FJKM Madagascar and the National Synod of Wales
As the days progressed the questions from the Synod of Wales/UWI representatives were – how can we strengthen this relationship as a partnership where we all learn from each other and also how can we ensure that we do not do things which will make life more dangerous in the current political climate for members of the church in Madagascar.
On Thursday we had two meetings which helped to answer those questions.
First with the Ecumenical Church Leaders – a group formed specifically to oppose the injustices and human rights abuses which have increased in the last three years.
Sitting opposite four people all of whom had personal stories to tell of injustice and human rights abuse was a powerful reminder of how difficult it is to be a Christian in some places and of how easy it is for us. The stories included:
- Organising a Peace Rally soon after the coup. The rally was broken up by the police force and the military. Pastors were required to disrobe and flee, one Pastor died.
- Of a taxi driver so frustrated by the situation that he threw stones at the car of the President and was shot dead in the street.
- Of the burglary of the house of one of the Pastors which resulted in him losing the use of a finger and damage to his hand as the intruders took a machete to his hand as he tried to close the door
- Of how the wife of that same Pastor is frequently terrified in her own home as they are hassled in various ways on a regular basis.
Asked the question – what can we do which won’t further endanger you, we got the reply – tell people our stories, you won’t endanger us further.
Later in the day in a meeting with the President of FJKM – Pastor Lala Rasendrahasina – the same question evinced the same reply. Tell them – write to the powerful people in your nation and internationally – tell them.
And so we will – the overriding message from Madagascar is one of hope. We saw it in the smiles of people even when they had awful stories to tell or lacked the resources we think are essential, we saw it in the care and love offered by dedicate people in a variety of projects, we saw it in the confident and purposeful lives of former volunteers at Penrhys now contributing hugely to their own country.
We owe it to people in places like this to share our good fortune and in doing so we will learn far more than we will teach.
For more information about how the partnership with the National Synod of Wales develops keep an eye on www.urc-wales.org.uk