Epic cycling and powerful emotions: the impact of Life’s First Cry

Epic cycling, powerful emotions and teddy bears’ picnics:

the impact of Life’s First Cry

It’s inspired tears in some and action in others – a simple video about BMS World Mission work with mums is having a powerful effect.

A humbling number of churches have already given to Life’s First Cry, and we know more and more of you are being inspired every day by the powerful work BMS is doing to save the lives of mothers and babies in Afghanistan. Thanks to you, we have trained local women to give safe birthing training in Afghanistan’s remote mountains. Thanks to you, families don’t have to fear for the lives of their children any more.

Some churches have used Life’s First Cry at harvest time. Others have shown the video on a mission Sunday or taken a special appeal for BMS work. Again and again, UK Christians are getting in touch to tell us how powerful and moving they have found the video. We believe that is because your gifts are making God’s work happen in Afghanistan. And we wanted to share some of the amazing things you’ve said and done in support of that work, in Afghanistan and around the world, inspired by Life’s First Cry.

Taban, a mother from Afghanistan and her daughter Chehrah
Thanks to your support, Taban can focus on giving her daughter, Chehrah, a future that wouldn’t have been possible before.

After hearing about Life’s First Cry, Stanley Road Baptist Church in Morecambe decided it was important to share its message of hope for mums and babies with their children. They had the brilliant idea of running a teddy bears’ picnic in their midweek toddler group, Toddler Time, as well as a Life’s First Cry service. We think this is a great way to engage young children with mission and the church. Thank you so much, Stanley Road!

Thank you, also, Ian!

Ian Richardson on his bike outside a leisure centre
Ian Richardson took on the highways and byways of the Scottish Borders to raise money for BMS work.

Ian Richardson is a bit of a hero in the BMS office. He watched Life’s First Cry and decided he needed to do something to help. His passion for cycling gave him an idea: why not do a sponsored cycle ride? And ride he did! Ian cycled a whopping 1,016 miles across the country and raised a massive £2,273.75! Thank you so much, Ian, for supporting life-transforming BMS work!

Selly Park Baptist Church decided to get creative to support Life’s First Cry. Their Sunday School created a display that was, by all reports, beautiful, about the work BMS is doing, including information about Afghanistan and pictures of the work going on there. The display was featured in their Life’s First Cry service, where BMS guest speaker and former worker in Afghanistan Elizabeth Lee was also speaking. To top off their service, they held a harvest lunch of soup, bread and cake.

Thank you so much for the creative ways you’re supporting Life’s First Cry!

These are just a few stories of the way in which churches around the UK are using Life’s First Cry. But we wanted to find out what people outside a worship service would think. We showed Life’s First Cry to mums and dads to see what they thought of the crucial work BMS is doing in Afghanistan. The video below captures some of their reactions.

Mums and Dads react to Life's First Cry

Losing babies and mothers dying in childbirth are not easy subjects to think about. We know they bring up hard emotions and painful memories for many people. We’ve heard such encouraging stories about the sensitive way speakers and churches have dealt with it. One BMS speaker, Wilma, told us:

``A number of women expressed how they were deeply moved by the video. An elderly lady had lost a baby over 80 years ago and was able to relate to the sorrow felt by the Afghan parents.``

Thank you, Wilma, for sharing so sensitively. We hope that the support that you have helped to inspire will mean that far fewer women, in a country with less medical provision than our own, will have to experience the pain that so many families around the world face because of lack of knowledge and support.

Thanks to your help, mothers in Afghanistan are getting that support. And we are planning to help more so that they don’t have to be afraid for their children’s lives. So that children don’t have to worry they will lose their mothers.

Every church service, every fundraising activity, every share on Facebook and special collection makes a difference, and we want to say a huge thank you to the UK Baptist Family for the love and support you’ve shown for Life’s First Cry and BMS work among those who need it most.

If you haven’t watched it yet, here’s the video again:

If you’ve been inspired by these stories and haven’t yet held a Life’s First Cry service, it’s not too late! Go to our Life’s First Cry resource page to find everything you’ll need to make sure this important story is told.

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We’d love to be able to personally thank every church that supports us, so even if your church isn’t mentioned here, please know that your supporting is always incredibly important to us. Get in touch by email at mail@bmsworldmission.org or on Facebook to tell us how you have used Life’s First Cry and whether you’d recommend it to other churches to show in the coming year.

Saving lives in Afghanistan: four mothers tell their stories

Saving lives in Afghanistan:

four mothers tell their stories

Christians in Afghanistan are saving mums’ and babies’ lives this harvest.

Can you imagine losing ten children? Many mothers living in remote villages in the mountains of Afghanistan don’t have to imagine. It’s been their life. Giving birth used to be a terrifying prospect for these women: they never knew whether they, or their babies, would survive. For hundreds of women across Afghanistan’s icy mountains that’s all changed, thanks to transformative training courses supported by BMS World Mission. Thanks to you and your support. Children born in these villages are far less likely to die before they’ve had a chance to live. Mums don’t have to live in fear anymore.
We want to introduce you to four of these mothers, so they can share in their own words the way that you have helped transform their lives.

1. Negar: ‘The men are really helping, they’ve had the lessons as well.’

Negar, a mother from Afghanistan

My children didn’t all survive. I’ve given birth to about ten children in all, but three of them passed away from tetanus. Us women used to keep carrying really heavy loads all through pregnancy. We wouldn’t be eating and drinking very much. And we’d give birth down in the barns.

The birthing lessons have really made a difference to the way we look after ourselves when we’re pregnant. The men are really helping, they’ve had the lessons as well. They’re the ones who are saying, ‘don’t do the heavy lifting’. They’ll bring water into the house, they’ll make sure their wives get a couple of hours extra sleep during the day. This has really made a difference to the way that men behave.

And it means our children come into the world healthy and whole. They are not passing away from hepatitis, and pneumonia, tetanus.

2. Maheen: ‘If we had known about this a generation ago, it would have made so much difference.’

Maheen, a mother from Afghanistan

Eight of my children passed away. I have eight living children as well. The others died from bleeding, from other complications, from getting sick after they were born. Even my children who survived had problems when they were young. One of my sons had problems with diarrhoea and deafness for about two years when he was younger, he’s still deaf in one ear. Another had problems with his heart, and other complications. We took him to the clinic and they managed to save his life. He’s a nice, big man now. This was before we had any of these lessons we have now.
I’m one of the local midwives, and since I took part in the training and became a facilitator I’ve delivered about 35 children and they’ve all been fine. I’ve applied what I learned in the lessons and those have been healthy deliveries.

If we had known about this a generation ago, it would have made so much difference. There are so many women from this village who are not here today, because they lost blood and died during childbirth. And children who died from infections. I recently helped my friend here with a baby that couldn’t breathe. We knew how to pat it on the back, how to give it the breath of life and to start it breathing. And he’s okay now. We’ve learned so much. And we want to learn more.

Life’s First Cry, our 2018 harvest appeal, shares the hidden struggles of families in rural Afghanistan.

Click the button below to download the video and visit www.bmsworldmission.org/cry find out more about all the amazing resources that you can use to share how women’s lives are being transformed.

3. Taban: ‘I’m happy to be a mum.’

Taban, a mother from Afghanistan and her daughter Chehrah

This is my daughter Chehrah. I gave birth at home and, because Chehrah was born after we started the lessons, we knew to make the place nice and clean. And, praise God, Chehrah’s fine. She’s really well. We didn’t know much about childbirth before we had the course. Some of my other children had problems with malnutrition and things, because we didn’t really have much idea about feeding ourselves well as mums. This time, I found it a lot easier. I wasn’t so worried, and we had a nice place to have the baby. Chehrah was born in the night, and the next morning we went to the clinic to get her vaccinated.

I’m happy to be a mum. It’s a nice thing. I am really hoping I can bring my children up well, and they will be healthy.

4. Andisha: ‘What we’ve learnt here is the reason that my children are alive.’

Andisha, a mother from Afghanistan

Our kids just kept dying. Some of them would live for a few hours. Some would live for a few weeks. And then they would pass away. And that was just terrible. You can’t really cope with that kind of feeling. But after the course we changed what we do, and our children have survived. Now that we have two living children I am very happy. It’s hard to describe the difference between then and now.

It’s really great being a mum. It’s a really joyful feeling. Our house feels much better. It really made a difference that my husband went on the course as well. He was a real help when I was expecting – he helped around the house and we’ve been more in agreement. It’s brought us closer together. I am really happy now.

What we’ve learnt here is the reason that my children are alive. The lessons you have given have made all the difference in the world.

For these four women, giving birth is no longer a terrifying prospect. But for many other women in Afghanistan, it still is. Please show Life’s First Cry in for your harvest service this year to support this extraordinary work and help keep more mothers and babies alive.

Visit www.bmsworldmission.org/cry to find all the resources you’ll need, including the British Sign Language and subtitled versions of our Life’s First Cry video, collection jar labels and gift envelopes. Thank you for supporting this powerful work and giving families hope for the future.

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Four-month-old Navid yawns in his mother's arms in his home in Afghanistan
Your gifts to BMS are saving the lives of babies like Navid.

Buffalo, corn, radishes and chillies: a recipe for success

Buffalo, corn, radishes and chillies:

a recipe for success

A widow is able to provide for her three daughters. People in Afghanistan are eating vegetables in their village for the first time. Ugandan farmers can fund school fees and medical bills. Agricultural training is transforming lives, and it’s all down to your support for BMS World Mission.

In countries facing political instability and natural disasters, it’s hard for people in rural areas who survive by farming to make a living and support their families. But BMS-supported agricultural training is changing that. By donating cattle, training farmers to grow chillies and bananas, and helping women rear buffalo, men and women can earn a living long into the future. Because of you, BMS workers are with these communities every step of the way, helping them improve their quality of life.

Here’s what you are doing to help farmers and families to thrive.

1. Mozambique: cattle and corn

In the rural village of Chassimba in Mozambique, men and women are learning how to better grow corn. Overseen by BMS worker Carlos Jone, this training is transforming lives in the community.

A man surrounded by bricks in heaps.
John was able to make bricks by selling his crop.
Corn filled to the brim in a barn.
Amelia has enough corn to provide for the needs of her family.

John and Amelia are two of the people who gained skills in growing corn. John used the money he made from selling his crop to produce bricks, which he used to build his new house. Amelia, a widow, managed to grow so much corn that she filled her barn to the brim. Now she has enough to support her family for the rest of the year. Amelia’s also now involved in growing vegetables with other farmers in the village, and is earning enough to support her three children through school.

We’ve also donated cattle to the village, and these are being used to teach ploughing – helping many more people provide for their families.

“Thank you for your supporting farmers in Chassimba,” says BMS worker Carlos. “You’re fighting hunger and food insecurity, and the results are visible – there are no longer hunger problems in the community.”

This thank you dance from the villagers in Chassimba is for you.

2. Afghanistan: lettuces and radishes

Villagers in Afghanistan are growing vegetables never grown in their area before.

At high altitude in the mountains of Afghanistan, growing vegetables presents unique challenges, and in some places they’re not even grown or eaten at all.

You’re helping to change that. With your support, people are learning about the nutritional benefits of vegetables and how to grow them.

In one village, agricultural experts set up a demonstration garden on the land of a man called Almas*, where other villagers could learn and experiment in growing vegetables. Almas’ uncle came to visit, and when he saw the garden, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He said, “I am 66 years old, and have never seen vegetables grown here; these people are just telling you stories!”

Some time passed, and Almas’ uncle came to visit again. Dinner was served, with plates of fresh radishes and lettuce being presented, all of which had been grown locally. Almas turned to his uncle and said, “Thanks be to God that now at the age of 66 you have tasted vegetables grown here in this village!” Now, when Almas’ son harvests vegetables from the garden, the uncle comes and takes some of them to his own home.

More and more people in remote mountain villages are now living healthier lives through growing vegetables. And it’s all down to you.

You’re fighting hunger and food insecurity

3. Nepal: buffalo and goats

Goma’s buffalo died in the 2015 earthquakes, and she had to completely rebuild her house. She and her husband had used the animals to support their two daughters through school. Life was now looking very precarious.

Thankfully, Goma managed to get hold of three buffalo and some goats, and she got a place on BMS-supported livestock training, to learn how to better look after her animals. She learnt about animal health and shed management, and now she’s able to get more from her cattle than she ever did before.

Goma collects around 20 litres of milk from the buffalo every day, and then sells it at a local collection centre. She and her husband are able to continue supporting their two daughters, who are studying in Kathmandu, and provide for themselves, too.

A woman wearing a red dress standing next to three buffalo.
Goma can now provide for her two daughters by selling buffalo milk.

4. Uganda: bananas and chillies

Chillies being dried in the Ugandan sun.
These chillies are being dried before being transported to the wholesalers in Kampala.

In Gulu, Uganda, BMS workers have trained 100 families to start farming chillies and bananas. Each household received in-depth training, including land preparation and how to plant the bananas and chillies. Once they were ready, the farmers used their new skills and knowledge to grow the crops.

And they were hugely successful. All the bananas are being sold in local markets in Gulu. And the dried chillies are now being bought by a wholesaler in the capital city, Kampala, that exports them all over the world.

This is having an amazing impact in the lives of these families. One of the challenges for many farmers in the area was not being able to pay for big medical bills, or having to pull their children out of school if fees were put up. But now, this is no longer the case.

Namazzi* benefited from growing bananas. Because the banana harvest is continual, Namazzi is able to take her bananas and sell them at a local market throughout the year. The new income acts as pocket money for the family each week, so they can make sure there is enough food in the house, as well as covering small medical bills.

A man planting a banana tree while surrounded by people watching.
People in Gulu are learning how to plant and grow bananas.

These are just a few examples of the transformations you’re making possible through your giving. You’re helping farmers learn new skills, provide for their families, and live healthier lives. Thank you.

*Names changed to protect identities.

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5 ways you’re making the world a healthier place

5 ways you’re making the world a healthier place

Saving mothers and babies in Afghanistan and helping pregnant refugees. Discover five of the ways your generous support for BMS World Mission is helping to provide healthcare for thousands of people around the world.

1. Meeting medical needs in Chad

Man in the distance looking at the camera. An ambulance in a courtyard at a hospital in Chad.
You're funding pharmacists, surgeons, doctors and nurses in Chad.

There is one qualified doctor in Chad for every 25,000 people. Nearly 40 per cent of children have stunted growth because of a lack of food, and illnesses such as malaria, HIV and Aids affect many people’s lives. But thanks to you, hospitals in Chad (one near the capital and one in the north of the country) are providing much-needed medical treatment and helping people survive. Your giving has enabled us to fund pharmacists, surgeons, doctors, nurses, malnutrition prevention workers, midwives and other hospital staff who are giving the right care to thousands of people. They’re treating gunshot wounds, cancer and malaria, and delivering babies, thanks to you.

2. Giving children with disabilities the support they need

Children with disabilities in Thailand face huge challenges. Many families struggle to cope with the needs of their children, and government orphanages are often unable to provide the one-on-one care and support they need.

Thanks to your giving, BMS worker Judy Cook is providing therapeutic and respite care to children with disabilities at Hope Home, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Hope Home currently provides full-time care for ten children, and offers respite care for many other children and their families.

Check out the amazing work you’re supporting in this video:

3. Coming to the aid of pregnant refugees

The South Sudanese women who make it to Bidi Bidi refugee camp in northern Uganda after fleeing conflict are often in danger of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. But thanks to your giving, an electronic device that measures people’s blood pressure and heart rate is helping to save lives. At least 7,000 pregnant women will receive medical checks that could identify any problems and save their lives, and the lives of their unborn children. To read more about how the device works and the impact your support is having, click the button below.

A woman in a refugee camp carrying a pale of water.
You're helping at least 7,000 refugees get medical checks in northern Uganda.

4. Saving the lives of mothers and babies in Afghanistan

Boys playing football in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Thanks to you, men and women are being trained in safe birthing practices in the remote mountains of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has some of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. In remote mountain villages, it’s difficult for pregnant women to get to clinics to give birth, and unsafe birthing practices such as smearing dirt on the umbilical cord, or pushing on the mother’s stomach during labour to make the baby come out, can lead to infection and even death.

You’re enabling us to help train men and women in safe birthing practices in the mountains of rural Afghanistan. You’re helping them learn to spot when something is wrong, and to dispel unsafe birthing practices, and you’re saving the lives of mothers and babies as a result.

5. Giving children a voice through speech therapy

Being unable to communicate your feelings and needs to the community around you can be incredibly isolating. In northern Uganda, BMS worker Lois Ovenden is providing speech and language therapy to children with disabilities. We’ll leave it to her to explain more of the inspiring work she’s doing in this video:

By supporting BMS, you’re funding life-transforming health work like this around the world. Thank you! You can help us do even more by making a donation today.

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Women around the world need you to pray

Women around the world need you to pray

Freeing women from the sex trade. Giving women a voice in Afghanistan. Equipping women to start their own businesses. These are just some of the ways that BMS World Mission is working to empower women around the world. And to thrive, these women and these projects need your prayers.

Empowering women to set up businesses in Guinea

Guinea, where Caroline and Victor are empowering women by setting up self-help groups.

Women in Guinea are underprivileged, often not having the same standard of living as men in society. BMS workers Caroline* and Victor* are helping these women to set up self-help groups, where around 20 women come together each Sunday to save money corporately, which can then be loaned to members of the group. This then lets women borrow money to set up small businesses, so they can provide for their families and the community around them.

Caroline and Victor’s prayer requests:

– Pray for the woman who is borrowing £80 every two months to finance a restaurant, so she can continue to provide for her family and those around her. Pray for success.

– We’re looking for four stakeholders to form a committee, who will then provide training so more self-help groups can be established. Pray that we would find the right people for the job.

Freeing women from the sex trade in Thailand

Paul and Sarah Brown are reaching out to survivors of sex trafficking and women who’ve been sexually exploited in Bangkok, Thailand. They’re empowering these women by teaching them how to make jewellery and cakes, as well as giving them opportunities to receive business training.

Their prayer requests:

– Pray for ways we can support, empower and enable women who are survivors of trafficking.

– Pray that more traffickers will be brought to justice and that Bangkok’s local authorities will become better equipped to find them.

Paul and Sarah Brown, who free women from sex trafficking.

Giving women a voice in Afghanistan

Women in Afghanistan often don’t have a say in what goes on in their village, where men are generally the key decision makers.

Afghanistan, where our team give a voice to women by setting up women's councils.

BMS partners in Afghanistan are working to change this by creating a women’s council in every village they work in. Making sure that the council is representative of all women in the village, it regularly meets alongside a men’s council which often already exists. This allows women to have a say in important decisions that will affect them, like where the water pipelines and latrines should be built.

BMS workers Catherine* and Rory* are part of our team in Afghanistan.

Their prayer requests:

– Pray for women-headed households in these villages, where men are away working and send money back when they can. Food shortages are predicted this year, and these families will be the ones hit the hardest.

– Give thanks for the local female staff that work with us in Afghanistan – they’re amazing role models. They are showing that women can work and empower people.

Empowering women in France

It’s dangerous to be a homeless woman in France, as many face abuse or are at risk of being forced into prostitution. Christine Kling, alongside a group of volunteers, set up a day shelter for these women. It gives homeless women a place to stay, rest and eat a meal, and it’s a place of dignity and respect.

As a pastor, Christine also wants to see more women in France step into Christian leadership. Through training and mentoring, more women are becoming confident in their gifts and calling.

Christine’s prayer requests:

– The homeless shelter requires many volunteers to keep it running. Give thanks for the people currently volunteering, and pray for new volunteers to come forward to join the project.

Christine Kling, a pastor of a church near Paris.

– Pray that more women in the new generation of Christians in France will feel confident and supported in their calling as pastors.

Providing employment for survivors of sex trafficking in India

Kolkata, where we work to provide employment for women wanting to leave the sex trade.

Thousands of women from rural villages in India have been trafficked into Kolkata to work in the red light district. BMS works alongside local partners offering employment to those wanting to leave the sex trade. The women also receive training – including learning how to read and write – as well as one-to-one counselling.

Prayer requests:

– Pray for the health and safety of foreign staff in India, as they do what they can to help empower women in challenging conditions.

– Pray for wisdom and guidance as our partners look to create a further 200 jobs over the next three to four years for women wanting to leave the sex trade.

– Pray for BMS volunteers Annette and Ron Salmon as they work alongside vulnerable women in India.

We have many more workers and partners who are involved in empowering women. From projects in Uganda and Mozambique that work to educate women on their legal rights, to workers in Nepal who provide teacher training, leading to better education for girls. Please continue to pray for our workers all over the world as they help women see their God-given value. Let us know you’re praying by hitting the big blue button!

*Names changed to protect identity

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Top 5 stories of 2017

Looking back:

Top 5 stories of 2017

Last year was filled with inspirational stories of lives being transformed through your giving. Here are our top five most-read articles from 2017.

Students being baptised in barrels. Young French Christians finding community. Nepali children excelling at school. These are just a few of the incredible things your gifts and prayers have made possible this year, through BMS World Mission. There were so many stories to choose from, but only five could top our news story charts! We hope you’ll be inspired as you look back at what we achieved together in 2017.

1. Big thinking for little minds

Children in Nepal are benefiting from Annie Brown's teacher training programme.

Millions of children in Nepal are getting the opportunity of a better education, thanks to your support for BMS worker Annie Brown.

With her teacher training programme being adopted by the Nepali Government, every teacher of students aged between five and 13 in all government schools will have the chance to receive Annie’s training. They’ll be better-equipped to teach, and Nepal’s children will face brighter futures!

2. Pray for our new mission workers

James and Ruth Neve, who are preparing to move to India to work with us.

Tucked away in our centre in Birmingham, new BMS mission workers are busy preparing for overseas service. For them, it’s daunting, but also exciting, as they get ready to serve God abroad in different ways. From a family heading to Nepal to help with disaster relief, to a couple heading to Albania to teach children of mission workers, there are plenty of things we can be praying for.

Loads of you loved catching up with our new mission workers’ prayer requests, making this our second most popular story last year.

Pray for them today by clicking the link below.

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3. 5 ways you're fighting violence against women

We're working in Uganda to help primary schools devise and implement child protection policies.

For thousands of vulnerable women and girls around the world, gender based violence is a daily part of life. But, thanks to your support, BMS is taking a stand against it. From helping girls know their rights, to freeing women from prostitution, you’re helping to empower women and prevent trafficking, sexual abuse and domestic violence. Find out more by reading the story.

4. Baptised in a barrel in Phnom Penh

Students are meeting Jesus in Cambodia! We loved witnessing the amazing moment when Srei got baptised in a barrel and by our stats it looked like you did too. Read about how she and Chan came to find God at a BMS-supported Christian hostel in Phnom Penh, and how, thanks to your support, more and more people are finding Jesus.

5. Feeding of the 400

You’re helping to build Christian community in France – where young Christians often feel isolated and lonely.

Connexion 2017, an event put on by BMS worker Sue Wilson and her team, helped young French Christians realise they’re not alone. Watch the video above to find out about what it meant to the people who were there, and click the link below to read how you’re helping bring young French Christians together.

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Thank you for supporting us in 2017. Your gifts have helped people find God, and have transformed countless lives. With your continued support, we can’t wait to start doing even more in 2018!

Other great stories made possible by you

Five stores aren’t enough to sum-up how much you did last year. So here are a few extra ones we’d love you to read too.

  1. Meet the inspiring Mozambican Christians you’re supporting: they’re bringing justice to abused women and teaching communities their rights.
  2. From witch doctor to church planter: the story of a witch doctor who found God, and then started planting churches.
  3. Baptist church brings light in Uganda: one simple action is raising money, helping people’s lungs and introducing people to Jesus.
  4. Refugees are like you and me: BMS worker Ann MacFarlane has seen God at work in the lives of refugees in Italy.
  5. This is what a life transformed looks like: meet Joshua. You helped give him a reason to smile.

Our workers need your prayers right now

Got a moment to pray? Great! Our workers need your prayers right now

Courage, safety and an improved hospital generator all feature in the latest prayer requests our mission workers have sent us. Please read on and pray with us for lives to be transformed.

Annie Brown

Annie is a teacher trainer working in Nepal with the Kathmandu International Study Centre’s Education Quality Improvement Programme (KISC EQUIP).

Annie’s prayer requests

• Pray for a Nepali teacher friend in Lamjung District who recently got baptised, that he continues to grow in his new Christian faith and is encouraged and protected when making visits back to his Hindu family.

• After ten years of prayer we have recruited a new Christian female EQUIP teacher trainer. Pray that Santona settles into her new work.

Please pray for revelation and a life-changing encounter with Jesus

Paul and Sarah Brown

Paul and Sarah are working in Bangkok, reaching out to women who have been sexually exploited or are survivors of sex trafficking. Sarah runs the Freedom Bakery project.

Paul and Sarah’s prayer requests

• Pray for the continued enthusiasm and purpose of the women who work in the Freedom Bakery. They have grown in amazing confidence, and have even begun teaching other women!

• Pray that the women will not be fearful, but will remain confident.

Women working on cupcakes at the Freedom Bakery in Bangkok, Thailand.
Please pray for the courageous women working at the Freedom Bakery in Bangkok, Thailand.

LINDA AND TIM DARBY

Linda and Tim are working in Gulu, northern Uganda. Tim is an environmental consultant and Linda has a legal background.

Linda and Tim Darby have asked for your prayers.
Linda and Tim Darby are working in Uganda and would love for you to pray for them.

Linda and Tim’s prayer requests

• Pray for the direction of the agricultural development work which is up for renewal early next year.

• Pray for the appointment of a Child Protection Policy Trainer to help protect children in schools.

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Claire-Lise and David Judkins

David and Claire-Lise Judkins, pictured here with their children Joshua, Nathan, Samuel and Ben, are asking for your prayers.
David and Claire-Lise Judkins, pictured here with their children Joshua, Nathan, Samuel and Ben, are asking for your prayers.

Claire-Lise and David work in Brive-la-Gaillarde, south west France, with a long-term vision to see a church-planting network take root.

Claire-Lise and David’s prayer requests

• Pray for a couple of ladies who are part of our fellowship, but haven’t yet taken the step of following Christ. Please pray for revelation and a life-changing encounter with Jesus.

• Pray that God may lead our young disciples to ‘people of peace’ who are open.

CLAIRE BEDFORD

Claire is a pharmacist working near Chad’s capital, where she’s continuing the development of the pharmacy service at Guinebor II Hospital.

Claire’s prayer requests

• Pray for the mission workers at the hospital who will be in Chad this Christmas. Pray they would be able to experience peace and joy at this time of year, despite being far from family and friends.

• Pray the hospital would have all the resources it needs to function well.

Pray that we would continue to grow together as a family to be more like Christ.

Andy and Jenny Saunders

Andy and Jenny are serving in Kathmandu, Nepal. Jenny is a trained counsellor and uses her skills to train Nepali counsellors. Andy is a Baptist minister and has been teaching at a Bible college.

Andy and Jenny’s prayer requests

• Pray for energy and good health for Jenny, so that effective research into mental health in Nepal would bring lasting change.

• Pray for Andy, who is really enjoying his teaching. Pray for patience and good working practices at Nepal Baptist Bible College (NBBC).

Rory* and Catherine*

Rory and Catherine are working in health and development in Afghanistan.

Rory and Catherine’s prayer requests

• Pray for friends and colleagues to pick up on the joy and hope that this season brings us.

• Pray for chances to talk about what real peace is.

Andrea and Mark Hotchkin

Andrea and Mark are surgeons in Chad. Earlier this year they moved from Guinebor II Hospital to the north of Chad to continue their mission.

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Mother and child in the mountains of Afghanistan
Please pray for our work in Afghanistan.

Andrea and Mark’s prayer requests

• Please pray for developing relationships with the new team of nurses and technicians at the regional hospital as we start working there full-time.

• Pray for the arrival of a technician from the capital N’Djamena (1,700km across the Sahara desert) as the hospital generator is weak, meaning equipment such as the X-ray machine can’t be used.

Christine Kling

Christine is the pastor of the Baptist church in Gif-sur-Yvette, near Paris.

Christine’s prayer requests

• Pray for the work in Gif, that through different events we will connect with new people.

• Pray for the new people who have started to join the church, that we will be a source of encouragement and support in their journey with God.

Christine Kling is the pastor of the Baptist church in Gif-sur-Yvette, near Paris
Christine Kling has asked for prayers of "encouragement and support".

Simon and Wendy Hall

Simon and Wendy serve in Nepal with KISC EQUIP. They met while teaching in Kathmandu and now work in Lamjung.

Simon and Wendy’s prayer requests

• Pray for a meeting coming up with the district education officer where I (Simon) hope to influence how he allocates and spends a significant amount of Government money on ICT labs/equipment in schools.

• Pray that we would continue to grow together as a family to be more like Christ.

Simon and Wendy, in the mountains of Nepal.
Simon and Wendy Hall would love you to pray for their family.

Mary*

Mary is using her skills in palliative care in Tunisia.

Mary’s prayer requests

• Pray for each person who is far from loved ones to feel, as well as know, they are part of a worldwide family over Christmas.

• Pray for people in places where 25 December is an ordinary day, that each of us will remember the original Christmas seemed to be an ordinary day too, when in fact our extraordinary God put on flesh.

Daniel and Regiane Clark

Every day I am overwhelmed by the support I know I have behind me from those so faithful in prayer.

Daniel uses his experience and theological training to teach at the Baptist Seminary in Lima, Peru, while Regiane works with low-income communities.

Daniel and Regiane’s prayer requests

• Pray for the ministry of the Baptist Seminary, especially as there is a shortage of pastors in the Baptist Convention.

• Pray as we seek to support the Social Action Department of the Baptist Convention in providing relief and community development resources in Piura.

David and Dorothy McMillan

David is Interim Director at the International Baptist Theological Study Centre (IBTSC) in Amsterdam, while Dorothy serves as Managing Editor of the centre’s two academic journals.

David and Dorothy’s prayer requests

• Pray for David as he carries out the role of Interim Director until a new director is appointed.

• Pray for our 40 plus students across the world as they balance family, ministry and study responsibilities.

Pray for people in places where 25 December is an ordinary day

Angus and Helen Douglas

Angus and Helen, together with their children Caleb, Charis and Esther, moved to Nepal in 2012. Angus is overseeing the development of a new KISC school site.

Angus and Helen’s prayer request

• Pray for the current challenges of the new site to be resolved, for safety for the construction workers and for some additional funds to complete the project.

Angus and Helen Douglas and their children
Angus and Helen would like you to pray for the development of the KISC school building project.

Kathryn Smith

Kathryn moved to Thailand earlier this year and will be using her nursing skills in Chiang Mai.

Kathryn’s prayer request

• Pray for help with learning the language and culture of Thailand. Being able to speak the language helps connect on a deeper level with the people around you.

Judy Cook

Judy, based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, founded and manages Hope Home, a home for children with disabilities.

Judy’s prayer requests

• Pray for energy and patience during the busy times at the Church of Christ in Thailand’s Aids Ministry and at Hope Home.

• Pray for new staff to join the team at Hope Home with a heart to serve special children and their families. Pray too for the staff to come to know our Lord and Saviour for themselves.

Judy Cook based in Chiang Mai, Thailand founded and manages Hope Home
Judy Cook has asked for prayers for "energy and patience".

Laura-Lee Lovering

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Helping babies and mothers survive in Afghanistan

The mountains in Afghanistan are breathtaking. Red, gold, and rusty orange soils swirl together in giant ridges, pressed against a brilliant blue sky. It looks unreal – a beautiful painting. But, as with all art, it’s important to look beneath the surface for truth. Beneath the beauty in Afghanistan, there is a country where babies and mothers are dying.

Babies and mothers don’t stand a chance in Afghanistan. Their odds of surviving pregnancy and birth in a country with one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world are very poor. That’s why BMS World Mission is hard at work, standing alongside Afghan communities to bring about lasting change for the people of this beautiful country.

A woman and child in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan currently has the worst infant mortality rate in the world, 112 babies dying in every 1,000 births. It also has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world, ranking 11th on a list of the 200 most dangerous countries to be a mum. A blend of poor access to health care, unsafe birthing practices and cultural barriers all contribute to these devastating statistics. And beneath the numbers, there are human stories of pain and loss and hopelessness.

At BMS, we are determined to do something to help. That’s why we help to run a training programme in the mountains of rural Afghanistan to educate men and women about safe birthing practices.

Most of the people BMS is helping are at least one hour away from a clinic by 4×4, and most people don’t have access to that kind of transport. Understanding pregnancy and birth better can be crucial for the survival of both the baby and mum. “In a rural area like this that’s so remote, they don’t have access to good health care,” says Tim*, a BMS development worker in Afghanistan. “It’s really important to tell people the danger signs that they need to look out for so they will be prepared in case they are unable to make it to a clinic.”

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Challenging dangerous practices

A big part of our training is dispelling some of the unsafe birthing practices that are common in Afghanistan. Making women give birth in the dirtiest room in the house, pushing on their stomachs during labour to make the baby come out and smearing animal dung on the umbilical cord after it’s cut are just a few of the dangerous traditions that can lead to infection and even death.

“It’s not just about saying, ‘this is wrong’,” says Tim. “It’s more about saying ‘this is safe, this is what you can do.’” Knowing what to do if a woman is bleeding after labour or if a baby isn’t breathing and how to stay healthy during a pregnancy are all covered by the BMS-supported courses, and have already saved lives.

Involving men

And, by making men part of the training, more lives will be saved. “Maternal health is seen as a woman’s business in Afghanistan,” says Tim. “But it’s actually men that are making the decisions.” Educating men about safe birthing practices is often vital to survival. Tim remembers one woman who came to the course but whose husband did not. Having been on the course, she knew she should call for medical help when something went wrong with her labour. But her husband said it was best to just pray, and that it was in God’s hands. Sadly, the woman ended up dying.

There are many sad stories like that in Afghanistan, but health education, made possible by donations from UK Christians, is paving the way for a safer future for babies and mothers in remote mountain villages. Now, 100 per cent of the women who receive training breastfeed their babies within the first hour of giving birth. Before the training only 50 per cent of them did. Take-up of antenatal care has also improved. Before attending the course only 11 per cent of women were having regular antenatal check-ups and now 52 per cent of them are receiving the care they need.

Thanks to people like you, many babies and mothers are getting a chance to live, and the blessing can be passed on to future generations.

“If only I had known”

At the end of one of the courses an Afghan grandmother named Aliah* pulled a trainer aside. Through tears she explained why this course was so important. Her own daughter had died during childbirth. Facing complications during labour, her family had tried everything – they prayed, offered sacrifices, performed traditional rites, but still she died. “That’s why I’m bringing my granddaughter to this course,” Aliah told a BMS-enabled trainer. “I don’t want the same thing to happen to her. I don’t want her children to live life without a mother like she had to.”

Beneath the surface, Aliah had a real sense of guilt about her daughter’s death. “If only I had known then what I know now,” said Aliah. Today she is more hopeful, and her granddaughter has a far better chance of a healthy labour and childbirth. We want to see more mothers have the same hope. And you can help today.

Want to support our work in Afghanistan?

You can help us save more babies and mothers lives in Afghanistan right now by supporting our Christ-centered work around the world. Donate now to give the gift of life.

*Names changed

First four photos taken by Graeme Riddell, 2016. Final photo taken by Carol Turner, 2012.

Springs of water in Afghanistan

Springs of water in Afghanistan

In one of the most beautiful and broken countries in the world, BMS World Mission is helping to save lives by training communities in hygiene and sanitation and providing them with access to clean water.

A girl died from typhoid the first day the team visited the Afghan village.

Two months later, when they returned, fewer people were getting sick. Typhoid has been stealing lives there for years, but training and practical help from a BMS-supported water and sanitation team has made things better. Teaching people about washing their hands, about building their toilets away from the river, about making sure waste doesn’t contaminate the water their people need to live.

BMS has been supporting the construction of community toilets (like the one pictured above), wells and piped springs
BMS has been supporting the construction of community toilets (like the one pictured above), wells and piped springs

These simple lessons are having huge impacts in villages across rural Afghanistan. Men, women and children whose faces we can’t show you for security reasons can now save their children and themselves from the suffering that disease brings. And it’s happening because you give.

It’s also happening because of the way we do it. BMS doesn’t parachute help in without consultation, deciding what’s best for locals, throwing money around and hoping for the best. We assess needs. We get the people we are trying to help to help themselves.

Twelve households in one village were surveyed before and after they were trained in water, sanitation and hygiene. And the impact of helping with sustainability in mind has been wonderfully encouraging. Before the training, less than half of the families involved said they washed their hands before cooking. After the training, over 90 per cent said they would. And while all those involved in the training now say they wash their hands to keep them clean, fewer than 10 per cent of people did so before.

The training sessions are run for both children and adults, and people’s perceptions are being changed. They are hearing things they have never heard before, and putting them into action.

“It’s preventing disease and the causes of diarrhoea,” says a BMS development worker in the country. And preventing diarrhoea, which kills 1,400 children every day worldwide, is an amazing thing to achieve. It’s something we’ve been able to do in these communities because of your support. Every pound you give makes a difference in a place where it is desperately needed. And it’s because of this need that we try to intervene in holistic, sustainable ways.

Rural Afghan villages now have access to clean water thanks to your gifts to BMS
Rural Afghan villages now have access to clean water thanks to your gifts to BMS

Our approach in Afghanistan is two-pronged. While we are training families about water, hygiene and sanitation, we know that all the training in the world can’t stop the spread of disease if people can’t access clean water. That’s why we are also building wells and laying water pipelines, building toilets for families and communities who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.

“One of the things that makes the biggest difference is when we pipe a spring,” says one of our most experienced development workers based in Afghanistan. Usually communities wait for the water to flow down to their village, but this means a lot of water is lost on the way and the water that does reach them has been contaminated by running through fields where animals defecate. “By capping the water at its source and piping it underground so it doesn’t freeze, these villages have more water and better water.”

A woman washes her clothes in clean water
A woman washes her clothes in clean water

This is a huge task, and involves a group from the village digging the pipeline from the water source to the village – which can be miles away. A lot of this work is done by hand. However, when the pipeline is finished and the pipe installed, clean water runs constantly at various points in the community. Graeme Riddell, BMS Team Leader for Mission Personnel, recently visited a few villages that now have access to clean water thanks to this project.

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“Seeing pure, clean water constantly running; seeing a woman washing her clothes under the tap without having to walk for miles and miles; knowing that people are not getting sick anymore as a result of this project – that’s a very touching thing,” says Graeme. “This work actually is life-transforming.”

When you think of Afghanistan, you probably think of war, of the Taliban, of bombs. But hidden between the mountains and the stories and the fear are families who are just trying to live and to create the best lives possible for their children. By giving to BMS, you’re helping us to improve the quality of life for people in these Afghan villages. And you’re helping us to stop these people dying.

You hear this a lot from charities, but those of us who’ve seen the difference you make can confidently say it and mean it: you are making a difference. Thank you.