Mid Councils Newsletter, November 17, 2014
In early October I met some people I had only heard about until then. They are from Kenya and their story has been a big part of my family’s story over the last several years.
Here is the background. Our daughter was a young adult volunteer in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2006. She lived in a school and home for girls but spent most of her time working with the “street boys.” In Mombasa, as in many cities in warm climates around the world, there are thousands of young people—some as young as four or five—who live on the streets. When our daughter came home she preached about her experience. When she
preached at the church my husband serves, one of the members of the mission committee there said, “When we did not know about these boys, they were not our responsibility. Now they are.”
Through a long and circuitous route, the church eventually found a mission partner that was already established in Uganda that was interested in starting a boys’ home in Mombasa. They helped to find the director of the home, Daniel Okiror. He came from Uganda and established Wana Wa Mola home for boys. For the last four years, at any time there are about twenty-five boys who have come in off of the street to find shelter, food, schooling, and an introduction to a new friend whose name is Jesus. Daniel met and married Mirjam, a woman from the Netherlands who was in Kenya doing mission work. They have a little girl, a toddler, whose name is Epol.
Daniel, Mirjam, and Epol came to visit for three weeks in October. Although my husband has made three trips to Africa in the course of establishing this home, I have never been there and had not met any of the members of this little family. I was mostly with them in the first few days they were in Illinois, the days when they were so jet-lagged that they practically fell asleep at my dining room table. Daniel, Mirjam, and Epol are people with whom I have very little in common. They are world travelers, they have devoted their lives to living with the people with whom they are ministering, and they spend every day seeing and hearing things that I cannot even imagine.
But I was also struck by how much we have in common. It became clear to me when I was sitting next to little Epol when it came time to pray before a meal. She “speaks” three languages—Dutch, English, and Swahili. That is, she speaks them as much as any toddler speaks. When it came time to pray I said to her in the only language I speak—luckily one she and I share—that we were going to pray. She did not respond. But then, like I do with my own grandchildren, I folded my hands in the universal sign of prayer, and she quickly folded her own hands and bowed her head. She and I live very different lives. But at the heart of them is our faith in God who has given us a new life in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we are quick to point out our differences from other people within our Christian family—they think one way on an issue and we think another. They worship with one kind of musical instrument and we worship with another. They are old, we are young. Maybe as we approach the winter holiday season, we can also find ways to celebrate the things we have in common. We are forgiven sinners whose only hope in life and in death is in Jesus Christ. We are blessed to be a blessing to others and to share the gospel with them. We are freed and forgiven to do the work that God sets before us. And, like little Epol from the other side of the world and me, we can join with one another in prayer.
Many of your colleagues are finding the following resource to be useful when they go to meet with churches that are upset about one thing or another. If you are like me, you have walked into a meeting where someone will show you a chart that purports to compare the PC(USA) with another denomination or group. Often when I saw such charts, the positions of the PC(USA) were distorted. This resource summarizes the stances of the denomination and also points you to further resources that you can use.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency has developed a new communication plan. It was developed after consultation across the church.
Big Tent 2015
University of Tennessee Conference Center
July 30–August 1, 2015
Polity Conference and Fall Meetings
October 9–12, 2015
Polity Conference and Fall Meetings 2015 will include these five gatherings: Association of Mid Council Leaders, Association of Stated Clerks, GACOR Synod Training, Moderator’s Conference, New Stated Clerks Orientation, and Stated Clerk’s Polity Conference.