Mission Crossroads

SPR 2017

Mission Crossroads is a three-time-a-year magazine focused on worldwide work of the PC(USA). It offers news and feature stories about mission personnel, international partners and grassroots Presbyterians involved in God's mission in the world.

Issue link: https://missioncrossroads.epubxp.com/i/776898

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Mission Crossroads 1 A holistic witness Early African-American missionaries bravely spoke out for justice S T E W A R D S H I P M A T T E R S | Rosemary Mitchell call to mission. His example no doubt helped pave the way for other racial-ethnic people to follow God's call to mission service. Today mission co-workers of various races and ethnicities serve at the invitation of global partners in ministries of poverty alleviation, evangelism and reconciliation. Informed by our Reformed theology, our mission co-workers bear witness to a gospel that addresses the needs of the whole person. It is a ministry of the whole church, a life-transforming ministry that is possible because of the faithful support of people like you. Rosemary Mitchell is senior director of Mission Engagement and Support at the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Contact her at rosemary.mitchell@pcusa.org. a Westerner. He immersed himself in the culture, built relationships and preached the gospel everywhere he went. In 1899 Sheppard's ministry took a different turn. He became alarmed at the exploitation of the Congolese by Leopold. e king used Congolese soldiers to enslave other Congolese, who were then forced to harvest rubber and build railroads. Many of the captives perished, and horrific atrocities were committed against those who dared to rebel. Sheppard and another missionary, William Morrison, documented the brutalities and wrote about them in Presbyterian publications. eir work drew international attention to the situation, and eventually Leopold's rule was revoked by the Belgian Parliament. Congo became a Belgian colony and remained so until its independence in 1960. Sheppard and his wife, Lucy, whom he married in 1894 while on furlough, left Congo in 1910. Two years later, he became pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he served until his death in 1927. A newly revitalized affordable housing community, located less than two miles from the Presbyterian Center, has borne his name since its original construction in 1941. e world is a better place today because of the commitment, brilliance and courage of William Sheppard. Our church is a more vital witness because this African-American man, born in Waynesboro, Virginia, just weeks before the end of the Civil War, answered God's A t an early age, I learned that Christ is concerned about every aspect of human life. is core tenet of the Reformed faith motivated people like John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister and college president who was instrumental in our country's founding, and Eugene Carson Blake, a General Assembly stated clerk who played a strategic and prophetic role in the Civil Rights movement. Our society and our Presbyterian witness still benefit from the contributions of Witherspoon and Blake and countless others who have followed God's call to shape a world consistent with gospel values. Indeed, every region of the globe has been touched by the good and faithful work of Presbyterians. I have come to a greater appreciation of the international reach of Presbyterians since I started working for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. For example, I have learned about the ministry of William Sheppard, a Presbyterian missionary who in the early 20th century made a powerful statement for justice in Africa. One of the first African-American missionaries sent to serve in Africa, Sheppard and his white colleague, Samuel Lapsley, arrived in Congo in 1890 and established a mission in the village of Luebo. It was the first Presbyterian mission in Congo, which was then the personal property of King Leopold II of Belgium. Lapsley died of a fever less than two years after his arrival, but Sheppard continued alone until other missionaries arrived. He learned to speak the local language and explored regions of Congo never before visited by CONTINUE THE LEGACY OF WILLIAM SHEPPARD Support all mission co-workers. pcusa.org/donate/E132192 Our church is a more vital witness because this African-American man [William Sheppard], born in Waynesboro, Virginia, just weeks before the end of the Civil War, answered God's call to mission.

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