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.
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 are currently supporting two African, plus a widow and her family through the Tumaini fund, and one Burmese diocese, Anglican Mission Haiti, and Anglican Mission ministry in India, on a monthly basis.
One ex-offender's experience at and after Kairos
2019 Myanmar mission report
Michael & I left Florida on the evening of January 12, en route to our first mission trip to Myanmar after 3 (me) & 2 (Michael) to Tanzania. After time zone changes & an overnight stop in Dubai, we arrived in Yangon on January 15, to be met by one of Bishop James's pastors, to be transported to our hotel. We stayed overnight in Yangon, & flew north to Sittwe on January 16, where we were met by Bishop James & friends, & presented with beautiful flowers. Picture. The only sad news was that, due to the then-current "security situation", we could not visit the villages as planned. God's immediate response was "Next year", & both Michael & I & Bishop James were delighted with that. Bishop James took us to our hotel, & then picked us up later. He took us to the Sittwe cathedral (picture), to introduce us to some of his clergy, then took us for a Burmese seafood dinner near the beach.
It turned out that our very reasonable Sittwe hotel is a new one, & provides an expansive breakfast menu, from Burmese to western food, including eggs cooked to order. Bishop James picked us up in the diocesan SUV, & took us to meet his friend & local Baptist pastor, Aung Lin, who showed us around his church & property, & welcomed us with tea, coffee, & local doughnuts. From there, Bishop James took us to the beach & lighthouse) , & we then returned to the cathedral, & to the bishop's house next door. Bishop James & Gloria (the diocesan leader of youth ministries) presented us with gifts of Chin (Bishop James's ethnic group) longyi, traditional Burmese "skirts".
We went over the schedule for the clergy retreat, & met the vicar of the Sittwe cathedral & some of the clergy. We enjoyed a delicious Burmese dinner, before returning to our hotel.
The retreat started early on Thursday morning, with teaching by Andrew, long-time friend of Bishop James & lecturer at Holy Cross Theological College. About 50 of Bishop James's 60 or so pastors were present, who travelled for up to 3 days from their parishes - 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. We joined Bishop James & Andrew for lunch, then Bishop James showed us the map of Myanmar.
We began by Michael presenting greetings from AMI & Bishop Carl, AMiA & Bishop Philip, the AM Canada & Bishop Silas, The Mission India & Episcopal Vicar Ivan, Anglican Mission Haiti & Episcopal Vicar Burnet, the College of Consultors - Archbishop Masimango, Bishop William, & Bishop Sospeter - retired Archbishop Kolini, & Bishops Bahati (DRC), Darlington (Tanzania) & Todd (Madagascar), & all clergy & lay brothers & sisters, & to tell them that we pray daily for them. Those present began the afternoon of the retreat in worship, & I had planned to start teaching on prayer, but Bishop James asked me to teach on worship, since the pastors had been talking about worship, & they were singing before we started. Michael then followed this time by teaching on Listening to the Voice of God, & brought me in to talk about why we were there - Bishop James's words in Tampa (April 2018) that "my people want to touch" & the Lord telling me that we must go to Myanmar to Bishop James's people. Michael & I 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, & pastors played table tennis & a local game of volleyball without hands (I have a video if you'd like to see it)! We had dinner with Bishop James & Andrew, & then Evensong with a message. Bishop James told us at dinner that some of his pastors wanted to ask questions & brainstorm with us, so we met with some of them 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 yesterday's Kairos card question, which was clearly very meaningful. Thereafter, Michael taught again on Listening to the Voice of God. I taught on prayer, & gave out a second Kairos card question. This time, we had the follow up before breaking for free time, & once more, the time was meaningful for the pastors & for us. On Friday, the free time meant beach football! Bishop James had one of his pastors get Michael Myanmar football shorts & a shirt, & much fun was had by all. Michael even drank coconut water! Picture. After time to change, we had dinner with Bishop James & Andrew, followed by Evensong. Bishop James told us that some pastors weren't comfortable going into the bishop's house the previous night to talk, so this evening we sat outside, brainstorming with many of the pastors, & listening to their concerns, a most blessed time.
We spent Saturday morning at our hotel, & then went to the cathedral. We felt more & more the quiet miracle & privilege of fellowshipping & praying with these wonderful brothers & sisters. We had lunch & I 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, & I 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 us, is that all of the people - men & women - were so happy that we were there, & so happy that we are going back next year (us 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 us, 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 us (not included herein, but I have many, most of which are on Facebook!). After lunch, the wife of one of the new deacons (who gave me white daisies & pink roses, like the bouquets when we arrived) who is also the leader of the ladies' group & the keyboard player, asked me to talk to the women's group. I 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, & I laid on hands & prayed. Thereafter, I asked, through the deacon's wife, how it felt, & she 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. We shared our last Evensong together, & 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 we had 2 more days in Sittwe, having hoped to visit the parishes. Bishop James was so pleased that we didn't rush away, because we had time for other things. First, Archdeacon Daniel took us 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; I prayed for those seeking hope there where there is no hope. When we returned to the cathedral, we spend some time with two of the pastors who couldn't get home that day. We rested that afternoon, & then invited Bishop James to dinner in our hotel. He came with his daughter, Rachel, & Archdeacon Daniel, & we had a very pleasant time. On Tuesday, Rev. Ai, the vicar of the cathedral, came to take us to the Rakhine museum, a most interesting experience, to see the history of this one of 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar. Bishop James joined us again in our hotel for dinner, & said yet again how pleased he was that we didn't leave after the clergy retreat, when we couldn't visit the villages.
We were delighted to learn that Bishop James would be accompanying us to Yangon. He came with Archdeacon Daniel to pick us up, & take us to the airport, & Rev Ai came to the airport to say goodbye. As we flew over the different parts of Myanmar, Bishop James told us about his parishes, & the long distances necessary for him to visit them. Bishop James's friend, Andrew, met us at the airport, & took us "sightseeing". We began at the British Second World War cemetery for those from the British Empire who died defending Burma as it was then.
He then took us to St. George's church, another old church built by the British (there is much pro-British feeling here). There we met the wife of the retired Archdeacon, who showed us around this beautiful church. Finally, Andrew & Bishop James took us 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, they took us to the hotel which Bishop James booked for us near where we were going to be the next day.
The next morning, Thursday, our last day in Myanmar, Andrew came to pick us up, & took us to meet Bishop James & Ruth at the Yangon cathedral. From there, we went walking around the local open market & found souvenirs. Thereafter, we 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 us to Bishops court at the provincial centre (the complex which houses the archbishop) which has hostel-type rooms where people can stay, & we were blessed with a private room, with beds on which to rest (before our 2:00 a.m. Friday flight to Dubai) & a bathroom. After a while, Bishop James came for us, to take us to meet, as arranged, with Archbishop Stephen, who knows many of the Anglican Mission partners. We learned a great deal during our hour & a half with him, including that much of what the west believes happens in Myanmar is not actually true – 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. The Archbishop also gave one of the last seven copies of his autobiography, which we greatly look forward to reading, & invited us to next year's 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. We rested a little more, & then Bishop James & Ruth took us (walking) to a local sidewalk restaurant, one of their favourites, for our final Myanmar meal, & Andrew & his wife, Grace, came to find us to say goodbye. Again, Bishop James told us how happy his clergy were that we came, even if they couldn't tell us in English. After a last rest, Bishop James & Ruth drove us to the airport for around 9:30 p.m. (they had to go then to their home in Yangon). We 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, & our earnest commitment to return next year (hopefully with one or two clergy
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