Mary - Cameroon
The Ernsts (in January’s prayer topics) praise God for three safe and fruitful weeks of work in the Far North Region; we thank God for answered prayer!
Several workshops and seminars are due to take place in Yaoundé in February. These include a Scripture Engagement Workshop (Jan 31st – Feb 8th) ) with 75 attendees expected, and a Trauma Healing Workshop (Feb 11th-16th). Please pray that God’s Word would gain much new ground, be fruitful and be honoured in the course of these workshops, for the rich blessing of many.
The political situation in the North-West and South-West Regions of Cameroon continues to be of great concern. Please pray earnestly:
that God will enable His Church in these regions to stand firm and be an agent of peace.
that Christians will continue to seek peace and not be tempted to retaliate in anger or out of frustration.
that many will seek the Lord and prove Him to be their refuge in time of trouble.
that all parties in the conflict would set violence aside and urgently seek just and viable solutions.
Caleb - USA
Resulting from the trip to Rwanda, I have been tasked with trying to equip our programs around the world with Bible time material, footballs, cones, bibs and general equipment.
I will be heading up a group of guys trying to be diligent in communicating with offices in countries with fewer resources; this will be difficult, but in Rwanda in one year their program has grown with 2,500 children playing. They only have about 400 balls but their memory verse and Bible time curriculum is amazing and is in partnership with ADEPR, the church there. At their current rate of growth, it is projected that they will have 5,000 kids by 2020.
The club here has been going very well and having built our own facility it is amazing what it is like having a home. Praise be to the Lord as this has been a prayer request for a long time and so many prayers were offered up and the Lord has provided. However, we have a big mortgage and need to be diligent in renting out the facility in the summer time. Please pray we will be able to do so.
I am leading a tour to Mexico on May 23rd-30th and will be working with the youth club there. Sadly, Mexico is very corrupt; so even taking equipment to them will be a challenge because it is often stolen and/or confiscated at the airport. Please pray the Lord will enable us to be diligent with the resources and prevent us running into any problems.
Update: On a personal note, I have just got an apartment as I want to be more involved with the local church here and be able to host Bible studies, meetings and Ambassadors who are coming in and out from around the world.
Thanks for your prayers! I should be home March 9-18th but haven’t booked flight just yet.
Algeria - Christians in Algeria were forced out of a tent they were worshipping in by police on 28 January after their church building was sealed by authorities. The tent, set up in the grounds of Azaghar Church, enabled the 300-strong congregation to continue worshipping following the forced closure of their church building for spurious "health and safety" reasons. The church in the village of Azaghar, around 110 miles south-east of Algiers, lost the use of its building in October 2018, despite the congregation responding to requests to install fire exits and fire extinguishers. The officially recognised church had been open for five years and is a powerful ministry to local Muslims. Azaghar is reportedly the fourth Christian place of worship closed down in the past year. Non-Muslim religious groups in Algeria are required to be registered to conduct services and are restricted to approved locations. In practice, authorities have typically allowed churches registered with official religious organisations and even non-registered Christian groups to meet without needing specific permission. However, a number of churches have been shut down since the start of 2018, either for alleged breaches of health and safety, or because authorities claim they are not properly registered.
Pakistan - Supreme Court summarilly dismisses petition again acquittal of Aasia Bibi. Amid tight security the Supreme Court of Pakistan today, 29 January, dismissed a petition seeking to review its decision to acquit Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman who spent almost eight years on death row falsely accused of "blasphemy". The judges stated that the petitioner could not find any flaw in the court’s original verdict of 31 October 2018 acquitting Aasia. The Supreme Court had originally dismissed the accusations against her as a "concoction" and described her accusers as untrustworthy. Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, chair of the three-member bench, said, "We will not hear the case again. We are hearing [the petition] for the satisfaction of those who gave fatwas [on the verdict] without reading it." The lawyer for the petitioner, a cleric of a mosque, had demanded that the bench be extended for the review petition, saying it should include Islamic scholars. But the Chief Justice refused this request saying, "How is this a matter of religion? Has the verdict not been given on merit?" Authorities in Islamabad made stringent security arrangements for today’s hearing, deploying paramilitary troops in sensitive areas of the capital. After Aasia Bibi’s acquittal last year, widespread street protests erupted. The present whereabouts of Aasia Bibi are unknown and remain confidential for security reasons. After her release from Multan’s woman women’s prison on 7 November 2018, she was flown to Islamabad and taken to an undisclosed place amid concerns for her safety and that of her family.
Cameroon - Militants ransack two Christian villages. Large numbers of suspected Boko Haram militants attacked the predominantly Christian villages of Gochi and Toufou in north Cameroon, on 24 January. The raids came in the middle of the night, overwhelming the soldiers on guard, forcing them to flee and causing appalling damage. Barnabas Fund contacts report that 190 houses were destroyed in the villages. Four churches were ransacked, with valuables stolen and livestock killed. A Christian hospital was set on fire, dozens of motorbikes destroyed and essential household items such as mattresses vandalised or looted. Witnesses at the scene of the attack said, "Is it really human beings who are doing this?" Contacts said that although the attackers came in force, they were not intent on killing people this time, as they fired into the air. Their aim seemed to be the looting of clothing and food to panic the local population and economically ruin them – forcing families to flee the area. The prefect for the area has promised additional security, but no emergency relief for the victims has been offered at this time. The attack on Gochi and Toufou is the fourth by militants in two weeks. In the previous attacks three people were killed and churches and homes were damaged or destroyed. According to Barnabas Fund contacts, Christian villages in the far north of Cameroon are subject to attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militias they attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate from north-eastern Nigeria all the way to northern Cameroon, which is where most Cameroonian Muslims live in what is a predominantly Christian country.
Philippines - Twenty killed in bomb attack on cathedral. Officials in the Philippines have pledged to seek out those responsible for the bombing of a cathedral in the south of the country that killed 20 people and injured at least 100 on Sunday 27 January. The first explosion went off inside the cathedral as worshippers gathered for a Sunday service, and was followed by a second blast outside, detonating as worshippers fled and security forces arrived at the scene. The attack on the island of Jolo, the capital of Sulu province, came six days after Sulu voters rejected its inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of the southern Philippines. The referendum overwhelmingly approved – with 85% in favour – the formal creation of the Region in other districts of the mainly-Muslim Mindanao island group. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but police suspect it was the work of Abu Sayyaf, an IS-linked militant group active in the area for decades. A spokesman for Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte said, "The enemies of the state have boldly challenged the capability of the government to secure the safety of the citizenry in that region." He added, "The armed forces of the Philippines will rise to the challenge and crush these godless criminals." The 2018 Memorandum of Agreement for the autonomous region and the introduction of Bangsamoro Basic Law, including elements of sharia (Islamic law), was an attempt by the government to find a political solution to end decades of fighting between Muslim jihadist groups and the army in the majority-Christian country. In May 2017, around 100 jihadists had seized control of the city of Marawi, causing thousands of residents to flee. The agreement effectively created an Islamic sub-state within a secular, pluralistic and mainly Christian country. When this was first proposed in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional, and Muslim armed groups responded with violence against Christians, killing some and displacing others. The recent referendum vote, approving the formal creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, will permit further Islamisation of the region, bringing serious concerns over how this will negatively impact non-Muslims living there.
Geoff, Fay & Danni
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfil every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
January has been a month of changes – and challenges. We lost two regulars (both Christians) in our weekly Bible study - one passed away and the other has become bedbound. It has been quite an adjustment going forward without them, and we are feeling their absence quite keenly. Despite these changes, it’s comforting to know Jesus and His promises never ever changes. They are the anchor in our ever-changing world.
Please pray that the Pastoral team and Christians will adjust to the regular changes we face in life with great boldness, not holding onto what we know and our comforts. Pray that we will walk with God, letting Him lead us in every circumstance.
Pray for the new dynamic of our Bible Study, particularly now that we have more non-Christians than Christians attending.
Pray for wisdom for our EOL (end of life) team member Jonathan in pastorally supporting those who are facing death, as well as family members.
Finally, please pray we may faithfully fulfil what God has called us to do, always in His power and strength.
Tim & Alison - UK
It is the time of year end! Positive progress is taking place and Tim needs to just hear back on a few queries. This comes with some relief as it has been done on a new system within the company.
Heroin (60% of the 9,000 ton production goes to the Taliban) is a real issue amongst the people of Afghanistan (500,000 addicts in 2015). Please pray for the project which reach out to these addicts in Kabul, to help them get free from heroin and make a new, productive life style.
Please pray as we have been facilitating virtual schooling. This has meant we are following a strict timetable, with one to one support and not much else being accomplished. Half term is happening this month! We are so thankful in knowing that God knows what He is doing for the best of all who are involved. Please pray for fruitful times and not frustration.
Helen & Alastair - Ireland
Preparations are ongoing for St Patrick’s Outreach, 13-20 March. Helen is involved with some of the administration and planning for the 40 applicants coming from various locations. They will receive training at Lacken House and then break into teams to work with some of our partner churches for three days of ministry, including St Patrick’s Day itself. There’s a lot packed into the week; pray that it is a time when they can make an impact in the communities, but also for God to speak to and challenge each person coming. Pray especially for favour with the Immigration when people arrive at the airport as this is our first group coming this year.
Visa issues continue to occupy a lot of our time, thoughts and prayers. Please continue to pray for our team as we await news from INIS regarding the appeals to visas for new team members who are waiting to join us. Also for current team members who are nearing the end of their three year visas, some of whom will leave and some will submit paperwork to extend their visa.
Alastair and the finance team have made great progress working on the year end accounts and have finished it earlier than usual. This was completed quicker than usual as a result of the detailed work throughout the year by our finance team, and as they needed less supervision from Alastair.
The Big Red Bus is going out twice a week to local towns, during the day and for late night outreach. Pray for those on the evangelism team, for opportunities to witness to those who might stop by or come on the Bus for a cuppa or to see what a big red bus is doing in their town! Pray for a more favourable parking space for the Bus as it is a challenge to find a central location in Athlone where people are passing by.
Helen looks forward to being with you on 10 February for the Bring & Share.