September 9, 2012
"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 146.5-6
Labour Day has come and gone, and a new academic year is starting. But we are still in Toronto. You have not heard much from us these past months, and there is a simple reason for that. We did not really know what was happening in the relationship between the University of the Gambia and the bishops of the Gambia Christian Council as it affects students wishing to enrol in the new program in Christian Studies at the university. To the best of our knowledge there has been one meeting during the summer, but we do not know the outcome, particularly whether a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed on. This was to regulate the respective responsibilities and relations between the two parties.
As we understand the matter, there is some difference of understanding regarding the nature of the Christian Studies program. While the bishops appear to be looking for something like a divinity school program which can serve ordinands for ministry in the major Christian denominations, the intentions of the university are for a more open program to serve a wide variety of both Christian and non-Christian students. But we must also tell you that this is only our deduction as we reflect on the tensions experienced during the months we spent in the Gambia earlier this year.
This is the main reason why we are sending you a prayer note at this time!
1/ So we ask your prayers once more for the Program in Christian Studies. Please give thanks with us that two introductory courses on Christianity are being taught by a Gambian Catholic lecturer. And these courses are attracting a wide range of interested students. Do pray that a Memorandum of Understanding with the Gambia Christian Council can be worked out in the near future, so that the rest of the program can be implemented. Many students, including those whom we got to know via our teaching in Gambia Theological Institute courses, are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to enrol. Pray with us that their hopes may be realized.
2/ Please give thanks with us for Rebecca Samuel Dali, a doctoral student whose work was supervised by Wendy. She recently completed her thesis on the special challenges faced by women in violent conflict. Her research is groundbreaking for the Nigerian situation, and promises to be a major resource for organizations providing assistance in conflict situations. When her thesis is accepted by the university senate an external examiner will be appointed; she hopes to defend the work later this year. We hope to travel to Nigeria for that occasion, also to meet with some of our other students to advise them on their research. Please pray with us for Rebecca as she prepares for the defense; pray that her work will be well received, that she may be able to overcome any remaining hurdles for the defense.
3/ We thank you for your ongoing prayers for Nigeria, and specifically for Jos. Many missionary colleagues have been encouraged to leave during the past months because the situation appeared so precarious. Please pray for them and their families as they resettle in North America or in other mission contexts. Give thanks with us that the situation in Jos has remained relatively peaceful the past few weeks. We also know that tensions are not far below the surface. So we ask continued prayers for our friends and colleagues, especially at the University of Jos, that they may be able to finish the present semester with a degree of normalcy. Pray with us for stability and peace; pray that government officials may find a solution which addresses the underlying causes of tension and conflict.
We are grateful for your prayers! We know that our Lord hears and answers us when we bring our needs to him.