Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Something Worth Celebrating

Canadian Baptists began to serve in Africa sixty years ago this year. The first years were spent working with the Evangelical Church of Angola, Igreja Evangélica de Angola (IEA). At the time, this unique partnership propelled Canadian Baptists towards a new way of engaging internationally and opened our churches to the mission of God in Africa.

Earlier this week, we sat down with our friend and colleague Eduardo Sasa to talk about the legacy of these past sixty years of partnership between CBM and the IEA.

Rev. Eduardo Sasa, Director of Development
"2018 is a very special year for the Igreja Evangélica de Angola (IEA)," shared Eduardo. "We are celebrating sixty years since the beginning of our partnership with the Canadian Baptist mission and one hundred and twenty years since the founding of our church by the Angola Evangelical Mission of the Reverend Matthew Zacharias Stober. These celebrations will be held in the months of June and July of this year. It will be an important time."
This is also an important anniversary for Canadian Baptist Ministries. Prior to 1958, Canadian Baptist missionaries had only served in India and Bolivia. The partnership with the IEA was the beginning of the ministry of Canadian Baptists in Africa. God used the invitation of the IEA as the first steps for CBMs journey in Africa. 

With the outbreak of the Portuguese colonial war in 1960, these early missionaries moved to neighbouring Zaire where hundreds of thousands of Angolan refugees fled. In the decades which followed, these relationships would move CBM to establish new work in partnership with churches across Africa.

In the words of past CBM general secretary, Rev. Dr. John Keith, "Angola put Canadian Baptists on a new continent, in an undertaking of a significantly different nature than before."

Unlike the endeavors in India and Bolivia, in Africa CBM would serve under indigenous churches in order to help local Christians respond to the brokenness of their communities holistically.

Back then, there was an enormous response in our Canadian Baptist churches of people who wanted to come and serve with the Angolan Church. In the first few years, twenty-four Canadians answered the call to serve with CBM in Angola. They traveled to Lisbon to study Portuguese in 1956 and 1957, and by 1958 were arriving in Luanda to serve there and in Northern communities like Quimpondo and Cabinda.

"We are very grateful to God for the partnership with CBM. Looking back over these past six decades, the partnership has generated significant impact." 
"Just consider this," urged Eduardo,"most of our current church leaders were trained thanks to the help of CBM. Our theological training school is named in honour of a great Canadian missionary who pioneered this work -- The Theological Institute Charlie Harvey (ITECHA). This alone is a strong contribution that has helped to sustain the church. 
Over the years, CBM has helped our churches to gain a high level of social reputation in places like Soyo and Cabinda because of the excellent work in health and education that we have accomplished together. 
In the early years, CBM provided many missionaries to serve as medical doctors, agriculturalists, and teachers. There help in enabling the church to meet the needs of the whole community was significant. 
In the recent past, CBM assisted the late Dr. Pedro Manuel (the then general secretary) in leading the church to assist refugees during the war. This ministry is long remembered. 
In the early 2000s, the IEA was assisted by CBM in responding to the devastation of HIV and AIDS, through the ministry of the Guardians of Hope. Funds from CBM were used to assist people in great need. 
The influence of the partnership has enhanced the positive advancement of the church. The Canadian Baptists have helped us reach where we are today."

Today, the ministry of the IEA extends to all eighteen provinces of Angola and beyond as the Church is engaged in pioneer outreach in Namibia and Portugal. With over 60,000 church members, the IEA is committed to the ministries of discipleship, evangelism, and the holistic transformation of their society.

Unlike the partnership of the past, CBM no longer embeds Canadian missionaries within Angola. Over the past two years, our colleague Rev. Dr. José Da Silva has been travelling to Cabinda to aid the faculty of ITECHA in curriculum reform and professional development. We do not come as experts but as friends.

Partnership today is about mutual learning and encouragement. We recognize the interdependence that must exist within the global church as we strive together to participate in the transformational work of God.

If you are interested in seeing some photographs and learning more about the ministry of the IEA, click here Angola: a Legacy of Transforming Mission

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Crisis in South Sudan

Yesterday, we heard news of rioting in Juba as the South Sudanese government has increased the cost of flour by 300%. Food crisis continues to be exasperated by the ongoing conflict and insecurity.

Almost half of the population still inside South Sudan (4.8 million people) are currently experiencing severe food insecure, that is 1.4 million more than the beginning of 2017. The UN anticipates that the situation will only get worse in 2018, estimating 5.1 million people expected to go hungry.

Canadian Baptist Ministries and our local partner, the Faith Evangelical Church, are currently engaged in a food relief efforts to bring help to vulnerable people desperate for food.

Please join us in praying for peace and an end to the conflict in South Sudan. We also pray for the safety of the humanitarian workers, pastors, and volunteers working on the ground in the delivery of these important relief projects.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Leaps of Faith

Erica zipping a hundred feet over the forest canopy.

On the edge of Kenya's great Aberdares Range is a beautiful woodland and recreational area called "The Forest". At almost 7,800 meters in elevation, the park provides a spectacular view of the mountains and densely forested ravines of the Kenyan highlands. 

As the longest zip line tour in East Africa, at over 2,200 meters, the Forest provides the chance to literally fly over the monkeys and wildlife of the Kereita forest.

We are so proud of our kids for braving these heights and for their intrepid spirits. 

Tristan, Ava, and Emma

Our adventure zip-lining was such a fun way to spend our last day of Christmas vacation before Tristan returned to Canada. His second semester at Acadia University will be his first real experience of Canadian winter since he was six years old. 

Emma is excited about her final semester as a junior at Rosslyn Academy. She is a part of the upcoming production of In the Heights and volunteering with the National Honours Society of Kenya.

Ava is glad to be back with all of her friends for her final semester of elementary school. She and Emma go back to school on January 15th.

As Erica and I return to work, we are excited about the ministry of Canadian Baptists and our partner churches in Africa. In the coming months, we will be celebrating 40 years of missions with the Africa Brotherhood Church in Ukambani, and renewing agreements with our partners in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We are also thankful for our colleague Jonathan Mills who will be coming back for the next Africa Leadership Exchange that will be held in Kenya this Spring. We pray that each of our partner churches will have the renewed faith and direction for how they might strengthen the structures and systems of their denominations. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Welcoming 2018

Hanging out with some friendly giraffe in Nairobi, Kenya!

It has been so good to be back in Kenya and to be together with all our children. Together we have had a peaceful Christmas holiday and a wonderful start to the New Year. We are so thankful for the great friendships and experiences that we have been able to share. 

This past Sunday, we gathered with our local church to bear witness to what God has been doing in each of our lives throughout 2017. The service was a rich time of music and testimony as people shared how the Lord is stretching their faith and meeting them in both times of struggle and triumph. We believe that we all need to celebrate what we want to see more of. We are so thankful for the times when God has moved in new and unexpected ways drawing us into renewed hope and joy.

As we look ahead, we are confident that God is already moving and at work in the events that will unfold in 2018. Welcoming the New Year is about trusting that the Lord of love and grace is calling us all to step forward in faith. We are excited for what is to come in the ministries of Canadian Baptists and our partners.

We pray with renewed faith for all that God has in store.

Mama and Tristan at the Hoving's Treehouse in Naivasha

One of our favourite spots in Kenya is the treehouse retreat of our friends Jason and Lisa Hoving. Nestled in a hillside forest near Lake Naivasha, the treehouse is such a beautiful place to be surrounded by the monkeys and birdlife of the Acacia forest. 

Our holiday with Tristan is speeding by as he returns to Canada this coming weekend. We are so grateful that he was able to return home for Christmas.

Bree, on monkey alert, at the treehouse

New Year's Eve Games Night with Loveless family

Over the holiday, we also had some wonderful times with good friends from Cairo to Nairobi. Christmas in Kenya has always included campfires, games, and loads of Christmas cookies. Here are a few pictures from our holiday.

So great to share time with our friends Jean and Wes
Great times in Nairobi with the Enns family
Julia and Ava
Ezra, Emma, Isaiah, and Tristan
Michael, Ezra, Katie, Haram, and TK
Wishing you all a wonderful New Year!