The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar
The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, or FJKM (the abbreviation for the Malagasy equivalent) has nearly six million members, more than 40% of Madagascar’s Christian population.
According to the World Bank, “Madagascar is among the poorest countries in the world with 75% of the population living on less than $1.90 per day… The country’s human capital index ranking is among the lowest worldwide and Madagascar has the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition.”
The FJKM has placed a high priority on its division of “Ministry for Marginalized People” (SAFFIFAA). The Rev. Helivao Poget is the national director of the ministry, and she works in the capital city of Antananarivo as a chaplain among street people – prostitutes, drug addicts, street kids, street families – sharing the Gospel and helping them spiritually and financially to move away from street life. Helivao writes: “it is hard work with a lot of risks and violence, but it brings me happiness because I can offer God’s protection and love for everyone. It is always an opportunity to share in real life, bringing hope not only to the street people but mainly for me. I share and receive at the same time. I feel the reality that we are all God’s beloved children.”
On Sunday, 8 March, the Rev. Helivao Poget visited IPC to share stories with us about her ministry in Madagascar, especially her church’s pastoral ministry for women, and their outreach to the street children of Madagascar.
Since her ordination in 1989, the Rev. Helivao Poget has ministered to the marginalized people of Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, through her street ministry. Last fall, in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of her ordination, an outdoor worship service distributed food and supplies to more than 4,000 people in need.
Helivao writes: “There are more than 8,000 homeless people that we are working with attempting to improve their human dignity — physically, intellectually, and spiritually. This means we work to feed, clothe, teach language and job skills, pray for, have Bible studies with and teach manners to those living in the streets.
We work to give them an opportunity for housing — this is such a critical part of our street ministry work. The first question we ask in our culture is. ‘Where are you from?’ So you see how this would give a person a whole new identity.
I want you all to know the joy I witness on a daily basis from the homeless. There is no suicide in the homeless people. They take care of each other, in their own solidarity with each other.
Together we are learning how to keep life in God’s world, and we keep fighting with God for human dignity.
On behalf of the IPC Missions Team, thanks for helping us be a blessing in the world!