Sunday, July 11, 2004

Mission Yearbook, August 1: Pray for PFF and the Afar

Friends, I invite you to use this 2004 PCUSA Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study minute for mission in your services on Sunday, August 1. Every year, Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship is invited to contribute a minute for mission for the Mission Yearbook. For the past several years it has been my privilege to write the submission. - Dave


Sunday, August 1, 2004
Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship
PCUSA Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study

The Muslim official spoke bluntly to the Rev. Iteffa Gobena: "We know the good work your church does in the highlands. Why aren't you here, working with our Afar tribe, the forgotten people of Ethiopia?"

Gobena, president of our Presbyterian Church (USA) partner, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, looked incredulously at the government official from the Afar tribe. He had no idea that the Afar, an unreached Muslim tribe in a remote desert region of Ethiopia, would be so open to help from a Christian group.

Five years before, God had spoken to Gobena, telling him, "You've got to go to the Afar with my gospel." Gobena began praying that God would send partners. Five years later he contacted the Frontier Mission Program requesting help. When Solana Beach (California) Presbyterian Church heard about the request, they visited the Afar and responded by making a "Commitment to Share Good News" with the Afar.

Their Commitment has expanded into an Afar Partnership, and a Frontier Mission Project is underway among the Afar (ECO #040060). The partnership includes 12 Presbyterian churches large and small, from New York to California, Texas to Michigan. The Afar people are discovering that American Christians care deeply for them.

"We think God wants a mighty movement of love flooding into the desert," says the Rev. Tom Theriault, mission pastor of Solana Beach Presbyterian Church and board member of Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship (PFF). A Validated Mission Support Group of the Presbyterian Church (USA), PFF mobilizes congregations into these global partnerships to establish indigenous churches among unreached people groups such as the Afar.

Hundreds of Presbyterian churches support frontier evangelism efforts around the world. Contributions to the Frontier Mission Program (ECO #863001) fund church planting ministries on every continent, including the USA. Please pray for frontier mission.

Prayer: Jesus, Lord of the Universe, you are redeeming people from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Your new family welcomes people from every tribe, people and language all who place their salvation in you. Please flood your gospel into all the unreached cultures of the earth, that faithful and fruitful indigenous churches would blossom to your glory. In your name we pray, Amen.

-- Rev. David Hackett
Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship
Associate Director for Denominational Relations


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Going in the extra 1/2 mile

How many places around the globe do you think Americans never go in a half-mile to encounter the real people?
Joe Kramarz, Guest Frontier Blogger

I took my first international mission trip about 10 years ago. I had done some volunteer mission work around Spokane and wanted to increase my experiences by going out of the country. My honest desire was for adventure as well as service when I joined a team going to the island of Cozumel, 12 miles from Cancun, Mexico. The team leader spoke fluent Spanish and we stayed at the Presbyterian church on the island. The church was about a 1/2 mile inland from the coastal boardwalk where the tee shirt shops served the cruise ships anchored in the harbor just off shore.

One afternoon, after a hard day pouring cement for a new community center, I walked the 1/2 mile back to the beach to relax and see the tourist shops. I watched as the customers tried on dresses and pawed through mounds of tee shirts looking for special bargains to give the folks back home. They all seemed to be saying, "Look where we have been. See, we were in Mexico!"

I wanted to say to all of them -- or to any one who would listen -- "Look, you have not seen Mexico, any more than viewing a lion in a zoo allows you to say you were in Africa. Come with me IN a 1/2 mile and I will show you a more real Mexico: people living in stick houses with hammocks hung from wooden beams and hibachi-type cookers in corners to make hot meals. Come and see the ladies selling tortillas on the street as their children play in the dirt. See the people struggling with life instead of "struggling" to find your right shirt size.

On this visit I don't say these things, of course. I just sit there in the shade quietly with a cold Coca Cola and ponder these thoughts in my mind. I realize I have just made a mental 1/2 mile walk to see what my world in the US is like everyday. I still have the 1/2 mile walk back to the church, my hammock, and the next day's cement work.

The question for me would be...Was I willing to make that 1/2 mile walk in Spokane when I got back from this trip? Or would I be like these cruise ship tourists, retreating to the relative safety of my "ship" and leaving behind what I know is only a 1/2 mile walk beyond the boardwalk and a million miles of separation from where Christ calls me to be?

-- Joe Kramarz, guest blogger. Joe is the mission committee chair of Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Wash.