Monday, July 18, 2016

Praying for South Sudan

Hundreds of people have been killed over the past few days in South Sudan. The short-lived peace deal based on a power sharing arrangement between the forces of President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar broke down just as the world’s newest nation entered its fifth year of independence. Many people fear that this violence will trigger a return to all-out war.

As Canadian Baptists, we have been walking through these uncertain times with our brothers and sisters in Christ within the Faith Evangelical Baptist Churches (FEBAC). 

Through the generous help of Canadian churches, friends and partners, CBM has been able to assist FEBAC in vital relief efforts in the areas of Malakal, Narus and Yaal. Together we have also been assisting in ministries among South Sudanese refugees who have fled to Kenya and are living in refugee camps. 

FEBAC Relief distribution in South Sudan

In addition to providing emergency supplies and supplementary rations, CBM and FEBAC are providing peace building training that is bringing together members of the Dinka and Nuer communities. These are important steps in fostering peace and reconciliation. 

Please join us in praying for and supporting the emergencey response of CBM and FEBAC. Currently one their churches in the village of Sherkat has received and is sheltering 1500 internally displaced people who have lost homes and loved ones from the July 7th fighting in Juba.
"The displaced persons had their homes ransacked, looted, destroyed, and burnt down during and after the fighting," shared Rev. Saphano. "The clashes involved tanks, helicopter gunships and heavy weapons... the people fear going back."
We pray that the FEBAC churches will continue to be places of refuge, healing and hope to their neighbours. You can learn more about Canadian Baptist Ministries work in South Sudan click here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Roman Holiday

Since the end of June, our family has enjoyed a wonderful getaway to Italy. We have appreciate the people, the beauty, the food, and the innumerable gelato stops. Each of our hosts have been gracious and helpful. Everything has been amazing!

We also had a wonderful time in Florence with our friends the Slaughter family and Abby Kroening. Tristan is remaining in Italy for the rest of his summer vacation as he works on a farm in Tuscany with his friends. Already they have been building fences, constructing chicken coops, helping in the kitchen and selling at the local farmer's market. 

Ava saying a prayer at the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore, a breath taking gothic church whose magnificent dome shapes the skyline of Florence. We appreciated the many churches and museums that we were able to visit in Rome, Venice, Florence and Verona.

Peaceful evenings in front of your apartment in Venice.

Shopping for bargains in the street markets in Florence 

It was a bucket list dream to backpack in Europe with our kids. Everyone was a trooper lugging bags and gear onto trains, buses, and subways.

As we head home, we are deeply grateful for the experiences we are sharing together with our kids.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Love Mercy: Summer 2016 Update Letter

Children resuming classes in the new Bula Pamoja Village School

We want to thank you for partnering with our family and the work of Canadian Baptist Ministries through prayer and your generous support. The link below is for our summer 2016 update letter. 

Click Here

Monday, June 13, 2016

Guardians of Hope Mivumoni, Kenya

The Mivumoni Guardians of Hope
Kwale (Kwa-Lay) County, Kenya

Ten years ago, in the forests of the Shimba Hills in Kenya's Kwale County the Africa Brotherhood Church began mobilizing its community to deal with the impact of HIV and AIDS. Today, thirty men and women of the village of Mivumoni continue to meet each month to pray for and support families that have suffered loss and struggle to live positively with HIV. 

"Stigma continues to be a great obstacle," shared Pastor Daniel Muli. "But through the work of this group more people are being tested, and more people are talking openly about HIV and AIDS." Through discussing HIV from the pulpit, in funerals and at the local schools pastor Muli and the Guardians are helping their neighbours understand the importance of demonstrating love and acceptance for people living with HIV and for those who have lost parents and family members.

"Our community knows of our group. From 2006 to today there has been a great change thanks to the support of CBM and the ABC Church. Many people in our community want to join and help us in supporting the orphans and vulnerable children," Shared the chairman.

Guardian of Hope Daniel Nzioka

Retired minister pastor Daniel Nzioka, was one such person. When he first joined the group, he had  no direct interest, or connection, with HIV or AIDS. He just believed that it was important to be available to help others in need.
"I was retired, but I still wanted to be of help to someone, so I joined the GOH. At first, I had heard that orphan children were being assembled for feeding and assistance. I wanted to be a volunteer too. After my years of serving others as a pastor, I was pleased to find a group who shared mercy for the needy. That is why I joined, but I did not know then that AIDS would also affect my family.

"Years after I joined the group, I had a daughter who died and left two orphans behind. She had never married and I was left to help them. I can only say that through this time God demonstrated to me the power of prayer... Today the eldest is in secondary school. I could not have provided for them on my own. It has taken the help of many."

Over the past ten years, the Mivumoni Guardians of Hope has brought in many members and beneficiaries from outside of the Africa Brotherhood Church. People from other Christian denominations and even the Muslim faith have become a part of this movement.
"We show no partiality in our group," shared GOH member Andrew Ankoli. "Everyone is welcome. Help is based on need, not on where you worship. In fact, we believe that it important that we mix -- especially for Muslims and Christians. Kwale is a peaceful area because we realize that Christians and Muslims must work together to better each other's lives. We do not want division. We do not want to see conflict."

 Guardian of Hope Nussura Mattussy

Nussura is a retired school teacher serving as a Guardian of Hope in Mivamoni. As a Muslim woman, she did not join the GOH through the Africa Brotherhood Church, but through her contact with AIDS orphans in the local primary school.

"I had been a teacher here at Mivumoni Primary, when one of the girls in my class lost her mother to HIV/AIDS. I had great pity for her and wanted to help. I took her on as her guardian and I joined the GOH group. As a teacher, I could see the need of many children who had lost a parent or both parents. I contributed school uniforms and shoes that we distributed to widows and widowers as we encouraged them to keep their children in school. Now I'm a grandmother and I no longer teach at the primary school, but I am thankful to CBM and the ABC church for the seminars and the support you have given our group as we continue to help children and those caregivers." 
 Nussura and her friend Gracie

Over the years, Nussura has seen the Guardians of Hope program bring great help to other families. During our time together, we met her friend Gracie Barissa, who had come to Mivamoni during a desperate time in her life.

Gracie Barissa

"I came to Mivumoni because my eldest daughter was a nursery school teacher here and she knew I needed a place to live...

My husband Barissa and I were blessed by God with eight children. Before he died, in 2004, we had only educated two of them. I was left with our last six children, but my late husband's brothers chased us from the land. They refused to help us! That is why my daughter brought me and the six younger children here.

In Mivumoni we had a place to live. I could not have cared for my children on my own. God used these people and their kindness. My third eldest child has reached standard eight at Mivamoni primary this year thanks to their help."
The Guardians of Hope continues to assist families like Gracie. In the words of Pastor Daniel Muli, "Guardians of Hope is about us all joining hands, so that no one loses hope." In small but significant ways, the Guardians of Hope program is coming along side of groups like these that stand in solidarity with their neighbours through times of hardship. HIV and AIDS will not have the last word in Mivumoni!

Erica and our friend Jeanie Enns 
with members of the Mivamoni Guardians of Hope

In Prayer

Please continue to join us in uplifting the ministry of Canadian Baptist Ministries' Guardians of Hope program.

We pray for leaders like Caroline Stevens, Geraldine Nduku, Phyllis Wambui, Henry Mwangi, Ernestine Kamarora and Andre Sibomana who are managing the African Guardians of Hope projects.

Please remember the people of the Mivumoni Guardians of Hope as they work with local stakeholders and the county of Kwale to raise funds and support for the orphans in their community. The big needs are support for secondary and polytechnic training to help these young people to find a livelihood.

We pray for people living with HIV in this community and throughout Kenya. We pray for acceptance and for continued health as they receive ARV treatment and work to provide for their families. We pray for their Spiritual, emotional and physical well being.

We pray for local churches, like ABC Mivumoni, as they seek to bear witness to the love and power of Christ.