|Christmas and New Year Greetings
By Bishop Roger Chung Jaomalaza
December 10, 2007
[Diocese of Antsiranana - Indian Ocean] Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Warm wishes from Madagascar.
Watanka! Tsara Andriamanitra - Zanahary!
...UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN...
Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year 2008 to you all.
Psalm 37 verse 4.
Peace and love to you in Christ Jesus on this blue planet earth where the sun rises over the good and evil and the ozone layer is still shrinking.
I wish to thank all who have prayed for us and supported our ministry in Madagascar during this year 2007.
We cannot survive without your continual encouragement and support in a poverty-striken northern Madagascar.
We have been covered once again by God's grace and we now start our fifth year in this Mission territory.
Praise the Lord, for Great is His Faithfulness.
This year the Diocese of Antsiranana has some finished tasks
. . . good news first!
After St Luke's Church in Sambava and St Michael's Church in Ambilobe, the new Cathedral of St Matthew in Antsiranana was completed and inaugurated on the 17th June 2007. This dream of my predecessors, Bishops G Josoa and K Benzies, of building a new Cathedral after they had bought the land, was fulfilled this year. The Rt Rev Graham Cray, Bishop of Maidstone, and a team of clergy and laity from Canterbury Diocese joined the diocesan celebration for the inauguration ceremony. A record-breaking six-hour Eucharistic service from 8.30 am to 2.30 pm expressed the infinite joy explosion that was our gratitude to the God of All Creation.
Bad news second!
A group of evil mocking men of Antsiranana, who have been causing all kinds of major disruption to the Church life since I arrived as Bishop of Antsiranana in 2003, took the Bishop of EEM Church Antsiranana Diocese to court and falsely claimed that the new Cathedral had no building permit and had used no iron structures, and that the Cathedral should be pulled down. On the eve of the inauguration service, I went to the court and received the verdict from the High Court magistrate, who discarded the false accusations. The evil people wanted to humiliate the bishop and the EEM Church, but they were unsuccessful. The joyful, colourful inauguration took place with more than 2000 attending as planned! Unfortunately these evil people are still trying to disseminate false evil information on me as Bishop of Antsiranana and are sometimes successful, especially with those from outside Madagascar who are unaware of their evil intentions. When Prof G Jones was here in early December, these people threatened to use violence and disrupt the life of the Church.
They are the modern-day Samballats and Tobiahs of the Book of Nehemiah 3:33-38. However, the Lord gave me the Spirit which he gave to Nehemiah, and the mission work and the show must go on.
The latest news on that issue is that there is a police court case against these evil men who physically molested some evangelists and clergy during the training of clergy and evangelists by Prof Gareth Jones in December 2007.
Pray for us so that by God's divine providence, these evil men will not be successful in harming us nor the people of God in Antsiranana Diocese and ruin the mission work. (2 Cor 11:26.)
More good news from the dicoese:
The Bishop Keith Benzies Memorial Chapel in the Mary Tindall Kilasimandry Girls? Hostel in Daraina was completed and inaugurated in September. So there is now a Worship place in the Kilasimandry for meditation and service.
The boys Kilasimandry hostel in Antsiranana is continuing to provide the necessary help to the young boys.
The seven schools throughout the diocese started in the diocesan vision for education are prospering the lives of the young people in the villages and towns of Madagascar.
The literacy programs are slowly transforming the lifes of those newly educated .
The new Pastoral and Theological Center has its foundations laid and we hope to finish it in a years time . A new resource and empowerment for mission and evangelisation will make more people catch the vision of the Diocese for the Great Commission.
Many village churches have also been renewed and extended and are envisioning to start new school projects.
My wife Alice and I have been blessed with the words of Psalm 128, ''You shall see your children's children'': our son David and his wife Carine have added a new member to the family as Anais was born on 10th Nov 2007. We hope to visit them when we attend the Lambeth Conference next year.
Our second son, 14-year-old Alexander, who goes to the French School in Antsiranana, will have some problems when he finishes his Brevet next year. The school will close down the higher grade classes due to reduced personnel, which means we may have to move him to Antananarivo or Mauritius. Hopefully all will be well.
Our warmest greetings from the tropical sunshine of Madagascar,
in the Precious Name of Jesus Christ, Babe of Bethlehem,
+Roger, Alice and Alexander