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Presbyterian Mission Yearbook

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Mission Yearbook for November 28, 2014

Thu, 11/27/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     The Synod of the Pacific

 

College students everywhere stay busy with their studies and extracurricular activities, but students at College of Idaho in Caldwell really know what that means. The college encourages the integration of faith and leadership in life after college through its unique Transforming the World Christian Leadership minor.

The College of Idaho, founded as a Presbyterian college, is located within the boundaries of the Synod of the Pacific and is nonsectarian. It supports voluntary, multidenominational Christian fellowship within an environment of free religious expression on campus and fosters care for individuals in the diversity of their beliefs. Students, staff, and faculty explore spiritual resources of the Christian tradition in conversations where multiple faith perspectives find voice and respect.

Under the leadership of Presbyterian campus minister Rev. Phil Rogers, the Transforming the World Christian Leadership minor encourages students to integrate faith with professional life. Building on a foundation of practical theology and leadership theory and capped by a course in Christian servant leadership, it blends theory and practice. Students develop skills in communication, problem solving, and decision making that equip them for leadership in professional and volunteer settings throughout their lives.

The synod is home to 432 congregations and their 80,127 members.

—Ruling Elder Peggy Hall, member, Spanish Springs Presbyterian Church, Sparks, Nevada

Let us join in prayer for:

Synod Staff

Ruling Elder Jane F. Odell, transitional synod executive
Teaching Elder John E. Kelso, transitional stated clerk
Ann Butterfield, director of business services
Ruling Elder Ani Lelea, administrative associate, treasurer, investments coordinator
Kendra Fraser, loan coordinator, marketing
Patrice Alshuth, mission treasury coordinator, bookkeeper
Melinda Durham, benefits coordinator
Del Howley, office assistant

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Joel Townsend, PMA
Tonia Trice, PMA

Let us pray

God of love, thank you for providing a way for your love to be taught and shared. We ask that the world would be transformed through that love. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 84; 148
First Reading Zechariah 14:1-11
Second Reading Romans 15:7-13
Gospel Reading Luke 19:28-40
Evening Psalms 25; 40

Mission Yearbook for November 27, 2014

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Iran, continued

 

 

Graduates of Bible school in Iran, 1986

 

Photo courtesy of Hendrik Shanazarian

 

I will never forget a youth camp I attended 35 years ago. It started the day of my last high school exam. What a joy to graduate and on the same day head to a camp with 120 other youths from different Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches in Iran. What a blessed camp! I have no doubt that this camp was God’s special way to care for the future of the Presbyterian church in Iran.

After the Islamic revolution in Iran, just a few months after the camp, the missionaries, including our camp leader, had to leave the country. Gradually many local church leaders and members also had to leave the country. A small number of local leaders took the responsibility of training us enthusiastic young people who loved the Lord and were ready to serve.

I do not forget that camp, because about 20 or more of those who were there, either as participants or leaders, in a very short time became the leaders of congregations: six pastors, five pastor’s wives, and many Sunday-school and youth teachers. Under the leadership of these young people and their few mentors, our churches grew in number and matured spiritually, despite pressure. We had no doubt that God was working in a special way in our churches.

Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian, Christ Armenian Church,La Crescenta, California

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries, continued

Synod of the Evangelical Church of Iran

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Susan Tickner, BOP
Russ Tinley, BOP
Julie Tonini, PPC

Let us pray

Dear Lord, we thank you for the faithful leaders of the Presbyterian church in Iran. You have been their strength through years of extreme pressure, martyrdoms, imprisonments, immigrations, and restricted activity. We ask that you would refresh these pillars, their families, and church members; we pray especially that they would have the freedom to proclaim the gospel and to serve those who are weary and carry heavy burdens. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 116; 147:12-20
First Reading Zechariah 13:1-9
Second Reading Ephesians 1:15-23
Gospel Reading Luke 19:11-27
Evening Psalms 26; 130

Mission Yearbook for November 26, 2014

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Iran

 

In Iran the persecution and discrimination of Christians continues to be a sad, undeniable reality. Amid the pressure and closure of many churches, the number of house churches has grown steadily. Lack of access to Christian literature and Scripture is a problem, and the migration of Christians is a painful challenge. However, the good news of God is a stronger reality than all problems and challenges.

God uses Presbyterians to bless others miles away!

Seattle First Presbyterian Church (SFPC) supports outreach and television ministry among Iranians. As a result of this ministry, many Iranian young adults have given their hearts to the Lord. But baptism of new believers is forbidden in Iran, so SFPC joined others seeking a solution. In 2013 the session of SFPC examined (via Skype) some of these candidates and commissioned one of its pastors to baptize young men somewhere in the Middle East. Now they not only have been baptized but are also connected to a local congregation.

In early 2013 the shrinking Presbyterian church in Iran took a huge step of faith to follow God’s mission. Though this persecuted church suffers financially, they decided to send a generous gift to their sisters and brothers in Syria. The Presbyterian church of Iran takes its ministry seriously. They believe that the church has never been called to be an inward-looking community. Christians are called to seek creativity in following Christ.

Let us remember that God uses Presbyterians to bless others miles away!

Rev. Mansour Khajehpour, pastor of operations and Middle East missions, Seattle First Presbyterian Church

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries

Synod of the Evangelical Church of Iran

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Rev. Edward Thompson, BOP
Mark Thomson, PMA

Let us pray

God of miracles and wonders, we thank you! Thank you for performing amazing things right in front of our very eyes. We thank you for our Iranian sisters and brothers, who keep their witness alive because you are alive. Amen!

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 96; 147:1-11
First Reading Zechariah 12:1-10
Second Reading Ephesians 1:3-14
Gospel Reading Luke 19:1-10
Evening Psalms 132; 134

Mission Yearbook for November 25, 2014

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Iraq

 

To Abraham, the living God promised, “I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you” (Gen. 17:7). In the ancient land from which Abraham came, the Presbyterian church in Iraq continues to bear testimony to God’s faithful covenant promises. Christian witness here dates to the apostolic era. Those early faithful disciples carried the gospel on to the lands of Arabia, Persia, India, and China. Many of these earliest churches still exist in Iraq. The Presbyterian story began in Iraq during the 1840s.

Though many young adults of all Christian traditions have fled Iraq in the past 10 years because of safety concerns, some have chosen to stay. And some of those who have stayed are active members in the five Presbyterian congregations established in five different major cities across Iraq. Two young men lead their congregation’s radio ministry. Through this ministry, many in that city have heard of Christ’s way of love and peace for the first time and have come asking to learn more. Another team of young women lead their small congregation’s rapidly growing preschool ministry for nearly 200 children, 98 percent of whom are Muslim. Daily they live as witnesses of Christ’s reconciling love to the people around them.

—Rev. Elmarie Parker, PC(USA) regional liaison for Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries

Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Iraq: Rev. Haitham Jazrawi, moderator, Elder Yousif Al-Saka, general secretary •Middle East Council of Churches Relief Program, Baghdad • Assyrian Presbyterian Church in Baghdad • Evangelical Church (Presbyterian Church) in Baghdad: Elder Yousif al-Saka, lay leader • Evangelical Church (Presbyterian Church) in Basra: Elder Zuhair Fathalla, MD, lay leader • Evangelical Church (Presbyterian Church) in Kirkuk: Rev. Haithem Jazrawi, pastor • Evangelical Church (Presbyterian Church) in Mousul: lay leaders • Armenian Apostolic Church: Archbishop Avak Assadourian, prelate

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Nancy Taylor, OGA
Pat Taylor, PMA
Rev. Tom Taylor, FDN

Let us pray

Gracious Lord, continue to fill our brothers and sisters in Iraq with your own heart, courage, and love as they seek to bear witness to your gospel ways in their communities. Daily sustain them with all they need. May your shalom come to reign in this land, that all might live in peace with one another. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 12; 146
First Reading Zechariah 11:4-17
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 3:10-23
Gospel Reading Luke 18:31-43
Evening Psalms 36; 7

Mission Yearbook for November 24, 2014

Sun, 11/23/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Syria, continued

 

The crisis in Syria is dire and heartbreaking, with more than 93,000 people killed and an estimated 4 million fleeing elsewhere as refugees as of June 2013. The contours of a proxy war have also become more visible, with Iran, Hizbullah, and Russia backing the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and the conservative Gulf States, Israel, some European nations, and the United States supporting various opposition groups. Atrocities have been carried out on both sides, including perhaps very limited chemical weapon use, an allegation the United Nations was investigating at the time of this writing.

What started as nonviolent protests against a second-generation secular dictatorship became a kind of civil war and then a geopolitical battlefield, with overtones of sectarian hatred. The religious element was not a key motivating factor in the first protests, and some of Syria’s 70 percent Sunni majority remain more willing to stay with the al-Assad regime than with the increasingly jihadist Sunni rebels. The al-Assads are part of an Alawite minority (11–14 percent) often lumped with the Shiites but that is, in fact, a heterodox group with some pre-Islamic beliefs. The proxy war is thus partly not about Syria but about the competing geopolitical and strategic interests of powers much greater than Syria.

The Syrian Christian minority (10–12 percent) has sought a neutral position and urged the United States and all foreign elements not to interfere. The PC(USA) has called for a cease-fire and negotiations, without idealizing either the nature of the al-Assad regime or the various rebel groups. Presbyterians have been—and are—asked to contribute to the care of the refugees, and we pray for rebuilding and reconciliation in that country.

Rev. Christian Iosso, coordinator, Advisory Committee for Social Witness Policy

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries, continued

Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch • Syrian Orthodox Church • Jinishian Memorial Program

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Allison Taylor, PPC
Bryan Taylor, FDN
Cara Taylor, PMA

Let us pray

O Lord, we beseech you to send your Holy Spirit to shade the land of Syria so that peace may prevail in its dwellings. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 62; 145
First Reading Zechariah 10:1-12
Second Reading Galatians 6:1-10
Gospel Reading Luke 18:15-30
Evening Psalms 73; 9

Mission Yearbook for November 23, 2014

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Minute for Mission: Christ the King/Reign of Christ

 

On the last Sunday before Advent begins, we should all take a moment to consider that Christmas is not just about a baby being born—it is about the coming of a king. And this King, whom we have never met, loved us enough to die for us. And his “Abba,” our great God, sent him to earth so that he could show us how we should live and how to love one another. Today is a day for us to celebrate the great love that God shows us every single day.

I experienced this celebratory spirit a few years ago in Kenya. The people of the Riamukurwe Parish in Nyeri had so much love for our Lord, praising his name all day, every day. They have no shame in expressing their reverence toward him. We could learn from their example and let our own praises resound not only today, not only on Sundays, not only when we carve out the time, but every day. God gave us everything, so why not respond with thanksgiving?

Psalm 100:1–5 puts it most unabashedly: “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

How amazing is that? God’s steadfast love endures forever. We will never have to live without it, and that is reason enough to praise God’s name.

Rachel Shussett, student, Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pennsylvania

Let us pray

Dear Lord, you have given us all we could need, and so much more. Help us to remember all the gifts that you present to us every day, from big opportunities to flowers poking their faces up to the sun. Help us to remember to praise your name for every blessing you place in our lives. In your name we pray. Amen.

Sunday Lectionary and Hymns

Ezek. 34:11–16, 20–24
“Crown Him with Many Crowns”
HB 213, PH 151

Ps. 100
“All People That on Earth Do Dwell”
HB 24, PH 220

Eph. 1:15–23
“I Greet Thee, Who My Sure
Redeemer Art”
HB 144, PH 457

Matt. 25:31–46
“Come, Christians, Join to Sing”
HB 131, PH 150

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 108; 150
First Reading Zechariah 9:9-16
Second Reading 1 Peter 3:13-22
Gospel Reading Matthew 21:1-13
Evening Psalms 66; 23

Mission Yearbook for November 22, 2014

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Syria

 

 

Conference participants

 

Photo courtesy of NESSL publication and media department

 

Despite the recent turmoil in much of the Middle East, a group of Presbyterian young adults, primarily from Syria, gathered in fellowship in fall 2012 at the Dhour Choueir Conference Center, a ministry of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL). Proverbs 8:1—“Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?”—provided the theme of the conference.

Participants shared their experiences during the crisis in Syria, which included joblessness, uncertainty, and fear for the future. Despite their collective fears, some expressed strongly that Christians can play an important role in such circumstances. “It is a chance to prove that we are committed followers of Jesus Christ, who proclaim the good news to all the weary and the oppressed,” said Amer, who had just finished his university degree.

This statement provoked a question: “Do we leave, like the disciples from Jerusalem, via the Emmaus road, or do we learn from Jesus how to make a difference around us?” The question is not academic, especially for those who live in a constant state of danger. Such conversations helped the participants release their fears and gain a sense of support and solidarity. Despite the difficulties, these young people insist on keeping the dream of a peaceful and prosperous country alive.

Retreat participants lived together as a church and established a strong bond of fellowship. By the end of the conference, all worries had been brought before God, with the prayer that God’s will be done.

—Gladys Abboud, publication and media department, National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries

National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon: Rev. Samuel Hana, moderator, Rev. Fadi Dagher, general secretary • Armenian Apostolic Church

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Margo Szabunia, OGA
Frederick Tangeman, OGA

Let us pray

Prince of Peace, we pray for the churches in Syria and all Syrians who continue to suffer from the violence of civil war. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 122; 149
First Reading Malachi 3:13-4:6
Second Reading James 5:13-20
Gospel Reading Luke 18:9-14
Evening Psalms 100; 63

Mission Yearbook for November 21, 2014

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Lebanon

 

Lebanon was once called the Switzerland of the Middle East for its peaceful balancing of a diversity of Christian and Muslim groups. That peace was seriously damaged by a civil war from 1975 to 1990, complicated by invasions and partial occupations by Israel and Syria, and unbalanced by waves of refugees: over 400,000 Palestinians and their descendants and an estimated 100,000 Iraqis and 400,000 Syrians. The Muslim community overall is thought to make up more than 60 percent of the population. The Maronite Catholic and Orthodox Christian communities significantly outnumber the Protestants, many of them members of the PC(USA)’s partner church, the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.

The synod strives to help both Christians and Muslims who have fled Syria and was already contributing a Protestant Christian voice to regional discussions of the Arab Awakening. Synod leaders played a key role in hosting a consultation on the impact of greater democracy alongside the increasing influence of Islamist parties, as in Egypt. The Near East School of Theology continues to play a key role in training pastors for the region. Influenced in part by recent president Mary Mikhael’s example, several pioneering women are receiving theological education and have been licensed to preach.

One key organization involved in peacebuilding and mutual understanding has been the Forum for Development, Culture & Dialogue, led by Rev. Riad Jarjour. Maher Btaiche coordinates peace and conflict-resolution programs for the group. Linda Macktaby coordinates its youth programs, including the creative International Work and Study Camp that has drawn young adults from 12 countries and fostered intensive spiritual reflection on the new political and cultural possibilities driven so much by the imagination and hope of the young Arab population.

Rev. Christian Iosso, coordinator, Advisory Committee for Social Witness Policy

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) People in Mission

Rev. Elmarie Parker and Rev. Scott Parker, regional liaisons for Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, Presbyterian World Mission • Rev. Dr. Nuhad Tomeh, regional liaison for Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Gulf States, Presbyterian World Mission

Partners/Ministries

National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon: Rev. Samuel Hana, moderator, Rev. Fadi Dagher, general secretary • The schools of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon • National Evangelical Church of Beirut: Rev. Dr. Habib Bader, pastor • Supreme Council of Evangelical Churches of Syria and Lebanon: Rev. Dr. Salim Sahiouny, president • Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East: Rev. Dr. Mgardish Karakouzian, president, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, secretary • Armenian Apostolic Church • Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch • Syrian Orthodox Church • Hamlin Home for the Elderly • Jinishian Memorial Program: Mrs. Seta Pamboukian, director • Lebanese American University: Dr. Joseph Jabbra, president • Near East School of Theology, Beirut: Rev. Dr. George Sabra, acting president and dean

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Rev. Angel Suarez-Valera, PMA
Carla Sutton, FDN

Let us pray

God, bless the hope, the rage, and the sorrow of Christians and Muslims as they seek peace, freedom, and opportunity. May Jesus’ prophetic path continue to find a witness in your creative minority community in Lebanon. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 88; 148
First Reading Malachi 3:1-12
Second Reading James 5:7-12
Gospel Reading Luke 18:1-8
Evening Psalms 6; 20

Mission Yearbook for November 20, 2014

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Israel/Palestine/Jerusalem

 

 

Rock at entrance to Daoud’s farm

 

Photo by Clark Scalera

 

We drove our van southwest from Bethlehem, turning off the main road at an unmarked drive that quickly turned into a rocky dirt road along the edge of a hill. Before long we encountered a giant boulder that blocked the road. As we piled out to walk the final 300 yards to the farm home of the Daoud Nassar family, we learned that the Israeli Army had placed the boulder in the road to prevent motorized access to the farm.

We were met by Daoud and Amal Nassar and their young family, who welcomed us with tea and an incredible story of Christian forbearance, persistence, and courage. Since 1991 they have faced nearly unimaginable harassment and persecution by the occupation forces and illegal colonizers who have been trying to force them off their homestead.

The young Nassar family is composed of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Daher Nassar, who purchased the 100-acre farm in 1916. Now, under condemnation and demolition orders from the Israeli occupation forces, the young family is living in enhanced caves on their farm. They have established a Christian reconciliation project called Tent of Nations, welcoming all to come to work and learn together about how to turn enemies into friends. Their theme is “We refuse to be enemies.” Please pray for them, that their marvelous witness in the midst of a global conflict will be sustained and grow. Visitors are always welcome.

Darrell and Sue Yeaney, Scotts Valley, California

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries, continued

Middle East Council of Churches Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees: Dr. Bernard Sabella, executive secretary • Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work, Gaza: Dr. Issa Tarazi, executive director • Palestine Children’s Relief Fund: Mr. Steve Sosebee, president • Ramallah Friends School: Joyce Ajlouni, director • Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem: Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, director • St. Luke’s Hospital, Nablus: Dr. Walid Kerry, general director, Dr. Yacoub Alol, medical director • Tantur Ecumenical Institute: Father Timothy Lowe, director • Wi’am–Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center: Mr. Zoughbi Zoughbi, director • YWCA of Palestine, East Jerusalem: Ms. Mira Rizek, national general secretary

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Keren Strothman, PPC
Michael Strzelecki, BOP
Shawnda Styles, FDN

Let us pray

God of all nations and people, we give thanks to you for blessing the Nassar family with the courage that has brought them through many trials. Thank you for giving them strength that inspires us all to hold fast in the face of injustice and hardship. Continue to bless them with your Spirit of love, power, and peace. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 143; 147:12-20
First Reading Malachi 2:1-16
Second Reading James 4:13-5:6
Gospel Reading Luke 17:20-37
Evening Psalms 81; 116

Mission Yearbook for November 19, 2014

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Israel/Palestine/Jerusalem, continued

 

 

Home demolitions are also family demolitions (East Jerusalem).

 

Photo courtesy of ActiveStills.org

 

While people in the United States are free to worship where they please, Palestinian Christians and Muslims are not. A separation wall prevents them from visiting churches or mosques in Jerusalem on holy days, even though the trip often involves only a short walk. Imagine being told you could not worship where you want.

Palestinian Christians ask us not only to come and see the sites, the “old stones” of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, but also to come and pursue encounters and relationships with the “living stones” of Palestine. They want pilgrims to encounter the people and their hopes and to carry home a witness to their truth. Using a licensed Palestinian guide is an important part of responsible travel there.

Palestinians invite us to hear the cries of pain that echo off the snaking wall built around their villages. They want us to see the home demolitions, the illegal settlements built on land grabs, and the destroyed olive trees, farms, and businesses—reasons why the 220th General Assembly (2012) overwhelmingly approved the boycott of products made in those illegal settlements (see theIPMN.org).

The Israel Palestine Mission Network, with members from over 80 presbyteries, represents many thousands of mission hours in Palestine. Since its inception in 2004, IPMN has fulfilled the General Assembly mandate of supporting and giving voice to oppressed Palestinians and educating Presbyterians about their plight. IPMN partners with Jews and Muslims dedicated to a just peace, so that all may hear the cries of peoples long silenced.

Katherine Cunningham, moderator, Israel Palestine Mission Network

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries, continued

Melkite Greek Catholic Church: Archbishop Elias Chacour, archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and all Galilee • Al Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza: Ms. Suhaila Tarazi, director • Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, Gaza: Mr. Naim Kabaja, director • B’Tselem—the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories: Ms. Jessica Montell, director • Diyar Consortium and the International Center of Bethlehem: Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, general director • East Jerusalem YMCA: Mr. Andre Batarseh, general secretary, Mr. Nader Abu Amsheh, director, Rehabilitation Program, Beit Sahour, Mr. Nidal Abu Zuluf, director, Joint Advocacy Initiative

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Laura Stricklen, PMA
Rev. Teresa Stricklen, PMA

Let us pray

God of hope, all our times are in your hands. Today we pray especially for the people of Palestine and Israel, lifting our voices in longing for just peace in their lands. We pray in the name of the One born in this Holy Land, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 65; 147:1-11
First Reading Malachi 1:1, 6-14
Second Reading James 3:13-4:12
Gospel Reading Luke 17:11-19
Evening Psalms 125; 91

Mission Yearbook for November 18, 2014

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Israel/Palestine/Jerusalem

 

Fencing installed by Palestinians near the Cave of Machpelah for protection from debris thrown from Israeli settler apartments above

 

Photo by Clark Scalera

 

 

For 4,000 years, the Cave of Machpelah has been a place of pilgrimage. Genesis 23:1–20 records Abraham’s purchase of this cave for burial, and he, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah are all laid to rest there. It remains a holy site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Located in Hebron, in the heart of the West Bank, the cave has become a hotbed of political and religious conflict. An occupying Israeli military force has shut down nearly 10 blocks surrounding the tomb. This force protects an Israeli settlement (illegal under international law) and has displaced more than 1,000 Palestinian shops and homes.

Palestinians who desire to visit the cave are required to pass through several military checkpoints and, even if they live in the area, are denied the right to walk on certain streets. These Palestinians are subject to harassment and violence daily.

Amid this tension, there is hope. Palestinian, Israeli, and international groups are working together to reduce conflict and encourage a peaceful resolution. The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), run by the World Council of Churches and supported by the PC(USA), trains internationals to accompany people and organizations working toward a just and lasting peace. EAPPI provides protective presence for school children, monitors checkpoints, and offers pastoral care wherever possible. The region needs both your prayer and your advocacy.

Rev. Clark Scalera, EAPPI accompanier, fall 2010

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries

Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Diocese of Jerusalem: The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, bishop, The Very Reverend Hosam Naoum, dean and pastor to the Arabic-speaking congregation, St. George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem, Rev. Dr. Graham Smith, dean, St. George’s College, Jerusalem, The Venerable Luay R. Haddad, Archdeacon of Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, executive secretary and office director • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land: The Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib Younan, bishop

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Irina Strakovsky, BOP
Gail Strange, PMA
Kevin Strange, PMA

Let us pray

Almighty God, we pray for all who live amid conflict and injustice. Help us to learn the way of peace and to practice love, even for our enemies. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 54; 146
First Reading Habakkuk 3:1-10 (11-15) 16-18
Second Reading James 3:1-12
Gospel Reading Luke 17:1-10
Evening Psalms 28; 99

Mission Yearbook for November 17, 2014

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Egypt, continued

 

 

 

 

 

Magdi Rafaat 2012 seminary graduation

 

Photo by Darren Kennedy

 

As a student at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Magdi Rafaat became curious about mission work. His interest was further piqued after spending two summers in Khartoum, Sudan, as a seminary intern. He thought that perhaps God was calling him to service in Sudan, but then the head of the mission program at the seminary, Tharwat Waheeb, approached him about serving in Basra, Iraq. He explained that there were few Presbyterian churches left in the country and that the one in Basra currently had no pastor. Magdi was intrigued.

He traveled to Iraq in 2012 and spent three weeks with the congregation. Only about 40 families remained after the 2003 Iraq War, and they seemed oppressed by the uncertainties of life and the hostility of many of their non-Christian neighbors. Yet they were also living lives of quiet faith under difficult circumstances, which inspired Magdi. Still, he doubted himself. He was only 25 years old and wondered whether he had the maturity and courage to pastor a church in Iraq.

Magdi returned to Egypt, not quite sure what he would do. But when he received a formal call from the church in Basra, he felt moved to respond positively, trusting God. He was ordained in his home church in Minya, Egypt, as a missionary pastor and left for Basra in January 2013. How curious, he thought, to be continuing his faith journey in a country where he had never dreamed of serving.

Rev. Dr. Michael Parker, teacher of church history, Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries

Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt (Synod of the Nile): Rev. Reda Thabet, moderator, Rev. Nashat Watson, vice moderator, Rev. Refat Fathy, general secretary, Rev. Tharwat Wahba, chair of Pastoral and Outreach Ministries Council, Dr. Nadia Halime, moderator of Women’s Union, Dr. Tharwat Kades, Council of Ecumenical Relations and Dialogues • Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo: Rev. Makram Nagib, chair of the board, Rev. Atef Mehani Gendy, president, Rev. Magdi Sadiq Gendi, vice president • Coptic Orthodox Church on the See of St. Mark the Evangelist • Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services: Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki, director general • St. Andrew’s Refugee Services

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Brenda Stoney, PMA
Rebecca Storti, BOP

Let us pray

Lord of the harvest, be with your servant Magdi as he begins his new life in Iraq. May all the gifts of the Spirit be evident in his life as he seeks to lead your hard-pressed people in Basra. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 57; 145
First Reading Habakkuk 2:1-4, 9-20
Second Reading James 2:14-26
Gospel Reading Luke 16:19-31
Evening Psalms 85; 47

Mission Yearbook for November 16, 2014

Sat, 11/15/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Minute for Mission: Auburn Theological Seminary

 

 

 

 

Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle

 

Photo by J. C. Austin

 

 

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. (1 Thess. 5:11)

Before our first meeting of the Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle, an eight-month fellowship program designed to explore new paradigms in female leadership through the lens of Black female leaders in faith and social justice, we knew our journey would be tough. Tough, but necessary.

“Creating an intentional plan for self-care is exactly what I need to keep my commitment to social justice work alive,” a woman shared. “God is demanding that I pay attention to the vulnerable person behind the mask of unshakable leadership I present to the world,” said another. And from a third: “I want to put as much energy into the pursuit of my own wholeness as I [put into] the battered women I help every day.”

These women, who dedicate their days to anti-trafficking activism, child advocacy, and bringing food justice to poor communities of color, face a tough task in a world where self-care most often looks and feels like a narrow and individualistic pursuit for the privileged few.

And then the women gathered together. Twelve strong sisters: leaning on each other, asking for what they need, expecting to hear and be heard. The circle was formed, and from it a new narrative of self-care has begun to emerge—one that requires a community to call it forth. As I build up my sister, she builds me up. As I hold her hand, she holds mine.

J. C. Austin, director, Christian leadership formation, Auburn Theological Seminary

Let us pray

O God, we are bound to each other, as much in the needs we express as in the work we do. We are your people in vulnerability and in strength; in receiving as well as in giving. Help us to bring our whole selves to all that we do in service to you, and also to the community we share. Amen.

Sunday Lectionary and Hymns

Judg. 4:1–7
“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”
HB 91, PH 259, 260

Ps. 123
“I’m Gonna Live So God
Can Use Me”
PH 369

1 Thess. 5:1–11
“Watchman, Tell Us of the Night”
HB 149, PH 20

Matt. 25:14–30
“Yee Jun Ae Joo Nim Eul
Nae Ka Mol La” (“When I Had
Not Yet Learned of Jesus”)
PH 410

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 67; 150
First Reading Habakkuk 1:1-4 (5-11) 12-2:1
Second Reading Philippians 3:13-4:1
Gospel Reading Matthew 23:13-24
Evening Psalms 46; 93

Mission Yearbook for November 15, 2014

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Egypt

 

 

 

Janet DeVries and three middler students

 

The Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo began its ministry in 1863 on a houseboat on the Nile River! By 1926, land and money had been given to establish a campus in Cairo and to begin residential training. Today, its 160 students are taught by an international faculty, including several from the PC(USA).

Both women and men are equipped for ministries in the church at Evangelical Theological Seminary. On a recent visit to Egypt, I was privileged to spend several hours with three students. These young men, middler students, were focused on the role they and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt (Synod of the Nile) will play in the shaping of a new Egypt, an Egypt where the Christian population is said to number far more than the 3 percent often reported—in fact, as much as 10 percent of this growing country of 85 million may be Christian. The Synod of the Nile is the largest Reformed presence in the Middle East, educating young people for service not only in Egypt but also in Iraq, the Gulf States, and Sudan.

Evangelism and mission are high priorities of the Synod of the Nile and for these students. When I asked what they hoped to do when they graduate, each said that he wanted to be in ministry by being involved in mission work to Sudan, a country with which Egypt has long had a mission partnership.

Rev. Janet DeVries, general presbyter, Grace Presbytery

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) People in Mission

Please pray for people in mission in Egypt.

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Cameron E. Stevens, PMA
Mindi Stivers, PMA
Veronica Stone, BOP

Let us pray

We pray for students in Egypt: called to ministries of the church, challenged by the politics of the world around them, and eager to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 56; 149
First Reading Joel 3:9-17
Second Reading James 2:1-13
Gospel Reading Luke 16:10-17 (18)
Evening Psalms 118; 111

Mission Yearbook for November 14, 2014

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Turkey

 

There’s a first-generation Christian movement among Turkish young people, and Presbyterians have been a part of it! As a result of increased study abroad, easier access to Christian literature, the Internet, a growing number of Christian believers from other countries, spiritual hunger, and even dramatic accounts of God appearing to young people in dreams (cf. Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; Matt. 1–2), several thousand Turkish young adults have become Christians and organized themselves into churches—many of them meeting in homes—spread from east to west. Most of these new believers are under 50 years of age, with the majority in their 20s and 30s.

Kemal is typical of this generation. A gifted athlete who is intellectually curious and was seeking to fill a void in his life, he responded to both the message of the New Testament (from personal reading and sermons) and the witness of young Turkish Christians in his city. Coming into growing conflict with his father, he experienced an undeniable intervention of God, giving him both courage to embrace Christ and a heart of compassion for his parents. During his mandatory year of military service, he sought grace to honor authority, love the difficult, stay pure in heart, and share Christ with others as he was so led. Kemal has a teaching gift and heart for ministry with children and youth. They gravitate to him as he pours the love of Jesus Christ into them!

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries

Please pray for people in mission in Turkey.

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Terri Stephenson, OGA
Timothy W. Stepp, PMA
Angela Stevens, OGA

Let us pray

We thank you, Lord Jesus, for moving in Turkey. We praise you that ethnic Turks, Armenians, Syrians, and Greeks are gathering around the Scripture, reconciled in the blood of the crucified One whom they worship together as one body. We pray that these young believers would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and lead lives worthy of you—strengthened and prepared for everything that is to come. Amen!

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 130; 148
First Reading Joel 2:28-3:8
Second Reading James 1:16-27
Gospel Reading Luke 16:1-9
Evening Psalms 32; 139

Mission Yearbook for November 13, 2014

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Middle East

 

 

 

 

The Beatitudes in Arabic calligraphy

 

The United States and the Middle East have not always been in conflict, and their perceptions of each other have not always been negative. On the contrary, by the end of World War I, Middle Easterners’ experience of America was mostly through Presbyterian missionaries who came to the region to establish schools and hospitals and give witness to the good news of the gospel. In Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq, Presbyterian missionaries made positive contributions to society, and their efforts were well received.

Shortly after WWI, President Woodrow Wilson called for an end to colonialism and promoted peoples’ right to “self-determination.” His call made him a hero in the Middle East, where people took to the streets, proclaiming: “Long live Wilson! Long live the United States!”

Much has changed since then. In the Middle East, new political dynamics, including dictatorships, replaced British and French colonial rule. The discovery of oil in some Arab countries caused a major shift in geopolitical dynamics between nations. Extremist ideologies and fanaticism found fertile ground among some oppressed peoples in the region.

On the other side, the United States became a superpower with increased political and economic interests in the Middle East. Conducting covert military and intelligence operations, and even wars, the US government got entangled in Middle Eastern affairs. Additionally, it backed the creation of the State of Israel and continues to provide that nation with unconditional support.

Within a few decades, Americans and Middle Easterners developed antagonistic perceptions of each other.

What is the role of Christ’s church in the midst of this hostility? Surely Middle Eastern churches and American churches should not be on opposite sides in a clash of civilizations. Nor should their national identities supersede their identities in Christ—“for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Rather, it is in this very context that the body of Christ—Middle Eastern and American together—is called to the ministry of just peacemaking and reconciliation. These geopolitical dynamics present a call to the church to discern its role in God’s mission in the Middle East.

Amgad Beblawi, area coordinator, Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe, Presbyterian World Mission

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries

Middle East Council of Churches (MECC): Dr. Elias El-Halabi, general secretary • Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches: Mrs. Rosangela Jarjour, general secretary • Arab Group for Muslim-Christian Dialogue; and Forum for Development, Cultural and Dialogue: Rev. Dr. Riad Jarjour, general secretary • MECC Jordan: Ms. Wafa Goussous, director, Amman liaison office • Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Jordan: Rev. Samer Azar, pastor • Church of the Redeemer, Amman, Jordan: Rev. Fadi Diab, pastor • Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center: Father Nabil Haddad, director • Ahliyyah School for Girls, Amman, Jordan: Mrs. Haifa Najjar, director • Bishop’s School for Boys, Amman, Jordan: Mrs. Haifa Najjar, director • Theodore Schneller School, Marka, Jordan: Dr. Ghazi Musharbash, director • Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, Salt, Jordan: Brother Andrew de Carpentier, director

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

David Staniunas, OGA
Lea Stanley, BOP
Kerry Starks, PMA
Marsha Stearley, PMA
Gavin Stephens, PPC

Let us pray

Redeemer Lord, as we listen to news about the Middle East day after day, help us to discern the mind of Christ about this region and our role in making your love known to all peoples in it. Help us to be instruments of your grace: constant in our love, unrelenting in pursuing peace, and faithful in working for justice for all. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 36; 147:12-20
First Reading Joel 2:21-27
Second Reading James 1:1-15
Gospel Reading Luke 15:1-2, 11-32
Evening Psalms 80; 27

Mission Yearbook for November 12, 2014

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Tajikistan

 

A little child shall lead them. (Isa. 11:6)

Society, including neighbors, in Central Asia can be unwelcoming for children with disabilities. A common response is pity: “It’s so unfortunate.” Others react harshly by declaring that God has cursed the child’s family. No wonder that people with disabilities of all ages are often hidden at home or not registered to receive social benefits. Schools are reluctant to accept any child with special needs, even those with strong learning ability, fearing that disability is catching or that physically challenged children become ill easily.

 

'Head, shoulders, knees, and toes' in Tajik

 

In 2012 the PC(USA) partner in Tajikistan, a development organization, began two school-readiness groups for children ages three to seven. They meet two days per week for physical therapy, basic knowledge lessons, and social-skills practice. By demonstrating that children with disabilities can develop and even flourish, we hope to empower parents to request that their children be included in the educational system, perhaps even at the nearest local school. And we assure mothers that their children are special gifts from God!

To increase community awareness of inclusive education principles, the partner organization held a seminar for government officials, school directors, health workers, and parents. The children from our learning groups came and sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in Tajik—most of them doing the correct motions. A number of people in the audience were surprised that children with disabilities would be able to do this! One government worker, in the department that manages children’s disability benefits, remarked, “I’ve never thought about the life of a disabled person before today.”

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries

Please pray for people in mission in Tajikistan.

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Susan L. Stack, PMA
Rev. Charles Stanford, PMA
Susan Stanford, PMA

Let us pray

Loving God, give us your eyes to see that each child, each person, is special. Help us to welcome those with disabilities. In the name of the One who blessed the little children. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 15; 147:1-11
First Reading Joel 2:12-19
Second Reading Revelation 19:11-21
Gospel Reading Luke 15:1-10
Evening Psalms 48; 4

Mission Yearbook for November 11, 2014

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel Minute for Mission

 

 

Donald Wilson praying in 2009 with a convoy in Iraq before they head out

 

“So why do you want this job?” It’s the kind of question you would expect in an interview. As I sat there thinking about my past 23 years as an Air Force chaplain, I was flooded with emotions. Back in 1990, a fellow chaplain tried to pressure me to become a member of his faith group. Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel (PCCMP) stepped in and helped me work through the issue. In 1998 I was not promoted, and PCCMP once again stepped in to help me. The next cycle, I was promoted to major by following their advice. In 2009 my father passed away, and on returning from the funeral I was deployed to Iraq for eight months. Tom Chadwick of PCCMP came to visit my wife and family. He helped them through the emotional upheaval of those changes. PCCMP made sure that my family could attend the annual chaplain conference and family retreat that summer.

“So why do you want this job?” To care for the pastors and their families who care for service members. This past year, the PCCMP Board voted to use the phrase “Presbyterians Caring for Chaplains and Military Personnel” to describe the organization. It clearly represents the mission: PCCMP cares for those chaplains who walk with members and veterans of all branches of the US armed forces.

PCCMP serves in partnership with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, and the Korean Presbyterian Church Abroad.

Donald Wilson, associate director, PCCMP

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Jackie Spycher, PMA
Champaka Srinivasan, PMA

Let us pray

Eternal God, help us to remember that you are always with us—to the end of the age. We want to be Christ’s presence to others. Remind us that you are beside us, as we are beside those in need. We ask for the opportunity to share your love with others this day. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 123; 146
First Reading Joel 2:3-11
Second Reading Revelation 19:1-10
Gospel Reading Luke 14:25-35
Evening Psalms 30; 86

Mission Yearbook for November 10, 2014

Sun, 11/09/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Central Asia

 

 

 

By ones and twos, nine women gathered at a home to meet the “Bible storyteller.” Strict instructions were given before the meeting: no Bibles, no literature, no notes. When the ladies were seated in the kitchen, the storyteller rose from among them and asked, “May I tell you a story?”

Relying on God’s Word spoken and the Holy Spirit to interpret, the storyteller told the story from Mark 5 of Jesus healing the woman with an issue of blood. The storyteller then asked some questions. The women stepped into the story with their own imagination, comments, and reflections. This storytelling model is simple, reproducible, and powerful. The women left the gathering equipped to learn more stories and to practice Bible storytelling themselves.

In Central Asia—composed of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan—less than 2 percent of the population claim to be Christian. Since the late 1990s, Presbyterian World Mission and Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship have cooperated in a variety of work in these countries.

While each country is different, unregistered meetings of Christians or Muslims in homes or elsewhere are illegal. Arrests, fines, and imprisonment are not uncommon. In three countries, torture is well documented.

When religious materials such as Bibles, CDs, or pamphlets are found at a meeting, which is the norm, the legal penalties are often serious. Introducing the practice of oral inductive Bible study in these cultures has been both exciting and well received.

—Mike, Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries

Please pray for people in mission in Central Asia.

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Emily Sprawls, PMA
Elise Springuel, PMA

Let us pray

Lord, we ask that you would bring a great light into this land. Through dreams and visions and the lives of your followers, help those who do not yet know you have the opportunity to respond to your kingdom message of Jesus. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 135; 145
First Reading Joel 1:15-2:2
Second Reading Revelation 18:15-24
Gospel Reading Luke 14:12-24
Evening Psalms 97; 112

Mission Yearbook for November 09, 2014

Sat, 11/08/2014 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Minute for Mission: Caregiver Sunday

 

Two phone calls in two days interrupted a long-awaited winter vacation in Florida. Two elderly family members had fallen, one requiring significant medical attention. The cost of caregiving must be measured in stress as well as time and effort. Is such stress your worst fear about caregiving?

Serving as a caregiver is a role that many of us will undertake at some point in our lives. The Family Caregiver Alliance reported in 2012 that 29 percent of the US population was serving as a caregiver for someone who is ill, disabled, or aged. Caregivers come in all ages, but the majority are between 18 and 49. This means that caregiving affects many during the years normally dedicated to building a family and career.

Today’s Gospel reading is the parable of the Ten Virgins. A common interpretation focuses on our not knowing when Christ will return and the importance of being ready and alert. But what if we view the 10 virgins as caregivers? Half were prepared, while the other half were left reacting to the need of the moment. The prepared were able to meet the need (greeting the bridegroom) and care for themselves, while the unprepared were unable to meet the obligation to which they had committed.

Caregiving is sometimes required when least expected. For others, it may be an anticipated development in a relationship. Either way, preparation is possible. Identifying available resources, acknowledging a need for support, and setting reasonable boundaries are all ways to make caregiving a gift of love for others and oneself. Asking for church support through prayer and tangible assistance is one way to maintain health. Christ taught us about caregiving through his words and actions. If we model our behavior after his, we will be alert and ready.

Ruth Bischoff Syre, MSN, RN, FCN, parish nurse and elder, Rustburg (VA) Presbyterian Church; moderator, Presbyterian Health Network, of the Presbyterian Health, Education, and Welfare Association

Let us pray

Gracious, caregiving God, help us to be ready to care for each other through all the chapters of life. May we see your face in those for whom we care. Help us to remember to care for ourselves, trusting that your grace will guide us. Amen.

Sunday Lectionary and Hymns

Josh. 24:1–3a, 14–25
“Lead On, O King Eternal”
PH 447, 448

Ps. 78:1–7
“Ye Servants of God,
Your Master Proclaim”
HB 27, PH 477

1 Thess. 4:13–18
“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”
HB 148, PH 5

Matt 25:1–13
“God of Grace and God of Glory”
HB 358, PH 420

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 19; 150
First Reading Joel 1:1-13
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 14:1-12
Gospel Reading Matthew 20:1-16
Evening Psalms 81; 113

Pages

Presbyterian Mission Yearbook

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