Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 )
Jesus, I come to you.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth! Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, stir up your strength, and come and save us! (Psalm 80:1-2)
Jesus, come and shepherd and guide your faithful people. Enfold us in your arms.
Restore us, O God; cause your face to shine, and we shall be saved! (Psalm 80:3)
Father, restore us to your bosom. Restore the Episcopal Church to holiness and truth.
O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry against the prayer of your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in great measure. You have made us a strife to our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. (Psalm 80:4-6)
Holy Spirit, come with your cleansing fire and restore your church and people to holiness of life.
Restore us, O God of hosts; cause your face to shine, and we shall be saved! (Psalm 80:7)
Holy Trinity, One God, restore us and save us. Thank you.
A word received: Look to me; I AM your help.
Monday: 80; *; 77, ; Jer. 7:1-15; Rom. 4:1-12; John 7:14-36
Tuesday: 78:1-39; *; 78:40-72; Jer. 7:21-34; Rom. 4:13-25; John 7:37-52
Notes from the Front Line
February Newsletter, Sun 3/3/201
Mountain and Valley, War and Peace
Sherkole Refugee Camp
“The heavens declare the glory of God…”(Ps 19)
We sat under a canopy of shining stars, astounded by their nearness and their beauty. All heaven seemed to lean close to hear the children and youth of the Mabaan as they ended the day, as was their custom, singing Evening Prayer. It seemed like Jesus was nudging me in the ribs – “See That?!!! My kids! Aren’t they beautiful?” – I could feel His joy reflected in the beauty of the stars, pouring forth the silent speech of glory. The health of the Mabaan congregation and the maturity of its leadership was evident in the happiness of their children. ‘I’m so happy I’m here’, I thought, as I headed into the clean-swept tukul (mud-built thatched house), beautifully adorned with natural rock-powder paintings, for a night of peace.
Then it started.
It was, apparently, night two of the neighbouring clan’s three-night, all-night marathon of dancing and ‘music’, celebrating the return of a newly ‘rich’ young man from Australia – home to find a wife. Grant and I wondered if it was a contest of strength; (- the young woman who was able to dance vigorously all 3 nights and then sing the loudest on the 4th morning, perhaps the one most worthy to be chosen as the prospective bride?). The volume from this was such that Grant and I, sitting side by side, touching each other, yelling mouth to ear at the top of our lungs, were literally unable to hear our own words. The screeching music, sometimes blaring lyrics such as “ I don’t care, don’t care, DON”T CARE!!”, and “Hey! Hey!! HEY!!”, was interspersed with sounds reminiscent of machine gun fire, ambulance sirens, alarm clocks, traffic jams and battle zones. Worse still, it would suddenly and jarringly stop mid-screech for 10-20 seconds – the short savage bursts of silence as aggressive and startling as the din. Occasionally we would be treated to sounds of canned ‘merriment’ and ulalations cut unnaturally short.
The suffering two to three hours into this was nothing compared to the suffering at eight to ten hours in – truly I understood why such things were sometimes used in torture. By night three, having done all we could within the gentle and respectful code of inter-clan negotiations, suffering seemed to blend with peace. The sheer, quiet, overwhelming goodness of God, still present with our Mabaan hosts (who were more distressed over our discomfort than over their own), somehow defeated the power of the mocking and disrespectful attitudes of those whose oppressive, alcohol-driven ‘pleasure’ seemed to speak only too loudly of their hopelessness and despair.
The day’s lectionary readings after our first night with the Mabaan seemed particularly appropriate, – the disciples first glimpsing the glory of God on the mount of transfiguration and then needing faith and an ‘extreme make-over’ in their thinking, as they encountered the demon-oppressed down in the valley (Lk 9:28-43). We were refreshed as, in reverence and joy, the Holy Spirit was received in power in baptism and confirmation. Truly, I was happy to be WITH Jesus and with the Mabaan. …“Having done all, to stand”(Eph 6 )…Interesting…. Grant’s ‘light reading’ at this time was Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”.
February: Bishop’s Highlights
Feb 1-3: Visit to Ethiopia’s newest Anglican church: formed by students of Mekele University, northern Ethiopia, wanting to meet and worship together in a common language (English). We were struck by the depth of unity in this ethnically diverse group.
Feb 9-12: Visit to Serkole Refugee Camp: fellowship, baptisms, confirmations, healing prayer with the Jieng and Mabaan congregations
Feb 7-29: Work at GAC (Gambella Anglican Centre): Digging begun for the new well for GAC’s agricultural area, clearing of agricultural area land, interviewing for GAC’s Agricultural Co-ordinator job, meeting with contractor re: design for new GAC Church (to host St Barnabas’ Anuak congregation as well as area diocesan events)
Feb 10-15: Addis meetings: Amhara and Somali believers
Feb 13: Ash Wednesday service: St Matthew’s Church, Addis
Feb 16-18: “Life Skills” program training: (Darash Thatha – Education Co-ordinator, GAC): Fifty teachers together with the principals of regional schools received training and materials to begin a new program teaching Grade 6 students about conflict resolution and first aid. (one wonders – first aid if conflict resolution fails?!!!)
Feb 23-24: Visit to Pinyadu: meetings with Anuak church council members of Pinyadu town; fellowship with “Pinyadu Old Camp” churches; worship and confirmations at the “Pinyadu New Camp” of twenty thousand new refugees from the Blue Nile/Nuba Mountains region of Sudan
Feb 28-29: Clergy Training days: Bible (1 Corinthians – pastoral issues); Anglicanism and the 39 articles of faith (text “Essential Truths for Christians” by Bp John Rogers); Prayer (Knowing God); Stewardship (Budget)
Feb 28-29: Visit from Canadian Embassy representative to schools hosting the “Life Skills” program
Rt Rev Dr Grant LeMarquand and Dr Wendy LeMarquand are missionaries of SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) Bishop Grant is area bishop for the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Eretrea, Djibouti); assistant bishop to the Most Rev Dr Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa