Mary - Cameroon
Please continue to pray for peace to be restored in the Anglophone North West and South West Regions of Cameroon where outbreaks of violence continue.
One of October’s prayer points concerned the Iceve project in the troubled SW Region; it was hoped they could be included in a translation programme in neighbouring Nigeria. Pastor Napoleon, the project coordinator, has been able to contact the SIL team (now in the capital) who write: "We are praising God today for Pastor Napoleon having trekked a roundabout way to Akwaya town to call us. He was able to dictate to us over the phone all the Iceve’s answers for the programme sponsors, to strengthen their plea to be included in the Luke Partnership to take place in Nigeria. Please pray for all the other details to fall into place (especially for the community-support money to be raised and the four suggested translators - Napoleon, Donald, Amele and Jonas - to be available and willing for the period of the programme, workshops and work over 3-4 years)." Please keep this work in your prayers, thanking God for these encouraging steps.
The SIL teams who have relocated to Yaoundé from the troubled zones value prayer for wisdom and perseverance. Translation consultant Ginny Bradley writes: "I could work in Yaoundé with the exegete from the Misaje project (NW) on a couple of books of the New Testament. Now it is impossible for him to go home due to blocked roads and fighting in the area. Meanwhile his wife and family are at home. You can imagine that it is a real strain on him to concentrate on the passages we are looking at when he daily receives disturbing news from his home area. Pray that he will be able to get home very soon."
The Far North Region project teams, both nationals and expatriates, are grateful to God that the situation there now has greatly eased. For a long time Boko Haram activity restricted movement and greatly hampered progress in all aspects of the work. Teams from the north can now travel safely to the capital Yaoundé for training and translation checking, while consultants and specialists can also travel north to conduct training there. Pray for renewed perseverance for all, and for unity and joy in serving the Lord.
Thanking you for your prayers over another year! A blessed Christmas to you all!
Caleb - USA
These next few weeks are huge for us and we would really value your prayers. Please take the time to pray, it can be easy to forget or gloss over but would very much appreciate you seeking the Lord on our behalf.
I am leading a missions trip to Rwanda. The trip will be from Thursday 29th November to Monday 10th December. The federation of the country published an article, we have to play their national team. The players we are pulling in are Christians from around the world; some are playing for Champions League teams and some in top leagues on different continents. We probably won’t even have a chance to train as a team because we have very little time beforehand as we will be running clinics for 300+ kids at each session for several hours, and we want to make sure we are prepared for that. We will use the preparation time to teach them how to share their testimonies; skits to demonstrate various Biblical messages and all sorts. We are relying on the actual football taking care of itself although the national team called a camp 3 weeks prior to prepare.
Specifically the prayers that are key to us are:
That the Lord will keep us close to Him when we encounter spiritual warfare, so we are unified under His banner and point to Him only;
For the players on the tour, that nobody will be injured, and for their personal walks. Flying in from around the world and then more or less immediately having to play someone’s national team is not going to be an easy task;
For me personally, that the Lord will guide me. Africa can be disorganized and with several institutions involved (ADEPR, the Church + FERWAFA, the football federation, plus Ambassadors) there is a lot that could be miscommunicated or messed up. They don’t speak fluent English, so whatever happens down there please pray the Lord will ensure we are able to glorify Him in everything - good or bad.
Thank you very much. I have been praying for the church with Don stepping down and have been praying for him as a great brother.
Here are the latest prayer points from the Barnabas website www.barbabasfund.org
Mozambique - Dramatic flare-up in militant violence. An estimated 50 attacks have taken place in northern Mozambique since October 2017, killing 200 people. In one particularly brutal attack, suspected Islamist militants armed with machetes rampaged through a village in northern Mozambique at dawn on 5 June, beheading seven people and burning 164 houses. At the time of writing, no organisation has claimed responsibility for the attacks, and the intentions of the Muslim group remain ambiguous, although local news sources suspect hardline Islamists are responsible. So far, the violence has been concentrated in the northern coastal areas where the majority of the population is Muslim. Previously unknown in the region, a rise of Islamist terrorism would impact significantly on Christians, who make up around 52% of the population. Christians in Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania are a constant target for persecution and terror by Al Shabaab militants. Concerns are growing that the jihadi group could be gaining a foothold in Mozambique.
Nepal - Christians detained on charges of ‘forced conversion’. After being secretly followed and filmed, four Christians were reported to the police and arrested in early November near Kathmandu, charged with breaking Nepal’s anti-conversion laws. It was alleged that the individuals, two of them Japanese nationals, had been "proselytising" door-to-door, "targeting Dalits" (the lowest level of the Hindu caste system, considered "untouchable" by high-caste Hindus). If convicted, the two Nepalis arrested could face five years in prison and a 50,000 rupee (around £340; $440) fine, while the Japanese Christians could potentially receive the same prison sentence or be deported. A new law came into force in Nepal in September which makes it an offence to "involve or encourage in conversion of religion" or "hurt religious sentiment". While the constitution already prohibited proselytization, the new law is very vague about what an "attempt" to convert someone might involve and means any public Christian activity is potentially illegal. The rapidly growing Nepalese church now makes up as much as 5% of the population of Nepal, 85% of which is Hindu. Although Nepal is now officially a secular nation, it was a Hindu kingdom until 2008.
Iraq - Hundreds more Iraqi Christian-owned homes stolen in areas liberated from Islamic State. An investigation by an Iraqi television network has uncovered the theft of at least 350 Christian-owned homes in Iraq. The empty properties of hundreds of Christians who have fled the country have been occupied or seized. The problem is particularly serious in the historical Christian heartlands of the Nineveh Plain surrounding the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Church organisations have tried to intervene, but one Christian leader in Baghdad told journalists, "In some cases, our intervention has led to restitution; in others, nothing could be done. We ran up against powerful people." Properties have been transferred under false names and sold on. Many Christian properties had already been seized by Islamic State terrorists when they overran Mosul and the Nineveh Plains in 2014. The Iraqi government is now rebuilding and restoring churches destroyed and damaged during the group’s three-year occupation of Mosul – around 40 churches were damaged and 15 destroyed – but even if Christians brave enough to return have a place to worship, many no longer have a home to go back to.
Central African Republic - More than 40 slaughtered in attack on Christian mission. More than 40 people were killed in a militia attack on a Christian mission in Alindao, around 180 miles east of Central African Republic’s capital Bangui on 15 November. The attackers torched a church and forced 20,000 displaced persons who were sheltering in an adjacent compound to flee. A local politician told journalists, "We have counted 42 bodies so far, but we are still searching for others. The camp has been burned to the ground and people fled into the bush." Alindao is a stronghold of a Muslim militia called the Union of Peace, which came out of the Seleka Islamist group. Christian-majority CAR has been wracked by violence since 2012, when Seleka Islamists overthrew the government. The deployment of a UN international peace-keeping force and repeated negotiated ceasefires between the government and armed groups have had little impact on the ground. A number of news outlets reported that the 15 November attack on civilians sheltering in the Christian mission was a "reprisal" for violence by anti-balaka" militia – who misleadingly call themselves Christians, despite their actions being condemned by church leaders.
Geoff, Fay & Danni
Let me start by saying thank you for all your prayers and support over the past year. It has been filled with many ups and downs, but one thing that has remained consistent is God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. I thought my gift to you all this Christmas would be to share a few of the ways that God has been answering prayer in our homes.
The Bible studies have been a real area of encouragement. The Greenhill study has grown in number, which is great, but what’s even better is real, discernible change in the way the residents relate to one another. They have become more aware of each other’s needs, showing love and concern for one another in a way they never did before! This can only be God’s love working in them! One lady has expressed that she never knew that the Bible was this good! They all seem to be sharing a hunger to know more (please pray that this continues!)
Our one to one ministry has also been difficult at times - as you can imagine, there is a great deal of need. But it is in those tough moments that we really see the Holy Spirit at work. Often I have been faced with a question that I have no idea how to answer, but the Lord has often revealed it in His Word at just the right time! Dementia care has honestly been the most difficult area to be doing ministry - but also the most rewarding. There is a lady at one of our homes who communicates very little, but will often ask the pastoral team to read the Bible with her when she sees us.
Tim & Alison - UK
Tim has had some good contact via Skype with one of his bosses. Things are progressing well with the work amongst Afghan’s especially refugees. Please pray for Tim’s boss as he visits and encourages workers in Afghanistan. There is a project for widows and martyrs, during the winter months providing fuel etc. Please pray for wisdom as they are seeking to find ways to help provide the Word to those within the country. It is the time for budgets!
Alison is busy with birthdays and the run up to Christmas. There is also much happening within school which needs wisdom, knowing the right way forward. Praise God for good connections/communication and working well together.
As always we could not do this without God: to Him be the Glory! Thank you for praying.
Helen & Alastair - Ireland
Alastair attended the ELM (European Leaders Meetings) in Bucharest from 4-9 November. He enjoyed connecting with other leaders and discussing the renewed vision of OM and how this affects the OM teams within Europe. One of his highlights was a visit to OM Romania’s ministry in the Roma villages, being shown around by Roma pastors and hearing how their ministries are impacting the Roma community. One of the pastors, Marian, was a famous musician. Many years ago, his young son fell in to a pot of boiling water, but after prayer came out of a three day coma that almost claimed his life. Through this experience, Marian became a Christian and has since started churches in three villages that we were able to visit. He and his family performed some of their songs for us and it was really inspiring to meet them.
After Alastair returned, the Leadership team finalised the ministry plan for 2019 and it has been approved by the Board. He has been preaching a lot recently, in our church in Roscommon and also in Westport, and is thankful for these opportunities to share. Helen helped to organise the team Christmas party held on 1 December. Please continue to pray for the visa issues. We have a couple of families waiting for their pre-clearance visas, before they join our team in January, as well as another family having to leave the country while they apply for their visa.
Our Christmas show has been put on hold as our Creative Arts Director is at Bible College in the UK for a year, and others have finished their time with us (mainly due to visa issues). Two of our teams in Letterkenny and North Clare are both doing their own Christmas shows! Letterkenny has done their own show for the past few years, taking it into the local schools, community centres and churches with a pre-recorded script. Pray for energy for both the teams and that they would communicate the gospel clearly through the programmes.
We are staying in Roscommon for Christmas, as are many of our team, and plan to have some time away in Northern Ireland over New Year.
We thank you as a church, for your partnership through prayer and financial support, over the past year, and God’s blessings for this Christmas time and the new year.