“Let us press on to know the Lord; whose appearing is as certain as the dawn; who will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that give drink to the earth.” (Hosea 6:3, CEB)
Monday, September 30, 2013
Bits & Bytes for Bagley Backers October 2013
Challenges of Church Growth
As the church grows the organizational structures need to be flexible in order to accommodate the growth (Matt.9:17). Recently we traveled to Swaziland and Ghana to help them think through the organizational changes they anticipate in order to accommodate current and future growth.
We visited Swaziland at the time of their annual District Conference. The work in Swaziland is one of the older works and has been tied to South Africa and Zimbabwe as part of the Southern African Region. During their conference plans were put in motion to divide the District into three smaller Districts and then to separate Swaziland away from the Region to create a National Conference.
The next week found us in Ghana where Bob spent several days meeting with the District Board as they worked on their plans to become a National Conference in December. The work in Ghana is a much younger work, initially planted in the southern part of the country. Using the Jesus Film, they have seen rapid growth in the north as well as the opening of mission work in Burkina Faso. Creation of a national conference and dividing into separate Districts will help the church give the administrative oversight needed to help sustain the growth they currently are enjoying. (While in Ghana, Brenda was able to speak to a women's meeting for women from the southern churches and we enjoyed worship at Ashaley Botwe Wesleyan Church.)
Medical ministries in Africa have changed significantly over the 50+ years since the Wesleyan Church started hospitals in Zambia and Sierra Leone. Recognizing the need to bring a fresh approach to how Global Partners supports medical ministries around the world, Global Partners Health Network (GPHN) was established under the direction of Dr. Diane Foley. This past month we traveled with Dr. Foley to both Sierra Leone and Zambia to assess the medical ministries, meet with leadership, and determine how best GPHN can help support and improve the delivery of medical ministry.
We visited Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital in Sierra Leone first. Because it was rainy season the road was in bad repair and so we arrived "all shook up" after a 4 and a half hour journey from Makeni. Our hospital is the only hospital in the northern part of the country - with the closest hospital found in Makeni. The needs of the hospital are significant, with the need for a doctor being the biggest. They have been functioning without a doctor since mid-August when David and Dahlia Dyer's three month term came to an end. The government has promised to supply an African doctor to serve for a year while the hospital and GP look for a longer term solution.
The hospital also struggles financially - it depends on nominal fees paid by patients to cover salaries, supplies and maintenance. The local population has difficulty in paying even the low fees and as a result the hospital has not managed to keep much of its equipment in good repair and cannot compete with salaries offered in government hospitals.
These challenges have led to stresses and conflict between the community, hospital staff, and national church. However, the reality is that the hospital and church are to be commended for the extent to which they have managed to offer medical services to the community given the massive challenges they face.
Dr. Foley and Bob enter Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital
The next week found us at Zimba Mission Hospital in Zambia. Located on the main road between Livingstone and Choma, this hospital serves as the referral hospital for a large catchment area. Recent infra-structural improvements include a new Outpatient Department, expansion and refurbishment of the maternity ward, a backup generating system, and a new chapel. GP missionaries, Dan & Joan Jones, serve as the doctors for the hospital. The Zambian staff are all employees of the government which pays their salaries. The government also provides a small grant for operating costs. The government support is a mixed blessing: a) the hospital is required to offer its services for free, making it increasingly difficult to cover costs especially now that patient load has increased because of the improved facilities; and b) since staff is posted by the government, all staff members do not necessarily buy in to the ministry focus of the hospital. The church has a medical ministry board to oversee this work, but because of costs it has not been functioning effectively.
Dr. Foley and Bob at Zimba Mission Hospital
These new days for medical ministry present daunting challenges, but the validity of such ministry is not in doubt. Please pray for Dr. Foley, the national church leadership, hospital administrators and staff as they chart the path forward in days to come.
Getting ready for school to open at the Nigerian Wesleyan High School
The Wesleyan Church of Nigeria opened a new High School this past month.
The Wesleyan Church of Southern Africa recently launched work in Lesotho with the planting of the first Wesleyan Church in that country.
The Wesleyan Church of the Democratic Republic of Congo recently developed a strategy to start work in the neighboring country of Congo (Brazzaville). The new church plant is expected to launch in January.
The Wesleyan Church of Swaziland recently refurbished and reopened the clinic at Ebenezer Mission after being closed for at least 15 years.
Africa Area Prayer Calendar
The Africa Area Prayer Calendar for October - December, 2013 is available for download by clicking the button below:
Praise God for the safe arrival of Randal & Candice Cheney and their family. They are serving at Emmanuel Wesleyan Bible College in Swaziland while they wait for doors to open for them to go to Zimbabwe.
Thank God for safety in travel as we crisscrossed across Africa over the past few weeks.
Praise God for productive visits of Dr. Diane Foley, Director of Global Partners Health Network, to the Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital and Zimba Mission Hospital.
Praise God for the growing missions vision within the African church to reaching neighboring countries with the gospel.
Please continue to pray for God's help in addressing the challenges of health care ministries in Africa. That the personnel and financial needs will be met and that the hospitals will have an increased passion to touch people spiritually as well as physically.
Pray for God's help and direction as more African churches begin missionary outreach.
Ask God to help Bob and Brenda as they lead a series of seminars at Xai Xai Bible College (Mozambique) October 8-11 on the subject of couples partnering in ministry.
Pray for God's presence to be felt in Bible College graduations in Mozambique (October 13) and Swaziland (November 2).
We continue to be deeply grateful for all of you who faithfully and sacrificially give so we can serve in the Africa Area. Thank you so much!
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