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Vol 24 No 11


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


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 •  Christmas 2013
 •  Into the cauldron of Egypt!
 •  Taking light to Lesotho

Christmas 2013

It matters not the day or month
Nor even that they challenge the year –
It only matters that we set this time aside to celebrate the birth of Christ ...
that the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

The editor and media committee members,
Bishop Bethlehem and Mazoe with the diocesan office staff wish our readers a blessed Christmas.

“... she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger ...”
Luke 2:7

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Into the cauldron of Egypt!
[ The Revd Robert Penrith ]

I have always been under the conviction that a sabbatical is an ideal opportunity to get involved in some of the ministry opportunities and experiences that one normally hasn’t got the time to devote to during the regular course of our annual calendars. So when I was granted permission to finish my unfinished sabbatical I grabbed the chance to travel to a country that is very close to my heart – Egypt. St John the Baptist in Walmer, has developed very close ties with a number of ministry partners in Egypt and Northern Sudan over the past 14 years. Teams from P.E. (which have included participants from across the city) have journeyed each year to support and pray with our partners. Allan Anderson was my travel companion on this journey.

As you will know, Egypt has been in flames over the past months and it was so very painful to sit down with our friends in Egypt and to go through slide after slide of pictures taken of burning churches across the length of the Nile. Vibrant churches razed to the ground by fundamentalist Islamist aggressors. One would imagine that the Christians would be bitterly angry and seeking revenge but the Coptic Pope declared that all the aggressors had achieved was to destroy the buildings. The church, he said, was not the building but the people. The people declared their stance by putting up huge banners that declared forgiveness to the perpetrators. This has had a huge effect on the ordinary moderate Muslims and other inhabitants of Egypt.

Northern Sudan refugees
We had the opportunity to sit and pray with families who had recently been exiled from Northern Sudan – some with just 24 hours’ notice after months of harassment and persecution. They had to leave their homes in Khartoum with only the luggage that was allowed by the international airlines. They are still hurting and devastated that their ministry and work in Northern Sudan has been ended in such an unjust manner.

We sat with a young couple from Minya where Christians are being kidnapped in huge numbers. The church naturally feels compelled to pay the ransom for brothers and sisters in Christ and so Christians are open targets. The couple we prayed with have an incredible ministry in the area - building the Kingdom through toil and sacrifice. The wife is a South African and so is a little conspicuous when in the town and therefore very vulnerable. Please join us in praying for their safety.

A cry for prayer support
There is so much more that should be said to encourage those of us who live in religious freedom to be fervent prayer supporters of the persecuted Christians in all corners of the world. Our cry is for you to include those in Northern Africa in your intercessions and petitions.

An answer to prayer
Just a brief story – three of us went on a three hour prayer walk through a suburb in Cairo and quietly prayed as we moved past churches and mosques and play centres. Just a short distance from where we were staying we stopped to pray alongside the Egyptian Broadcasting station asking God to protect the integrity of the broadcasting medium in the land. We prayed that the TV stations would be fair in their reporting and that the facility would remain safe and secure. The very next morning during the early hours there was a rocket propelled grenade fired at the huge satellite dishes. The grenade only penetrated the reflectors of the satellite dish that it hit and so did minimal damage. Our host was convinced that through the spiritual warfare that we entered into while praying, the facility was indeed saved from real damage as security was beefed up considerably after the failed attack. Egyptian Christians know that the prayers of the Christian world are so vital for their protection and continued ministry in very difficult times.

Pic: Top - An Egyptian Christian cries to the Lord in the burnt shell of her church.
Bottom - Father Farag Hanna with Bishoi giving the love sign. St John’s have known Bishoi for 10 years. He was born deaf and is now feeling called to the ordained ministry as a priest to the deaf of Cairo.

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Taking light to Lesotho
[ Sally Dawson ]

In the early hours of Saturday 21 September, long before coffee had time to be made, an eager bunch of God’s children from St John’s in Walmer left on the long drive to the Africa 4 Jesus Mission base in the Malealea Valley in Lesotho. This was our second trip and we were excited for what God had in store for us in the week ahead.

This year, due to a few ‘God-incidences’ we decided to raise money to take ‘home solar panel’ sets with us. Our goal was to raise enough money to buy four sets - we were able to order 10! Schneider Electric generously donated another 15 so we were able to take 25 sets with us. This was a wonderful surprise and blessing for Peter Mierke of Africa 4 Jesus Mission School. Peter was so excited about receiving the panels. Two of the panels were installed into houses that would use the cellphone chargers as a form of additional income for their family and 15 of the sets were given to the chiefs of the villages in the valley. Peter and his team of students went and visited all the chiefs to install the panels. This was an amazing opportunity for the mission students to connect with the chiefs and discuss the gospel and other projects with them.

So much can happen in a year - last year when we went to Lesotho the church was simply a roped area with plans to build. This year we had the privilege of worshipping with the people in their new church building and they had also just received a donation of 80 chairs. We were also grateful for the building because due to the very windy weather, we had to take our tents down and sleep in the church.

Last year we spent many hours helping the students fetch water for drinking, cooking and washing as well as fetching water from a spring to use for building. Over the past year, Peter and his students have been able to lay pipes and develop a pump system to bring running water to the Mission School and the village.

In Lesotho we were able to reconnect with friends we had made last year andalso meet new faces. We spent so much time chatting and praying with them, playing with the children and telling them about the love of Jesus. But coming home we have realised how much our hearts were touched by people who have nothing by worldly standards, yet they still wanted to give and bless us. Our hearts have been challenged and changed.

Top - The team of teenagers and young adults from St John’s who took home solar panel lights to Lesotho.
“The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5

Bottom - The chiefs receiving their solar panel packs from Barry Dawson of Schneider Electric.

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