Standing in fellowship for new Coptic year
"As we come together freely tonight in this church to raise our hearts in prayer, accompanied by friends from various faiths, and none, we also remember all those who are not able to do the same across the Middle East." That was the message from Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. He was leading a service on Tuesday evening this week at St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey, London to commemorate the Coptic Feast of Nayrouz, marking the new Coptic Year. Coptic Orthodox Christians joined other Christians, people of other religions and public figures for the event. Bishop Angaelos said standing in fellowship "marks a significant contribution at a time when unity and collaborative effort are increasingly needed, and so we pray particularly for the people of Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and other places overcome by conflict." Faith2Share's Mark Oxbrow and Anton Ponomarev attended.
Mission among 'forgotten' people in DR Congo
We were delighted to welcome Rev Bisoke Balikenga (pictured left with Faith2Share's Mark Oxbrow) to our offices at Faith2Share this morning. Bisoke is a long-time friend and colleague of Faith2Share and he shared with us some of the work he is doing as youthwork coordinator for the Anglican Church of DR Congo. This includes reaching out to disadvantaged groups - including pygmy tribes in north east Congo and working with drug addicts in Bunia, some who previously feared church and church leaders. Bisoke told us that these initiatives came about as a result of attending a Faith2Share Depth Discipleship consultation in Nairobi in 2013, and a CMS Africa Vision conference. The learnings, Bisoke told us, made him determined to show God's love to vulnerable groups, who are often overlooked by society. Bisoke's thinking has opened the way for a literacy programme among the pygmy tribes which will be run by one of his youth leaders, who trained in Mahagi, and speaks the same mother tongue as them. And from the work with the drug addicts in Bunia, there is now interdenominational cooperation between Anglicans, Catholics and Evangelicals locally - who now take it in turns to meet at each other's churches, on a weekly basis.
200 years of the gospel in New Zealand
Celebrations are under way this week at NZCMS to mark the 200th anniversary of the first preaching of the gospel in New Zealand. Please pray that the whole event will equip and envision the church in New Zealand and beyond in a renewed commitment to mission. The year 2014 is a celebration of 25 December 1814 - when missionary Samuel Marsden preached arguably the first ever gospel message in Oihi Bay. Throughout 2014 Christians across New Zealand have been celebrating in many different ways. During this week's celebrations there will also be a meeting of the Church Mission Society global interchange partnership - comprising AsiaCMS, CMS, NZCMS, CMS Africa and CMS Australia. Pray for productive creative meetings with each partner bringing fresh gifts to the grouping as it works together across the world so the work of God's kingdom may grow.
Growing in our walk with God - in Ethiopia
We have received some great feedback and coverage on several of our members' websites about Faith2Share's Leadership Consultation in Addis Ababa last week. CMS Africa's Serah Wambua said: “It has been a great listening to what God is doing across the world. In particular, it has been a blessing to share mission in an Ethiopian context where mission is taken with the seriousness it deserves!” Writing on the CMS Africa (a Faith2Share member) website, Serah (pictured left) asks that we pray the lessons learnt and the connections made will help extending the kingdom, bear fruit and give glory to God. She also asks that we pray for the church in Gambella where CMS (also a Faith2Share member) Africa region manager Steve Burgess and Serah visited and experienced God in the context of displacement and marginalisation. NZCMS (a F2S member) also reported on its website about mission partner Iri Mato’s time at the consultation – describing it as a “blessing in many ways.” Read more of the news report, here.
Kimbilio opens centre for girls in DRC
Girls living on the streets of Lubumbash in DR Congo, have a new place where they can go for safety, education and a chance to be reunited with their families. This is thanks to Project Kimbilio, which opened a transit house this summer for vulnerable girls. Kimbilio director Jean Bosco Tshiswaka, a CMS Timothy mission partner, said: "The house can accommodate 10 girls who live there for up to five months while we help them to reconnect with their families where this is appropriate.” Kimbilio was originally set up by a former mission worker, Ian Harvey, with the diocese of Katanga as a refuge for street boys in 2009. It grew to include a day centre, a boys’ transit house and another house for boys who cannot return to their families.In the past year, girls have been turning up at the day centre to have breakfast, wash their clothes and hear a message about Jesus. So a plot of land was purchased to build them a transit house, too.While at the transit house, girls have the opportunity to improve their literacy and take sewing classes.
Plans for a 2015 consultation on evangelism
Evangelism in new contexts was the focus of a recent meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, United States - led by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the North American councils of churches. The meeting’s primary objective was to set the agenda for a larger consultation on evangelism in North America, timetabled before the end of 2015.The meeting was held from 28 September to 1 October and was organised by the evangelism programme of the WCC in cooperation with the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCUSA) and in consultation with the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC). The question of understanding evangelism anew - in light of rapidly changing cultural contexts is keenly felt by the churches in North America, according to WCC. Delegates at the meeting are pictured left.
Back to the field after Addis
The last full day of the Faith2Share Leadership Consultation in Ethiopia was a packed one - with training modules and an evening sharing stories in mission. Topics focused on children - both how we care for vulnerable children and then how children are engaged in mission within the church. Another track worked on church planting issues internationally whilst others focused on emerging mission movements, security issues and transformative discipleship. Most participants are leaving this evening (Friday) or tomorrow (Saturday). Please pray for safe travels and a positive outworking of all that everyone has learnt together. We give thanks for the event and for the time delegates have spent in worship, fellowship and learning. We trust that people will feel enriched and reenergised to go back to the mission field and continue their amazing work.
"The world must act to stop Ebola"
As the Ebola crisis in West Africa deepens, Dr Daniel Sarfo, the Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, has issued a statement welcoming the UN Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) to Ghana. He expressed his gratitude to its staff and also other agencies, including the Anglican agency Us, for their contribution to tackling the crisis in the region. He said: "Now Ebola is at war against humanity, the world must act now to stop Ebola." He said he was grateful that the UN mission, led by Anthony Banbury, was going to Accra, Ghana to start a mission to contain the virus. The advanced party has now arrived in Accra, which will be used as a base for the mission - comprising 250 people: 100 based in Accra and 150 for affected countries. The archbishop said the UN mandate is five-fold – “stopping the outbreak; treating the infected; ensuring essential services; preserving stability; and preventing further outbreak." It is our prayers that we all support them to make the mission a great success, he added.
Photo credit:The Church of the Province of West Africa, courtesy ACNS website
A full day of meaty discussions in Addis
Faith2Share's leadership consultation is in full swing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and we continue to pray for all those participating in the event. Faith2Share director Mark Oxbrow, who is there with the Faith2Share team, reports that a full day of discussion was rounded off later with a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony and a key note address by Dr Peter Okaalet (pictured left), who talked about the need for holistic mission. Topics at the consultation on Tuesday included dealing with mission in hostile environments, the problems of dependency and the challenges of sustainability on mission and much more besides. Local church and mission leaders joined the gathering in the evening. We give thanks for the growing church in the Gambella region of Ethiopia, which has seen amazing growth, as another speaker, Bishop Grant LeMarquand, earlier in the week underlined.You can download Faith2Share's 12 Day Prayer Diary for the conference and other matters here.
Ethiopia is strategic for Christian mission
The Faith2Share Leadership Consultation continued in Addis Ababa today with presentations on the mission significance of the 'Horn of Africa'. Participants were reminded that Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa with a Christian heritage which stretches back almost two millennia. With a history of witness through suffering Christians in Ethiopia, Somalia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan have a maturity of faith which needs to be offered to the world. The task now, local leaders told us, is to inspire Christians for mission, to build missional churches and to mobilise missionaries. Bishop Grant LeMarquand, one of four bishops present, spoke of the pressing need to train leaders in rapidly growing churches. Later in the day participants visited local mission projects in Addis Ababa. In the picture Paul Rhadha Krishnan, Chair of the Indian Missions Association, takes on street boys at Retrak, a rehabilitation centre in the city.
Young leaders need mentors
At the final session of the Faith2Share Leaders' Retreat in Addis Ababa today John Amalraj, Director of Interserve India, challenged mission leaders gathered from twenty countries to consider how effectively they are mentoring younger leaders within their ministries and in the church. Each leader was encouraged to list ten young people in whose lives they can invest. With the arrival of more mission leaders today the full Leadership Consultation is now underway with a vibrant worship service this evening led by the choir of a local Ethiopian church. The preacher at the service was Wondimu Methewos the Director of the International Mission of the Mekane Yesus Church (Ethiopia). In an earlier session leaders shared personal stories of mission and identified key themes within their mission pilgrimage. A common theme was the need to network and support each other. The consulation continues in Addis Ababa until Friday.