Aspen Community Church Supports
Missionary Paul Jeffrey

A letter from our Missioner,
Paul Jeffrey

A woman displaced by war participates in an early morning mass in Riimenze, South Sudan.

11 May 2018

Dear friends in my supporting congregations,

I'm packing my bags today at the end of a six-week trip to Africa. I've been covering the church's work in war-torn South Sudan, where one-third of the country's population is displaced by conflict, and where hunger and suffering are widespread. In many places, people have fled from fighting to seek refuge in ramshackle shelters they've built around churches, turning houses of worship into literal sanctuaries and pastors into literal saviors.

Natalina Dominic, 9, lives in a displaced persons camp at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Wau, South Sudan. Her father was killed during fighting in the city in 2017. She has 7 siblings.

The church has provided food, shelter material, and health care, and the presence of clergy and religious has fostered a sense of relative safety for the families who first occupied the church grounds when fighting enveloped the city in 2016.

I also spent several days in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, a liberated area controlled by a rebel army fighting against the Islamist government in Khartoum. To get there, I crossed the border from South Sudan with permission from the rebels. It's an area where the United Nations and most NGOs, afraid of both the violence and political repercussions from Sudan's rulers, are not willing to go. Yet church workers, including a handful of foreigners, have remained present, accompanying the people of the Nuba Mountains despite indiscriminate bombings and hunger. Such commitment to mission has not gone unnoticed, and when I interviewed the head of the rebel movement, he praised praised the church for giving hope to the people.

Ten-year-old Ashara Shela cares for cattle near Gidel, in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan.

In difficult places like this, I'm repeatedly impressed by how people of faith refuse to play it safe. How being church isn't something easy. How loving God and neighbor means sacrificing privilege, and accompanying the poor means accepting their lot.

I write, as always, to thank you for giving me the privilege of witnessing such faith in the hard places of the world. And to let you know I pray for you as your congregation engages with the hard places for ministry in your own community. May you be a safe place for people who daily face rejection. May you be known as folks who give hope to people on the streets of your community.

In God's peace.

Paul

Paul's Blog (http://www.kairosphotos.com/blog/)

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MISSION U STUDY OVERVIEWS

Spiritual Growth Study: Embracing Wholeness: An Earth Perspective on Covenantal Living by Jessica Stonecypher – Building on Evy McDonald’s Living as A Covenant Community (2017), Jessica Stonecypher’s Embracing Wholeness  explores the ways God has called us to live in covenantal relationship with all of creation and challenges participants to work toward stronger and healthier relationships with creation, their communities, themselves, and God.

Social Issue Study: What About Our Money? A Faith Response  by Susan K. Taylor -  What About Our Money?  Explores the connection between our faith and our money. Participants discover how to live closer to God and God’s people, even in a culture that is so deeply defined by money. From a biblical foundation, Taylor explores the systems in which we make our financial decisions, our understanding of what is available to us, and how we use/consume resources. The course helps participants to examine what belongs to God, how our faith connects to our finances and how we can plan for the future as people of faith.

Geographic Study (Fort Collins only): The Missionary Conferences of the United Methodist Church in the United States: Alaska United Methodist Conference, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, Red Bird Missionary Conference – Offered again for the 2nd year, Missionary Conferences in the U.S. gives an overview of the past and present of these conferences, the contexts out of which they grew, including significant factors of race and class, and considers their future. Through the study, participants encounter a variety of people, including Native Americans, a part of our rich cultural, religious and historical heritages.