"When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back." Mark 16:4 NRSV
Suicide reports are frequent. This week an entire family—a man, deeply in debt after his factory failed, his pregnant wife and their 3-year-old daughter—died by burning charcoal in their bedroom. Last week, a 56-year-old, newly-retired man jumped from the top level of a mall. Last month an elementary schoolboy plunged to his death after failing a minor spelling test.
What is the Easter message to this community? What difference do the cross and resurrection make to us in Hong Kong where people have lost all sense of the spiritual in everyday living? The radio ministry I coordinate is one way we help people to tap into God's power. As one person rescued from the brink of suicide through this ministry recently told me, "I finally understood my life is a gift from God, and what I do with my life is a gift to God."
Hong Kong Christian Council
Thirty-seven years ago the infant who came to be called "Gyani" was left in rags by the gate of the old Shanti Bhawan Mission Hospital. To Rachel Wolf, the missionary who adopted the infant, it was "providence." Colleagues warned Rachel not to get involved. The child came from unknown circumstances and prenatal damage might not appear for years. Such an adoption was often the first step along a well-worn path to heartbreak. But Rachel followed her heart. Gyani developed into a bright and healthy child and eventually into a strong and able young woman. Following her basic schooling, she went to a training program for office management run by the mission.
When I met Gyani and told her that I worked with the United Mission to Nepal, she smiled and said, "Oh I know the UMN. It gave me a life." She introduced me to her husband, who is a pastor, and to their beautiful daughter, half hidden behind her mother's dress. I asked Gyani what she did. "I am the office manager for the regional office of ÔSave the Children,' she said. Indeed, God does provide.
Recently returned from Kathmandu
Pastors hold several funerals every day—sometimes burying as many as 15 people at a time. HIV/AIDS touches the lives of everyone in some way. Approximately one-third of the population is infected with the disease. Thousands of children are orphaned. The rosy future of independent Namibia is overshadowed by this great sadness. In spite of the gloomy picture, hope reigns wherever the church is taking active steps to bring an end to the pervasiveness of the virus and illness.
Previously with the Council of Churches in Namibia, now serving in Botswana
Every aspect of Holy Week is lifted up in the church in South Africa, from the re-enactment of the washing of the disciples' feet to an all-night Holy Saturday vigil. Early Easter morning, the women gather in the church cemetery celebrating the empty tomb. During the sunrise service, Scott performed several baptisms in the Umvoti River, the culmination of this year's confirmation program. More than 100 seekers have come forward already to prepare for next year's Easter baptism and confirmation.
Scott Couper and Susan Valiquette
Groutville Church UCCSA
Inanda Seminary, Durban
These voices from our Global Ministries missionaries are supported by the UCC's Our Church's Wider Mission offering.