Dar es Salaam
[In the photo, our primate Fred Hiltz on the right, Bishop Francis (South Sudan) on left.]
The companion links conference here in Dar es Salaam continues to be a very rich, rewarding and moving experience as bishops and diocesan representatives from Canada and Africa share testimony of their dioceses joys and struggles. The simple struggle to exist for many in parts of Africa is a stark contrast to the experience of many in Canada. It is all relative in one sense but what Archdeacon Dell and I are seeing is that the faith, fortitude and vibrancy of our relationships is a great witness to the strength and need of our Anglican Communion.
Bishop Francis (South Sudan) just shared how his wife and 6 children had to flee to the bush to escape the warring factions in Sudan whilst he was at seminary in Kenya. For 7 years he was unable to return, he was helped financially by the Anglican partners in mission until, through the help of rebel forces, they tracked down his wife and children. Escorted by 8 soldiers his wife and family walked for 21 days to be re-united with him. It was a moving story, just one of the struggles that so many share.
Francis was ordained deacon, then 6 months after being ordained priest he was elected bishop. An election he was not aware of, until his archbishop tracked him down and told him. Francis has seen God's providence in so many amazing ways. An orphan at the age of 6 he discovered his father, his mother, his brothers and sisters' was Christ and his followers. He spoke so movingly of the Anglican Church of Canada and the importance and necessity of the partnerships through the companion links they have.
There is much we tend to take for granted in Canada. We can moan about lack of resources, even in our places of employment, for example, we can bemoan the fact that we do not have enough ipad's or lap tops for our children in our schools. However, reading another article in ‘The Citizen' a Tanzanian newspaper, it was reported that students of Wipanga Primary school in Sumbawanga Town, Rukwa Region, Tanzania, were having to miss out on studies due to the shortage of chalk and other basic teaching materials. They ask the government to supply the chalk but the request is ignored or not worked upon. The small amount of money the school does receive does not meet even the basic needs and many teachers find themselves begging for supplies.
This is an amazing and challenging cross cultural experience for me, one I hope many of you will have opportunity to experience as we develop closer ties with the diocese of Muyinga. On that note I will end this blog posting with news I received this morning from bishop Paisible. (I had shared with him the letter I wrote to you yesterday.)
+ Bishop Rob
Thank you very much for your prayers for Burundi. We are still waiting what will be the situation tomorrow. Here in Muyinga, the situation seems to be not bad but in Bujumbura, things are not well. People are not going to work, students are at home and markets and shops are not opening. We have given everything to God.
I have just cried when I read your attached letter. Your love is so great and we know that God will bless you in everything. We were on the road I and Rev. Methode going to Bujumbura to wait for our flight when we heard about the coup d'Etat. We went back home and we are now helping the Congregation to pray for the situation.
As you know, we are people of God and we have decided to follow Jesus even in hard situations. We are not ashamed to stand for peace and justice.
It is sad that we have missed to meet you and to discuss about our mission. But we hope that one day, God will give us an opportunity to meet. Thank you once again for your contribution to build the clinic. We have hope that the situation will be good in few days.
Still pray for us. We know that we are sharing everything because you are special for us. You are more than friends. You are our brothers and sisters. May God still be with all of us.
Rt. Rev. Paisible Ndacayisaba, Diocesan Bishop
ANGLICAN CHURCH, DIOCESE OF MUYINGA