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 Called to Serve and Learn
A Report from International Ministries
The Rev. Dr. Blair and Vivian Bertrand.
Education by Extension in Malawi (TEEM), and is developing lay train- ing materials and is editing the Di- ploma workbook materials. A series of research seminars have been or- ganized at ZTC by Blair, providing an oppor tunity for scholars to present their rough work and receive valu- able feedback. Presentations are online from diverse locations in Af- rica and beyond. Blair will continue to work with these inspiring par tners from his home office in Canada. He will be the “living link,” maintaining these impor tant relationships.
Former mission staff often express sadness when leaving friends and work that was meaningful. This was true for the Rev. Joel and Rebecca Sherbino who lived in Malawi twice, in 2004–2007 and 2015–2016, and now reside in Paris, Ont. Joel serves as both mission staff with Interna- tional Ministries and minister of Par- is Presbyterian Church. The focus of Joel’s work in Malawi is in prison ministry, along with three amazing Malawian volunteers: Lyca, Rammy and Hastings. Each felt the Call of Jesus to do prison work. They visit 10 prisons weekly, half in remote areas, travelling on public transit. They offer Bible studies, individual prayer and encouragement, and help inmates imagine life after pris- on. Prior to COVID-19, Joel visited Malawi annually in order to gather stories, pray together and suppor t the volunteer team. Joel speaks about this ministry in congregations within Canada, raising funds to as- sist the volunteers and to buy Bibles and hymn books. This is mission for the 21st century.
Another enlightening experience for International Ministries was the appointment of Dr. Nick and Becky Bauman to Nepal. Nick had Pres- byterian roots, but they attended a United Church in Orillia, Ont. There are two main criteria for interna- tional appointments: that we appoint Presbyterians, and that these people work with Presbyterian global par t- ners. The United Mission to Nepal has been a PCC partner for many years. Could we accept the Bau- mans’ request? We did, and it was God’s gift to both the PCC and the people the Baumans encountered at Tansen Mission Hospital and the
Louise Gamble.
New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre (NLPRC). The Baumans were limited to two years outside Canada, for accreditation and his employ- ment in the Orillia Hospital. Two years passed quickly, but the seeds sown in that time will continue to bloom.
After an extraordinary experi- ence in Nepal, it is not surprising that Becky returned with daughter Dot and son Silas in January 2020, to attend the official opening of the NLPRC. Becky and Nick serve as human connections with the people and the mission in Tansen. It takes an intensive experience of working, learning the language and worship- ping in a new country and context to make and maintain these deep relationships.
In recent years, International Min- istries has appointed three Cana- dian young adult interns to Malawi and Hungary, each working for 10 months. This possibility offers a chance to explore faith and to en- gage with global par tners. These internships can be challenging for young adults, but all say it was a learning experience with new friend- ships formed.
Canadian Presbyterians represent International Ministries on interna- tional or regional bodies, where their abilities match the needs of the part- ner. The Rev. Deborah Stanbury was asked to represent us on the Carib- bean and North American Council on Mission (CANACOM). The con- cerns of CANACOM aligned well with Deborah’s work with sex trafficking. The Rev. Linda Patton-Cowie is the PCC’s representative on the Taiwan Ecumenical Forum for Justice and Peace, an important group focusing on Indigenous and women’s issues, and the international status of Taiwan. These crucial connections increase our knowledge about the challenges our global partners face as we ex- change experiences and ideas. Build- ing understanding through dialogue and prayer is essential to developing an authentic and faithful community. Is that not why we say, “the world is so small”?
On Aug. 4, 2020, an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, killed hundreds and devastated the city. Three months later, hunger and concern for the
Dr. Nick and Becky Bauman.
The Rev. Dr. Paul McLean.
The Rev. Joel and Rebecca Sherbino and their children.
future are pervasive. The Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut is a PCC partner led by Dr. George Sabra, whose seminary trains 90% of the Reformed pastors in the Mid- dle East. Christians are a minority in this region where Christ was born and taught. NEST was already expe- riencing financial challenges before the explosion, and International Min- istries had launched a special ap- peal for NEST. Dr. Sabra expressed his gratitude for the financial sup- por t with these words: “We are overwhelmed by the support and solidarity that our friends and par t- ners all over the world have shown. The PCC is foremost among them. I cannot adequately express our grati- tude and appreciation.”
Despite the changes that have required adjustments in the way we work and do mission, the heart of International Ministries remains unchanged. At the core are strong par tnerships that connect us to Christ’s call to love and to serve.
   By the Rev. Glynis Williams, Associate Secretary, International Ministries
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2).
The work of International Ministries has changed over the years.
In 2013, there were 15 mission staff working in 10 countries on four continents. Five years later, in 2018, eight mission staff were in four countries on three continents. Fewer people seek international appoint- ments and shorter terms of service are common.
There are many reasons for the shift, including changes among global par tner churches and Chris- tian institutions. What remains clear is a desire from partners to be con- nected with us in meaningful ways.
It may be tempting to lament these changes. The way we do international mission has shifted dramatically. However, if we are not open to change and new ways of engagement, we risk stifling the Spirit of God.
The global COVID-19 pandemic is causing much sadness and hard- ship worldwide. Few countries are exempt from its devastation. It is also providing the oppor tunity to re- think how we respond to God’s Call to be engaged in ministry and mis- sion at home and globally. God may be nudging us in new directions...if we are willing to take the risk.
As in the past, mission staff are essential in order to develop and maintain par tnerships with our his- toric churches and newer institu- tions. Shor t visits of PCC modera- tors and national office staff build connections, as we share the joys and struggles of following Jesus. The challenge for us in the PCC is to refine this model while maintaining meaningful engagement with one another.
Some par tnerships we have to- day can be traced back for more than a century. Our history in Tai- wan began in 1872, when the Rev. Dr. George Leslie Mackay began his medical and evangelism work in the north. Louise Gamble has served in Taiwan for years and recently the
translation of the reports of the Ca- nadian Presbyterian North Formosa Mission were completed. Together with her colleague Mr. James Chen (James Kuan-chou), the translation describes northern Taiwan’s history, and makes it available for Taiwanese to read in their own language with Chinese characters. Louise now lives in Owen Sound, Ont.
The close relationship between the churches in Taiwan and Canada continues today through the work of the McLeans. The Rev. Dr. Paul and Mary Beth McLean and their chil- dren lived in Taiwan from 1983 to 1995, until Paul was encouraged to pursue doctoral studies in Toronto. In 2004, he was appointed by Inter- national Ministries to translate the scriptures into Indigenous languag- es in Taiwan. Working closely with nine teams of Indigenous pastors and elders, connecting with them by email and online, Paul travels to Tai- wan four times a year, except during this time of the pandemic. Living in Canada and working in Taiwan was possible because of his prior expe- rience with the Taiwanese Church and his significant language skills. Paul’s relationships with the transla- tors is a joy to witness. Given the serious task of translating the Bible into Indigenous languages, it is in- spiring to witness the laughter and mutual respect between Paul and the teams. This innovative model of global mission engagement was made possible thanks to Marjorie Ross, former Associate Secretary of International Ministries.
Taiwan inspired a similar model for Malawi. In March 2020, the Rev. Dr. Blair and Vivian Bertrand and their children left Malawi prior to the border closing, returning to Canada five months earlier than scheduled. They have settled near Ottawa. Blair had almost three years of im- mersion in the Malawi Presbyterian Church, working with women and men seeking to be pastors, youth leaders and Christian educators. Teaching at Zomba Theological College (ZTC) and developing the best theological library in Malawi, Blair has been appointed for a two- year term as mission staff based in Canada. Blair also worked with the lay training program, Theological

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