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Vol 17 No 11


The official gazette of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth:
Anglican Church of Southern Africa

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 •  Persecuted church encouraged
 •  Love, prayer and service to the community

The Bishop,
the editor, iindaba committee members and the diocesan staff 
wish all our readers
a very blessèd Christmas and a joyful, peaceful and prosperous 2007.

Persecuted church encouraged

A team of 16 people, aged 56 to 72, from various parishes has just returned from outreach to the persecuted church in Egypt, reports Lynne Axon.

We left for Egypt on 9 September and within two hours of our arrival we were praying for a family in Cairo. We then travelled on to our first destination and later in that day we were asked to pray for a group of medical workers. On the second day we were given the name of Agape - ‘a group sharing the love of God’ - and this set the theme for the rest of the trip. We prayed for young people, who responded very well to us because I think they saw us as grandmother or grandfather figures, we prayed for older people who saw us as their peers. All the time just loving them with the love that only Jesus can give.

We travelled as far south as Aswan and then slowly made our way back north to Cairo stopping along the way to visit churches, monasteries, hospitals and orphanages and in each place we would encourage and pray for the Christians there. We had the privilege of visiting areas where the average tourist never goes, and walking through the villages smiling and greeting the people in the streets. It is forbidden to evangelise outside of the church buildings so we were always careful not to draw attention to our real purpose - not because this would have been a danger to us but it would have created problems for those we were visiting.

The purpose of the outreach has always been to go and encourage the persecuted church in Egypt by praying with them, showing them the love of Christ and, where we can, giving material support as well as creating, in the hearts of those that go, an awareness of the plight of Christians living in a Muslim dominated country. The team was well prepared for all this as we had been meeting for six months for spiritual and practical preparation, and to do fund raising to enable us to take much needed items and money.

We went with the idea that we were going to be a blessing to the people, but the more we blessed them the more blessings we received. Everyone was amazed at the depth of faith that these Christians have.  At every turn the hospitality was overwhelming, even the poorest of communities would offer us refreshments. I don’t think that any of us has come back without having been changed in some way.

We are hoping to continue to take teams every year and we are also hoping to take a team of families, so that the young children can be exposed to the persecuted church and hopefully grow up to fulfil the great commission of taking the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth.

If you feel called to join one of the outreach missions or would like further information please contact:
Kirsten Roux - 041 365 0000 / 083 657 0040 or
Lynne Axon - 041 583 4522 / 082 320 4564.

Pic: All aboard - Ready to encourage the persecuted church in Egypt with love and prayer were this group of parishioners from various parishes in our diocese.

Love, prayer and service to the community
A visit to the Sisters at the Community of the Resurrection in Grahamstown during October showed that the life of a CR Sister is not all one of quiet contemplation and prayer, but also one of social action within the greater community.

Social action includes soup kitchens for poor folk in the area, helping at the Raphael Centre for people living with HIV and AIDs, which belongs to the Sisters, visiting old people's homes and those in hospital,  together with counselling and prayer. The sisters are seen within the wider community as a non-threatening presence, someone to trust and with whom one can share one's burdens, and someone just to talk to. There are only six sisters left in the Community in Grahamstown, although there are also a few others in residence, such as Sr Makhosana who is testing her vocation and who is hoping to join them soon. Mother Zelma  oversees the work and sees to the administration with the help of her assistant, Sr Kekelso. Sr Carol, who is well known within our diocese for her banner making, and Sr Dorianne who has put together beautiful photo albums containing the life-history of many of the nuns who have died, such as our dear Sr Mariya of the House of Resurrection. Sr Dorianne  joined the Community in 1940 when there were 122 sisters in Grahamstown and many others in branch houses reaching from Cape Town to Zambia. She is a fountain of wonderful stories, some very humorous.

Becoming a nun
Today, some older women, as well as the younger ones, feel the call to the Religious life, and look for a community that caters for their gifts. Some communities are involved in teaching or nursing or evangelism outreach, so the scope is wide. Aspirants will join a Community to test their vocation to see whether they can live within a Community. If they really feel the calling is for them they become Postulants for a period of about six months, always testing whether this is really the vocation for them. They then become a Novice for about two years before finally taking their vows and donning the habit of a Sister. Three of the Sisters in Grahamstown are also ordained priests and help in the churches when needed.

There are some different Anglican Communities within the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and indeed, throughout the world. For more information phone Mother Zelma at 046 622 5292.

Pic:  Happy band of pilgrims - Sr Kekeletso, Makhosana Zulu an Aspirant, Sr Dorianne, Mother Zelma and Sr Carol (seated) on a balcony at St Peter's in Grahamstown.

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