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 to read a gift of the latest book on Billy Graham, Hear My Heart – What I would say to you.

As I read  the chapters on evangelism, the book assumed a  special  relevance because of the mission about to be  undertaken by pastor Samuel Ojulu and two elders from St Philips Kalobeyei, a settlement for refugees in Northern Kenya. These three men are en route to Boma State in South Sudan with the express purpose of sowing the seed for a new church in what was once their homeland. They plan to evangelise in a region which has been beset by civil war, insecurity, lack of any government services and famine  for almost 30 years.

The trio plan to acquire land for a church, to preach the Gospel and train suitable local countrymen who will help to establish a church in Pochalla County, close to the border with Ethiopia.

How brave. . . what courage. . . what faith!

Billy Graham has much to say on the subject of evangelism in such circumstances. He recognised the urgency of revitalising Christianity in nations which had almost completely abandoned their Christian roots as a result of being the targets of aggressive proselytising by non-Christian religions.

He reminds the skeptics that the messages of God are immutable – that the supreme, unchanging, omnipotent Creator of the universe loves humanity and wants us to know him in a personal way; that humankind has strayed from him and, as a result of sin, is alienated from God. But He has bridged the gap between himself and sinful humanity by coming to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and there is hope for the future because Christ rose from the dead and will reign victorious over all the forces of evil and death and hell!

As probably the most significant religious figure of the 20th century, having preached to over 215 million people in 185 countries, Billy Graham taught that the Gospel is relevant to every individual, beyond all the cultural, ethnic, social, economic and political differences that separate us because the deepest needs and hurts and fears of the human heart are the same for everyone.

The Gospel is still “…the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

So, isn’t it astounding that our Sudanese brothers and sisters, in response to Christ’s commission to the Church to “Go into the world and preach the good news to all creation“ (Mark 16:15), are sending a team to join the host of other missionaries and evangelists down the centuries to take the message of God’s love in Christ to the farthest corners of human civilisation!!!

 

Blessings,

Graham

 

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…]