chimes.sum2013.web0729 - page 14

SPECIAL FOCUS
Graig
Flach puts
heart, soul
and body
into his
sermon in
Zambia.
12
SFTS CHIMES | Summer 2013
ministering to the world
Opening a line of communication
By Rachel Howard
G
raig Flach, a native of a small
town outside of Portland, Or-
egon, came to San Francisco
Theological Seminary with his family
in 2000 to earn his M.Div. and become
a second-career pastor. Upon his re-
turn to Oregon, he became the Pastor
of Christian Education and Mission
at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church in
Lake Grove, Oregon, a 1,400 member
church. It was here that he became
involved with a Christian non-profit
called World Vision, a non-profit that
Lake Grove Church partnered with
over 19 years ago to serve communities
throughout Africa.
Through this union, Flach and
members of his congregation have made
several trips to Africa. In Senegal, the
church worked with the Wolof people
for over 12 years to build water wells,
while sponsoring the project through
fundraising at home. Strong ties be-
tween Lake Grove and the Wolof com-
munities remain strong due to the dura-
tion and depth of the partnership. To
mark the end of their relationship, 15
Senegalese villages commemorated the
Oregon church by forming a single,
unified entity they named “Lake Grove
Land”.
Flach is now working with a village
in Zambia called Sinazongwe to com-
bat the spread of AIDS. By improving
the general health and well-being of
the community through access to wa-
ter, food, health care, and education,
people throughout the community are
more able and likely to adopt lifestyles
that prevent the spread of this devastat-
ing disease. To effectively do this, Flach
and his partners have had to address
the stigma around the disease. When
he first arrived, AIDS was so taboo that
the community wouldn’t acknowledge
its existence. After opening the gates of
communication through ministry and
the gospel, Zambian religious leaders
now address AIDS once a month in
their sermons and the adult infection
rate has dropped from 25 percent to 13
percent.
This July will mark Flach’s 12th visit
to Africa. On making this long voyage,
Flach said, “Going to Africa on a regular
basis is expensive [and the trip is long],
but I felt God was calling me.” While
on mission trips, he does his “most pas-
sionate preaching,” spreading the word
of God, providing unity between the
churches, and slowly bringing down
the walls of communication surround-
ing AIDS. His congregation generously
sponsors 300 Zambian children, and
they hope to create an AIDS-free gen-
eration in Zambia. On their work, Flach
says, “Whatever course our efforts take,
may it be guided by God, and may our
efforts please the Lord and be a witness
to His love.”
9
Rachel Howard is SFTS
communications associate.
While on mission trips,
he does his “most passion-
ate preaching,” spreading
the word of God.
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