Monday, November 28, 2016

This Week's Matching Gift: Help a Refugee Child Return to School

CBM Matching Gift of the Week: Help a Refugee Child Return to School 
Your gift will make a difference in a child's life, like Fatma's! 
Her family used to live in Somalia, but because of civil war, they escaped to Kenya. At first her mother had no one to help her, until she found out about a Self-Help Group for women, supported by Canadian Baptist Ministries
The group helps mothers like Fatma's who are refugees in Kenya, and also paid for Fatma's school fees which her mom could not afford before. Now she can go to school, and is thrilled!

Give a gift today & have it MATCHED!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Rosslyn's Got Talent 2016

 Tonight was the annual Rosslyn's Got Talent Variety Show
hosted by the comedy duo of Ezra and Tristan

Ava taking a bow

Ava was one of three elementary school performers selected to compete in tonight's show. 
She danced and did gymnastics to the song "Never Forget You". 
The audience cheered her on as she grooved and tumbled to the music.

 Tristan and Michael showing off their chair dancing skills
to the crowd pleaser -- Eye of the Tiger.

Over the years, we have come to appreciate how Rosslyn encourages and celebrates the arts. From choirs and orchestral music to sculpture and visual arts this has been an amazing community for our kids to grow up. 

Each year, the students organize a talent show that showcases the diverse gifts and skills of the student body. It is a delightful evening, and this year we all left with cheeks sore from laughter.

A little magic for the judges...

 ... and some great dancing with the Daggett girls.

Among the many acts, Tristan and Sarah performed a "passionate" version of the love song from Phantom of the Opera. The voices were flawless, and the acting was hilarious.

A wonderful intermission with Mark and Audrey Statler
... Pop music classical style

Throughout the show, Tristan and Ezra hammed it up with acts 
from musical bards to... 

... a magician and his lovely assistant.

But as in years past, 2016 showcased some amazing talent 
from vocalist and musicians...

... to gripping spoken word.

 Brayden Kean going before the judges

As in year's past, three brave teachers served as the talent show judges. 
They all did an amazing mixing encouragement with humour.

Tristan and Ezra rocking out in ode to their dead pets...

... a great warm up to the winning group of the night!

Tristan and Ezra presenting the awards

A very proud mommy with her little star

Ava and her friends each won honourable mentions for their performances

TK and Ava after the show

Emma with her big brother

Ezra and Tristan, masters of ceremony

... with their photo bombing fans (Katie and Reid)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Transforming Mission: Knocking on Doors

African Christian Church and Schools Urban Ministries
Project Officer, John Njihiak

Where do you start? Nairobi is the largest city in East Africa with sprawling areas of urban poverty. As the ACC&S wanted to respond to the needs of their neighbours, they could have literally gone in a thousand different directions. But three years ago, through prayer and discussion with its urban churches, the ACC&S started to knock on doors in the community of Dandora.

Dandora is an area well known for its health and sanitation problems. Overcrowded with dilapidated houses connected by narrow mud pathways with open sewers, Dandora is one of Nairobi's informal settlements perched on the edge of the city's largest dumpsite. Children play amongst the heaps of garbage and putrid waters. Families struggle to pay their rent and provide for their basic needs. There are great challenges for the people living in Dandora.

In 2014, the ACC&S began to mobilize men and women living in this area. They began simply by walking through the community and knocking on doors. They were open about who they were and that they wanted to understand the struggles that their neighbours were facing. John Njihiak was a part of that early work with our CBM colleagues Wayne and Maureen Morgan who were working with the ACC&S urban churches at that time.

The product of that work was the formation of self help groups that brought together men and women of similar economic backgrounds and helped them to form weekly support groups modeled from the SHG program that Erica had started in the areas of Eastleigh and Kariobangi. Through SHG training, the groups began to follow healthy SHG patterns: they formed constitutions, created a weekly meeting tradition, started saving money and issuing soft loans through table banking. As the groups formed essential bonds of trust and ownership, they received microenterprise training, opened bank accounts, and started small businesses together.

 Erica visiting with the "Hardworkers Malisaba Self Help Group"

 The groups are self-governed through participatory leadership, 
as members take turns facilitating the meetings.

SHG Member Passbook

Everyone keeps an individual passbook, to track the group savings, personal contributions, and loans. This serves as a way of mutual accountability as the group members are able to verify the treasurer's records and bank statements each week. It was encouraging to see how in only a few years most of these groups have built up thousands of dollars of savings as they invest in individual and group businesses.
 Unity Self Help Group, Dandora
Today the ACC&S urban ministry program has established twenty-four functioning self-help groups in the community of Dandora. Through the support of John and the team of community facilitators, the groups are improving the household incomes and well-being of hundreds of families.

At each meeting, we had time to share and pray together. Each group faces a myriad of challenges, but common to each group is a sense of belonging and strength that comes from having a circle of people who care and watch out for you. Every group develops its own patterns and traditions that make the meetings fun and personal.

It is amazing to realize that the warmth and community in these groups started with a knock on the door, and an invitation by a stranger.

Erica and Lenny with members of the Unity SHG

During one of the meetings with one of the Muslim Self Help Groups in Eastleigh, our CBM colleague Lenny Mbogo asked a group what it would mean if they were to continue without CBM. To our surprise, a group member responded saying, "We would be like a bird without wings."

Given how self-sufficient the groups are and the fact that they have received training but no funding from CBM, we were confused. Erica asked the woman to tell us more about what she meant. "We would be like a bird without wings," she said, "because we need your encouragement. That is what is most important to us. Your encouragement!"

At the heart of self help ministries we find again and again the importance of relationships of care and solidarity. People make better decisions when they have the wisdom and accountability of a support network. They take risks to improve their lives when they know that they will not face the risk alone. And people need the spiritual and emotional support of others who care and pray for them and their families in times of success and failure.

This is the social dimension of integral mission. And in a world where people are often separated by walls and closed doors, it takes the courage of some to step out and knock.  

Erica and Lenny

Please join us in praying for and supporting the ministry of Canadian Baptists and our partners in Africa. We especially remember those working in the self help group approach in communities like Dandora, Eastleigh and Kariobangi. Urban poverty is a growing issue throughout Africa as displaced and desperate people follow the flow of urbanization and often find themselves in informal settlements and slums that lack basic infrastructure and support.

We also pray for churches like the ACC&S as they discern God's call to share the love and hope of Christ with the marginalized of their society.

To learn more about the work of Canadian Baptist Ministries in Africa and around the world, please see our website at

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Praying for South Sudan: Teetering on the Edge of Genocide

"The signs are all there for the spread of this ethnic hatred and targeting of civilians that could evolve into genocide, if something is not done now to stop it. I urge the people of South Sudan to take action." 
Adama Dieng
UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide
Juba, South Sudan -- November 11, 2016

This past Friday, many Canadians laid wreaths and participated in Remembrance Day services and gatherings that honoured our veterans and the sacrifice of our war dead. We gave thanks for peace and reflected on the consequences of hatred and brokenness in our world. On that same day, in a very different part of the world, leaders in South Sudan were confronted with grave warnings that the present violence is spiralling towards genocide. The forces of arrogant pride, fear of the other, and the lust for power continue to breed war and violence.

Earlier in October, Erica and I spent a day with refugees who had come to Nairobi with Canadian Baptist Ministries' South Sudanese partner church, FEBAC. We listened and prayed as they shared their stories, and explained what the conflict was doing to their country. 

The concerns that they raised were recently echoed by the Sudan Tribune, which reported the findings of the United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide on Saturday, November 12. Adama Dieng admitted that his investigation confirmed that "what began as a political conflict has transformed into what could become and outright ethnic war."

Over the past few months, since the fighting erupted in July, 320,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. Richard Ruati, a spokesperson for UNHCR in South Sudan, describes the situation that these families and individuals are facing:
“The refugees are fleeing due to armed groups harassing civilians, killings and torture of people suspected of supporting opposing factions, burning of villages, sexual assaults of women and girls and forced recruitment of young men and boys from the Equatoria region.” 

For an in-depth report on this situation, we recommend reading IRIN's recent analysis Who can stop the threat of Genocide in South Sudan?

Please join us in praying for our friends and partners in South Sudan.
We remember pastor's like Reverend Jeremiah, who continues to travel throughout the camps and among the churches around Juba to encourage congregations and to assist in the food relief efforts of CBM and FEBAC.

We pray for the leaders of this country, that God might fill them with mercy and humility needed to bring an end to this conflict.

We pray for the millions of South Sudanese people who have lost homes, livelihoods, family and friends from the fighting. May our God of reconciliation work miracles. May peace return and healing begin.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Rosslyn Academy Presents Twelve Angry Men

 Rossyln  Academy  Theatre  Presents

Yesterday was the finale of this year's High School play at Rosslyn Academy. Tristan and Emma both had an incredible few months preparing and staging this show with their friends. Each year it seems that the productions get better and better, and this was no exception as the students had fine tuned a gripping drama.

Unlike the past two fall shows, Twelve Angry Men returned to theatre in the round creating an intimate feel for the audience as we entered the claustrophobic pressure cooker of the jury room.

If you are not familiar with the play we have more pictures and a brief description of the Opening Night and the Dress Rehearsal

Tristan as juror number eight making his argument for the accused

We are so thankful for the great friends and the incredible experiences that both Tristan and Emma having at Rosslyn. The annual Spring Musicals and Fall Plays have been the highlights of their High School years. 
 ...And ours too! (Note the photo bomb!)

 Ezra and Tristan with a future generation 
of High School performers (Julia and Ava)

Reid, Sarah, Tristan, Ezra and Nora after the show

Along with being an understudy for the play, Emma and her friend Erin 
were in charge of hair and makeup.

 Emma and Erin

Proud Mommy!

Emma and TK 

 Here are a few more photos from closing night

 The Cast and Crew Party at the Enn's Home