October 01, 2015
This past April many of you contributed to our record-smashing Good Friday offering—to the tune of about $130,000. The money was designated to support two incredible ministries: 1) Zambiri House, a ministry started by Archbishop and Gloria Kwashi to adopt nearly 60 children—mostly victims of terrorist and tribal violence; 2) The Christian Institute, a school that trains future pastors, church planters, and health care workers to bring the gospel to terrorist-ravaged places of northeast Nigeria.
In early September of this year, I had the privilege of delivering your Good Friday offering to the Diocese of Jos in Nigeria. Technically, we wired the money, but because we value this global friendship so much, we wanted to send a person along with the wire transfer. And they wanted to see a person from Church of the Resurrection. So I spent four days in Jos, Nigeria celebrating the friendship in the gospel that all of you have helped to create.
I'm happy to report that I had the best Moi Moi I've ever had—a Nigerian spicy bean mash pressed together with an unexpected fried egg in the middle. I ate it in your honor. I also drank some bad water and got horribly sick for nearly two weeks, but I have no regrets for the trip. I cannot tell you the joy I witnessed on the faces of our Nigerian friends to see someone (me, a representative for all of you) from Church of the Resurrection. Their love and appreciation for us runs deep.
I also can't convey how their faith in Christ can apprentice and disciple us. Let me share one story. I was asked to preach at a Sunday morning service at St. Bart's Anglican Church in Jos, although I had no idea I would give just one of three sermons in their four and a half hour annual Children's Harvest Festival service. But what really struck me wasn't the length of the service or that it was still filled with exuberant praise at the four-hour mark. What really moved me was their deep gratitude and openness to the gift of children even in the midst of poverty and violence. When I tried to explain to them that some powerful and influential people in our country say that every child must be a "wanted" child, or else he or she should not be allowed to enter the world, they looked at me with utter confusion—as if to say, "But why wouldn't every child be a wanted child? Why wouldn't every child be welcomed into the world as a gift from God, someone to cherish and love?" This is just one example of how they can disciple people in our culture, of how we need to be the learners and not the teachers for our African brothers and sisters.
So brothers and sister in Christ, thank you for your 2015 Good Friday gift. Thank you for your generosity. Archbishop Kwashi told me, "I know that even a gift of one dollar means that your people had to give up something else, and that means something to us. We are so grateful to God for your people—not just for your money, but for your love and our partnership in the gospel of Jesus Christ." He meant it from the depths of his heart.
April 26, 2015
We are excited to celebrate a historic moment for Resurrection—a movement of generosity that the Lord worked in us for the Good Friday Gift day. On Good Friday, our custom for over a decade has been to make a gift to God's work in the nations. This year our gift went to our global partner church in the Anglican Diocese of Jos, Nigeria. This year's gifts focuses on two ministries in Jos--the Christian Institute and the Zambiri home for children.
Thomas is a young man who is a part of the Christian Institute in Jos. He comes from a part of northeast Nigeria that has been hit hard by Boko Haram. So Thomas experienced what many have in the Northeast experienced: one day going about daily life when the jeeps and convoys of Boko Haram are heard coming down the road and there is no one to protect their village from being completely decimated. Thomas survived and made his way along with other refugees to Jos in the central plateau of the state. With family, village, and financial support completely gone, Thomas came to an Anglican church and was honest not only about the trauma he had experienced but also about a substance addiction he had.
There, Thomas experienced a full conversion to Jesus and a new life in Christ. He then heard that Archbishop Ben Kwashi had a plan for the Northeast: when the evils of Boko Haram came to an end as all evil must come to an end, he would have young men and women trained and ready to go back into those villages that had been wiped out to rebuild the communities and to replant the church. Thomas realized that the Lord was calling him to make that rebuilding in his home his life work.
But there was no funding to underwrite the three years of study, room, and board for that training. Through our Good Friday Gift we wanted to be able to fund several folks like Thomas who would go from those persecuted to planters of churches. Because of your generosity, we will be able to support 18 people who will be trained in the next 3 years.
We also wanted our Good Friday Gift to support Zambiri house, where 60 former orphans have been adopted and brought into the home of Archbishop Ben and Mama Gloria. There is a little girl, whose name is Laraba, who is HIV positive and whose parents both died, likely of HIV. She was found when she was 9 years old feeding and caring for her little brother who was 7 years old. No one knew how long they had been on their own. They were taken into foster care where they experienced more trauma and abuse.
When Archbishop Ben and Mama Gloria heard of this, they stepped in and adopted Lariba and her brother along with others to care for them and give them the hope of a home and love. We had hoped through our Good Friday Gift to provide for the housing, food, care, and education of several of these children for a year.
When we told you the story of these children, something in you opened up, and through our Good Friday Gift, not only can we support 18 church planters, but this gift will also support all 60 children for 1 year! Now the Kwashis have the ability to plan, raise money, and provide micro-economic enterprise to continue to provide for these children.
The most we have ever given for Good Friday Gift Day was $71,000.
This year, Resurrection gave $131,700 to the work of the Lord through our brothers and sisters in Jos, Nigeria. Additionally, our recent church plant Immanuel Anglican in Uptown neighborhood of Chicago gave over $7,000 on Good Friday to the work in Jos Nigeria.
Something has happened in our hearts. We're being discipled into a kingdom-minded people. Generosity that is worldly irresponsible to be kingdom responsive is becoming a hallmark of our church. We are thrilled to come alongside Thomas, and Laraba and her brother, and Canon Les who was with us in March, and Archbishop Ben and Gloria Kwashi so that they know that we are with them.
May the Lord continue his work in Jos and the nations and teach us how to learn from and with our brothers and sisters in the nations. May he also open up new areas of generosity in our hearts, and may he bless all those who gave sacrificially to the Good Friday Gift.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Stewart Ruch III
April 26, 2015