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Roundtable in Argentina

I have been attending the Evangelical Methodist Church in Argentina’s (IEMA) Roundtable meeting. It has been great to get to know our partner better and to hear how other partners such as General Board of Global Ministries, General Board of Higher Education and Connexio are also supporting the IEMA. I was impressed to see that the majority of its budget in terms of operational costs and stipends are covered by the church’s own financial resources, and that the remaining amount which goes towards some of projects and programmes are covered by the donations received from partners and other sources. The church is in a similar situation as the Methodist Church in Britain in terms of declining membership, which means that it still needs some support from partners to enable important community and advocacy work to be done. The church is characterized in Argentine society as having a very ecumenical outlook and working in partnership with other churches concerning a number of social issues, particularly in the area of human rights. The IEMA has a deep desire to enable its local congregations to evangelize in their communities. When I asked the Bishop how the church would help local churches achieve this, he said that they had to enable people to fall in love with Jesus again, and that when this happened evangelism would happy naturally in these communities. I couldn’t agree more!

The political climate in Argentina is tense at the moment. Church members tell me that President Macri’s government has implemented policies that have led to unemployment and inflation rises and that people are increasingly feeling the pinch in their purses/wallets. There is also the ongoing scandal of the missing protestor, Santiago Maldonado. Santiago was protesting with the Mapuche indigenous community in Patagonia (southern Argentina) who are fighting for their right over their ancestral land which is currently occupied by a number of multinational companies, when he went missing. Witnesses saw him being bundled into a van by the Argentina Gendarmerie, but there is no record of his arrest and no word from him since he went missing on 1 August. Today I saw on the news that the body that was found in the vicinity of the protests has been confirmed as Santiago’s, and the postmortem is ongoing to determine the cause of his death. This is very concerning for Argentinians given that is smacks of the dictatorship in Argentina between 1976 and 1983, when tens of thousands of people were ‘disappeared’.

Please pray for Argentina as it traverses this difficult time. Please pray that the IEMA will continue to be the salt and light, offering people hope and comfort in the face of insecurity.

Every blessings,

Sandra

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Nicolas Lowe Children’s home, Mercedes

The Nicolas Lowe Children’s Home was founded in 1902 by an Irish Methodist (Nicholas Lowe) as an orphanage. It now receive children that need to be placed into care with a view to adoption, from birth to 17 years old. The Methodist Church in Mercedes works closely with the children’s home and there is a system of weekend ‘fostering’ where all the children stay with a local family and attend church. The Cumbria District, who has a very fruitful partnership with the Evangelical Methodist Church in Argentina, has supported the children’s home for a number of years.

Every blessing,

Sandra

‘…but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on. ‘ Luke 21:1-4

Revd Fernando Suarez is a National in Mission Appointment postholder, working as an evangelist and congregational developer in the communities of Mercedes, Chacabuco and Junín which are a few hours’ drive from Buenos Aires. The Methodist congregations he works with in these towns are small and lack children and young people, but these few church members are faithful and committed to their communities.

In Mercedes the church supports a children’s feeding programme run by Silvana, a lady who lives in an impoverished part of the town who felt moved to feed the children in her neighborhood who would often have nothing to eat over the weekends or during school holidays. It was clear that Silvana herself is living in conditions of poverty. Yet this beautiful, kind hearted woman gives what she has to feed these children. Since she began the programme her work has grown in fame locally and she now receives donations of food and kitchen appliances from local business and people. What an example of how we all have something to give back to God, even when we think we have absolutely nothing to offer.

The Methodist Church in Mercedes supports Silvana’s work by collecting bread and other food items from a local bakery who donates whatever is left over after trading hours to the project.

Every blessing,

Sandra

Partnership visit to Zambia

My final place of visit was Choma in Southern Zambia where Jenny Featherson serves as the Principal of Chodort Training Centre owned by UCZ. Below was Jenny in her office.

Several vocational skills were taught at the centre namely – carpentry, ICT, fashion design, masonry, catering and childminding at the Church’s preschool. Below were catering students with Jenny speaking to the tutor.

Thank you.

Blessings
Bunmi Olayisade
Africa Partnership Coordinator
MCB

Sent from my iPad

Partnership visit to Zambia

We traveled by road for just over five hours from Lusaka to Kitwe in the Copper belt region where UCZ University was located. It was recently upgraded from a Theological College and currently offers other courses in Education, Environmental Sciences and Public Health in addition to Theology.

The student number on UCZU campus had increased to 300 and I had the privilege of attending their daily devotion at 7.00am with few staff members in attendance. The final year Theology students often led the short morning services followed by general notices in the chapel/ hall.

I later met with Rev Hastings Mwenifumbo, the Dean of Research at UCZU. He was an ex-scholarship student of the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham and now serving as the National in Mission Appointee. It was a delight to see him again after his training in England in 2014-15.

Thank you.

Blessings
Bunmi Olayisade
Africa Partnership Coordinator
MCB

Sent from my iPad

Partnership visit to Zambia

Ida and Keith are MCB – CoS mission partners serving with the United Church of Zambia. Ida is a nurse but works as the Health Secretary that liaises with government agencies , develops and implements policies, develops strategies and monitors standards of health delivery across UCZ hospitals and clinics. Keith is a teacher and the Education Secretary working with UCZ school boards, liaises with government agencies and oversees personnel and service delivery standards across the country.

Below was St Andrews Church, UCZ retreat taking place 11 kilometres outside Lusaka. The 18th of October was declared as national praying and fasting day for the Zambia.

Blessings
Bunmi Olayisade
Africa Partnership Coordinator

Sent from my iPad

Partnership visit to Zambia

Below is a self-help group on adult literacy. The church was located in a buzzing neighbourhood with high illiteracy rate especially among women.

Deaconess Albertina, a trained social worker made an announcement in church to start a literacy class in church two days a week – Monday and Friday afternoons in July 2016. Twenty women from the community enrolled but only two are graduating next month. Another fifteen have enrolled in 2017 and Albertina hopes to raise awareness and funds for the programme.

She is currently following a curriculum provided by the Community Department government office. It was a delight to speak with the women and hear the impact of this initiative on their lives. Praise God!

Blessings
Bunmi Olayisade
Africa Partnership Coordinator
MCB

Sent from my iPad