International Ministries

Clemmer - International Ministries The latest from Ann and Bill Clemmer https://internationalministries.org/teams/57-clemmer.rss The Bag Lady <p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:normal"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;">or…what do you do with 3,500 quart-size plastic zipper bags?<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:normal"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;">When I was preparing to leave the United States to return to Goma last month, I received a message from Bill asking me to bring back between three to four thousand plastic zip-lock bags to make PEP kits.&nbsp; PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) kits are pre-packed doses of medicine given to survivors of sexual assault to prevent the transmission of diseases like STIs and HIV/Aids.&nbsp;&nbsp; Sadly, sexual assault is endemic where we work in Eastern Congo…and providing lifesaving treatment, care, and counseling to survivors of rape is a part of that work that Bill and I are involved in.&nbsp; Medical treatment is only one of the elements of care, but without a 30-day course of medicine (to be started within 72 hours) a good number of these innocent victims would contract HIV/Aids, a veritable death sentence on top of the terrible ordeal they have endured.&nbsp; The provision of prepackaged and sealed PEP kits can be lifesaving.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:normal"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;">The problem is, plastic bags are not available in the area where we work in Eastern Congo (DRC) and they are banned (illegal) in neighboring Rwanda, our point of entry into Congo.&nbsp; Thus the call for me to purchase and bring back over three thousand zip lock bags in my luggage!<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:normal"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;">The trip back to Congo took me from North Carolina to Detroit to Amsterdam to Kigali, Rwanda, where a taxi drive across that small country would bring me to the border with Congo … and Goma (our home).&nbsp; However, it was a bit of a risk, knowing that such bags are illegal in Rwanda, even if I was just transiting through.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:normal"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;">The plan was for Bill to meet me at the airport in Rwanda (en route from South Sudan) in case there were problems with the 3,500 pieces of&nbsp; ‘contraband’ I was carrying from the&nbsp; U.S. … but his flight was delayed. When I touched down in Kigali the pilot announced as we were taxiing to immigration that “anyone disembarking must remove all plastic bags from their personal possession and leave them on the plane”.&nbsp; As I watched my fellow passengers remove a few bags from their carry-on luggage, I thought of the 3,500 plastic bags in my checked luggage being off-loaded at that moment!<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:normal"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;">I remember when I became a new Christian that one of the books I loved was God’s Smuggler, the story of Brother Andrew as he brought Bibles into Communist countries where they were prohibited. He is known for praying "Lord, make seeing eyes blind" before he stopped at the border of a communist country for his car to be inspected.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:normal"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;">Now, I know plastic zip bags are not on the level of Bibles, but I did have the assurance that God was in charge. As I put my checked suitcases (over filled with plastic bags) on the luggage cart and headed out through customs, I saw a line of 8 policemen waiting to check bags.&nbsp; Praying for safe passage, I walked right past them, not stopping and not being stopped … me and my 3,500 plastic quart bags.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:normal"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, serif;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; All of the kits are packed and on the way to those who need them!<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> Mon, 05 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/65263-the-bag-lady- https://internationalministries.org/read/65263-the-bag-lady- The Best Medicine... <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:RelyOnVML/> <o:AllowPNG/> 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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-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:107%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} </style> <![endif]--> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">In South Sudan the #1 cause of death in women of reproductive age is pregnancy.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>When I was in medical school pregnancy was not a disease.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>We’re back in South Sudan, currently in the midst of a famine, shuttling back and forth between Congo at least until December, helping to reopen some of the health facilities that were closed during the war.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The biggest challenge is not money or supplies but finding trained people. I met Mary and Martha (their real names), two traditional midwives who will be staffing one of our clinics and making a significant dent in that sobering statistic.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>These ladies, despite having no formal education or training, deliver more babies in two months than I would in a lifetime!</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">What was funny was their sheer delight and unstoppable laughter while doing ‘selfies’ on my smart phone and seeing their pictures.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>I don’t remember laughing so hard…in a long, long while.</p> </p> Fri, 12 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/65144-the-best-medicine- https://internationalministries.org/read/65144-the-best-medicine- Proverbs in Living Color! <p class="MsoNormal">In March of each year, we celebrate International Women’s Day; not just to recognize women as we do in the US, but also to advocate for the safety and respect of those who live in a country which the United Nations describes as “the worst place in the world to be a woman”.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Proverbs 31, a higher authority than the UN, speaks of the noble character of women.&nbsp;&nbsp; I’d like you to meet one such woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo who humbled me when I sat in her home and listened to her story.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><b>Her name is Christina.&nbsp; </b><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">She is 67 years old, but has the stamina of one much younger.&nbsp;&nbsp; She rises in the early hours before dawn and treks across the Rwandan border where she uses money made the day before to purchase sacks of charcoal and corn, bringing them back by motorcycle taxi to her home, built from volcanic rocks, in the crowded market quarter of Goma. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">After boiling water and preparing breakfast for her own family, who wait patiently for her return, she starts the daily process of preparing food for those who will visit the market.&nbsp;&nbsp; Sitting in front of her home, she shucks and boils the corn before roasting it.&nbsp;&nbsp; She then breaks the large chunks of charcoal into burnable pieces so other woman can come and buy a cupful for their own cooking needs.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Any unused charcoal will be saved for the next day, but the corn not sold must be dried out for popcorn.&nbsp;&nbsp; Fresh corn for the following day will mean another pre-dawn 3 mile walk across the border. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">On weekends, with money saved from the corn and charcoal business, she buys a kilo of precious potatoes and makes samosas to sell locally in the market. She cannot keep those overnight…so only makes what she expects to sell. Sunday is a day of rest and worship. Monday she is up again before the dawn breaks.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Christina has already surpassed the life expectancy for a woman in this part of the world.&nbsp; Her husband is an amazing 70 years old (cared for by a cherished wife).&nbsp; He “repairs radios and small appliances”, though looking at his near empty lean-to repair hut, it is clear that Christina is the ‘breadwinner’ of the family. But she is much more than a financial provider…<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Her daughter had 4 children, three boys and a girl. Her son-in-law died and the daughter remarried a man in the military, who was killed in action during one of the many uprisings in this part of the Congo.&nbsp; The youngest boy died, followed by the mother. One can only speculate the cause of death of a mother and young child in this part of the world.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Christina took in the 3 remaining children (her grandchildren) to raise as her own. She is determined to not only provide for them but to ensure all three have the opportunity to go to school, an expensive endeavor. She struggles with the cost of school fees, telling me they “eat small, but schooling is more important.” <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Not surprisingly, she is a leader in her community.&nbsp; She is the President of a group of women, Solidarité Umoja, who care for orphaned children in her neighborhood. Sadly there are many.&nbsp; She reminds the community of their obligation to care for such children, the majority of whom are homeless and on the street.&nbsp; She works with younger women in the program to help them provide for their own families and ministers to those who are sick and hungry. She is regarded as a ‘wise woman’ and mediates family conflicts in her neighborhood when asked.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">This region of Congo is insecure, far from government control. But that doesn’t stop Christina. She reached under her shirt and pulled out a woven cord to which was tied an old sock. She unwound the sock from her waist and reached deep to show me the $50 she had saved during the year toward the $150 goal of helping her grandson attend a training program to become a security guard. She keeps it safe knowing the $150 will be the key for him to earn a job in the city…and to avoid being conscripted into the army or worse, one of the many militias in the area. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">She told me, “I had lots of problems in the past but now, Gloire à Dieu, I have money, I have work, I have children, all three of whom are well educated.” The oldest grandson is a servant leader at church and her granddaughter is a soloist.&nbsp; The well-being and future of her grandchildren is what gives her determination and stamina each and every day. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Proverbs 31 talks about a woman of noble character. Christina is that woman.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i>A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. <o:p></o:p></i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i>She is like a seagoing ship that brings her food from far away. <o:p></o:p></i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i>She rises while it is still night, preparing meals for her family and providing for her women servants.<o:p></o:p></i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i>She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.<o:p></o:p></i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i>She reaches out to the poor, opening her hands to those in need.<o:p></o:p></i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i>She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.<o:p></o:p></i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i>She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her.<o:p></o:p></i></p><p class="MsoNormal"><i>Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.<o:p></o:p></i></p><p class="MsoNormal">May we all grow in our faith, to become more like her!<o:p></o:p></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal">With love and joy,<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Bill and Ann</p> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 04:50:31 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/64768-proverbs-in-living-color- https://internationalministries.org/read/64768-proverbs-in-living-color- Small Gifts Yield Great Dividends When Given to the Lord <p>Bill and I want to acknowledge the specifics gifts we receive for our work in Eastern Congo and South Sudan, and want to underscore the impact they can have in humble settings … to meet a multitude of needs we encounter. </p> <p>The picture is of &nbsp;Tuungane School (‘Let’s Unite’ in Swahili), which is part of one of the hospitals we support in Goma, DRC. It’s a school established to provide education for abandoned, orphaned, and street children. When I first visited in 2016 aside from supplies, food and clothes, one of the obvious needs was paint for the classroom to provide a brighter environment for children (ages 3-12) who have little other brightness in their lives.</p> <p>With only $150 from our specifics account, we were able to purchase gallons of paint and have one of the hospital chaplains paint the entire room (from floor to ceiling) … with even a new coat on the blackboard!</p> <p>We sometimes neglect to let you know how we are privileged to touch others through your gifts.</p> <p>Please know that these gifts have brought blessings to the ‘least’ of these in society but the ‘greatest’ in His Kingdom … children who have lost so much in this world but are loved and treasured by God in His Realm.</p> <p>Thank you for the privilege of being the hands of your hearts, and bearers of your gifts! </p> <p><i>“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” - Hebrews 10:24-25 </i></p> Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/64665-small-gifts-yield-great-dividends-when-given-to-the-lord https://internationalministries.org/read/64665-small-gifts-yield-great-dividends-when-given-to-the-lord Hopeful Hearts in Uncertain Times in Eastern (DRC) Congo <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin">Bill was called to go to Juba, South Sudan to meet an urgent need yesterday.&nbsp; After preaching at HEAL Africa chapel this morning, he crossed the border into Rwanda and made the 3+ hour drive to Kigali, where he boarded a flight to South Sudan.&nbsp; As much as I would have loved to accompany him and support our work there, I was unable to go due to other obligations in Congo.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin">In Goma (DRC) that same day:<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:115%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Helvetica;color:#1D2129">“Less than five minutes ago at a roundabout in town police fired three rounds of tear gas against vendors they evicted.”&nbsp; There were a lot of police in riot gear around town. &nbsp;People are on edge because it is reported that the M23 rebel militia group is rumored to be outside of Goma and arming themselves …<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:115%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Helvetica;color:#1D2129">…on a brighter note, the threat level of our local volcano, Mt. Nyiragongo, has dropped from orange to yellow due to the lowering of temperatures of the underground lava rivers.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin">That same day, I taught at the Tuungane School (for orphans and street kids).&nbsp; We talked about St. Valentine, Valentine’s Day, and that God is Love. The kids made valentines… many of them had never held a pair of scissors so it was a challenge, but with great results and so much fun!<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin">Later that afternoon found me teaching ESL classes. I think those adults had even more fun than the kids making Valentines (and teasing the one single guy who stayed extra&nbsp;time so he could make 8 cards).&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin">On another bright note,&nbsp; our daughter Cass has been in Tshikapa (in the middle of Congo ) for a couple of weeks… far from here (near the Angolan border) working on a film and commercials for the Girl Rising (promoting girls’ education) project.&nbsp; She has just returned to Goma where she will be will doing similar work on advocacy for protection of vulnerable women and children.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin">Bill and I are thankful for a loving God who cares for us and knows all that goes on around us. And who gives us the privilege to serve others in His name. We love doing what we have been called to do, and we appreciate being strengthened by partnerships with you in this work in Eastern Congo and South Sudan.</span></p> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/64544-hopeful-hearts-in-uncertain-times-in-eastern-drc-congo https://internationalministries.org/read/64544-hopeful-hearts-in-uncertain-times-in-eastern-drc-congo If These Volcanic Rocks Could Shout <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:4.8pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 110%;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif;">I </span><span style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 110%; font-family: Garamond, serif;">grew up in what some refer to as the ‘Deep South’. My family lived and farmed in a small rural community; we attended a conservative Methodist church.&nbsp;&nbsp; Worship was a solemn, peaceful, even sacred experience.&nbsp; The tranquility of the sanctuary echoed Psalm 131, ‘<i>I have stilled and quieted my soul’</i>.&nbsp; This is my background and what resonates in my inner being when I contemplate worship.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:4.8pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 110%;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 110%; font-family: Garamond, serif;">The place where we now worship in the city of Goma, on the rugged volcanic Congo-Rwanda border, is anything but conventional.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:4.8pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 110%;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 110%; font-family: Garamond, serif;">My church in South Carolina was built in the early 1800s; the lumber was hewn at a mule-driven sawmill, the bricks from a nearby kiln.&nbsp; Brass chandeliers, marble-topped tables, hand-planed benches, and custom stained glass windows enhance the interior. It has withstood centuries of weather and wear… and memories of that familiar church are a respite for my soul, even when I am thousands of miles away. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:4.8pt;line-height:110%;mso-pagination: none"><span style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 110%; font-family: Garamond, serif;">Our church in Goma was built from rough stone carved from the cooled lava spewed during the 2002 volcanic eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo, which incidentally burned the former chapel to the ground.&nbsp; The chairs are blue molded plastic, the walls rough plastered, and the lighting is comprised of fluorescent bulbs hanging from wires.&nbsp;&nbsp; The atmosphere is anything but contemplative…in fact, the singing and praise is so loud even the tin-roof resonates! One hardly gets to sit as much of the service is spent on </span><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height: 110%;font-family:&quot;Garamond&quot;,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-font-kerning:14.0pt;mso-contextual-alternates: yes">our feet…which is good, because within ten minutes there are few, if any&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Garamond; font-size: 12pt;">of the 400 seats left to sit in.</span><span style="font-family: Garamond; font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="en-US"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:4.8pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 110%;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:110%; font-family:&quot;Garamond&quot;,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-font-kerning:14.0pt;mso-contextual-alternates: yes">Heal Africa’s chapel is an extension of the hospital, serving patients from all walks of life:&nbsp; the injured from the never-ending armed conflict, the crippled afflicted by polio in earlier life, orphans whose mothers succumbed to HIV/Aids, girls and women victims of unspeakable violence.&nbsp;&nbsp; The chapel is not only for the hospitalized; many come in from the street:&nbsp; widows,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif; font-size: 12pt;">the homeless, former child soldiers, all with heavy burdens seeking relief.</span><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif; font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp; </span><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif; font-size: 12pt;">These are God’s people and He loves them all:</span><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif; font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp; </span><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif; font-size: 12pt;">rastas with dreadlocks, street children, and day-laborers dressed in t-shirts and worn jeans dancing hip hop/freestyle to their favorite worship songs. They have found a home to jubilantly worship, sing, and dance to the Lord in an outpouring of the Spirit.</span><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif; font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:4.8pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 110%;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif; font-size: 12pt;">I sense God’s presence in both.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif; font-size: 12pt;">I love the joy and spontaneity of worship in this inner-city hospital chapel with plastic chairs … as I love and miss the solemnity and quiet worship of my familiar church in South Carolina.</span><span style="font-family: Garamond, serif; font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:10.0pt; line-height:107%;font-family:&quot;Garamond&quot;,serif;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-font-kerning:14.0pt;mso-contextual-alternates: yes">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%; font-family: Garamond, serif;">One can only imagine what heaven will be like. I trust there will be a place to find a quiet corner to be still and take in the glory and awesomeness of His presence…but I suspect God will have an even larger place for these who are joyously jubilant to be in his presence…the hip hops, the dreadlocked, the street children, the wounded and abused … who will throw their crutches in the air and let their wheelchairs skate away as they stand in joy to shout and praise the Lord.&nbsp;&nbsp; I will be there too, humbly in their midst…and may have a few burdens of my own to throw in the air.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif;mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color:#3D3D3D;mso-font-kerning:14.0pt;mso-contextual-alternates:yes">Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.&nbsp;&nbsp; Isaiah 51:11<o:p></o:p></span></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:6.0pt; margin-left:8.65pt;line-height:113%;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size:18.0pt;line-height:113%;font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-font-kerning:14.0pt;mso-contextual-alternates:yes">&nbsp; &nbsp; “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.”&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p> Wed, 14 Dec 2016 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/64023-if-these-volcanic-rocks-could-shout https://internationalministries.org/read/64023-if-these-volcanic-rocks-could-shout From Volcanic Eruption to Creative Construction <p class="MsoCaption" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align: justify"><span style="font-size:11.0pt">In 2002, Mt. Nyiragongo, a two mile high stratovolcano on the edge of the city of Goma erupted sending lava at 60 mph through the city. 16,000 households were left homeless, 45 schools were destroyed along with hospitals, churches and businesses.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoCaption" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align: justify"><span style="font-size:11.0pt">Vehicles and planes that remained were destroyed in the flames.&nbsp; Much of the airport runway was covered with lava, over 13 feet deep! Tragedy has not spared this town, but the people of Goma persist in making the best of their situation.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoCaption" style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:11.0pt">All that lava? Today the city is being rebuilt… by cutting the lava into bricks, they have an unending supply for homes, schools, walls, and even lava-brick paved roads. Rebirth and resilience…<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoCaption" style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:11.0pt">"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoCaption" style="text-align:justify"><span style="font-size:11.0pt">2 Corinthians 4:8-9<o:p></o:p></span></p> Fri, 25 Nov 2016 10:44:43 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/63867-from-volcanic-eruption-to-creative-construction https://internationalministries.org/read/63867-from-volcanic-eruption-to-creative-construction Lord, set the captives free <div class="WordSection1"></div><p><b>Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7</b><br></p><p><span style="color: windowtext; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">We returned to Africa in late July beginning with Bill’s visit to South Sudan, a country once again in the midst of civil war. The flight into South Sudan was literally a journey against a human tide as mission and relief organizations were undergoing a mass pull-out and the American Embassy was calling for the departure of U.S. citizens.</span><br></p><div class="WordSection3"> <p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">The history of South Sudan is one of tragedy and paradox. A people who fought for nearly forty years against a repressive Islamic government gained their independence just 5 years ago. We were thrilled to be in South Sudan at Independence to witness the birth of this new nation. Sadly 3 years later in 2013, the country was thrust into civil war when a people who fought for a generation to be free from the dominion of one ethnic group failed to settle their own ethnic differences. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">A long awaited peace treaty signed in the spring of 2016 fell apart just last month when warring factions, brought together in the capital city of Juba to forge a new peace, failed in that quest and catapulted the country once more into chaos, destruction, and death. The country is again divided and in a state of turmoil and conflict. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">The Old Testament Prophet, Isaiah, ministered to a divided nation. His words of comfort were not for the rulers…but for those caught up in the turbulence, deprivation, and struggles of the day. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">Isaiah’s words to the humble and brokenhearted (from Isaiah 61:1-4) tell of a freedom we all yearn to obtain: <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="Default"><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted&nbsp;</span></b><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">&nbsp;to proclaim freedom for the captives&nbsp;</span></b><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">to comfort all who mourn</span></b></p> <p class="Default"><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. </span></b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext"><o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="Default"><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">They will be called oaks of righteousness, &nbsp;</span></b><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.</span></b></p> <p class="Default"><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">They will rebuild the ancient ruins&nbsp;</span></b><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">&nbsp;and restore the places long devastated.</span></b></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">Sadly, the landscape in places we visit in South Sudan is again one of pillaging, ashes, and devastation. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">The good news is that there is hope. Christ came to fulfill the words of Isaiah; to bind up broken hearts, proclaim freedom, comfort those who mourn, and set the captives free. Indeed in South Sudan, those caught in the middle have not lost hope. Such are the promises in Isaiah 61 which propel us forward with courage and conviction. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">South Sudan is full of stories of churches which are growing in the face of conflict, people who are turning their hearts to the Lord in the wake of ethnic strife and asking for forgiveness. We recently hosted John Dau, a former South Sudanese ‘lost boy’ who was featured in the film “</span><i><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">God Grew Tired of Us.</span></i><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">” John became a successful businessman in upstate New York after being rescued from a refugee camp in his teenage years. He has devoted his life (and resources) to see the Kingdom of God reign in South Sudan and was one of those who made a treacherous visit back to South Sudan this spring to seek reconciliation between tribes. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">Freedom is not something attained by treaties between governments or men but through the indwelling of the Spirit of the Lord. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Verdana; color:windowtext">Our mandate is to provide healing for the whole person, balm for the wounds…and hope and encouragement for the soul through Christ’s love. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">With love and appreciation from the heart of Africa, </span><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">Bill and Ann Clemmer <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext"><o:p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</o:p></span><span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; color: windowtext;">Where the Spirit of the Lord is… </span><span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">there is freedom. 2 Cor. 3: 17</span></p><p class="Default"><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext"><br></span></b></p> </div><p> <span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Garamond;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA"><br clear="all" style="page-break-before:always;mso-break-type:section-break"></span></p> Sun, 11 Sep 2016 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/63055-lord-set-the-captives-free https://internationalministries.org/read/63055-lord-set-the-captives-free 60 Sheets and a Pencil <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">There are so many unsung heroes of the faith, the ones in the background holding others up, like Aaron and Hur in Exodus 17:2: &nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:.3in;margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:.2in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">“<span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif; color:#001320;background:#FDFEFF">But Moses' hands<span class="apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span><i>were</i><span class="apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span>heavy; and they took a stone, and put<span class="apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span><i>it</i><span class="apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span>under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:.3in;margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:.2in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif; color:#001320;background:#FDFEFF">up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:.3in;margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:.2in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;">I remember a couple in Colorado who have supported us financially ever since we went on the mission field … $20 a month. We are in our 26</span><sup style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;">th</sup><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;">year of servic</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;">e.</span><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">I think of those who write and encourage us, and especially those who lift us to the Lord in prayer every single day.&nbsp; The unsung heroes.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">As I have traveled across the US visiting churches and ABW groups to thank them for their partnership, I have had the privilege to meet so many who support the work that God is doing around the world. So many quiet servants living out their days serving others in the name of Christ. They don’t seek recognition in this fleeting life… and are content to wait until they meet Jesus face to face and hear those words, “Well done”. That’s enough!<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">One quiet servant is Violet Rawlinson at Grand Prairie Baptist Church in Marion, Ohio. She and her husband, Allen, always arrived early to open the church, sweep the walk, shovel the snow. But Violet’s special passion has always been mission. In 1962 she started a Christian Service Circle, which remains active today, making lap quilts, pillows, and other items. Violet has been called the ‘queen of roller bandages’. Having served in DR Congo at the Vanga Evangelical Hospital, Bill and I know full well the value of roller bandages in mission hospital settings. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">Last year, for Violet’s 98th birthday, the church gifted her with an abundant supply of old sheets. Violet rolls bandages every day, tearing the sheets into strips and then winding them up using a pencil. It wasn’t long before she was asking for more sheets. As Violet’s 99<sup>th</sup> birthday arrives in June, we want to celebrate her heart and her gift of service to others in the name of the Lord over her long life.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:107%;font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif">&nbsp;&nbsp;by Ann Clemmer and Charlene Smyth<o:p></o:p></span></p> Sun, 08 May 2016 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/62079-60-sheets-and-a-pencil https://internationalministries.org/read/62079-60-sheets-and-a-pencil God Mends a Broken Heart <p class="MsoNormal">Eighteen years ago, while serving at Vanga Evangelical Hospital in Zaire, we came across a young child who had a deteriorating heart condition. Her doctors feared she would die without urgent surgery.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">There were no options within the country for open heart surgery, but through the efforts of a podiatrist from Ohio, Dr. Dan Bailey, who had previously volunteered in Vanga, and faith and prayer from many, arrangements were made for Consolette to travel to the U.S. to have this critical surgery.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">In May of 1998, Consolette, one month shy of her sixth birthday, travelled to Ohio with her father at the invitation of Dr. Bailey and the University of Michigan Medical Center.&nbsp; Consolette, who weighed a mere 22 pounds and with failing health, could only walk a short distance. Her father had to carry her from place to place. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Her open heart surgery took place in June, and she remained in the U.S. for several weeks to recover her strength. Dr. Bailey remembers, “Prior to leaving our home, she was running, playing, and leaping like a normal 6 year old girl!”<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">We&nbsp; thank God who touched the hearts of&nbsp;&nbsp; Dan and Randi Bailey, who opened their home and spent enormous time making this happen, as well as the surgical team, and individuals and churches across the US who supported her in prayer.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Consolette is now a healthy and lovely young woman. She attends technical school in Vanga and is studying to be a seamstress. She dreams one day of designing clothes and purchasing her own sewing machine to support herself and her own mother who is sick at home, and now depends on her.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Perhaps you remember praying for Consolette so many years ago.&nbsp;&nbsp; We rejoice in what God has accomplished through prayer and through the selfless effort and faithfulness of so many… people that Consolette will likely never meet!&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">God works His will in the lives of His people. Sometimes He has His purposes which we don’t understand… but always His glory shines through, as it does today in the life and future of this young woman. <o:p></o:p></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal">“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”&nbsp; Proverbs 27:19<o:p></o:p></p> Wed, 04 May 2016 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/61973-god-mends-a-broken-heart https://internationalministries.org/read/61973-god-mends-a-broken-heart This Is Our Time <div class="WordSection1"> <div class="WordSection1"></div><p class="Default"><span style="color: windowtext; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">I am writing this letter from the shores of Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the mountainous border between Congo and Rwanda.</span><br></p><div class="WordSection2"> <p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">Ann is in the United States preparing to travel to Ohio, Michigan, and South Dakota to speak at churches. We started this year of furlough together with a plan to visit churches, friends, and supporters across the United States, in what would be our first year of home assignment since 2006. We left Maine by vehicle in mid-summer on the first leg of a cross-country tour, sharing stories of joy and tears as we traveled for five months through 36 states and 22,000 miles. Having spent 25 of our past 33 years in places such as Haiti, Congo, and South Sudan, it was interesting to be in the U.S. again... but admittedly, after our 99th speaking engagement in a small town outside of Portland, Oregon, our hearts yearned to return to Africa. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">The call came 3 weeks later after celebrating Christmas in Maine with our children. IMA World Health, a partner agency, has been running a program in Eastern Congo providing care to over 25,000 women and children, victims of sexual and gender-based violence in the context of ongoing war in a region that has known nothing but conflict over the past 20 years. There was a need for interim leadership and was I available for 30 days? <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">When do you want me to start, I asked? <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">30 days have turned to 90 and now it seems we will be here for an extended period; the needs are over-whelming. The work that IMA and its indigenous partners are doing in a challenging context is inspiring, and it is humbling to take leadership of a program that has had an indelible impact on the lives of those who have endured what few could imagine. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">Rape is a weapon of war in the persistent attacks by rebel and militia groups such as the LRA. The stories are too horrific to relate; mothers who witnessed the slaughter of their husbands and children while being raped, fathers forced to watch their young daughters brutalized before being shot… the maiming and disfiguring of women so no one will have them. The victims vary from ages 7 to 70; some are held for weeks, some escape to find their families or villages have disappeared. Others return to husbands who refuse to have them; they come to us in various stages of desperate need. For those who come on time, there are pills to prevent Aids, endemic in this context. Others in need of surgical care are sent to referral hospitals (Heal Africa and Panzi Foundation). Most need counseling, which we provide in 72 village-based clinics or in any of a dozen safe houses established for such women. Some will never be welcomed back into their communities; the victims become unjustly victimized.</span></p> <p class="Default"><b><span style="font-family: &quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:Verdana;color:windowtext">Our mandate is to provide healing for the whole person; providing balm for the wounds…and hope and encouragement for the soul through Christ’s love.</span></b></p></div><p class="Default"> </p><p class="Default"><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;color:windowtext">T</span></b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">his is not our typical assignment. It differs from the usual work we have done over the past 25 years: training of doctors and nurses, establishing clinics and schools, setting up vaccination and clean water programs in refugee settings, etc. My credentials and training don’t exactly meet the ‘job description’ but I find myself where I believe I should be…and blessed that God has found a place where we can help those in desperate need. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">This is also not the ‘safest place’ we have ever worked. Aside from the fighting and continued culture of violence, there are ongoing episodes of kidnapping for ransom of nationals and expatriates alike. Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, and others have had persons abducted and consequently pulled back to rethink how to meet needs in such an environment. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">If that is not enough, there also are environmental threats. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:windowtext">An active volcano overshadows the town of Goma where we reside. The last eruption in 2002 spewed an immense river of lava into the middle of this heavily populated border town, leveling houses, schools, clinics, even the airport, killing scores of people unable to escape. The threat level has recently been raised to yellow as the lake of molten lava in the crater spews tongues of fire and smoke into the air. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:107%">Lake Kivu, on whose banks I sit while writing this letter, has one of the highest concentrations of methane gas known in a natural setting, trapped under layers of water in this deep lake, built up over the years from the underground volcanic fissures. A similar methane-imbued lake on the other side of Africa, erupted in a huge gaseous cloud in the 1980s, killing thousands of those who lived by the water. The city of Goma with 500,000 persons, is tucked between the volcano and the lake; an eruption of either would be devastating.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">H</span></b><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">owever, we have an abiding sense that this is where we should be. Ann came out for a short visit before Easter and will return in July, after these last U.S. deputation visits. She has been asked to assist one of our indigenous partners, Heal Africa, to develop educational and capacity building programs for orphans and abandoned street children. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">In our 25 years of service overseas, I don’t believe we have ever intentionally sought out a country or place to work. We don’t ‘bid on assignments, strategize for posts, or compete for positions.’ It has rather been a matter of being available and willing. However, in all our years of service, we have been overwhelmingly blessed. Whether in the midst of abject poverty in Haiti, rebellion in Zaire, austerity in South Sudan, or war in Congo… we have never been alone nor could have ever imagined a more meaningful or fulfilling work. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="Default"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">We don’t know when the volcano will erupt, when the methane in the lake may bubble up, when the rebels will reenter Goma, or if abductors linger by the path. We do know that over 25,000 women and girls have been brutally assaulted, and we have been given the capacity, the occasion, the means, and time to make a difference. For us, this is our time, and we are thankful for the opportunity and support to be precisely where we are. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:107%">With love and appreciation.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><i><span style="font-size: 16pt;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></i></p><p class="Default"> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><b><i><span style="font-size: 16pt; line-height: 107%;">“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18</span></i></b><b><i><span style="font-size:16.0pt; line-height:107%"><o:p></o:p></span></i></b></p></div><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><br></p><p><br></p> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/61812-this-is-our-time https://internationalministries.org/read/61812-this-is-our-time A time to embrace, and a time to refrain... a time to keep, and a time to cast away <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:118%;mso-ligatures:none">We were reluctant sojourners when we returned home to the United States this past summer to start a year of home assignment, our first since 2005-2006.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Coming home is something we look forward to; we enjoy seeing family, friends, visiting and speaking at churches…and all the amenities familiar to home.&nbsp;&nbsp; On this return trip home, however, we were cognizant that we had left a country in crisis, friends in need, and a work unfinished.&nbsp; South Sudan needs all the doctors, teachers, and workers we can send, but who would take our place?<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:8.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 106%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:106%;mso-ligatures:none">We have been encouraged to see that the work goes on and that needs are being met by the faithfulness and diligence of our South Sudanese colleagues.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; As Americans, we have a tendency to want to do things ourselves; we confront problems head-on and fix them with our own hands.&nbsp;&nbsp; Such an approach would have undermined our work in South Sudan and caused it to grind to a halt upon our departure. We are not ‘Doctors without Borders’; we don’t send teams of foreign doctors, nurses, and logisticians to render services in crisis situations.&nbsp; Rather we build and equip national workers to do the same. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:8.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 106%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:106%;mso-ligatures:none">Upon departing South Sudan we left behind a team of health care workers, South Sudanese refugees, recruited actually from within the camps. They continue to provide health care each and every day.&nbsp; We still play a strategic role (ordering medicine, reporting to donors) but the essential work is being carried on by those we left behind.</span><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:106%;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif; mso-ligatures:none"> </span><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:106%; mso-ligatures:none"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:8.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 106%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:106%;mso-ligatures:none">Similarly, Ann’s work in South Sudan these past four years has involved establishing a Christian school in South Sudan’s capital and providing books and educational opportunities for South Sudanese children in very challenging settings.&nbsp;&nbsp; This work also continues to this day in part due to faithful South Sudanese partners.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:8.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 106%;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:106%; mso-ligatures:none">As we travel in the U.S. from state to state during this time of home assignment, we remain in touch with our teams and colleagues in South Sudan.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:8.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 106%;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:106%; mso-ligatures:none">Just last month, Bill was ordering medicine and filling out data sheets while Ann was driving on Route 40 from Arizona to California.&nbsp;&nbsp; Ann has spoken to churches and schools about her work with children and is raising support for our return trip while receiving very encouraging letters from the teachers she left behind, on how the school continues to grow.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt; line-height:118%;color:windowtext">There is a time and season for everything; a time to plant and a time to harvest, a time to work and a time to rest. We are thankful during this time out of South Sudan that we are able to remain in touch with the workers God provided. The harvest is plentiful and there are significant opportunities and challenges ahead. </span><span style="font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:118%;mso-ligatures:none"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><br></p><p> </p><p class="Default"><b>Colossians 3:23-24. </b><i>Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.&nbsp;</i><span style="color:windowtext"><o:p></o:p></span></p> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/60969-a-time-to-embrace-and-a-time-to-refrain-a-time-to-keep-and-a-time-to-cast-away https://internationalministries.org/read/60969-a-time-to-embrace-and-a-time-to-refrain-a-time-to-keep-and-a-time-to-cast-away Living Small <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> 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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-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:107%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} </style> <![endif]--> </p><div class="WordSection1"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">Ann and Bill arrived home to Maine last month after a four-year term in South Sudan.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Homecoming is always a time of mixed emotions; we look forward to seeing family and friends, relish the wide variety of food, adapt readily to 24-hour electricity and hot &amp; cold running water, and sleep in relative tranquility.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>Still, we are aware of the endless needs we left behind.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>The disparity between life in South Sudan and in the U.S. becomes apparent with the familiar things of life: contemplating a menu in a sit down restaurant, withdrawing cash from an ATM machine, leaving a bedroom window open a night …</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">Bill spent his last 4-6 weeks working with a team from <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">IMA World Health</i> in a refugee (IDP) camp in Upper Nile State in South Sudan; a country which continues to be embroiled in a devastating civil war, whose people (over 1 million in refugee settings) face famine, reminiscent of the Darfur of past years.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Bill was working to set up mobile health services in two camps using the services of South Sudanese health care workers recruited from within the camps. By the time he left, over 80 South Sudanese staff had been trained and equipped.</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">The clinics are currently seeing over 600 persons daily and, unlike ‘foreign relief organizations’, are staffed by indigenous doctors and nurses who have been given the tools, training, and equipment to provide essential care for those within their own country.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>The mobile clinics move with the population and continue to be supported with medicine and supplies from our base in the capital city of Juba.</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">As much as we would like to be by their side, this is our year to be home and we look forward to the many occasions we will have to relate stories, share challenges, and give glory to God for all He has done.</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">We will be on the road and living out of our car for most of the next 12 months and hope to see some of you during our travels.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">Our calendar includes a brief 6-week return to Africa in February to follow up on needs in the field and encourage and support our colleagues.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>We will participate in the International Christian Medical/Dental Society conference in Greece in April on our way back (a biannual conference where missionary doctors serving in Africa and the Middle East attend medical lectures and receive CME credits to maintain their US medical licenses). </p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify"><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>We have been invited to participate in the ‘<i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Responding to the Call’</i> meeting in Green Lake, Wisconsin the end of June and will remain for the ‘<i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">World Mission Conference’.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></i>Before heading back to Africa, we’ll have the joy of traveling to Puerto Rico for the wedding of our son, Joel and his fiancé Taisha, who met 6 years ago as freshmen at Williams College.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>We will return to Africa the end of July 2016 to rejoin our colleagues … our 2<sup>nd</sup> homecoming. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">Though our citizenship is in Heaven, our home is where our hearts abide.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>We praise God for His faithfulness during these 23 years in Haiti, Congo, and now South Sudan, and for providing in each situation a home.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Our children will not be with us as we visit churches this year of furlough, nor return with us to Africa in July; yet they, too, have the assurance of a heavenly Father who will be with them along every step of their way. </p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">Please send a note to our email address if you want to know the specific churches and meetings where we will be in your area in the coming year.</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal"><span style="font-size:13.0pt;line-height: 107%">&nbsp;</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal"><span style="font-size:13.0pt;line-height:107%">Matthew 6:21<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>“…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”</span></i></b></p> </div> <span style="font-size:14.0pt;line-height:107%;font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language: EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA"><br style="page-break-before:always; mso-break-type:section-break" clear="all"> </span><p></p> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:51:34 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/59703-living-small https://internationalministries.org/read/59703-living-small Walking into the Light of God's Glory <p class="MsoNormal">A week ago I received an email that came far too soon:&nbsp; “<i>We are sorry to inform you that Antonio died 2 days ago and was buried yesterday”.&nbsp; </i>I cried.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">I was overcome with sadness, but also with questions:&nbsp;&nbsp; What else could we have done?&nbsp; Had we not done enough?&nbsp;&nbsp; What can I say to all those who have been praying for Antonio and to those who made her surgery possible?&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;Were the efforts of adding a few years to her young life all for naught?&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">But God opened my eyes and heart to reveal His truth.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color:#001320;background:#FDFEFF">You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing <o:p></o:p></span></i></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:.5in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color:#001320;background:#FDFEFF">before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.</span></i><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%"> </span></i><i><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt; line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;color:#001320;background: #FDFEFF">Psalm 39:5</span></i><span style="font-size:10.5pt;line-height:115%; font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;color:#001320;background:#FDFEFF"><br> <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--><br> <!--[endif]--></span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%; mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%; mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:#001320; background:#FDFEFF">Why do we desperately cling to life on earth?&nbsp; Is it a fear of death or perhaps a regret of leaving behind those we love, or those who depend on us?&nbsp;&nbsp; But our God promises to be with them, and isn’t His care and love far greater than anything we can provide? &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Perhaps the fear of death is tied to the notion we have not finished our work, but that too may be self- centered. God’s work will go on without us.&nbsp; &nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%; mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:#001320; background:#FDFEFF">So I think back to young Antonio, and the fact that rather than having two years added to her life, she had only two months. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;However, she had two months without pain, and the precious opportunity to return home to her family in Angola rather than dying in a faraway land.</span> &nbsp;<span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:#001320;background:#FDFEFF">God chose to bring her home into His light, sooner than we envisioned. What joy!&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%; mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:#001320; background:#FDFEFF">I remember the words of a pastor in Kenya who eulogized someone who had recently died in his church. &nbsp;He told us that the man had just ‘moved upstairs’. &nbsp;&nbsp;Wow.&nbsp; What an analogy! &nbsp;And what a joy to know that Antonio as well, has ‘moved upstairs’.&nbsp;&nbsp; Her pain is gone, her sight is restored, and she is able to see the Glory of God. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:#001320;background:#FDFEFF">In Hebrews 11, heroes of the faith admitted that they were “strangers and pilgrims on earth”.<br> We are all to live as strangers and pilgrims on earth. The terrible heart-wrenching tragedies we see unfold will come to an end. &nbsp;&nbsp;Our salvation is in the Lord, and that day is closer today than it ever was.&nbsp; &nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"> </p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin;color:#001320;background:#FDFEFF">And we, too, will walk into the light of God’s glory.<o:p></o:p></span></p> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 03:49:21 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/59698-walking-into-the-light-of-god-s-glory https://internationalministries.org/read/59698-walking-into-the-light-of-god-s-glory Two Years Is a Lifetime <p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">Do you remember where you were two years ago … how fast has that time flown by? Here in the United States, two years seems like a snap of the fingers in the broader scheme of our lives. We have five-year plans, four year colleges, and seven year doctoral programs. Two years is nothing; but to a ten year-old girl from Angola, two years has become everything.</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><br></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">Just last month, we shared with you the story of Antonio, a bright-eyed child of God who traveled with her mother for four days, crossing &nbsp;the Angolan border into Congo to find help at Vanga Evangelical Hospital. There, Bill examined her and determined that it must be a brain tumor that was later deemed inoperable by experts from as far away as Boston, St. Louis, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. All agreed that without help she would not survive even two months. The best chance Antonio had would be if we could find a way to drain the tumor and apply chemotherapy to bring relief from the pain, thus give her another two to three years of life. Several hospitals in the US and other nations in Africa offered to help, but the child and mother had entered the Congo without passports and therefore could not be flown out of the country. Though these obstacles seemed insurmountable, through perseverance and prayer we were able to find a Congolese neurosurgeon in the capital city of Kinshasa who was both able and willing to do the procedure.</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><br></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">Last week, Antonio underwent this surgery, where the surgeon succeeded in inserting a tube into the liquid center to drain the contents of the tumor and injected chemotherapy to prevent regrowth. The spirited ten year-old awoke from the procedure and noted immediate relief from her pain as well as full use of her arms, which had previously been hindered by pressure from the tumor. Unfortunately, she has not regained her eyesight due to nerve damage, but there is still hope that she might regain partial vision. Next week, by the grace of God, Antonio will be discharged from the hospital and provided with the means for her and her mother to return home to Angola to rejoin her siblings, family, and friends. We praise God for our friends across the world who offered prayers, counsel, and support enabling Antonio to have this delicate, timely, and costly operation.</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">&nbsp;</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">Although Antonio will face challenges as the tumor regrows over the next several years…she now has a window of time to return home and be with those she loves. What was once a short two month prognosis has been stretched into two full years that we hope will be filled with love and blessings. When Bill and I visited her in the hospital this past week, she smiled her sweet smile and told us she wanted to sing us a song. With bright eyes sparkling with life and a newfound hope, she sang out to us, “<i>God gave me a light to share with the whole world</i>”.</p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><br></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">No one knows how long Antonio will live, but she knows that she is surrounded by prayer and love from afar. More so, she knows with assurance that God will remain steadfastly by her side until the day she returns to her permanent home…where she will regain her sight and blessings beyond.</p><p class="MsoNormal"> So remember Antonio two years from now, when your life seems to pass by so quickly; remember the sweet, bright-eyed ten year-old from Angola who traveled days into a foreign country for the chance to live long enough to share her light with the world.&nbsp; Remember her story, and how she has shown us that only God can turn two years into a lifetime of light.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="color: rgb(0, 19, 32); font-family: Trebuchet, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 21.6000003814697px; text-align: justify; background-color: rgb(253, 254, 255);">"The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory." Isaiah 60:19</span><br></p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;authored by Cass Clemmer</p><p class="MsoNormal"><br></p> Sun, 24 May 2015 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/58599-two-years-is-a-lifetime https://internationalministries.org/read/58599-two-years-is-a-lifetime A Haunting Trip into Congo’s Past <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align: justify">Bill and I are in the Democratic Republic of Congo for eight weeks filling critical needs at the Vanga Evangelical Hospital.&nbsp; Our work will take us back to South Sudan in May, and by the end of June we will both be in the U.S. for our first year of home assignment since 2005.&nbsp; Our time in the Congo has brought back many fond memories, especially in Vanga where our four children were home-schooled some 20 years ago…but a recent trip into Congo’s distant past raised a chilling reminder of the sins of the past and scars of the present.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">During Easter week we took a trip down the Kwilu River by wooden pirogue to visit rural health facilities and isolated villages along the way.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Unlike the mighty Nile River in South Sudan which is bordered by vast Sahel-like plains, the tributaries of the Congo wind through dense jungles with heavy greenery dipping into murky waters concealing hippos and other amphibious and reptilian creatures.&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">We visited a small village called <i>Luzuna</i> known for its rubber trees, the site where this tale of woe begins.&nbsp;&nbsp; We must return to colonial days when the country was known as the Congo Free State and the Belgian king, Leopold II, owned it. &nbsp;King Leopold II gained possession of the vast Congo at the Berlin Conference of 1884, auspiciously for ‘humanitarian and philanthropic’ purposes.&nbsp; In reality, this ‘humanitarian’ venture became a profit-making one, especially with the surge of the automobile and the global demand for rubber.&nbsp;&nbsp; So voracious was the Western need for rubber, and so profitable the commodity, that Leopold’s colonial minions did anything to increase production, including the maiming of Congolese men, women, and children. Quotas were required from each village and if workers did not produce their amount due, a hand was chopped off of the worker or of his wife or child.&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p style="margin-top:6.0pt;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left: 0in;text-align:justify"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin">The village of<i> Luzuna</i> is much the same today as it was three generations ago, with families living in straw-roofed mud homes and the principal occupation<span style="color:red"> </span>the harvesting of rubber.&nbsp; The salient difference today is that rubber is harvested for the village’s benefit and not for those of colonial masters.&nbsp; </span><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">Rubber trees are cultivated and grown in long lines through the rainforest, where the air is hot and heavy with moisture. The process is labor-intensive.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Workers make long line cuts into the hardened bark bringing forth a white sap-like material which is directed with a leaf as it drains slowly into an earthen cup placed below.&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">&nbsp; &nbsp;The rubber, called <i>caoutchouc</i> (pronounced ‘cow-chew’) is allowed to thicken in the cup and then placed in the sun for weeks to dry. The bowl-shaped masses are then pressed against others to form a ‘brick’ weighing 20-30 pounds. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">&nbsp;Once every few months a barge steams up the river collecting these bricks of rubber and transports them to the capital city of Kinshasa to be made into plastic chairs and tables.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We didn’t ask what they are paid for each block of rubber but in this village, children run around without shoes and few are able to afford even the molded plastic chairs from Kinshasa, the end products of their labor.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">The horrors of the past, though rarely mentioned, are not forgotten, nor should they be. The human rights’ nightmare of the Congo Free State came to light through photos smuggled out by missionaries such as African American William Shepard, writings by&nbsp; journalist Edmund Morel, &nbsp;and widely-circulated publications of others such as Mark Twain (King Leopold’s Soliloquy) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (The Crime of the Congo).<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">We departed Luzuna heading upriver as the sweltering sun started to fade over the Kwilu River.&nbsp; The children, delighted by our impromptu visit, laughingly surrounded us as we climbed back into the pirogue.&nbsp; The adults warmly embraced us and waved as we departed, asking us to please come again.&nbsp;&nbsp; What a contrast to the foreign visitors of years ago… and what an obligation we have, not to undo the sins of the past, but to bring the love of Christ to the present and eternal hope to the future.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; background: white;"><i><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;">&nbsp;</span></i><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;">“</span></i><span class="text"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">For what we preach is not ourselves,</span></i></span><span class="apple-converted-space"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">&nbsp;</span></i></span><span class="text"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">but Jesus Christ as Lord,</span></i></span><span class="apple-converted-space"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">&nbsp;</span></i></span><span class="text"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">and ourselves as your servants</span></i></span><span class="apple-converted-space"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">&nbsp;</span></i></span><span class="text"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">for Jesus’ sake.</span></i></span><span class="apple-converted-space"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">&nbsp;</span></i></span><span class="text"><b><i><sup><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">&nbsp;</span></sup></i></b></span><span class="text"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’<sup> </sup>made his light shine in our hearts</span></i></span><span class="apple-converted-space"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">&nbsp;</span></i></span><span class="text"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></i></span><i><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;">2 Corinthians 4:5-6 </span></i><span class="text"><i><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></i></span><span class="text"><i><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;"><o:p></o:p></span></i></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span class="text"><span style="font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background: white;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></span></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="color:red">&nbsp;</span></p> Sat, 23 May 2015 20:00:00 -0400 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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-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} </style> <![endif]--> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Ann and I are in Zimbabwe for a short period doing an assessment on the impact of HIV/AIDS on people’s lives at the request of one of our church partners, United Baptist Church of Zimbabwe (UBC).</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">&nbsp;</span><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">UBC is a denomination focused on outreach in a country with significant needs.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>The majority of their work is not within churches but among the community.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>One such outreach is in the mining camps where tens of thousands of people live in hopeless conditions;<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>where 3-4 <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>families share small shanty-type homes,<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>where poverty gives rise to prostitution (as young as 12 years old) and as you can imagine, where HIV/AIDS is endemic. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span></span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">&nbsp;</span><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Yesterday we accompanied a UBC pastor, Patience Chinugoro, to one of these camps.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Rev Chinugoro agreed to leave his job as pastor of a large urban church in Harare several years ago and move his wife and children to live amongst the poorest of the poor because of a calling from God.&nbsp; He told us, “<i>The young people in these mining camps are dying quicker than we can reach them…and someone needs to share the Gospel and tell them that Jesus loves them and gave his life for them</i>”.&nbsp;&nbsp; He took us to the home of a 68-year old widowed woman who shares a 3-room dwelling with two other families.&nbsp; </span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">&nbsp;</span><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">The woman’s son and daughter both died from AIDS several years ago (along with their spouses), and left the widowed grandmother to care for their five surviving children. The youngest of these, a two-year girl named Dorcas whose mother died three months after her birth, has AIDS herself, and without treatment, it is unlikely she will see her 3<sup>rd</sup> birthday.</span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">&nbsp;</span><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">One could say that the health system failed young Dorcas twice:&nbsp; (1) by failing to screen her mother for AIDS when she was pregnant so she could receive drugs to prevent the transmission of this fatal disease to her unborn child and (2) by failing to provide HIV drugs to the mother after delivery which could have kept her alive for years and able to care for her children. &nbsp; Now without access to HIV medicine, young Dorcas will also die. </span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">&nbsp;</span><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Pastor Chinugoro is determined that the church will not <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">spiritually fail</i> this mining community of 18,000 of which up to 5,000 are known to be HIV positive and need to hear a message of forgiveness, redemption, and salvation.&nbsp;&nbsp; His passion for sharing the Gospel is preeminent for us as mission workers…but as health workers, we have the obligation as well to provide healing to those who are in need of care like young Dorcas, so we will not fail her a 3<sup>rd</sup> time.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">&nbsp;</span><span style="mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the needs and the obstacles in bringing the Kingdom of God to places such as this mining camp of 18,000.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>However when we look at the commitment of national servants such as Rev Patience Chinugoro, his team of volunteers, and the faithful prayers and support of our partners and churches back home, we know that God provides the means, the opportunity, and the desire …so we will not fail Dorcas a 3<sup>rd</sup> time. </span> </p><p></p> Sat, 02 May 2015 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/58166-failing-dorcas-a-third-time https://internationalministries.org/read/58166-failing-dorcas-a-third-time Answer for Antonio <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt">Antonio is a 10-year old girl from Angola who is one of the patients at Vanga Hospital where Bill and I have been working the past two months.&nbsp;&nbsp; In October of last year, Antonio developed&nbsp;headaches and blurred vision causing her to miss classes in school.&nbsp;By Christmas she was totally blind.&nbsp;&nbsp; Her doctors in Angola could not find the cause of her problem and ultimately mother and child crossed the Angola/Congo border by truck and traveled 400 km to arrive at the Vanga mission hospital.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt">Bill arranged for Antonio to have an MRI in Kinshasa (capital city) last week, where worst fears were confirmed.&nbsp;&nbsp; She has a large brain tumor which has occluded the optic nerve causing her to lose sight. &nbsp;As it grows,&nbsp; Antonio will suffer far more severe symptoms.&nbsp;&nbsp; We have reached out to neurosurgeons in the US and here in Africa and are seeking ways to have this treated.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt">The obstacles to sending her out of Congo for surgery are significant.&nbsp; She has no passport or papers, they speak Portuguese (and not French or English).&nbsp; The logistics may seem staggering to us … but not for God.&nbsp;&nbsp; We pray that God will allow us to see what currently escapes us for a solution, and &nbsp;open doors that are seemingly closed. &nbsp;&nbsp;Our experiences over the past 23 years of mission service have shown that God does just that, and more!<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt">Psalm 86:7 </span><span style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Verdana, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.</span></p> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 04:25:53 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/57990-answer-for-antonio https://internationalministries.org/read/57990-answer-for-antonio Green Pastures <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">The fighting in South Sudan has entered its second year, but despite peace talks between government and rebel troops, neither side shows willingness to lay down their arms. The fighting between opposition forces (led by the former VP) and government has resulted in widespread atrocities: massacres, gang rapes and child soldier recruitment.&nbsp; An estimated 1.5 million persons have fled their homes and currently reside in IDP (refugee) settlements.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Much of our work these past 14 months has focused on providing health care in these less than idyllic settings.</span><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">In partnership with IMA World Health we are providing critical health services to those displaced, operating 11 field clinics located among the tens of thousands in the camps.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">We recruited over 80 health care workers (doctors, nurses, lab techs) from among the refugees, then equipped and trained them to provide health services to their own communities. Utilization of local and qualified health personnel instills confidence,&nbsp; is cost-effective,&nbsp; and more sustainable than importing foreign health care workers such as ‘Doctors Without Borders’. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:125%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:125%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">Not all are willing to live in a refugee camp setting.&nbsp; Chief among these are the Dinka cattle herders who fled from the fighting into the grasslands bordering the Nile River with their extended families during this war.&nbsp;&nbsp; Each clan (up to 200 persons) roams the vast plains where grasslands transition into Sahel to seek safety and grazing areas for their cattle.&nbsp; These, too, are the people we serve in war-torn South Sudan.&nbsp; Mobile teams go out for weeks at a time providing essential health services:&nbsp; vaccination, malaria prevention, and pre-natal care.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">I have been in the field this past month, traveling by plane, jeep, boat, and foot to some fairly remote areas assessing health needs.&nbsp; I spent time amongst the Dinka cattle herders.&nbsp; Each morning the men, armed with AK-47 machine guns, lead the cattle out to pasture.&nbsp; Others stay behind to guard family members and the cows too young (or old) to make the daily trek to pasture.&nbsp; Cattle raiding and child abduction are very common occurrences in these isolated plains of South Sudan.&nbsp;&nbsp; While the herders venture out for the day, those behind prepare the camp for that evening. Cattle dung from the night before is swept up and placed in large piles to be mixed with charcoal and burned to deter mosquitos when the cows sleep.&nbsp; Children collect buckets of ash from the previous evening’s fires to brush the cows to remove sweat and dirt. When the herders return at sunset there is great rejoicing in the camp; the cows (who are all named) go to their individual wooden stakes, are tied, brushed, and even sung to. </span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt; line-height:113%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">A contingent of older boys and girls with guns keep watch during the night over their families… and their cows. </span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">One of the Dinka elders asked me if <i>Americans love their cows as much as they do.&nbsp; </i>I grew up in coastal New England and the only cows I saw were in cellophane-wrapped containers in a supermarket… but I don’t tell him that.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">In the early years of missions, church workers set up stations in the interior of Africa and Asia and built schools, wells, clinics, and hospitals and the population came to them.&nbsp; Most of these facilities now sit behind high cement walls capped with razor wire.&nbsp; Missionaries and church workers are in the middle serving those who come.&nbsp; This was the case for us in Haiti and DR Congo where we spent nearly 20 years.&nbsp;&nbsp; Those were times when we had children on the field, when we had a mission-assigned home with helpers and familiar surroundings.&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:8.0pt;text-align:justify"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">We no longer live in such places. Our children are in the U.S. beginning their own lives.&nbsp; Familial concerns about personal safety, protection from viral outbreaks, venomous snakes, and herders with AK-47s don’t seem as worrisome.&nbsp; During the past four years in South Sudan Ann and I have lived in tents, pre-fab containers, and single room dwellings, yet we have had all our needs met and much more.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:8.0pt;text-align:justify"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">&nbsp;We miss the familiarity of permanent staff, proximal friends, available equipment, and comfortable surroundings. However, we like the concept of being mobile and able to go out to where those we serve make their lives.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">To understand the culture and surroundings of those we serve is to know their needs, their concerns, their problems... and ultimately their beliefs.&nbsp; Through compassion, care, and proximity we seek to introduce them to One who loves them even more than they love their cattle and who will lead them to&nbsp; the refuge of green pastures and still waters … and provide treasures that will not spoil, will not run out, and will not be taken away in the middle of the night. </span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%">We share that joy, because you are the ones who surround us with your prayers, enabling us to traverse these ‘long &amp; treacherous’ dark valleys and emerge … with cups overflowing and souls restored. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%;mso-pagination: none"><i><span style="font-size:9.0pt;line-height:113%;font-family:&quot;Georgia&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">The&nbsp;<span style="font-variant:small-caps">Lord</span>&nbsp;is my shepherd; I shall not want.&nbsp;He maketh me to lie down in green&nbsp;pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.&nbsp;&nbsp;He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.&nbsp;Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.&nbsp; (Psalm 23)</span></i><i><span style="font-size:9.0pt;line-height:113%"><o:p></o:p></span></i></p> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/57287-green-pastures https://internationalministries.org/read/57287-green-pastures Saving Lives and Creating Bridges for Peace <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify">On the morning of September 30<sup>th</sup>, IRC (International Rescue Committee) the principal provider of primary health care in the POC camp in Bor put out an urgent call to WHO-Juba. The UMMISS level- 2 hospital on the base had received a pregnant woman in labor with profuse vaginal bleeding.&nbsp; The doctors determined the woman needed an emergency C-section but they did not have an obstetrician or surgical capacity for that level of care.&nbsp; They requested urgent medevac to Juba and were in dialog with International Medical Corps about surgery in their operating theatre in the UN House outside of Juba.&nbsp; The woman was a Nuer and would not only need to be transported under&nbsp; escort from the UN base to the air strip in Bor, but upon landing in Juba would require another UN protected transport to take her across town to the UN House.&nbsp; The time involved even to get a helicopter in the air from Juba would take several hours.&nbsp; All this, while Bor State Hospital with 8 attending physicians and a renovated operating suite and maternity was 10 minutes down the road.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify">The conflict in Bor, largely between Dinkas and Nuers is a political one and does not transcend humanitarian care.&nbsp; Indeed, when UN transport was not readily available, WHO contacted IMA requesting a way forward.&nbsp; The Medical Director at Bor State Hospital was apprised and without hesitation requested that the patient be brought to Bor State Hospital while Dr Mabior, attending physician in the newly renovated Maternity Unit,&nbsp; assembled his surgical team.&nbsp; They received a message back that the baby had died in-utero, the woman now critical was being transfused, and ground transport was underway.&nbsp;&nbsp; The UN promptly transferred the patient down the road to Bor State Hospital where she was ushered into the operating theatre.&nbsp;&nbsp; The woman, in shock from loss of blood,&nbsp;was found to have a placenta previa and underwent an emergency C-section.&nbsp;&nbsp; The surgery was successful and the mother’s life was saved.&nbsp; The following day, with Dr Mabior’s concurrence, the woman was transferred back to the UNMISS level 2 hospital at the UNMISS camp in stable and good condition.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify">An NGO Site Manager for the POC base had this to say the following day. “<i>This morning the young lady is alert and doing well. &nbsp;I just want to highlight that the doctors in Bor hospital were very cooperative and very professional. It was wonderful and humbling to see Dinka surgeons perform such skilled and careful surgery on a young lady from the PoC, especially given the lack of trust the IDPs have in Bor hospital. I think it is a very positive development, and could open the way for a new MoU between the hospital and the Health Cluster.&nbsp;&nbsp; The Medical Director (DR Moses) assured (us) that the IDPs are welcome at any time, that the hospital is strictly neutral, and does not tolerate violence”.</i></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal" align="left">The IMA supported referral hospital in Bor…saving lives and building bridges for Peace... in Jonglei State!<o:p></o:p></p> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/56363-saving-lives-and-creating-bridges-for-peace https://internationalministries.org/read/56363-saving-lives-and-creating-bridges-for-peace Confronting Ebola … our first ‘exposure’ <p class="MsoNormal">Shortly after arriving in Zaire/D.R. Congo in 1995, there was an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in Vanga, 60 km downriver from Kikwit, where the Ebola virus had a month earlier killed 245 people in what then was Africa’s most deadly outbreak.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Bill and I with four young children had just settled in to our new home a foot path away from Vanga Hospital which abutted a building which the hospital would soon make into the ‘Ebola Ward’.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">I remember the early morning meetings in our living room where Bill and the other doctors prayed and discussed the care of patients infected with Ebola. Coffee and tea were served as they sat in the very chairs and couches where I had the night before read stories and would soon do school lessons with our children.&nbsp; Hearing them talk about patients who had died, the need for strict isolation, and the hospital’s policy to not release the bodies for fear of contamination, I could not help but wonder how infectious and transmissible this disease truly was.&nbsp; It was hard not to think about the risks to our family as I bid the doctors good bye and washed and put away the dishes.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">As it turned out the strain of Ebola in Vanga was as deadly as that in nearby Kikwit.&nbsp; Every patient who presented with the disease died. I still remember the muffled sounds of wailing from the Ebola ward across the hedge.&nbsp; Unlike Kikwit, however, there was no transmission of the disease to other patients and no staff members were infected.&nbsp; Like most endemic and deadly viruses, the greatest cure is prevention, and the White Cross supplies that were abundant in Vanga Hospital ensured that patients had isolation material and nurses and doctors wore protective gowns and gloves. The infection rate within the hospital was zero. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Our hearts go out to those confronting the Ebola virus in neighboring West Africa which has claimed to date over 3000 lives, far surpassing the previous outbreak in Zaire/Congo.&nbsp; We are aware of a similar outbreak of hemorrhagic fever near the border with South Sudan and wonder what would happen if Ebola came here given the fragile health care system strained by ongoing war and conflict.&nbsp; We are also aware of cases that have recently come to the U.S.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">We think back to 1995, nearly 20 years ago, and the preparedness and support we received through White Cross, and know we can count on the same today.&nbsp; God never promised that our days would be easy … or free from the threat of diseases such as Ebola.&nbsp; He did promise that He would abide with us. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who strengthen our faith and share our burdens, our concerns, and needs.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">Bill and Ann Clemmer<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">International Ministries<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">Juba, South Sudan<o:p></o:p></p><br><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/55823-confronting-ebola-our-first-exposure- https://internationalministries.org/read/55823-confronting-ebola-our-first-exposure- Mingkamen <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%">Over the past six months Bill, along with staff from IMA World Health, has worked to establish a number of emergency mobile health clinics in refugee (IDP) settlements in South Sudan where over one million persons have taken refuge since fighting broke out in December.&nbsp; These clinics (housed in large tents) are staffed by South Sudanese doctors and nurses who see up to 200 patients a day.&nbsp;&nbsp; Most of the clinics are set up in refugee settlements along the White Nile River stretching from the town of Bor in Jonglei State to Malakal in Upper Nile State (a span of around 250 miles).&nbsp; Bill and his team regularly fly into these areas by MAF or UN flights to supply, supervise, and support the ongoing relief work.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%">The closest mobile clinic to our home is in a refugee settlement called Mingkamen, a mere 90 miles away and the only site approachable by land.&nbsp;&nbsp; I accompanied Bill on a recent road trip to Mingkamen, the longest 90 miles I have traveled in a long while! <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%">We left early Saturday morning with every space in the Landcruiser packed tightly with medicine and equipment. An outbreak of cholera had been reported in a neighboring camp, so we filled every remaining space with chlorine tablets and soap for patients and staff.&nbsp; That left Bill and me tucked into the front seat along with our driver, Juma.&nbsp;&nbsp; The last IMA team that traveled to Mingkamen two weeks earlier to deliver mosquito nets and tents said we should plan on a four hour trip, but that was before the rains had come in full force. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%">Two miles outside of Juba (the capital city), heading north along the river, the asphalt road gave way to loose gravel and we traveled at a leisurely pace, taking in the lush green landscape along the way.&nbsp; Much of the area is low-lying and swampy (known as the Sudd). We saw amazing birds such as sacred ibis, cormorants, eagles, wagtails, goliath herons, and pelicans enjoying the water that spread as far as the eye could see. We watched hundreds of butterflies take wing from pools of water along the road as our vehicle passed. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal">The road worsened as we traveled further from the capital and became ‘teeth-rattling and bone-shaking’ as we negotiated through washed out sections of road and large stretches of knee-deep mud. We came upon cars which had slipped off the road and were stuck up to their doors.&nbsp; Later we saw trucks which had flipped over as the road deteriorated further.&nbsp; We knew we were in trouble when we came upon several vehicles clustered together in the middle of the road having slid into each other ... and later been abandoned. My heart started to beat faster thinking we would never get by.&nbsp; Later that afternoon the skies darkened as another storm threatened to further pummel the roads and I contemplated spending the night along the flooded road next to swamps infested with snakes and mosquitos.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Even the birds took flight as the skies darkened leaving us alone, now creeping along at a distressingly slow pace.&nbsp;&nbsp; As we approached each obstacle, with heart pounding, a song started to fill my thoughts:<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:center;line-height:103%" align="center"><b><i><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 103%; font-family: 'Goudy Old Style', serif;">God will make a way<br> Where there seems to be no way<br> He works in ways we cannot see<br> He will make a way for me<br> <br> He will be my guide<br> Hold me closely to His side<br> With love and strength for each new day<br> He will make a way, He will make a way<br> <br> By a roadway in the wilderness, He'll lead me …<o:p></o:p></span></i></b></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:4.8pt;line-height:103%;mso-pagination: none"><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 103%; font-family: 'Goudy Old Style', serif;">&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:115%">… and my heart began to slow and trust in Him. I cannot tell you how we got through the multiple ‘impossible’ spots … but we were able to make it through where others, hopelessly stuck, had abandoned their vehicles.&nbsp; The 90 mile trip took nine hours. But the trip was worth it in every way.&nbsp; God reminded me where my trust needs to be focused. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%">&nbsp;The medical staff in Mingkamen were overjoyed when we drove up late that afternoon with supplies they desperately needed. As the rains gave way to a setting sun and patients returned home to the hundreds of makeshift shelters surrounding the clinic, Bill assembled the health staff under the shade of tree.&nbsp; Sitting in low chairs in the cool of the tropical day, they discussed cases from the past two weeks and particular needs.&nbsp; Bill closed the meeting with a discussion on the management of cholera and a word of thanks and praise.&nbsp;&nbsp; It was a good end to a trying day. We spent the night in a two-person tent; our dinner... roasted groundnuts and hot tea.&nbsp;&nbsp; I never slept so well. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:115%">That next day as patients lined up to be seen, Bill spent time with staff and patients as I visited some of the refugees in their&nbsp;&nbsp; humble dwellings, chatting with the women and passing out&nbsp; books to the young children.&nbsp; They have so little that a simple book captivated an entire family.</span><o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:113%">&nbsp;<span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:113%">Our South Sudanese colleagues who serve in the IMA health clinics have sacrificed so much and live in such harsh situations (no running water, a single daily meal of lentils and tea) to provide medical care to others.&nbsp; They serve the refugees with willing hearts in a way that only God could have instilled.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:113%">What a joy it is to walk in the paths God has laid before us, and to be able to bring health and encouragement to those who have suffered so greatly. We share that joy, because you are the ones who surround us with your prayers, enabling us to traverse these ‘long and treacherous’ dark valleys and emerge … with cups overflowing and souls restored.&nbsp; Psalm 23:4<o:p></o:p></span></p> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/55416-mingkamen https://internationalministries.org/read/55416-mingkamen Bountiful Blessings from Trivial Things God often uses the trivial or discarded things of this world to bring bountiful blessings to others, even things on which we do not put a great value. If someone gave you an old wooden pallet, would it make a difference in your life? &nbsp; &nbsp;<div><br></div><div>The rainy season has started unseasonably early in South Sudan and with it comes the flooding of fields, crops, and even roads. Traditionally people move from their homes to cattle camps in the highlands and wait out the 4-6 month season of heavy rains, an annual and cyclical inconvenience. This season however, over 1 million people have fled their homes during the severe fighting and dare not return or venture to the highlands in the midst of a war that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Such people have been clustered into crowded camps and settlements to find refuge from the fighting ... living in makeshift shelters with earthen floors. With the torrential rains, the lives of the million women, children and men in cramped quarters have gone from harsh to horrible as water pours in where they sit, they eat, and they sleep. Such is the predicament for the thousands of refugee IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) who are camped a short walk from our home here in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. <div><p class="MsoNormal">Which brings us to the pallets.&nbsp; &nbsp;Outside our storeroom, where we have received hundreds of boxes of medicine and relief supplies each month, sits a pile of 75 neglected wooden pallets collecting &nbsp;dust.&nbsp; “What are you intending on doing with these?” I asked Bill.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; “Firewood”, he replied jokingly, thinking back to our native Maine (the temperature reached 108 degrees in South Sudan today). <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Considering the predicament of the hundreds of families living in tents, we contacted a group working in the refugee camp and offered the pallets to those who needed them.&nbsp; They were elated that we had such a practical solution to a pressing problem … and the pallets were taken away in short order.&nbsp; &nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">The Bible often talks about small things: mustard seeds, five loaves of bread, a cup of cold water … God can use the minor and seemingly insignificant things in this world to bless His people!&nbsp;&nbsp; He does it time and time again…..even through people like us.<o:p></o:p></p></div></div> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/53369-bountiful-blessings-from-trivial-things https://internationalministries.org/read/53369-bountiful-blessings-from-trivial-things The Enemy Within <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">It was less than 3 years ago when Ann and I were in the capital city of Juba, South Sudan witnessing the birth of a new nation. &nbsp;We could actually feel the excitement of a generation of people, free to establish their own nation. &nbsp; Our work in the coming years was to help in the building of hospitals, clinics, and schools and train and equip South Sudanese to staff and run them. &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">The relative hardship of settling down in South Sudan (heat, isolation, lack of basic amenities) was a small inconvenience in light of the chance to be a part of building a new nation with a people who had suffered so much. &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">Today, to paraphrase a title from a renowned Nigerian author, “Things (in South Sudan) have Fallen Apart”.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">Political divide led to fierce fighting amongst their own people just before Christmas, and has driven a wedge through the country, ethnic group against ethnic group, resulting in a horrific outbreak of violence, the massacre of thousands of civilians ... and destruction and burning of much of what was built over these past 3 years. &nbsp; Is it time to move on … we ask ourselves? &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">We left South Sudan a day before the fighting started to attend the funeral of my mother in the U.S. &nbsp; I returned the first week of January when embassies and UN agencies warned foreigners to stay away. &nbsp; Our belongings were intact, but our offices, vehicles, boats, and equipment were looted. &nbsp;Thankfully, our staff fled to neighboring countries and was safe and accounted for. &nbsp;That would have been the time to gather our essential documents and laptops and move on … so we contemplated.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">I have spent the past six-weeks traveling in and out of towns which have passed from government, to rebel, to government hands to assess health conditions, visit refugee settlements, take stock of all that was destroyed … and to render assistance (essential medicine, safe-birthing kits, water, food, even soap) from the remnant of our supplies. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;With each visit the destruction, the evidence of rampant killing, the bodies decaying on the streets, has numbed my senses and makes me wonder … is it time to move on? &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">Our decision to remain in South Sudan during a time of war may not make a dent in the conflict, but has helped to create attention and to leverage needed supplies for relief efforts. &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">Both faith-based and secular (UN) agencies have pledged support and we are currently offloading medical supplies, tents, blankets … and targeting areas where there are tens of thousands of people internally displaced in their own country in refugee status. The families are everywhere: &nbsp; living under trees, camped along the swamps, hiding in fear from the killers within, their own countrymen.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">&nbsp;After so many years of fighting a repressive government to the north and winning independence, it is sobering that this young country has now turned against itself, one group aligned against another. &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">Why do we focus on our differences, that which distinguishes ourselves from one another: &nbsp; the ethnic markings on our forehead, the color of our skin … rather than that which we have in common? &nbsp;We were formed from the same clay, individually distinct, but collectively resembling the very face of God. &nbsp; When we raise a hand against another … we only bring it down upon ourselves.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">While Ann and I do not know what our long term plans will be, or what kind of future this country faces; &nbsp; we do know that we are needed here, we are safe, and have all the support and prayers one could ever hope for. &nbsp; &nbsp;We will thus continue to help even it means rebuilding what we just yesterday put together … but more importantly, to make a stand … for justice, mercy, and walking humbly with God.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">Genesis 1:27&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 16.866666793823242px;">“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><br></p> Sat, 22 Mar 2014 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/53186-the-enemy-within https://internationalministries.org/read/53186-the-enemy-within Trusting God <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">More than any place I have ever lived, this country and the conditions of its people are heartbreaking. Heartbreaking is the word that distinguishes it from all other places we have lived and served.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">I was sitting on the walkway of the third floor apartment where we live this morning. We have a bird’s eye view of a rubbish pile along the road below. I sat and watched a very old man sort through the pile, picking up papers that had been discarded, brushing them off and stacking them neatly in his hands to be used again. Who knows what purpose they will be reused for… a child in school who has no paper to write on, a letter to a family member who has fled the fighting? All I know is that it makes me want to cry.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Such things affect me and linger; I well remember almost 35 years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer in the desert town of Gao, Mali, watching an old woman … maybe not so old, but her life had aged her physically … on her hands and knees sifting through the market sand at the close of day, picking up individual grains of rice that had been spilled and filling a small plastic bowl.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">I read a quote from Phillip Yancey’s book, “The Question That Never Goes Away”. It says, </span><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;background:white">“No answer to suffering will satisfy, even if we had the capacity to comprehend the answer. Like Job we can only attend to the small picture, clinging to beli<span class="textexposedshow">ef against all contrary evidence, while trusting God with the big picture.” <o:p></o:p></span></span></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span class="textexposedshow"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;background:white">We are trusting God in South Sudan.<o:p></o:p></span></span></p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/52945-trusting-god https://internationalministries.org/read/52945-trusting-god Let There Be Light: A Lamp to My Feet…and Light to My Path <h2><span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color:windowtext;mso-ligatures:none">&nbsp;“You,&nbsp;Lord, are my lamp; the&nbsp;Lord&nbsp;turns my&nbsp;darkness&nbsp;into&nbsp;light.” &nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="color: windowtext; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;">2 Samuel 22:29&nbsp;</span></h2><p class="MsoBodyText3" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ligatures:none">In 2005 Bill wrote a letter about his desire to install solar lights in health clinics in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where women give birth at night by flashlight or kerosene lamps.&nbsp; Many responded to that appeal.&nbsp; What a blessing it has been to be used by God in Congo and South Sudan these past 21 years to bring not only physical light but spiritual light to places where God has led.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoBodyText3" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none;text-kashida-space: 50%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ligatures:none">The most profound physical darkness I ever experienced was several years back when Cassie and I were hurrying home at dusk and took a shortcut through a stretch of rainforest in the Congo but had forgotten to bring flashlights. Twilight on the Equator passes quickly, and we soon found ourselves in total darkness.&nbsp;&nbsp; I was overtaken not by the sounds of things slithering across our path, but by a glimpse of the utter, palpable darkness of the spiritually lost. I sensed a deep sorrow for those who live and die without the light of Christ in their lives.&nbsp; I have never forgotten that experience.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoBodyText3" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none;text-kashida-space: 50%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ligatures:none">This brings me to South Sudan, but even before that, to Michigan where I was visiting churches in the fall of 2012 while Bill was in&nbsp; South Sudan.&nbsp;&nbsp; I was on the porch with my hosts, Albert and Nancy Williams, enjoying the crisp morning air, the garden flowers, and a cup of coffee. After commenting on the lights along the edge of the garden path, Albert went and pulled one up for me to see… a solar device, charged by the sun during the day that provides light at night. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoBodyText3" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none;text-kashida-space: 50%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ligatures:none">Marveling at the ingenuity of ‘path lights’, I wondered if they could be of use in South Sudan. “Take it,” he insisted, so I tucked it into my bag.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none;text-kashida-space: 50%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ligatures:none">Back in South Sudan a few weeks later I gave the ‘path light’&nbsp; to one of our health workers, Phillip. The next morning, Phillip excitedly recounted how his family had “light all night” … not from a candle but from the path light I had brought from Michigan.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none;text-kashida-space: 50%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ligatures:none">He was overwhelmed by such a simple gift.&nbsp;&nbsp; Not only would his family save the expense of buying a candle each day, but they would no longer worry about their children being burned. So began our efforts to bring out $5 path lights with each trip from the U.S. Many have been blessed by these simple lights.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoBodyText" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ligatures:none">In this, our 3rd year in South Sudan, we are occasionally overwhelmed by the challenges of opening clinics, hospitals, and even a school.&nbsp; Sometimes it is the simplest things which make the largest impact.&nbsp;&nbsp; What a joy it has been to pass out these lights to families who would otherwise sit in darkness, in a land where electricity is only available to those who can afford generators and the fuel to run them. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p> </p><p class="MsoBodyText" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-ligatures:none">We know what it is like to walk in utter darkness (as Cassie and I did on that path in the Congo) and we all have witnessed the absence of hope for those who live and die without faith.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We have had the privilege in places such as Congo and South Sudan to bring physical light to clinics and to homes, but the greater task is to bring messages of hope and light to those in despair.&nbsp; American Baptists are good at both.&nbsp;&nbsp; To those individuals and churches that see beyond their walls and bring hope and light to a world in need … we love you with all our hearts!&nbsp; Thank you for the privilege of bringing <i>Light </i>to South Sudan.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p><h4><span style="font-size:12.0pt; font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;color:windowtext;mso-ligatures:none">“And there shall be no night there and they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light and they shall reign for ever and ever.” &nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></h4><h4><span style="font-size:12.0pt; font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;color:windowtext;mso-ligatures:none">Revelation 22:5<o:p></o:p></span></h4><p class="MsoBodyText" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none"> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><br></p><p class="MsoBodyText" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none"></p><p class="MsoBodyText" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none">&nbsp;</p><div style="text-align: justify;"><br></div> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/52246-let-there-be-light-a-lamp-to-my-feet-and-light-to-my-path https://internationalministries.org/read/52246-let-there-be-light-a-lamp-to-my-feet-and-light-to-my-path Blessed are the Peacemakers <p class="MsoNormal">Even sitting in the capital city of Juba, I can only imagine what life must be like for those caught in the middle of this month-long war in South Sudan.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; A month ago today, South Sudan was at peace.&nbsp;&nbsp; On Dec 14<sup>th</sup> Ann and I attended an outside dinner party hosted by the Ministry of Health commemorating the accomplishments of 2 ½ years of independence: the opening of hundreds of health facilities, training of young doctors and nurses, and improved health standards for over 10 million persons.&nbsp; &nbsp;Seated at a table by the banks of the tranquil Nile River, we knew that the minor inconveniences we had endured (heat, isolation, disease) were far worth the benefits.&nbsp; A month later….it has all unraveled.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">The majority of the 24 counties we support have been in conflict or overtaken by opposition forces.&nbsp; There are reports of hospitals and health centers pillaged by armed elements on either side, stocks of medicine pilfered, vaccination supplies, hospital equipment, health vehicles, etc….stolen or destroyed.&nbsp;&nbsp; Worse, thousands of civilians caught in the middle have been gunned down or massacred; we have eye witness reports of bodies lining the streets.&nbsp;&nbsp; A barge, carrying 200+ women and children across the Nile River to escape fighting from a town (Malakal, which Ann and I frequented), capsized and all perished.&nbsp;&nbsp; We are hurriedly replenishing medicine and relief supplies in the capital city of Juba to send to the territories; but have no assurance the plane will be allowed to land.&nbsp; We have been told that Juba is also under threat and have been assigned ‘evacuation points’ to go to in the event of a siege. &nbsp;I cannot imagine such an event or retreat from the needs before us. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Pray for the people of South Sudan who endured 30 years of brutal oppression from Sudan (to the north) only to be thrust again in an internal war of their own.&nbsp; “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be called the children of God”.....we seek them amongst the leaders of this nation….and “Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted” ..... we hold them in our hearts and in our prayers today.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> Tue, 14 Jan 2014 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/52214-blessed-are-the-peacemakers https://internationalministries.org/read/52214-blessed-are-the-peacemakers Return to South Sudan We are sending you this update on the morning of Bill’s return to South Sudan. We have received reports of significant numbers of displaced persons (refugees) and unrest in the two States (Jonglei and Upper Nile) where we have been working these past 3 years to establish primary health care services in over 200 rural facilities. We understand that although a number of those facilities have been overrun and pillaged (including our two State offices) our nursing, technical, and medical staff have been able to keep out of harm’s way.<br><br>The fighting in South Sudan is reportedly along ethnic lines, and has put the world’s newest country on the brink of civil war. While the capital city, Juba, is under government control, rumors of rebel infiltration have increased the tension and fear of those living within the city. Our plans are for Bill to arrive in Nairobi on Monday January 6th and fly into Juba on the 7th if commercial flights are open. The Christian school in Juba which Ann helped establish is closed until Feb. 1, therefore Ann will stage out of Nairobi later this month.<br><br>We covet your prayers for wisdom and guidance on how we may best respond, for earnest dialog between warring factions, and for relief for the thousands who have been injured and the tens of thousands displaced and without shelter, food, or water. Sun, 05 Jan 2014 18:44:41 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/52101-return-to-south-sudan https://internationalministries.org/read/52101-return-to-south-sudan South Sudan Update <p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">We wanted to send an update in light of the tragic events unfolding in South Sudan this past week.</span><br style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><br style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">We are safe as are the rest of our international and national staff who returned to their home countries or villages. However our hearts are heavy for the recurring violence in South Sudan.&nbsp;</span><br style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><br style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">We have recently arrived in Maine for the Christmas holidays and plan to return on January 4th at least to a staging point in Nairobi, Kenya, if not Juba. In the wake of the fighting and large numbers of displaced persons there will be much to do in the months ahead.&nbsp;</span><br style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><br style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">In the meantime, we deeply appreciate your prayers for the South Sudanese people and support of our efforts to respond.</span><br style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><br style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'lucida grande', tahoma, verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 17px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">God’s blessings and peace to you and your families.</span><br></p> Sun, 22 Dec 2013 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/51977-south-sudan-update https://internationalministries.org/read/51977-south-sudan-update Young Victims of Landmines in South Sudan <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">Near the marketplace where Bill and I sometimes food shop,&nbsp;four young boys were among those killed by a landmine yesterday.&nbsp; They were hand digging the foundation for a house they were hired to help build.&nbsp;&nbsp; It is not uncommon for children to be involved in construction and other manual labor in this country where more than “1.3 million primary school age children are out of school.” (UNESCO)<o:p></o:p></span></p><p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 13.5pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">All four boys were killed instantly when the hand tool they were digging with struck a metal mine.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It was a horrific and tragic accident and reminds us of the conditions that children and others live under day after day.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The entire country of South Sudan, which received its independence just over two years ago, is littered with unexploded devices such as landmines, grenades, and artillery shells. Pray that our meager efforts will make even a small difference in the lives of those who live in this newest yet poorest of African nations.&nbsp; Please pray for South Sudan and for the families of these four children.</span></p> Thu, 17 Oct 2013 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/52988-young-victims-of-landmines-in-south-sudan https://internationalministries.org/read/52988-young-victims-of-landmines-in-south-sudan A Tale of Two Weddings <p class="MsoNormal">On August 1, 2013 in the United States, a wedding took place. Our son, <i>Eli Dantzler Clemmer</i>, married <i>Amanda Ruth Sautbine</i> at Columbia Street Baptist Church in Bangor, Maine.&nbsp; It was a beautiful but simple ceremony and brought together not only a couple… but two families who had been separated by war and strife in Africa years earlier. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">But let's start at the beginning.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; In the spring of 1995, having departed Haiti a few months earlier, we arrived in the village of Vanga, in the middle of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).&nbsp;&nbsp; Eli was 6 years old. That fall, a new MAF pilot and his family came to Vanga and settled in an adjoining home on the banks of the Kwilu River.&nbsp; Their daughter, Amanda, was 5.&nbsp;&nbsp; Zaire, the remnant of the once powerful Belgian Congo was as peaceful and impassive as the meandering hippo-laden river in plain view of the porches where the two were home-schooled and played.&nbsp;&nbsp; It was a place of unsurpassed memories for 5 and 6 year old children. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Three years later the country imploded as rebel forces from 5 neighboring countries attacked Zaire, pillaging mission stations on their long march to the capital.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; On an early morning in March 1998, as rebel elements infiltrated the area, Amanda’s father piloted one of three Cessna planes sent to urgently evacuate missionaries across the border.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Members of three families squeezed into the single-engine plane including Eli and Amanda on a journey that eventually took them to the neighboring Central African Republic, the Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, and finally South Africa.&nbsp;&nbsp; Somewhere along the way the families parted…and so did Eli and Amanda. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Eli went on to graduate from a university in Maine in English/Creative Writing.&nbsp; Halfway across the United States, Amanda graduated from a college in Minnesota having majored in the same, unbeknownst to each other.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;line-height:113%"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%">They connected by e-mail and started writing regularly a few years ago, exchanging visits over Thanksgiving and Christmas.&nbsp;&nbsp; Eli asked Amanda to marry him on New Year's Eve 2012 ... and thus we were overjoyed to return to the United States last month for a memorable wedding with dear friends and fond memories.&nbsp; Eli and Amanda; childhood friends yet separated by conflict in Africa, re-acquainted by e-mail as young adults, joined in marriage, and starting their life anew with immeasurable dreams. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal">In South Sudan, marriage is less spontaneous (typically pre-arranged), short on romance, long on details, and far more costly for bride and groom than our summer wedding in Maine.&nbsp; A young man in South Sudan would not court his wife-to-be in the way Eli did in America.&nbsp;&nbsp; He would not call on her, fall in her love with her, or propose to her.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal">Families would make all such arrangements between couples-to-be; the young man often older than the girl by as much as a decade (parents preferring to marry their daughters off early when a higher dowry is assured).&nbsp; The bidding negotiations between two families can take days and involve not only an immense dowry (50-100 cows) but intense discussions about character, past history, and future plans.&nbsp;&nbsp; Once arranged, the young man will spend months to years earning the arranged dowry, typically seeing little of his engaged partner-to-be.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">I remember Eli and Amanda walking into the living room on Dec 31st to announce their engagement void of any ‘pre-negotiation’ between the Sautbine and Clemmer families. There would be no ‘cattle exchange’ at our Maine wedding I later mused, as Bill contemplated the cost of renting ‘plastic chairs’ for our outside wedding gathering.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">A traditional South Sudanese wedding can last weeks.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Well ahead of the marriage, the bride arrives at the groom’s village with her friends.&nbsp; She will stay inside a tukul (mud dwelling) receiving gifts and visitors.&nbsp; Her friends can come and go but the bride must remain inside and out of sight.&nbsp;&nbsp; The groom’s family will feed the early guests while nightly dancing and singing goes on within earshot of the bride’s tukul in anticipation of the day to come.</p><p class="MsoNormal">On the days closely preceding the wedding there is unceasing noise and music …as each village brings together their own music makers and unique songs.&nbsp; The day of the wedding, the bride is outfitted from head to toe…even the designs woven into her hair are stunning.&nbsp;&nbsp; The bride and groom walk precisely and slowly past families and guests beneath a cloth covering lifted up by friends.&nbsp;&nbsp; As in our culture, they stand solemnly before religious and local authorities while the marriage is proclaimed…….and then the crowd erupts in song and dance!&nbsp;&nbsp; Men dance with men, women with women, girls with girls, and boys with boys, all in clusters according to age and gender.&nbsp;&nbsp; They jump in unison with deep laughter and blowing of horns.&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">The local ordinance in our home town in New England would probably not have&nbsp; allowed for such festivities ….nor would we have been able to jump, dance, and sing for hours and hours.&nbsp;&nbsp; Our neighbors would have thought it odd if the ‘long-separated doctor and pilot from Africa’ were seen dancing on our lawn on that mid-summer day in Maine!&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal"> </p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;We look back over the years which have been so good to us …and life’s experiences, lenient and harsh, which have enriched our lives and those of our children.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We praise God from whom all blessings come and thank you for your faithful support and love these past 22 years.<o:p></o:p></p> Sat, 21 Sep 2013 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/50428-a-tale-of-two-weddings https://internationalministries.org/read/50428-a-tale-of-two-weddings Back to the Basics <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:110%;mso-ligatures:none">This is like reaching the top of one’s career…..and then having to start all over again!&nbsp;&nbsp; I have been passionate about education all my life.&nbsp; I began student-teaching when I was 19 years old. I taught public school in South Carolina, met Bill while teaching at a French lycée in the desert of Mali, and later taught at a Christian high school in Maryland and directed a church school in Washington D.C. while Bill was in medical school.&nbsp;&nbsp; We moved to Haiti where I was interim principal of a mission school, and then to Zaire where I home schooled our four children at various ages at the same time. We moved to Kinshasa where I took on the roles of teacher, college counselor, department head, and chairman of the board at the American School and even had the privilege of signing some of my own children’s high school diplomas.&nbsp;&nbsp; I was part of an all-Africa accreditation team and traveled to countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, and The Gambia to certify international schools.&nbsp; And then we moved to South Sudan.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none;text-kashida-space: 50%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:110%;mso-ligatures:none">“Where are the schools”? I asked when I traveled with Bill into the rural areas where he is supporting and setting up health clinics.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Children were all around but few were in school.&nbsp;&nbsp; South Sudan has been at war for nearly 30 years and a generation of children missed the opportunity to attend school. &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 113%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%;mso-ligatures:none">There are crumbling buildings but no teachers, a will and a desire to learn, but little in terms of infrastructure, curriculum, or even books.&nbsp;&nbsp; “Where to even start?”, I wondered.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The illiteracy rate amongst women in South Sudan is 93%, and the collective rate of illiteracy is 68%.&nbsp; That is unfathomable!&nbsp;&nbsp; What help are my degrees, my accomplishments, my experience in this setting?&nbsp; Couldn’t God better make use of my training and years of experience? <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify;mso-pagination:none;text-kashida-space: 50%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:110%;mso-ligatures:none">But of course, I realized, God’s purpose in calling me to South Sudan was not for my own gratification, but for the needs of the women and children who come and ask for help.&nbsp; Perhaps this is a time to put aside thoughts about having an office, a classroom, a curriculum, or even a class but instead, to focus on something as simple as a book or helping someone to learn to read, to explain what is the letter A, the letter&nbsp; B, and the letter C… starting from the very beginning</span>.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt; line-height:110%;mso-ligatures:none">So I have gotten involved in small steps such as women’s literacy classes, selecting books for early readers, whatever is needed to meet needs at a basic level.&nbsp; When in Nairobi, I browse for books…not on African history (my passion) or Curriculum Development as I have been attuned to in the past, but rather books with titles such as:&nbsp;“<i>Building Words from Letters</i>”, “<i>Counting and Multiplying by Two</i>”, and “<i>Science for Young Minds and Eager Adventurers”.</i></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 113%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%;mso-ligatures:none">I insert Bible tracts which are in as much demand in this new Christian nation as the colorful reading books I purchase in Kenya and carry to South Sudan. <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 113%;text-kashida-space:50%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%; mso-ligatures:none">God has had enormous patience with me and has walked with me, all the way, all these years.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 113%;text-kashida-space:50%"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:113%; mso-ligatures:none">I can easily put aside my dreams for theirs and take pleasure and joy in the simple things:&nbsp; the small steps, the big smiles, and the unfolding potential of the women and children I encounter each day, to become all that God has prepared them for.&nbsp;&nbsp; It is a blessing to be used by God, even in the simplest of tasks!</span>&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></p><p> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:14.0pt; line-height:110%;font-family:&quot;Comic Sans MS&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Miriam Fixed&quot;; mso-ligatures:none;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;Proverbs 16:9</span><o:p></o:p></p> Wed, 19 Jun 2013 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/49164-back-to-the-basics https://internationalministries.org/read/49164-back-to-the-basics A Lost Boy from Sudan...finds his way home <p><i style="line-height: 115%; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">A run for his life</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Moses was 12-years old when the Mujahidin (Islamic warriors) attacked his village in Sudan. The militia was known for their harsh tactics:&nbsp; forced conversion to Islam, massacre of those sympathetic to the Christian forces, forced conscription of children.&nbsp;During the attack his parents urged him to flee. Along with a group of other children he ran for his life, sadly never again to see his family.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><i><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">An arduous walk to safety<o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">The children eventually crossed the border into Ethiopia, part of an estimated 27,000 young people who fled on foot in the late 1980s to escape Sudan's Muslim government which had “pronounced death to all males in the Christian south.”&nbsp;&nbsp; Their arduous journey across Sudan, Ethiopia, and eventually into Kenya took months during which thousands died from dehydration, starvation, and repeated attacks.&nbsp; A mere 12,000 children made it to Kikumu refugee camp in Northern Kenya where they became known as&nbsp;the “Lost Boys (and Girls) of Sudan”.&nbsp; Years later that very journey was chronicled in a film, “God Grew Tired of Us”.&nbsp; Moses, however, never grew tired of God as he related the rest of the story to Bill &amp; me a few weeks ago.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><i><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Journey to the United States<o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Moses spent five years in the refugee camp and was part of the 8,000 refugees eventually allowed into the United States in the 1990s.&nbsp; The abrupt transition from living in a refugee camp to an apartment complex in Jacksonville, Florida was a culture shock for young Moses.&nbsp;&nbsp; He enrolled in night school, hauled cement for a construction company, and ultimately gained entrance into&nbsp;a community college in upstate New York where he supported himself by working in a yogurt factory.&nbsp;&nbsp;He graduated from college this spring.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">While still in college he saved money and traveled to the now-free South Sudan to find his family;&nbsp;a journey which brought him back to his native village, Jebel Lado.&nbsp; The village chief warmly welcomed him then showed him where his family was buried; all killed during that horrendous attack.&nbsp;&nbsp; Moses could have closed the chapter there and returned to start a new life in the United States which had since granted him citizenship.&nbsp; His village chief appealed to him to help, “We have no school, no clinic”, he told young Moses, “you escaped but those who are here have no future”. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><i><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">A global servant<o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">We met Moses during his 3<sup>rd</sup> trip back to South Sudan.&nbsp;&nbsp; He has his Associate’s degree and still supports himself at the yogurt factory.&nbsp; He lives in a one-room apartment in the Syracuse area and saves everything for these trips.&nbsp; His sole possession is a car he bought for $300.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">In his hometown in the U.S. he volunteers at a community service center visiting the elderly and shut-ins bringing them meals.&nbsp; He jokes that people used to be afraid when he visited their home (at 6’ 7” inches he has to lean down when he enters) but then learned he was the perfect height to change light bulbs on the ceiling. His smile and laugh are infectious. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">For his community in South Sudan, he is a hero; one who has not forgotten them.&nbsp; He is building a 4-room school. During his last trip he laid the foundation and today he is raising walls.&nbsp;&nbsp;While in the US he speaks at churches, schools, and civic clubs. For this trip, he raised over $5,000, towards construction of the school.&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">We joined Moses on a trip to <i>Jebel Lado</i>; this tall, gentle, and soft spoken giant. The children run to his side, the elders clap his back with pride (though the village chief wonders how one who lives in America can be so skinny), and Bill and I have a new friend. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:10.0pt;text-align:justify;line-height: 115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Moses is one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” who has come home.&nbsp; Moses talks openly of his faith and conviction that God was with him on those long marches through Sudan and Ethiopia when he was a boy and of God’s daily provision of food and water.&nbsp; He praises God for his good fortune, to have had the chance to come to America, to enter school, to find a job, and to be granted citizenship.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; “God has been good to me", he remarks, "I want to do the same for others”. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;This former 'lost boy' of South Sudan is today a man, who has truly found his way home!<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> Sun, 24 Mar 2013 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/47491-a-lost-boy-from-sudan-finds-his-way-home https://internationalministries.org/read/47491-a-lost-boy-from-sudan-finds-his-way-home It Took Nine Months <p></p><p><span style="text-align: justify;">We are told that “on earth we will have many trials and sorrows”. Indeed during 20 years of service in places such as Haiti, Congo, and now South Sudan, Ann and I have seen our share of sorrows, sadly more often visited on the innocent:</span><span style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp; </span><span style="text-align: justify;">the children in Haiti orphaned from AIDS, the babies who succumb to malaria in the Congo, and in South Sudan the hundreds of women who die during childbirth, pregnancy being the number one cause of death for a woman between the ages of 13 and 40. </span><span style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</span><span style="text-align: justify;">Why does God allow the innocent to be afflicted?</span><br></p><div class="WordSection1"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">We have heard the reasons: “<i>God does not create evil but allows it</i>”, that “<i>we live in an imperfect world”. </i>&nbsp;Such reasoning may explain the injustice but does not diminish the responsibility to act.&nbsp; In fact to be aware yet indifferent makes us equally accountable. &nbsp;While God may allow for injustice in the world, He enables and equips His people to address the inequities and respond to the needs. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">We look at our situation in South Sudan, a nation which was born just over a year ago. We were not invited by a particular church nor came to take the place of one retiring.&nbsp; We came because there was a need, because we had skills to offer, because we were available…. but principally, because we were called. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">A short while after arriving, our ABC partner, Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA), was approached by authorities in Upper Nile, one of the ten states in this new country.&nbsp; Women were dying during childbirth at unacceptable rates because of lack of skilled care.&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">We were asked to build and equip five maternities and birthing centers in isolated areas of the state where maternal mortality was staggering.&nbsp; In addition to building the facilities, there were no doctors so we would have to train nurses to do deliveries, no roads so we would have to fly everything in including cement, no electricity so we would have to supply power.&nbsp;&nbsp; In short, a near impossible task, but not for God, as “<i>His are the cattle on a thousand hills</i>”! &nbsp;We found the funding and built five centers, we recruited 13 young nurses from the villages and sent them to Kenya for advanced training, we imported containers, flew in equipment, established a supply chain of medicine, and provided solar lighting and electricity.&nbsp; Nine months to the day the nurses are back, the buildings erected, the facilities equipped……and pregnant women come for help, over a hundred in the first month of operation, to each of the five facilities. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align:justify">God is aware of the suffering in places such as Congo, Haiti, and South Sudan. &nbsp;&nbsp;He allows the anguish for a time but compels and enables ordinary people like you and me to respond. The difference in these five birthing centers may not be measurable on a global scale but is manifest on an individual one.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;As we celebrate the joy of the newborn Christ this Christmas season we remember as well the lives of these women and their babies in South Sudan who are loved and cherished by God.&nbsp; Pain and suffering exist wherever we serve, but He has overcome such sorrow… and more!</p></div> <div class="WordSection3"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><i><span style="font-size:10.0pt; font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">“It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy.” (John 16:21)<o:p></o:p></span></i></p> </div> <i><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language: AR-SA"><br style="page-break-before:auto;mso-break-type:section-break" clear="all"> </span></i> <div class="WordSection4"></div> <span style="font-size:11.0pt;font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language: EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA"><br style="page-break-before:always; mso-break-type:section-break" clear="all"></span><p>&nbsp;</p><div><br></div><p></p> Thu, 06 Dec 2012 23:16:26 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/45800-it-took-nine-months https://internationalministries.org/read/45800-it-took-nine-months Words of Thanks and Encouragement from Upper Nile State, South Sudan <p><br></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">Dear Friends,<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">I appreciate you for the great work you have done and are doing for us in particular and for South Sudan in general. It is a charity work, you and the people of America provide to us in South Sudan. Dr. Clemmer, I am in happiness for your great plan that you took us to Kisumu (Kenya) for advanced training. That knowledge we acquired we are applying now in the field. &nbsp;As well as there is improvement in the health services in our community, especially pregnant women through pre-natal care. &nbsp;The advice, counseling, and education they get are useful. Also with obstetrical cases we are managing and monitoring the minor complications and sending them to hospital for further treatment.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">Dear Bill, I received many thanks from the community, especially from Malakal about the good service that we provide to the women and girls in EmOC in the PHCC (Primary Health Care Center).&nbsp; Therefore I want to assure you that thanks are not to me but to God and you, doctor, and to the people in America. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">Doctor, we are working with our hearts, with effort and faithfulness.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">I am not forgetting my greeting to my mum (Ann), she made uncountable visits to us in Kisumu and she is the one who supported us to succeed in this program. Thank my mum also, doctor and pass my greeting to her.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">Thank you, doctor, for your humanity and concern for the viability of the people of South Sudan.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">God Bless.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN">James Tipo<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p>emoc panyikangontent</p> Sun, 18 Nov 2012 03:19:18 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/45543-words-of-thanks-and-encouragement-from-upper-nile-state-south-sudan https://internationalministries.org/read/45543-words-of-thanks-and-encouragement-from-upper-nile-state-south-sudan Endangered Goats and Hazardous Mines <p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Driving a vehicle in South Sudan, even in the capital city of Juba, can be quite a challenge. It takes more than a driver’s license to be a safe driver.&nbsp; &nbsp;There are road hazards beyond those commonly found in the United States (texting, road rage, and toll booths).&nbsp; Driving in South Sudan requires diligence and preparedness where car-jacking and even roadside incendiary devices are not uncommon.&nbsp; One has to be careful to not only stay on marked ‘safe’ areas of the road when driving; but also carefully pick your spot when parking (i.e. backing into parking places for a prompt departure if necessary). <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Of course, there are humorous road hazards as well.&nbsp;&nbsp; When herds of cattle head out to graze in the early morning they travel the same roads…even in the city, and hardly stop to look both ways before crossing.&nbsp; &nbsp;Just last week there was an incident between a goat and a vehicle… the goat was found to be at fault, though the driver was encouraged to pay the owner the value of the goat nonetheless.<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">We have several drivers who take care of the daily movement of people and material. &nbsp;One of those is a man named <i>Philip Nyeko Darious</i>. &nbsp;Philip began his driving career when Bill and I first arrived over a year ago. &nbsp;Initially quiet and a bit timid, he has become increasingly confident and adept as he takes on his daily tasks.&nbsp; He also has a keen sense of humor.&nbsp; The other day he narrowly missed a cat which came darting across the road and then scampered back.&nbsp;&nbsp; Pulling back into our lane, Phillip remarked, “That cat has a good brake!”&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;We recently sent Philip to a training program on driving safety and security protocols. &nbsp;Philip returned to work the next day with copies of his training materials, anxious to share with others what he had learned. &nbsp;&nbsp;He told us with pride how he had been selected to lead a session for some of the ‘lesser experienced’ drivers.&nbsp; &nbsp;He showed off his certificate with a beaming smile and said, “thank you for making me even better to serve you”.&nbsp;&nbsp; We thank staff members such as Phillip for not only the contribution he makes to our work &nbsp;in South Sudan,&nbsp; but for the contribution he makes to the country itself as South Sudan transitions from a post-conflict status to a leader amongst nations…….. just as Phillip has become a leader amongst his peers.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p><p></p> Mon, 12 Nov 2012 05:56:13 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/45465-endangered-goats-and-hazardous-mines https://internationalministries.org/read/45465-endangered-goats-and-hazardous-mines Sent into the world…….without our Run Bags! <p></p><p class="MsoNormal"></p><p class="MsoNormal">Like many foreigners living in South Sudan we are blitzed with security briefs and travelers’ warnings each and every day.&nbsp; The State Department warns US citizens to not visit South Sudan and has even recommended that non-essential personnel leave the country.&nbsp; The United Nations operation center sends out a daily ‘sitrep’ detailing violent or security related acts that occurred the day earlier (personal theft, car-jacking, detainment, road blocks, shootings, and police and military harassment).&nbsp;&nbsp; They also recommend that foreigners have a 15-pound ‘run bag’ on hand at all times with essential items such as passport, cash, medication, single change of clothes, phone, etc.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Today we even received a reminder of ‘do’s and do not’s’ while in country.&nbsp; Some of the suggestions are practical…others seem a bit out of the ordinary. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">While Walking<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; As you prepare to go out, check that all closures on your bags are shut. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Keep to the main roads and avoid short cuts.<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Be wary of people hanging around or outside hotels as they may be criminals. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Ignore beggars, street children and people approaching you on the street with stories. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">While Driving<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Keep your doors locked and valuables out of sight all of the time.<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Only open the car windows 2 to 3 inches to prevent snatches.<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Tell someone where you are going and when you are expected to be back. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">•&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Do not stop to give people help on the roadside, they may end up robbing you. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">I hesitate to admit that Ann and I break some of these rules on a daily basis.&nbsp; Take our afternoon walks for instance.&nbsp; Our days are long and arduous and the climate is anything but hospitable.&nbsp;&nbsp; We do not venture out much during the heat of the day (we typically work from 7am -7pm in shaded or cooled areas).&nbsp; We know we can’t venture out at night (aside from in a locked vehicle).&nbsp; There is no electricity in town except for personal generators and crime on the street is as bad as they say.&nbsp;&nbsp; Still...we need to take time off, if nothing else to exercise our legs and meet people in the community.&nbsp; We have been taking long walks at the end of day in that twilight period when the sun is fading, the heat dissipating, and there is still time to mingle about in the cool of the early evening.&nbsp;&nbsp; <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">So we venture out in our neighborhood and adjoining areas.&nbsp;&nbsp; Admittedly we ‘stand out’ a bit, and the neighborhoods we walk through are not something one would see on a postcard, but people have gotten to know us.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We say hello to people sitting outside their homes, hand out small items to children, have purchased balls for the older kids playing soccer, and even have a pocket of dog treats.&nbsp; We wave, smile, chat to those who acknowledge us, and generally make ourselves known.&nbsp; After the first month, people no longer stare, but wave;&nbsp; children call after us, the teenagers ask if we have&nbsp; shirts to go with the soccer balls,&nbsp; and the dogs….well believe it or not ….turn their noses up at our U.S.-purchased&nbsp; doggie treats!<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">The biggest plus is that we are integrating and adapting in our new culture. People are starting to see us not as strangers but neighbors, and we are making the small steps towards familiarity, trust, and perhaps friendship.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Though we don’t follow all the UN security rules (we don’t have a “run bag” by our bed and we do stop to talk to people along the roadside who don’t seem to have any intention of robbing us), we are prevailing.&nbsp; As in Congo, our greatest allies will be people we work with and the communities who know us.&nbsp; Our security ultimately comes not from following State Department or UN protocols but by the beckoning of the Holy Spirit and the promise that we are never alone in our daily walks through the valleys and hills of South Sudan’s neighborhoods.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<o:p></o:p></p><p></p><p></p> Tue, 28 Aug 2012 13:44:09 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/44389-sent-into-the-world-without-our-run-bags- 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mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} </style> <![endif]--> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">The people of South Sudan have endured more hardship than most people in modern history. They endured 50 years of civil war in which a generation of children (lost boys and girls) fled across the border where they settled in refugee camps to be later taken up by other nations and scattered across the globe.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Those who remained saw their families and villages torn apart…. and endured hunger, thirst, a bitter war for freedom, and for those who survived; independence. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">The people of South Sudan are free but are they at peace?<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">I had the occasion to travel to a part of South Sudan infrequently visited by outsiders where I met a Catholic priest (Bishop Taban) who in his mid-seventies is shepherding a population of people in the mountainous region of Kapoeta.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>He started a school, agricultural center, health clinic, and church and has authored several books on his country’s long struggle for independence in which he speaks of his own incarceration and suffering.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>He noted that ‘real peace comes not from surrendering our arms or weapons but by surrendering our hatred, our jealously and our quest for revenge and retribution”.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>“Take cows for instance”.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>Cows?</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">South Sudan is a country where cows are highly valued. In many rural areas the only tangible sign of wealth are cows.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Men must have them to marry (20-30 cows is a common dowry) and one’s social status is measured by the number of cows owned.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Cows are frequently stolen in cattle raids and much of the violence and killing in post-independence South Sudan today is not by the liberation fighters of the South rising up against an oppressive regime in the North (Khartoum) but by ethnic wars often triggered by cattle raids and then reprisal against cattle raids: tribe against tribe, people against people; the Nuer against the Murle, the Murle against the Dinka.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>In the three months since Christmas the UN estimates that over four thousand men, women, and children were killed in tribal violence and tens of thousands fled their homes and lost everything they owned. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">The killing is done with guns.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Guns are used to protect cattle and are found everywhere and in the hands of everyone, even little boys.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>Guns are more prevalent than money (currency) in some parts of the county.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Father Taban told me during my visit, “They use bullets in my parish for currency instead of coins.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>A visit to a health center costs one bullet, exchanges for food are done with bullets.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>I said a thanksgiving mass (Matondo) last week and at the end of the service the ushers came forward with baskets overflowing with bullets. I destroy them”, he said. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">It would be easy for many to say, “oh this is a problem unique to Africa”. ..but how many in our own country still search for peace? What things do we covet or treasure in our lives?<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>The South Sudanese people treasure freedom which they fought to attain….. and now seemingly cows, which they fight to retain. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Jesus said, wherever your treasure is….there your heart and thoughts will be (Luke 12:34).<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>Or in other words, that which we treasure in life is where we focus our thoughts, our hearts, and our time.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">What do we treasure in life: our family, our job, our investments, our possessions?<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"><span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>Where we spend our time reflects in large part that which we treasure.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>Peace in our hearts and peace in our world will come when we treasure not the things of this world but the things of God.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">In an interview with a Kenyan paper last week, this humble Catholic priest was quoted as saying, “Peace doesn't mean you live in a place where there is no quarrel, no fight, no hard work and no noise,<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>but rather to be in the middle of such a place with calm hearts.”<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>This is as applicable to South Sudan as it is to America today. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Where does your treasure lie?</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height: normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Bill &amp; Ann Clemmer&nbsp; (Juba, South Sudan)<br></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height: normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"><br></span></p> Sun, 15 Apr 2012 10:01:03 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/42452-where-people-are-killed-cows-are-revered-and-bullets-are-placed-in-the-offering-plate- https://internationalministries.org/read/42452-where-people-are-killed-cows-are-revered-and-bullets-are-placed-in-the-offering-plate- Training for tomorrow...Zoal and his colleagues Many have written and have prayed for Zoal, one of the South Sudanese nurses we sent to Kenya to learn how to manage obstetrical emergencies who then tragically lost his wife and child when she went into early labor back in their village. Nurses like Zoal may be the only health care providers for pregnant women for hundreds of miles and are learning how to manage common complications of labor and eventually surgical procedures, including C-sections. Your concern for Zoal and willingness to partner in this challenging environment of South Sudan is an encouragement for all of us. <br><br>Bill and I took a rare weekend off from South Sudan last week and flew to Kenya on a Friday night to check in on the students. Bill called the trip a ‘vacation’ as we loaded down a borrowed car with books, supplies, and uniforms and headed out at six o’clock on Saturday morning for a 6-hour trip across the Rift Valley to the shores of Lake Victoria where Zoal and twelve other students from Sudan are in training at a medical training school. It may not have been my definition of ‘vacation’, but it was still a fun trip and a joyful occasion for the students! <br><br>They were overwhelmed by the gifts we brought: simple items like white lab coats and dried, pounded okra from their home. They spent the day talking about their new experiences on the hospital ward as all 13 have passed from the classroom to clinical phase of their one-year program. Those on duty the night before were animated. They talked about how this training would make a huge difference in the lives of those back in their villages; even Zoal, who had lost his wife and child, spoke of having something to offer his people. <br><br>This has proven to be an amazing program which will continue with a new group from another state once these thirteen return to Upper Nile state. Such a simple concept, training South Sudanese nurses and midwives to give quality care to pregnant women and to spread that training among their colleagues upon their return. We are so thankful for the many parties that have made this possible ….and the occasion to share in the joy and hope of young persons like Zoal who acknowledges God’s presence and plan in his life, even in the midst of tragedy. <br><br><div>Those who sow in tears will reap a harvest of joy; for though they may weep while going forth to plant their seed, if they persevere, they will undoubtedly return rejoicing—bringing their sheaves with them. (Psalms 126:5-6) </div> Mon, 20 Feb 2012 08:06:38 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/41768-training-for-tomorrow-zoal-and-his-colleagues https://internationalministries.org/read/41768-training-for-tomorrow-zoal-and-his-colleagues Before We Even Asked! <p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Many of you know that Bill and I are serving in South Sudan, and have recently moved into a room of our own after living in a tent, refurbished container, etc. It is not fancy, not big, but provides most of what we need as we live and work in this new country. Even in such surroundings, we are conscious that we have so much more than others in this place. &nbsp;<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">One amenity lacking in this hot and austere climate was a means to exercise and stay healthy. Not that either of us are into any heavy routine, but we used to love to ride bikes, or even walk on a daily basis when in the Congo.&nbsp;Due to security issues in Juba where we live, as well as the 102 degree plus temperatures and blowing dust and sand, we just couldn’t come up with a way to get out and exercise. It is a common issue for those who come here from other countries.&nbsp; When talking with a younger colleague, he told us that his solution was that he was going to buy a jump rope and use it in his room. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Well, I doubt anyone reading this can picture Bill and me jumping rope in our 12 x 14ft. room (we can’t either) so we simply were at a loss for what to do.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">But…wait……a simple human need (not just a want)…..and we had completely left God out of it. What were we thinking? Doesn’t the Bible say in James 5:11 that “God cares down to the last detail”?<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">The following week, our staff was clearing out a warehouse that had been rented in Juba to store medicines and supplies. There…in the very back…. in a damaged and bent box….was……an exercise bicycle! In South Sudan!! Why should I be surprised? <a name="OLE_LINK2"></a><a name="OLE_LINK1">The Bible says in Matthew 6:8 </a></span><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin">“For y</span><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin">our Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” How many times in our lives do we leave God out of the picture? Let us always remember the words in James 5:11, “God cares down to the last detail.” <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Psalm 139:4 NIV</span><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial"> "<span style="background:#F9FDFF">Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.”</span></span><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial Rounded MT Bold&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p></p> Sat, 18 Feb 2012 13:39:25 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/41755-before-we-even-asked- https://internationalministries.org/read/41755-before-we-even-asked-