Leadership Training and Community Services for Sudanese in East Cairo

A large number of Sudanese refugees live in Egypt, especially those who have come from North Sudan and the Nuba Mountains due to the difficult situation in these regions. The Sudanese Christians among the refugees have added their own new flavour to the life of the Anglican Church in Egypt. The Sudanese congregation at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Heliopolis started 12 years ago; we now have a Sudanese congregation with 669 members.

One of the church members shares “Despite so many challenges for Sudanese refugees in Cairo-Egypt, St. Michael’s
church is experiencing tremendous growth numerically and spiritually, which in return resulted into a very remarkable work.” In January 2014, it was a joy to receive the visit of Bishop Ezekiel Kondo of the Diocese of Khartoum (pictured below).

Bishop Ezekiel

Nuba Mountains Bible Institute

Many of these Sudanese refugees want to use their time in Egypt for learning. They need to be equipped to play roles of pastoral and ministerial leadership in our and other churches. This is why in February 2013 we began the Nuba Mountains Bible Institute Cairo (NBIC). We train those leaders and other members of the Sudanese community in Egypt for the benefit of their own church here, both for their time now in the Egypt and hopefully later for their future in Sudan or elsewhere.

Nuba Mountains Bible Institute (2)

We started the classes of NBIC in January 2013, after we interviewed 60 students and after we chose 35 of them to begin with. We began well prepared, with a curriculum of three years and teachers lined up. 2013 was not an easy year for Egypt with political disturbances, violence and street demonstrations. We thank God that we have been able to continue our work in the midst of all this and we admire our students’ perseverance and courage. They often had to travel to us in situations where the streets were unsafe at least, and sometimes more like a war zone. For more information, download the full report:

2013 Report for Nuba Mountains Bible Institute

St Gabriel Centre

The St. Gabriel Center is a ministry of St Michael’s which runs social and spiritual activities among Sudanese refugees in Cairo in the area of Kilo 4.5. This area east of Cairo was mostly illegally constructed, hence without any governmental oversight and a shortage of services. The Sudanese community shares a low standard of living with the Egyptians in the neighbourhood, facing challenges of poverty, illiteracy, chronic children’s diseases (like malnutrition and the lack of calcium) and other types of diseases.

The centres runs a medical clinic, English courses, handcrafts and domestic work, discipleship (pictured below) and youth activities.Nuba Mountains Bible Institute (1)

For more information, download the 2013 report:

2013 Report for St. Gabriel Centre

Both the Nuba Mountains Bible Institute and the St. Gabriel Centre rely on donations for their ministry. For more information please contact the Very Rev. Dr. Jos Strengholt: priest@heliopolischurch.com

Training on Clean Water with the Mothers Union in Gambella

In a recent survey conducted by the Anglican Church in Gambella, Ethiopia, it was found that an average of 2 to 4 children survived per an average of 9 to 11 children born into the family. Most of these children die under age 5 from communicable disease and malaria.

With the support of Anglican Aid, a three year training program for the Mothers Union has started to address issues of poverty and health. The Mother’s Union is an integral part of the Anglican Church in Gambella, and is actively engaged in literacy programs, church activities, practical help, prayer and visitations to the sick. The new training program will expand the role of the Mothers Union, providing theological and practical skills to women across 70 villages. This will be done through a ‘train-the-trainer’ program, which will empower women to affect change in their own communities.

Dr. Wendy LeMarquand, the project co-ordinator, reports on the first training session. “On September 4th and 5th, we hosted 34 women representing 20 distinct Mothers’ Union groups functioning out of our 14 Mission Centres spread throughout the Gambella region.

It was wonderful to see how intently the women listened to the introductory story dealing with issues of how we learn and how we can work together to help take care of problems in the community. And it was a delight to see how much they enjoyed using pictures and story-telling as they later practiced teaching this to one another! They had lots of fun looking through magnifying glasses and binoculars in the session on how we are able to see things that contaminate water, and they were amazed (and quite horrified!) at the pictures of microorganisms shown to them on my computer!

Our practice sessions on solar water purification, water filter construction, clean water dispensers and dish drying racks were full of laughter, good questions and good discussion. When each of the representatives left to return to their Mission Centres, they carried the materials to make their own clean water dispensers, carrying these simple, inexpensive and locally available items as if they were carrying costly treasure.

These ‘water dispensers’ that our representatives will make during their own community demonstration/teaching sessions will replace the common open (and never washed) communal pot of water (which is usually kept inside the church office, in the dark), and into which one unwashed cup is passed from one coughing adult to one feverish child, to another with diarrhea, etc.

Some were moved to tears to think that what they are learning may save the lives of their precious children. To think that the occurrence and re-occurrence of diarrhea is something that can be taken care of and prevented was a new concept to many. To communicate these important truths in a way that is fun, non-judgmental and memorable is one of the main goals of the program.

Our Mothers’ Union representatives will return to teach what they have learned by holding a teaching day for all of our 1500 Mothers’ Union members at the Mission Centres, and then by holding a second teaching day at our 60+ local churches where each Mothers’ Union member is encouraged to invite and teach at least one community guest.

The Mothers Union in Gambella requires further support for these training sessions. Please contact Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy LeMarquand for further information

 

Clergy Training in Gambella

Every month the clergy of the Gambella region in western Ethiopia come for two to three days of training. We are reading through 1 Corinthians, reading a book on the 39 Articles of Religion, and talking about pastoral issues in the area.

Bishop Grant shares about a recent clergy meeting: “one of the clergy came to me during a break. “Bishop, I have a problem. I need help to understand something”. David Onuk is the priest for the Opo people a small language group two hours into the bush from Gambella town. Although the Ethiopian census number only 1,700, there are probably closer to 5,000 Opo people in the world (it is hard to count people who are so isolated). In the last few years many of them have become (Anglican) Christians.
David’s problem took me by surprise, so I brought the story to the assembled clergy to discuss. A 19-year old nephew, James, who lived with David and his family, had gone off with a group of other young men to hunt for honey in the forest. They found a nest in a tree and James climbed the tree to retrieve the honey. The bees attacked and James fell from the tree impaling himself in the chest as he landed. By the time David reached the scene James was dead.

Then David explained his dilemma. James is the first Opo Christian who has ever died. Some of the people are confused. Are Christians supposed to die? What happens to a Christian when he dies? David explained that the Opo have no view of an afterlife. After relating the details of the story, and after receiving comfort and assurances of prayers from the other pastors, we turned to an attempt to help David to communicate the meaning of this event to his people.

The passage which, in the end, seemed most helpful was 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, but especially the first two verses:
    “We do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters, about those who  have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve as those who have no hope. For,  since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus, God will  bring with him those who have died.”
Paul, it seems, had encountered a problem in Thessalonica which was similar to the problem that the Opo were having. Didn’t Jesus defeat death? Doesn’t John 3:16 say that those who believe in Jesus “will not perish”? So what does it mean that Christians die? We talked for quite a while about that fact that Jesus himself faced death. We talked about the resurrection of Jesus and how Jesus’ resurrection is the “first fruits” of our future resurrection. We talked about how we do not have to grieve as if facing death means facing total loss and emptiness, but how our grief is intermingled with true hope – because Jesus rose, we have the assurance of being raised with him. James, even now, is truly in Christ.”

For more news from Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy LeMarquand, visit their blog; www.grantandwendy.com

 

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