Dusty… faithful feet
On the 8th of September I travelled to Ethiopia to join with Archbishop Josiah Fearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion; Bishop Andrew Proud, the Bishop of Redding, Oxford; and Rev. David White, the CEO of the Anglican Communion Office. Rev. Rajan Vincent, of Christ the King Anglican Church, Tripoli, Libya joined me as well. The purpose of the visit was for Archbishop Josiah to see the extent of the ministry in Ethiopia, especially the Gambella region where the number of churches has grown from 7 in 2000 to 141 in 2017.
A new hope
We spent the first day in Addis Ababa and spent Sunday the 9th at St. Matthew’s Church where Bishop Andrew Proud preached and I celebrated the Holy Communion service. While in Addis we noticed that the local people were in the streets carrying Ethiopian flags and celebrating with great joy! The reason for all this was the celebration of the Ethiopian New Year. They follow a different calendar, so it is now 2011. The other reason for the obvious joy was that the new Prime Minister has invited all of the opposition leaders to come back to Ethiopia in order to participate in building the future of the country. We were able to see the hope in the eyes of the people who have suffered from oppression in the past.
On Sunday evening we travelled to Gambella. On Monday morning we visited two new churches for the Anuak tribe. In the afternoon we went to visit the churches in Itang. Each group of churches has a mission centre where people gather once a month for training and fellowship. I was touched when I learned that some of the women walked for three hours to come and welcome us in the mission centre. Their dusty feet spoke of their faithfulness to the Church of Christ.
The great and wonderful surprise for me was that on a large piece of land they have built a new church with mud and tree branches! They asked me to give the church a name which I did. The church is now called “The Good Shepherd Church.”
On Tuesday, we met with around 35 clergy and lay ministers. They shared about what the Lord is doing in their midst. They also gave us all an update about the number of churches in each mission centre. Archbishop Josiah asked them about their hopes for the future. They are very much looking forward to a Bishop who can live in their midst, not far away. They also would like to see development work in the areas of education and health happening in Gambella. As I write this report a group of engineers finished their visit to Addis Ababa and Gambella to develop plans for the extensions of St. Matthew’s as well as the new land in Gambella.
Visit to Algiers
We also visited Algiers in order to see the ministry in North Africa. It was a great encouragement to see a vibrant service on Friday morning and another Arabic service in the afternoon. The church is definitely growing in Algiers! It became obvious to all of us that the need for several clergy is becoming urgent. We are happy that a number of potential clergy are now being trained at St. Cyprian’s Theological Centre in Tunisia.
While in Algiers, we were able to visit Annaba (Hippo) which is in the east of the country. It was wonderful to visit the ruins of the site of St. Augustine’s Cathedral and to see the seat where he used to sit, preach and act as a judge when people brought problems to him. It was also wonderful to see the new St. Augustine’s Catholic Basilica and to meet some Anglicans who worship there.