Oct 132019
 

When I travelled to Sudan 12 years ago, the experience was both profound and enduring. It sparked in me an enthusiasm to alleviate the suffering amongst the folk I had met who had been long displaced from their homeland, and left languishing for decades in distant places, without any hope for their future.

Nine years later that spark had almost extinguished when the Lord came calling again through one of His faithful servants, Samuel Ojulu, founder of the new church called St Philips at the refugee settlement at Kalobeyei, North Kenya.

The Wakimbizi Group’s involvement in the creation of the new church community at Kalobeyei has been a testimony of God’s faithfulness to His people: a practical, if spartan shelter for worship and hope-restoring activities amongst the brethren -school classes, sports teams, language classes, craft workshops and a launch pad for evangelism within the homeland in South Sudan.

Much of this has been assisted by the generosity of this congregation and a strong empathy has formed between the two parishes.  All glory to God!

Barb’s sermon two Sundays ago around Saul’s impetuous behaviour in the face of the threatening army of the Philistines took me back to an earlier passage in the book of Samuel (1 Samuel 7).  In this setting, and in similar circumstances, Samuel vanquished the Philistines and marked a place on the battlefield with a large stone which he named Ebenezer and declared, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us.” 

So Samuel was right to chastise Saul for his hasty decision to prepare for a truce with the Philistines so that he might avoid the battle.  Saul had dismissed God’s promises in favour of his own solution. Yet I have some sympathy for Saul.  Faced with a shortage of resources and a challenge to sustain a small legion in their battle against poverty, ignorance and emptiness, there is a temptation to look for an easy exit, an option which excludes God.

Last year the Wakimbizi Group contributed some $20K to assist the formation of the Christian community of St Philips at Kalobeyei – a supposedly temporary community whilst the political and social dust settles in the homeland.

But ‘our’ Samuel, Pastor of St Philips Kalobeyei, is not daunted and is already sowing the seeds of a permanent church community in the homeland of his people.  My guess is that he has not forgotten the Ebenezer stone-of-help and is entering the fray with every confidence that God’s promises bring.

So the Wakimbizi committee has drafted a modest budget to continue to help the community at Kalobeyei whilst God’s plan unfolds.  Faith in God’s providence leaves no option, because, as the biblical Samuel declared when he named the Ebenezer stone, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us.“

Blessings,
Graham Whitley             

Jun 302019
 

You may not be aware that today is Refugee Sunday. For decades St Philips has been spiritually, personally and materially active in this justice ministry through Wakimbizi, one of the church’s many ‘out’ focused ministries. ~ Malcolm

Life in a refugee camp.

Few of us fully appreciate how tough life in a refugee camp can be.  Jeremy Largo, a member of this congregation, is one who has experienced the full horror of it.  Even in his resettlement in Australia, he is experiencing the awful suffering of those in the camp.  Four months ago, Jeremy learnt the tragic news of his daughter’s death in the Kakuma camp in Kenya.  She died after giving birth to twins, both of whom have also passed away. Grace had no husband; he was killed in the civil war in Sudan.  She leaves five orphaned kids, all under 12 years old.

Grace’s kids are now cared for by Lucy, her best friend, a single mother with seven children of her own.  Their humble home is totally inadequate to accommodate the enlarged family and, with the onset of the rainy season, conditions could hardly be worse. Understandably Jeremy is devastated and frustrated at his inability to do little more than talking by phone each day with Lucy and his surviving grandchildren. 

The Wakimbizi group helped settle Jeremy here in Perth back in 2005.  He later moved east for several years but returned in 2017 determined to rebuild his life, beginning by joining this parish.  Through the good agency of World Vision (bless you, Donna) the Lutheran World Federation was able to visit and assess the needs of the orphans and their carers.  (We have the list and it is extensive!)  World Vision has also promised aid to the family.  The Wakimbizi group was able to provide some immediate relief and, through the generosity of this congregation, has now sent funds for provision of a shelter.  Hopefully, construction can start soon.  Pastors from St Philips Kalobeyei have visited Lucy and the orphans to comfort and assist them.

You may remember a musing headed ’Alphonsine’s Story’?  Aphonsine with her three siblings was also settled in Perth by Wakimbizi, back in 2004.  Well, Alphonsine started a charity, Christian Ebernezer Jireh (CEJ), which provides support for widows, disabled persons and orphans in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.  Her mission is to provide for those who slip through the support gaps of other, mainstream NGOs.  Almost single-handedly, she has already funded it to the tune of $180K!  Can you guess how God is working here?  Yes, CEJ is meeting some of the critical needs of these poor orphaned children and their foster mum.  Shortly, you will see a video of the new mattresses and clothes which CEJ provided for the family and hear the words of the grateful kids.  So this is an ongoing story and I intend to relay it to you as it unfolds.  If you feel moved to help shape the outcome, please speak to me or John Pearman.  And please speak to Jeremy, who may not be known to many of you. 

Blessings,
Graham Whitley

Feb 032019
 

It’s over 60 years since I sat in the stands at Claremont Showgrounds to hear Billy Graham. I remember the swelling excitement prior to his address and the powerful, compelling message he delivered. Even as first-year high-schooler I was drawn to accept the call to go forward and commit my life to Christ. Instead, I simply progressed through Confirmation in the Presbyterian church I attended. That was my introduction to evangelism and it was pretty impressive! So I was enthusiastic [continue reading…]

Jun 112017
 

Last week’s pewsheet article ‘Pray for the Persecuted Church ‘ was timely!  Many will remember the support this parish offered to those Sudanese who found themselves stuck in camps in Kenya following the long civil war in their country. Through the WAKIMBIZI GROUP St Philips provided clothes, bibles, English classes and spiritual support over the desperate years 2008-2012.  We also sponsored the training of several community leaders and pastors with the intention of helping to rebuild South Sudan when it [continue reading…]