When a foreigner lives with you in your land, you must not oppress him.
You must regard the foreigner who lives among you as the native-born among us.
You must love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:33-34
May 9, 2011
Greetings from Abidjan, where I have just completed my first week of teaching the Exegesis of Biblical Law at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Seminary (FATEAC). Things are calming down here, and people are going about their daily activities, but there is still sporadic shooting once in awhile, and it will take longer for people's nerves to calm down, and for them to feel really at peace. People are sharing their stories, killing and looting, but also God's protection. Just a few days ago, another mass grave was found, and this morning at prayers, one staff member shared how she witnessed some soldiers come and take away her neighbour's car at night. One pastor from a church in the Abidjan suburb of Yopougon where the fighting was particularly fierce and drawn out described some of the horrible things that happened there, and how almost everyone fled. But now it is calming down. Two Sundays ago there were 46 people in a church that normally has 1 900. And yesterday, he was excited to say that there were 145 people at services. This pastor is one of my students. So Ivory Coast needs our prayers for peace, healing, forgiveness, justice, and reconciliation.
It is in this climate that I teach about biblical law to students from several countries and differing political orientations. The other day, we just happened to be reading a law about what to do about aliens in the land, Leviticus 19:33-34, in order to illustrate how a series of laws can increase in intensity : from non-oppression to > same treatment as citizens to > loving him as yourself!!! Now I was just illustrating a literary technique, you know, but then a student raised the question - but what do we do if the foreigner is mean? Isn't there a law for that? And suddenly I realized that I had stumbled into a very sensitive area. And I certainly did not want to get into a debate about local events over the last number of years. So focusing on the text, I explained that my understanding was that if a foreigner was to be treated like a citizen that would mean that not only does he have the priviledges of a citizen but also duties, subject to the same laws as citizens. (Actually some of the children of Tieba, the first Christian in Kotoura, Burkina Faso, (where I first served), are some of the 'foreigners' in the land. I just called them up today. They live in a town near one where there was a massacre a few weeks ago. They said they are ok.)
Back home in Burkina, I hear things have been settling down, and a lot of 'ink' is flowing in the papers and on internet concerning the whys and wherefores of our crisis. And what should be done about it. The new government is working around the clock to discuss and put measures in place that will satisfy the people. There is a general feeling, though, that some fundamental changes need to take place. Though, at this point, it does not look like our president will be mass pressured to leave before the end of his term, there is growing clamor that he does leave at the end of his term in 2015 and not seek re-election. We covet your prayers, as the country of Burkina Faso seeks the way forward in good management, justice, and peace.
It is now time to update you on some important developments in my life.
Over the last few months there has been discussion between myself and Mennonite Church Canada concerning future directions. It became clear over time that our priorities for ministry were going off in different directions. And so at the fork in the road, after much reflection, prayer, and consultation with people close to me, I felt led to go down the road that would allow me to continue using my gifts and experience through offering free-lance services in the areas of linguistics, Bible translation, and Biblical studies as consultant and teacher, as well as ministry to the Mennonite Church and the Apostolic Mission Church (Daniel's church) as opportunities arise. In fact, my stint at FATEAC is one of my free-lance opportunities which I am quite excited about. And I am proud to say that one of the students in my class is a Mennonite from Burkina!
At this point in time, I am in transition, fulfilling my current commitments under the Mennonite Church until the end of the year, but also taking on free-lance opportunities. My full-time long-term support under Mennonite Church Canada is scheduled to come to an end at the end of August, 2011. However, my commitment to serving and relating to the Mennonite Church is not ending. I am also open to special assignment opportunities with the Mennonite Church in coming years as opportunities arise. It is just that my horizons will be broadening.
You may be wondering about my new support structure. In fact, Daniel and I have been accepted to be part of a 'faith' mission called Commission to Every Nation. You can look it up on www.cten.org. The fact that we have been signed on as a couple is an exciting development for us. While we will still be pursuing our specific ministries, we will have the sense that we are in this together complementing and supporting each other, which in fact, we have been doing all along but in an unoffical way. This mission has opened the way for me to pursue my sense of calling at this point in my life and for Daniel to share more about his ministry and projects in the Apostolic Mission Church.
To conclude, I would also like to put in a word for Mennonite Church Canada which is going through some real tough times lately having to lay off people and cut down programs because of deep budget cuts. They need your prayers during this time and your financial support if you are a member of the denomination. There is much good work going on. It would be sad if we are limited in the Lord's work just because of lack of funds. I have been so thankful that they have supported my ministry in linguistics and Bible translation all of these years (29 as of April 30!), all because people like you have given to Mennonite Church Canada. My hope and prayer is that they can continue to be empowered to enable others to pursue ministry opportunities both in North America and abroad. Go to http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/give/index.php for more information about how you can give.
Blessings to each and everyone of you, and thank you for your support and prayers!
Daniel and Anne Garber Kompaoré
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