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Dear friends,
You have probably heard the saying: “Give a person a fish and she/he will eat for a day. Teach a person to fish and he/she will eat for a lifetime.” There is much truth to these words but it is also much more complicated as some have pointed out observing that it also depends on whether the person has access to or ownership of the pond.
I recently accompanied the director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa – Development Service (ELCSA – DS) to visit projects in the Mount Frere area in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. This mountainous region was previously known as the Transkei homeland under the apartheid regime. Its name in isiXhosa is kwaBhaca, or “place of the Bhaca ‘refugee’ people.”
The current government is working to improve infrastructure such as roads, electricity, hospitals and schools. However poverty, unemployment – especially among the youth – and HIV & AIDS still affect many in the towns and surrounding rural communities.
The ELCSA Development Service has been active in the area for almost twenty years working with women, men and youth in consultation with local government structures and experts to listen to and assess the needs and priorities of the communities and to provide relevant advice, support and training.
Recently ELCSA DS has been sponsoring several accredited “micro-MBA” courses for entrepreneurs which, over 5 days of intensive training, provide essential knowledge and skills on topics such as market investigation, marketing techniques, buying, costing, pricing, cost calculation and selling.
During our visit we met with Home-Based Care-givers and members of several other groups engaged in nutrition and market garden projects.
The project members welcomed us with a song in isiXhosa, “The road is long, it needs strong people.” They talked about the many challenges of living and farming in a mountainous area including access to water, transportation, soil erosion, hail storms and even snow in winter. They also proudly shared their successes and expressed thanks for the faithful accompaniment of the ELCSA Development Service. The ELCSA DS field officer is well known and respected in the communities and regularly visits the groups to get feedback and provide advice.
Your generous offerings to ELCA World Hunger assist in supporting the ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa – Development Service (ELCSA – DS).
Thank you for your prayers and support and for your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson, ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative, Southern Africa
Johannesburg, May 16, 2018

My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/
Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

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Dear friends,

More than thirty-five children came to Sunday School at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Doornfontein in the inner city of Johannesburg last Sunday. The two teachers welcomed the children in several local languages and then asked each child to introduce him/herself to the group. They wrote down their names explaining, “many of these children come from the neighbourhood and are here for the first time.”

Less than two weeks before tragedy struck just down the street when an old wall fell over killing 3 children playing on the sidewalk. An ecumenical funeral service was held at St. Thomas and a group counselling session for the children was led by the Lutheran pastor.
The lesson theme for the Sunday School class was “The Empty Tomb.” Several older children read the story from John chapter 20 and then the questions came tumbling out. “Can we see angels? What is heaven like and who will go? Will we recognise each other? Will we stay the same age or grow up in heaven? …”

St. Thomas Lutheran Church was built in 1910 by the Church of Sweden Mission just 24 years after gold was discovered there in 1886. A city grew up overnight drawing fortune hunters and job seekers. The Natives Land Act of 1913 reserved 93% of the land for the white minority and forced black peasant farmers into cheap migrant labor in the mines and factories.

Migrant workers continue to stream into Johannesburg and surrounds with many ending up in overcrowded and crumbling buildings in inner city areas like Doornfontein. The St. Thomas congregation is keenly aware of the many challenges and opportunities for service and ministry in the area.
The children enjoyed a sandwich and juice after the Sunday School lesson and are eagerly looking forward to coming back again next week.
(St. Thomas Lutheran Church is a congregation in the Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa. The Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the ELCA is their companion synod.)

Thank you for your prayers and support and for your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.

Peace and blessings.
Yours faithfully,
Philip Knutson

Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson,
ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative, Southern Africa
Johannesburg,
April 24, 2018
My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/
Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

IELM Congregation Beira, MozambiqueDear friends,
“They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He … began to tell them what was to happen to the Son of Man… ‘they will condemn him to death …and kill him and after three days he will rise again.’” (Mark 10:32-34).
During the season of Lent, just as the disciples and others were on the road with Jesus and were at times amazed and afraid we are privileged and challenged to walk and work together with our companions in Southern Africa. Accompaniment means sharing hopes and fears, joys and sorrows and learning what it means to participate together in God’s mission in the way of the cross.
Last week I attended the Joint Mission Board (JMB) meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique (IELM) in the Indian ocean port city of Beira. Each year the leadership of the IELM meets with Lutheran partners from the ELCA, Brazil, Germany, Geneva, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Bishop Eduardo Sinalo shared the annual report of the church and talked about ways we can collaborate as companions to support the church’s ministry and diakonia programs for the coming year.
On the Sunday we were invited to participate in the worship service in the local congregation of Matacuane. Heavy rains the previous night, which flooded many streets, delayed but did not stop the start of the service. After Holy Communion the Sunday School children, youth and women took turns dancing in and out of the church singing. The congregation and guests gathered for a meal and fellowship afterwards.
ELCA Global Mission accompanies the IELM in its mission outreach, with scholarships for leadership training and support for two rural clinics and programs for orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs).
Thank you for your prayers and support and for your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Peace and blessings.
Yours faithfully,
Philip Knutson

Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson, ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative, Southern Africa
Johannesburg, Feb. 24, 2018
My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/
Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

 

 

Collecting well water Munene Clinic Mozambique

Collecting well water at Martin Luther Clinic Munene, Mozambique

Dear friends,
The New York Times recently picked up on an issue which is now in the news in South Africa every day: “Day Zero for Cape Town.”
The city of Cape Town with four million residents is experiencing the worst drought in over a century. Dams are dangerously low and if the rains do not come soon the city may have to switch off the taps in April. Residents will then have to queue to collect their ration of water at 200 distribution points which will have major logistical, health and security issues. Already the price of bottled water has spiked.
South Africa, along with many other rain-scarce countries in Africa, is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and faces a long-term challenge with providing enough water for its people, agriculture and industry. This crisis highlights the fact that policies and practices by governments, businesses and ordinary people regarding water usage will have to change not only in Cape Town but around the world.

 
The watchword for the year 2018 from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA) Almanac is from Revelation 21:6b “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” ELCSA Presiding Bishop AM Mnisi writes in the preface to the devotional booklet, “Christ is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, everything belongs to him. He sees that we are thirsty and offers fresh water for all to drink at no cost…Salvation is given freely, without price.” The LWF subthemes marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 were “Salvation is not for sale!,” “Human beings are not for sale!” and “Creation is not for sale!”
As ELCA Global Mission we are privileged and challenged to walk with our companions in Southern Africa in God’s mission through programs that support evangelism outreach, leadership development, theological training, health care and sustainable development including strategies to provide safe, secure water supplies and mitigation of the effects of climate change and poverty.
Thank you for your prayers and support and for your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Peace and blessings.
Yours faithfully,
Philip Knutson

Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson, ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative, Southern Africa
Johannesburg,
Feb. 2, 2018
My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/
Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

 

 

 

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Bishop E. Sinalo (IELM) greeting members of a congregation. Mozambique 2017

Dear friends,
Christmas is all about mission. The story of the incarnation, the unique entrance of God into our world in the humble birth of Jesus in a marginalized village called Bethlehem, is central to the story of God’s way of doing mission for the sake of the world. As Paul writes in Philippians 2:6-8, [Jesus], “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave being born in human likeness, and being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.”
Anthony J. Gittins asks in Ministry at the Margins: Strategy and Spirituality for Mission (Orbis, 2002:152) “How close are we to the powerless, the weak, the exploited, the homeless, the poverty-stricken or those without status? … To accept to be marginal and a stranger [even in our own culture] is to place oneself at the disposal of the God who calls… Jesus the marginal missionary calls, co-missions and sends us too.”
Thank you for your participation in God’s mission locally and globally. Thank you for your prayers and support this past year for our family and for our companion churches across Southern Africa.
“Come, let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made know to us” Luke 2:15b
Peace and blessings.
Yours faithfully,
Philip Knutson

Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson, ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative, Southern Africa
Johannesburg, November 29, 2017
My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/
Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

 

Dear friends,
From October 20-22 I attended the commemoration events of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Durban hosted by Bishop PP Buthelezi and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa – South Eastern Diocese (ELCSA – SED).

A joint service was held at the Emmanuel Catholic Cathedral in downtown Durban. Wilfrid Fox Napier OFM Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and archbishop of Durban welcomed Catholics, Lutherans and other denominations to the joint event. Bishop Munib Younan (Bishop of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and former President of the Lutheran World Federation), invited as special guest speaker, emphasized how Lutherans and Catholics have come closer together through the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999, the 2017 document From Conflict to Communion and the historic joint service in Lund, Sweden in October 2016 together with Pope Francis.

On the Saturday a cultural program was presented which included children, youth and adult choirs from across the diocese, traditional dance groups and a drama about the Reformation.

Bishop Younan delivered the Luther Lecture with the theme: “Working towards Peace and Reconciliation amongst the people of the Middle East” (With particular reference to the conflict in Palestine and Israel). Bishop Younan passionately called for prayers for peace and action with justice by all governments and people of faith leading to a two-state solution.
Professor Farid Esack of the University of Johannesburg gave a response from a Muslim perspective. He emphasized that discrimination, extremism and violence in the name of any religion was unacceptable and needed to be condemned.

On Sunday October 22 an open-air worship service with Holy Communion was held at the Growthpoint stadium with over 10 000 worshippers in attendance including a number of church leaders, King Goodwill Zwelithini and the President of South Africa Mr. Jacob Zuma.
Bishop Buthelezi delivered the sermon based on John 8:31-36 emphasising that Jesus Christ is the Truth who alone can set us free and that because of Christ “Change can happen!” for all people in bondage including the people of occupied Palestine as happened with the ending of apartheid in South Africa.
Bishop Younan delivered a powerful address highlighting the LWF theme “Liberated by God’s Grace” and the three sub-themes “Salvation not for sale!”, “Humans not for sale!” and “Creation not for sale!”. He called for bold responses to counter the “prosperity” gospel, human trafficking and the effects of climate change.
It was a great privilege to be invited to attend these events and bring fraternal greetings as regional representative of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – Global Mission.

Thank you for your prayers and support.
Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson, ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative, Southern Africa
Johannesburg, October 23, 2017
My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/
Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

Greeting congregation Chimoio Mozambique Sept 2017Dear friends,
Recently I travelled to Chimoio in central Mozambique with six members of Our Saviours Lutheran Church (Naperville, IL) to visit congregations and projects of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique (ELCM). ELCM Bishop Eduardo Sinalo, General Secretary Abel Macuacua and Mr. Mishek Ruwa coordinator for the Vida Humana project were our hosts and guides.
Vida Humana is a project of the ELCM which was started in Chimoio in 2005 to assist people in the community living with HIV & AIDS. Thirteen volunteer activists or advocates who are also members of the Lutheran congregation in Chimoio do regular home visits to encourage and assist those who are on Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, organize transportation to the hospital when needed and oversee distribution of e-pap, a concentrated nutritious food supplement. The advocates invited us to walk along with them on visits to some of the homes.
During our stay we also travelled in a small bus to visit the Martin Luther Clinic in the rural community of Munene and then to the nearby town of Catandica 140 km north of Chimoio.
We were taken on a short tour of the clinic, the house for expectant mothers and the nurses’ house. The district health officer reported that the number of patients visiting the clinic has increased substantially over the years and the clinic is playing a vital role in providing essential health services in the district. The clinic was built with the support of ELCA World Hunger funds. The government provides for two nurses and medicine.
After the visit to the clinic members of the local Lutheran congregation at Munene welcomed the visitors with singing and dancing and served a meal in the church building.
On Sunday we attended a worship service with Holy Communion at the Lutheran church in Chimoio. Bishop Sinalo preached a mission sermon based on the story of Jonah. After a lively service the whole congregation joined in a community meal.
At the end of our stay we met with the church leadership and the activists of the Vida Humana project to hear about successes and challenges and to talk about the vision for the future and how we can continue to walk faithfully together through mutual support, accountability and transparency.
Thank you for your prayers, support and participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson, ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative, Southern Africa
Johannesburg, September 29, 2017
My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/
Please note the new link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica