January Newsletter from Gambella, Ethiopia

After the dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa, many previously segregated Bible Colleges and Universities had to rethink the manner in which they taught theology. No longer could they assume that every student had had equal educational opportunities or that they all learned in the same way. This realisation gave birth to a lot of research, creative thought, and bold experimentation as some of the best educators got together to find a solution to the emerging problem. For this reason, I was very interested to chat with a number of educators in South Africa and also in securing some of the articles and books written by Africans on the subject of oral versus literate preference styles of learning.

All of our students in Gambella could be considered higher on the oral scale than on the literate scale. This has a tremendous impact on how St Frumentius proceeds…how we structure the curriculum and how we teach…not that we wish to “dumb down” the material, but rather come up with new and creative ways of communicating in a way that is compatible with oral preference learners and that is culturally relevant. In the past, oral preference learners have had to struggle through literate preference methods only to find that they are no longer able to communicate clearly to their oral preference parishioners once they return to their respective places of ministry.

So the second semester of our first year may prove be one of the most interesting periods in our history as a College as we will be laying a foundation for future students using some of the best research on oral preference learners by Africans in Africa. Everyone in the Anglican Church in Ethiopia will be involved at some level as we will seek to learn more about what our students will need in order to be effective leaders in their respective communities.

On a more personal level, a routine cardiac check-up revealed that I need a surgical procedure known as an ablation. This procedure will correct a worsening condition called Atrial Fibrillation, or A-Fib for short. The choice is between this procedure or taking two meds that have some unpleasant side-effects. The cardiologist wanted me to have it done immediately as I am apparently a high stroke risk right now, but after much thought and prayer, we have decided to continue on the meds until 18 July when I will have the ablation done in Cape Town, South Africa. This will allow me to complete the second semester and to adequately prepare for the next year.

We will be going to the US in March/April for the New Wineskins Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Both Louise and I will be co-leading workshops with Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy LeMarquand. Prior to the Conference, we will be stopping in Greenville (probably Easter Weekend) and Charleston SC (the first weekend in April). We hope to be able to see as many of our ministry partners as possible during this time.

Please pray for us as we start the second semester next week. Pray for Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy as they continue to provide wise guidance for us all, for Louise as she continues to bring our library up to snuff, for Karen and Jeremiah as they teach, for Rosemary as she helps us all with the administration of the Area, for Roger and Lynn as they lead the congregation in Addis, and for all our priests, deacons, lay-leaders, and Mother’s Union leaders. Pray too for the visit from ACTEA (Association For Christian Theological Education in Africa) in February.

We appreciate you more than we can say…thank you for staying the course with us and for fighting the good fight by our side.

Many blessings.

Johann and Louise

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