Synod members heard from church leaders in East Malaysia, Uganda, Madagascar – and those who support them – at this year’s Mission Hour about how God is at work in their countries to win more people for Christ.
The Rev Al Lukabyo from St James’, Croydon, who has a long association with the church in Madagascar, spoke of the extraordinary growth in the number of churches and believers, despite a crippling famine and dreadful poverty in the country.
He introduced a video in which Patrice Lamazava, a catechist and evangelist in the east coast Diocese of Toamasina, spoke of how the courses and trainers paid for by Work Outside the Diocese Committee in Sydney “helped us to study the Bible and to grow in Christ”. Full of gratitude to both the Diocese and Moore College, Mr Lamazava said: “I cannot thank you enough – I really can’t. May God bless you.”
The principal of St Patrick’s College in the southern Diocese of Toliara, the Rev Berthier Lainirina (who addressed Synod in person three years ago), shared via video of how the Spirit was drawing many to Jesus in the midst of severe famine.
“In partnership with you we freely provided food to thousands of families,” he said, “and by God’s grace... they saw the love of Christ through what we do. We baptised 1129 new Christians within one week. Praise God!”
We baptised 1129 new Christians within one week. Praise God!
Mr Lukabyo said prayers for rain had been answered and, through Anglican Aid, seeds were being distributed so people could grow crops. In addition, wells were being built, students sponsored for theological study and emergency relief was also provided where needed. The PTC was also being translated, unit by unit, into Malagasy.
The greatest need, however, is for leaders. In Toamasina diocese alone, he said, there was almost 500 churches and only 16 presbyters. “One parish has 90 churches within it!” he added.
“Of this you may be sure: churches in the Western world are not queueing up to partner with the Anglican Church in Madagascar. The locals find our fellowship & generosity genuinely amazing and moving.
“It’s been so energising for us as a parish [and has] stimulated godly generosity. And if you want your parish to be involved in a work that God is evidently blessing, support the Centre for Global Mission, MegaVoice or Anglican Aid to deepen this partnership.”
The Bishop for International Relations, Malcolm Richards, interviewed the Rev Wilston Trin, who is spending two years studying for an MA at Moore College on a bursary provided by the Sydney Diocese.
The Rev Trin is from the Diocese of Kuching, which covers the Malaysian province of Sarawak as well as Brunei). He told Synod members that the diocese was established about 170 years ago when the first missionaries arrived from England and the worship tradition has traditionally been Anglo Catholic, but “over the years there has been growth of gospel mission and evangelical ministry in the diocese.
Bishop Richards added Kuching now has an evangelical leader in Bishop Danald Jute, who “has a vision to make the proclamation of the gospel central in the life of the diocese”. The plan is, he said, for the Rev Trin to become one of the key theological educators in the diocese in a re-established Bible college.
GAFCON Kigali and the G-TEN
The next speaker was the Rev Canon Dr Bill Salier, who works with Bishop Peter Jensen in the GAFCON Theological Education Network or G-TEN. He described the G-TEN as “a network of colleges and seminaries that serve Anglican churches around the world.
It is estimated that over 90 per cent of the pastors leading congregations in the majority world have little or no theological training.
“Many colleges are under-resourced and their students are often poor in terms of financial resources and educational background,” he said. “But it has been one of the challenging privileges of my particular role to get to know people doing an extraordinary job with very little by way of resources. The needs are great, but the opportunities are extraordinary as people are converted and daily, churches are planted. God is powerfully at work.”
Dr Salier said that, as part of the next GAFCON conference in Kigali, Rwanda, next year, the G-TEN hoped many principals, teachers and bishops would be among the delegates to “encourage our partnership together, form new relationships, learn from one another, and to plan together. “But we need help for many members to attend. As I said, resources are scarce. We are looking for individuals and churches willing to sponsor the attendance of many people around the world through conference bursaries. We cannot overestimate the importance of helping our brothers and sisters to attend this gathering for the encouragement they will receive knowing that they do not labour alone, and to minister to one another.
Mission Hour concluded with a video from the Bishop Dr Alfred Olwa from the Diocese of Lango in northern Uganda, who spoke of the “huge challenges [and] social disruption” the region has faced for many years as a result of the violent, family-shattering Lord’s Resistance Army, cattle rustlers and now COVID.
“Twenty-thousand girls [in the region] got pregnant during the COVID lockdowns,” Bishop Olwa said. “They are young... families don’t know what to do, and schools here do not accept pregnant students. What will happen to these children who will be born and if they are not given good education and foundation?”
Although poverty also continues to be an issue in this mainly rural diocese, he said that after “all this disrupted growth and the development of faith and a normal life for everyone... we thank God that we are on the way of recovering”.
Bishop Olwa also thanked God for Anglican Aid’s support for the “key need” of ministry training. “Our burden is to do mission work and to make sure that the gospel is taken to other parts of the country.”