Need For Prayer

africa_mapIn the turbulent times of the Anglican Church, mission ministry in Africa has suffered.  African churches are most often Scripturally faithful.  Their faithfulness puts the Africans at odds with those parts of the Anglican Church which are not Scripturally faithful, but revisionist in their application of the Gospel message.  Without financial support from revisionist Anglican churches, African churches suffer.  Bible colleges close.  Ministry to the poor, to those orphaned, and to victims of HIV/Aids, suffers.  In many cases, financial aid from revisionist churches comes with conditions that African churches find unfaithful as they see it.

So, times are hard, again.  OFM cannot replace those lost dollars.  OFM tries to help Africans themselves to do what needs to be done, through education of church leaders.  We ask you to pray for the work of OFM, which suffers in these times of economic hardship.

Prayer:

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light, look favorably on that wonderful and sacred mystery of your Church, especially your mission ministry of OFM.  By the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility your plan for salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are now being raised up , and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by Him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

AMEN.

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Kenya in Crisis

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If you’ve been following the news at all over the past few weeks, then you know that the country of Kenya is in a state of turmoil. Kenya obviously holds a special place in our hearts since that is where the work of the Office of Foreign Missions had its start. Fr. Francis has shared some of his impressions on the current crisis and the history that has led up to it over on the Ancient Faith New Generation blog. The following excerpt will give you some sense of what is happening.

“Kenya is bleeding. People are dying. This can become a breeding ground for more blood and more death. Places I have been to, are now destroyed. People I love, hide in fear for their lives.

I ask for your prayers.”
Read It All
We join Fr. Francis in offering our prayers for peace to the Prince of Peace.

Tanzania: Dispatch Four

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This is mission ministry in its basic form – circuit riding in an old Hiace van, beat up and rattling, breaking down frequently, moving slowly through African bush country and through the mountains. We are five days on the road and have never exceeded 25 MPH. The mountain roads are twisty, rutted, and washed away from the rains. All in all, a very bumpy ride. The views are beautiful but we find few people in between villages. We travel very slowly with a bishop, an American priest, two driver-mechanics, and a contingent of sixteen other choir members, priests and assorted children. They sing constantly in Chigogo, the local language. I am beginning to dream in some semblance of the Chigogo language! We see few animals – baboons, a leopard, some lizards.

The first destination was DeBarro Parish with Fr. Samual and his wife Maria. They were all gathered to receive us. It was so joyful. The visit started with an hour of praising God, singing and dancing and worshiping in beautiful Chigogo fashion.

frsamual.jpgThen we ate. God must be protecting my digestive system because I have not gotten sick on the road (I see where they get the water, old wells with hand pumps. And they cook with this water). I eat ugale, which is a pasty bread, rice, some potatoes, very tasty greens, some chicken (coocoo in Swahili) and an occasional banana (ndizi) and mango (embe). They were very proud to serve me tambi – I looked at it and recognized African spaghetti. There are a lot of starch and carbs, hard on my system but that is what they have so I eat it gracefully. Courtesy requires me to eat the plate clean.

We worshipped in the little dug out church. Digging our the church allows them not to have to construct high walls. I preached from Acts about how the believers live as one and got along. I talked about who we are, who we were, and how we are now together and what that means. This is kind of like an introductory tour – they get to know us and we get to know them. It is a very good visit with many questions.

I stayed in a little room in a little hut. They had worked hard to give me a space of my own and I was grateful. It is good I prepared for such things and I am told that they were very pleased to hear me snoring. Breakfast was hard boiled eggs and chai tea. We exchanged greetings and were sent off rejoicing in the Lord. There is something about a personal visit that gives meaning to brotherhood.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Missionary Ministry in the 21st Century (part 1)

First Class

What is the Office of Foreign Missions?

An inter-denominational ministry with an innovative vision for the African church giving special attention to the development of healthy relationships, mutual partnerships and effective instruction for the advancement of a new generation of responsible Christian leaders in Africa!

Principles and Practices of the Office of Foreign Missions:

Please note that these have been the ministry practices so far. As the ministry expands into other lands, appropriate adjustments will be made.

  • Raise funds to get the teacher to Africa and provide training materials. Small teams (mostly one person so far). This lessens airfare costs, which is the largest individual expenditure of the ministry. Use economy flights – purchase tickets months ahead of time – fly different airlines depending on cost.
  • No hotels. Live with African families in their homes. The Africans must know that we are walking with them and are not interlopers. No restaurants – eat African food in African homes.
  • Teach in small groups around a common table – develop personal relationship. Teach limited subjects at one time so material may be absorbed. Teach many subjects by coming many times for longer stays. Stay a long time in one location (minimum one month) to teach many small groups the same material. Provide word for word lesson plans to all students. This will help them build a reference library in a place where education is hard to get.
  • Africans pay room and board for themselves (personal investment). Africans pay for the room and board of the teacher (personal investment).
  • Regularly do communal Morning Prayer and Compline. Teach Africans to lead (emphasizes communion).
  • Respect African ecclesiastical rank. These are the men who have been chosen by God to lead the local church. Help the church leaders to take on responsibility for their own welfare, instead of needing funds from America and western Europe.African Road
  • Do not complain when roads are poor. Do not complain if services start late. Do Not Complain, Period! In the rural areas, few people have watches, some roads are terrible, and unreliable public transportation must be used (emphasizes respect).
  • Recognize that the faith which was passed on to the Africans was sometimes a watered down version and that it will take time to teach them more mature things of the faith.

And perhaps most importantly . . .

  • Do not scream if your speeding vehicle kills a sheep in the road!

NOTE:  Building schools, churches, and clinics is not a major part of this ministry.  There are other ministries that have the resources to do such good work.  We do not have such resources.  However, this ministry has contributed partial support to such projects when appropriate.

Trip Four

Two Mamas

Connection Kenya/Office of Foreign Missions: Trip Four, August 2006

The teacher returned, this time with his wife Patricia. Patricia’s Presence sent a message of deeper commitment to our friends in Africa. She visited parishes, worked in the orphanages, sang in the choirs, spoke to the wives of the clergy and to the ladies of the diocese, both individually and in groups. She touched and was touched. She visited rural places where white women had not formerly visited.

Classes were taught on Studies in Sacrament and Introduction to Preaching. The leaders of the diocese learned new meaning and deeper information on each of the sacraments. They learned fuller ways to administer the sacraments, using their Books of Common Prayer. Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Confirmation were renewed within the diocese in great ways. Men were excited to return to their home parishes, teach the people and implement their new knowledge.

In the other course, the men learned better how to prepare a sermon, how to incorporate the assigned readings, how to organize their presentation. In a future class, they will each preach a sermon for evaluation.

Other churches in Kenya were invited to send men for training. Men came for four other churches, were trained, and left excited and hopeful.

The Clinic had been upgraded to a Dispensary, thus offering services of a birthing room, a full time nurse, a chemist (pharmacy), and scheduled doctor’s appointments. AIDS medicines would now be locally available for the first time.

Cathedral Addition

A vocational training center was constructed. The center would offer training as a seamstress and dressmaker, fields where jobs were readily available locally. In addition, it hopes to offer computer training when equipment is available.

Continued success. Results have been described as GRACED, EFFECTIVE, AND DURABLE.

Trip Three

Procession of Ordinans

Connection Kenya/Office of Foreign Missions: Trip Three, November-December 2005

Fr. Francis returned to Kenya in mid November 2005. The weather was oppressively hot and dry. Crops were drying up; animals were dying. Draught!

The trip began with a week of teaching in another church, River Nzoia South, under Bishop Obora. Five full days were spent teaching all the priests, deacons and key leaders of the church. Subjects taught included what had been taught the first two trips to the first church: The Basics of the Christian Faith; Introduction to Ordained Ministry; Use of the Book of Common Prayer; and Basics of Liturgy.

The men accepted most of the instruction, but were reluctant to move past what they had been taught before. They were very challenged by the Pentecostal dimensions of worship. The students in the other diocese had easily accepted such instruction, but there, significant relationship and trust had already developed between the teacher and the students. They trusted him. It was different in this second diocese. Relationship and trust had not yet developed.

Conditions in this new church hampered the instruction. The clergy were set in their ways. In addition, the decision in a legal case in the civil court had returned all of their church buildings to their former owners. The very viability of the church was in question. Attempts by Bishop Chunge and Bishop Koyo to help work though the troubled times met only with moderate success.

Classes in the first church went much better. The new subjects taught were Fundamentals of Sacred Scripture and Studies in Pastoral Ministry. Read the rest of this entry »

Trip Two

Connection Kenya: Trip Two (July-August 2005)

African Church

In preparation for the second missionary trip, many parishes and people from around the Midwest donated forty-five Books of Common Prayer. More vestments and things of the altar were also donated.

It was with great anticipation that “the Teacher”, Fr. Francis Wardega, headed to Kenya in July of 2005. How much of the previous trip and instructions would be remembered? Would those who had worked so hard during that first month together have persevered? Would they be back?

Upon arrival in Africa, Fr. Francis discovered that the vast majority of the men had continued and would be returning. Two postulants had been dismissed and two had died from Malaria but the overwhelming majority were back and eager to learn new things. Four new men were taught the subjects from the first trip and then moved into the Studying the BCPclasses on Prayerbook Use and Liturgy. Forty-two men, clergy and postulants, were taught how to use the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) for personal and parish use. Although the teacher was the initial leader at the first Morning Prayer and Compline, by the end of the time, the local men were leading the services. These men treasured their prayer books. Their interest was so great that of the forty-two men trained, – forty passed the test on how to use the BCP.

The prayer books were like gold in the diocese. Bishop Koyo set up a system where the prayer book belonged to the Diocese and were used by individuals. Upon death or separation from the Diocese, the prayer book would be returned to the Bishop so that this treasure could be passed on.

Another diocese sent two priests to observe the training. They asked for prayer books but all had been distributed. These two priests shared how their diocese had little opportunity to know even the readings for Sundays. Fr. Francis had a calendar with him that showed the Sunday readings. The two priests from the Diocese of the River Nzoia South gratefully accepted the calendar and duplicated it for all their fellow clergy.

The classes on the prayer book that Fr. Francis taught brought a new revelation into the lives of the Kenyan clergy and postulants. Daily prayer had not been a part of their life and they had little knowledge of the liturgical seasons, their meanings, and how such information was to be communicated to the congregants. Holy days and solemn feasts were basically unknown. They had never heard of Epiphany or Maundy Thursday. All Saints day and Ash Wednesday passed each year without any observation. Previously the sermons of the African clergy had been based on whatever they wanted to talk about that Sunday. No one had ever told them that you should base the sermon on the readings of the day and the liturgical season. This was all to change. The excitement of the students at these new and holy concepts filled the room with an almost electric charge.

When it came to teaching the classes on liturgy, the subjects covered included theAfrican Altar importance of reverence and preparation and the proper use of the gifts of the Spirit in liturgy. One of the interesting items that was discovered during this time had to do with a miscommunication of liturgical instructions. For a long time the Kenyans had been using a translation of the liturgy in the Luo language (Luo is the common language in Bishop Koyo’s diocese). This liturgy offered two options for the Eucharistic Prayer. However no one told the Africans that they could choose just one, so each Sunday Mass involved a reading of both!Acolytes

The use of acolytes was also a welcome instruction. Several men were given detailed lessons on how and what to teach acolytes. As acolytes were instructed in the cathedral parish, what started with five young students became a class of almost fifty students, all clamoring for the chance to serve at the altar!

Personal Classes were held for Bishop Koyo and for his wife, Nelly, so that they could learn the things being taught to their men. The personal and parish life of the Diocese was profoundly changed during this trip. Bishop Koyo was very pleased with the improvements in his Diocese. The request of the observers from a neighboring Diocese to receive similar instruction was received and considered. It was decided to try and assist that Diocese on the next trip.

Trip One

Connection Kenya: Trip One (November – December 2004)

Fr. Francis and the Chicken Fr. Francis Wardega traveled alone to Kenya in mid-November 2004. The Trip had been preceded by many e-mail communications between the man the Kenyans would come to know as The Teacher and Bishop Koyo. These electronic “chats” helped both men get to know one another and lay plans for their work together.

As he left Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Fr. Francis carried with him two large, heavy suitcases. In them you would have found the normal things a person needed to travel to a foreign country for a month but you would also have found one big difference. The suitcases also contained a Bible for each one of the students he would be meeting as most of them did not have one of their own. Also included were copies of the lesson plans for each student and vestments, clergy shirts, and items of the altar for the African Diocese.

Bishop Koyo had graciously prepared a room for the teacher and within three days, Fr. Francis was eating all African foods (hunger will do that!). The African hosts also provided laundry and housekeeping support. In addition, Bishop Koyo had set up a The Classroomclassroom in his personal chapel, complete with a blackboard. It was there that the small groups would sit around a large common table to learn the lessons. Electricity and lights enabled classes to continue long beyond sunset. Since the students did not yet have Books of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer and Compline were initially done by means of a brochure. This greatly helped in developing a community prayer life. Read the rest of this entry »