My experience was life-altering and has given me a renewed passion for the work Jesus has given the Anglican Church in North America: to share the Gospel and offer a hand up to those in need. This work is characterized by partnership between the ACNA and the Global South in the truest sense of the word. It is a partnership that transforms lives.
As I met with archbishops from Africa, the Southern Cone and Southeast Asia, leaders who serve as ARDF Global Trustees, I understood for the first time that this communion we are a part of is built on actual relationships with believers across the globe. Again and again, these courageous leaders clasped my hands, looked into my eyes and said “my sister” in a poignant expression of our unity in Christ. Their loyalty to Jesus and to us is strong. Hand in hand for the Gospel, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
We traveled to central Kenya to visit a micro-hydroelectric power installationin the middle of beautiful tea fields on the slopes of Mount Kenya. Men in the village who volunteer to run this simple power installation led us along a steep, slippery, and narrow path that snaked down a six story drop beside a magnificent waterfall. A pipe captured water flow and its power produces energy through a simple generator that serves 100 families.
With this electricity, mothers cook, children have light for homework, and lives are changed. ARDF is hoping to use this energy technology in other parts of Africa, especially in the Congo where as few as 10% of the people have access to electric power.
As we climbed back up the slippery path, a villager saw the panic in my eyes as I realized the muddy slope was more than my flimsy shoes could manage. He said, “Give me your hands. When the climb is hard, we must hold hands.”
His words were and are profound truth. For many in the developing world the climb is often hard, just as it sometimes has been for us in North America. And so we must hold hands.
On our last day in Kenya we flew on a small plane to the Northwest corner of the country, near the border of Uganda. Our destination was the home diocese of Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya. We arrived to discover a region in turmoil: just the night before a gang with machetes maimed and murdered villagers in their homes.
We drove down primitive dirt roads to the simple tworoom hut where Archbishop Wabukala was born and grew up. His elderly parents and some family members greeted us and sang hymns and prayed in Swahili as we held hands in a circle.
The Archbishop’s mother was slight and bent, her hands were worn from age and years of hard work. But her face was radiant with the joy of Christ, and her voice lifted above all the others as she praised her Savior.
My heart as a mother connected with hers, and tears streamed down my face. This mother’s faith, in a simple hut in Africa, had changed her family’s future and the future of her country. Her son now leads
over 5 million Anglicans across Kenya, and unifies Christians around the world in his role as chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
Many hands are stretched out toward us in North America from our brothers and sisters in the majority world. They reach out to support us as we stand for Christ, and they hold out gifts of wisdom, welcome, and love.
Ours is the kind of partnership that will change the world, and it is what ARDF is all about. It’s all about a hand up, not a hand out. And it’s only possible because of the hands that still hold scars proving that Jesus died to save us, one and all.