible. When the woman's president started reading classes in her village she jumped at the chance to learn to read the Bible. She was the only student who persevered to learn to read well and graduate. In 2010 I attended a Bible-study Ligue gathering where I met Mama Luti, who had become the Bible study leader for her village. <br><br>I haven't been in the Lusekele/Vanga area except for a visit since the summer of 2012, but last month I was talking with the young man who has been leading Sunday school teacher trainings and programs in the area. He said, “You remember Mama Luti? Well, she's started Sunday school classes for the kids of her village of Kikosi. Not only that, but she has become the lay leader and leader of the discipleship class for the congregation at Kikosi. Yes, she is still the Ligue Bible study leader for her village too. We're telling her that she's stretching herself too thin, that she needs to choose just one or two things to do.” <br><br>Praise God for Mama Luti and the transformation he has done in her life! God took a simple poor widow, mom and farmer, gave her her heart's desire, and made her the main teller of his Good News in her village. Praise God for her willing heart to share the Good News that she has found with her fellow villagers, and to respond to every need. Pray that God will call others to join her in this service to children, to the church and to those who also want to discover God's Word from her village. Sat, 24 Jan 2015 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/57066-update-on-mama-luti-makunu https://internationalministries.org/read/57066-update-on-mama-luti-makunu The difference that engaged Christians can make “You are salt for the whole human race.” Jesus sets a challenging standard for his disciples. Salt preserves and gives savor to food. It is essential, indispensable. Do we live up to that description? We claim to have the Spirit of Jesus living in us and leading us into all truth, righteousness and goodness. Still most of us barely distinguish ourselves from the broad spectrum of humanity that doesn’t even flirt with these claims. However, from time to time we see behavior that gives a glimpse of God’s goodness. This past week Christian partners stood apart, showing what the world might be like if we allowed God to remold us more completely. &nbsp; <br><br>Three weeks ago Miriam and I appealed for prayer. The Community Health Endowment (CHE) program has encouraged more than 400 community groups in Western Kasai province to plant a community field in support of the health center that gives primary health care to their village. Income from the field pays the subscription fee for a health plan that reduces out of pocket fees at the health center, making health care more accessible at times when family cash is scarce. This year the project is distributing seed of high-yielding varieties to participating groups with the idea of boosting productivity while improving access to affordable health care.&nbsp; &nbsp; <br><br>The glitch is that the rains have started and people want to (and should) plant right now. But the project bureaucracy remains oblivious to such nasty details as optimum planting dates and human needs, despite repeated reminders of the absolute necessity of distributing seed on time. The group distributing seed (PRODEK) still has no contract, nor any funding to ensure that seed gets into the hands of community groups. The project bureaucracy shows no signs of urgency. Even the prospect of failure (significantly reduced yields, loss of community group respect, and ineffective demonstration of the new varieties' potential) seems to have no motivating effect on the local project&nbsp; managers. &nbsp; <br><br>In the midst of this bureaucratic indifference (some might say all-too-human indifference) PRODEK, a health and development initiative of the Presbyterian Church of Kasai, has made a Christian statement. This week I heard part of the story. PRODEK agreed to advance its own (very limited) funds to get seed out to CHE groups. In a courageous statement, its agents agreed to work without a contract. They paid with their own money to arrange transport of seed. They worked from dawn to dusk for two weeks, putting community groups’ needs above their own. When others faced with difficult circumstances and possible failure were preparing excuses for why the operation couldn’t be done, the PRODEK team was figuring out a way forward. They still do not have a contract, but literally hundreds of CHE community groups may still salvage something from this year because of their sacrifice. They have nurtured hope instead of allowing hope to die. &nbsp; <br><br>Aid projects are big business in Congo. But spending money on activities is often very different from making a very real difference in people’s lives. Progressing from the first to the second usually takes a special extraordinary dedication. We can be the salt for the whole human race. But I think it takes the living Spirit of God dwelling in us, prompting us to love our neighbors as we do ourselves, leading us to dedicate ourselves to showing Christ. Thank you, Lord, for Alphonse’s willing sacrificial spirit sowing hope as PRODEK distributes seed. Sat, 27 Sep 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/55710-the-difference-that-engaged-christians-can-make https://internationalministries.org/read/55710-the-difference-that-engaged-christians-can-make Pastoral students glimpse the promise of God's provision Almost every rural pastor in Congo has a second or third job to make ends meet. (Rural parishes are not known for providing living wages for their pastors.) Pastor Manunga at Lusekele is a tailor. Family fields, gardens, livestock and fish ponds put food on the table and pay for health care and school fees. Life is a scramble for pastors, just like it is for people in the parishes they shepherd.<br><br>That is one reason that the Kikongo Pastor’s School (IPK) made agriculture a key part of its program. Leaders wanted to make sure that candidate pastors and their families could make a decent living off the land. But their vision extended further. They knew that better varieties and improved agricultural techniques could improve rural people’s production. (It is not unusual to be able to double production with varieties and techniques available today.) They also knew that people had few opportunities to hear about and try out agricultural innovations. They reasoned that, if young pastors could see the potential of agricultural innovations while preparing for rural pastorates, when they started their ministries they would be equipped to share God’s provision for more productive farming, more secure food supply and better livelihoods.<br><br>Despite its importance, the agricultural program had been neglected for years. Students began to wonder why they should even have to cultivate fields at all. In 2013 that changed. IPK engaged an energetic and organized young agronomist, Fidji Kifufu, to work with students. During a short visit last spring, we worked together on a calendar of activities, with an emphasis on high-yielding varieties of peanuts, manioc and corn; simple ideas for improving soil fertility and a strategy for dry-season gardens (a supplementary food source during the “hungry season”).<br><br>At the end of May I spent a week with Fidji and the IPK students. What has happened in the last year has been remarkable. I hope that the change in these families’ prospects (both during their study years at Kikongo and in their future parishes) will be equally remarkable. The shift in direction was not easy. Students started off grumbling a lot. Cultivating fields is hard work! Juggling classwork and fieldwork, especially during planting and early weeding, requires intelligence and persistence. Under Fidji’s guidance, the students planted two new varieties of peanuts and manioc. The rains didn’t cooperate (three weeks of drought just at flowering time). The peanut harvest was disappointing … until students compared their yields with the even more disappointing yields of neighbors cultivating the current traditional varieties. <br><br>But the manioc fields I saw that week were the best fields in years. Manioc plants were tall and vigorous. Disease-resistant varieties dominate the student fields for the first time ever, I think. This may be the first year that student families can supply most of what they eat from their own fields rather than having to buy food on the local market or maybe even go hungry. <br><br>Fidji encouraged students to plant riverside gardens during the dry season last year. In past years, students maintained their gardens only through the last marking period of the school year. But in 2013, many families continued to plant and harvest vegetables through the long vacation. According to Rita Chapman, mothers were astonished at how well they ate during the dry-season break because of those gardens. <br><br>Students have been experimenting with cover crops this year too. Vining plants in the bean family help restore nitrogen and organic matter to the soil. After eight months, the gardens are ready to give another crop of nutritious vegetables. I found the students clearing and shaping the new planting beds. Rita says that many students remarked on how easy it is to clear and prepare the site covered in a cover crop (as opposed to natural woody bush fallow). Renewed fertility and less effort to prepare the next year’s garden – cover crops are beginning to make practical sense to students.<br><br>Students still grumble about the work in their own agricultural fields. But after a year, the grumbles are somewhat muted by surprisingly healthy crops and improved production. Two weeks ago, Rita wrote again after an evaluation of student fields:<br><br><i>"What really wowed us all was the impressive number of manioc tubers under each sample we looked at from each field. With only gentle digging, we counted 17 tubers on one plant - and there were probably more underneath that we didn't see. An Nsansi plant </i>[improved manioc variety]<i> had 15. The students are thrilled. . . . The third year students are saying that when they leave next week, they are going to tell everyone along the way that there is no more hunger at IPK."</i><br><br>Every once in a while, we get a chance to be part of people catching glimpses of provisions that God has made for people here in Congo. Seventeen tubers on one plant is not a fluke; it is the regular production of superior varieties planted at the right time and cared for throughout their production cycle. God created those plants and created inquisitive scientific minds that “discovered” them and the techniques that make them highly productive. Who better to tell people in impoverished communities about them than a new pastoral graduate who has literally tasted the fruits of God’s handiwork? Sun, 15 Jun 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/54244-pastoral-students-glimpse-the-promise-of-god-s-provision https://internationalministries.org/read/54244-pastoral-students-glimpse-the-promise-of-god-s-provision Oregon Church Cares for its Neighbors Locally and Globally <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:RelyOnVML/> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>JA</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark/> <w:EnableOpenTypeKerning/> <w:DontFlipMirrorIndents/> <w:OverrideTableStyleHps/> <w:UseFELayout/> </w:Compatibility> <w:DoNotOptimizeForBrowser/> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math"/> <m:brkBin m:val="before"/> <m:brkBinSub m:val="&#45;-"/> <m:smallFrac m:val="off"/> <m:dispDef/> <m:lMargin m:val="0"/> <m:rMargin m:val="0"/> <m:defJc m:val="centerGroup"/> <m:wrapIndent m:val="1440"/> <m:intLim m:val="subSup"/> <m:naryLim m:val="undOvr"/> </m:mathPr></w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="267"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="59" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Placeholder Text"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Revision"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Cambria","serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} </style> <![endif]--> </p><p class="MsoNormal">When First Baptist Church of McMinnville,Oregon, voted to become a Matthew 25 Church in September 2013, it put into writing what it already practiced: a recognition that, by providing for those in need, they are encountering Christ.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Pastor Kent Harrop and the leadership of the church are firm believers that the health of their congregation relies on how it practices the Gospel call found in Matthew 25. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">With a special focus on Matthew 25:40, First Baptist McMinnville holds the central vision of caring and advocating for the most vulnerable people in their community and around the world.From sponsoring International Ministries missionaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to a long-term Mission Partnership Network affiliation with AMOS medical ministries in Nicaragua, to housing a community health clinic within its building, First Baptist Church of McMinnville focuses its spiritual life and practice on fostering mission.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">This vision of mission extends throughout the congregation where dozens of ministries, thousands of volunteer hours, offerings, inventive ideas and countless prayers shape the life of the church in worship, education and action.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Even the church building is seen as a resource for mission.What began in 2001 as an effort to make the church more accessible to those with disabilities, ended with the rehabilitation of the 1926 structure, the addition of a new wing and an expressed commitment to use the building for expanded community services. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">"We see permeable walls where people from the community feel the freedom and the welcome to come in and use the building in a way that serves their needs," says Harrop.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">In 2004 the church reorganized itself into ministry teams and, in the process, became more entrepreneurial in its emphasis on mission. Rather than maintaining existing ministries, Harrop says the focus of the church leadership and board turned to encouraging the inspiration of its members and answering the question, "How can the church make the dream that God has placed in your heart come true?"</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Church moderator Bill Apel calls this inventiveness an "organic process" as he sees church members finding ways to serve the community. To him, it's integral to the growth and strength of mission."It's all a form of discipleship," says Apel, a 40-year member of First Baptist Church who is a retired chaplain and religious studies professor from nearby ABC-affiliated Linfield College."It energizes the congregation; I've never felt better about the church than now."</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;;color:#0D1A2F">First Baptist of McMinnville has been a long-time supporter of International Ministries.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes"></span>It is the home church of Kim Kushner-Dominguez, a missionary to El Salvador and Cuba from 2009 to 2013. Pastor Harrop served on her Mission Partnership Team. Church member Don Watson serves on the Mission Partnership Team of </span><span style="mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;">Ed and Miriam Noyes who are serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.Along with spiritual and financial support to these and other missionaries, the congregation includes AMOS (A Ministry of Service) in Nicaragua as part of their Mission Partnership Network.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;">The church has entered its fifth year of an eight-year commitment to </span>AMOS and its directors, Drs. David and Laura <span lang="en-US"><font face="Calibri,sans-serif" size="2"><span style="font-size:11pt;">Parajón</span></font></span>, specifically partnering to foster health care in the rural village of La Pimienta.In addition to funding a village Health Promoter, the congregation has sent four volunteer teams to La Pimienta since 2008. These teams have worked with AMOS and the community to restore the village clinic, screen residents for anemia and initiate a locally sustained clean water filter program.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The <span lang="en-US"><font face="Calibri,sans-serif" size="2"><span style="font-size:11pt;">Parajóns</span></font></span> say visiting members of First Baptist Church McMinnville have grown in their understanding of mission; medical, construction and pastoral skills; and spiritually as they learned how to accompany villagers in their needs. The <span lang="en-US"><font face="Calibri,sans-serif" size="2"><span style="font-size:11pt;">Parajóns</span></font></span> say the benefits and encouragement of this long-term relationship goes both ways. Of the group’s most recent efforts, Laura <span lang="en-US"><font face="Calibri,sans-serif" size="2"><span style="font-size:11pt;">Parajón</span></font></span> says, “The church inspired [the villagers] to work together and get along better toward a common goal.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">This partnership fostered an added connection with Chemeketa Community College near McMinnville, which annually sends its humanities class "International Community Service in Action" to work with AMOS. First Baptist member and Chemeketa executive dean David Hallett has led four teams from the college, some that included church members, in addition to three trips with the church. Noting the generosity and knowledge of all the various outreach activities of the church, Hallett says, "Mission is in the fabric of who we are – and it's who we are."</p> <p class="MsoNormal">A recent Nicaragua team included three father-son pairs and 77-year-old Eldon Munk, who all say they are ready to go again. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Nicaragua volunteers were also changed by their work with AMOS. They started to become increasingly aware of health needs in their own neighborhoods, and as they prayed for a way to help, God answered. In partnership with other local churches, a free community health clinic was established, which is housed at First Baptist</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Team member Dr. Marcy Anderson volunteers at the health clinic. She credits the church with encouraging the extension of global mission to their hometown. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">"I wrote to Sylvina [the Health Promoter in La Pimienta] saying we were inspired by what she was doing to improve their health and that's what we want to do in our community," says Anderson of First Baptist’s partnership with the McMinnville Free Clinic. "She wrote me a letter saying that their community is praying for ours. That connection is really powerful."</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The twice-monthly clinic joins other ministries housed at First Baptist that include 30 recovery support groups, the C-WISH winter warming shelter for those without homes, a twice-weekly breakfast and morning coffee for their homeless neighbors, a community food ministry, and a relief nursery, among others. Many of the ministries are supported with the help of other churches and community organizations. None are charged rent for use of the facility.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">On a recent Sunday, the church hosted the ecumenical youth ministry Y.A.H.O.O. (Yamhill Alliance Helping Others Out) that is sending 66 youth and chaperones, 26 from First Baptist, to Tecate, Mexico over spring break on a work mission. This annual mission trip involves five area churches and is coordinated by a First Baptist member.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">As the group gathered to make final preparations for the upcoming trip, 15-year-old church member Ethan Collins, making his second Mexico trip with Y.A.H.O.O., attributes First Baptist's focus on mission as an inspiration for him and his peers. "Matthew 25 is making an impression upon those in need, by showing them our love and service and compassion and kindness, that they are known and that there are people who are willing to help," he said. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Pastor Harrop and his wife Tricia, the volunteer administrator of the free clinic, are leaving McMinnville for a new call in Massachusetts. But he is assured the church will continue its mission focus. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">"I always asked the questions, 'Why are we doing what we're doing?' and 'What is Christ calling us to do or become?'", he recalls of his 20 years at First Baptist Church McMinnville. "We listen and we pray, and the Spirit brings the answer."</p> <p class="MsoNormal">"The congregation has a clear sense of their core values and, although all transitions are difficult, I'm very confident that those values will serve as the compass point of continuing to be a Matthew 25 church."</p> <p></p> Tue, 27 May 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/54063-oregon-church-cares-for-its-neighbors-locally-and-globally https://internationalministries.org/read/54063-oregon-church-cares-for-its-neighbors-locally-and-globally A Return Visit to the Twa Community in Inongo <p>In February, Rose Mayala, Raymond Mafuta and I packed up for a 10-day trip to Inongo, a medium-sized town on the northeastern shore of Lake Mai-Ndombe.&nbsp; The lake is 500kms northeast of Kinshasa.&nbsp; People in western Congo know it for dried fish.&nbsp; The regional fishing industry exports tons of dried fish every month.&nbsp;&nbsp; Inongo is also the home of many groups of the Twa, originally hunter gatherers who call themselves the Original People, or "O.P."&nbsp; (though even that is a name borrowed from outsiders and it has a distinctly bureaucratic ring to it.)<sup>1</sup>&nbsp; They have largely abandoned hunting and gathering in the equatorial forest for settled agriculture and town life like that of the dominant Bantu<sup>2</sup> people in the region.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Our literacy group has been working with the Twa in Inongo since 2007, when UNESCO paid for our first outreach.&nbsp; This was my first trip to see the work myself.&nbsp; I wanted to see what progress they have made in literacy, but we had a wide-ranging agenda: agricultural help, discussion with Twa leaders about community life and aspirations, the growth in Christ of Twa believers.</p><p>Ten Twa communities ran literacy classes and French classes for all their people, under our leadership.&nbsp; But many had run out of steam since the literacy team’s last visit.&nbsp; Two factors seem to have contributed to this decline.&nbsp; First, irregular supervision makes it hard to help groups in Inongo maintain focus and enthusiasm.&nbsp; We can't afford frequent trips and had lost phone contact. Second, as literacy groups advance, they need to begin using reading and writing skills in some practical way to satisfy their needs and interests.&nbsp; The Inongo person who was to help did nothing.&nbsp; Many of the groups lost interest, floundered and gave up.</p><p>This visit was the literacy team’s first foray into addressing the practical needs of the community.&nbsp; The Inongo Twa groups had asked for machetes and hoes, and “help” to plant fields and vegetable gardens.&nbsp; But it is knowledge used strategically, that really helps, not one-time gifts of a few tools.&nbsp; We brought with us seed cuttings of the best-producing manioc variety from Lusekele, garden seeds, chaya seed cuttings and Moringa seed.&nbsp; We spent much our time with them planning manioc multiplication and distribution to all their communities, sharing knowledge about the new plants, and teaching how to plant more effectively.&nbsp; We talked about the changes this could bring to Twa communities.&nbsp; For example, chaya<sup>3</sup> and moringa<sup>4</sup> trees provide lots of high-value protein in a very limited space – a boon to under-nourished people with little land.&nbsp; Manioc and its nutritious leaves, can be harvested year around, unlike crops they depend on now.</p><p>(See the picture of&nbsp; Paul Bokola Nkanda divvying up the garden seeds)&nbsp; One of the Twa literacy teachers had continued his studies and become an experienced agricultural technician.&nbsp; He helped with the teaching and agreed to follow-up the manioc and garden multiplication plots after we left. He was hungry for literature on the new plants.&nbsp; This created the opening for functional literacy which we are always looking for.&nbsp; Now that I know what they need, we can send them useful agricultural information to be read and disseminated through literacy classes.</p><p>We, of course, encouraged them to restart their literacy classes. In terms of goals, we asked the teachers to send us lists of their most advanced students, and prepare them for graduation. Rose thinks she can get back there this summer to hold the graduations. This should encourage them immensely.</p><p>We also had two immediate recommendations for further programming for literacy classes.&nbsp; First, use public health education materials for reading and class discussion. The materials are very good.&nbsp; They are adapted to several levels – from simple to more advanced, often in the regional language or in French.&nbsp; Many times they are barely used by health workers.&nbsp; Health and nutrition education will help their communities in big way.</p><p>Second, in the advanced French literacy class, use the devotional lectionary from the Bible Reading League (Scripture Union). Our French program doesn't have a Bible component built in; this would add it. The Bible reading, reflection, and application exercises will help students grow spiritually. They will also help their reading fluency, French understanding, and build comprehension and analytic skills for texts of all kinds. The lectionary will also help their church leadership.</p><p>Rose gave the church a Lingala hymnal, and teachers are looking forward to copying off its hymns to teach in their Lingala classes and for worship. The students should love that. Then, when we finish producing the functional literacy program we're making for our teachers this spring, we will send them copies, to help them get and use even more relevant material for their students' lives.</p><p>Rose noticed that everyone's health had declined. They told us there had been a lot of deaths recently. She also noticed that latrines, adopted after our advocacy, were disappearing, and that there were children with bellies full of intestinal parasites. Leaders were pessimistic that the health system would send them a de-worming team without Bantu advocacy. Fortunately Rose's son, a doctor due to visit Inongo this month, can investigate, instigate a de-worming campaign in their communities (which reminds them to build and use latrines more), and get the health literature we want for them.</p><p>Our Twa friends have also had a setback in formal schooling. A local politician promised them free schooling if he got elected.&nbsp; So when he got elected, they stopped paying school fees.&nbsp; Their students were kicked out of school, their primary school classes shut down. Obviously he was not able to make good on his promise. So we've encouraged them to pay again and get their primary school classes going again.</p><p>We discovered a curious fact: most Inongo Twa high school students are in the teacher-training or French literature tracks, despite the facts that no one will hire them to teach and far more practical options (business skills, biology &amp;chemistry, wood-working and agriculture) exist. Why? Teacher training and French lit are the cheapest options available to poor people. We suggested that more practical programs would help their communities more.&nbsp; Will they change?&nbsp; We don't know.&nbsp; A positive development was seeing married young mothers continuing their schooling.</p><p>To Rose's sorrow, the cooperation of Bantus and Twa achieved during their 2012 visit has not continued. In fact, Bantu who were previously friendly have soured. We don't know what has happened. However, by God's grace, Martin Ngonde (see picture 3) arrived as a new Disciples of Christ pastor to Inongo.&nbsp; He says he has had Twa friends since childhood.&nbsp; His church is quite close to the main Twa community.&nbsp; He has agreed to help them, and oversee the development of the church they have started, despite it being in a different denomination. It is he that had the field ready to plant, where our manioc cuttings have been planted for multiplication, for distribution next planting season.</p><p>Visiting gave us ideas for how we could help their new church grow as a community of Twa believers, even at a distance: with prayer, letters, like Paul, and some specific materials. It has a leader, Jean Longomo, leader of the Twa church of Inongo, (see picture 4) a man who went through a week of Campus Crusade training, Bibles, and now a Lingala hymnal. That's a beginning. And they know what other CBCO churches do. Now it's a question of helping them to learn how to commit themselves to Christ, leaving all other allegiances behind, and follow him as only Twa can do, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.<br></p><p><b><i><u>Notes</u>:</i></b></p><p><sup>1</sup>&nbsp; <i>The original inhabitants of the Congo basin were identified by the early European explorers as "Pygmies" because many groups of forest people first encountered were short-statured.&nbsp; The Original People don't accept this label themselves, but it has come to be a useful term when talking in general about the original forest peoples of central Africa.&nbsp; The designation "Twa" is a Bantu word meaning "hunter-gatherer".&nbsp; In the Inongo area this is the term the Bantu use to designate the original inhabitants of the forest.&nbsp; (Other main Pygmy groups are identified as Mbuti, Cwa and Aka.)</i>&nbsp; <br></p><p><sup>2</sup>&nbsp; <i>The Bantu are the people you think of as ordinary Central Africans. Their ancestors immigrated into West and Central Africa, pushing the original inhabitants, the Pygmies, into the forests and taking over land rights. &nbsp; There are many tribes.&nbsp; Over the centuries Bantu and Pygmies have intermarried (though there are many traditional taboos against mixed liaisons.)</i></p><p><sup>3</sup>&nbsp; <i>Chaya is a fast-growing vegetable bush from Central America whose leaves are tasty and rich in protein, vitamins and essential minerals. It is fast becoming popular everywhere it is introduced.</i><br></p><p><sup>4</sup>&nbsp; <i>Moringa is the tree to have if protein-deficiency threatens or you're forced into a vegan diet. Its leaves are rich in rare meat-like protein, complementary to other vegetable proteins. Reportedly, severely protein-deficient children return to normal after two weeks of moringa leaf therapy. It is also rich in iron, calcium and vitamins. The immature pods cooked, are compared to asparagus, the flowers to mushrooms.&nbsp; It has many important medicinal properties as well. Moringa processing industries are springing up all over the developing world to serve a growing demand.<br></i><br></p> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/53362-a-return-visit-to-the-twa-community-in-inongo https://internationalministries.org/read/53362-a-return-visit-to-the-twa-community-in-inongo The Twa : Trying to Establish Their Place in Modern Congo <p><i>For some followers of our journals this may be a little too dry.&nbsp; But we think it helps to understand more about the circumstances that shape the lives and outlooks of the people with whom we work.&nbsp; This short piece complements Miriam’s recent blog about the literacy team’s trip to Inongo.</i>&nbsp; <i>-&nbsp; <b>Ed and Miriam</b></i><br><br>Pygmies in Congo are people living between two worlds.&nbsp; They live in clusters but are scattered in nearly every province of the country.&nbsp; For generations the government has wanted to see them settled in towns, abandoning itinerant life in the forest.&nbsp; Some Pygmy groups have settled voluntarily, hoping for a more stable and prosperous life.&nbsp; While some succeed, most find only poverty, malnutrition and marginalization outside the forest.<br><br>The Twa living around Inongo encounter multiple barriers to progress in life outside the forest.&nbsp; Many of the majority Bantu have deep prejudices against the Twa that lead to abuse and exploitation.&nbsp; Legally they are full citizens of the Congo.&nbsp; However, enjoyment of legal protections and rights is not automatic even for Bantu citizens; for the Twa, prejudice often eliminates any rights they have.&nbsp; They are often forced to work without pay or for half of what a Bantu would get.&nbsp; The law does not recognize traditional Twa forest-use rights and Twa bands hold land only at the sufferance of a Bantu land chief.<br>&nbsp; <br>Bantu prejudice excludes or severely limits Twa access to education and health care available to the majority population.&nbsp; Teachers and fellow students disapprove of Twa students sharing classrooms with Bantu students.&nbsp; Extreme poverty makes it hard for Twa parents to pay school fees.&nbsp; Health service workers are often unsympathetic and unwelcoming.&nbsp; Public health outreach (vaccinations, well-baby clinics, deworming and nutrition campaigns) often pass them by, forcing the Twa to rely exclusively on traditional medicine.&nbsp; Poor education and poor health have predictable effects on their ability to earn a living, and ability to influence the social and political structures that define their opportunities.<br><br>Of course Pygmy tradition and the dysfunctional adaptation to settled life impose their own limitations.&nbsp; Seasonal hunting and gathering remove children from school, interrupting learning progress.&nbsp; Lack of proper attention to hygiene, poor nutritional practices, early marriage and motherhood : all contribute significantly to poor health.&nbsp; The stresses of life on the margins of Bantu society also lead many Twa to seek relief in alcohol or cannabis.<br><br>In making the transition to settled existence, many Twa have not yet fully adopted permanent agriculture: when they have fields, they're often very small.&nbsp; Becoming a farmer requires hard-to-obtain land, unfamiliar seasonal planning, food stores in reserve, and assurance that the harvest will belong to the family rather than the landowner.&nbsp; It is a long and daunting list.&nbsp; Cutting fields for others, and working as hired labor for Bantu farmers is often a more familiar (if much less lucrative) decision for people with the day-to-day mindset of hunter-gatherers.<br>&nbsp; <br>Facing barriers every day of one’s life can crush the spirit, suck away hope.&nbsp; The Twa don’t need any do-gooder’s pity.&nbsp; But they do need constant reminders that they are cherished by God and bear His image.&nbsp; They need inspiration, knowledge of how others facing similar challenges in a changing world have transformed their circumstances.&nbsp; They need imagination and creativity that help them to understand and protect the distinctives that make up their essential identity . . . and help them to adapt to the modernizing world.&nbsp; We ask the Lord to be their guide, their refuge, their strength.<br><br></p> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/53367-the-twa-trying-to-establish-their-place-in-modern-congo https://internationalministries.org/read/53367-the-twa-trying-to-establish-their-place-in-modern-congo So, What's New in Adult Literacy in Congo? <p><!--[if !mso]> <style> v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} </style> <![endif]--></p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:RelyOnVML/> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves>false</w:TrackMoves> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:HyphenationZone>21</w:HyphenationZone> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>FR</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark/> <w:EnableOpenTypeKerning/> <w:DontFlipMirrorIndents/> <w:OverrideTableStyleHps/> <w:UseFELayout/> </w:Compatibility> <w:DoNotOptimizeForBrowser/> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math"/> <m:brkBin m:val="before"/> <m:brkBinSub m:val="&#45;-"/> <m:smallFrac m:val="off"/> <m:dispDef/> <m:lMargin m:val="0"/> <m:rMargin m:val="0"/> <m:defJc m:val="centerGroup"/> <m:wrapIndent m:val="1440"/> <m:intLim m:val="subSup"/> <m:naryLim m:val="undOvr"/> </m:mathPr></w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="267"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="59" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Placeholder Text"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Revision"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:none; mso-hyphenate:none; text-autospace:ideograph-other; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Georgia","serif"; mso-font-kerning:1.5pt; mso-ansi-language:EN-US; mso-fareast-language:ZH-CN; mso-bidi-language:HI;} </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:shapedefaults v:ext="edit" spidmax="1028"/> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:shapelayout v:ext="edit"> <o:idmap v:ext="edit" data="1"/> </o:shapelayout></xml><![endif]--> </p><p class="Standard"> <span lang="EN-US"><span style="mso-spacerun:yes"></span>Since the beginning of the year, I've been circulating among the churches in the west end of Kinshasa with our new supervisor, Esaie (Isaiah.)&nbsp; We've struck up conversations with literacy teachers, pastors, church school principals and women's leaders, probing to find out more about their needs and hopes for their churches and communities.&nbsp; In the process we have opportunities to share a new vision for literacy in Kinshasa.<br><br>Our conversational journey has taken us to Baptist churches in the neighborhoods of Lukunga, the WWII Veterans' Camp, Djelo-Binza, Malweka and Pumbu Cité so far.&nbsp; Today I bent the ear of the pastor of Livulu Baptist Church.&nbsp; In the next few weeks we will repeat the exercise with Sanga Mamba, Bwadi, and the two churches in Kintambo, close to where I live..&nbsp; Only 70-odd churches to go in order to cover every CBCO congregation in Kinshasa.&nbsp; And that doesn't begin to think about sharing the vision in rural areas.<br><br>The message we're bringing the churches this time is "Look for the opportunities in your communities that God gives you."&nbsp; Invest seriously in those opportunities.&nbsp; Think about building dedicated classrooms for literacy outreach.&nbsp; Forget that old idea that literacy is pastime for a few old ladies from the village meeting in a back room of the church.&nbsp; Literacy classes are an incredible resource for your church and neighborhood:<br><br></span></p><ul><li><span lang="EN-US">not only for teaching women what they have missed, and helping them to a richer life,</span></li><li><span lang="EN-US">not only as a way to get more people reading the Bible and equipping them for ministry,</span></li><li><span lang="EN-US">not only for bringing new people into the church. </span></li></ul><p class="Standard"><span lang="EN-US"><br>Literacy classes are an incredible resource for your families' kids.&nbsp; Many of our own kids aren't doing well in school because they don't have a solid reading foundation.&nbsp; How about our nieces and nephews newly arrived from the village unprepared to live in a literate world.&nbsp; And what about those kids recovering from a long catastrophic illness that robbed them of school time and compromised their ability to pick up new knowledge quickly.&nbsp; Schools here are crowded and don't have tutoring.&nbsp; Teachers have little time to give struggling kids the help they need. &nbsp;<br><br>Literacy classes are different.&nbsp; We can give struggling youth the individual attention they need to really learn.&nbsp; While they may start by learning to read and write in a local language, this builds skills and confidence that often leads them to learn good French too.&nbsp; For a church with a vision, literacy classes can be buzzing with teenagers morning and afternoon, just like those at the Lemba-Matete Baptist Church or the Second Baptist Church of Bandal's.&nbsp; A church with a vision might even start thinking about where to put vocational classes for its post-literacy students.&nbsp; What trades might they teach them.<br><br>I tell schoolteachers and principals that they can recommend literacy classes to the parents of the students they notice are not doing well.&nbsp; It is no honor to a school's reputation to have bad students and low percentages of graduating seniors, and principals are happy to hear of an alternative.<br><br>It's a dazzling set of new ideas for most of the people we're talking to.&nbsp; From our perspective as literacy teachers, this vision gives us the scope to touch many more people.&nbsp; But it also means that our classes begin to do a better job meeting some deeply felt needs in our communities.&nbsp; And that gains respect: from our host churches, from our communities and from the people we teach.&nbsp; Teachers in this kind of a center work harder.&nbsp; But sharing a valuable skill and doing it well makes it much more likely to be able to make a living from it.&nbsp; Serious teachers, with serious investment in space and materials by host churches, creates a dynamic that attracts more students, serious students, students willing to pay the voluntary monthly fee for classes they agreed to pay.&nbsp; That makes for happier, more dedicated literacy teachers.<br><br>Trusting in God's vision,<br><br>Miriam</span></p><p></p> Tue, 18 Feb 2014 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/52624-so-what-s-new-in-adult-literacy-in-congo- https://internationalministries.org/read/52624-so-what-s-new-in-adult-literacy-in-congo- Community Ownership: The Health Center is our Baby <p><span class="fbPhotoCaptionText">This week I was talking to a Marist Brother about Catholic conceptions of poverty.&nbsp; He observed that Catholic teaching about poverty puts the emphasis on the nature and quality of relationship with God, creation and other people rather than on the abundance or lack of material possessions.&nbsp; Poverty is measured in terms of knowledge of, obedience to and dependence on God.&nbsp; To the degree that material wealth contributes to (or detracts from) this knowledge, obedience and dependence, a person or a society can be considered rich or poor.&nbsp; Working in a context where people typically have limited material and financial resources and where many Congolese have grown to accept as destiny the identities of "poor" and "helpless", I found this a liberating, refreshing reminder.&nbsp; <br></span></p><p><span class="fbPhotoCaptionText">Part of my ministry has been to help materially poor communities to rediscover the power to change their circumstances with the resources that God have given them.&nbsp; During the last year this took a new turn as I became the coordinator of a program that currently encourages local communities in 17 health zones to assume part-ownership of their local health centers and to partner with the health workers that are supported (or more often not) by the state.&nbsp; Both Catholic and Protestant churches across the country have understood the need for this since before the post-colonial health service was organized nearly 4 decades ago.&nbsp; And often we have led the way.<br></span></p><p><span class="fbPhotoCaptionText">In theory, community health committee (CODESA) members are respected community leaders with responsibilities for co-managing their area health center. IMA World Health and the ASSP (Access to Primary Health Care) Project are encouraging these representatives to explain to their neighbors the need for and the benefits of community support for the health center and partnership with health center staff. We hope that these men and women will become key agents explaining the Community Health Endowment initiative and recruiting community groups to provide modest, but crucial, supplementary support that lowers out-of-pocket costs for users and ensures availability of primary health care when it is needed. <br></span></p><p><span class="fbPhotoCaptionText">This past week ASSP Partner CARITAS started a series of orientation workshops in six health zones. (Another series of 9 workshops was conducted in Kasai Occidental in early December.)&nbsp; I observed as colleague Pastor Ruben Ngalubenge led participants through exercises on the essentials of community contributions to the health center, facilitating or moderating community meetings, and urging people to make a choice, even if it is to pass on participating. &nbsp; Unlike many humanitarian aid programs, the Community Health Endowment program offers no material goodies, but asks materially poor communities to be the main agents of improving their community.&nbsp; In Alunguli and Kindu, I kept expecting people to cynically reject the idea.&nbsp; But I was constantly surprised.&nbsp; Community leaders seem to say, "If it means reliable, quality basic health care and if health workers will use our contributions wisely, we are ready to join in."</span></p><p><span class="fbPhotoCaptionText">In the three workshops that I observed, nearly 100 CODESA members participated.&nbsp; They coined the slogan, "The health center is our baby", and one group even suggested a campaign jingle to promote community ownership.&nbsp; Over the next year they will conduct community meetings to present the idea and invite community groups to join up.&nbsp; If community groups share the same enthusiasm, local health care workers may find themselves better supported and appreciated than anyone else on the government payroll.&nbsp; More importantly, good basic health care will be available to even the poorest residents of health center areas.</span></p><p><span class="fbPhotoCaptionText"><i>(Note: Our partner in Maniema province is CARITAS, ably led by Dr. Cyprien Masaka.&nbsp; CARITAS is a coalition of local Catholic religious and laypeople dedicated to helping poor and marginalized people meet basic needs and gain a measure of dignity and respect.&nbsp; They want to reflect the love of God and the transforming power of Christ in local communities.&nbsp; Pray for God's guidance, encouragement, and protection for them as they minister in Jesus' name.)</i><br></span></p> Wed, 15 Jan 2014 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/52226-community-ownership-the-health-center-is-our-baby https://internationalministries.org/read/52226-community-ownership-the-health-center-is-our-baby A real education for life <p>“Do you see that girl?” Mama Helene asked.&nbsp; “Her friend brought her.&nbsp; She’s a high school graduate, in our beginning reading class.&nbsp; And she’s not alone.&nbsp; We have several of them.”&nbsp; Helene and Rose, our literacy coordinator, were talking in front of the Lemba-Matete Baptist church during our recent teacher training seminar there. &nbsp;<br><br>Over the years I’ve become aware of the often low levels of literacy among girls in rural schools.&nbsp; I put it down to environment: there just isn’t that much incentive to read in villages, and girls often don’t hope for lives different from that of their illiterate mothers.&nbsp; But my friends in Kinshasa protest that schools in Kinshasa aren’t any better.&nbsp; In fact, they argue, the lively urban setting serves up many more distractions, wooing students away from serious studies. <br><br>In 2011 I was visiting Kinshasa as news flashed across the city: 100% of Kinshasa seniors had passed the final exams!&nbsp; That was one huge city-wide graduation party!&nbsp; Then the facts started to trickle out : there had been a massive pay-off.&nbsp; Nearly all the high schools (except official Catholic schools) had participated in the corruption.&nbsp; Reality came down hard on the celebrating students.&nbsp; Various institutions announced that they would no longer accept Kinshasa high school diplomas. &nbsp;<br><br>Some families pay to have their daughters promoted . . . all the way through their school career.&nbsp; Other girls pay in other currency: sexual harassment is rampant in schools, and someone I know speaks of “sexually transmitted grades”.&nbsp; Imagine completing 12 years of school and still not being able to read.<br><br>Eventually, young people, like the young woman Mama Helene spoke of, learn that a diploma without the learning to go with it is almost worthless.&nbsp; That’s when our literacy classes start to sound interesting. &nbsp;<br><br>There at the Lemba Matete church the classes are bustling all morning every day, Monday through Saturday, on the students’ insistence.&nbsp; And all of the students I saw were young, both girls and guys. <br><br>To meet the demand, the church mounted a special offering campaign and built several small classrooms.&nbsp; They’re bare-bones, but that hardly matters to the young people crowding in demanding an education.&nbsp; When we interrupted their regular schedule to use their classrooms for our teacher training seminar the kids protested. &nbsp;<br><br>So what makes these kids different?&nbsp; To begin with, they have made the decision to learn.&nbsp; They’re tested to find their true level and set at ease with other kids at the same level. In the classes they get individualized attention to deal with whatever problem they have and make sure they’re learning the material.&nbsp; The education is competency-oriented and practical.&nbsp; And it includes the encouragement of prayer and learning to read the Bible.<br><br>How does the church benefit? They now have classrooms for Sunday school and small meeting places for other groups when classes aren’t in session.&nbsp; Some literacy students get drawn into church activities and become church members. The church is developing the reputation for caring in the community, a place where you can go for help.&nbsp; And church members get great help for their own kids, paving the way for a better education.&nbsp; The good students who are canny use these classes to get better yet.<br><br>These days the teachers and students at Lemba-Matete Baptist church are dreaming about adding vocational training classes to further help young people, in a city of high unemployment. &nbsp;<br><br>The guiding verse of the Congolese Baptist literacy work is “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6.&nbsp;&nbsp; In a country where that is particularly true*, churches like the Lemba-Matete Baptist Church are making a difference.</p><hr><p><br>* Despite its enormous, varied mineral wealth, DR Congo is at the bottom of nearly every&nbsp; human development indicator.<br><br></p> Tue, 01 Oct 2013 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/50575-a-real-education-for-life https://internationalministries.org/read/50575-a-real-education-for-life I was a woman just like you “I was a woman just like you”, she said, addressing the numerous women’s choirs that had come to sing for the event. “Now look at me.” Indeed! Mama Kiba Pierrette had, by diligent effort and the help of the local Baptist literacy classes, gone from illiteracy to reading and writing easily not only in the local Lingala, but also in French. A rather short square friendly no-nonsense lady, you get the sense immediately when meeting her that this is a lady who gets things done. And she does, as the president of the women of her church. When she gave the elegant address in French for the occasion, the television journalist there murmured admiringly, “That was better than most university students could do!” <br><br>The occasion was the Kinshasa Baptist churches’ celebration of International Literacy Day, and Mama Kiba Pierrette’s graduation day. I don’t get to many of these occasions, having been in rural Congo for many years. So I found it interesting to see who was graduating. Besides a number of middle-aged women, there was an elderly lady who looked positively thrilled, a bunch of teenaged and twenty-something girls, a woman who they tell me is preparing to travel in Europe, several young men and a middle-aged man who radiates satisfaction at getting rid of his educational handicaps. <br><br>Several of the ladies were like Mama Kiba Pierrette: having gotten well-educated in literacy classes, they took the training to become literacy teachers themselves. They walked to the front twice: once for their diplomas, and once for their teacher’s certificates. <br><br>Literacy classes in Kinshasa have evolved. No longer are they just classes for women. Everywhere I have gone, the centers at our churches are full of teenagers, and not just those whose parents never sent them to school. There are lots of kids whose schools are on half day sessions, who sign up for reading classes in their free time. <br><br>And it’s surprising to see which of them are in the beginning reading classes. Some, of course, are there to improve their French, taking advantage of the fact that school French classes and our French classes take different approaches. Some are like the graduating boy, who suffered some brain damage from a severe attack of meningitis and had to drop out of school for a year or so. He is, I’m happy to say, back in form and at the top of his English class. <br><br>We estimate that in the 15 years we’ve had this literacy program 16,000 people have found new lives through our classes. Now that’s worth celebrating! Mon, 30 Sep 2013 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/50550-i-was-a-woman-just-like-you https://internationalministries.org/read/50550-i-was-a-woman-just-like-you A place of healing for our community Many times over the last two months I have visited a rural health center that is little more than a simple modest mud-and-wattle hut with a thatched roof.&nbsp; It looks like any other house in the village.&nbsp; Maybe there is a red cross on the wall or a sign, but often not.&nbsp; But millions of rural Congolese know this is the first place to go if you or yours fall sick.<br>&nbsp; <br>The Bolo Health Center is a perfect example.&nbsp; Local villagers built it from the red clay soil of northern Equateur province.&nbsp; It is dark inside; hardly enough light to read a microscope slide on a bright sunny day.&nbsp; Behind it is a newly-built house for the nurse.&nbsp; It is the community’s way to attract and encourage the nurse.&nbsp; A trained nurse and some basic medicine and supplies can mean the difference between life and death.&nbsp; Poverty may limit what people are able to provide, but even desperately poor communities aspire to better health care and are willing to contribute what they have to get it.<br><br>A little further down the road from Bolo is the village of Kawadje.&nbsp; The nurse is humble young woman with simple grace and dignity.&nbsp; I asked her how the local community supports her.&nbsp; She looked a little embarrassed and explained that people in the area are very poor.&nbsp; Sometimes they can’t pay for her services.&nbsp; “But what can I do?” she asked.&nbsp; “They need my help and we all do what we can.”&nbsp; <br><br>We talked in front of a large, solid, well-constructed traditional building.&nbsp; The walls were plastered with mud and whitewashed to increase the light.&nbsp; The yard was clean.&nbsp; The nurse explained how the health center was built.&nbsp; “People here have a good heart.&nbsp; The health center committee asked village leaders to help.&nbsp; Everyone pitched in.&nbsp; They brought robust sticks and palm ribs for the walls and thatch for the roof.&nbsp; They dug clay to fill in the lattice work and plaster the walls.&nbsp; Whenever we need something people are willing to help.” <br>&nbsp;<br>These are communities managing to take small steps to secure reliable basic health care.&nbsp; They are handicapped by poor education, distance from good markets, a predatory government officials, and policies that discourage economic development.&nbsp; But they work together, using what they know and what they have at hand to bring the most basic health services to the community.&nbsp; It is far from perfect, but it is a step in the right direction.<br><br>Much of my time these days is devoted to helping local health zones develop a way for cash-poor communities to turn their knowledge and resources into support for their local health center.&nbsp; In many rural areas, people are underemployed have abundant land.&nbsp; When invited to contribute, community groups are very open to producing and selling a crop in order to pay the nurse and improve the health center.&nbsp; What they often lack is good agricultural advice, good crop varieties and good seed.&nbsp; This reduces the potential benefit and increases the risk of discouraging failure.&nbsp; But if these were widely available, farmers in many regions of Congo could double their production, the well-being of rural households would improve dramatically, AND contributing to a local health center would be more satisfying.<br><br>Our strategy is to provoke thousands of communities to go beyond the occasional building campaign for their local health center.&nbsp; Over 400 community groups have joined the experiment.&nbsp; They agree to give half of what they produce to support the health center.&nbsp; In return they will get a 40% reduction in health service fees.<br><br>We have worked with 17 health zones to train community volunteers to share information on best agricultural practices with these groups.&nbsp; Participating community groups have received nearly 9 tons of improved seed and about 180,000 meters of improved manioc seed cuttings, promising a bigger production bang for the buck.&nbsp; The health zones encourage the program by regular visits to enrolled community groups.<br><br>A couple of weeks ago I spent a week visiting Community Health Endowment groups in Kasai Occidental and seeing health centers they want to support.&nbsp; The Tshipanga Health Center is four small rooms, wattle and mud construction.&nbsp; Another hut serves as the local maternity center (for mid-wife assisted births.)&nbsp; The day we visited, the nurse’s wife had just given birth there to their fourth child.&nbsp; The child’s healthy cries could be heard in the background as we talked.&nbsp; <br><br>Our guide was Christophe, the energetic community mobilization agent for the Bena Leka health zone.&nbsp; Two villages in the Tshipanga health center’s service area have agreed to participate in the program.&nbsp; In Tshitesha, from the first few minutes after getting out of the truck it was obvious that the community was enthused.&nbsp; One of the village elders led us a half mile into the forest, with dozens of excited villagers trailing along.&nbsp; We came to a 2 acre field with newly planted peanuts just poking up through the soil.&nbsp; A beautiful field.&nbsp; In the discussion back in the village, I asked about why they wanted to plant the field.&nbsp; One of the elders replied, “Because our health center is very important to our people.”&nbsp; Heads nodded and murmurs of agreement rippled through the people pressing in around us.<br><br>We are hoping that Tshitesa and villages like it are early adopters, people who demonstrate to others that a new idea really can work – in this case that poverty is not destiny and that the local community can mobilize to provide better primary health care.&nbsp; I believe that people often don’t realize the power they have.&nbsp; God has given us so much.&nbsp; The challenge is to see beyond our feelings of helplessness, hopelessness to a different reality.&nbsp; Many Christians know this.&nbsp; If the people of Tshitesa succeed, others will brave the experiment, and possibly discover the power that God gives us all to change, transform the world around us for the good.<br><br> Sun, 29 Sep 2013 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/50523-a-place-of-healing-for-our-community https://internationalministries.org/read/50523-a-place-of-healing-for-our-community Can you imagine the resurrection <p> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">The <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">a capella </i>voices of a young mixed choir down near the Catholic “cathedral” proclaim good news.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The bells peal out the call to worship.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>It’s a pleasant Sunday morning in Kindu on the banks of the upper Congo River. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>I am three days into a week-long visit with Catholic partners for the Access to Primary Health Care project: reflecting together how to help rural communities partner with their local health centers and hospitals to ensure widespread access to quality primary health care.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">As I listen to the congregation singing and the drums playing, I think about the Good News that Jesus announced, all the facets of life that his message and actions touched in a broken, twisted world.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>As I read the gospels this morning, I am impressed </span><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">again </span>by how much healing Jesus did, unconditional healing of broken bodies and captive spirits.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Life connected to God restores life to the world around it, breathes life into it, replaces hate and strife with love and peace.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Over the last two weeks, the story of the raising of Lazarus has been on my mind.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>As life seeped away from Lazarus, his sisters and friends sent an urgent message for Jesus’ help.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Jesus did not come.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>God did not intervene.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Powerless, they watched him die and assumed that was the end of the story. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>When Jesus arrived four days later, Lazarus was in the tomb.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Jesus’ first words to Martha were, “Your brother will rise to life.”<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Martha assumed he was talking about the end of the age, the distant future.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>All life’s experience reinforced one conclusion: death is final.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>But Jesus gently reminded her that resurrection and life are rooted in relationship with him in the present.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Martha didn’t understand, couldn’t imagine, couldn’t hope.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">When Mary and the other mourners joined Jesus,<span style="mso-spacerun:yes"> t</span>he tomb only reminded them again of the finality of Lazarus’s death.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>In their grief and resignation they accused, “Could he not have kept Lazarus from dying?”<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>When Jesus directed people to roll away the sealing stone from the cave-tomb, Mary could conjure up only images of putrefying flesh.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Experience of a lifetime suggested nothing more.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Jesus, however, saw something else.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Imagine God present.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Imagine God’s power to restore life, to reverse the reign of death.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Seconds later many saw the unimaginable, the reality of God’s power: Lazarus staggering out of the tomb bound up in body wrapping cloths.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>“Untie him, and let him go,” Jesus said.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Let him live like he was meant to live.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">When I read this story again a couple of weeks ago, I thought of the Congo.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>So many people here cannot imagine any other Congo than the one plagued by dysfunction, death and decay.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Stereotypes plague the country.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Self-serving warlords, the reign of terror financed by the sale of rare minerals.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Autocratic government, widespread corruption.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Money hungry evangelists promising miracles, a lost social solidarity failing to catch the destitute in time of need.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Gripping materialism in the midst of grinding poverty.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Unpaid government employees and high government officials living in luxury.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Big aid projects stifling home-grown development and encouraging a debilitating dependency.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>A widespread commitment to sorcery, even among the followers of Jesus, infidelity, chronic deceit.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>These images of death are played over and over again, molding and shaping people’s imagination, limiting hope.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">But we are the community of the risen Christ.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>We, of all people, have a message of hope to share:<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Jesus is alive, the power of life reigns supreme.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Do we believe that?<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Do you believe that God can change the life of a heartless warlord or a hopelessly corrupt government system?<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Do you believe that God can breathe new life into a dying church or a dying marriage?<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Do you believe that God can inspire people to learn new ways to produce enough food to feed their children and to banish poverty?<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Do you believe that God can put an end to political gridlock and inspire politicians to work for the common good of the country?<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Or if that hope is hard to generate, do you believe that God’s power resting in you can mediate the love of God to a few people around you? </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">I was in Kindu that Lord’s Day last week because I believe in the resurrection.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Disciples of Jesus can be a healing, inspiring, catalytic force for life-giving change in Congo because by God’s gracious choice His Spirit lives in us. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>Many Congolese have lost hope that change can happen here.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>But I saw Christians who are contributing to another image of Congo: Dr. Masaka, the team at CARITAS Development Kindu, and the Marist Brothers of Kindu.&nbsp; Pray with me that God’s people will help others to see the reality of the resurrection, to find a pathway to hope that life-giving change is possible, to believe in the power of the living Lord.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><br></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Outside the tomb of Lazarus Jesus asked the people, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believed?”&nbsp; Lord, open our eyes to your glory.&nbsp; Help us to reflect it to others.</span></p> Sun, 02 Jun 2013 03:37:04 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/48780-can-you-imagine-the-resurrection https://internationalministries.org/read/48780-can-you-imagine-the-resurrection IM Headline News: Feb. 13 - March 1, 2013 <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center" align="center"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:14.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial">International Ministries Headline News</span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center" align="center"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:14.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial">February 13 – March 1</span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><b><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:16.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri">Do you want to know which missionaries will be in the U.S. in 2013?</span></b><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:16.0pt;font-family: Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri">&nbsp; The best way to find out about a particular missionary's schedule is to contact him or her directly through their profile page on the IM website: </span><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 16.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;color:#0029ED; text-decoration:none;text-underline:none">www.internationalministries.org</span></a><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:16.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri">.&nbsp; For a list of missionaries who are scheduled to be in the U.S. in 2013, contact Ruthie Stevenson, </span><a href="mailto:ruthanne.stevenson@abc-usa.org"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:16.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri; color:#0029ED;text-decoration:none;text-underline:none">ruthann.stevenson@abc-usa.org</span></a><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:16.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri">. Since missionaries' plans change frequently, the list is subject to change at any time.&nbsp;For general questions, contact Catherine <span class="SpellE">Nold</span>: </span><a href="mailto:catherine.nold@abc-usa.org"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 16.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;color:#001DF6">catherine.nold@abc-usa.org</span></a><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:16.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri">.</span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:15.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri; color:#24497A">&nbsp;</span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:15.0pt;font-family: Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;color:black"></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center" align="center"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:42.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial; color:#00CCFF">HEADLINE NEWS:</span></b><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:42.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial; color:#00CCFF">&nbsp;</span></b> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/47003-prayer-requests-from-im-missionaries-for-world-day-of-prayer-on-march-1st"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Prayer Requests from IM Missionaries for "World Day of Prayer" on March 1st&nbsp; </span></a></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333">Released on February 25, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:42.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46964-urgent-prayer-request-from-baptist-partners-in-bulgaria-"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Urgent Prayer Request from Baptist Partners in Bulgaria </span></a></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;</span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt; font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333">Released on February 21, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:42.0pt; font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:42.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#00CCFF"> </span></b> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46892-im-missionary-ed-noyes-begins-health-care-project-with-ima-world-health"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">IM Missionary, Ed Noyes, Begins Health Care Project with IMA World Health</span></a> </span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333">Released on February 19, 2013</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/44506-ignite-2013-to-republic-of-georgia"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">IGNITE 2013 to Republic of Georgia</span></a></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family: Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"> </span><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333">Released on February 17, 2013</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46921-ab-women-s-ministries-announces-virtual-mission-encounters"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">AB Women's Ministries Announces Virtual Mission Encounters</span></a></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"> </span><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333">Released on February 17, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:42.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center" align="center"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF">RECENT MISSIONARY JOURNALS:</span></b><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF">&nbsp;</span></b> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/47039-a-estudiar-en-el-stb-study-time-at-stb-"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">A <span class="SpellE">estudiar</span> en el STB... / Study time at STB...</span></a></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> by <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/140"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Mayra <span class="SpellE">Giovanetti</span></span></a>, <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/139"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Carlos <span class="SpellE">Bonilla</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on March 1, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/47081-kim-1-5-headed-to-cuba-today"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Kim+1.5 headed to Cuba <span class="SpellE">today </span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times">by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/1476"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Kim Kushner <span class="SpellE">Dominguez</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 28, 2013</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/47073-a-beauty-of-a-day"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">A Beauty of a <span class="SpellE">Day</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/773"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Tim <span class="SpellE">Long</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 27, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/47030-painted-nails-tears-and-love"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Painted Nails, Tears, and <span class="SpellE">Love</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/357"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Annie <span class="SpellE">Dieselberg</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 25, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46979-first-responder"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">First <span class="SpellE">Responder</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family: Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/20463"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Roberta <span class="SpellE">Stephens </span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal">Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 22, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46970-peace-warrior-released-"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">"Peace Warrior" <span class="SpellE">released! </span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><span class="GramE"><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Times">by</span></i></b></span></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/196"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Dan <span class="SpellE">Buttry </span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal">Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 22, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46988-love-on-valentine-s-day-or-not-"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Love on Valentine's Day--or <span class="SpellE">Not?</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><span class="GramE"><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Times"> by</span></i></b></span></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/117"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Lauran <span class="SpellE">Bethell</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 22, 2013</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46972-march-10-global-day-of-prayer-for-burma"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">March 10 - Global Day of Prayer for <span class="SpellE">Burma</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/119"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Duane <span class="SpellE">Binkley</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 21, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46957-mr-deliniox-life-is-saved-at-eye-clinic"><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Mr</span></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6"> <span class="SpellE">Deliniox</span> Life is Saved at Eye <span class="SpellE">Clinic</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family: Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/956"><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Nzunga</span></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6"> <span class="SpellE">Mabudiga </span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal">Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 20, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46950-saying-goodbye"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Saying <span class="SpellE">Goodbye</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family: Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/1345"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Sarah <span class="SpellE">West </span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal">Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 20, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46952-boundaries"><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Boundaries </span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family: Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Times">by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/1292"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">David <span class="SpellE">Turley </span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal">Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 20, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46952-boundaries"><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Original Goodness</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family: Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/687"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Debbie <span class="SpellE">Kelsey</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 19, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46919-innocence-at-risk"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Innocence at <span class="SpellE">Risk </span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times">by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/357"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Annie <span class="SpellE">Dieselberg </span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal">Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 17, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46911-i-ve-been-to-cuba-have-you-"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">I've been to Cuba, have <span class="SpellE">YOU?</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><span class="GramE"><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Times"> by</span></i></b></span></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/1476"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Kim Kushner <span class="SpellE">Dominguez</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 15, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46883-love-beyond-comprehension"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Love Beyond <span class="SpellE">Comprehension</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> by</span></i></b></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/1040"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Joyce <span class="SpellE">Reed</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 14, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;color:#001BE6"><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/read/46857-are-you-ready-to-serve-anywhere-"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:#001BE6">Are you ready to serve <span class="SpellE">anywhere?</span></span></a></span><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:18.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"></span><span class="GramE"><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family: Times"> by</span></i></b></span></span><b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times"> <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/956"><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Nzunga</span></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6"> <span class="SpellE">Mabudiga</span></span></a>, <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/people/957"><span class="SpellE"><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6">Kihomi</span></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#001BE6"> <span class="SpellE">Ngwemi</span></span></a><span class="SpellE"><span style="color:#333333;font-weight:normal"> Released</span></span></span></i></b><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;color:#333333"> on February 13, 2013</span></i><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF"></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center" align="center"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF">&nbsp; <br></span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center" align="center"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:13.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color:#00CCFF">SIGN UP TO RECEIVE MISSIONARY JOURNALS OR IM NEWS BY EMAIL:</span></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin">&nbsp;</span></b></p> <div align="center"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">http://www.internationalministries.org/<br><br>Find us on Facebook:&nbsp; International Ministries - American Baptist<br></span></b></div> Thu, 28 Feb 2013 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/47121-im-headline-news-feb-13-march-1-2013 https://internationalministries.org/read/47121-im-headline-news-feb-13-march-1-2013 IM Missionary, Ed Noyes, Begins Health Care Project with IMA World Health <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark/> <w:EnableOpenTypeKerning/> <w:DontFlipMirrorIndents/> <w:OverrideTableStyleHps/> </w:Compatibility> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math"/> <m:brkBin m:val="before"/> <m:brkBinSub m:val="&#45;-"/> <m:smallFrac m:val="off"/> <m:dispDef/> <m:lMargin m:val="0"/> <m:rMargin m:val="0"/> <m:defJc m:val="centerGroup"/> <m:wrapIndent m:val="1440"/> <m:intLim m:val="subSup"/> <m:naryLim m:val="undOvr"/> </m:mathPr></w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="267"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="59" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Placeholder Text"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Revision"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if !supportAnnotations]--><!--[endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Cambria","serif";} </style> <![endif]--><span style="font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"></span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Ed Noyes, American Baptist International Ministries (IM) missionary, is expanding his agricultural development work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by partnering with a global faith-based health organization, IMA World Health.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"></span><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Noyes will remain an IM missionary while contributing 60% of his time to IMA World Health/Eglise du Christ au Congo (ECC) as Senior Agricultural Extension Specialist for the Congo.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The remaining 40% of his time will continue his work with IM’s church partner, the Baptist Convention of Congo (CBCO) in Lusekele.</span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"></span><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">With IMA World Health, Noyes will be the principal agricultural extension advisor for a project that is rehabilitating primary health care systems. He will be working with rural health centers and hospitals to use agriculture as a way to improve the overall health of the communities they serve.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"></span><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">“Over the next five years, I will be leading a program that trains village extension workers, distributes high quality seed and seed cuttings over wide swathes of Congolese territory, and helps village groups turn agricultural produce into cash contributions to their local health care system,” explains Noyes in a recent journal. The project hopes to impact more than 4.9 million people during its lifetime.</span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"></span><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Noyes has spent the last 25 years of his missionary service working with CBCO to eliminate hunger in the central Bandundu Province. He worked alongside Congolese Christians to increase crop production, grow more nutritious food, and put an end to hunger in the region.</span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"></span><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Noyes reflects on his work and how it helps build God’s kingdom: “A world without hunger and a world where farm families live productive lives while building the capacity of the land to produce sustainable yields—for me that is part of the rich harvest, a sign that God is finally being honored and obeyed.” </span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"></span><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">IM is a member organization of IMA World Health and a partner not only in Democratic Republic of the Congo, but also in Sudan and Haiti.</span> </p><p><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt; font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">IMA World Heath</span></b><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"> advances health and healing to vulnerable and marginalized people the world over. IMA World Health is a specialist in providing essential health care services and medical supplies around the world. It is a nonprofit, faith-based organization working to restore health, hope and dignity to those most in need. It works primarily in the developing world, where an estimated 30 to 70 percent of health care is provided by faith-based organizations.</span></p>If you’d like to learn more about Ed Noyesor support his work, visit his <a style="mso-comment-reference:MS_1;mso-comment-date:20130202T1617">profile on the IM website</a><span class="MsoCommentReference"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family: &quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"><a class="msocomanchor" id="_anchor_1" href="#_msocom_1" name="_msoanchor_1"></a></span></span> more information. <span style="mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"></span> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">For more information, contact Catherine Nold: </span><a href="mailto:catherine.nold@abc-usa.org"><span style="font-size:10.0pt; font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">catherine.nold@abc-usa.org</span></a><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Gill Sans MT&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"></span></p> <div style="mso-element:comment-list"> <hr class="msocomoff" align="left" size="1" width="33%"> <div style="mso-element:comment"> <div id="_com_1" class="msocomtxt"><span style="mso-comment-author: &quot;Michelle Scott&quot;"><a name="_msocom_1"></a></span> <p class="MsoCommentText"><span class="MsoCommentReference"><span style="font-size: 9.0pt;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;"><span style="mso-special-character:comment">&nbsp;</span></span></span><br></p> </div> </div> </div> <p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/46892-im-missionary-ed-noyes-begins-health-care-project-with-ima-world-health https://internationalministries.org/read/46892-im-missionary-ed-noyes-begins-health-care-project-with-ima-world-health Extending the reach of God <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:HyphenationZone>21</w:HyphenationZone> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Extending the reach of God.&nbsp; What an audacious thing to say!<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>How could anyone extend the reach of God?<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Of course the answer is, “We can’t.”<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>No matter what new territory we explore, what new peoples we “discover”, we always find God there ahead of us.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Still the phrase evokes the image of an important truth: as God’s people, humbly seeking to serve him, we carry God’s presence with us into places where rebellion persists.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span> <br></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">This is an image that continues to inspire me.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>To be certain, we are the flawed, scarred, often inadequate body of Christ.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>But God chooses to use us to turn darkness into light in the world.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span> <br></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">For 25 years, I have helped Congolese Christians to eliminate hunger in the villages of central Bandundu Province.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>We have shared the productive crop varieties that God created.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>We have shared principles of how God created plants and their environment so that people can work with God to satisfy food needs.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The extension agents of the Baptist Agricultural Center have shared their insights and experience with their neighbors and have pushed chronic hunger to the very margins of Bandundu life. <br></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Now I have a chance to take the fight into parts of 5 provinces where malnutrition and poverty rates are among the worst in Congo: Western Kasai, Maniema, South Kivu, Eastern Province and Equator.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Long-time International Ministries partner IMA World Health has invited me to serve 60% of my time as the principal agricultural extension advisor for a large project rehabilitating rural primary health care systems (rural health centers and hospitals.)<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The project encourages villages to create common production fields to help support health centers.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>These fields provide excellent opportunities for village groups to experiment with the best available crop varieties and best agricultural practices – simple innovations that can often double agricultural production.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span> <br></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Over the next five years, I will be leading a program that trains village extension workers, distributes high quality seed and seed cuttings over wide swathes of Congolese territory, and helps village groups turn agricultural produce into cash contributions to their local health care system. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>In the course of these activities we hope that farm households will adopt innovations that boost their basic agricultural production by 50-100% and ensure that people have enough to eat.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The project hopes to work closely with over 7,000 village groups representing over 4.9 million people. <br></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">I will continue to work with Timothée Kabila and ACDI Lusekele, perfecting extension materials, training staff and troubleshooting as needed. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>There is one interesting new development there: Timothée has asked the new governor of Bandundu to include support for ACDI Lusekele’s extension program in the provincial budget.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The governor’s staff has been very encouraging. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>We continue to pray that they finally realize that ACDI Lusekele is one of the few serious agricultural extension programs in the entire province and a solid investment in regional economic development. <br></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Paul encourages the Ephesian Christians in this way:<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>“You yourselves used to be in the darkness, but since you have become the Lord’s people, you are in the light. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>So you must live like people who <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">belong</i> in the light, for it is the light that brings a rich harvest of every kind of goodness, righteousness and truth.” <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>A world without hunger and world where farm families live productive lives while building the capacity of the land to produce sustainable yields – for me that is part of the rich harvest, a sign that God is finally being honored and obeyed.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Please pray for this new venture and the changes it entails.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>In the coming months we can share with each other what God is doing.</span></p> <p></p> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 19:10:18 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/46410-extending-the-reach-of-god https://internationalministries.org/read/46410-extending-the-reach-of-god Collaborative healing - one more step <p>Monday morning about 10:30am, lying in the pre-op area of Helford Hospital, we gathered around Miriam for a short time of prayer. She looked a bit tired and wan.&nbsp; Having no eyebrows and no eyelashes gives that impression.&nbsp; But her dancing eyes and occasional flashing smile erased the impression in an instant. Miriam's mom, Ruth, her Uncle Wes Brown, and Dick and Stephanie Sullender, pastors of FBC Monrovia, had all joined us for the start of the day. <br> <br>Wes read the verses from Paul's letter to the Philippians -- 4:6-8 :&nbsp; "Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always&nbsp; asking him with a thankful heart.&nbsp; And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.&nbsp; In conclusion, my friends fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise; things that are true, noble, right, pure lovely and honorable." <br> <br>And we prayed together, as so many of you have prayed with Miriam and with us over these last 5 months.&nbsp; We thanked God for his gifts.&nbsp; We thanked God for the doctors, nurses, lab technicians, receptionists, counselors, fellow travellers and friends that He is using to help heal Miriam.&nbsp; We asked God once again for his help, his guidance for her doctors and all the others involved in the surgery, for each the ability to give their best.&nbsp; And finally we asked that God would use this occasion of sickness to bring a measure of health and blessing to the people we touch on the journey. <br> <br>An hour later, Miriam was rolled on to the operating room and the rest of us returned to responsibilities for the day.&nbsp; At 2:30 Dr. Yim came out to give me a brief report on the surgery.&nbsp; He was pleased.&nbsp; It had gone very well.&nbsp; He saw no obvious visual indications of active cancer in the lymph nodes.&nbsp; The preliminary pathology screenings of lymph nodes and breast tissue done during the surgery returned negative too.<br> <br>After spending the night in the hospital, Miriam returned home on Tuesday. <br> <br>When we think about things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honorable" we have plenty of concrete examples to ponder from these recent months.&nbsp; God has surrounded us with his love and with remarkably talented and compassionate people, some of whom do not even admit an allegiance to him, but nonetheless reflect a part of his character and purpose.&nbsp; Thank you all for joining us in asking the Lord of all creation for what we need during this season in our lives. &nbsp; <br> </p> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 13:23:25 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/46403-collaborative-healing-one-more-step https://internationalministries.org/read/46403-collaborative-healing-one-more-step And suddenly life has changed . . . <p>No, I don’t want to tell you about how God has changed the life of one of our Congolese neighbors this time.&nbsp; Those of you in our support network know that I, Miriam, was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in July in South Africa, joining one out of eight American women, and my sister and my mother only this year.&nbsp; The funny thing is that genetic testing seems to indicate that our illnesses are unrelated.&nbsp; (What are you doing, God?) I was given 3 weeks to put things in order in Congo and make arrangements for moving to the United States for 8-9 months of treatment. Let me hasten to say that the doctors are very confident that we can beat this.<br><br>I’ve come, with Ed, to southern California, where my mother and our daughter live, and a whole host of the missionary “aunts and uncles” that I grew up with.&nbsp; We now live in a pleasant apartment with our daughter (a special privilege) two miles from my treatment center and along a bus line that goes there, and we’re making slow acquaintance with our new town, when treatment activities allow it.&nbsp; A new friend has loaned us her car for the duration, actually one of four cars offered us.&nbsp; Thank-you, friends, for your generosity!<br><br>On one of these outings a month ago now, I tripped on the edge of some uneven sidewalk and broke my left arm at the wrist badly!&nbsp; Suddenly that changes everything again.&nbsp; Quelle aventure!<br><br>A special challenge is figuring out how to dress my head.&nbsp; Yes, I’m temporarily bald.&nbsp; It’s funny that it should make such a difference to me, working in a country where children, schoolgirls in rural schools and many village women, routinely have their hair cut close to their scalps, but it does.&nbsp; Wrong color of woman for it in my mental associations, maybe.&nbsp; I am using a wig, a hat and a kerchief, sometimes with the addition of scarves, keeping an eye out for winter hats, and eagerly looking forward to growing my head of hair out again at the end. &nbsp;<br><br>I am tolerating the treatments well, to date.&nbsp; I mentioned adventure.&nbsp; To&nbsp; me, this is an adventure of new experience that God is leading me through, one not completely unexpected, given medical history in my family, not desired, but then that describes ¾ of the adventures we are given in life.<br><br>I am now ¼ of the way through my treatments, through the first chemotherapy regime designed to stop and diminish the presence of cancer in my body, and, sure enough, there are no signs now of any cancerous activity outside the actual tumor, and that is significantly diminished already.&nbsp; God be praised!&nbsp; Eventually they expect to operate on me, and finish with cautionary radiation before I can go back to Congo in April 2013.<br><br>Ed is returning to Congo and Lusekele Ag Center in early November, but wants to come back to support me through surgery and the early days of recovery in January.&nbsp; His absence from Lusekele has coincided with the main planting season and absence of the director, due to illness, from day-to-day activities, and there is much to be done.<br><br>So what does God have in mind for this time?&nbsp;&nbsp; Why did he want to pluck us up out of the work we’ve been doing in Congo right now?&nbsp; The answer could be as simple as time to stop and grow in our lives with him.&nbsp; Or it could be the beginnings of new directions in ministry.&nbsp; In Isaiah 43:18-19b, God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.&nbsp; See, I am doing a new thing!&nbsp; Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”<br><br><br></p> Wed, 17 Oct 2012 22:52:52 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/45156-and-suddenly-life-has-changed- https://internationalministries.org/read/45156-and-suddenly-life-has-changed- Multiplying and sharing God's blessings Late Tuesday afternoon a low engine rumble somewhere beyond the garden and oil palm plantation announced the arrival of a small truck as I packed up things to go home. A few minutes later missionary colleague Wayne Niles appeared on the steps leading down to the office. Not far behind were Miriam and four women, the expected team from Foods Resource Bank (FRB), one of the key partners in ACDI Lusekele's agricultural extension programme. Wayne had driven the team up from Kinshasa) to spend a couple of days with the ACDI Lusekele staff and the farmers that they serve. <br><br>Foods Resource Bank is a remarkable Christian movement that helps materially poor farmers to end hunger, improve opportunities and contribute to the health of their local communities. It brings together Christian farmers, fruit growers, ranchers, and other production specialists with other Christians with a desire to end hunger and the poverty that so often causes it. In special "growing projects", North American producers dedicate a portion of their production (500 peach trees or 1000 chickens or 10 acres of soybeans) to the Lord. Other Christian partners contribute the funds necessary to pay the costs of producing the peaches or chickens or soybeans. And very often the growing partners raise even more through donations of inputs from local or corporate suppliers. When the crop or animals are sold the money goes to support 50 to 60 FRB projects working with local churches around the world. <br><br>For the last seven years the ACDI Lusekele extension program has been part of one of the largest FRB projects. The support makes it possible for extension agents to make regular visits to over 100 farmer's groups every month. They promote disease-resistant cassava varieties, high-yielding peanuts, protein-rich and drought-resistant black-eyed peas, productive hybrid oil palms, and techniques for soil conservation and improvement. They also encourage sharing of the best agricultural practices in this part of Congo. Through God's gracious alchemy, just a few acres of soybeans at the edge of a golden field in North America becomes a force for change in the lives of Congolese semi-subsistence farmers. <br><br>Angela Boss, the FRB growing project coordinator for Western North America, brought Amy Beth, Lisa and Nadesh to meet these farmers and the Christian extension specialists who serve them. Amy Beth works with a California peach grower. Lisa is member of a Tennessee church that wants to partner with FRB. Nadesh is an African agricultural specialist herself, serving farming women through another FRB project in the Central African Republic. <br><br>Early Wednesday afternoon, we left the main road, jolted across grassland, slithered through sandy pits and finally wound our way down into the disappearing forest valleys of the Gobari River. Moliambo is the Baptist church center for the area, not more than a few kilometers from the Gobari itself. Farmers from the local association were waiting, eager to show us the changes that have taken place in their villages. <br><br>In nearby Nzombi, we found the village surrounded by astonishing fields of healthy manioc. Disease tolerant varieties and careful culling of diseased plants have virtually eliminated cassava mosaic disease as a problem in the village. At the Baptist high school in Moliambo we saw 8-month old manioc plants nearly 3 meters tall with stems 3 inches across. Ten years ago mosaic disease was contributing to widespread hunger in the area. Today hunger is little more than an unpleasant memory. The only complaint: sometimes people have trouble selling the surplus manioc for lack of buyers. <br><br>Thursday we took the team out to meet the associated farmers of Milundu in the Luniungu River basin. Mr Munimi showed us around his oil palm plantation while his sister looked on. The plantation perches on a hillside above chocolate colored fish ponds. Production this past year had been down due to lack of rain. It is only now beginning to pick back up. Still, he said, the income from those palm trees has helped him to buy a bicycle. The bicycle saves time and helps to carry both produce and water for the family. Palm oil income also helped to put his kids through school. His faced beamed when he told us that three of them were in university right now. <br><br>The obvious pride and joy on Mr. Munimi's face is the real reward of this work we do in Jesus's name. His life would seem poor to most of you. But he values his children. He works hard. His family and people in the village respect him. He has remarkable hope, optimism and satisfaction in what he produces. And he will probably live to see his children enter into opportunities that he never dreamed about. <br><br>I am grateful to all the Christians of Foods Resource Bank growing projects who have made a conscious decision to store up riches heaven. Their sacrifice, their investments make it possible for the people here at ACDI to share God's blessing with farmers in this region. Each time God's blessing is passed on (North American farmer to Lusekele extension agent to Congolese peasant farmer to their offspring) the blessing is multiplied. What are things of true value that you and I will leave behind us in this world? Sat, 09 Jun 2012 14:17:43 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/43217-multiplying-and-sharing-god-s-blessings https://internationalministries.org/read/43217-multiplying-and-sharing-god-s-blessings Is it really all about the dress? <p><i>March 8th…International Women’s Day…</i> It may have passed you by without you noticing it.&nbsp; Here in Congo it is taken seriously.&nbsp; Girls are let out of school, women employees given the day off, women dress their little girls in their own skirts (I saw a number of girls wrestling with this unfamiliar object), women’s groups go into debt to parade in uniform, and the local government plans feasts and parades, with speeches and such.&nbsp; But if you don’t have new uniforms for your group to show off, why go?&nbsp; That was the question raging in the Lusekele women’s group<br><br>It wasn’t’ just the Lusekele women.&nbsp; All the women I met at the celebration Thursday were just thinking about the parade, and assuming that the government men would arrange the program.&nbsp; But the county administrators were clueless.&nbsp; They had dutifully arranged the occasion.&nbsp; Now they kept saying, “This is YOUR day, ladies…”&nbsp; That’s how I, who had come to observe this event for the first time, was seized on just before the parade, to be the main speaker.&nbsp; Philo, one of Lusekele’s extension agents and its assistant administrator, as the most capable Congolese woman there that they knew, was also asked to give a few remarks.<br><br>As a literacy promoter, I talked about the necessity for a country like Congo to use the skills and wisdom of ALL its population, not just the male half, the necessity for women to learn, to gain the knowledge and skills needed to make a good contribution, and the importance for a family’s well-being and future to have a savvy educated woman directing the household.&nbsp; I addressed all those school girls in their mother’s skirts about the necessity to apply themselves to their studies and use what they learn.&nbsp; Philo hammered on the theme I started, pulling out the adage that educating a man gives him a livelihood; educating a woman changes the world around her.<br><br>The real reason for days like this is not the dress, the dance step or the parade.&nbsp; International Women’s Day is a chance to change the way we think in important ways.&nbsp; While Congolese village women don’t find their lives intolerable (unless they live in the Great Lakes region, the current rape capitol of the world), they are limited in many ways which contribute to their poverty and handicap their children.&nbsp; Women are often treated like children and deprived of decision-making, even in such personal matters as whether to have more children. Their menfolk act on their behalf, whether for their good or against it.&nbsp; Beating your wife is considered normal in this society.&nbsp; Lack of education is an important limitation for the majority of women, keeping them first from learning about things that could help them, and secondly from understanding the real advantages and disadvantages of new things.&nbsp; The children of uneducated women are less likely to get a good education themselves. The uneducated woman is less likely to get good health care for her children, more likely to get cheated and victimized.&nbsp; One could go on.&nbsp; Government administrators are perfectly willing to celebrate women, but without any interest in changing the status quo.&nbsp; Women have to take responsibility for the program, to hold up models to each other, to tell each other, their men and their daughters why they must think for themselves, why they must gain new skills, why they must speak out, and why they must be listened to.<br><br>We need to start preparing for next year’s Women’s Day – not just for the dresses, but so that we all have something to present that’s worth our daughters’ (and sons’) attention.</p> Tue, 03 Apr 2012 08:22:37 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/42343-is-it-really-all-about-the-dress- https://internationalministries.org/read/42343-is-it-really-all-about-the-dress- Helping Lay Pastors to Become More Effective Leaders <p>The Baptist Church of Congo has a two-tier pastoral system.&nbsp; There’s the man (or woman) with formal training who provides overall spiritual direction and has primary administrative responsibilities in the local church – the pastor.&nbsp; Then there’s the lay pastor who leads the inquirers’ classes, disciples new believers and often organizes daily prayers.&nbsp; Many local congregations do not have a trained pastor.&nbsp; In rural areas a circuit riding pastor often is responsible for congregations in several villages.&nbsp; It is not unusual for a circuit riding pastor to touch base with a local congregation only for communion, baptizing new Christians and whatever campaigns the denomination has decreed. &nbsp;<br><br>You can understand why, for many rural congregations, the lay pastor is the real pastor. He or she leads daily prayers, leads the Sunday service, and organizes Sunday school.&nbsp; The lay pastor leads the congregation and effectively shepherds believers through the events in their lives.&nbsp; It is astonishing that the denomination doesn’t officially recognize lay pastors.&nbsp; Instead he or she is called a “catechist”, following the name of the teaching program for their inquirers’ classes.<br><br>Catechists may just be a local school teacher or Bible Study League leader, pressed into service.&nbsp; In 1989 or 1990 a 4-5 week intensive training became available for them.&nbsp; It covers all the bases: a spiritual life manual, an overview of a lay pastor’s work, an overview of the Bible, directions on how to teach the catechism as an overview of the basic knowledge a Christian needs to follow Jesus, what the Bible says to typical problems in African villagers’ lives, worship, preaching practice, church history, with an emphasis on the history of this church in Congo, the organization of the Baptist Church of Congo, and suggestions of appropriate ministries for a local congregation.&nbsp; This course is divided into 5 modules and provides the basics for lay pastors who lack training for the job. It’s been in use now for over 20 years.<br><br>In October 2010, Pastor Rubin Ngalubenge, the denomination’s evangelism coordinator, convened a group of pastors in the Vanga area.&nbsp; He pleaded for a thorough revision of the training materials, aiming to improve their relevance to current challenges of the church.&nbsp; The pastors agreed with the need and suggested many changes and additions. &nbsp;<br><br>But the group was too spread out to meet regularly for revising the course.&nbsp; Instead, the work fell on a committee of 5: Brother Thomas, the Swiss-German Reformed pastor working in Vanga, myself and the 3 local pastors designated by the Vanga church district as trainers for the program.&nbsp; Our pastor, Pastor Manunga, is one of them. &nbsp;<br><br>I did first drafts of revisions in the course of typing the material into my computer.&nbsp; (The last file was on floppy disk, long since lost.)&nbsp; The editing committee discussed and reworked those drafts.&nbsp; Finally, in 2010 and 2011, we tested the first three modules in training workshops at 9 different sites. &nbsp;<br><br>The third module, covering doctrine and Biblical ethics, has been the hardest so far.&nbsp; First it was obvious that we needed to redo how lay pastors teach.&nbsp; Most catechists teach inquirers the catechism by rote.&nbsp; Correctly repeating the phrases of the catechism is often taken to be sufficient evidence that a person has made an informed commitment to Christ.&nbsp; Many candidates never do present a personal testimony to the baptism committee.&nbsp; Catechists need to teach in a way that leads the inquirer or new believer to understand what they believe about God, about Jesus, and about living in the Kingdom and why they believe it.<br><br>Second, some subjects needed to be added.&nbsp; For example, Congolese in general are very concerned about the role of spirits, God’s protection from malevolent spirits, the role of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts.&nbsp; Surprisingly, none of these are covered in the catechism.&nbsp; Many people aspire to be prophets, but often think of this only in terms of identifying spiritual threats.&nbsp; They neglect the more important functions of building the body, giving God’s direction, and challenging evil with good.&nbsp; With gaps like this how is this church to lay a good foundation for its people?&nbsp; We needed to expand counsel for following Jesus in daily life, going well beyond simply encouraging believers to be obedient members of the church.<br><br>Third, some questions were approached only from a Western point of view.&nbsp; For example, responding to the question of physically handicapped people in our families is much more than caring for their needs, finding meaningful roles and preserving their dignity.&nbsp; Congolese want to know why people are born with deformities or limitations and are they “real people.”&nbsp; Another example is how we understand and respond to mental illness.&nbsp; Congolese often attribute it to dabbling in the occult and having things go terribly wrong.&nbsp; Christians need to consider the full range of spiritual, psychological and physical causes of mental illness.&nbsp; The Bible is capable of speaking and should be allowed to speak to believers wherever they are in understanding.&nbsp; We made an effort to find that Biblical interface.<br><br>For two months I was working on questions like these.&nbsp; In mid-November the editing committee approved the third module, it was printed, and the trainers gave it its first road-test.&nbsp; Unfortunately our pastor wasn’t able to hold his training seminar then.&nbsp; The pastor of the hosting church was sick in the hospital and they put it off in that site.&nbsp; But last week the pastors trained the second group of catechists in teaching inquirers’ classes and what the Bible says about the problems that trouble their church members.<br><br>While we were in church last Sunday morning, Pastor Manunga arrived back home from his seminar.&nbsp; The third module has a lot of material to go through.&nbsp; He and his charges worked hard all week.&nbsp; The catechists were particularly enthusiastic; the seminar covered the core of their work.&nbsp; The local circuit-riding pastor wistfully asked for a copy of the module, wishing that the pastors themselves had more opportunities to improve their practical skills.<br><br>Our catechist, André Kizima was in a different group.&nbsp; Even though a lot of his fellow catechists didn’t come, those that did agreed that the material was really good.&nbsp; André recognized that their method of teaching in the past had failed its purpose and said he was looking forward to teaching the new way.&nbsp; He waxed enthusiastic particularly about the helpfulness of the lessons on common problems people face.&nbsp; I suggested that when he crosses paths with the catechists that had not come, he invite them to come talk with him about the new material and what he got out of it.</p> Sat, 21 Jan 2012 14:56:38 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/41223-helping-lay-pastors-to-become-more-effective-leaders https://internationalministries.org/read/41223-helping-lay-pastors-to-become-more-effective-leaders Bible Reading League to field volunteer literacy teachers "The Bible Reading League is all about <b><i>reading</i></b> the Bible," Brother Lula was telling a small group gathered in the district pastor's living room at Mbanza Dibundu. "But what happens in our Bible study meetings? All too often one or two people read the study passages and the rest just listen. They may not even have a Bible with them. Why? Because they can't read well enough to keep up. We want to change that." <br><br>It was a national holiday and the League chapters from all over Luniungu county gathered for Bible study and planning. Miriam joined them because Brother Lula, the League president for the five counties surrounding Vanga, thought that the League could be doing much more to help non-reading members to learn to read for themselves. <br><br>The meeting started late and attendance was down because of the funeral of a well-known school teacher in the area. After Brother Lula finished the devotion he asked Miriam to share. "The Bible talks a lot about light and letting light into our lives. The light is equated with God's rule and all the goodness that comes with it. A blind person is surrounded by light but he is unable to see it and take advantage of it. God has all kinds of blessings he wants to share with us. But if we don't know about the blessings we can't experience them." <br><br>She went on. "A person who can't read is like a blind person. He is cut off from a vast pool of blessings that God wants to share, because he doesn't realize that it exists. God's written word shares the message of eternal life, how to live with God now and to eternity. Written words also share the rich experience of thousands of lives that God can use to enrich our lives." <br><br>"If I can help someone to read, I help that person to unlock the treasure house that God prepared for them. I can open up the windows of a dark room and let God's light shine in and chase away the darkness. You could do that for members of your local groups or for your neighbors. You can help the blind to see the blessings that God has already prepared for them." <br><br>For 45 more minutes, Miriam and the gathered League members discussed how the CBCO Women's Literacy initiative could train League members to teach adults how to read or to improve their reading skills. They settled on Easter vacation as the best time for a training. (Many League members are school teachers and can't get away for a week-long workshop except during vacations.) Local chapters will provide food for the participants. The CBCO parish at Mbanza Dibundu will figure out a way to house everybody. And the Literacy initiative will provide the trainers and training materials. <br><br>Thousands of people in the Vanga area get along without reading and it would be ridiculous to say that reading is essential to life. But illiteracy is like living in one small room of a large mansion. Reading is the key that opens the doors to all the other rooms. Imagine the blessing you would experience helping someone explore the mansion -- and pray for these League members who will attend the literacy workshop in late March or early April. Thu, 12 Jan 2012 02:15:20 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/41085-bible-reading-league-to-field-volunteer-literacy-teachers https://internationalministries.org/read/41085-bible-reading-league-to-field-volunteer-literacy-teachers Live the word, proclaim the word, be transformed <h5><i>An open letter to those who have shared in our ministry. </i></h5><h4>LIVE THE WORD, PROCLAIM THE WORD, BE TRANSFORMED<br></h4>These are challenging words. Years ago Jesus walked into my life, or I walked into his. The way I looked at the world changed. He laid a claim on my life and I decided to follow. I did not run to Jesus because of fear or guilt – judgment and punishment never played a big role in my understanding of God. Rather, in Jesus I sensed the offer of unconditional love, of profound goodness, of beauty, of health beyond the physical, of peace and of justice. Jesus invited me to follow him in life, to the fulfillment of God’s creative purpose. Jesus is Lord. He was never tyrant nor puppeteer. He is rather the door to all things good and pure. I yearn to be in the light, long to see the light dominate the darkness that dogs our world. <br><br>Many of you have had a similar experience. Jesus continues to lay a claim on our lives. He calls us to follow him. The three imperatives above sum up our lives as his followers. The word that God speaks reveals His heart, his purpose for the world. Living the word means understanding God’s heart and letting God’s will shape and give life to our own actions. As we live the word, little pools of life, hope, peace, dignity, joy, beauty and wholeness spring up in the people and the creation around us. Proclaiming the word means presenting God’s heart and purpose to those around us in language that they can understand. Being transformed is the result of constant humble encounter with God and affirming our desire to follow Him. Sometimes it involves being relieved of the fears or the imaginary barriers that keep us from fully living Kingdom life. <br><br>Your commitment to living the word, proclaiming the word and being transformed has led you to extend your reach to Africa, to the Congo. Some of you have been touched, motivated by opportunities to help local churches give illiterate women a chance to read. Others have jumped at the chance to work with Congolese Christians to create sustainable farming systems that ensure that the rural poor can feed themselves. Some of you have joined in God’s program to encourage gifted men and women to become effective lay pastors in rural churches. Thanks to your partnership in prayer, financial support and occasionally direct participation in the church’s mission, Christians here are creating those pools of God’s life that nourish the spiritual and material life of our neighbors. <br><br>Many of your churches take the World Mission Offering this month. Miriam and I. and our Congolese colleagues in ministry, want to take this opportunity to thank God for your open hearts, for your desire to serve Him with us. Your generous support though the World Mission Offering and targeted giving now satisfies over 80% of the costs of continuing our ministries in Congo. We continue to trust God for the future. <br><br>May His Kingdom come, His will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. All praise and honor be to Him! <br><h4><i>Ed</i></h4> Sat, 01 Oct 2011 06:36:35 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/39498-live-the-word-proclaim-the-word-be-transformed https://internationalministries.org/read/39498-live-the-word-proclaim-the-word-be-transformed Carbon dioxide, increasing food security and improving family livelihoods What in the world does carbon dioxide have to do with improving livelihoods and increasing food security? And what does any of this have to do with the Kingdom of God? If you live in an American suburb, get your food prepackaged in a supermarket, and make your living working in an office, the relationships may not be so obvious. But those of us living close to the world of slash and burn shifting cultivation see what happens when farmers are pushed by population pressure or by the drive to increase their income. Hard use eliminates the forest and impoverishes the soil. Constant burning and decomposition of vegetation release enormous quantities of greenhouse gases that are not reabsorbed in the normal cycle of production.<sup>(1)</sup> The Lord God put human beings in the creation to “cultivate” and to “guard”. In my part of the world many farmers have failed in this fundamental charge. Persistent and profound poverty is often the result. <br><br>Imagination is a gift of God. Knowing the will of God, I can imagine a different world where God’s will is more perfectly realized. If my heart is changed and my mind renewed, I can imagine an approach to farming that restores the land and sustains the people who depend on it. The best imagination informs life-giving changes on the ground. Restoring the land leads to more productive crops and healthier, more prosperous lives. <br><br>For three weeks in late July and early August, a group of us got together to imagine how we might change the world in a small, but significant way. The group included extension agents, university instructors, development workers and one jack-of-all-trades agricultural missionary. Our goal was to come up with a practical plan for 125 farmers to abandon slash and burn agriculture and adopt a sustainable mix of woodlots and cropping on fire-degraded savanna lands. The plan would reduce destruction and degradation of gallery forests and increase household income by 50 to 100%. And it would increase the farming system’s ability to absorb and hold on to an additional 135,000 tons of CO2 by reshaping the long-term use of 3700 acres of land. <br><br>A commitment to caring for the earth is one of the keys. If I plant leguminous trees with my field crops on annually burned savanna I can set into motion a whole raft of beneficial effects. By moving from gallery forest to fire degraded savanna, I give my forest land a chance to recover. When I protect my field crops (and trees) I stop fire from burning up all that organic matter every year. Humus increases in the soil and litter accumulates on the surface. My trees grow, absorbing carbon dioxide and using it to construct trunks, branches and leaves. Dead branches and leaves add to the litter layer and increase soil organic matter. A hectare of mature artificial forest has more than 90 tons of biomass, the equivalent of over 183 tons of CO2. If I wait patiently for seven years my land will begin to give me rich crops, firewood, charcoal, honey and thousands of dollars a year rather than the hundreds my family makes do with by slashing and burning the forest. <br><br>Moving from imagination to life-giving and God-honoring change usually requires figuring out ways to remove inconvenient obstacles. Our biggest obstacle is paying the costs of investing and waiting patiently. The transition from slash and burn to sustainable agroforestry will take seven years before the new system can begin to deliver its full promise. How does a struggling farm family make investments in the land and live during that time? Farm credit would be the logical answer – if it existed here. <br><br>The Lusekele study group has set it sights on another kind of financing – carbon credits. In effect we trade on our ability to provide long-term storage of carbon in our permanent succession of woodlots. The service fee helps to pay for tree nurseries, planting labor and more efficient tools for the transition to sustainable agroforestry. But clients will queue up to buy the service only if we can show precisely how much carbon our system has absorbed and demonstrate our ability to ensure that the carbon will be locked up for the duration of the agreement. <br><br>Clearly we have a lot to learn. I continue to imagine. In that vision, the science instructors at the local teacher’s college become expert technicians in measuring biomass and carbon content. Students hone all kinds of skills as they collect data, analyze samples, and map results. Farmers themselves learn ways to manage soil fertility better, preserve valuable forest reserves for future generations and still improve their standard of living. I imagine a world in which the way we farm, the way we think about the land and our place on it, and the priorities we pursue all recognize the Lord God who put us here. ------------------------- <br> <h5><sup>(1)</sup> <i>Land use changes, such as clearing forest to plant food crops, account for 15 to 20% of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. </i></h5> Wed, 07 Sep 2011 09:14:06 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/38908-carbon-dioxide-increasing-food-security-and-improving-family-livelihoods https://internationalministries.org/read/38908-carbon-dioxide-increasing-food-security-and-improving-family-livelihoods Training shepherds for children and youth Tonton is lucky.&nbsp; He has a Sunday school to go to at Lusekele.&nbsp; Every week before church he gets to sing, and play and listen to Bible stories with 15 to 20 other kids.&nbsp; Although he sings in the little boys’ church choir, Sunday school is probably the first place he heard the stories of God’s love for him and the way people walk with God.&nbsp; It might be the most important chance he has to see beyond “church” to a real relationship with Jesus Christ.<br><br>With a national average of seven kids per family, anywhere you go in Congo there are a lot more kids and teenagers than adults.&nbsp; That goes for church too.&nbsp; In any congregation you would care to name, unless they have Sunday school before church and send the kids home afterwards, a large part of the congregation will be kids and teenagers.<br><br>Curiously, though, it’s the rare rural church that has any program for their kids, let alone their teenagers.&nbsp; Most churches ignore their kids, fully two-thirds of the population and the people who could be tomorrow’s church.&nbsp; They enjoy youth and kids’ choirs, but neglect loving discipleship of young people.&nbsp; That is why launching a viable Sunday school movement here in rural areas is so important.&nbsp; When I was asked to help with the second annual Sunday school teacher training seminar, I eagerly accepted the invitation.<br><br>Effective Sunday school teachers teach from their own encounter with Christ and walk with God.&nbsp; If not, they are the blind leading the blind. So I was asked to give the challenge every morning to the participants to examine their Christian life, and see whether or not they were really following Jesus.&nbsp; <br><br>In a group-oriented society, many church members get baptized into the church as a rite of passage.&nbsp; They join “the club”.&nbsp; Others, in this animistic society, join to make God happy.&nbsp; If God is happy enough, he will help their projects succeed, assure that family members stay healthy and prosper their lives.&nbsp; It is works-religion measured by material results.&nbsp; <br><br>But the real question is: Is God at the center of my life?&nbsp; Am I really “born again”?&nbsp; What does it mean? Am I living in the fullness of what Jesus offers to his followers, or am I settling for a minimum of justification before God? How can I live in Christ, in power?&nbsp; Do I know that I have a choice to walk “according to the flesh” or “according to the Spirit” every day? These are excellent questions for anyone who claims to be a Christian.<br><br>The training material had a fondness for abstract theology and complicated diagrams that often had little connection with the African Christian’s village experience.&nbsp; My job was not only to translate the words from French into Kituba, but to translate the ideas by examples that participants could relate to in their lives.<br><br>I was pleased to see that this year there was much less insistence on French as the medium of training and of Sunday school.&nbsp; It is appropriate for some groups of people, but the vast majority of rural Christians, and certainly the majority of rural children, only function well in local language.&nbsp; They can handle a song or two in French, but that’s about it.&nbsp; <br><br>Future teachers learned the importance of loving the children you work with, of walking through lesson material with them and not losing sight of making the Gospel clear.&nbsp; They learned how to develop a lesson from a Bible story, how to bring a child to Christ, and how to use songs, games, Bible verse memorization, etc. to reinforce lessons.<br><br>Twenty people participated in the training.&nbsp; Some participants who missed part of last year’s training repeated.&nbsp; And some people from new villages joined them.&nbsp; Lusekele’s Sunday school is conducted by young people who finish their schooling and leave, so we needed a new group of teachers and had 3 participants.&nbsp; <br><br>While I was happy to see a few people from additional churches, I was sad to see how few local congregations responded to the invitation to send people to become Sunday school teachers.&nbsp; A local women’s president told me later: “We intended to participate.&nbsp; I don’t know what happened that we never sent anyone.”&nbsp; Today my house worker said, “They came with the announcement to our church.&nbsp; I don’t know why the pastor didn’t do anything…”&nbsp; Other church events that week could have distracted churches and their pastors just when they should have been getting someone to send.&nbsp; The challenge is to move beyond distractions and bring the focus back to the children who continue to be abandoned in so many congregations.<br><br>Pray for this movement:&nbsp; that God would bring to all his churches in this area a real, compelling concern for their children and youths’ spiritual state and for the opportunities to pass on life’s real Good News.<br> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 05:50:41 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/38824-training-shepherds-for-children-and-youth https://internationalministries.org/read/38824-training-shepherds-for-children-and-youth A closer look at the earth beneath our feet Dusk had fallen after a long day observing soil profiles.&nbsp; The road had become increasingly rutted and overgrown with grass.&nbsp; Directions to "Ngulanko" led us to a small village perched on a hill.&nbsp; Everyone came out into the night see what had brought a truck to the end of their rutted track.&nbsp; Philippe explained that we were looking at the soil.&nbsp; But we needed to find the CBCO church center at Ngulanko.&nbsp; It turned out it was across the valley on another spur of the main ridge reaching down into the Nko River valley.&nbsp; After a few minutes of trying to give us directions, Samuel said, "Why don't I just ride along and show you the way."<br><br>It was a good thing he did.&nbsp; The track led through hundred-yard long sections where we saw nothing but grass and weeds six inches in front of the headlights, not a single wheel track.&nbsp; It finally narrowed down to a footpath where we maneuvered the jeep through cut-off tree stubs.&nbsp; Left to our own devices we would never have found the church center only 4 miles away.&nbsp; Samuel was God's gift to a tired and somewhat cranky group at the end of tough day.&nbsp; Because of him we found a warm welcome at the Baptist high school at Ngulanko CBCO.<br><br>Our trip to Ngulanko grew out of our continuing quest for better ways for resource-poor villages to farm.&nbsp; If a traditional farmer practicing variations on shifting cultivation wants to increase surpluses, she can choose from a wide number of strategies. We have focused on new varieties that use limited resources more efficiently or minimize losses from pests and diseases. These usually give an immediate boost to yields without major changes in the basic way that people farm.<br><br>But in areas with growing population and limited land resources, the increasing intensity of agriculture uses up limited soil nutrients more quickly. Traditional bush fallow sometimes cannot accumulate nutrients (particularly nitrogen) quickly enough to sustain the demands of more frequent cultivation of a particular piece of land. As a result, even the most efficient varieties of basic food crops are susceptible to declining yields.<br><br>I have written before about using nitrogen-fixing cover crops to capture atmospheric nitrogen and fix it in a form that becomes available to food crops in the rotation. Managing cover crops is still a new science in Congo. Even a basic question like, Where can we plant Velvetbean (<span style="font-style: italic;">Mucuna pruriens</span>)&nbsp; for acceptable results? does not have a precise answer yet.<br><br>That's what brought us to the end of a grass-choked remnant of a road at Ngulanko.&nbsp; With encouragement from the Catholic charity CARITAS and the European union, Philippe Kikobo and Philo Bidimbu are leading a rapid reconnaissance of soil and vegetation complexes to identify those conditions where leguminous cover crops are likely to prosper.<br><br>The rapid reconnaissance started with a 2-day shakedown survey to make sure that we all know what basic observations we want to make: soil texture, color, depth, distinctive layers (if any) in the soil profile and the characteristic land cover type. If all goes well, we hope to sample more that 300 sites over the next two weeks.<br><br>While this is no substitute for a serious soil survey, this reconnaissance WILL give area extension agents their first chance to begin to see the variation of soil and vegetation conditions in the region.<br><br>It will also give the team other unexpected opportunities.&nbsp; The next day at Ngulanko, Philo and Philippe spent an hour with the principal and teachers of the agricultural high school at Ngulanko. They talked about new manioc varieties, soils, and teaching methods.&nbsp; Often high school teachers despair because they lack the most basic facilities and equipment -- forget about a lab or soil sieves. The team showed those teachers how students themselves could begin to deepen the understanding of their physical environment with nothing more than a shovel and basic skills in mapping. And of course that basic observation begins to raise questions about how the environment came to be like it is, how soil helps define land cover, and how to adapt agriculture to particular environments.<br><br>Knowing more about God's creation is always better than knowing less. Often in our impatience to wrest a better life from the earth, we blunder ahead in ignorance, understanding little about how we can work in closer harmony with God's plan. We leave behind us a wake of waste.&nbsp; By contrast, with this rapid reconnaissance of regional soils, we have another chance to deepen our knowledge and shape our farming approaches God's way of providing for our needs without compromising the rest of creation. <br> Sun, 05 Jun 2011 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/36438-a-closer-look-at-the-earth-beneath-our-feet https://internationalministries.org/read/36438-a-closer-look-at-the-earth-beneath-our-feet It ends with a walk in the moonlight Every year the women of the Vanga church district hold a spiritual life retreat during the Easter school break.&nbsp; It’s a tradition.&nbsp; But these days it’s impossible to get all the women together in one place for it, so they send speakers out in different directions to local gatherings of women.&nbsp; We had the retreat last weekend, and 4 of us went to Zaba.&nbsp; I’ve been through Zaba on the way somewhere else a long time ago, but this was my first visit and the first time on foot.<br><br>The week before three of us had gathered to plan.&nbsp; We went through the texts and teaching together, and decided who should do what.&nbsp; Then we talked about the trip.&nbsp; Had anyone done it?&nbsp; On foot, I mean.&nbsp; Mama Eugenie said she had gone there a couple of years ago for a funeral; that they’d started out at noon and gotten there, with a break along the way, at 3 p.m.&nbsp; If we did the same thing, we’d get there mid-afternoon: plenty of time to rest, get acquainted and talk about the arrangements for the retreat. It would depend on how fast we walked, and she looked dubiously at me.&nbsp; I assured her that I was a good walker and we agreed to go along with her proposal.<br><br>Thursday came and Mama Veronique and I started out for Mama Eugenie and Mama Love’s village.&nbsp; We duly picked them up and took off.&nbsp; It was very hot and soon Mama Veronique, then the other two were dragging.&nbsp; I was the only one with a parasol or a hat.&nbsp; No one else had brought any water.&nbsp; I shared around some oranges. About 2 p.m I got suspicious.&nbsp; We didn’t seem anywhere close yet to our destination.&nbsp; “When could we expect to arrive?” I asked Ma Eugenie. <br><br>“Oh, 5, 8, midnight; what does it matter?&nbsp; Whenever we get there, we get there.”<br><br>We did get there around 5 p.m. and were welcomed by the pastor’s family and some women, but it became apparent that there were some problems in the congregation and in the community.&nbsp; There was a local self-proclaimed prophetess who was deliberately splitting the church, and the women’s leadership and the pastor had some hard things to say about each other. Very few women were coming to women’s meetings, whereas before these stresses they had numbered one or two hundred.&nbsp; We were cautioned not to expect too many. But we were given full rein.&nbsp; We were even given the Sunday service to wind up our retreat teaching in.&nbsp; It’s not every pastor that will do that, especially on Palm Sunday.<br><br>Our retreat theme, building on the women’s theme for the year that “this is the year of the Lord’s favor, for the salvation of all”, was that there is no one too weak, young, old, or somehow insignificant to share the Good News and be Good News to those around, in God’s providence.&nbsp; We would encourage them with the story of the lepers in 2 Kings 7 with the good news of the disappearance of the besieging Syrian army and abundant food that they’d left behind, David and Goliath, the boy who provided the loaves and fishes that Jesus multiplied, and the promises that God’s glory would be made perfect in our weakness, and that He would give wisdom and guidance to all those that feel inadequate and ask for it.<br><br>The first day rain was threatening and several villages didn’t turn out. There were only 50 participants. In fact a heavy rain with strong winds started as soon as we entered the church, and went on for an hour.&nbsp; With the tin roof, nothing could be heard, so we contented ourselves with singing till the rain stopped.&nbsp; Then we started the program.<br><br>Women bathe these kind of events in prayer.&nbsp; The local Bible-study league members lent a hand with the music and prayed too.&nbsp; We talked with the folks there to get a sense of what was happening, pondered it and prayed for them all in our off time.<br><br>The second day participation doubled.&nbsp; In rural areas something like this becomes a community event. Since it was vacation time about 40 little kids, a number of adolescents and several men joined us.<br><br>Sunday morning the church was full to overflowing.&nbsp; Even the notorious prophetess was there.&nbsp; Maybe the draw was the novelty of having a white missionary in their church.&nbsp; Whatever it was, many women who might not have come otherwise celebrated Palm Sunday, enjoyed each other, heard the messages we felt God wanted to say to them, and came for prayer afterwards.<br><br>Counseling and prayer for people’s problems are important parts of every retreat.&nbsp; Wherever you are in the world, people often leave their relationships to deteriorate, the problems to accumulate in their lives. To hear my comrades, “delivering” people from malign spiritual forces is the best part of leadership in a retreat. We had urged leaders and participants to deal with their failures in relationships before Easter, starting that very day.&nbsp; While the assistant pastor mostly took charge of prayers for general problems like student exams and illness, we speakers also prayed with individuals. Women came with problems like a family member haunting them in dreams, a high school daughter pregnant …again, and their anger, or a daughter’s problem pregnancy that the prophetess had predicted would end in death.<br><br>We were, in a sense, emissaries of the district leadership, given responsibility to help the fellowships we found to resolve their problems, and to bring a report to the district leadership.&nbsp; So we met with the women’s leadership for all the villages that had come to the retreat together with the pastors to start the resolution of what had been dividing and discouraging them.<br><br>Then we could leave.&nbsp; A girl going to visit relatives would accompany us.&nbsp; By this time it was 3:30 in the afternoon and we knew we wouldn’t get home by dark.&nbsp; But no matter.&nbsp; We had a full moon to walk under in the cool of the evening.&nbsp; It would be good walking. God had acted at Zaba, and we were content. <br> Fri, 29 Apr 2011 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/35413-it-ends-with-a-walk-in-the-moonlight https://internationalministries.org/read/35413-it-ends-with-a-walk-in-the-moonlight Easter in Rural Congo After our Good Friday morning prayers this morning, people were talking about the church in a nearby village.&nbsp; Last Sunday church members were split up for services in surrounding villages and had no Palm Sunday commemoration. The pastor had made no announcements about Easter services for this Sunday.&nbsp; But he did announce a fundraiser service.&nbsp; His church members were puzzled.&nbsp; "Maybe the pastor didn't know," I suggested tentatively.&nbsp; <br><br>Didn't know?&nbsp; Just imagine your pastor forgetting Easter, or not knowing when it was and passing it by!&nbsp; But think about it.&nbsp; Where is a pastor in the rural heart of Africa to get such information as the date for Easter?&nbsp; Theoretically from his district pastor.&nbsp; But what if the district pastor doesn’t know either?&nbsp; <br><br>This year Brother Thomas, a short-term German missionary-pastor living in Vanga, and I have been revising a 20-year-old training curriculum for lay pastors.&nbsp; As we were working on the “worship” module, this question of the important faith events came up.&nbsp; Twenty years ago church leaders in Kinshasa circulated the church calendar each year.&nbsp; They don’t do this anymore.&nbsp; An isolated rural pastor, with no television, no radio, no local paper to help him keep track, may not know when Christians around the world are celebrating the central event of our faith.&nbsp; So now a table of Easter dates for the next 30 years is part of the new curriculum.&nbsp; That rural African pastor and his congregation can stay connected to the rest of the body of Christ.<br><br>Cherish your connectedness.&nbsp; As this Easter dawns think about that wave of voices rising from the international dateline, across Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and North America and out across the Pacific Ocean again.&nbsp; <br><br>CHRIST IS RISEN!<br>HE IS RISEN INDEED!<br><br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">p.s.:&nbsp; I’ve sent a discrete note to the pastor from the next village wishing him and his congregation a good Easter celebration this Sunday, and an inquiry to his women’s choirs as to whether their Easter songs are ready.</span><br> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/35234-easter-in-rural-congo https://internationalministries.org/read/35234-easter-in-rural-congo Nourishing the soil <h5 style="font-style: italic;">Our well-being as a human species depends on the health of the and on which we depend.&nbsp; The biblical message of creation underlines humankind's responsibility to care for the land and make it fruitful.&nbsp; A semi-subsistence farmer understands this.&nbsp; Unfortunately in places like Vanga she is caught in the maelstrom of population growth and demand for land.&nbsp; The tradition of leaving the land in fallow is increasingly ignored in the struggle to feed children and make ends meet.&nbsp; But caring for the land doesn't necessarily mean sacrificing better lives, as ACDI Lusekele's experience of the last six years has shown.</h5><br>The corn was finally harvested from the small experimental field in the ACDI demonstration garden in January.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Antoine set the husked ears in the sun for another week.&nbsp; Then the research guys shelled the corn, cleaned&nbsp; the seed and weighed it: 69 kilograms of gleaming white kernels filled two large basins.&nbsp; <br><br>No Iowa corn master would be impressed; an indifferent Iowa farmer produces 3 times as much per unit of land . . . in his sleep.&nbsp; Still the 69kg translates into 1,586 kg per hectare (2.5 acres).&nbsp; That is on a plot of weathered, sandy soil, using no fertilizers, in the sixth year of continuous corn cultivation on the same plot.&nbsp; To put the yield in perspective: a Congolese woman planting corn on a newly opened forest field would be delighted to produce 700 to 1,000 kg per hectare.&nbsp; And even she would never consider planting a second crop of corn on the same land until several years later.<br><br>How do we do it?&nbsp; The secret is the nitrogen-fixing capacity of the leguminous cover crop that follows the corn each year.&nbsp; <span style="font-style: italic;">Mucuna pruriens</span> is a vigorous bean plant that buries the field in 3 feet of lush vegetation during the second rainy season.&nbsp; The leaves, vines and roots store up nitrogen.&nbsp; When the rains start again we plant the next corn crop.&nbsp; The nitrogen locked up in the decomposing organic matter is released, nourishing the young corn plant and favoring rapid growth.&nbsp; When the corn is maturing the next <span style="font-style: italic;">Mucuna</span> cover crop is already developing.&nbsp; We harvest the corn and the cycle continues.<br><br>Agronomists have estimated that the <span style="font-style: italic;">Mucuna</span> cover crop provides the equivalent of 17 to 35 bags of mixed chemical fertilizer for each 2.5 acres of land.&nbsp; That's about $1800 worth of fertilizer at current Kinshasa prices.<br><br>The yield in the experimental field was down a bit this year.&nbsp; But still the average over the last five years has been 1,733 kg/ha, about twice the yield in a traditional Congolese corn field - despite continuous cropping.&nbsp; This looks like one productive alternative to traditional slash and burn agriculture.&nbsp; Corn-<span style="font-style: italic;">Mucuna</span> is one way to increase productivity and income and reduce the human footprint on increasingly scarce prime** agricultural land.&nbsp; ACDI Lusekele is helping people to understand that becoming good stewards of the land can also be a pathway to improving our lives.<br><br><h6>* "prime" agricultural land in much of Bandundu is misleading.&nbsp; These are old soils.&nbsp; They are highly weathered, stripped of most of their basic nutrients and chemically altered, impairing their capacity to hold on to nutrients.&nbsp; Most agriculture here depends on fertility locked up in the organic matter that accumulates during extended natural bush fallow intervals between cropping cycles.</h6> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/34521-nourishing-the-soil https://internationalministries.org/read/34521-nourishing-the-soil Nearly 20 years, a work of love Twenty years ago Timothée Kabila was a school principal.&nbsp; His deep faith and interest in how the church can contribute to the economic and social development of a country like Congo led him to a position on the board of the Lusekele Agricultural Development Center.&nbsp; He joined the staff here as administrator in September 1991. <br><br>Two weeks after he arrived, Congo experienced the first buck of political upheaval in the form of riots in Kinshasa.&nbsp; That upheaval cleaved Lusekele’s US- and Canada-based funding and interrupted one mission partnership for a year, the other permanently.&nbsp; Suddenly he was learning how to support extension work without significant outside financing.&nbsp; Financial crisis fostered conflict.&nbsp; Lusekele barely survived.&nbsp; You can imagine how he felt.&nbsp; Why had God led him to this place at that time?<br><br>Those first two years were not the only time when he has asked that question.&nbsp; Lusekele has known other financial crises.&nbsp; Timothée became the director of&nbsp; Lusekele.&nbsp; He has tenaciously fought encroachments on the land set aside as a base for regional extension work.&nbsp; He has patiently fended off predatory government officials looking for a part of any action, even before it wiggles.&nbsp; And he stoically tries to ignore the envious church people who can’t imagine that a “large and distinguished agricultural project” like Lusekele doesn’t net Timothée a handsome personal profit every year. He puts up with the guff so that six dedicated extension agents can work regularly with poor farmers and have a place to come home to at the end of every week. <br><br>It’s not just Timothée who has made sacrifices.&nbsp; He and his wife Marthe have long balanced vocation and the practical demands of raising a family of 6 surviving kids – not without difficulty.&nbsp; They have always had to supplement the meager Lusekele salary.&nbsp; When it came time to put everyone high school and college, Marthe decided that one of them had to look after their independent family business full-time.&nbsp; She runs the pharmacy and store 100 miles from Lusekele on the main Kikwit-Kinshasa highway.&nbsp; They are apart much of the time, but the sacrifice frees Timothée to continue his ministry here.<br><br>Timothée and the others that work here have chosen a vocation.&nbsp; They rarely receive a word of praise, encouragement or thanks.&nbsp; Still, the litany of the positive changes Lusekele has to semi-subsistence farmers is impressive.&nbsp; It has worked with over 580 local groups of farmers in over 400 villages.&nbsp; Innovations have covered poultry and animal raising, gardening, field crops, fruit trees and plantation crops over the years.&nbsp; Current improved varieties of manioc, peanuts and cowpeas promise to double agricultural production and expand opportunities for rural households as their use spreads.&nbsp; This is the fruit of a relative handful of Christian believers who have dedicated their lives to the Lord and to making the lives of neighbors who are even poorer than they are better. <br><br>Timothée has often said that ACDI’s work has prospered in a modest way only because God has protected and sustained it.&nbsp; This is my appeal to you to pray for Timothée and Marthe particularly. &nbsp;<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Thank the Lord for their sacrifices and the fruit they have borne. <br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Pray that the Lord will give them the tangible encouragement in their work and ministry. <br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Ask the Lord for a vision of where Lusekele should go from here<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Pray that competent and enthusiastic young people will bring their energy to Lusekele<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Pray that Timothée will have the wisdom to seek out capabilities that Lusekele doesn’t yet have.<span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial;"><span></span></span> Tue, 08 Mar 2011 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/33491-nearly-20-years-a-work-of-love https://internationalministries.org/read/33491-nearly-20-years-a-work-of-love A new start in Moliambo Pastor Mulama is the new district pastor in Moliambo.<span>&nbsp; </span>In fact he is so “new” that the old district pastor’s family is still living in the pastor’s house and he himself hasn’t yet moved to Moliambo.<span>&nbsp; </span>But he has spent this week working at Moliambo – gathering pastors, deacons and deaconesses together for three days of spiritual and practical training and starting a four-day retreat for members of the 14 CBCO churches in the district.<span>&nbsp; </span><br> <p>Yesterday was the first day of the retreat.<span>&nbsp; </span>More than 500 adults packed into the long, narrow cement-block building with a tin roof – the Moliambo center church.<span>&nbsp; </span>This was a remarkable show of enthusiasm from people who (from all reports) have been discouraged by church leaders and the difficulties of life.<span>&nbsp; </span>Someone asked Pastor Mulama, “How did you get so many people to actually respond to an invitation?”<span>&nbsp; </span>It’s a mystery even to him.<span>&nbsp; </span>But it is clear that many people hunger for renewal in their churches.</p> <p>But we even saw signs of unexpected and encouraging openness as we drove into Moliambo yesterday morning.<span>&nbsp; </span>The last four or five kilometers the road winds down through red-clay hills to the church center. <span>&nbsp;</span>We found villagers out in force, fixing the road, and hardly anyone asked for a handout.<span>&nbsp; </span>This is unusual.<span>&nbsp; </span>Only a few days before the road had been in very poor shape.<span>&nbsp; </span>But by 7:30 that morning every place where heavy rains had gouged deep gullies out of the road holes had been filled.<span>&nbsp; </span>The road was mostly leveled and mudholes filled in.<span>&nbsp; </span>We learned later that Pastor Mulama had met with village chiefs day before yesterday, partly to tell them about the retreat, partly to urge them to improve the infrastructure that is their link to the outside world. <br></p> <p>Three of us from the Lusekele team responded to Pastor Mulama’s invitation: Philo Bidimbu, whom a few of you may have met; Philippe Kikobo, ACDI’s lead extension agent; and me.<span>&nbsp; </span>Philo spent an hour talking about how deacons and other lay leaders can be effective leaders of life-giving change in their congregations and villages.<span>&nbsp; </span>Philippe gave a similar message to a group of intercessors.<span>&nbsp; </span>And I talked to the gathered group about how working hard is often not enough.<span>&nbsp; </span>Farming “smart” as responsible stewards of God’s land is part of the deal.<span>&nbsp; </span>I illustrated this with examples of how disease-resistant cassava can unlock opportunities that the average poor farm family doesn’t even dare to hope for right now.*<span>&nbsp; </span></p> <p>What all three of us want people to understand is that God has already prepared a blessing for us and even for our non-Christian neighbors.<span>&nbsp; </span>This is a blessing that would guarantee basic food security for the average family.<span>&nbsp; </span>This is a blessing that would make it possible for every child to get a primary education and most to get a secondary education if they are motivated.<span>&nbsp; </span>This is a blessing that would make primary health care accessible to most families.<span>&nbsp; </span>Our churches can be the channel of this blessing.<span>&nbsp; </span>Personally, I hope that the resulting changes in our congregations would give us an opportunity talk about God’s love, his concrete provision in our lives, and his purpose for us and for the world.</p> <p>Pray for Pastor Mulama, the pastors of those 14 local congregations in the Moliambo district, and the lay people that came together for reflection this week.<span>&nbsp; </span>Pray that this is a week not just for enthusiastic worship and encouraging Christian talk.<span>&nbsp; </span>Pray that leaders will capture a vision and turn it into concrete, life-transforming action and powerful witness to the many non-Christians who live beside them.</p><p>Ed<br></p> <p>*<i>I have said this before.<span>&nbsp; </span>Mosaic-resistant, high-yielding varieties can double or triple cassava yields in central Bandundu province.<span>&nbsp; </span>A typical family could move from having a surplus of about 14 sacs (about $130 worth) each year to having from 45 to 80 sacks of surplus (worth $400 to $720 a year).<span>&nbsp; </span>Yet there are still literally hundreds of villages in our working area who know practically nothing about the blessing that God is offering farm families.</i></p> Thu, 17 Feb 2011 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/32977-a-new-start-in-moliambo https://internationalministries.org/read/32977-a-new-start-in-moliambo Wagons, selfless service & building a future I don’t really care about the money.<span>&nbsp; </span>I just want Lusekele to make some headway.”<span>&nbsp; </span>Emmanuel Souza and I were looking down at the rear axle from an old cannibalized LandRover.<span>&nbsp; </span>“Pretty soon you will have palm fruit bunches coming out of your ears and you will need a way to transport them.<span>&nbsp; </span>I’m glad to help.”<br><br><p>Those are rare words in a world dominated by project-induced dependence where many people are looking for the next patron to get themselves through the year.<span>&nbsp; </span>He was casting a vote for a renewed rural economy based on shared knowledge and local innovation.<span>&nbsp; </span>And the thing that struck me most was that it was done in the spirit of Paul’s admonition to the Philippians: “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.”</p> <p>Last year Emmanuel was sick for months with some ill-defined digestive track problem.<span>&nbsp; </span>His energy dissipated.<span>&nbsp; </span>He hardly got out of bed.<span>&nbsp; </span>Almost everyone thought he would die.<span>&nbsp; </span>But he didn’t.<span>&nbsp; </span>He says that God healed him.<span>&nbsp; </span>Over the last couple of months he has gained strength and regained some of his long-term interest in adapting simple technology to the local people’s needs and opportunities.<span>&nbsp; </span>He is a gifted mechanic and millwright.<span>&nbsp; </span>Joining me in a do-it-yourself tractor wagon project was a way to keep a hand in life.</p> <p>The rear wheel assembly of the LandRover will make a perfect axle for a simple wagon able to carry ½ to ¾ tons.<span>&nbsp; </span>ACDI’s immediate concern is to quickly move palm fruit from its own plantations to the small oil extraction installation here, save money, and free workers for better plantation maintenance.<span>&nbsp; </span></p> <p>However, more fundamental concerns drive me.<span>&nbsp; </span>First, make the plantation and oil extraction operation profitable.<span>&nbsp; </span>That’s kind of a strange concern for a missionary.<span>&nbsp; </span>But the long term ability of the Baptist church’s extension program to help members and their neighbors depends on stronger local income.<span>&nbsp; </span>A profitable business provides the surplus that makes it possible for a few believers to serve others and proclaim God’s good news.<span>&nbsp; </span></p> <p>Second, innovation, combining the best of our own experience with the creative inspiration that comes from God, is part of our mandate to join God in the continuing creation of this world.<span>&nbsp; </span>Building a suitable wagon out of local materials and discarded hardware is a local solution to a local need.<span>&nbsp; </span>It demonstrates in a very small way that God has NOT destined us to live within the limitations of our current poverty.<span>&nbsp; </span></p> <p>Third, small successes help Lusekele Christians to maintain hope and a measure of enthusiasm.<span>&nbsp; </span>I want people to have enough confidence in God and in themselves that they are willing to take well-considered risks that have a good chance of creating new opportunities.<span>&nbsp; </span>An old proverb says, “Nothing succeeds like success.”<span>&nbsp; </span>My colleagues in the business and technical side of the Lusekele ministry need a few good successes.</p><p>We finished half the small wagon bed yesterday and played around with ideas for mounting the axle.&nbsp; Kester, the Lusekele mechanic, is scrounging around Vanga for parts we lack.&nbsp; In a couple of more weeks we should have another very small piece of the Lusekele sustainable ministry puzzle in place.&nbsp; Emmanuel's willingness to serve others with his experience and enthusiasm encouraged me.&nbsp; It echoes Jesus' orientation to life:&nbsp; "He was humble and walked the path of obedience . . ." -- for others, for all of us.</p> Fri, 04 Feb 2011 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/32606-wagons-selfless-service-building-a-future https://internationalministries.org/read/32606-wagons-selfless-service-building-a-future Mama Luti learns to read and lead People come to our literacy classes for a variety of reasons.&nbsp; For Luti, it was her ardent desire to enter God’s Word in the Bible for herself.&nbsp; We had our first literacy training in the Vanga area in 2001.&nbsp; One of the participants, president of the Kikosi village Baptist women, who was also a primary school teacher, immediately started classes and Luti joined.<br><br>Luti’s father was a skilled mason who worked in construction in a variety of places.&nbsp; On of these places was Lusekele, where we live and work.&nbsp; In those days people weren’t sure that girls should be in school.&nbsp; What could a school teach a girl what she needed to know when she grew up to be a woman?&nbsp; <br><br>Luti started primary school, but when she was in third grade her mom got sick and needed help.&nbsp; Her older sisters and brothers weren’t available to take care of her mom and see that food got on the table, but she was.&nbsp; She dropped out of school.&nbsp; When her mother died, she continued to be her father’s housekeeper and farmer.&nbsp; School became a dream of her childhood past.&nbsp; <br><br>In time she married, children came, and in time she started sending them off to school.&nbsp; Maybe that’s what reawakened her regrets at her aborted school career, and the door to knowledge that had only just cracked open for her.&nbsp; She faithfully participated week after week in church and women’s meetings.&nbsp; She watched the speakers bring story after story and teaching after teaching from the Bible.&nbsp; She longed to be able to go to that well herself and sometimes she would hold someone’s Bible.&nbsp; But the treasures and mysteries remained locked inside.&nbsp; <br><br>Finally the Kikosi women's president started a literacy class for them.&nbsp; Here was her chance!&nbsp; It was hard work.&nbsp; Other women dropped out, but she was going to get what she wanted at last.&nbsp; Little by little she learned, until she finished the class. The last part of the class even consisted of Bible stories. She read them, and read from the teacher’s Bible, and anyone else’s that she could take a peek at.&nbsp; She started using the stories in teaching herself, and joined the Bible study league in Kikosi.&nbsp; <br><br>At this point I heard from her teacher about her one graduate, but didn’t meet her.&nbsp; In my subsequent visits to Kikosi, Luti was too shy to approach me to talk about it.&nbsp; Finally 2 months ago, a League retreat took place at Lusekele, and she was there.&nbsp; We were in the same small group.&nbsp; She pulled me aside and said, “I was in the literacy classes at Kikosi.&nbsp; I learned to read and write.&nbsp; Now I am the leader of the League Bible study group in Kikosi (learning all these marvelous things from God’s Word myself and with his people).&nbsp; Thank you!”&nbsp; She even had a Bible in hand.<br><br>Thank you to the literacy workshop trainers.&nbsp; Thank you to Rose Mayala the literacy coordinator.&nbsp; Thank you to all those friends who have shared a special gift over the last ten years.&nbsp; God has brought us together to change the world just a little for women like Luti.&nbsp; Because of this movement of God's Spirit, another dedicated Christian is able to exercise her gifts in leading the church.<br><br>Miriam<br> Sun, 23 Jan 2011 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/32079-mama-luti-learns-to-read-and-lead https://internationalministries.org/read/32079-mama-luti-learns-to-read-and-lead God doesn’t abandon us in our poverty The Ligue's* 3-day New Year's retreat started off with very challenging questions.&nbsp; How do Ligue members become a truly transformational force in local villages?&nbsp; Do they share Good News?&nbsp; Do they make village life healthier, safer, more satisfying, more productive?&nbsp; Do they care for the land and the other creatures that depend on it?<br><br>The scope of these questions turned out to be too large.&nbsp; Retreat organizers decided to look at transformation through the lens of one specific issue: how Ligue members relate to former Ligue members who have dropped out, who are losing their faith, or have lost it.&nbsp; Too often people stop coming to Bible studies, drop off the fellowship map without a trace, and no Ligue member bothers to talk with them again.<br><br>This led us to think about how Jesus handled discouraged people with wavering faith.&nbsp; In Luke 24, we find Cleopas and his companion crushed by Jesus' arrest and crucifixion.&nbsp; Their dreams had vanished.&nbsp; In this disappointment, Jesus sought them out.&nbsp; He listened to their deeepest concerns.&nbsp; And then he explained from the Scriptures how God's purpose was being worked out in the chaotic events in Jerusalem, even though that purpose was different from what they had expected.&nbsp; In a matter of a few hours, the wavering disciples understood God's plan in a new way and recognized Jesus alive, tangible evidence of the plan.&nbsp; Their faith revitalized, they immediately returned to Jerusalem to testify.&nbsp; <br><br>What are the "deepest concerns" of Ligue members who drop out, even repudiate their faith in Christ?&nbsp; Obviously there is no single answer.&nbsp; But a surprisingly common concern that young Christians have is: "Why does poverty have such a stranglehold on rural Congolese, even those who follow Christ?&nbsp; Why have so many dollars been poured into development activities here for so many years, with such meager results?&nbsp; We pray; does God not hear us?&nbsp; Does he only hear and help foreigners?&nbsp; Has he only chosen them and abandoned us?"&nbsp; By listening to and addressing this preoccupation, we might be able to point the way back to God and his purpose.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><br>This is where Pastor Mulama Mozart and I had a chance to share reflections on poverty, development, and literacy.&nbsp; We often think of the evil, brokenness and waste around us as something that simply happens to us, caused by others.&nbsp; What we often don't see is that we ourselves contribute to it.&nbsp; We are responsible both by what we do and by our inaction.&nbsp; We need to be changed in order to restore the world.<br><br>Pastor Mulama pulled no punches.&nbsp; "God," he said, "has given Congo so many resources that he might well resent Congolese Christians constantly badgering him in prayer and song to do something about their situation."&nbsp; Other Congolese have described the poverty in Bandundu as “poverty from lack of initiative.”&nbsp; Pastor Mulama pressed the point.&nbsp; <br><br>"We cannot go on blaming others," he said.&nbsp; "We can't depend on handouts from the church, the mosque, the government, the United Nations, the Americans, the Europeans, or the Chinese.&nbsp; SOPEKA is not for us."&nbsp; SOPEKA is a popular acronym here for the dependent mentality that is going nowhere fast.&nbsp; It comes from three phrases.&nbsp; <span style="font-weight: bold;">SO</span>mbela ngai - “buy for me”.&nbsp; <span style="font-weight: bold;">PE</span>sila ngai – “gimme”.&nbsp; <span style="font-weight: bold;">KA</span>bila ngai – “share with me”.&nbsp; SOPEKA says "Take care of me, it's not my fault." <br><br>But we don't understand how our values and decision often entangle us and mire us in poverty.&nbsp; When we neglect the infrastructure and means of production we already have (roads, buildings, water sources, or machines, for example), poverty is inevitable.&nbsp; When we encourage ignorance, isolation and conformity, we close ourselves off from the knowledge and tools that can help us to escape poverty.&nbsp; When we tolerate corruption and oppression, they siphon off important parts of our production and discourage initiative.&nbsp; Our rivalries and conflicts create insecurity which consumes resources and discourages people from building for the future.&nbsp; And of course laziness, alcohol and drugs weaken both resolve and strength to change.&nbsp; We have choices to make. <br><br>Pastor Mulama offered this advice:<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 1.&nbsp; discover, define and accept responsibility for what we’re doing wrong or failing to do that is right (giving 2 Kings 7:9 as an example)<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 2.&nbsp; seek the change within ourselves that is necessary (Rom. 12:2) <br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 3.&nbsp; define the plan that is needed in order to change what we can in our exterior situation<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 4.&nbsp; work the plan<br><br>I started by suggesting what true “development goals” are.&nbsp; It is a “shalom” of health and well-being.&nbsp; Development becomes possible when we allow God to step in and straighten out our relationships: with him and the spiritual world, with the physical world around us, with others and society.&nbsp; We care for God's creation and become productive stewards of our particular corner of the world.&nbsp; This responsible production allows to take good care of our families and share generously and graciously with others.&nbsp; We nurture and extend community life. In healthy community, God adds to our knowledge, intelligence and personal gifts from the stores of other people.&nbsp; We reflect God's image more clearly and we regain the purpose He had for us from the beginning. <br><br>I told participants how literacy lets us hear God's Word in his scriptures.&nbsp; Our hearing the word is an important part of His transforming work in us.&nbsp; But being able to read also opens a door to the accumulated knowledge and experience of hundreds of generations of people from all around the world.&nbsp; The knowledge and experience available from the Lusekele agricultural development center are part of God's enabling gifts.&nbsp; High-yielding, disease resistant varieties of cassava - a mainstay of the diet.&nbsp; High-yielding varieties of protein-rich peanuts and cowpeas.&nbsp; High-yielding varieties of oil palms.&nbsp; Much improved crop-management techniques.&nbsp; New vegetables for combating malnutrition.&nbsp; Improved processing techniques.&nbsp; Mastered and incorporated into everyday life, this is the kind of knowledge that can transform traditional agriculture and reduce poverty and protect the long-term health of our environment.<br><br>I spent the rest of my time describing a technique for doubling or tripling corn yields while reducing the work and the land needed, and saving precious forest.**&nbsp; The idea comes from Central America.&nbsp; Corn is associated with a soil-restoring legume called velvetbean.&nbsp; A farm family can cultivate corn every year on the same plot and actually improve yields over time, all the while improving their farmland.<br><br>In the scriptures God constantly reminds us that he has made provisions for our lives.&nbsp; These allow us to live sufficiently, to care for those close to us, to be gracious to others, and to care for his creation on which we depend for life.&nbsp; But He also calls us to be full partners in this endeavor of living abundantly (even if simply.)&nbsp; The Holy Spirit illuminates God's word, making it living direction for us personally and for our world.&nbsp; Meditation on God's word aids the process of apprehending and understanding.&nbsp; A willing spirit that asks God to change us first opens the door.&nbsp; And obedience to God's direction leads to action that actually touches the world around us.<br><br>It was refreshing to see God's people wrestling with the word, trying to figure out how to share Good News for their neighbors.<br><br>Miriam<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">* The Ligue is the Ligue pour la Lecture de la Bible (the Bible Reading League.)&nbsp; It is the Francophone equivalent of Scripture Union.&nbsp; Chapters encourage people to encounter God through Bible reading, regular study together and prayer.</span><br style="font-style: italic;"><br style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: italic;">** See Roland Bunch, </span><span style="text-decoration: underline; font-style: italic;">Two Ears of Corn</span><span style="font-style: italic;">, World Neighbors</span><br> Thu, 20 Jan 2011 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/32014-god-doesn-t-abandon-us-in-our-poverty https://internationalministries.org/read/32014-god-doesn-t-abandon-us-in-our-poverty The Word of God Transforms the World “Shalom, shalom!” The greetings filled the packed room.<br><br>Over 150 Christian adults and young people gathered in Vanga over the New Year's holidays for a 3-day retreat organized by the Ligue Pour la Lecture de la Bible (Scripture Union).&nbsp; The theme of the retreat was “The Word of God Transforms.” The Bible study passage was the story of Cleopas and the other disciple (Luke 24). For three years they heard Jesus and watched him act, full of expectations of the coming Messiah.&nbsp; And now they were on the road to Emmaus, discouraged, going back to their old life.&nbsp; Jesus hadn't liberated them from the Romans and hadn't established the ideal Davidic kingdom.&nbsp; Events of the past three days pointed to failure.&nbsp; In the desire to see Jesus' message in terms of their own expectations, they had missed the hope and power of Good News.&nbsp; So complete was their disappointment that they didn’t even recognize Jesus as he walked and talked with them.&nbsp; They weren’t transformed . . . until they heard God's word again and finally recognized Jesus alive in action: in his way of blessing the food. &nbsp;<br><br>The central questions the retreat wrestled with were: "Why are so few of us really transformed?&nbsp; And why active Christians have so little impact on our communities, our environment and our life situations?" &nbsp;<br><br>One conclusion participants came to is that we often assume that our decision to follow Christ and exposure to God’s Word will automatically transform us.&nbsp; But what we observe is that hearing God's word must be accompanied by obedience, the will to be shaped by the will of God.&nbsp; Transformation is not the automatic result of being inducted into the Christian fellowship.<br>&nbsp;<br>A second conclusion we came to was that God's will is not always obvious to us.&nbsp; For example, most cultures including historical biblical cultures once accepted slavery, and traditional Bandundu culture assumes that the exploitation of God's creation is an unlimited right, even when it leads to destruction of the ecosystems on which we depend for life.&nbsp; Learning the mind and heart of God in all things requires effort: prayer, meditation, and serious reflection by the community of faith. It also requires the Holy Spirit’s direction.&nbsp; Transformation happens as a result of inspired meditation and obedient action. &nbsp;<br><br>The retreat challenged participants to take stock of the changes their lives make in the villages where they live.&nbsp; Do Leaguers in general contribute to the transformation of the world? Or are they simply happy with League activities, with a pietism that satisfies the soul and intellect?&nbsp; Do they share good news with their neighbors?&nbsp; Do they make village life healthier, safer, more satisfying, more productive?&nbsp; Do they care for the land and the other creatures that depend on it? &nbsp;<br><br>These are excellent questions for all of us to think about . . . and act on.<br><br>Miriam<br><br> Sun, 16 Jan 2011 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/31837-the-word-of-god-transforms-the-world https://internationalministries.org/read/31837-the-word-of-god-transforms-the-world Lusekele Bible Reading League Back in October, I ran into a guy who said, “Mama Noyes!&nbsp; I’ve been wanting to talk to you about collaborating for literacy."&nbsp; It turned out he was the new president of the Vanga area Ligue pour la Lecture de la Bible.<br><br>He went on to explain.&nbsp; "Our purpose is to get people reading and studying the Bible together.&nbsp; But many of our members don’t in fact read.&nbsp; They just come to hear the Word, as they do in church.&nbsp; As a result, too many of our chapter leaders fall into the habit of just preaching at meetings instead of leading their members in Bible studies.&nbsp; We want to change that.&nbsp; Would you be willing to train Ligue leaders to teach their members to read and write, so that they can really study the Bible?”<br><br>Would I?!!&nbsp; This is what we’ve been thinking about and wishing would happen the past 10 years.&nbsp; We have yet to have our meeting, but we’re going to work on it.&nbsp; There’s no rush, since this is the off-season for work with women, who are the majority of illiterates in Congo.<br><br>In the meantime, during this off season, I’m concentrating on our own Ligue group.&nbsp; The kids are mostly teenagers.&nbsp; They consider themselves too old for Sunday school (which is pretty much limited to 3-10 year olds) but still know woefully little about what is in the Bible.&nbsp; Some of them are our recently baptized, interested in learning more about God and this life of faith that they have chosen.&nbsp; None of them read well – one might not read at all.&nbsp; Reading the Bible out loud in two versions of French plus Kituba, our local trade language, and discussing what they have read helps them to get familiar with the Bible and understand what God wants of us.&nbsp; It also improves their general reading fluency and comprehension in both languages, for better success at school and beyond.<br><br>In the fall we were reading the stories of Rebecca and Isaac’s marriage and the story of Ruth and Naomi.&nbsp; And then we moved on to a general discipleship program of study, with memorization of helpful verses.&nbsp; In years past I’ve offered a prize of a notebook for anyone who will memorize the books of the Bible in order and recite them. <br><br>Coordinating with school presents us with a challenge.&nbsp; Ligue meetings are usually in the afternoons.&nbsp; In a time of double sessions, some of Lusekele’s kids attend morning sessions and other afternoon sessions.&nbsp; Should we split our Ligue meetings into separate morning and afternoon meetings to accommodate all the kids?&nbsp; Or should we meet on Saturday afternoons or Sundays? The only day we can catch up with the whole group all together to discuss the matter and decide on alternative meeting hours/days is next Sunday.<br><br>Miriam Noyes<br><br><p>* <span style="font-style: italic;">The Ligue’s full name is the Bible Reading League (Ligue pour la Lecture de la Bible in French), known as Scripture Union in English-speaking countries.&nbsp; It is the most effective discipling group in Congo today, is a wide-spread grass-roots organization, and has kept hundreds, maybe thousands of isolated villagers reading over the years.</span></p><br> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/31787-lusekele-bible-reading-league https://internationalministries.org/read/31787-lusekele-bible-reading-league Can better manioc create an opportunity to see God? In your world, where is God right now?&nbsp; Does He care about the things that press on you this morning?&nbsp; Is He interested in how you are going to pay for groceries or replace the broken printer or repair that car that you depend on to get to work?&nbsp; Is he interested in the son you lost recently after a short lifetime of struggle, in the grief and guilt that washes over you?&nbsp; Does He have a stake in the big project you are working on?&nbsp; Does He give a whit about the disagreements in your local fellowship that sow suspicion and hurt?&nbsp; Can He heal the discouraged spirits?&nbsp; Does He want to?<br><br>As Christians who try the best we can to walk in the steps of Jesus, we believe that Infinite God, Creator of the Universe, loves each one of us like an only daughter or only son.&nbsp; Reading “God loved the <span style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">world</span> so much . . .”, our hearts change the infinite into the intimate, yielding “God loved <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">insignificant me</span> so much, that he gave his only Son . . .”&nbsp; We believe that God knows, that God cares and that God acts to nourish and to save each one us.<br><br>If anything, people in Congo take questions about how the unseen, spiritual world relates to the material world more seriously that most of us Americans.&nbsp; For most people here, the relationships and interplay of powers in the spiritual world determine our health, well-being and success (or failure) in taking advantage of opportunities we encounter.&nbsp; Many assume that God is far away, at best disinterested, at worst capricious and malevolent, leaving human beings in a complicated and dangerous maelstrom of competing spiritual powers. &nbsp;<br><br>One question that pushes Christian believers everywhere is how can we help people to see God who reveals Himself as loving Father?&nbsp; How is God present in the day to day lives of rural Congolese?&nbsp; Since our work at Lusekele focuses on agricultural innovations and the lives of people here revolve around agriculture, perhaps it is only natural to see God’s activity in agricultural clothing.&nbsp; Where poverty grinds away at people’s hopes and serious plant disease gnaws at distressingly meager agricultural surpluses, God has brought to everyone’s attention manioc varieties that are disease-resistant and high-yielding.&nbsp; We believe that our loving Father has seen our neighbors in need and holds out this promise to them – a promise that could easily double their income and erase almost completely the incidence of malnutrition. &nbsp;<br><br>Philippe Kikobo spends 15 days each month riding a dirt bike over tough eroded roads, visiting farmers in isolated villages and sharing good news about what God is doing right now.&nbsp; After a hard day walking to distant fields or once again picking the motorcycle up after a fall, the only bed is a woven mat over a crude stick bed-frame.&nbsp; Meals are often spare and bathing water scarce.&nbsp; Last week Miriam and I had a chance to go along for the ride.&nbsp; It gave us a new appreciation for the physical challenges ACDI’s extension specialists face month after month after month.&nbsp; During October, Philippe worked with 33 different farmer’s groups.<br><br>His job is to create a culturally safe environment in which skeptical farmers can test out these new manioc, peanut or oil palm varieties that God has made and compare them with the best traditional varieties.&nbsp; The message is, “See for yourself what God has done.&nbsp; See what a difference it can make in your family, in your village, in your church.”&nbsp; For many people the results are a revelation.&nbsp; They never dreamed that an ordinary field could produce so much more.&nbsp; And every cooperating group is left with a bit more evidence that God is near, conscious of their daily needs, actively making provision for them.<br><br>Brennan Manning in <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">The Ragamuffin Gospel</span> tells the story of a woman who attended a retreat he organized.&nbsp; She longed for a concrete certainty that God had touched her with His closeness and love.&nbsp; Unfortunately there is no formula for achieving this grace; if there was it wouldn’t be grace.&nbsp; Together they simply asked the Lord for his loving presence.&nbsp; The following day, the woman took a walk on the beach near the retreat house.&nbsp; Some distance up the beach a teen-aged boy and a woman were walking toward her.&nbsp; As they drew closer, the woman broke away and approached Brennan Manning’s friend.&nbsp; Without hesitation she embraced her, kissed her on the cheek, said “I love you” and continued her walk down the beach.&nbsp; That totally unexpected action by a total stranger mediated the message of God’s love in a powerful new way to this seeking woman.<br><br>A successful demonstration field of a highly-productive cassava variety is just as ambiguous (or potentially just as clear) as a random act of tenderness by a stranger on a lonely beach.&nbsp; To the eyes of people yearning to know who God really is and where He is right now, it might just be the sign that reveals how deep is the love of God and how close He is.&nbsp; Philippe and the 4 other ACDI extension specialists can’t manufacture the experience for people.&nbsp; But like all Christians, we can try to create a place where people glimpse divine love and grace and might go on to truly encounter God, who is infinite and intimate at the same time.<br><br> Thu, 11 Nov 2010 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/29191-can-better-manioc-create-an-opportunity-to-see-god- https://internationalministries.org/read/29191-can-better-manioc-create-an-opportunity-to-see-god- Conversations in the shade I hadn’t planned to be at Vanga a second time this week.<span>&nbsp; </span>I had already spent half a day trying to track down batteries and a barrel of gasoline.<span>&nbsp; </span>There were things to do at Lusekele.<span>&nbsp; </span>But the Minister of Social Affairs and an entourage of government dignitaries announced that they would descend on Vanga and Timothee thought ACDI Lusekele should be represented.<span>&nbsp; </span>The government wanted a public memorial service for the people who perished in a riverboat accident.<span>&nbsp; </span>Many of the victims were people in villages where we have worked for years; some were undoubtedly people from our CBCO churches.<br><br><p>You may have heard about the accident.<span>&nbsp; </span>The overloaded boat ferrying goods and traders from the Kwilu River to Kinshasa encountered rough water on the Congo River.<span>&nbsp; </span>Riding low in the water, it was swamped and capsized, dumping more than 200 passengers into the river.<span>&nbsp; </span>Many couldn’t swim; at least 138 perished.<span>&nbsp; </span></p> <p>Death is never easy to deal with.<span>&nbsp; </span>Death due to poorly regulated and over taxed transport systems (both road and river) is tragic.<span>&nbsp; </span>The Minister of Social Affairs communicated the concern of the Prime Minister himself. <span>&nbsp;</span>Good instincts brought the government to Vanga.<span>&nbsp; </span>To be sure, political instincts.<span>&nbsp; </span>But also the instincts that God put in us to care for innocent lives lost, people with limited options just trying to make a living, for justice, for commitment to justice and to righting wrongs.<span>&nbsp; </span>The expression of condolences is certainly a worthy reaction of the country’s leaders.<span>&nbsp; </span>It was a recognition that so much more might be done to prevent reckless practices and pointless loss of life.</p> <p>The subtext of the day, however, is what happened while local dignitaries, traditional chiefs, pastors, school directors, sports clubs, political party adherents, anxious police, and curious kids all waited for the delegation.<span>&nbsp; </span>The plane was scheduled to arrive at 9am.<span>&nbsp; </span>It didn’t land until 3pm.<span>&nbsp; </span>What do 350 waiting people do to fill the dead time?<span>&nbsp; </span>Find some shade and talk.<span>&nbsp; </span>Conversations blossomed with immigration agents, village chiefs, teachers, pastors, storekeepers, government officials.</p> <p>Many people still have little idea of what the church is doing, and what God has done already to provide stable food supplies and better income for rural people in our region.<span>&nbsp; </span>Miriam told people about chaya, a perennial leafy vegetable that can be grown in a living fence.<span>&nbsp; </span>I talked with a political party member about coherent plans for shaping the country and choosing disciplined parliamentary representatives.<span>&nbsp; </span>We both talked with traditional chiefs about caring for the land and the improved production that new manioc varieties could give their people.<span>&nbsp; </span>I shared ACDI’s experience with soil-sustaining legumes and continuous corn production with the chief of Songo, a village that has run out of land.<span>&nbsp; </span>Conversations ranged to the importance of reading and education for family well being and the role of Christians in the government.<span>&nbsp; </span>More seeds planted in the shade while waiting for delayed government leaders to make their gesture.</p> <p>I’m glad we were able to be there.<span>&nbsp; </span>It was important to recognize the terrible loss of victims, their families, and the country.<span>&nbsp; </span>Christians understand that God mourns the pointless waste and wants people in power to bring life-giving change to Congo.<span>&nbsp; </span>But waiting in the shade turned out to be the unexpected work of that day -- with people we would never have encountered at the office at Lusekele.</p> <p>--<span>&nbsp; </span>Ed</p> Sat, 21 Aug 2010 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/24806-conversations-in-the-shade https://internationalministries.org/read/24806-conversations-in-the-shade Passing on truths to children How would you teach Sunday school if there were no Bible bookstore in town, no printing house preparing Sunday school lessons, no pre-packaged teaching materials, no pictures to show, no paper and no crayons, scissors, craft supplies or paints to offer?&nbsp; No juice and cookies or crackers, no toys or playground equipment, maybe not even a Bible of your own to use, and no money to even dream about those things?&nbsp; Well, now I can tell you.<br><br>Last week I attended a Sunday school teacher training seminar led by some local folk – “Leaguers”.&nbsp; The Bible Study League (Scripture Union in English-speaking countries) has been the most active organization for the promotion of Bible reading, serious discipleship and developing Christian leadership among young Congolese Christians since it first started in Congo in the mid-70s.&nbsp; Not surprising that it is a natural source for volunteer Sunday school teachers. <br><br>All the trainers and participants were avid Leaguers -- some high-school girls from Vanga and Lusekele, and some teenage boys from Bilili and Lusekele, with a sprinkling of older folk from other places.&nbsp; All in all we were about 20 taking a training that had been developed in France for Africa.<br><br>With at least 7 schools, Vanga, the historic mission station and burgeoning town just down the road is a magnet for students from all around the region.&nbsp; Naturally, more than a few want to settle there when they get done with their studies.&nbsp; So if any place needs special programs for kids of all ages, it is Vanga.&nbsp; <br><br>The training was a formula-approach to teaching Bible truths.&nbsp; You might think this too rigid to allow the Holy Spirit to direct the process.&nbsp; But when you’re quite young or a villager far from any advice, the formulas help to keep the essentials in mind as you design your Sunday school program.&nbsp; That is a good thing.&nbsp; The trainers were enthusiastic and the program good.&nbsp; <br><br>The Lusekele volunteer teachers who participated are raring to go.&nbsp; This week they will work on honing their skills together with our more experienced teacher before starting teaching.<br><br>So, how do you teach Sunday school without all the aids that we Americans think necessary?&nbsp; Well, you sing some choruses together.&nbsp; of course.&nbsp; The songs tell of God’s searching love, our sin, forgiveness and renewal.&nbsp; They tell of new life inspired by the Spirit.&nbsp; (I swear, Congolese kids know all the choruses by heart.)&nbsp; You pray with the children.&nbsp; There’s always Bible verse memorization.&nbsp; There are many games that don’t require much equipment:&nbsp; Simon Says, for example.&nbsp; Or Net the Fish.&nbsp; They taught us a number of these. <br><br>Then you have the Bible story.&nbsp; Everyone loves a story, especially kids, particularly when they’re told with lots of dramatics.&nbsp; Acting stories out is an option that doesn’t necessarily require many props, if any.&nbsp; We were taught never to read the Bible stories to the children.&nbsp; Rather you boil them down to the essentials, identifying the opportunities they offer to tell the kids more about God, sin, Jesus and following him.&nbsp; You weave the stories around these themes and teach from there. (This program is big on bringing kids to a personal commitment to Jesus.)&nbsp; And, of course, a big dose of love and individual attention is essential, no matter what side of the world you’re on.<br>&nbsp;<br>My participation caused some strain in our household, as we’re just back and have had quite a lot of house-cleaning, maintenance and repair work to do, besides the usual unpacking and ordering one’s stuff, not to mention garden-clearing and rebuilding of outbuildings, to prepare for this next four years of service here.&nbsp; Every couple of days we were moving everything to a different room as we painted, and I had to be home to help as much as possible, so wasn’t with the seminar fulltime.&nbsp; Frankly, I was glad not to be a full participant.&nbsp; I have never been a fan of being woken at 4:30 for simultaneous group prayers at the top of one’s voice, even when it is alternated with singing.<br><br>But this seminar is one of the signs that God gives us of the Spirit’s movement in the church, the signs of life.&nbsp; These young people have a heart for sharing life in Jesus with children and other young people.&nbsp; I wanted to encourage their commitment and budding vision.&nbsp; Maybe you will want to remember them too as you pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers and to give them the tools they need to be effective.<br><br> Tue, 17 Aug 2010 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/24709-passing-on-truths-to-children https://internationalministries.org/read/24709-passing-on-truths-to-children