Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Celebrating the Fruit of Partnership

Dr. Gary Nelson, Rt. Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo, and Dr. Malcolm Card.

On Sunday, we welcomed past CBM General Secretaries Gary & Carla Nelson and Malcolm & Patricia Card as they returned to Kenya to join us for partnership gatherings and the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the partnership between CBM and the Africa Brotherhood Church (ABC) this coming weekend.

We are so thankful for the impact that these two couples have had upon our lives. Without question, God used Gary and Carla to bring us into Canadian Baptist Ministries and the work in Africa that has defined the past thirteen years of our lives. From our days together at Acadia Divinity College to Erica's first visit to Nairobi during the Certificate of Ministry program, Gary has been a mentor and friend. In the years since he and Carla have been close friends and sources of wisdom and encouragement.

Malcolm and Patty have served with CBM since their days in Indonesia throughout the 1970s, but we only came to know them during their years as the Africa team leaders from 2004 until 2010. After returning to Canada, Malcolm served as the interim General Secretary of CBM and most recently the CBM board president. Both he and Patty have been among our dearest friends and a part of our family. 

CBM and ACC&S Leaders:
Carla Nelson, Elijah, Aaron, Erica, Luka, Patty, 
Malcolm, Julius, Gary, Jeremiah, and David

Today, we traveled to Thika to visit with the leadership of the African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S), CBM's longest continuous partnership in Africa.

It was uplifting to hear about the progress that the new leadership has made over the past eighteen months strengthening the life and outreach of the denomination which has expanded into eight new areas of church planting, expanded its theological education program, recruited forty new pastors, and for the first time fully ordained a woman as a reverend.

It was also exciting to realize that both the Cards and the Nelsons were teachers and mentors for many of the new emerging leaders of the ACC&S. 

Erica, Patty, and Gary chatting at the Blue Post Hotel, Thika

The Nelson's grandson, Garrett, watching the torrent 
of flood waters crashing over the Chania Falls, Thika. 

Checking out the giraffe in Karen, Nairobi

Along with our official partner visits, we have had some fun enjoying the company of the Cards and Nelson's who are sharing this experience with their grandson.

After tomorrow's trip to meet with Ruth Munyao and the food security team in Embu, we will travel with the team to Ukambani to being our time with the ABC. We pray that these celebrations will bring glory to God and encouragement to the local churches that have been at the heart of these four decades of ministry. 

We recognize that the partnership with the ABC is such a rich story with the contribution of hundreds of Canadian missionaries, volunteers, and contributors. We look forward to sharing more about the fruit of this partnership in the coming days.

Aaron and Malcolm being photo-bombed in Nairobi

Thursday, May 10, 2018

CBM Prayer Update: Kenya

Erica meeting with the CBM Urban Ministry Team in Nairobi

Celebrations with the Africa Brotherhood Church
2018 marks the fortieth anniversary of CBM's partnership with the Africa Brotherhood Church. This coming week, we will be hosting past and present general secretaries/executive directors Gary and Carla Nelson, Malcolm and Patty Card, and Terry Smith who are coming for the event. 
Please join us in praying for their safe journey and for the hundreds of ABC members that will be travelling to participate in this time of celebration. 
We give thanks for the blessing of the partnership with the ABC for these many years.
Urban Ministry in Nairobi
May is the beginning of a new school term for the students receiving scholarships through CBM's urban ministry project. Please pray for these boys and girls and for their families. 
We also pray for the urban ministry team as they assist self help groups in navigating challenges, especially those working at establishing new income generating activities.
Flooding in Kenya
Heavy rains have been pounding Kenya, since March of this year. The rains have caused flooding and mudslides that have taken more than 130 lives and displaced approximately 225,000 people from their homes. 
Last night's rains in Nukuru, west of Nairobi, burst a dam in the community of Solai and washed away hundreds of homes. 32 people are now confirmed dead and 41 injured. 
Please join us in praying for the families affected by flooding in Kenya and neighbouring Rwanda. We pray for the families devastated by these disasters and for the churches and groups that are responding. 
To read more about this tragedy click HERE

CBM Field Notes: Finding Hope in South Sudan

Children welcoming our CBM Colleague Willian Wako into
their home in the Mangaten IDP Camp near Juba, South Sudan.
"William" Wako Guyo Galgallo in Nairobi, Kenya

Earlier this week we sat down with our friend William, who has just returned from working with a relief project with Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) and the Faith Evangelical Baptist Churches (FEBAC) in South Sudan. 

For several years now, CBM has been working in South Sudan with our local partner in areas of relief and development. Together we seek to share the love and hope of Christ as we respond to the humanitarian crisis, relieve poverty, promote access to education, and improve food security among the poor and vulnerable communities.
Since November 2017, CBM and FEBAC have been providing monthly rations to 570 vulnerable households recently returned to the community of Melut in South Sudan's Upper Nile State. As we help these returnees establish themselves, we recognize that many more internally displaced people are desperate for peace and an opportunity to return to their farms and homes.

The newest area of this work is located on the edge of Juba in the Mangaten Internally Displaced Person's (IDP) Camp. In this blog post, we share a bit of the conversation Aaron had with William as they discussed this work.

Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba, South Sudan
Aaron: "Welcome back, William. You have been in our prayers as you travelled so far away from your family to join the project in Mangaten. Many Churches in Canada have been praying for you, for peace in South Sudan, and for the relief work with FEBAC."
William: "Thank you, I appreciate the prayers. It was my first time to travel to Juba, but all went along well. I was very grateful for Rev. Jeremiah Deng and the FEBAC team that welcomed me. Unlike Nairobi, there has not been too much rain in Juba. We had good days with the people in the camp."
A refugee family sharing their experience in Mangaten.
Aaron: "Over the years, Erica and I have visited many refugee camps and we know that everyone is different. I've been to Juba, but not to Mangaten. Can you tell me about the place and the people you met?" 
William: "The camp is located Northwest of the city of Juba. I understand that the land there was vacated during fighting near the airport, and as returnees started to gather in Juba, the vacant land became one of the many IDP centres that were formed. 
It is a very loud place as airplanes are always overhead. The government and Red Cross provided tents that the people are living in. In my visits, I learned that every tent is divided into two homes by a tarp hung in the middle. On each side of the tarp lives a different family."
Aaron: "It sounds crowded."
William: "Yes, in a way. I mean compared to the large camps like you've seen in Kakuma or Dadaab, Mangaten is small, about 1200 households. But the land is also squeezed. They have tents, but no place to grow food or have a livelihood. The tents are in sections, but there is only a single borehole that provides water for everyone. The borehole is located at an old school that is within the camp. The people really need better access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation."
 Heads of households gathering for the supplementary ration distribution
Aaron: "What were your meetings like with the IDPs?"
William: "The people were very grateful for the help received from FEBAC and CBM. Everyone I met had been destined for Central Upper Nile State, or other states, but never made it there.
Most had fled during the conflict in early 2014, but had thought that peace would return and in late 2015, they were moving in family groups back towards the North when violence erupted again.  
That is when the people were stranded in the camp. There were more, but the others turned back and fled to refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda. The families that stayed either had small children, elderly parents, or disabled family members that could not make the journey."
Aaron:  "And so these people were trapped. They couldn't travel home to the North because of the conflict, but they couldn't make the dangerous trek out of South Sudan either."
William: "Exactly. They were stuck in between. But life has not been very good in Mangaten. They face hunger and harsh economic conditions. The escalation of the price of basic commodities and lack of government support is making the situation worse. I found a high level of vulnerability, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and diseases among them; with women, children, youth, and those with special needs leading the list."
Relief beneficiaries at the Mangeten school.
Aaron: "How is the local FEBAC Church trying to help?"
William: "I was very impressed by the compassion and the care that I saw as the pastors and volunteers from FEBAC worked with the relief beneficaries. You know that most of the FEBAC team are from the Dinka ethnic group, and so are most of the IDPs living in Mangaten. In the relief project, we targetted the 400 most vulnerable households. These households were often made up of seven or more people. It is only a third of the camp, but it was the camp leaders that helped to identify who was most in need of assistance. 
What impressed me most was that the FEBAC leaders insisted that the minority Nuer ethnic group be included. Not just included, but the very first one hundred beneficiaries were Nuer heads of households. They were the first group to be called into the secure compound to receive food."
Aaron: "Wow! So in the camp where everyone is struggling to survive, the Dinka Christians from  FEBAC wanted to make sure that the minority Nuer group went first. That must have been a significant moment."
William: "It was a great act of Christian love. The Gospel was being lived out in a powerful way."
Nuur Women bringing rations back to their families.

Aaron: "Can you tell me more about the relief distribution itself? What did the beneficiaries receive and what is the intended impact?"
William: "CBM and FEBAC have been engaged in multiple relief projects over the past four years within South Sudan, but this was the first time that they have responded to the needs in this camp. It was actually the governor of the state where many of the IDPs were from who first reached out to FEBAC and asked for them to help. He had no resources himself, but he knew people were dying of starvation in these neglected camps.  
As I shared, we had resources to help only the 400 households that were most in need. The first preference was to assist families with pregnant mothers or children under the age of five. Next, there was preference given for those caring for the elderly and disabled. I can say that there is more need than we were able to satisfy. 
The households that were chosen each received food rations of 30 kilograms of beans, 25 kilograms of maize flour, and two litres of cooking oil.
The people were very grateful. One mother told me that here children would have had nothing to eat if it hadn't been for the food assistance. Another man told me, “This ration will take me and my six children for the next two weeks, for a very long time we will have food in our house!’"

William with the Mangaten Camp Leaders 
and members of the FEBAC Church
Aaron: "Is there anything else you would like to share as we update our friends and churches in Canada?" 

William: "Please share how thankful the people of the camp are for the support and generosity of Canadian Baptists. Rev. Jeremiah Deng [the leader of the FEBAC relief team] and his team also share their appreciation for the CBM/FEBAC partnership and for the opportunity to serve the needy people in this place.  

I would also like to add that these needs are not done with. We must continue to help the church bring food and hope to the people that have become refugees.  

Our partners in FEBAC are refugees themselves. They are experiencing the very same dangers and harms that have impacted the people in Mangaten. One could become focused on one's own needs and forget the needs of others, but that isn't what I saw.  

Instead, I witnessed them sharing the love of Christ through their words and deeds. At every wave of the food distribution, I observed Rev. Jeremiah sharing words of encouragement with the beneficiaries. Time and time again they stopped their work to pray with the people.  

I can say that our brethren are demonstrating the love and kindness of Jesus by how they are willing to listen and offer help to the beneficiaries and the onlookers. The team was intentional to glorify God in their work."

FEBAC Church members praying with 
leaders and residents of the Mangaten IDP Camp.

If you would like to learn more about the work of CBM in South Sudan, or how to get involved, please visit our website at

Monday, May 7, 2018

Partnering in Mission: Rev. Emmanuel

Reverend Emmanuel Ndagijimana

Last month, the Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches (AEBR), our partner in Rwanda, held its general assembly to elect its new legal representative and leader of the denomination. We are happy to share that Rev. Emmanuel Ndagijimana was elected and will officially begin his new responsibilities next week on May 15th.

Rev. Emmanuel has served as a pastor and regional leader within the AEBR and has worked closely with many of our CBM colleagues serving in Rwanda. His integrity and servanthood will be a great blessing to the Church as it continues to strengthen its structures and ministries through this period of challenges facing local churches in Rwanda.

Over the past week, we have enjoyed getting to know Rev. Emmanuel who is quick to laugh and has engaged both our team and other partners with a desire to deepen his understanding and relationships within the partnerships. 

Please join us in praying for Rev. Emmanuel, his family, and the AEBR as they begin this period of transition in leadership.

We also lift up our friend Gato Munyamasoko as he will transition into new things. We are deeply thankful for the work that he has done over the past five years serving the Baptist churches in Rwanda and raising the profile of the denomination. 

We continue to pray for congregations in Rwanda that are struggling to meet new legislative requirements. Hundreds of Baptist churches remain closed as they work on improving their facilities to satisfy these recently introduced expectations.

Outgoing legal representative Rev. Gato Munyamasoko and AEBR Administrative director, Berthe Uwizeramariya with Rev. Emmanuel during the CBM Africa Leadership Exchange in Kenya.