Presbyterians Today

FEB-MAR 2018

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40 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay of Instruction (EBMI). Piloting the project in a neighborhood in the capital city of Antananarivo, Heckler is working with the Schools Department of the PC(USA)'s partner in Madagascar, the Church of Jesus Christ, on a test project to improve the effectiveness of teachers and students. "We know that children who are literate grow up to become better parents with healthier children who attend more school. Improved literacy is directly related to improved devel- opment of countries, improved distri- bution of wealth and reduction of the gender gap in society," Heckler said. Other mission co-workers involved in educational ministry in Africa include Jeff and Christi Boyd. Jeff is the regional liaison for Central Africa, and Christi is the facilitator for women's and children's interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Madagascar, Niger and Rwanda. In Congo, the Boyds facilitated a process for Congolese partners to identify and strategize priority areas for educational minis- tries. Presbyterian churches across the United States soon joined in to support the resulting Build Congo Schools program, which works to ensure quality education for future generations. Build Congo Schools is a major focus of the Congo Mission Network. Christi Boyd fosters relationships that help women like Julienne, a Presbyterian evangelist from the Western Kasai Province in Congo. After the death of her husband, Julienne found compassion and solidarity from the Presbyterian Community in Congo Department for Women and Families. Following tra- ditional widowhood rites, her in-laws had taken her home, her farm and her children. "Across the African continent the well-being of women and children is compromised — and authentic Christian witness undermined — by customs that send people into poverty and deprive them of their rightful opportunities," Boyd said. As a part of her work in women's and children's issues, Christi Boyd is helping to facilitate the Church of Christ's Women's Department's first Healing Hearts training event in the Congolese city of Goma. Healing Hearts is a Bible-based curricu- lum for trauma healing in children, developed by the Trauma Healing Institute of the American Bible Society. Women leaders in Eastern Congo have identified candidates to receive the training, enabling the churches in Eastern Congo to care for children with the deep emotional and spiritual wounds caused by war, rape and other traumatic experiences. For three days of the training, teachers, social workers and civic leaders review the Healing Hearts training material. Then children join the group so the trainees can apply what they have learned. Peace and reconciliation Because of the violence and war that many African countries have faced, several mission co-workers are engaged in peace building and reconciliation. "Reconciliation is a sacred space where bodies are refreshed and troubled souls are soothed," said mission co-worker Shelvis Smith-Mather. Shelvis, along with his wife, Nancy Smith-Mather, work with RECONCILE (Resource Centre for Civil Leadership), an indigenous ecumenical Christian organiza- tion established in 2003 by the New Sudan Council of Churches. It promotes peace building by providing training in trauma recovery, conflict transformation and civic education. RECONCILE's activities are in areas of high interethnic conflict, with the churches often being the typical point of entry into these communities. Malish James Morris is the embodiment of the impact RECONCILE can have on individuals who have suffered violence and trauma. He was only 7 when his village in South Sudan was raided. He stood powerless as soldiers lined up all the male members of his family and shot them one by one while his mother and sisters watched. When they turned the gun on him, it misfired three times. He lived. Haunted by the experience, he became a child soldier at 12, consumed by revenge. As he grew older, with help from the South Sudan Council of Churches, a Presbyterian World Mission partner, he was able to let go of the anger and bitterness. In fact, he saw the people responsible for his family's deaths and offered his forgive- ness. He became the president of RECONCILE's student body in 2015. At graduation he told the students, who were from several ethnic groups, "We have become a family." In Rwanda, where just the mention of the country is synonymous with genocide, the Rev. Kay Day is preparing seminary students for pastoral ministry at the Protestant University of Rwanda (PUR) with an instructional foundation that includes peace building, reconcilia- tion and servant leadership. PUR is supported by five Protestant denomi- nations, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Rwandan mission partner, the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda. The school was established in 2010, but its roots go back to the founding of the School of Theology of Butare years earlier. Students train in divinity, education and community development. The school strives to produce graduates who will contrib- ute to Rwanda's spiritual, intellectual and socioeconomic life. Several other mission co-workers are engaged in seminary instruc- tion, including Dustin Ellington at Justo Mwale Theological University in Zambia; Tyler Holm at the University of Livingstonia College of Theology in Malawi; Michael Weller with Ethiopian Evangelical

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