Help us fight child abuse in schools

Help us fight child abuse in schools

The threat of abuse is very real for pupils in many Ugandan schools. You can help by getting your church to pray for our child protection work.

Imagine a classroom with 100 or more primary age schoolchildren in it. Put aside how crammed it might be and concentrate on this: more than two thirds of the children in front of you have been sexually abused by a male teacher, according to a Unicef survey. The percentage of children who have been caned is even higher, yet their abusers get away with the abuse, free to inflict suffering on a child in a place every child should feel safe: school.

The survey on the prevalence of abuse in Ugandan schools shows that people are aware of the abuse – but it still continues. Do not think it is going completely unchallenged though. Ugandan officials are making strides. And, with your support, BMS World Mission lawyer Linda Darby is working tirelessly in Gulu, northern Uganda, to change attitudes towards child protection in schools.

BMS mission worker Linda Darby guides teachers in child protection policy work
Linda Darby’s mission to tackle abuse in schools begins with training future nursery teachers about child protection.

Backed by local government, Linda has so far taken 21 schools through training on how abuse can be identified, reported and prevented. And the message of protecting children from sexual and physical abuse is not restricted to the school environment. Community leaders also attend the training, alongside the school’s senior staff – and ends with a school developing a child protection policy. With your prayers, we hope even more schools in Gulu will develop more effective child protection approaches.

“At first, people can be defensive, but as we explain the types of abuse, especially sexual, they realise it is happening and they are more open to listening,” says Linda. “This work is important because it is helping children thrive in school, and that will improve their circumstances in life.”

A BMS project worker helps teachers identify signs of child abuse
We’re helping teachers and community leaders in Gulu, Uganda, identify signs of child abuse.

The work Linda does in Uganda couldn’t happen without your prayer support. We encourage you and your church to please pray today for:

1. More local trainers to come forward to help Linda in her work. Pray for the right people, with the right skills, and with huge hearts to protect children from harm.

2. Energy, wisdom and strength for Linda in her work. Pray that she knows the encouragement of your prayers when she talks to schools about why child protection policies must be developed and put into practice.

3. The children who are being abused. Please pray for the abuse to stop, and that the children sense God’s love for them in their lives.

4. The adults who commit abuse. Pray that they understand the darkness of their actions and are guided towards a new life in which they never hurt a child again.

Through your prayers today, we believe that even more schools in Gulu will take child protection more seriously. We know it’s possible. You can play your part today in protecting children you will never meet.

Please pray.

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Fearless: taking on the Sahara Desert, raging rivers, and the sex industry

Fearless:

taking on the Sahara Desert, raging rivers, and the sex industry

There’s nothing overstated about the headline above. BMS World Mission workers enter isolated, extreme and often dangerous places because God has empowered them to change people’s lives for the better. They tread fearlessly knowing you are standing alongside them in prayer. So please read on for some of their latest blogs.

1. When you get lost, stuck and weary in the desert

Nightmare journeys home usually consist of heavy traffic, train cancellations, or flight delays. Not so for BMS surgeons Andrea and Mark Hotchkin. For these two brilliant mission workers, along with their children Ruth and Rebecca, the journey home to Bardaï in northern Chad involved getting lost in the Sahara desert, camping outside as lightning struck, and digging for hours to release their vehicle from sand. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, a dust storm then hit. Read the Hotchkins’ blog to find out how they got home!

Truck stuck in the mud in a desert
The Hotchkin family not only faced flooding in a desert, they also had the problem of sand becoming mud.

2. Cable bridges, landslides and a lot of walking – just to reach schools

Simon Hall holding a book as children surround him
Children’s books (and Simon Hall) are clearly popular at this remote school in Lamjung District

It’s fair to say that Simon Hall put in a lot of effort to reach the school in the photo above. That’s what’s needed in Lamjung District, Nepal, where BMS teacher trainer Simon serves. The school you can see was one of 15 that Simon and three of his colleagues visited in just one week. Reaching them involved crossing cable bridges over raging rivers, walking for hours up steps, and then travelling in jeeps up to altitude-sickness-inducing heights. The journey was understandably draining, but it was nothing compared to what was to come for Simon. Please read his blog today and pray with him using his prayer points.

3. Joining the fight to eradicate TB

Can you imagine being part of history? BMS mission workers James and Ruth Neve don’t have to. As part of the Indian Government’s plan to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) from the country by 2025, James and Ruth are going to be giving training to people who have been cured of the illness. Their training courses will teach vital skills to help some of the poorest and most marginalized people in India generate a better income and turn their lives around. Read James and Ruth’s blog post about the day they decided to help change the world.

Ruth Neve signing TB agreement
Ruth Neve signs a life-changing agreement

4. ‘I want women to understand that God created us beautiful’

Ashleigh Gibb witnesses pain every day. She serves with BMS in the red light district of Bangkok, where she enters bars and brothels to speak words of love and kindness to women who have been trafficked. She also works in a coffee shop, that gives women who have managed to escape the sex industry the chance to learn new skills. Ashleigh’s blogs are always very powerful and heartfelt, none more so than her latest post in which she writes about the importance of loving those around us, even those who are hard to love.

Ashleigh Gibb in Bangkok
BMS worker Ashleigh Gibb takes the light of Christ into the darkness of Bangkok’s sex industry.

5. ‘May you know that you are loved with a constant and eternal love’

The Ovendens sit together with new baby Eleanor
Please keep Joe, Reuben, Lois, Eleanor and Connie Ovenden in your prayers.

This may not be the frontline of mission work, but we’re confident you’ll want to read about it. There was much joy in the BMS family when news came through about the newest Ovenden. Eleanor Ada Joy was welcomed into the world on Tuesday 18 September, a third child for BMS workers in Uganda, Joe and Lois. We give thanks today for the blessing of new life, and for everything that Joe and Lois do for BMS. They’ve posted a prayer for Eleanor in their latest blog. After you’ve read it, please pray for Eleanor.

God is with our mission workers, as are you. It is your faithful prayer and giving that enables them to be on the frontline of mission, helping the sick in Chad, children in Nepal, women who have been trafficked in Thailand, and many others in need around the world. Our mission workers across the globe write blogs about their work and we often post them on our Facebook page, along with prayer requests and videos. Please check it out, and please do comment on the blogs with words of encouragement for our workers! We love to hear from you.

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‘Bring me a teacher’- the Syrian girl who demanded an education

‘Bring me a teacher’

The Syrian girl who demanded an education

BMS World Mission supporters like you are helping to get Syrian children back to school.

Bombing, fighting and the threat of being kidnapped forced Shakala* and her family from their home in Syria. When they arrived in Lebanon, Shakala spent two years out of school because her mum was too scared to let her leave the house. But now, she goes to class and has dreams of becoming a detective. This letter she wrote to her teacher shows how much her life has changed.

“My beloved teacher, despite the distance between us, your image is in my heart and in my mind and it will never leave.”

Shakala didn’t know if she would survive until nightfall most days when she and her family lived in Aleppo, Syria. Bombings, fighting and kidnappings were part of daily life. In all the chaos, Shakala herself was almost kidnapped. A man tried to carry her away, but her mother found her and took her back just in time. “It took her four years to get over that,” said Ashti*, Shakala’s mother. “She started having nightmares and crying at night saying, ‘They came for me.’”
Ashti had to lock her children in the house whenever she went out to buy food to stop people getting in and taking them. Eventually, they were forced to flee Syria and try and make a new life in Lebanon.

Shakala and her family live in a single room in Lebanon. Y
Shakala and her family live in a single room in Lebanon. Your support is giving her hope of a future different from her past.

“As hard as the days might be on us… you are healing my wounds.”

Shakala and her family left Aleppo in 2012, when she was just eight years old. They were supposed to find a better life. But life in Lebanon was almost as hard as the one they’d left. When Shakala’s mother found work, she wasn’t accepted by the people she worked with. “They started saying bad things about me and I used to come home and cry,” she says. Only the hope of finding a better life for her children could convince her to stay. But Shakala and her siblings weren’t finding their new life any easier than their mum. Haunted by Shakala’s attempted kidnapping, Ashti kept her children in the house without education for two years. But Shakala was determined to go to school.

“From you I’ve learnt that everything is possible.”

“Bring me a teacher!” Shakala asked her mother over and over again. Her mother didn’t know what to do. She knew how important it was that her children had an education and that school would bring some stability to their lives. But she was terrified of letting her children go. For two years, Shakala asked for school and her mother had to say no. But then some neighbours told her about a BMS-supported learning centre, held at a nearby church. This was the chance that Shakala had been dreaming about. She started school. And she thrived. She loved it so much that she asked for school during the holidays, and the church was able to set up camps for the children to go to. Her teachers didn’t just teach her about maths and English, but about commitment and working hard. Things were starting to look up for Shakala. But her future was still uncertain.

“You’ve taught me a lot about perseverance and sacrifice.”

From Shakala’s letter you might think that she was leaving school. The reality is that she knows it’s likely she will leave the area soon and have to say goodbye to her beloved teachers forever. Her letter shows how uncertain her life still is. Her father and extended family are still in Syria, but if Shakala were to go back there, she might be forced to abandon her education and marry her cousin. She is 14 years old. Her mum doesn’t want that to happen: “I want her to study and pursue her dreams,” she says.

“I will go with my head up to face the world.”

Shakala is determined to achieve her dreams. “She wants to continue studying and travel abroad and become a detective,” says Ashti. Shakala’s letter shows how much her school means to her. They’ve taught her to believe in herself. Because of Christians like you across the UK, this learning centre can employ more teachers to inspire children every day. Your support is bringing stability back into the life of a child who would otherwise have been forgotten. Your support has allowed her to have dreams and has given her the ability to make them a reality. But there are still children that need help.
“I want to thank you a lot for not forgetting us,” says Ashti. “I wish that you would continue and maybe make the projects bigger because there are some students that are not registered and there’s no place for them.” With your continued support the learning centre can be expanded. And more forgotten children can be found again.

A letter of thanks written from a student to her teacher
Shakala’s beautifully written thank you letter to her teacher. She wrote it in Arabic, but we’ve translated it into English for you below.

“You will always be my teacher, the one that I love, and I will never forget what you’ve done for me.”

Please pray

  1. For peace and justice in Syria.
  2. That all the Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, and across the world, receive education, and that they will be as passionate about learning as Shakala is.
  3. For the teachers at the learning centre in Lebanon. Pray that they know that the hard work they are doing has an amazing impact on the children they teach.
  4. That the learning centre will be able to expand and that more teachers will be trained so that they will be able to accept all the children that come to them and give them the education they deserve.
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You can see from Shakala’s letter how much her teacher means to her. With your continued prayer and support, more children will be able to write letters like Shakala’s. Because more children will be getting the education they deserve.

Download below the prayer points and a full English translation of Shakala’s letter, and use them as a daily reminder to pray.

*Names changed

Ditching the chalkboard for a computer lab

Ditching the chalkboard for a computer lab

how you’re helping Nepali students learn

They were lucky if they could even find one computer that worked at school. And then a BMS World Mission worker got involved and did something about it.

How did you learn to use a computer? You probably sat in front of one, right? The pupils who went back to school in the UK this week will be learning the same way. They’ll often have access to a laptop or personal device at home, too. It’s easy. Accessible. Normal.

That’s not how it is in Lamjung District in central Nepal, where BMS worker Simon Hall lives and works, training teachers in IT. In Lamjung, only a small minority of students have access to a computer at home. Everyone else has to learn at school, which is difficult as schools don’t have enough of them.

The old computers used by students in Lamjung District, Nepal
The old computers that pupils in a village school in Lamjung District tried to learn IT on. Unsurprisingly, it was hard work for them.

Students learn instead by taking down instructions put on the classroom chalkboard, or written in a textbook – instructions for how to start a computer and work through the very basics. They memorise the steps, and then eventually get to watch a teacher put them into action on an actual computer.

If there are other computers available for students to use, they often don’t work properly through wear and tear, or because of national power cuts. And so it’s back to learning from the textbook for these young people who need IT skills to get on in a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology.

This is why Simon’s work is so having such a big impact in Lamjung. In the past few months, he’s helped four schools through the process of securing the computers and then installing them, and it’s hoped more will follow.

Students at a school in Nepal type on computers during a lesson
Instead of learning IT from a textbook, these students can now learn on a computer. You’ve played your part in making this happen.

Over 100 computers have been installed in schools in Lamjung over the last two years through Simon’s work. The computers are new, publicly funded, and are in rooms that are battery-powered. Schools in Lamjung are being brought into the modern age, with Simon driving them on.

“If students know how to use IT, it just gives them a whole new ability, like reading or writing,” says Simon.

“You need to be able to do this effectively in this day and age, so it’s crucial these students have regular access to computers. And with computers that work consistently and look good too, teachers will be excited and feel encouraged to use the lab.”

The students are understandably loving the opportunity to spend more time in front of a computer, as opposed to simply reading about them. And the teachers are happy too.

BMS worker Simon Hall helps to assemble new computers at a school in Lamjung, Nepal.
BMS worker Simon Hall starts to assemble another computer at a school in Lamjung, seeing the project through from start to finish.

“Everyone is delighted with the result,” says Simon. “As one principal has said, if other schools could see this, they would all do it.”

And it’s hoped they will. We can’t wait to tell you all about it when they do. Great work, Simon.

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Their homes have been destroyed. Don’t let that happen to their education.

Their homes have been destroyed

Don’t let that happen to their education

Christians like you are giving hope to Syrian refugee children. But much more can still be done.

We can’t help them. The situation’s hopeless. Syria – it’s a basket case. The people who’ve left it are best not thought about: unfortunate, sure, but not our problem. Not like us. Them. Refugees.

Praise God, most Christians BMS World Mission knows don’t feel this way – nor do they think of refugees as ‘swarms’ or terrorists. But it’s easy to fall into the habit of obscuring human beings with that word: refugees. And it’s easy to think there’s nothing you can do.

But there is. You can help refugee children today.

Children with names and personalities and potential. We’re excited because we have the privilege of introducing you to two of them.

We asked their teachers (who you can help support) to introduce us. We asked their parents if they’d let you get a glimpse of two funny, charming, big-hearted boys from Syria called Gabi and Maher.

Gabi and Maher are half-brothers. Gabi is ten and Maher is 11. They come from Homs in Syria and today they live outside Beirut in Lebanon – a country they’ve been living in for seven years.

Two Syrian refugee boys sit in a classroom in Lebanon
So many Syrian children like Gabi and Maher have had their school years ripped apart. You can give them hope of a better life.

Our temptation when we meet children like Gabi and Maher is to treat them like statistics. Case studies, defined by the worst parts of their stories and the story of their country: the bombings and beheadings, the murdered family members. That’s not what we want. Gabi is not a victim, he’s hilarious. He loves English and learning new words, and while he likes playing football, he’s not nearly as good at it as Maher. And Maher is cheeky. And confident. And says he gets in trouble a little more than his brother – but their teacher tells me they’re both good boys.

Their family lives in a tent. That’s not life for all refugees, but it is for their family. They sleep on mattresses on the floor and when I ask them to describe the tent, Gabi looks impatient, like I’m a little slow: “It’s just a normal tent,” he says. And to him it is.

A Syrian refugee boy stands in front of a classroom whiteboard
We want to help more refugee children like Maher get back into the classroom, where they can learn, be inspired, and get their childhood back.

Children like Gabi and Maher have had their entire lives disrupted and uprooted by war. They’re living in a country that was once invaded by Syria. They’re in danger of missing years of school, of losing all hope for a future of employment and fulfilled potential. And that’s where you come in.

You can give right now to help us support the learning centre that is changing their lives. You can make sure other children get the chance they’re getting.

There are so many Syrian children who we haven’t yet been able to help. So many not yet blessed with what BMS supporters have given Gabi and Maher: a supportive, caring environment where they can learn and grow and hear about God’s love.

Here's what you can do

Give £15 – this can pay for a desk and chair for a child

Give £32 – this can pay for one child’s school transport for half a term

Give £113 – this can pay for a teacher for a week

By giving now you can make a real difference, stepping into the gap and helping children like Gabi and Maher, as well as children and adults around the world whose lives God is transforming through BMS work and UK Christian support. And you can help other human beings in need around the world, too.

Be a part of that miraculous story today. Reject the message of hopelessness and make a donation – every amount makes a difference – and show that no child, no human being, should be defined by a label.

Gabi and Maher’s names were changed by request.

You can change a child’s life by praying today

You can change a child’s life by praying today

Extreme poverty, war and discrimination are denying children their right to an education as you read this. Your generous gifts to BMS are helping us to confront this injustice. And today, we’re asking you to support our education work with prayer too. Please read, pray and share this article so we can help more children in the countries featured below access life-transforming education.

Lebanon

Syrian and Iraqi refugee children in Lebanon are getting an education, thanks to you. Children who have had their lives shattered by conflict are being given hope for the future. Not only are they being taught, they are being treated with the love and respect that every child deserves.

• Pray that these children are able to concentrate on what they’re being taught and feel safe in their environment. Pray that they would love learning.

• Pray for wisdom and energy for the teachers, as they work with children who have suffered unimaginable trauma.

Children sitting at desks in school raise their hands to answer a question
Refugee children are back in the classroom in Lebanon after fleeing the horror of conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Bangladesh

Preschools across rural, very poor parts of Bangladesh are being supported by you. Boys and girls are being taught about letters and numbers, with BMS worker Louise Proctor training local teachers to give great lessons using free or cheap resources. We’re also helping to educate the children of mission workers at a school in Dhaka.

• Pray that the preschools will be a springboard to enable children to keep attending school, and that the children will be encouraged by their parents.

• Pray that the teachers will be equipped to provide stimulating lessons for the children, and can access all the resources they need.

Children sit in lines in a shed in Bangladesh. They are all staring at a teacher who is taking the lesson.
Children in rural Bangladesh are captivated as BMS worker Louise Proctor helps with a school lesson.

Kosovo

Underprivileged children and adults from marginalised and minority people groups in Kosovo are being given the chance to learn English thanks to your support for BMS teachers. More than 50 per cent of young people in Kosovo are unemployed and 30 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

• Pray for BMS’ education work amongst marginalised people in Kosovo.

• Pray that young girls would have equal access to education, and that our workers would have the resources to help them.

• Pray for God to guide BMS workers Rose* and Robert* as they serve in education in Kosovo.

Albania

We’re working to help children from Roma and Egyptian communities access education. These children are shunned by Albanian society and live in abject poverty. We’re also helping further God’s mission in Albania by providing education for mission workers’ children at GDQ International Christian School.

• Pray for the children who want to learn, but are stopped from attending school regularly because of reasons out of their control. Pray for a sense of hope for them.

• Pray for the children who struggle in school because of extreme poverty.

• Pray for increased resources for the science department at GDQ in Tirana, and pray for renewed energy for BMS mission workers Chris and Debbie Carter, Mat and Suzanne Gregory, and Jill Morrow.

Two girls sit at a table, drawing pictures on pieces of paper
You can help children in Albania know what it feels like to have a happy, fulfilling education.

Peru

Children from poor families attend an after-school club at the BMS-founded El Puente Baptist Church in the city of Cusco. They’re helped with their homework, learn about God, and play games.

• Pray that more children attend the club, and see the value in an education.

• Pray that other members of the church get involved and use their blessings to help the children.

• Pray for Denise and Melany, who run the club. Pray they would feel encouraged by the difference they are making to young people’s lives.

Children sit on a stage in front of musical equipment. They are smiling and waving at the camera.
These children have been learning and having fun at a BMS-founded church in Peru.

Nepal

BMS is working to transform children’s lives by improving teaching in Nepali schools. Teacher training written by BMS worker Annie Brown is being rolled out across the country. We do this work in partnership with the Kathmandu International Study Centre (KISC), where mission workers’ children are taught, with BMS support.

• Pray for the Nepali teachers receiving training, sometimes for the first time. Pray that they would go on to transform the lives of the children in their classrooms.

• Pray that poverty won’t stop children in Nepal attending school. Pray they would have all they need to learn.

• Pray for the students preparing to sit exams at KISC, and for the KISC staff as they settle into the school’s new site.

Two girls sitting at desks look at a school book
Children in Nepal have been learning through new teaching methods, thanks to your support for school teachers in the country.

Guinea

Boys from deprived communities are learning formal rules and structure through a football club set up by BMS mission worker Ben*.

Summer classes have also been set up by Ben and his wife Isabelle* – who is a teacher – helping not only the boys, but other children, too.

• Pray that the boys would continue to be inspired to learn and develop, and that education and football would give them a great sense of self-worth.

• Pray for Ben, that he would have the resources, time and energy he needs to help the boys who come to him.

Players of the Blessed Boys Football Club in Guinea train and play a match.
Boys in Guinea are not only improving their football skills thanks to your support, they’re being helped with their schoolwork too.

China

We support teachers in China, helping students at a nursing college improve their English language skills.

• Pray the students would feel encouraged in their studies, and form strong friendships with their classmates.

• Pray for energy for our workers, in both their teaching and in their personal relationships.

India

Street children in Kolkata are learning reading, writing and arithmetic through the BMS-supported Street Servants team, led by our worker Ben Francis. Our team is working hard to set up a second school, which will give more children a chance to learn the skills they need to change their futures. We also support other education initiatives in India.

• Pray that children at the street school would have an incredible appetite for learning. Pray they would sense God’s presence in their lessons.

• Pray that the children’s parents would understand the importance of a good education, and would continue to allow their children to attend the school.

A girl walks towards other children standing under a bridge in India
This is where the street school takes place in Kolkata, underneath a bridge.

Mozambique

Young children from poor backgrounds are being given the best possible preparation for school through the PEPE preschool initiative started and supported by BMS. Children are being taught important lessons like colours, numbers and the alphabet in creative ways.

• Pray that the children enjoy their preschool lessons and want to keep learning.

• Pray for the resources to help more children from disadvantaged communities.

• Pray for BMS worker Liz Vilela, who has been training new PEPE teachers in child protection. Pray that Liz would find ways to overcome any obstacles she faces in her work, and that the teachers put into practice what they’ve learnt.

Children in Mozambique pray during a school lesson
Children in Mozambique are not only being given a preschool education, they are also learning about Jesus.

Education is critical in helping children who are poor, disadvantaged and persecuted walk towards a better life – a life that we know is possible.

Through your donations and prayers you are enabling us to help children access education. Please share this story right now to encourage others to pray.

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Are you a teacher? Come and work with us

Inspired by the education work we do? We’re looking for teachers to serve in countries such as Uganda, Afghanistan, Guinea and Albania.

You can be the person who helps change a young person’s life for the better. Take the first step by clicking here to find out more. We’d love to hear from you.

* Names changed for security reasons

Pray for Peru: our workers need your prayers today

Pray for Peru:

our workers need your prayers today

The land of Machu Picchu, rainforests and stunning mountains is loved by God and served by faithful Christians. All of BMS World Mission’s workers in the beautiful and diverse country of Peru will value your prayers this week.

Local Peruvian BMS workers America and Jorge are running social and recreational projects, as well as discipleship programmes for children and families in the town of Chincha.

• Pray that America and Jorge receive fresh energy when they are feeling tired.

• Pray they are encouraged in their work, and pray for the children they are serving. Pray they experience joy and form strong friendships.

Denise and Melany run an after-school club at the BMS-founded El Puente Baptist Church in Cusco. We rejoice that a church founded by BMS is now being led by Peruvian Christians and we give thanks for the privilege of partnering with them.

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in Denise and Melany’s lives and ministry. Pray they would feel guided in making decisions, and every day they would sense the joy that knowing Christ brings.

• Pray for Pastor Amilcar at the church. Pray for continued wisdom in his work, and that he would feel God’s strength in his meetings and conversations.

Children wave at an after-school club in Peru
Children at the after-school club at the El Puente Baptist Church.

Daniel and Regiane Clark are based in Lima, working at the Baptist Seminary. They also support children and adults in deprived areas, helping to organise medical check-ups with a team of volunteers that includes a doctor, nurse, dentist and a psychologist.

• Pray for Daniel’s teaching at the Seminary to be blessed and for Regiane to sense God’s presence in her administrative work and with student placements.

• Pray for the medical work they support. Pray that God would provide the resources needed to help people who are sick.

Pastor Luis is serving at the BMS-supported Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre, where Christian leaders from river communities in the Amazon region are taught theology and biblical literacy, as well as practical skills in caring for their land.

• Pray that Pastor Luis senses your encouragement today. Pray that he feels a fresh sense of conviction in his teaching, and that doors are opened for him to show the love of Christ.

• Pray that supported partner workers Judith and Pedro feel lifted up today, with fresh enthusiasm and energy, and discernment in their work.

• Pray for all the students who have attended the training programme. Pray they would lead their communities wisely, reflecting God’s love for them.

Pastor Luis Alvarado Dolly looks at a camera
Pastor Luis is strengthening pastors in rural Peruvian communities.

Baptist ministers Dave and Michele Mahon and their three children are based in the city of Iquitos, in northern Peru. They work with nine churches in their region and support the running of the Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre.

• Dave, Michele and their children Jonathan, Ruth and Phoebe, arrived in Iquitos last month. Pray that they settle in well.

• Pray that Dave and Michele find local people to come alongside them in their work, and that Dave builds strong relationships with pastors.

Show this video in your church to inspire prayer for the Mahon family

Laura-Lee Lovering is helping to develop the Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre. As an environmental scientist, she’s teaching community leaders sustainable ways to care for their land.

• Pray for Laura-Lee to find extra strength this week as pastors from river communities are trained at the centre. Please pray that more pastors attend the training, and that they arrive safely.

• Pray for the pastors training at the centre. Pray they would be inspired by what Laura and her colleagues teach them, and that they would encourage others to come forward and learn.

Life on the Amazon: a behind the scenes tour of Laura-Lee Lovering's workplace

Lori and Neil Brighton are BMS volunteers serving at the Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre. Lori is helping with the centre’s finances, and Neil is helping to redevelop the training course for pastors.

• Pray for their Spanish language development so they can become more effective in their roles.

• Pray the Holy Spirit would guide them in their work, and they would sense the support of people around the world praying for them.

Thank you so much for praying with our mission workers today, and for your continued support of them.

For daily prayer updates, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Sleeping on the pavements, studying on the streets

Sleeping on the pavements, studying on the streets:

helping children in India to thrive

Begging, selling alcohol and stealing – this is how street children in India survive and provide for their families. But thanks to BMS World Mission, a school on the street in Kolkata is providing these children with an education, teaching them life skills to help them succeed.

Tens of thousands of children live day and night on the streets of Kolkata. With no access to education or healthcare, begging or selling alcohol and drugs are often the only ways they can survive. Countless families live in absolute poverty, and it can often feel like there is no way out.

A girl walking on the side of a busy road next to the bridge where the street school takes place.
This is where the street school takes place, underneath a bridge.

But lasting change sometimes starts with something small. Underneath a bridge in the bustling city of Kolkata, next to a traffic-filled road, 50 children who call the streets their home are getting to go to school. Because BMS worker Ben Francis and his team have brought school to them. Calling themselves Street Servants, our team teaches the children reading, writing and arithmetic – important lessons from the government kindergarten syllabus. And once they’re ready, the team help get the children into a government school to earn essential certificates. They’re also learning about Jesus. Every day, the children sing songs about God. They learn to read through parables and Bible stories, and they pray.

These children, who have only ever known life on the streets, are gaining new opportunities to learn, and new skills that will set them up for life. And it’s all because of your support for BMS.

Nawab was begging outside a horse racing track when the BMS-supported Street Servants met him. After meeting with his parents, the team invited Nawab to come to the street school, along with his two sisters. He excelled. Thanks to the school, Nawab’s life has changed dramatically. Along with seven other children who were taught by BMS-supported teachers in Kolkata, he’s now in a government school. Sat in a busy classroom of children in school uniform, after a life without much structure, the adjustment has not been easy. But now, Nawab has the opportunity of a full education. A way off the streets.

All 50 children at the street school are learning the skills they need to get into government schools. As well as learning the right curriculum, they’re also being taught wider life skills. “We’re giving them the habit of discipline,” says BMS worker Ben Francis, who helps oversee the project in Kolkata. Street school is preparing these children to sit in a classroom, to listen, and to learn to change their own futures.

Nawab, a serious boy looking straight into the camera. Wearing a cream buttoned shirt.
This serious boy is Nawab. Thanks to your support, he's now in a government school along with seven other children from the street school.

And we aren’t just stopping with 50 children. We want more children like Nawab to receive a quality education, and our team is working hard to set up a second school. “We want to see more children get into government schools,” says Ben. “We want more communities changed, and more families leaving the streets.”

BMS worker Ben Francis smiling into the camera. A man dressed in a long white shaul.
BMS worker Ben Francis, who helps oversee the Street Servants project in Kolkata.

And it really is all about families. The Street Servants team go and meet parents, offering counselling and advice. For many, having their child in school means a loss of income, as they often beg to help support the families. “It’s about changing the mindset of the parents,” says Ben. “We tell them, ‘today you want 40 pence from your child. But if you let them study, some day they will bring back four thousand pounds.’” By getting the parents on board, the children can go to school and become more equipped to support their families in the future.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone in the UK,” says Ben. “You’re enabling underprivileged children to touch love, and helping us show Jesus’ love in the most tangible way that people will understand.”

It’s not just about supporting one child. It’s about changing generations.

Please pray for the street school, for Nawab, and his seven classmates as they continue to thrive in the government school, getting an education that any of us would want for our own children. And you can do something to help them – and people like them – right now. By clicking our donate button and giving, you will give help and hope to people who the rest of the world wants to forget. Do something small today to let them know they’re not forgotten. Click the big red button and give right now. You really can make a difference. As Ben Francis says, “it’s not just about supporting one child. It’s about changing generations.”

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Street Servants PowerPoint

The long game


The cursed boy, the better Muslim and THE LONG GAME

Young people are finding a sense of worth in Guinea through the beautiful game.

BMS World Mission worker Ben is a better Muslim, but not in the way Sir Mo Farah might be.

He’s also a great manager, but only partly in the way Sir Alex Ferguson is. Ben is a football manager in a mostly Muslim country in West Africa, and the club he’s started is called Blessed Boys FC. It’s a space where boys who’d otherwise be left behind can learn the lessons that the beautiful game can teach – lessons about goals and how to strike them – and learn that they are valuable to God.

The Blessed Boys Football Club in Guinea train and play.

Ben is a committed Christian (so committed, he’s moved from Angola to Guinea to serve with BMS here). And ‘better Muslim’ is not a reason to write to the editor. It’s just what the people call him in the little town where he and his wife (also a BMS worker) now live. It’s a compliment, particularly to a known Christian who never worships in the mosque. A recognition of the difference he’s making; taking deprived kids, angry young men and ‘cursed’ boys under his defending wing.

Boys like… let’s call him Joao. Joao was born cursed. His mother died while giving birth to him and all his life Joao was told it was his fault. Told that, from the moment of his first breath, the evil power that killed his mum was attached to him. And as he grew, the label stuck. Ditch school to kick a ball around the streets? Of course you would, cursed boy. Never make it to the top of the class? Not surprising, really. Cursed boys can’t amount to much. Get involved in silly, maybe illegal, things? Nobody expects better, least of all you. Cursed boys do not have a future. Why would boys like Joao think beyond tomorrow?

Individualism wins trophies, teamwork wins championships.

Then one day, a stranger came to Joao’s town. He was as old as Joao’s father might have been had he still been around. And he called Joao blessed. He started to teach Joao the long game. Not just the game of football, but the game of life. Ben brought a vision of a God who sees no child as cursed, no boy beyond redemption, and he spoke a language boys like Joao could understand: the poetry of corner and cross, the syntax of the team. And things began to change.

While other managers would beat their boys, berating them for failure and modelling violence to get results, Ben did not. That’s not how a Blessed Boy behaves, he’d say, and boys like Joao would listen. Rules and boundaries as clear as white lines. Discipline and consequence for fouls and straying offside – but never vicious, insulting, condemning – Joao would sit out games and come back determined to do better, be better. When parents weren’t able or available, Ben would advocate for boys at school. He set up summer classes with his wife – a passionate teacher – identifying academic weaknesses and tutoring his boys (and other kids, their sisters, too) so that athletes became achievers in their schoolwork. Football and education.

Boys of the Blessed Boys Football Club in Guinea play football.
These young players in Guinea are becoming better footballers (and people) with the help of BMS worker Ben.

Today they’re model students, many of Ben’s boys. The BBFC rules are clear: no cutting class to practise – school comes first and no Blessed Boy should be on the pitch outside of scheduled training times. They’re learning structure. Learning formal rules and tactics, the techniques that separate the game they love to watch on TV from the scuffling madness they’d all be playing on the street if Ben’s club wasn’t there. They’re learning self-control, self-worth and that nobody is cursed into their future. BBFC boys respect themselves and their team. “Individualism wins trophies, but teamwork wins championships,” says Ben. And 54 boys in his club are learning that is true.

He actually thought that he was done. That there was no hope for him in life. Now he’s doing well.

Blessed Boys Football Club in West Africa

“The sense of hopelessness here is vivid sometimes,” says Ben, “and one can either be repelled by it or try to do something.” Something is being done. If you support the work of BMS you are doing something beautiful here, through the beautiful game. Boys robbed of any sense of choice by poverty are choosing to be better. Boys told by broken homes, polygamy and economics that they might as well give up are looking to the future. They are learning: think about the long game.

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Boys like Joao. Joao is not one boy. Joao is many boys, and almost any boy in Blessed Boys Football Club. Ben talks about a boy like Joao, top of his class and captain of one of the BBFC teams: “He actually thought that he was done. That there was no hope for him in life. Now he’s doing well. We’re working on his skills and employability. I’m offering him career guidance. I’m trying to help him see that he has in himself all that it takes to become somebody.”

Joao is not one boy, but he is not nobody. He’s 54 strong, he’s getting better every day and he is somebody.

This article appears in the new issue of Engage, the BMS magazine. Subscribe today by hitting the button on the right to read more about how your gifts are transforming lives like Joao’s around the world.

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Big thinking for little minds

Big thinking for little minds:

All children in Nepal to benefit from BMS-supported teacher training

Thinking big. That’s how one BMS World Mission worker has achieved something incredible. Thanks to the teacher training programme Annie Brown has developed, every child in Nepal will have the chance of a better education and a brighter future.

God takes the little and multiples it. Faith the size of a mustard seed ends up moving mountains. Five loaves and two fish feed 5,000. One BMS teacher trainer’s passion for great education results in changes to the way schooling is approached across Nepal. It’s truly awesome.

In Nepal, teachers don’t necessarily have much formal training. To counter this and make sure it doesn’t harm children’s chances, teacher trainer Annie Brown has developed a programme that she’s been delivering in Nepal for four years. The aim is to help teachers steer away from the traditional rote learning method, and to get both students and teachers more engaged in critical and creative thinking. Her programme has been adopted by the Nepali government as part of their exciting initiative to promote child-centred learning.

When learning becomes interesting, the results are astounding. Students in schools that have received Annie’s training are now more engaged in what they’re being taught, and their hopes and dreams for their futures are reaching new heights. “These kids could be anything,” says Annie Brown.

Watch this video to hear from Annie and meet one of the teachers she has trained.

These kids could be anything.

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After observing Annie’s team in action in January 2017, the Nepal Government’s Ministry of Education was convinced. Annie was approached to roll out her training across the country’s entire education system, as part of the Nepali Government plans to improve it.

Starting in January 2018, the plan is for all teachers of students aged between five and 13 years old of all subjects in all government schools throughout Nepal to undergo training pioneered by Annie.

Nepal is made up of 75 regions. In these regions, there are 29,207 government schools. In those schools, there are 252,421 teachers who will have the chance to receive Annie’s training. That amounts to almost three and a half million children getting the opportunity for a better education. That’s impressive, however you look at it.

Hari has recently been voted top teacher in his district thanks to this training

One teacher who has already received the training is Hari, who Annie has been working with for the past two years. Hari has been teaching for 21 years in Lamjung District in central Nepal. And Annie’s teaching has changed the way he teaches – proof that you can always keep learning as a teacher. “After training I have more knowledge about how to motivate the students, how to actively participate them,” says Hari, who stars in the video above.

Having developed his skills to get children thinking and engaged in his classroom, Hari was recently named the top teacher out of 150 in his district. A huge achievement for Hari, and a testament to the value of the training you’re supporting. “Thanks to BMS for your support,” says Hari. “I’m also grateful to Annie, who’s the best instructor in my life.”

We’re very excited: the impact this training is having, and will continue to have, and the number of children that will be impacted is extraordinary. It’s all part of our mission to see more people on the margins access good-quality education. Thanks to your giving, children in Nepal now have so much more hope for their futures.

Find out more about Annie’s work and BMS-supported teacher training in Nepal. Read the latest issue of Engage, available to download here, and to read below. You can also subscribe to get a paper copy.

Inspired to give? Sign up to support BMS’ education work today.

Lebanon: learning to hope again

Lebanon:

learning to hope again

Fleeing ISIS and having to learn a new language is not stopping refugee children from moving forward thanks to an education project supported by BMS World Mission.

Missing one day of school isn’t too bad. It’s when those days turn into weeks, months and then years – that’s when it becomes life-destroying. Slowly but surely you are being left behind. Your chances of getting a decent job to lift you and your family out of poverty are receding. Your future is getting bleaker, day by day.

This is what life is like right now for thousands of refugee children in Lebanon who have fled war in Syria and Iraq. While some have managed to get a place in a public school, around 250,000 children have not. These children are often traumatised by the horrors of war they have experienced. With no schooling, their hopes of employment when they grow up are fading. BMS is responding to their dire situation by helping them move forward from the pain of their past and improve their lives.

We are giving these refugee children a place to learn and grow so they can dream once more of a better future. Your giving to BMS is making this happen through the Learning Support Project (LSP) in Beirut. BMS mission worker Louise Brown manages LSP and shares in this short video the story of one child who is working towards his amazing dream, thanks to the education he is now receiving.

At LSP, over 60 children aged six to 14 are learning numeracy, literacy, languages and life-skills. Many of those who attend have missed so much education that going to a formal school is no longer an option. LSP is their last opportunity, and they are seizing it enthusiastically. “There is a hunger and desire to learn,” says Louise.

There is a hunger and desire to learn

What is exciting is how, by being given this chance of an education, children are excelling. Rita* fled her village in Syria when ISIS invaded it and she started to attend LSP when she came to Beirut. She has now returned to Syria and her old school. When the school assessed her, she had gone up three grades in one year thanks to what she learnt at LSP.

When Sawsan* arrived at LSP, she was hugely traumatised by the war in Syria. She had forgotten everything she had learned at school, which gave her low self-esteem. Being at LSP had a huge impact on Sawsan. After a year, she could write Arabic poetry, boosting her confidence enormously.

Michael* got a place at an English-speaking school in Beirut when he arrived in Lebanon, but knew no English. Within 18 months of being at LSP, he was a fluent speaker. He is now thriving at his school.

Learning at LSP is helping these refugees emotionally too. “Coming to school in itself is incredibly healing for these children,” says Louise. “It gives them structure and it gives them routine.” The children love their teachers and the chance to connect with someone outside of their family. Being able to play at break times is a rare treat as when they are not at LSP they are often working or doing chores at home. “This is their opportunity to be a child,” says Louise.

Refugee children, many of whom have missed school for years, are keen for the opportunity to learn

Your support of BMS is helping us to give refugee children like Rita, Michael and Sawsan healing, purpose and skills. What school they’ve missed in the past isn’t affecting their futures. You are giving them hope once more.

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Find out more about BMS’ education work today.

Education in Mozambique: faith like mangoes

Education in Mozambique:

faith like mangos

Doing preschool education differently is changing attitudes and lives in Mozambique, thanks to your giving to BMS World Mission.

Joanna holds onto a mango plant in front of her class of preschool children in Mozambique. As the four-year-olds stare at the plant and she speaks, a link is being imprinted in their brains. A is for árvore. A is for tree.

A letter of the alphabet is not the only lesson the children will learn from the mango plant today. Joanna takes them outside and digs a hole in the ground. She places the plant inside and fills the hole in. She tells her class how it will grow into a mango tree and bear fruit, something they will see for themselves over the coming months and years. The mango tree has become a science illustration.

Using visual aids in teaching is unremarkable in the UK, but in some parts of Mozambique it is revolutionary. Children are used to rote-learning, absorbing facts from lectures from their teachers or copying them down from the blackboard, not from seeing real-life examples. It is brand new for the teachers too. Joanna would not have taught this way before she started working for PEPE, a preschool initiative started and supported by BMS.

In this short video, Liz explains her hope that BMS’ emphasis on caring for children and ensuring their safety, will not only impact the teachers and children at school but families in Mozambique too.

A mango tree is a great teaching illustration for preschool children in Mozambique

What BMS is doing through PEPE is giving young children the best possible preparation for school. They certainly need it. Half of all children in Mozambique do not progress beyond primary school, making their futures precarious. The initiative is currently being run by churches in 60 disadvantaged areas across the country, with more starting this year. Over 3,500 children from poor backgrounds are learning basic lessons like colours, numbers and the alphabet in creative, interactive ways, preparing them for a good start in school. They are also introduced to stories about Jesus, so are growing in their knowledge of him, too.

Children in a PEPE class

It is so much more than just teaching. BMS wants these children to feel they are loved and valued in a society which doesn’t always make them think that way.

“Children don’t really have a childhood here,” says BMS mission worker Liz Vilela, who plays a key role, working alongside the national co-ordinator for PEPE in Mozambique. “They grow up ready to do things around the house, to look after their brothers and sisters. They are just waiting to be adults.”

BMS wants to offer Mozambican children the educational opportunities that will help them in adult life, but we also want them to enjoy childhood – as children. Play is not universally valued as a way of learning in Mozambique, but we are trying to change that. At one of the preschools, we have been trialling times of free play twice a week, using toys. Liz has been helping the preschool develop this and they have seen an instant impact on the children. At first, the children were bemused that they could play with whatever they liked.

One boy who decided to do some colouring asked Liz: “What should I draw?”

“Anything you would like to,” Liz replied.

She soon noticed the freedom this gave the boy to be creative, something he was not used to. “It was great to see him really engaging with his drawings and excited to tell me what he was drawing,” she says.

Since the free play experiment began, the co-ordinator at the preschool has noticed that children are fighting less and behaving better. Minds are being opened to the value of play.

One of Liz’s passions is that the children feel protected and safe, again something which is not always the case. Tragically an 18-month child who attended Liz’s church recently drowned in a puddle when his parents weren’t around.

Liz is spearheading a child protection policy for our preschool ministries in Mozambique, ensuring that teachers receive training on topics like nutrition and hygiene so that children will eat more healthily and be less susceptible to illness. In impoverished and under-resourced areas, training like this is far from the norm. Liz recently organised first aid training which prompted some surprising questions. One teacher asked if giving a child a shoe to bite on would be helpful if they were having a seizure, something traditionally taught. The nurse leading the training corrected this misconception and told them what they should do. If they take her advice on board, lives could be saved in future.

Through your giving to BMS, you are enabling preschool education ministries like this to flourish. You are making it possible for more churches to start running PEPEs and transforming the lives of more disadvantaged young children. “With the help and support BMS gives, PEPE is growing in quality, as well as numbers,” says Liz. “Local people running it know that they have someone by their side helping them – they are not trying to do it on their own. BMS support is allowing this work to grow.”

With the help and support BMS gives, PEPE is growing in quality, as well as numbers

BMS is giving first aid training to preschool teachers in Mozambique.
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Like the mango tree, our prayer is that these young people will grow and bear fruit for themselves, their families and the country of Mozambique.