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On June 15th 2019, at New Covenant Anglican Church in Winter Springs Florida, Michael Hesford was ordained into the Diaconate by Bishop William B. Mugenyi of the Diocese of Boga in the Province of the Anglican Church of Congo.
Pastor Michael now prepares and leads our worship on a weekly basis, including the Administration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Revd. Mike and Margaret after the ordination.
Following their former church’s exit from AMIA, a number of Church members who remained loyal to the Anglican Mission found themselves seeking the Lord for their next move. It was not long before Mission Outreach Anglican Fellowship (MOAF) was formed and became the first fellowship of Anglican Mission International.
We are in the mainstream, both globally and historically, of Christianity - the Biblically faithful way of following Jesus and being part of the “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”. As Anglicans, our orthodoxy is defined by, and centered on, our church’s classic formularies - The Book of Common Prayer, including the Ordinal, and The Thirty Nine Articles - which all point back to the authority of the Holy Bible and articulated foundational principles of the Anglican tradition throughout the world. For more information about Anglicanism globally, visit http://www.anglicancommunion.org/identity/about.aspx.
Picture of the Anglican Communion By Saftorangen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10415047
M.O.A.F. has been finding opportunities to reach out to the community and serve: this includes putting together packs of food, together with a Gospel tract and the church's name and phone number for prayer, to give to homeless people we meet on the streets around Cooper City and Davie, Florida, where they are located, and also sending gift boxes to Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham’s ministry. In addition we have members who regularly visit those in prison as part of Kairos prison ministry. We are part of Anglican Mission International. As such we have sent a donation towards a school in Madagascar, and our members' current monthly support includes two African dioceses, plus a widow and her family through the Tumaini fund, one Burmese diocese, and Anglican Mission Haiti.
One ex-offender's experience at and after Kairos
Last night, Michael Hesford and I watched a documentary on Jesse Owens. The story wasn't always great. On his return to America, he was still a man of colour & still suffered much discrimination. However, a German long jumper (it was called the broad jump then), Luz Long, helped Jesse when he was in danger of being eliminated, resulting in Jesse's gold medal. More importantly, ETERNALLY, Jesse's prayer as he won ultimately brought his friend to faith. It's a beautiful true story. Please read.
A friendship that triumphed over racism: Luz Long, Jesse Owens and a lesson for humanity.
The story of Owens and Long’s friendship demonstrated how sports could unite people across gender, race and nationalities, even in the toughest circumstances. When African-American athlete Jesse Owens arrived at the 1936
Olympic Games, he was under immense pressure. At 22, Owens had broken world records even before making his first Olympic appearance in Germany and the world was eager to catch a glimpse of him.
The atmosphere Owens was competing in was also tough and intimidating, to say the least. The 1936
Olympic Games were part of Adolf Hiltler’s grand plan to prove Aryan superiority, and African-American’s were not high on his priority list (Hitler refused to greet Jesse, after his gold medal win in the 100 metres). Owens was called racial epithets and subjected to other forms of mistreatment but then again, it was nothing worse than what he was already subjected to back home in America.
Despite those adversities and challenges present at the Berlin Games, Owens went on to script history on the world stage. He finished the 1936 Games with four Olympic gold medals in 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump respectively – a feat no other Olympian had ever achieved. It was a record that stood for 48 years before being broken by compatriot Carl Lewis at the 1984 Olympics
His staggering tally of four medals at the 1936 Games was a fitting response to Hilter, and shattered his idea of using the event as propaganda for the Nazi regime. While Owens’ feat was unique, he might have lost one of his gold medals had it not been for the advice from an unlikely ally – German long jumper Luz Long. Long, who later became a German soldier in the second World War, was tall, blond and blue-eyed – the perfect Aryan attributes according to the Nazi party but it was his friendship with Owens that became a major talking point at the
Owens clinched his four Olympic medals in the span of three days. He won his races in 100m and 200m comfortably before sealing his fourth gold in the 4x100m relay for his country with a world record.
However, before eventually clinching his medal in the long jump event, Owens was struggling despite being a world-record holder in that discipline. He needed a distance of 23-and-a-half-feet to qualify for the final.
On his first attempt, Owens made a practice run in his tracksuit and landed into the pit, failing to realise that judges had already raised their flags to indicate the start of the competition. This was the first of his failed attempts.
Discouraged, Owens fouled his next attempt too, leaving him with only one final chance to qualify for the final. It was at this crucial juncture that Long walked up to the American.
In what was a fine display of sportsmanship in front of the Berlin crowd, the German suggested Owens change his mark and take off well before the foul line in order to avoid fouling the last attempt.
Heeding Long’s advice, Owens sprinted on his final try and leaped into the air a foot before the foul line. The American jumped a distance of 25 feet on his final try to qualify for the final, alongside Long.
As it turned out, Owens won the gold, setting a new Olympic record (8.06m) while Long won silver (7.87m). The crowd in Berlin, including Hitler, would have been disappointed by what they saw, but Long wasn’t. The German was the first to congratulate Owens and later walked around the stadium, arm-in-arm with Ovens. The duo even posed together for pictures.
It was a classy act of sportsmanship that stayed with Owens for the rest of his life.
“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me. You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace,” the American had said.
Owens and Long stayed connected even after the Games. Long lost his life during the Battle of St Pietro later in 1943 but he wrote a touching letter to Owens before he died.
Here’s the transcript of the last letter to Owens by Long:
I am here, Jesse, where it seems there is only the dry sand and the wet blood. I do not fear so much for myself, my friend Jesse, I fear for my woman who is home, and my young son Karl, who has never really known his father.
My heart tells me, if I be honest with you, that this is the last letter I shall ever write. If it is so, I ask you something. It is something so very important to me. It is you go to Germany when this war is done, someday find my Karl, and tell him about his father. Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we were not separated by war. I am saying – tell him how things can be between men on this earth.
If you do this something for me, this thing that I need the most to know will be done, I do something for you, now. I tell you something I know you want to hear. And it is true.
That hour in Berlin when I first spoke to you, when you had your knee upon the ground, I knew that you were in prayer.
Then I not know how I know. Now I do. I know it is never by chance that we come together. I come to you that hour in 1936 for purpose more than der Berliner Olympiade.
And you, I believe, will read this letter, while it should not be possible to reach you ever, for purpose more even than our friendship.
I believe this shall come about because I think now that God will make it come about. This is what I have to tell you, Jesse.
I think I might believe in God.
And I pray to him that, even while it should not be possible for this to reach you ever, these words I write will still be read by you.
Your brother, Luz
Years have passed by but looking back, their bond still serves as a strong message, highlighting ‘how things can be between men on this earth’.
Owens and Long’s bond of friendship and brotherhood should serve as an inspiration for not only athletes but for people from all walks of life.
2019 Myanmar mission report
Pr. Mike & Margaret left Florida on the evening of January 12, en route to their first mission trip to Myanmar after 3 (Margaret) & 2 (Pr. Mike) missions to Tanzania. After time zone changes & an overnight stop in Dubai, they arrived in Yangon on January 15, to be met by one of Bishop James's pastors, to be transported to their hotel. They stayed overnight in Yangon, & flew north to Sittwe on January 16, where they were met by Bishop James & friends, & presented with beautiful flowers. Picture. The only sad news was that, due to the then-current "security situation", they could not visit the villages as planned. God's immediate response was "next year", & Pr. Mike & Margaret & Bishop James were delighted with that. Bishop James took them to their hotel, & then picked them up later. He took them to the Sittwe cathedral (picture), to introduce them to some of his clergy, then took them for a Burmese seafood dinner near the beach.
It turned out that their very reasonable Sittwe hotel was a new one, & provided an expansive breakfast menu, from Burmese to western food, including eggs cooked to order. The next day, Bishop James picked them up in the diocesan SUV, & took them to meet his friend & local Baptist pastor, Aung Lin, who showed them around his church & property, & welcomed them with tea, coffee, & local doughnuts. From there, Bishop James took them to the beach & lighthouse, & they then returned to the cathedral, & to the bishop's house next door. Bishop James & Gloria (the diocesan leader of youth ministries) presented them with gifts of Chin (Bishop James's ethnic group) longyi, traditional Burmese "skirts", which are extremely comfortable. They went over the schedule for the clergy retreat, & met the vicar of the Sittwe cathedral & some of the clergy. They then enjoyed a delicious Burmese dinner, before returning to their hotel.
The retreat started early on Thursday morning, with teaching by Andrew, long-time friend of Bishop James & a lecturer at Holy Cross Theological College. About 50 of Bishop James's 60 or so pastors were present, who had travelled for up to 3 days from their parishes - by bus, boat, bike, & on foot - to get to the retreat; each parish is made up of a number of villages, with up to 11 villages in a parish. Pr. Mike & Margaret joined Bishop James & Andrew for lunch, then Bishop James showed them the map of Myanmar.
The retreat began by Pr. Mike presenting greetings from all of the Anglican Mission brothers and sisters across the world, from Africa to Asia & beyond, including the College of Consultors, & all clergy & lay brothers & sisters, & telling them that the Anglican Mission prays daily for them. Those present began the afternoon of the retreat in worship. Margaret had planned to start teaching on prayer, but Bishop James asked her to teach on worship, since the pastors had been talking about worship, & they were singing before we started. Pr. Mike then followed this time by teaching on Listening to the Voice of God, & brought Margaret in to talk about why they were there - Bishop James's words in Tampa (April 2018) that "my people want to touch" & the Lord telling Margaret that they had to go to Myanmar to Bishop James's people. Pr. Mike & Margaret then broke the pastors into small groups, gave them a question to discuss from the Kairos prison ministry reunion card, & asked them to discuss & pray together (encouraging them to pray with & for each other, when they are normally so far away from each other). Following this, there was break time, & the pastors played table tennis & a local game of volleyball without hands (we have a video if you'd like to see it)! They had dinner with Bishop James & Andrew, & then shared Evensong with a message. Bishop James told them at dinner that some of his pastors wanted to ask questions & brainstorm with them, so Pr. Mike & Margaret met with some of the pastors in the bishop's house, on questions like how to get men to church, what about Sunday School teachers, & more.
On Friday, the pastors followed up from Thursday's Kairos card question, which was clearly very meaningful. Thereafter, Pr. Mike taught again on Listening to the Voice of God. Margaret taught on prayer, & gave out a second Kairos card question. This time, the pastors shared the follow up before breaking for free time, & once more, the time was meaningful for the pastors & for Pr. Mike & Margaret. On Friday, the free time meant beach football (soccer to U.S. friends, though football everywhere else in the world)! Bishop James had one of his pastors buy Myanmar football shorts & a shirt for Pr. Mike, & much fun was had by all. Pr. Mike even drank coconut water! Picture.
After time to change, Pr. Mike & Margaret had dinner with Bishop James & Andrew, followed by Evensong. Bishop James told them that some pastors had not been comfortable going into the bishop's house the previous night to talk, so this evening Pr. Mike & Margaret sat outside, brainstorming with many of the pastors, & listening to their concerns, including asking what they wanted prayer for, a most blessed time.
Pr. Mike & Margaret spent Saturday morning at their hotel, & then went to the cathedral. They reported that they felt more & more the quiet miracle & privilege of fellowshipping & praying with these wonderful brothers & sisters. They had lunch & then Margaret talked about ministry to Muslims, & asked about ministry to Buddhists (some have converted, including two confirmed by Bishop James at Christmas). Michael taught again about Listening to the Voice of God, & Margaret concluded (for this year) the teaching on prayer, & had them break into groups once more. What was overwhelming, but such proof as to why God sent them, is that all of the people - men & women - were so happy that they were there, & so happy that they plan to return in 2020 (Pr. Mike & Margaret too!) After dinner, there was a special service for the priests & deacons being ordained the following day, & then 7 university students were confirmed ‑ 3 girls & 4 boys.
On Sunday, everyone assembled for the ordinations. All concerned (including Pr. Mike & Margaret, per Bishop James) processed into the cathedral. Andrew preached to those to be ordained:
"Here am I; send me." Ordination is not position but service. 1 Peter 1:15‑16. Covenant relationship. Peace be with you. As My Father has sent Me, so I send you." We are the Body of Christ. We will be broken, & shared, & given to others. Numbers 14:1‑>
The 6 deacons & 3 priests were then ordained, & the prayers included prayers for the Anglican Mission. Many of the ordinands wanted pictures with Pr. Mike & Margaret (not included herein, but there are many, most of which are on Facebook!). After lunch, the wife of one of the new deacons (who gave Margaret white daisies & pink roses, like the bouquets when we arrived) and who is also the leader of the ladies' group & the keyboard player, asked (unscheduled!) Margaret to talk to the women's group. Margaret talked about how we share the same Anglican faith no matter where we are in the world, & focussed on prayer ‑ alone, with a spouse, with another person, & with a group. Some of the ladies asked for prayer, & at least one was miraculously healed - she asked for prayer for her shoulder, which she couldn't move, & Margaret laid on hands & prayed. Thereafter, she asked, through the deacon's wife, how it felt, & the lady moved it, slowly at first, but then completely, & put her hand & arm straight up in the air - Praise the Lord! On this night, dinner was outside the cathedral for everyone (on the other nights, we had eaten in the bishop's house), & was donated by donors who rent land from the diocese, & who came to join us for dinner. Pr. Mike & Margaret shared the last Evensong with their Burmese brothers and sisters, & then were blessed with the gift of a wonderful song - in English - from the young people, after a sermon on reconciliation (particularly relevant in the ongoing civil war between the Burmese army & the Rakhine army), by living as Christians in the troubles.
The pastors began to leave very early on Monday, and Pr. Mike and Margaret had 2 more days in Sittwe, having hoped to visit the parishes. Bishop James was so pleased that they didn't rush away, because they had time for other things. First, Archdeacon Daniel took them for a tour of Sittwe, including gift shopping & to see a local Buddhist temple. It looked beautiful from the outside, but was so empty inside; Margaret prayed for those seeking hope there where there is no hope. When they returned to the cathedral, they spent some time with two of the pastors who couldn't get home that day. They rested that afternoon, & then invited Bishop James to dinner in their hotel. He came with his daughter, Rachel, & Archdeacon Daniel, & had a very pleasant time. On Tuesday, Rev. Ai, the vicar of the cathedral, came to take them to the Rakhine museum, a most interesting experience, to see the history of this one of 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar. Bishop James joined them again in their hotel for dinner, & said yet again how pleased he was that they didn't leave after the clergy retreat, when they couldn't visit the villages.
Pr. Mike & Margaret were delighted to learn that Bishop James would be accompanying them to Yangon. He went with Archdeacon Daniel to pick them up & take them to the airport, & Rev Ai came to the airport to say goodbye. As they flew over the different parts of Myanmar, Bishop James told them about his parishes, & the long distances necessary for him to visit them. Bishop James's friend, Andrew, met them at the airport, & took them "sightseeing". They began at the British Second World War cemetery for those from the British Empire who died defending Burma as it was then. Andrew then took them to St. George's church, another old church built by the British (there is much pro-British feeling here). There they met the wife of the retired Archdeacon, who showed them around this beautiful church. Finally, Andrew & Bishop James took them for a spicy dinner at the Golden Inya restaurant by the lake near where Andrew & Bishop James had studied together many years earlier. From dinner, Bishop James and Andrew took them to the hotel which Bishop James booked for them near where they were going to be the next day.
The next morning, Thursday, Pr. Mike's & Margaret's last day in Myanmar, Andrew came to pick them up, & took them to meet Bishop James & Ruth at the Yangon cathedral. From there, they went walking around the local open market & found souvenirs. Thereafter, they toured the Holy Cross Theological College, where Andrew teaches, & met Joseph, son of Bishop James & Ruth, who is studying there to be a pastor. After a local burger lunch! - actually very good - Bishop James took them to Bishops court at the provincial centre (the complex which houses the archbishop) which has hostel-type rooms where people can stay, & they were blessed with a private room, with beds on which to rest (before their 2:00 a.m. Friday flight to Dubai) & a bathroom. After a while, Bishop James came for them, to take them to meet, as arranged, with Archbishop Stephen, who knows many of the Anglican Mission partners. Pr. Mike and Margaret learned a great deal during their hour & a half with the Archbishop, including that much of what the west believes happens in Myanmar is not actually true – for example, the truth is that Aung San Suu Kyi, raised by a Christian mother, has done tremendous good in Myanmar, & the truth is that the Rohingya Muslims are not the oppressed people that the west paints them to be; moreover, Aung San Suu Kyi has no power over the military who are the ones oppressing the Rohingya. The Archbishop also gave them one of the last seven copies of his autobiography, which they greatly looked forward to reading, & he invited them to the March 2020 50th anniversary celebration of the Province of Myanmar. In fact, it was Archbishop Stephen who suggested that Bishop James contact Anglican Mission, while the Archbishop is also connected to ACNA. Pr. Mike & Margaret rested a little more, & then Bishop James & Ruth took them (walking) to a local sidewalk restaurant, one of their favourites, for their final Myanmar meal, & Andrew & his wife, Grace, came to find them to say goodbye. Again, Bishop James told them how happy his clergy were that Pr. Mike & Margaret had come, even if the Burmese clergy couldn't tell them in English. After a last rest, Bishop James & Ruth drove them to the airport for around 9:30 p.m. (Bishop James & Ruth had to return to their home in Yangon). Pr. Mike & Margaret checked in around 10:45 p.m., & waited for the 2:00 a.m. flight. The flight to Dubai was uneventful. The flight to Fort Lauderdale was similarly uneventful, but very long (16 hours). However, nothing could detract from this awesome Myanmar mission, & their earnest commitment to return next year.
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