Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Thank you for the Gift of Clean Water

Sharing hopeful gifts in Eastleigh, Nairobi!

This Advent, a hundred families living in the vulnerable communities of Nairobi are receiving much-needed water filtration systems purchased thanks to contributions from churches and individuals from across Canada.

We want to thank everyone who has participated in the 2017 Hopeful Gifts for Change Christmas catalog program. Your generosity is transforming the lives of families around the world, who are encountering the love and hope of Christ through the words and deeds of ministries like the Urban Self Help Group project in Nairobi.

Through the CBM Christmas gift catalog, you are able to purchase tangible gifts from sending a child to school to providing a calf or pig to a struggling family in a rural village. Over the years, we have witnessed first hand the profound impact that these gifts make in bringing hope and joy into the lives of people across Africa.

Erica and the SHG team preparing for their first of four
water filter distributions and training for this year.
Aisha welcoming the beneficiaries of today's training

These gifts are given in the context of long-term ministries that build relationships of love and support. Gifts are selected through discussion and participation of beneficiaries, who are empowered to identify local problems and solutions facing their families and community. 

Many of the gifts, like water filters and farm animals, are accompanied by training and ongoing support from our church partners and teams. 

Aaron being beautified by the ladies!
Laura with SHG members
Our friend and colleague Andre Sibomana getting to know one
of the children of the SHG members
Erica, Aisha, and Laura with several of the beneficiaries of the water filter systems in Eastleigh
Aisha assembling one of the new water filters

You can be a part of bringing a gift of hope this Christmas through the Hopeful Gifts for Change.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Nooses Off!

Rosslyn Academy Theatre Department presents...

Members of the cast celebrating after the last performance

Over past three days, Emma has been on stage for Rosslyn Academy High School's fall play. This year the theatre department launched the side-splitting whodunnit farce "Nooses Off", written by Don Zolidis. 

"Nooses Off" is a high school version of Michael Frayn's famous bawdy 1982 comedy "Noises Off", which rifted on the idea of a play-within-a-play in a fast-paced physical comedy that brought the audience from a rehearsal to the opening-night backstage antics of a doomed play.

Similarly, in "Nooses Off" Emma and her friends play a wacky cast of struggling actors and crew with mixed relationships and misunderstandings. It is a hilarious comedy. How often do you see someone attempt a murder with a swordfish? Emma plays a frustrated female actor forced to portray a male police officer while navigating the fictional cast's multiple love interests.

Here are a few pictures of the wonderful three shows. If only there was audio, you could also enjoy the laughter as well!!
Emma with her friend and student director, Rainey
Emma getting her mustache on before the last show

The cast take a bow to a standing ovation

A BIG THANK YOU to director Steven Slaughter for investing so much into the students of the Rosslyn Theatre department. This has been such a fun fall production. The bonds of friendship and camaraderie formed among the cast and crew are irreplaceable. 

As we look back on these past thirteen years of theatre that Emma and our whole family have been a part of from kindergarten to twelfth grade, we are so grateful for this community and its commitment to the arts.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

CBM Update Video November 2018

In this month's update video, Aaron shares about the value of the Africa Leadership Exchange program that CBM is facilitating with our African partner churches. The most recent gathering of the ALE was held this past week in Kibuye Rwanda.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Strength to the Weary

Tidings Magazine is featuring an online article by Erica for the month of November 2018 for their Women of Faith series. To read the online article, please click here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

An Unexpected Afternoon

The merry band of castaways!

The day started out innocent enough. After a full morning of work on governance, we would take an hour-long tour of a local island known for its massive colony of fruit bats. We had no idea what we were in store for, but I guess that is the way most adventures begin.
Napoleon Island, Lake Kivu

Sixteen members of our group of African leaders chose to take the early afternoon excursion across to the cliffside trails of Napoleon Island. The hat-shaped island is home to thousands of giant fruit bats that roost in the trees which cling to the steep terrain of the island. 

We left Kibuye with bright sunshine and a gentle sail through a network of islands.
Circled by hundreds of fruit bats

On the island, we climbed through the forest with our guide to an area where the trees were hanging with bats the size of small cats. The sound of the bats can be heard over the water as you approach the island. It is the sort of scene that you would find in a Hitchcock movie.

Once high on the edge of the hill, the guide startles the bats and in minutes the sky is filled with a tornado of flapping wings and diving bats.  
Rev. Julius Kimani watching the bats 
on the steep trail of Napoleon Island
I can tell you exactly what is going through this guy's mind... 
"Oh no, what in the world was I thinking!"
Darrell and Laura Lee Bustin
Aaron with Rev. Dr. Samuel Ngayihembako

We made our way back to the shore and despite my phobia of birds and bats, I was so thankful for the opportunity to push through my fear and share this experience with our friends and church partners. Of course, I had no idea that the real adventure had only just begun.

The winds had begun to pick up as we set out from Napoleon Island and soon the once calm waters of Lake Kivu were tossing our boat up and down like a child's toy. With each crashing wave, the boat bent and slapped down with a clap. The spray showered us as we gripped the gunwale and braced for each wave. As the boat slammed against the water, seams began to open and soon water was pouring in from below our feet.

It didn't take long to realize that the water was not simply entering the boat from the spray of the waves but from a breach in the hull. The boatman, turned to a nearby island as the water rose towards our knees. It was then that the reality struck us -- We are going to sink!
Our sinking boat

The island that we reached is known locally as "Monkey Island" for the lone buck toothed Vervet monkey that lives on the island with a few local cows. 

To our surprise, the monkey had seen us fighting our way to his private shore and he was actually waiting for us as we climbed out of the waterlogged vessel. He perched himself on a rock and waited until everyone was safely on dry land and only then did he scamper off. It was one of those surreal moments in life when you turn to the people around you and say "Did that really just happen?"
The lonely monkey

Soaking wet, our group helped the captain pull the boat into a calm cove and tipped it onto its side. As a Canadian, I figured that he would be calling for a second boat to come and pick us up and that the adventure was over. I was wrong. Very wrong.

It was soon obvious that this was not a new problem for the captain. Once he and members of our group had bailed the grounded-boat out, he began to patch the holes with a knife and torn fabric. We watched as the sun dropped lower over the distant hills of South Kivu. 

There was certainly lots of nervous laughter, but I am so thankful for our band of castaways. Jeremiah Ngumo, Luka Kuria, Jonathan Mills, Darrell & Laura Lee Bustin, and the intrepid Justin Uwubuntu who disappeared shortly after we beached the boat and found a shepherd who had a better bailer to aid in drying out the boat.

Safe to shore

With the captain satisfied with his patch, we untied the boat and pushed it back out into the water. In the time that it had taken for us to empty and repair the boat, the wind had died down and the white caps had all but disappeared on the Lake, but the damage to the boat had been extensive and within minutes the water had begun to gush back in.

I tightened my lifejacket and put away my camera as the captain turned the boat toward a new island.

Our new island

In the distance, we could see monkey island and the high cliffs of Napoleon Island from the protected cove of our new island, which the captain told us is called Amamoro which means peace in Kinyarwandan. And by the grace of God that is exactly what we encountered. 

On the peaceful shore of Amamoro, we watched the sun dip low toward the water. Our friend, Andre Sibomana, realizing that we were in trouble had organized a rescue boat and we finally were able to establish cell phone contact with the rest of our group.

We reached the jetty of our guesthouse just as the last rays of the day disappeared into the West.

Waiting for rescue

If you are ever going to be shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island, I highly recommend being with a group of Canadian missionaries and African pastors. We laughed, we shared pocket mints, and we problem solved together. It was certainly an experience that I will never forget and I am deeply thankful for these incredible people. But hey, what better way is there to draw you closer to others than the fear of drowning in the treacherous waters of Lake Kivu.

Our friend, Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo, reminded us of Jesus being asleep in the boat as the disciples feared for their lives. No matter what challenges we face in life, we are never alone!

Aaron, Jonathan, Laura Lee, and Darrell

Some Remarkable Days in Rwanda

The CBM Africa Leadership Exchange meets in Rwanda

The past few days have been an absolutely incredible time as we have met with leaders from across Canadian Baptist Ministries' African partners. 

We are meeting this week along the shores of Lake Kivu in Kibuye, Rwanda, for the third gathering of the Africa Leadership Exchange (ALE). The exchange consists of leadership from churches of five countries, including Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Canada. 

We are all too familiar with the bad news stories seen in the media -- From the enduring conflict in South Sudan to the struggle to contain the Ebola outbreak in the renegade areas of North Kivu, there is much to be concerned about in Africa. This is why we are so encouraged by the spirit of affection and cooperation that we are witnessing among church leaders in East and Central Africa.

Observing the bonds of love and fidelity across our partners, we were reminded of a popular Swahili proverb, which says "Unity is strength, division is weakness." Over the past five years, we have witnessed increased unity, mutual concern, and appreciation across our partners. It has been a wonderful gift to be a part of programs like the ALE that foster shared learning and reflection from across the diverse areas where we serve. There is a great strength found in unity!

On our way to Kibuye

On Saturday, the group converged in Kigali to join in worship and fellowship with the Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches (AEBR) that is hosting us during this time together in Rwanda. For many members of our delegation, this was their first experience of Rwanda.

Worship with the AEBR church in Kacyiru, Kigali

On Sunday, we participated in worship with two AEBR congregations from Kigali, before departing for Lake Kivu and the quiet fishing community of Kibuye. 

It was a very special service for many reasons, but one of the highlights for the Kacyiru congregation was receiving Jonathan Mills who had been a beloved member of the choir and church family during his time serving in Kigali with his family.

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mills preaching in Kacyiru

Wonderful reunions in Kigali

Laura Lee Bustin with Anne Marie

Along with past participants, this ALE welcomed CBM global field staff Darrell and Laura Lee Bustin as well as Ernestine Kamarora (the new director of development for the AEBR) and Rev. Jeremiah Deng of the Faith Evangelical Baptist Churches of South Sudan.

We are very grateful for Laura Lee who has been coordinating the logistics for this round of the ALE. 

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Wilson with Rev. Andre Sibomana

It has also been a blessing to have Professor Jonathan Wilson and Soohwan Park joining us once again for the ALE. Since our last gathering, Jonathan has officially joined CBM as our senior associate for theological integration. Both he and Soohwan are joining our faculty of lecturers this week and will be facilitating retreat days for Rwandan leaders next week in Kigali.

The third gathering of the ALE

This session of the ALE focused on issues of governance and leadership facing each of our partner organizations. Our discussions on strengthening the integrity of church leadership and what it means to participate in the mission of God in the world have been inspiring as these executive leaders work through how they can strengthen their denominations.

Along with our Canadian facilitators, we are glad to welcome Rev. Samuel Ruganbage who will be leading us in sessions on congregational governance from a Rwandan perspective. We are also investing time with the regional minister of Kibuye and visiting the genocide memorial site in Bisesero.

When we consider the challenges of ethnic conflict, the Ebola crisis, and insecurity that are facing our church partners in Africa, we are reminded how important it is that leaders from across ethnic and religious divides come together in unity for the good of all people. 

Already this week, we have encountered stories of great loss being met by the transforming power of the Gospel. Even in times of great pain and fear, God is moving. Please join us in praying for this week's ALE and for each of our partner churches serving in Africa.

Group discussions
Jonathan Mills introducing the board policy manual
Rev. Dr. Darrell Bustin teaching on the subject of servant leadership
Theological Reflection with Jonathan Wilson
Rev. Jeremiah Deng and Rev. Emmanuel Ndagijimana
Aaron with FEBAC pastor, Peter Nyok
Henrietta, Laura Lee, Veronica, and Sibomana