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Archive for Quaker Life Magazine – Page 4

Quaker Life – March/April 2014

Gathered in Community

Growth in ministry requires us to deepen our shared life with other people. Much of the authority to serve others that Jesus gives us comes from the quality of the relationships that we develop over time. Do people know that they can trust me? Have I established a track record of fairness, honesty, wisdom and compassion? When people interact with me, do they see Christ’s reflection? These are some of the challenging questions that we must continually ask ourselves as we seek to participate in Jesus’ work of reconciliation and peace.

No amount of process and procedure can create this kind of relationship. It is only through our openness to the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit that we can live together in genuine community. In this Spirit-filled community, we find the strength to embrace the fullness and variety of ministry into which Christ invites us.

Where do you find support for your ministry — spiritually, emotionally, financially and practically? What does it mean to be part of a fellowship in which we find friendship, inspiration and a collegial community of fellow workers with a variety of gifts and callings? Do the patterns, focus and procedures of your local congregation facilitate this work of equipping each person for ministry? How can our communities become centered with a shared experience of Jesus, who calls us into his ministry of reconciliation?

Micah Bales – Web & Communications Specialist, Friends United Meeting

Gathered in Community: Growing in Ministry – By Dorlan Bales

“The heart’s response to the Spirit’s call is the decision to follow Jesus. That choice and continuing recommitment to Christian discipleship takes place in the context of a spiritual community.”

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Gospel Re-Ordering – By Chuck Orwiler

“Jesus was eminently practical. He taught the Kingdom way. He lived what he taught. He told his followers to go do the same. ‘Learn from me,’ said Jesus, and, ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man.'”

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The Growing Edge of Ministry – By Scott Wagoner

“Intentionality is one area where the Church falls short today. There just aren’t enough Christ followers purposely engaging in the discipleship of others.”

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I Want To Learn Peace – By Pete Serete

“All of the communities within this vast refugee camp have now embraced AVP, and the impact of this ministry continues to grow and transform lives.”

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Speaking About Christ Among Friends – By Rita Willett

“As we hunger for the love of our Creator and thirst for the spiritual nourishment of his Spirit, we become propelled into service with a great outpouring of joy.”
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Gentle Giants – By David O. Williams

“Longevity, adversity and community are three essentials for the healthy growth and development of Giant Sequoias. Three essentials for the healthy growth and development of spiritual giants as well.”
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A Hidden Gift – By Sarah Katreen Hoggatt

“It’s because of those times spent with God, centering down into God’s presence, feeling Love embrace me, that I’m able to sit with others in their time of need.”

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Other Articles In This Issue:

Staff Columns

Out of My Mind – Colin Saxton
Meanderings & Musings – Annie Glen
Amazing Grace – Eden Grace
Spreading the Word – Micah Bales

News and Updates

FUM News in Brief
Sarah Thompson appointed CPT Executive Director
Everence and Praxis Mutual Funds revamp environmental screening policy

Other Articles

The Joy of Everyday Ministry – Diane Andrews
Queries for Missional Communities – Colin Saxton
Ask Tom: How did early Friends develop and grow as ministers? – Thomas Hamm
We Are All In This Together – By Noel Krughoff – FUM representative to FCNL
Think Outside The Bus – Diane Raflo-Andrews
Passages: Quaker Obituaries

Passages: Quaker Obituaries – May/June 2014

ALLRED Gene Samuel Allred, 93, died at his residence after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease on March 13, 2014. Sam was born in Burlington, North Carolina, to the late William Stanley and Rose Grant Allred on August 2, 1920. He served in Africa and Italy as an airplane mechanic with the U.S. Army Air Corp during World War II. Sam was employed at Charles D. Roberts Co. for many years but his life-long profession was as a singer. He entertained audiences all over the world as a professional singer for over 26 years and with his beautiful voice comforted many bereaved families when he was called upon to sing at funerals. Sam was a loving and devoted husband to Becky Allred for 66 years and a wonderful father to six children. He was the light and life of their home and leaves behind a legacy to his children and grandchildren of loyalty, strong moral character and an enthusiastic outlook on life. He was a hard worker who could repair or build just about anything and will be remembered as a very talented cook whose stews, chicken, cornbread, fresh garden vegetables and peanut brittle fed many. He loved the Lord and was a member of Glenwood Friends since 1975, where he served as minister of music and choir director. Surviving Sam are his wife, Ella Rebecca Scott Allred; six children and their spouses, Marilyn Trivett, Sharon McMurry, Teresa Inserra, George Allred, Samuel Allred and Joe Allred; 14 grandchildren; three great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and 11 siblings.

BRUSH Miriam Kelly Brush, 98, died peacefully on February 12, 2014, in Medford, New Jersey, with loving family at her side. Born on November 9, 1915, in Boston, Massachusetts, she was the only child of Richard Ernest and Susan Kean Kelly, a naturalized citizen who emigrated from Ireland as a young girl. A graduate of the Girls Latin School (1933), she received an A.B. cum laude in chemistry (Mt. Holyoke College, 1937), an M.A. in chemistry (Oberlin College, 1939) and a Ph.D. in nutrition (Iowa State University, 1946). Her professional, community and religious life were devoted to service and she was a friend, mentor and model for authentic living for many. A Professor Emeritus of Nutrition at Rutgers University, she retired in 1986 as Professor and Chair of the Home Economics Department and Director of the Graduate Program in Applied Human Nutrition. She served her department, Douglass College and the wider university in many roles over 30 years. The author of numerous scientific articles on human clinical nutrition, she was vice-chair of the task force on voluntary action by health organizations for the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health and was on the editorial board of topics in clinical nutrition. Upon her retirement, she was recognized by a number of professional organizations for outstanding contributions and distinguished leadership. Active over many decades in Piscataway, New Jersey, she served on the board of education (1955-67), where she was the first woman member and the first woman president. As a member of Piscataway Library Board, in 1961 she was instrumental in municipalizing the then private library. She was a member of the Piscataway Charter Commission, which in the late 1960s initiated changes in the form of township governance. After retirement, she was a volunteer consultant to Head Start and a volunteer tax preparer. A member of the Religious Society of Friends, her Quaker faith and values were central to her life. In 1940, she participated in an American Friends Service Committee summer work camp on Little Silver Farm in South Carolina. After she and John met at Concord House and were married at Chicago’s 57th Street Meeting in 1942, their activities among Friends became an integral part of their lives. Members of Friends’ meetings in Madison, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri and Plainfield, New Jersey. They were among several families with young children who founded New Brunswick Meeting in 1954. She and John were also among the founders and directors of Quaker House, an international, interracial, coeducational cooperative house (1964 to 1984) for Rutgers’ students with a concern for social issues, justice and world peace. Her active involvement with Quaker organizations included service as: presiding clerk of New Brunswick Monthly Meeting; presiding clerk of New York Yearly Meeting; board member, assistant presiding clerk and presiding clerk of Friends United Meeting; and board member of Oakwood Friends School. One of the founders of the New York Yearly Meeting retreat center, Powell House, she served for many years on the Powell House Committee, including time as presiding clerk. In 1963, she and John purchased rural property near Powell House as a family retreat. Upon learning of her death, many fellow Quakers noted her wisdom and the depth and breadth of her spiritual gifts. One wrote: “She was an amazing person who, while never presuming to have authority or expertise, was widely recognized as having it. It could well be that this was in part because she always seemed to exercise economy in what she had to say and when; and in part because she matched a wealth of experience with the discipline and the habit of examining it thoroughly, and not letting it go to waste.” Always up for a new challenge, she began a formal exercise routine at age 80 and, despite almost no vision, continued with determination until just weeks before she died. She enjoyed listening to WHYY and had a standing order from Recordings for the Blind for 30 books at a time. She is survived by her children: Jonathan, and his wife Anita Greenbaum Brush; Kamala and her wife Lucy Baruch; and Timothy and his wife Ki Brush; as well as by five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her son Steven, in 2006 and her husband of 64 years, John, in 2007.

HADLEY Margaret Haworth Hadley, 92, passed away peacefully on March 1, 2014. Margaret was a life-long member of Dover Friends Meeting in Port William, Ohio, where she served a pianist for the past 50 years, as well as treasurer. She was also a strong advocate of several organizations serving children in need of a loving home environment. She was proud to be a member of Clinton County’s First Families, acknowledging the contributions of the Haworth family to the community since 1803. She was active in various other organizations including Church Women United, Turn the Corner Club and the United Society of Friends Women. She was a graduate of Port William High School and Earlham College. Margaret was a loving farm wife, mother and grandmother, pre-deceased by her parents and husband of 40 years, James Hadley. She will be greatly missed by her surviving children: Catherine Hadley, Sylvia Lankford Hadley (Larry Lankford) and Alton Hadley (Beth); her three grandchildren: Jim Hadley, Maggie Lankford and Willie Hadley; as well as her brother-in-law and sisters-in-law and many nieces and nephews whom she held dear.

HINSHAW Bernice “Bunk” Hinshaw, 93, died January 20, 2014, at Siler City Center, North Carolina. Ms. Hinshaw was born in Alamance County on July 10, 1920; the daughter of Harrison and Margaret (Pike) Hinshaw. Bunk was a member of Bethel Friends Meeting. She had worked at A J Schneierson but spent most of her working years as a floral designer, having worked at Friendly Florist, B & B Florist and Beckie’s Boutique. She was supportive and a faithful encourager of youth in their formative years. She served as a counselor at Quaker Lake, a youth Sunday School teacher and a 4-H Club leader. Bunk was known for her chocolate cakes which she shared at family reunions. She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers; George and Clinton Hinshaw and a sister, Glenna Blair. She is survived by brother: Zim Hinshaw and wife, Jeanette of Asheboro, North Carolina; and a host of loving nieces and nephews and their families.

JONES T. Canby Jones, 92, died February 13, 2014, at Paoli Memorial Hospital in Pennsylvania after a brief bout with pneumonia. Jones was born on September 25, 1921, to Thomas E. and Esther B, Jones who were Quaker missionaries in Karuizawa, Japan. He grew up on the campus of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee; graduated from Westtown School, Westtown, Pennsylvania, in 1938; graduated from Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, in 1942, and Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in 1952, and his Ph.D. in 1955, specializing in Quaker founder George Fox. A lifelong pacifist and as a conscientious observer, he served in CPS during World War II constructing farmsteads and pouring concrete. He joined the faculty of Wilmington College in 1955, retiring from full time teaching 32 years later in 1987. He also taught briefly at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana. Under a strong concern throughout his life to visit among Quakers for ecumenical purposes, Jones travelled all over the United States, to Europe, to Africa and four times to East Asia. He married Eunice Meeks August 19, 1945, who preceded him in death nine years ago after 58 years of marriage. He is survived by their son, Timothy H. Jones of West Chester, Pennsylvania and his sister, Catharine J. Gaskill of Orange City, Florida.

A New People to Be Gathered

By David Jaimes

The Latino people are the next face to be included in Quakerism. The great Quaker founder, George Fox, once saw a vision of people who were gathered together on a hill and recounted: “I came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered (Rufus M. Jones (ed.), The Journal of George Fox, (Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1976), 150).”

I often wonder what Fox might have seen. How vast was this group of people? What kinds of people were they? What would set them apart? If today the various sects of Quakers would gather, and George Fox himself would be there to witness it, would his vision be confirmed? Does this great and gathered people include those who are of color? Is there room for those who are Hispanic? How diverse are Quakers? These are important questions for Friends to consider.

Quite honestly the answer to these questions offers a different picture than the one Fox proclaimed. At a glance, there seems to be little progress in reaching diverse people groups at home when compared to our efforts abroad. Recent statistics from the Friends World Committee for Consultation show that there are more than 377,000 Friends in the world, and 20% of them are from North America (Finding Quakers Around the World, 2012). Even though the numbers are seemingly low in North America, there is a tremendous amount of influence coming from North America that impacts the rest of the multi-faceted Quaker world.

Recently, I became connected with an organization known as World Relief as part of their Cross-Cultural Internship Program. I labored alongside church leaders in tackling the issue of immigration reform. This opened the door for me to see a broad perspective of injustices: such as, the criminalization of people that have not committed damage to the country, families being torn apart and the marginalization that is prevalent in the lives of so many families of different nationalities. Many of these people are of Latin-American descent. Through this experience, the Lord has revealed to me his compassion towards these growing peoples and how the church, mainly the Friends church, can embrace these people to become included in that greater vision of George Fox: “A great people to be gathered.”

Immigration is a politically charged issue in my home state of California. I was invited by World Relief to partake in an important relationship-building effort to assist the church in supporting their immigrant neighbors and connecting with their communities as Christ once did for us. I traveled to our nation’s capital for the purpose of advocating for a fair and just comprehensive immigration reform. There was an opportunity for me to attend a national gathering of Evangelicals called “Pray 4 Reform.” As we met with politicians and other leaders, I realized the goal of this event was to bring together Evangelicals from all across the nation to fight for the cause of immigration reform. I was able to gain knowledge about what it means to be an active citizen of the United States. Being from California, I visited the offices of more than five California congressmen and women and their staffers.

After returning from that trip and reflecting on many other meetings in Washington D.C., I have come to the conclusion that we as Christ’s ambassadors should be concerned about injustices in the treatment of immigrants in this land (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). The cause of immigration reform is a cause for every Quaker. The inhumane treatment of families that are torn apart because of deportations, the marginalization of an entire people because of their heritage and language, the abuse of their labor and not granting them a pathway to citizenship for their investment are some of the moral concerns that immigrants face today in these United States of America. It must stop.

To be a great people we must include the marginalized around us. Jesus said that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. There is not a greater posture than to put someone else before you. Christ did and so should we, as a people of the Light; especially as people called out by God, to gather his holy diaspora and reconcile each other to God. Latinos in this country are as much a part of George Fox’s vision as others. Let’s be attuned to the Spirit and keep gathering the great people.

David J. Jaimes is a graduating senior at Barclay College studying Bible/Theology. Born in Peru, and raised in California, David comes from a continuing lineage of pastors. In 2008 Rose Drive Friends Church planted a small Spanish-speaking church in Fullerton. David was impelled by the Spirit to serve alongside his father and establish “Iglesia Amigos Puente de Gracia.” He served three years as Youth Director and then pursued his degree in Kansas. David is called into Pastoral Ministry to persons who are marginalized by poverty, race, and hate. David hopes that he can serve wholeheartedly the Kingdom of God with the message of hope and love in Christ.

Ask Tom: When did standing committees become so pervasive?

By Thomas Hamm – Professor of History; Archivist/Curator, Friends Collection
Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana

Occasionally Tom, who lives for books and still takes all his research notes on 4 by 6 cards, concedes that digital collections can be useful. He often uses the Earlham School of Religion’s Digital Quaker Collection, which makes available on-line dozens of Quaker works published before 1923 and is keyword searchable. A search there for the word “committee” is revealing. In Quaker works published between 1650 and 1800, “committee” appears 22 times. Between 1801 and 1900, it appears 78 times. A post-1900 compilation, were it possible, would doubtless show an explosion.

Why did this happen? Obviously, it reflects institutionalization and bureaucratization of a sort. Friends moved in this direction as the functions and focus of Quaker organizations changed in the 19th century, because Friends felt called to a variety of new tasks as expressions of their faith. Reading the minutes of 19th-century monthly meetings, one finds typically standing committees on education (overseeing the monthly meeting school), the poor (relieving Friends in need), and facilities (usually looking after the meetinghouse and burying ground). The select meeting, or meeting of ministers and elders, functioned like the current ministry and oversight or ministry and counsel committee.

By the mid-19th century, however, Friends felt called to do more. Sometimes they copied other denominations, in setting up First Day schools, which needed a committee. Then came the Civil War, when Friends took up as a particular concern the needs of freed people. So there were “Freedmen’s” committees. After the Civil War, Friends formally assumed responsibility for certain groups of Native Americans, so there were Indian committees. Many Friends saw a need for formal work against the dire effects of alcohol, so there were Temperance committees. As Gurneyite Friends developed a strong missionary impulse after 1860, Missionary committees became common. The number of examples could be multiplied by the concerns.

The changes in worship adopted by most American Friends in the late nineteenth century also contributed to the growth of committees. Finance committees became important as pastoral salaries had to be raised. Music committees took responsibility for that aspect of congregational life. In back of all of this was a feeling that the most efficient church work required clear organization and s specialization, which would have been a given among Protestants at the time. And so God graced, or afflicted, Friends with committees.

Do you have a Quaker history question to “Ask Tom”?
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Grassroots Ministry: Energizing and Equipping in Uganda and Tanzania

By Marian Baker

Within a week of retiring, I had a deep sense that God was calling me to go encourage women in ministry in East Africa and not to be tied to any one institution. Since following that leading, I have been amazed at what God has done. It has been far more than I could have dreamed.

I travel in the traditional Quaker way, with a travel minute from my monthly meeting endorsed by my quarterly and yearly meeting. Following the advice of my support committee from the United States, I collected a committee of Kenyan women to advise me which of the places I felt led to go were most urgent and to assist me in finding suitable traveling companions. The Kenyan committee first chose Uganda. Pastor Eileen Malova from Kakamega YM also felt a calling to go to Uganda, but her duties as a pastor and head of a vocational college prohibited her to do so. She felt led to be a companion with me, but wasn’t sure how to travel or where to start. Together, we followed God.

We traveled as humble servants of Christ, willing to learn from those that need help. Throughout our journey we listened, provided encouragement, while we traveled by local means (crowded matatus, on the back of motorcycles, and on foot) to reach the Ugandan Friends.

These Friends were puzzled, since missionaries usually arrive in cars. If one uses an official vehicle, the visitors are welcomed like royalty, with songs and feasts. The people then share what they think the visitors want to hear and then ask for financial support. However by arriving through local means, the welcome is much different: one is treated as a friend and sometimes given the funds for the returning bus fare when the visit is over (an African custom).

Upon our arrival, Eileen told them the story of Peter and John who went to pray and a begging lame man. Peter said “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus of Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk (Acts 3).” She then shared that we had come to help them find ways to stand up, and encourage them that they had the ability within to help themselves.

We were led to follow Christ’s advice to travel lightly and accept any hospitality they offered (Luke 9:2-5). By staying in homes, we learned more about them and their needs quickly. The women kept us up until late each evening asking for advice and prayers on things they are facing. Throughout our visits, real sister relationships were developed with these women.

When we began, we feared that the leadership of the yearly meetings (in Africa almost all leadership positions are held by males) would give us trouble for working with women. Yet, the majority of all church members are women. The male leaders said if we helped the women, who in turn would teach others; the whole church would be strengthened. Earlier when I went with Dorothy Selebwa and Jane Mutoro to Samburu, I learned the value of women to women visits. The women were full of questions for us and had many issues they wanted advice on that they could not share with men in their culture.

In Uganda, we first felt led to visit the meetings all around the country, taking the general secretary and two women leaders with us. It was the first time for some of the Ugandans to travel outside their home areas. We rejoiced as we found three new meetings in their first year growing rapidly with active, motivated women. In Lira, located in northern Uganda, we were shown the graves of two leaders whose deaths were the catalyst for the demise of their meeting. Uganda Yearly Meeting had not known of these changes and began to see the need for more visiting and having better communication with all meetings. With the help of USFW Kenya, we helped three women from the new and three from the older meetings attend the USFW Kenya Triennial in Kaimosi to see how women can organize and run a conference (over 800 women attended!).

In Uganda, we found that women tend to depend on men to provide leadership. The men chose the women leaders and planned out the women’s conferences. The first time we gathered with the women leaders, Eileen and Pastor Olivia Salano spent hours in counseling and prayer. The Ugandans invited Eileen to be the main speaker at the women’s conference last year. We found we needed to help our sisters learn how to run the conference, which kept us very busy. (Meanwhile Pastor Margaret Musalia went to be main speaker at Tanzania’s USFW Conference. She similarly found she was called upon to preach, teach, guide, counsel — doing four jobs at once.)

This year we first organized a leadership training seminar in Uganda and asked Judith Ngoya and the FUM leadership team to help. The FUM trainers were excited to realize how ready and eager the new leaders in Uganda were for training. In response to the training, five leaders of Uganda Yearly Meeting sat down and pledged to collect within one week the amount of money needed to get the Friends Church registered with the government. (Registration is required to own land, hold bank accounts, and conduct weddings and funerals.) What a change Eileen and I have witnessed from our first finding Ugandan Friends as beggars but who now host us, raise their own funds, and work on detailed plans for their future. Praise God!

Pastor Joseph Kafuka from southern Uganda attended last year’s women’s conference as he was challenged by Modesta Guloba’s (new USFW President) lesson on agriculture. She said, “Don’t complain fertilizer and pesticide are too expensive. Just combine cow urine with red peppers and ash from your cooking fire, to make a free pesticide and mix cow manure with banana leaves/vegetable scraps, for free fertilizer.”

In her workshop at the women’s conference, Eileen challenged all to use their fertile soil (one of the richest in the world) to grow something that would be needed and marketable as a means towards self-sustainability. Joseph Kafula’s home meeting had many acres with squatters encroaching. Joseph was able to get a Quaker Earthcare Witness Mini-grant for tree planting in Uganda. Eileen delivered the tree seedlings and indigenous tree seeds to him at Uganda Yearly Meeting sessions in August. By October, Friends had planted 25 acres by hand (using small mattocks). The trees were five feet high! Eileen was frugal and managed to also give passion fruit seeds to all the leaders at the training seminar and gave cabbage, kale, and wattle tree seeds to all the women who registered at the December women’s conference. Now Ugandan Friends from all over the country are busily planting seedbeds, beginning their way towards self-sustainability.

This year we took a team of Kenyan women to the Uganda USFW Conference.

Pastor Juliet Namono, the only trained Uganda woman Friends pastor, was the main speaker. Eileen plans to return in April to help the Ugandan women plan their own conference, choosing the topics they want. Two Ugandan women leaders gave reports about their visit to the Kakamega USFW Conference. They returned to Uganda with so much joy of Christ and full of ways to improve their own USFW they said they were “jumping like frogs.” The Kenyans left the conference energized and feeling the need to return or go to other others to help build up other women in the work of the Lord.
I also took a team of four Kenyan women to Tanzania USFW Conference, which was held in a church with no roof and it rained. A young FTC student gave a lesson about giving/tithing/stewardship. The Tanzanians were so moved they raised 45,000 Tanzanian shillings ($28) which we six from Kenya matched. When the church was first started they’d planted some trees, — now large trees. Now they’re sawing the trees to make a roof. One local Friend was so moved that he brought five new iron sheets the next day!

As we were helping the Tanzanian women form a nominating committee to choose new leaders, the male leaders visited us one late afternoon. They explained they’d had problems with a former group in Mwanza (partially between rural poor and urban richer Friends), but one woman’s humble gifts of helping them with meals and making friendships, caused the women elect her as their new women’s pastor for Tanzania Yearly Meeting! The male leadership has changed and are now all supporting the new leaders. A time of reconciliation!

Reconciliation, rejuvenation, new members, completion of a meetinghouse, wow! The conferences are energizing to all of us.

Eileen continues her ministry in Uganda and Margaret in Tanzania with the support of USFW Kenya. Thanks to those who’ve been praying for us. We encourage you all to lift up your eyes and be willing to spread the Good News to people outside your usual circles. It doesn’t have to take large funds for us all to work for our Lord.

Marian Baker is a recorded minister in New England Yearly Meeting. She worked for FUM in Kenya years ago, teaching in Friends girls high schools and training Kenyan women to take her place. She now does volunteer ministry in East Africa for three to six months each year as way opens.

Serving from Our Times of Worship

By Steve Olshewsky

The old joke has a stranger wandering into an unprogrammed Quaker meeting and sitting in silence until finally asking the Friend nearby, “When does the service start?” The Friend politely whispers in response, “As soon as we finish worshiping.”

This joke, however, invites additional questions. When we come together in worship, does our joint worship experience propel us to serve others? How can we extend to the world around us the benefits of the faith communities we have built?

Many of us are already doing all we can to juggle our regular jobs, our family, our children, our health, our homes and the tireless demands of daily life. Having a time of escape and refreshment in worship anchors us as we navigate our week. When we rise from that time given to God — and these our Friends — to enjoy the after effects of worship, how do we share our blessings?

Individually, we share the benefits of membership in our churches and meetings by passing along the smiles exchanged on Sunday mornings, or by discussing what we remember hearing. It seems that Sunday afternoons are the best time to hold doors open for others or let the next person go ahead in line. However, even when we generously give of ourselves, are we serving the Religious Society of Friends. Where is the we or us in what an individual might do? Our actions, no doubt, express our faith.

At the same time, Quaker faith has traditionally involved more than personal goodness; it has led us to act for the common good. We still feel that passion, but do we use it fully? Even as we take our faith into the world, individually seeking to do justice and service, we can take our connections to the worshiping life of our meetings with us.

When nine teenaged Quakers from Florida visited the Immokalee tomato fields, as part of a weekend retreat, they were moved to take social action against the inhumane working conditions they saw. In the course of their discernment, and sharing their concerns in good Quaker order, they came to involve other teenaged attenders from around the nation. In turn, the full teen group involved the Friends General Conference gathering in their action last July.

The larger gathering of teens organized a protest march to a Colorado Wendy’s over fair pay for Immokalee tomato workers. It was well planned and advertised, but more importantly it expressed the coming together of Quakers to take a collective action. The efforts of these teens had a ripple effect throughout the community, and their work became that of the national congregation.

It seems that these teens were able to bridge the gaps that sometimes dampen other social initiatives. For whatever reason, we often fail to bring our concerns to our meetings where we could request a clearness committee to help test our convincement. Instead, we should strive to be responsive to leadings we become aware of, whether they are our own or our fellow worshipers.

Collective action was not invented by modern teenagers. In Luke 10:1-24, we see 70 sent out, perhaps as the Valiant Sixty felt called at the beginning of the Quaker movement to go as itinerant preachers and become known as Publishers of the Truth. While the 70 appointed in Luke went two by two, a style common to the Valiant Sixty, they were working in concert for a common good with their home group. The 70 in Luke, and the Valiant Sixty, heralded the immediacy of the kingdom of God which is at hand for everyone even today.

Luke 10 and the earliest Quakers provide models for going out into the world and sharing our good news that “the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” Verses 9 and 11 insist we share this message with those who welcome us and those who do not — so clearly, we want to share our experience of love and forgiveness beyond the place of worship where we gather with Friends. The personal encounters we have with God in worship can call us to share messages with others. So, too, an entire meeting can be called to witness a message to the world.

When it comes to experiencing the kingdom of God, no individual ministry can convey the sense of the meeting. Although a teenager presented Wendy’s with a request to join the Fair Food Program, it was the Religious Society of Friends marching tight loops on surrounding sidewalks that made it our witness instead of just hers. Collectively sharing this message catalyzed further actions. In Atlanta seven months later, this nurturing support encouraged six of the original Florida teens to organize a similar march on Publix with 63 Southern Appalachian Young Friends and 16 adults.

Ten of those Young Friends came home to Berea, Kentucky after their Atlanta experience, proposed a minute supporting the Fair Food Program, and convinced their monthly meeting to seek further endorsement from their yearly meeting. These teenagers provide a model that answers George Fox’s request to “be patterns, be examples” so that our “carriage and life may preach” in a way that reaches out to that of God in others. Not only have these Young Friends reached out to unite fellow Quakers in a common experience, they sparked a witness to the world that for Quakers, the Kingdom of God is at hand.

These teenagers revealed something essential about Quaker community and worship. Patiently experiencing the self-discovery that comes with waiting upon the Lord prepares us to respond to messages articulated by others. As individuals share their leadings, their voices need to be embraced and lifted up. If we can unite and carry through with supporting action, we can thereby reach out to the world. Ministering broadly in this way attracts people into the Light without being coercive.

Fox would ask that we “answer that of God” when hearing the ministries of those led to share their spiritual insight. This sharing is communal in an obvious way, but that communality can go deeper into the heart of what it means to be Quaker. As we open our hearts to God’s callings as expressed by others, we can share what we learn outside the immediate audience. Fox preached that “Jesus Christ has come to teach his people himself.” It is this people (the community), not individual persons, who can share what we have been taught as a people gathered.

This collective sharing attracts people to the Quakers. In this way, it is an effective form of evangelism available. Ideally, our ability to respond to our own callings, and those of our fellow Quakers, inspires in others confidence that they will be heard and nourished as they bring their activities into our corporate efforts.

I am personally encouraged by how Kentucky Quakers united in joint efforts to abolish the death penalty. Every Quaker in Kentucky has responded to this call for abolition according to their own measure, but the cooperative support of all Quakers facilitated more than the sum of individual efforts. As all three Kentucky meetings approved minutes of endorsement, all Kentucky Quakers made the work possible.

On the practical side, Kentucky Quakers helped each other get to Frankfort to meet with lawmakers. Lobbying for abolition, I can only share fully the good news of God’s love and forgiveness by demonstrating what all Quakers believe about love and forgiveness. In simpler terms, I can share my views, and other Quakers can even hold me in the Light as I do, but speaking Truth to power on behalf of those Quakers where I worship shares the religious teachings of a Quaker society. Lawmakers regard the exact same words more seriously coming from the Quakers, rather than from a singular Quaker.

Traditionally, when Quakers feel led to do something outside of their meeting, they are careful to consider whether their actions are a fair reflection of their religious community. For this reason we have clearness committees to help us know that our leadings are divinely inspired and not merely our vain egos. Armed with such validation, someone speaking Truth to power can share the endorsement of their Quaker society as a formal Minute addressed to decision makers. This puts an onus on the church or meeting to worshipfully consider the project and whether or not they are able to fully unite in approving of the action contemplated.

Opportunities for service come in the projects of our fellow Quakers as we are able to join in with their efforts. Some might say they are not able to understand enough to support or oppose an issue, but can we all understand enough to trust in the collective efforts of Friends gathered together for the purpose of discerning proper action? Can we create a place supporting right actions by lending our attention, our prayers, our signatures or our time to the activities of others proposed to our committees and business sessions?

Plenty of good Quakers are doing plenty of good things, but that can distract us from the responsibility of the wider body to reach out. As long as we know someone else is taking care of a concern, we can leave it to them. This is comforting, but untrue, as relying on others compromises our work. No individual proxy can convey the aggregate approval of Quakers, so we need unified bodies to join the efforts.

Our places of worship equip us to go out and preach the good news in other places thereby extending our community. Fox says that finding the right place within ourselves will empower us to “preach among all sorts of people, [all] over the world,” but can that be done alone? We all need the active support and involvement of the full Quaker body to accomplish the ministries we are called to do.

Steve Olshewsky works against the death penalty with Kentucky Quakers and state lawmakers. This article benefited from the Earlham School of Religion’s Writing as Ministry program.

Christ’s Call to Mission: The Journey Outward

By Dorlan Bales

Most people who seek a faith community do so in hopes of satisfying three deep and persistent hungers. The first hunger is for the Bread of Life to be experienced inwardly. Secondly, seekers search to be a part of a group of people who love God, who love and accept one another and who encourage each another to become ever more aware of and obedient to the will of God. Finally, seekers desire to have a modest role as bearers of God’s mercy and justice, so that one small corner of the world is left more whole than when it was found. Three simultaneous Christian journeys satisfy these life hungers, each strengthening and completing the others. Two of these life odysseys were addressed in the most recent issues of Quaker Life. This scripture study explores a third crucial pilgrimage: learning to manifest God’s love through charitable actions and by works that bring release to those who are captive.

The Prophets Proclaimed God’s Love for the Defenseless and Needy

The scriptures are far from neutral on economic questions. Income disparity between the top 1% and others was as great in ancient times as it is in today’s world. Prophets admonished the powerful not to just practice superficial piety; but, to deal justly and show mercy. Faithfulness to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob requires justice that rolls down like waters. The prophet Amos warned Israel that the nation would be carried into exile because merchants trample on the needy by rigging the marketplace with false weights and measures, driving up prices and selling low quality products (Amos 8:4-6).

Isaiah responded by stating to those who complained, that God was not paying attention to their ritual humility and failed to reward them: “Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day and oppress all your workers… Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, share your bread with the hungry, bring the homeless poor into your house and clothe the naked? … Your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God… Truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter (Isaiah 58:3, 6-7; 59:2, 14).” He further reminded them that the Almighty is not moved by empty human rituals, but by heartfelt actions that are just and loving.

Prophets like Isaiah who announced judgment and called people to repentance also reminded their hearers of God’s faithfulness. “This is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord from now on and forever (Isaiah 59:21).” Centuries later, Jesus claimed this promise as he read Isaiah 61:1-2a in his hometown: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor… (Luke 4:18-19).”

Discussion Questions

1. Whose prophetic voices do you hear today that call on elected officials, CEOs and unions to defend the rights of laboring people?

2. When were you last part of a congregation-wide conversation about God’s love for everyone and biblical teaching about mercy and justice? Has your congregation taken prophetic action together to demonstrate God’s love for those who are oppressed in some way: for those who are trapped in a dysfunctional prison system, struggling to feed their families, hesitant to raise children because of crushing college debt and jobs with low wages or struggling to live on an inadequate retirement income?

The Outward Journey Taught and Lived by Jesus and the Jerusalem Church

Luke’s gospel describes John the Baptist as one who prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry, calling people to repentance and baptizing them in the Jordan River (Luke 3:3, 9). John warned his hearers that “every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” When working class people asked him what they should do to demonstrate their change of heart, John told them to do what was in their power: share their clothing and food with those needier than themselves. He told tax collectors and soldiers who were the face of Roman power not to enrich themselves by abusing their authority (Luke 3:10-14).

Jesus demonstrated the all-encompassing love of God by performing acts of mercy and justice and by blessing the poor. Working class people, the sick, women and the outcast were amazed that a rabbi would reach out to them. In addition to blessing and healing the crowds of peasant people who flocked to him, Jesus called the powerful temple leaders who worked closely with the Roman occupiers and were estranged from the common people to repentance. Jesus criticized their pride, hypocrisy and penchant for “devouring widows’ houses” and otherwise enriching themselves at the expense of those who tended sheep, cared for children and labored in fields and vineyards (See Matthew 5:1-14; 23:1-7, 23-26; Luke 20:45-47).

Neither the Original Testament’s prophetic writings nor the New Testament proclaim or defend the rights of the affluent. Rather the landowners and temple authorities are told to care for peasant laborers and respect their rights. Riches are seen as a spiritual danger at best or at worst a sign of sinful disobedience. You cannot serve God and wealth, according to Jesus (Matthew 6:24). “Woe to you who are rich,” Jesus said, “for you have received your consolation” (Luke 6:24). The prevailing message of scripture is that the earth is created for the benefit of all its creatures (See Jim Wallis, Agenda for Biblical People, 1984, especially pp. 56-72).

The apostles, who had often been slow to grasp what Jesus taught and demonstrated, were filled with the Spirit of the living Christ on the day of Pentecost. In that moment, Peter called the gathered crowd to reorient their lives and live in the kingdom of God rather than the violent order imposed by the Roman occupiers and their Jerusalem Temple collaborators (Acts 2:22-24, 32-42). Many in that crowd did have a change of heart, becoming “of one heart and soul” with the followers of Jesus. A new order of social and economic change began.

Discussion Questions

1. What are some similarities between Hebrew prophets’ words on behalf of those barely making a living and the first-century messages of John the Baptist, Jesus and the apostle Peter?

2. What was it about Jesus’ message and works that drew approving crowds and created powerful enemies who sought to silence him?

3. Why do you think the number of Quakers has grown slowly, if at all, in North America while increasing rapidly in Africa?

4. Do people who are not well-educated professionals attend and join your local congregation? If not, does it matter? If it matters, what would it take to attract and include a more diverse group of people?

Quakers and the Outward Journey

Social and economic equality was a strong theme from the beginning of the Quaker movement. According to Hugh Barbour (The Quakers in Puritan England, p. 163), the most prominent testimonies of early Friends included:

• Saying thee and thou, plain speech used then among equals, to everyone;
• Refusing to flatter the higher classes by removing one’s hat in their presence or use titles or courteous greetings when addressing them;
• Keeping to simple dress and household furnishings as a witness against pride that needs to be broken if those who prize luxuries are to surrender to the Spirit of Jesus.

Quaker simplicity was a visible protest against the chronic poverty endured by many in northwest England. James Nayler considered it sinful to have more food and clothing than necessary when others don’t have enough. William Penn in his book No Cross No Crown said it is unjust that the hard work of “nineteen parts” of the labor force served the pleasure and appetites of “the twentieth century (Barbour, p. 170).” Quakers also spoke out against the abusive prison system, having experienced it first-hand. They defended the rights of women and servants, refused to take up weapons for God or country and set up schools for both boys and girls as early as 1668 (Quaker Faith and Practice in Britain, 1994: 23.71).

The importance for Quakers of the outward journey did not end with the 17th century. John Woolman is well known for his Journal and his successful 18th century work to abolish slave holding among American Friends. A sensitive soul who thought it wrong that the masses work too hard so that a few can live in luxury, he concluded his Plea for the Poor with these words: “To labour for a perfect redemption from this spirit of oppression is the great business of the whole family of Christ Jesus in this world.” Woolman is also remembered for his dangerous journey to visit Native Americans when tensions with colonists were high.

Joseph Rowntree, a 19th-century English cocoa manufacturer, studied the social problems of intoxicating beverages and poverty. “Charity as ordinarily practiced,” he wrote, “which takes the place of justice, creates much of the misery which it relieves, but does not relieve all the misery it creates.” He also noted that, “Much of current philanthropic effort is directed to remedying the more superficial manifestations of weakness and evil, while little thought or effort is directed to search out their underlying causes. The soup kitchen in York never has difficulty in obtaining financial aid, but an enquiry into the extent and causes of poverty would enlist little support (Quaker Faith and Practice in Britain, 23.17-18).”

Discussion Questions

1. What are some of the contemporary ways that people speak and act in ways that inflate their own pride or the pride of others in unhealthy ways?

2. How do you respond to the concerns of Nayler, Penn, Woolman and Rowntree about the way wealth is created and distributed?

3. Do you agree with Rowntree’s observation that charity is sometimes put forward in place of justice?

The Outward Journey Today

Jesus told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount that they were the salt of the earth and warned them not to lose their saltiness. He also called them the light of the world and urged them to let their light shine before others (Matthew 5:13-16). These teachings about the outward journey help us understand the impact that Jesus’ disciples are meant to have on the world. Christ’s followers are called to love God more and more with heart, soul, mind and strength: at the same time have charitable and just relationships with their neighbors.

Charity asks how those unable to care for their own basic needs can be helped to overcome immediate challenges such as homelessness, hunger and sickness. Justice asks why so many people are homeless, hungry, sick and poorly educated. It seeks structural change so that fewer people are marginalized and lack the means to care for themselves and others. Acts of charity and work for justice are both needed, but people of faith have often found it more comfortable to offer short term assistance than to address systemic causes of human need.

In many instances, the reluctance of good people to practice justice is rooted in both fear of conflict within their faith communities and the inevitable tension between the teaching of Jesus and prevailing social systems. Jim Wallis has written these challenging words: “We may measure our obedience to the gospel by the degree of tension and conflict with the world that is present in our lives (Agenda, p. 69).” Fear of the outward journey is real, but fear need not be the last word as Christians are empowered by Christ’s spirit and support one another in being the world’s salt and light. The July issue of Quaker Life will invite readers to explore a more fearless faith, a willingness to speak and act in ways that may be unsettling.

As we respond to Christ’s call, which includes the journey outward, how may we discern the path ahead? Attending to the needs of those nearest to us and supporting one another’s leadings to minister to needy people is foundational and part of an authentic journey together. Acts of service (both charity and justice) are evidence that love is genuine. See James’ letter where he cautions against offering good wishes that have no practical caring attached (James 2:14-17). For many Friends another outward journey practice is giving time and money to one or more of the many Quaker organizations created to practice charity and increase justice, such as Friends United Meeting, Friends Committee on National Legislation, American Friends Service Committee, Right Sharing of World Resources and Quaker Peace and Social Witness (UK).

The concern for the world laid upon a congregation’s heart by the Holy Spirit may be related to the way society’s offenders are dealt with, or the deep estrangements among racial and cultural groups, or injustice experienced by immigrants and other low-wage workers or another concern. Not everyone may be drawn powerfully to a concern embraced by others in their congregation, but there may be a significant number of Friends willing to give energy regularly to the spiritual discipline of an outward journey together. Though challenging, a congregation’s shared charity and justice-making is an opportunity for spiritual growth, mutual discipleship and awareness of Jesus in prisoners, the hungry and others who are oppressed.

As individual disciples of Jesus, and as local churches and meetings, we would do well to ask ourselves questions like these:

Discussion Questions

1. What is the difference between charity and justice? Is one of these words more comfortable than the other for me?

2. How well does my congregation care for one another?

3. Do members of my congregation, and the congregation as a whole, support organizations that do charity and justice work? If so, how?

4. Is there a sense of shared outward journey by some of my congregation’s members? If not, do you think that such sharing has the potential to strengthen individuals and the common life? Does fear of social and economic consequences make this subject difficult to talk about?

5. What are possible first steps for my congregation in a journey outward together or renewal of that journey?

Dorlan Bales grew up in Northwest Yearly Meeting, the eldest child of pastor/teachers George and Elenita. Between ministry studies at George Fox University and Earlham School of Religion, he completed two years of alternative service at a children’s hospital in Vietnam. After studying theology in Chicago, he was led to Wichita, Kansas where he lives with his wife Kathryn Damiano, stays in touch with sons Micah and Andrew and writes grant proposals for Sunflower Community Action, which he helped found. He is a member of Heartland Friends Meeting, works for peace and justice, and enjoys playing and making violins.

Equipping to Serve: Through Education

By Robert J. Wafula

I became a committed Christian and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior at age 10. My parents recognized and respected this spiritual change in my life and allowed me to go to Sunday school. I remember I became curious as to why we closed our eyes whenever we prayed. I asked my father, “Papa, why do we have to close our eyes when we pray?” With his 4th grade level of formal education, my father was upfront with me: “Whenever we close our eyes in prayer,” he said, “God comes down and stands in our midst.” So, I became quite curious to see the face of God! I made several attempts to catch a glimpse of God standing in our midst through my spread fingers as I pretended to have my eyes closed. As I grew older, I was able to reflect on my father’s understanding of God’s immanence. My theological framework may have become more sophisticated, but my dad’s confidence in the presence of God became the central theme of my spiritual life as a seeker after God’s face.

In 1978, when I was 16 years of age, I recognized my calling into ministry. I was a sophomore in high school, and during the holidays I preached my first sermon. It was in a Kenyan rural Friends meeting in what is now Bungoma County in Kenya. When we got home my mother looked at me and said, “You did a good job son. I never knew you could preach. Keep it up. God is going to use you in a much bigger way.”

My dreams were dashed when I couldn’t go back to school after Christmas recess. My father had sold the last of our cattle and exhausted his resources. I borrowed books from my friends and continued studying privately. My father got some money to register me for the Kenya Junior Secondary Examination (KJSE), which I completed and passed in 1979. That certificate turned out to be the key that would unlock many doors into my academic world.

In 1982, I participated in Theological Education by Extension (TEE) that was facilitated by two FTC students and was launched in my local meeting. My performance impressed one of the facilitators who asked me if I would consider applying to FTC. I said, “I would love to, but I don’t know how.” She brought me application forms the following weekend, and I applied.

I entered FTC two weeks late. My local meeting did not have enough money to facilitate my admission because they were already paying for one student who was in his final year. Luckily enough, my father’s one acre sugar cane plantation had just been harvested and sold to Nzoia Sugar Company. My father invested the whole check into my FTC education, and in turn, I invested my whole life into my studies. I knew FTC was my lifeline. During my second year, 1984, I was sent home to obtain fees. The previous year my father had given all he had. My local meeting gave me a whole year’s collection from the treasury, but still it was not enough. Had it not been for the John Sarrin scholarship, I would not have completed my program of study at FTC. I graduated in 1985 and proceeded to St. Paul’s United Theological College for further theological studies on the same scholarship.

I graduated from St. Paul’s in 1989, and went back to teach at FTC for one year before going to Friends International Centre in Nairobi for the next six great years as pastoral minister and warden. I gained admission into Earlham School of Religion (ESR) on the Cooper and John Sarrin scholarships.

FTC was a major point of reference throughout my studies at ESR. While at ESR, two deans on separate occasions asked me similar questions. First, in September 1996, Andy Grannell posed a question to me “What are you going to do with the ESR degree after you graduate?” I looked at him and without hesitation I said, “I will go back to teach at FTC.” After taking over from Andy, Jay Marshall, current Dean, congratulated me for completing the program and asked me the same question at the baccalaureate on May 8, 1999: “Wafula . . . what are your plans after ESR?” My response to him was somewhat similar to Andy’s, “I’m going to Ohio University for further graduate study and then go back to Kenya to teach at FTC.” Yes, that may have just been a routine question, but to me, it was fundamental. Many years have passed but the dream and my love for FTC lives on.

When I think of FTC, I think of my 75-year-old mother. She was widowed in 1988 and has never had a stable income. I love her dearly. She relies on me, my wife Nancy, and my siblings and their families for support. She gave us so much, over so many years. It brings me joy to be able to give something back to her now that she depends on us for her survival. Like my mother, FTC gave me a strong foundation for a lifetime of ministry. But, unlike my mother, FTC is neither widowed nor orphaned. FTC has produced many sons and daughters. It has fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts in the name of yearly meetings and other Quaker organizations that come together under the umbrella of Friends United Meeting (FUM). In essence, we are the relatives this college looks to for support. We, who have gained so much, can now take joy and pride in giving back to our college.

Friends, now that I am going back to FTC please join me in celebrating my recent appointment as principal. I feel honored to represent global Quakers in this position.

I humbly invite you to make a commitment to pray for me and to support my ministry with your finances. With the gracious fulfillment of all pledges, my ministry account will be maintained and fully funded.

Thank you.

Robert J. Wafula

Click here to learn more about the ongoing campaign to support Robert Wafula to serve as Principal of Friends Theological College!

Equipping to Serve: Through Caring

Lindi and Amari — Equipping Disadvantaged Children to Hope for a Positive Future

Two ministries located in different parts of the world: one in the Kibera Slum in Nairobi and the other in the Amari Refugee Camp in Palestine, serve the children of the poorest of the poor. Both ministries, Lindi Friends Nursery and Primary School in Nairobi and the Amari Play Center in Palestine, create an environment of love and safety that provides a place for healthy childhood play and learning in the midst of extreme urban challenges. Out of the despair of poverty and oppression, children in both places are rising up with hope for their future and with an experience of deep self-worth gained through the ministries of Friends’ education.

Amari Refugee Camp, on the outskirts of El Bireh in the Palestinian Territories, is grossly overcrowded with third and fourth generation Palestinian refugees who have no property rights and little opportunity to earn a living. They continue to be completely dependent on the United Nations for their daily needs, 66 years after they fled their homes. The seeming hopelessness of the refugees’ situation fuels violence and political radicalism. Yet each day, several dozen 5-year-old refugees arrive at the tiny Play Center (analogous to a preschool) and greet their teachers with a hug. Each day, these children receive a nutritious meal, thanks to the United Society of Friends Women International. Each day, they sing and play and learn and laugh. Each day, they are touched by God’s grace and filled with hope for themselves and their community. Each year, a new group of five-year-olds joins the school while a group of six-year-old graduates proceed to primary school emboldened with the life-changing knowledge of God’s love for them individually and as a vital member of the community.

In Nairobi, Kibera Slum is notorious for its crime, squalor, poverty, raw sewage, unhealthy living conditions and, surprisingly, for its creativity and vibrancy. Within the slum, communities assert the dignity of their humanity even under such inhumane living conditions. Lindi Friends Nursery and Primary School is staffed and administered by slum dwellers, for the sake of their children and their community. Lindi Friends believe in the persistence of life and hope, and instill those values in the students every day. Lindi graduates go on to strong academic achievement in high school, and to vocations that will allow them to raise their families out of poverty. Lindi is known as an oasis of hope within the Kibera Slum.

Each ministry provides a daily dose of God’s love and peace to thousands of the poorest of children. As the children are embraced by the very testimonies of love and peace, they are strengthened to reach toward a better future and are equipped to know they are beloved by God.

Equipping to Serve: Through the Work of a Missionary

Editorial note: The following article is a transcript of an interview with an FTC graduate who is a teacher and a missionary in Congo. His is one of many stories of people who are equipped and energized by the ministry of Friends United Meeting to equip others to know Jesus Christ.

“I’m Henry Sabatia from Vokoli Yearly Meeting in Kenya. When I finished my training at Friends Theological College in 2010, I got an opportunity to go to Congo as a teacher and also as a missionary. While in the Congo, I had to learn a new culture, how they do things and how they worship. Since I’m an African and an evangelical, it was easier for me to get in tune with them. My first mission work had been in Uganda. I had learned then that God had given me the gift of adjusting to any environment. So I told the people in Congo, “I’m no longer a Kenyan, I’m a Congolese. I’ve come into you. I’ve acquired your identity. We do things the same. What you eat, I’ll eat. Whatever you do, we’ll do together.” They rejoiced that I was the first African missionary they had seen. They had white missionaries, yes, but I was the first African missionary to reach them. I felt somehow proud, knowing it was all for the glory of God.

While in Congo I taught eight courses, while continually giving devotions, preaching and counseling. I remember when I first arrived somebody telling me, “Now that you have come, nobody else is going to preach. You’re the one preaching for the two months that you’ll be here.” They used to have a morning devotion every morning from Monday to Saturday and I was to do them all. I thought of Proverbs 25:25 which says, “Like cold water to a thirsty person, so is good news from a distant land.” It touched my heart that this is what the Congolese wanted from me. I prayed for God to give me what to tell these people. I thank God because through that prayer, through the Holy Spirit, He gave me a message of building up. Even me, I felt I had been built up. I would pray to God, “Give me what to share with them. We need a message today and also again tomorrow.” At times I would be given a message that lasted for four days. Throughout my stay with them, I was given many messages of building one another up.

Their actual church building was almost falling down. Compared to here in Kenya, we don’t have churches in such condition. I had a heart of sympathy but I had no ability to assist financially. I prayed to God, and asked God, “How can I help these people?” Through the morning devotional services, God inspired me. The people had made some bricks, but because of lack of finance the bricks got destroyed. They had prepared some soil to make more bricks, but the roof was going to be a problem. Time was running short, the rainy season was about to begin and they were afraid. Suppose the rains may come before we finish the project? Through prayer, God had shown me that He is faithful. He will never leave the work to be destroyed. So, I kept on encouraging them, but they said to me, “Missionary, do you really know the rains of Congo?” I said, “I don’t know about them, but I know God. What He promises will come to pass. So, if He says a project will come to fulfillment before it rains, it will.” Yes, we saw God.

The first time I went to help them prepare bricks, they said. “No, you are a visitor!” They brought a seat for me to sit. I told them “in my Kenyan culture, you cannot sit as other people are working. Either I stand, or I join you in working.” So, the second day I joined them, because I have that heart of working. I’m not used to just sitting idle. So, I joined them in making the mud and preparing the bricks. When they were dry, we transferred them to the church. Each member was given a certain number to carry to the church, but me, I transferred countlessly because I wanted to motivate them. They told me, “We’re amazed because even our yearly meeting leaders, whenever they come, they just have a seat and watch as we work. But you, from far, you’re here! You’re joining us. You’re like a part of us. You have even challenged other members who are just idlers. These other ones say ‘if a foreigner, a visitor, is working then who are we? Let us join him.’” Therefore even members of the other churches in other denominations joined us in preparing bricks. When the mason came and started making the foundation, I joined him. The people looked at me and said, “Wow! Come make bricks and you are there. Come make a foundation and you are there. Come to class you are there, you’re all round.” It is a gift of God. I like being active all around.

I want to thank God because on the last day when I was leaving, they were just roofing. God did a miracle because the moment they finished roofing, it rained heavily. It touched my heart to see how faithful God is. While we were building the church, the rains would fall on all sides. You could see it coming but God would drive the rain aside and the wind would blow it in a different direction, therefore you could see how faithful God is.

I enjoyed being in Congo, despite the challenges of war and tension. God protected me. You know here in Kenya, it is rare to hear a gunshot, but there it is more common. The first time I heard it, I asked if it was action between robbers and the police. Because in Kenya when you hear continuous gunfire, it is normally the police. But they said no, they don’t have police. So, I prayed to God. There were some rebels coming. I was praying and fasting for Congo. The presiding clerk wanted to move me from the interior to the town for my safety, but God assured me of what was to come. I told him. “I’m here. Whether I’m alive or dead, I’ll be with you.”

My students also motivated me, they encouraged me and yet, they could pose challenges. Before going to Congo, I didn’t feel I could teach. I wanted to be a preacher, maybe offer some guidance and counseling. But I learned I could also be a teacher. In 2012, I taught a course at Friends Theological College on mission and evangelism and my class did very well. I taught out of my own experience. I remember when the students realized that a mission is different from a church. The mission field holds so many challenges. When you reach the mission, people look to you as a provider. You have to teach them that God is the provider. There are so many expectations when they see you. You need to know how to present yourself to them, to give them hope. Some are desperate because of what they are going through, because of poverty and they need a word of hope. You have to show them the way to depend on God.

I am yearning to reach other people with the gospel. I’ve been in Uganda; I’ve been in Congo; and I’ve seen the need. Sometimes we say we are handicapped — we lack the manpower, our pockets are empty — and it’s true you can not go for mission without finance. But with the little we have, we do what we can. And as we pray, God will add us more so that we can reach more.”

Click here to view a video of this interview with Henry Sabatia.