Category Archives: Africa

South Sudan: Amid a Civil War, He Plants a Church

by Gordon Skopnik

He grew up in war, born into a family that practiced witchcraft and worshiped evil spirits. Even as a boy, he was not happy about this. One time he opposed his grandmother and destroyed her shrine. Suddenly his eyes were forced shut and started to bleed. Somehow he felt God was with him; he believed that God had a plan for him and God healed his eyes. So he committed himself to God and refused to worship at his grandmother’s shrines. Continue reading South Sudan: Amid a Civil War, He Plants a Church

Kenya: A Bible in Rendille, a Cause for Celebration

by Melvin and Kari Peters

In 1907, two AIM missionaries journeyed on foot into northern Kenya to survey the Rendille and Samburu people. It wouldn’t be until 1960, when the Kenyan government lifted restrictions to missionary work in the north, that the first missionaries began working with the people groups living in what has been described, by A. Beaman in his doctoral thesis on the Rendille, as “one of the most forbidding human habitats in all of East Africa.”

In 1965, Earl Anderson was the first AIM missionary to move to LogLogo and begin working with the Rendille people, bringing not only the gospel, but also improvements to daily life such as boreholes, medical care, and schools.

The Rendille, numbering about 65,000 people, are found in the northern part of Kenya, occupying nearly 14,500 sq. km of arid semi-desert in southern Marsabit District. The Rendille people are traditionally pastoralists keeping goats, sheep, donkeys, and camels.

This year marks the completion of a monumental undertaking that began nearly 40 years ago. In 1981, Nick and Lynne Swanepoel, missionaries with AIM, began the development of the Rendille language and oversaw the translation of the New Testament by Bible translation and literacy work.

On Aug. 18, 2018, people gathered in Korr from around the world to celebrate the completion of this project. Three of MAF’s airplanes were involved in bringing people to and from Korr for the celebrations. And MAF had the honour of flying in the newly printed New Testaments to be distributed at the celebrations.

Melvin and Kari Peters (La Crete) serve in Kenya with EMC Missions and Mission Aviation Fellowship Canada.

Angela Kruse: Who Will Hear the Name of Jesus From Your Lips?

by Angela Kruse

“From one man, He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him” (Acts 17:26-27).

This passage of Scripture has spoken powerfully to us after returning this past June from Northern Uganda where more than one million Southern Sudanese crossed the border fleeing war and famine. The sheer number of refugees is overwhelming, yet what God is doing through this crisis must be proclaimed.

God has allowed one million Southern Sudanese into Uganda’s predominately Muslim North. Coincidence? We don’t think so. Christians are actively sharing the gospel with their Ugandan Muslim neighbours.

Our first Sunday in the town of Arua, northern Uganda, we attended a local Sudanese church that met under a mango tree. We recognized Martha from the Dinka tribe. Ten years previously, while serving in a Sudanese refugee camp in Ethiopia, we had sponsored her husband to attend a Bible school.

At a weekly Bible study that I held, Martha asked for prayer as her Ugandan neighbours were practicing witchcraft and she was deeply troubled. We prayed for protection and an opportunity for her to share the gospel. That week, the children in her neighbour’s home became ill. She brought them food, paid for their medicine, and shared the gospel. Barely managing to feed and clothe her six children, she shared Christ to her neighbours in word and deed.

While over 80 per cent of the population are women and children, dozens of active churches proclaiming Christ each Sunday in every refugee camp. Women serve the sick and the poorest among them while caring for relatives’ children and orphans in addition to their children. Pastors and evangelists have joined different denominations of churches together so they can more effectively use their limited resources. Children and youth choirs actively praise God each Sunday morning and share the gospel during the week.

The refugee camps in Northern Uganda have become hubs for training Sudanese leaders in church planting, leadership, TEE and discipleship. The refugee camps and towns are a safe for women to raise their children while their husbands continue ministry in volatile places.

How should we respond to refugees or immigrants entering our countries from places that are hard to send missionaries? God is using circumstances like war, famine, and persecution so that every nation might hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

How should we respond? Recognize God is actively at work. Be ready to help God’s people in need. Practice hospitality and share the gospel in word and deed. Refugees are coming to our towns and cities. Do they see your spiritual fervour and your faithfulness in prayer? Who will hear the name of Jesus from your lips?

Angela and Rolf Kruse (Rosenort FC) serve with SIM in Uganda.

Burkina Faso: Tubabu Salesman

by Paul Thiessen

I roam through the bustling crowds of the Saturday market and listen for someone calling my name, “Bwallon Kén!”We exchange all the necessary greetings, then he says, “Ma tè” (What’s the news?) So I tell them that I’m selling Siamou calendars.

I pull out a blue calendar and explain the attractive features, especially the five days of the Siamou week, and show them how they can find which is today. They love it. This is, indeed, a Siamou calendar.

The men are making china green tea with their tiny enamel teapots and charcoal burner. The aroma of hot tea and glowing coals fills the air. They offer me some in the middle of my presentation. Very sweet. Very strong. Very delicious. 

I read them all the names of the months in Siamou: “Cold Weather Month, Hot Weather Month, Very Hot Weather Month, Pick up the Daba Month, Seeding Month….”

Next, I show them the Noah story. Each month has a short paragraph of this story. I begin to read the first two paragraphs in Siamou: Noah was a righteous man. He walked with God. But the people were evil and rebelled against God. So God told Noah to build a large boat.

By now a small crowd has gathered. Here is a Tubabu (white man) reading Siamou out loud. They have never seen such a thing before. I read extra loud to attract attention. More people are coming to listen. Siamou people are hearing a Bible story in their beloved language for the first time.

Then I tell the rest in Siamou, because reading it all would take too long there in the middle of the market. I emphasize that it rained 40 days, using the Siamou word for “forty” (kpélnkrô). This number impresses the listeners, because young people say “binani” (in Jula, the trade language) even when they are talking Siamou. Hearing the genuine Siamou word for the number 40 gets people excited. This story is being told in pure Siamou.

I tell the story pointing to the pictures on each page. Then I get to the end, where Noah is lifting up his hands toward God to thank Him for saving his family.

About halfway through the story, someone is digging in his pocket for change. He hands me 300 fcfa, and I give him a calendar. Someone else says, “The price is too high. Lower the price.” I answer: “We paid the printshop in Ouagadougou 500 fcfa for each of these. You are already getting a good deal.” Out comes 300 fcfa. They know this is a good deal.

They love hearing their language and they love the prestige it gives Siamou people and the Siamou language to hear a Tubabu reading it.

After selling a few calendars I go home and pray that God will use this story of Noah to lead people toward the Truth, toward God, and toward Eternal Life.

Paul Thiessen (Blumenort), currently living in Canada, has served in Burkina Faso, west Africa, for many years.

South Sudan: Sunday, an Orphan and a Bishop

by Gordon Skopnik

South Sudan – Sunday is not just a day. This story is about Sunday the man.  Sunday grew up in refugee camps as a Sudanese orphan.  Camp life was very difficult and as an orphan, and especially a Sudanese orphan, he had to figure out how to support himself in another country.

The culture and language were different and people often never thought of others and were consumed with trying to survive. Sunday felt like he was the scum of the earth, and that is how he thought about himself.

When he was a bit older, maybe 13, he left camp life that was too difficult only to find that city life was sometimes even worse.  A pastor in Kampala City in Uganda found him destitute and offered him a helping hand and counsel.  It was not much, but Sunday was given some food, counsel and provided some education.  Sunday believed he would never become anybody significant because he believed he was nobody significant.

The pastor taught him that he could have a position in Christ. He could be a child of God and learn and have a new identity.  Sunday could not believe that could ever happen to him. But as he grew in relationship with his new community and the pastor reinforced that Sunday had potential, he went along for the ride.

It was time for him to move back to his own country, South Sudan, and the pastor bought Sunday a ticket to fly back with Mission Aviation Fellowship.  Sunday had only seen these planes in the sky, and so, when he went up into the sky himself, he was terrified that he would fall out of the sky.

This experienced changed his life, though, and God used it to move him forward in faith.  He realized that if he could fly in the sky, he could do anything—and be anybody that God wanted him to be.  He finally grasped his identity in Christ as a child of God and brother of Christ and all its benefits, and he shared them freely with others.

It was difficult in South Sudan for Sunday but he, as a humble servant of Christ, just helped people and orphans; and the community noticed that Sunday was a spiritual leader.  Sunday is now a bishop and serves thousands of people.

There are many more details to Sunday’s story that I did not share as they were too disturbing and too graphic.  In an interview with Sunday, the last time I met him, he was living in a refugee camp in Northern Uganda because his home in South Sudan is destroyed and he is not able to go back. He said, “I was born in war. I married in war. I have had children in war, and now I may die in war.”

This may sound devastatingly negative, but Sunday serves beside Avant Ministries. He serves South Sudan within the context of Short Cycle Church Planting in the refugee camps promoting health, peace, and spiritual vitality.

Gordon and Sharon Skopnik (Wymark) serve with Avant Ministries. Sunday’s story is told with his permission.

Kenya: MAF Assists Amid Drought

by Kari and Melvin Peters

KENYA – In December 2016 predictions were already being made that the drought situation in Kenya would only intensify in the New Year. Below average rains in the past few years have meant that there is not enough forage for animals in the country’s arid livestock-dependent north.

In 2016, 1.3 million Kenyans were in need of food aid, and that number is expected to rise as high as four million in the months ahead. Humanitarian officials are predicting that unless there is coordinated action by the international community and NGOs, it is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

In February the Kenyan President declared the drought a national disaster, with 23 of 47 counties affected (including Marsabit), and has called for international help. The number of food insecure people has more than doubled; and over 350,000 children and pregnant and lactating mothers are acutely malnourished. Many children are unable to attend school because of the drought’s impact.

In 2012 it looked like the Kenya program would be winding down to a bare minimum. The idea to start a sub-base in Northern Kenya began in 2014 when an assessment was done of the needs in Kenya. In January 2015 this assessment was incorporated as part of the Program Development Plan; and in March, the position for a pilot/manager was advertised (and you know how that turned out).

In past weeks, the MAF Team has been making it a priority to get the word out that we have a plane based in northern Kenya. The story of Esther comes to mind; God’s purposes will prevail and it is up to us if we want to step up and be a part of His-story. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance … will arise from another place, but you and your [organization will no longer have work in Kenya]. And who knows but that you have come to LogLogo] for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, paraphrase by Kari).

In African culture a person’s wealth is in their herds. The more livestock a man has, the greater his worth in the community. These simple people, living off of the land, do not have bank accounts; their animals are their life.

In a season of drought there is not enough food and water for all the animals. But re-education will take time and so meanwhile, creative ways of handling the situation need to be implemented like at a recent event that Melvin was able to witness.

He flew the Marsabit County Governor to the town of North Horr where he was meeting up with government representatives from Nairobi for a drought awareness and famine relief effort. They purchased a hundred goats from the villagers; the animals were immediately butchered and returned to feed the villagers. This did three things: reduced the herds, provided needed income, and fed hungry people.

We trust that, as the word gets out and NGOs receive the funding they need to help with the drought, MAF will be found faithful for such a time as this.

Kari and Melvin Peters (La Crete) serve under EMC Missions with Mission Aviation Fellowship.