ABSW Goes to Africa! (Part 2)

Last week’s blog contained an introduction and some testimonies around the recent trip to Africa made by 7 ABSW faculty, students, board member, and friends.  This week, we continue that conversation with some more testimonies from the trip.

Testimony #1

“Our journey began with a five-day Women’s Conference held at the Christian Life Church in Uganda.  There is so much that I could say about our missionary trip to Africa but wish to concentrate on this conference, because it meant so much to the women who attended.  About 2,000 women assembled from five war-torn countries: The Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania.  Many of these women had never travelled outside of their own countries before and were very happy to be here. Pastor Mark, from one of the churches in Uganda, said that this is the first time he had ever seen all of these countries come together. We all lived in college dormitories together, ate, prayed, and learned together.  Our mornings were spent in worship.  Each morning a different country was featured, with worship leaders from that country sharing their culture as part of the program.  Our afternoons were devoted to education and led by the missionaries.  At the conclusion of the day’s events, there was much crying, cheering, praise, thanksgiving, and hugs.  It was a great privilege to witness the movement of grace and African reconciliation in process.  By the end of the conference, many of the women said that their coming together was a miracle. This first-time conference was such a success that next year another one will be held in Rwanda.   Praise the Lord!”

Ms. Choong ‘Sil’ Choi-Jung
Retired Business Woman
ABSW Senior MDiv Student

Testimony #2

Africa Trip“The first several days were a struggle for personal and physical needs . . .no, wants! Jet lag, little sleep, food and caffeine, interesting bathroom/shower facilities, and, where was dessert? Suffering for the Kingdom – it’s a good thing, right? Then, interacting with the women of Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Tanzania and Burundi at the conference and University housing, it was clear that the inconvenience and discomfort we experienced is their life – each and every day.

During our workshops in Bukavu (DR Congo) with women church leaders, another truth was apparent.  Corporate worship and ministry require us to be in relationship – and relationships can be challenging. These women, not unlike us, are ministering in their communities, sharing hope for today and for the future in Jesus Christ, struggling to find meaningful, relevant ways to show God’s love to others. They ached for encouragement, and the revelation of God’s Word in their efforts – we were blessed with the privilege of sharing what God inspired us to teach.

To speak with Missionary Paul Kim is to discover his amazing visionary leadership and incredible heart for the people of East Africa. He and his family are devoting their lives to provide educational opportunities for pastors, trade workers (sewing centers), and children. The seminary outside of Kampala is both beautiful and functional, and will provide theological curriculum that will enable pastors to grow their ministries exponentially.”

Ms. Jenny Clark
Administrative National Account Manager
Xerox Corporation
Friend of ABSW

Testimony #3

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in God’s word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning,

more than the watchmen wait for the morning.

This word from Psalm 130 God placed in our hearts as a theme to guide us as we shared fellowship together with our brothers and sisters in East Africa.  As our experience unfolded, we came to appreciate that this word of encouragement would be nourishing bread for our journey.

We had the opportunity to meet many with whom we ministered in Congo at the women’s conference in Kampala.  They, along with women from Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda made the long journey from their homes to share the joy of communion, a blessed communion in which we were privileged to take part.  It was there we first met Belade Wali Bobo, wife of the Governor of South Kivu, Congo. She freely shared her heart for the women of her province and their desperate circumstances as victims of sexual violence and war.  She described the problem as “epidemic.”  So hopeless are these women, she explained, that they will not even risk investing in friendships with one another.  Wali was preparing us to understand the conditions in which the women leaders of churches in South Kivu, Congo, are called to minister.

Conducting workshops for these women leaders in Bukavu, South Kivu, we were privileged to hear their stories, to share their struggles and joys, to pray together, and to encourage them in ministry, even as they encouraged us with their generous spirits.   We were inspired by the intensity of their faith, their hunger for the Word, the joy in their fellowship, and their determination to share life-giving ministry with women in their churches and communities for who all hope seems lost.  The Spirit was at work in our communion as, together, we waited on the Lord.”

Rev. Kristen Preston
Attorney at Law
ABSW Trustee

Conclusion

These voices, along with my own, constitute the ABSW mission team (minus one) that traveled together through the worn torn countries of Uganda, Rwanda, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, and Kenya. Also a part of the team was JJ Jung, husband of our student ‘Sil,’ who was our videographer.   This team of 7 was in Africa for nearly three weeks under the leadership of Missionary Paul Kim and Christian Frontier Mission.  We were challenged well beyond our expectations—to minister to women and pastors who are victims of war.  We ministered to women who have been raped, widowed, and their homes pillaged by foreign and domestic armies.  We ministered to pastors who have almost no training and even fewer resources.  We taught, we prayed, we preached, we worshiped; we encouraged, we supported, we spoke words of hope; we envisioned with them life beyond war.  Now, not even three months later, we continue to pray for those we ministered to, we continue to hope on their behalf; and we know that we will never be the same.

Rev. LeAnn Snow Flesher, PhD
Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament
American Baptist Seminary of the West

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