A life transformed

A life transformed:

Lídia’s story

Your support for BMS World Mission transforms lives every day. We wanted to share Lídia’s story with you, so you can see how important your giving really is.

Lídia wanted to help people. She dreamt of becoming a lawyer, to help the men and women she saw suffering around in her in Mozambique. But as she grew up her worldview changed. She saw deprivation and experienced her own struggles, raised by a single mum in a house that flooded every time it rained. She saw lawyers as liars. While the rich got richer, she seemed to have no opportunities and little hope. She gave up on her dream.

And on 4 May 2017, life as she knew it changed forever. That was the day Lídia’s mother was killed in a car accident. It could have meant the end of any hope for Lídia and her three sisters. Initially, it looked like it was. But for Lídia’s perseverance, it might have been.

Lídia lost all sense of direction in her life. Her mother was dead. The collision had been the fault of the other driver but Lídia’s family didn’t know that they could get compensation. They didn’t understand the law that was there to protect them from situations just like this.

A woman in front of a white wall.
Lídia dreamt of being a lawyer from a young age.

Stories like Lídia’s have been heard hundreds of times by the BMS-supported Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC). This is not just a case of lack of education: the law is written in Portuguese, a language that half of the population don’t even speak.

Which is why AMAC’s work to provide legal education, advice and representation is so vital. And why, thanks to your support, BMS stands alongside AMAC with funding, expertise and justice mission workers. “While injustice continues to rob people of the opportunity for dignity, hope and a future, we must continue to take the imperative of Proverbs 31: 8-9 seriously,” says Steve Sanderson, Deputy Director for Mission. Speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves is an imperative that AMAC take seriously too. So when Lídia met Fernando, a member of AMAC at church, she soon realised that she had found someone who could really help her.

A man sits at a table outside
AMAC holds events at churches to provide legal education to local people who need it most.

Lídia explained her situation to Fernando, and he told her about AMAC. About how they work to help people like her get the access to justice they need. He told her that if she went to AMAC, they would be able to advise her. With AMAC’s help, Lídia’s family won the case against the driver and were given 180,000 meticais (£2,300) in compensation. They put the money towards a house, one that didn’t flood when it rained. Where their family could start rebuilding their lives.

AMAC showed Lídia that her opinion of lawyers was wrong. The lawyers she met at AMAC were people of compassion, people who wanted to serve those who needed them most. And Lídia knew that this was where God had been leading her. When she heard of a vacancy for an Admin Assistant at AMAC, she applied and got the job. And working for an organisation dedicated to giving a voice to the voiceless was enough to reawaken the dream she’d had as a girl. Lídia is now in her second year of studying Law with Criminal Investigation at university. Ever since she was young, she had wanted to help people. By working with AMAC, she’s been given a chance to do just that.

Have you been inspired to support BMS' justice ministry?

If you want to help more people like Lídia, sign up to be a BMS Justice Partner today, and support our mission workers fighting injustice across the world.

A woman sits behind a desk.
Your support for BMS has given Lídia the opportunity to help people just like her.

Lídia knows that AMAC is so much more than just its amazing and inspiring staff and lawyers. AMAC is also you. Your support through BMS provides funding, legal experience and capacity building to AMAC. Your prayers for, and giving to, our justice ministries around the world make stories like Lídia’s possible. You and your Mozambican brothers and sisters gave Lídia a lawyer when her family needed one. Gave her an opportunity to serve. Thank you for your support. Thank you for a life transformed.

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Cyclone Idai update

Thank you for your continued prayers for the city of Beira after it was struck by Cyclone Idai. We have been touch with our personnel and partners in the area and can confirm that Lídia is safe.

Find more updates on the continued relief efforts here.

Words by Laura Durrant.

From the frontline: stories to inspire you

From the frontline:

stories to inspire you

From giving critical medical aid at night, to helping a rural community grow crops, our mission workers have had a very busy, challenging and blessed start to the year. We thought it was time to share some of their news with you.

The surgeons in Chad who came to the rescue after dark

Andrea and Mark Hotchkin in traditional Chadian dress in front of a sand coloured wall
Andrea and Mark Hotchkin dedicate every day to helping others in Chad, no matter where they are in the country.

We’ll paint a picture for you. One day you’re in a fancy hotel in Chad’s capital city, N’Djamena attending a Ministry of Health meeting. Then just a few days later you’re hours from the nearest town, it’s late and you’ve spent the day driving from village to village assessing healthcare provision. Word reaches you that two local people are seriously unwell and no-one has made any effort to get help.
This is what happened recently in the lives of BMS World Mission surgeons, Andrea and Mark Hotchkin. If you didn’t already know how amazing they are, you certainly will when you read their latest blog.

Giving hope for a better future

A woman dressed in black stands behind a table covered in neatly arranged clothing
You’ll probably never meet Shama, but thanks to your support for BMS you’ve helped her and her family.

Consider this: you have five children, your husband is unable to find work and one of your children has tuberculosis. You have to spend every day not knowing how long you have to make the small amount of income you do have last. This is the life that Shama has known in Delhi. But thanks to your support for BMS workers James and Ruth Neve, Shama and others have been given hope of a new life-changing income. To find out how, read the Neves’ latest blog by hitting the button below.

A night of praying with women in pain

Evening street scene in Bangkok with neon lights
The light of Christ is being received in Bangkok’s red-light district, helped by BMS worker Ashleigh Gibb.

In the red-light district of Bangkok, women are learning they are children of God and that he loves them. BMS worker Ashleigh Gibb writes in her latest blog about a special event at a hotel where women who work in some of Bangkok’s bars gathered for a meal and prayer. Please read Ashleigh’s blog, and please continue to pray for her and the people she meets in one of the world’s darkest places.

‘The seeds we received are a gift from God’

Carlos Tique stands in front of a house and some green foliage
By supporting BMS worker Carlos Jone, you’re helping people in Chassimba, Mozambique not only fight hunger, but also earn their own money.

There’s a rural village in Mozambique called Chassimba, where your faithful support for BMS work is transforming lives. Men and women are not only being given seeds to grow crops, they’re learning how to take care of them better. And with increased production comes an income. BMS worker Carlos Jone visited Chassimba recently, and shares in his latest prayer letter the beautiful response he received from villagers.

News in brief from around the world

  • In Guinea, BMS worker Ben*, along with a professional football coach, visited football training sessions to strengthen links with non-Christians. Ben has also started to meet with a prison group as he continues to show God’s love among the marginalised.
  • In France, the BMS Action Team has been helping at a refugee centre for women, supporting youth work, forging friendships and developing their language skills. Check out all their news on their blogs page.
  • In Peru, BMS worker Laura-Lee Lovering has been kept busy through attending the Peruvian Baptist Assembly (her seventh!), catching up with BMS short-term volunteer Becky Richards, and meeting Action Teamers.
  • In Mozambique, BMS worker Sergio Vilela has put in a lot of miles (around 3,000 in two weeks) meeting people through our partnership with the Mozambican Baptist Convention. Meanwhile, fellow BMS worker, and Sergio’s wife, Liz Vilela has been doing great work with child protection training, which she touches on in her latest prayer letter. Please check it out and pray for the Vilelas!
Want your church to support life-changing mission work?

Your church can get behind our mission work by becoming a Church Partner. It’s ever so easy to join and gives your church the chance to focus on a region or ministry, or on specific people.

We’d love to talk to you, so please don’t hesitate to contact Jo in the Church Partners team with any questions. Call her today on 01235 517600 or email her at churchrelations@bmsworldmission.org

If your church isn’t in Church Partners, talk to your minister today. Get involved, be inspired, express your heart for mission!

These stories are just a snapshot of what our mission workers and partners have been up to. In countries like Uganda, Kosovo, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ukraine, Albania, Lebanon and India, your support is being felt through training, nourishment, heating, education and much more. We thank you today for all that you do for BMS, for your giving and prayer, and your encouragement. Thanks to you, God is meeting the needs of people like you and me around the world. We praise God today for your support and give thanks for our incredible mission workers.

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*Names changed for security reasons.

Fighting domestic abuse in Mozambique

Fighting domestic abuse in Mozambique

You are helping bring access to justice in one of the poorest nations in the world, by supporting BMS World Mission and giving poor people the empowerment of knowledge.

You can’t report a crime if you don’t know you’re a victim. And that’s often the case for people in Mozambique. In a country with a tumultuous past, it’s not unusual for many people not to understand the law. Not to know your rights. But BMS workers and partners in Mozambique are changing that.

BMS lawyer Mark Barrell is working with the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC). “The aim of AMAC is to provide access to justice to the most poor and vulnerable people,” says Mark. And in a country with only around 2,000 lawyers in a population of 30 million, AMAC’s work couldn’t be more necessary. The lawyers from AMAC work hard to provide advice, education and sometimes legal representation to those who need it.

A group of Mozambican lawyers.
The staff at the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers are committed to bringing justice to people who need it most.

“We support many different people in different circumstances,” says Mark. “But often the people we help will be women, whose status in Mozambican society can be very low.” AMAC regularly works with women who have been left by their husbands or partners and who don’t have the means to support their children. Women whose husbands have passed away and whose families are trying to take their homes. Women who are regularly subjected to domestic abuse. Women like Isabel*.

Isabel was abused by her husband. But she didn’t understand what domestic abuse was, or that it is illegal. Fortunately, AMAC was there to help.

AMAC regularly partners with local churches to hold education sessions where local people can learn about issues ranging from domestic abuse and inheritance to employment law. Isabel attended a session on domestic violence and was taught about what is defined as abuse, and why it’s wrong. Isabel spoke to a lawyer on the AMAC team, who quickly realised that she was a victim of domestic abuse. She was taken to the police station that same day to report the crime.

“Often it can be difficult to get the police to take any action,” says Mark. “But on this particular occasion the person they saw launched an investigation very quickly, and it was soon referred to the local court.”

Just a few months later, Isabel’s husband was brought before a judge. The court placed a restriction on him, and he was told that he could face imprisonment if Isabel reported any further abuse.

With the help of the AMAC lawyers, many vulnerable people have been helped out of difficult situations.

There are so many more people just like Isabel in Mozambique who need AMAC’s support. Please pray for this vital work, so that more people can live without fear. Pray for:

1. Mark and Susanna Barrell, as they continue serving with BMS in Mozambique.

2. The work of AMAC, that it will continue to bring support to the most vulnerable people in Mozambique, and the wonderful Mozambican Christians who are partnering with BMS to make a difference.

3. Victims of abuse like Isabel in Mozambique and across the world, that they might know hope, justice and fullness of life.

4. For Mozambique as a country, that its people will be able to learn more about correct legal practices and learn their rights.

*Name changed

If AMAC hadn’t been there, there’s no telling how long Isabel would have continued to suffer. But now Isabel can live without fear, and also in the encouragement of knowing that AMAC will keep helping other people like her. And that they are determined to keep bringing access to justice to those who need it.

Please pray that AMAC is able to carry out their vision, and bring help to the people who need it.

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You can help end modern slavery in the UK

You can help end modern slavery in the UK

Thousands of people are enslaved in our country. By learning to spot the signs, you can help to set them free.

You’ve probably met someone trapped in slavery. They might have washed your car, paved your driveway, or painted your nails. You might have passed them begging on the street, or avoided their gaze as you drove by them late at night. They couldn’t tell you they were being exploited and you would never have thought to ask. But they were there, and so were you.

The National Crime Agency previously estimated that there were 13,000 people being kept in modern slavery in the UK. It now says that number is the tip of the iceberg. Modern slavery and human trafficking are so widespread, ordinary people like you and I could unknowingly be crossing paths with victims every day.

Modern slavery is endemic in the UK. Those words should be shocking. Horrifying even. And they’re true. In our cities, towns and villages, vulnerable people are being exploited for the financial gain of others. They’re being forced to live in inhumane conditions and work extreme hours for little or no pay. They’re too afraid to speak to the police. And the rest of us don’t even know what to look for.

We sat down with former BMS World Mission worker Dan Pratt, who is tackling modern slavery in the UK head-on:

There’s so much we can do as churches and community centres

Christians should hate slavery – Jesus declared his mandate “to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and… to set the oppressed free” in Luke 4: 18, and he calls us to do the same. By supporting BMS, you’re already helping in the fight against modern day slavery in the UK and overseas. And the good news is, you can do even more.

Richard* is 56. He’s been homeless for 40 years. He lives on the streets of Southend and a few years ago he was picked up by a travelling family who offered him work. “I was walking down the street and a 4×4 pulled up and they said, ‘do you want a bit of work?’ So I went with them,” Richard says.

That’s how easy it is for someone to inadvertently walk into slavery. People are desperate. They’ll say yes to a job.

Thankfully, Richard’s exploitation only lasted for a few weeks, but other homeless men in Southend have spent years doing forced labour. “They were given accommodation, and spent 16 or 18 hours tarmacking people’s driveways,” says Rev Dan Pratt, minister at 57 West, a church and community centre in Southend. “Often if they weren’t paid then they would want to leave, but through physical abuse, mental abuse, or even threats to their families, they didn’t feel able to.

“Some of the people we’ve met worked for those families for 12, 15 or even 20 years.”

Dan, a former BMS mission worker, has come alongside many people who have escaped slavery in Southend. His passion to set the prisoners free developed when he was working with BMS in South Africa. Now, we’re helping to support his work in the UK. In partnership with the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the Eastern Baptist Association, BMS is helping to fund Dan as he heads up Together Free, a network aiming to raise awareness of modern slavery and to help churches across the country fight it. That means, as a BMS supporter, you’re helping to fight slavery in the UK. And in order to fight it more effectively, all of us need to understand what modern slavery is.

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We read reports of children carrying hard drugs, and of pop-up brothels – where trafficked women are made to work with little or no pay. People have been kept in slavery at car washes, construction sites, and in people’s homes. It’s happening everywhere.

Since attending a workshop run by Dan and Together Free, Baptist minister Emma Hunnable has been spurred to act against modern slavery. She’s started speaking with her local council and police officers to find ways the church and community can work together.

People who are being kept in slavery have a fundamental right to life in fullness

“If it’s happening in Southend, then it must be happening everywhere,” says Emma. “It’s happening right
on our doorsteps. And as churches, we need to know. We need to be contacting our local councillors and MPs and asking ‘what is going to be the policy on this? What are we going to do about it?’”

Uncovering modern slavery is like trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle. No-one has all the information. But vulnerable people who are being exploited need to be helped and, while they are unlikely to talk to the police, they might speak to you. The traffickers and slave masters are smart, that’s why they can enslave so many people, and so we need to be smart too.

“There’s so much we can do as churches and community centres,” says Dan. “We’re often working with food banks, with homeless shelters, with crèches – we’re at the grassroots level in our community. We are the eyes and the ears, and we have the possibility of breaking the disconnection that lets modern slavery thrive.”

It’s a huge challenge. And it’s one that we, as Christians called to care for the least and the lost, need to seize. In the resource below you’ll find helpful advice for how to spot the signs of modern slavery and what to do if you suspect someone is being exploited. Your church doesn’t need to start a new initiative or raise loads of money to fight this – you’re already in the places where the people most at risk will be. We just need to be more aware. To be smart. To see.

“People who are being kept in slavery have a fundamental right to life in fullness, and this is what BMS is all about – going to the darkest places, to the hardest places, to the least evangelised, to the people who need to know God’s love the most,” says Dan.

We can break the disconnection that lets modern slavery thrive

That is what we’re about – everywhere we work. That’s why we’re working with people like Dan to raise awareness of modern slavery in the UK. And that’s why we’re asking you to help us. The Church is an army ready to be mobilised to fight slavery. We’re made up of doctors and rubbish collectors, teachers and food bank volunteers. If we all learn to spot the signs of slavery, together we can proclaim freedom for the prisoners.

*Names changed

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 around the world.

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Annet couldn’t get a visa to enter Britain – please help her

Our mission worker couldn’t get a visa to enter Britain – please help her today

Annet Ttendo Miller should be in the UK right now, telling people about the brilliant work God is doing in Mozambique through BMS World Mission. She’s not here because her visa application was turned down, which is why we need you and your entire church to pray for her.

It was meant to be so special. BMS lawyer Annet would finally meet her father-in-law, and he would get to hold his granddaughter for the first time. All that Annet needed was a visa to enter Britain.

She didn’t want to move here, or stay a long time, she just wanted to come with her British husband – BMS worker Damien – and their daughter, Patience. She wanted to visit in-laws, her friends and colleagues at BMS, and to tell people about God’s work in Mozambique. And then she’d go back home and continue fighting for the oppressed; for women who have been abused, for the vulnerable without a voice.

A man in a multicoloured shirt stands next to a woman in a blouse, holding a baby
Annet and Damien Miller were all set to visit Britain with their daughter, Patience, when they were told Annet’s visa application had been turned down.

But the Millers’ visit hasn’t happened as Annet’s visa application was turned down. A new application will be submitted, so today we’re asking you to pray for Annet, Damien, and Patience, because we believe in a God that listens.

• Pray that God will make a way for the Millers to visit the UK. Pray that Annet and Patience will get to meet Damien’s father, and that churches will hear about the vital legal work being done in Mozambique.

• Pray that Annet and Damien would have a strong sense of God’s presence during this stressful time. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to be with them at work and at home.

• Pray thanks for what God is doing through Annet and Damien at the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC). Please pray for more people to hear about the association, and that they ask for help.

The time when Annet was pregnant and told to leave Britain

Annet moved from her native Uganda to Mozambique in 2012 to lead the launch of the BMS-supported legal ministry, AMAC. She married Damien in 2015 and they had hoped for Patience to have been born in Britain.

When they arrived in June 2016 for a visit, Annet was pregnant and had a five-year visitor visa to the UK. She was allowed into the country, but only after being detained for hours, and having had her visa cancelled because it was suspected she would misuse NHS funds.

Allowed to stay in UK for just a few weeks, Annet and Damien had to fly to Uganda, seeking the care every expectant mother deserves. Patience Michelle Miller arrived early in Kampala, premature, but healthy, a blessing from God during a difficult time.

A woman with a grey jacket and black top stands in a garden smiling and with her hands crossed
Annet Ttendo Miller is working to help the oppressed in Mozambique. Please join us in praying for her today.

Hear more about the life-transforming work Annet and Damien are involved in

You may have already watched the video above. What we were all anticipating was for more stories about AMAC’s work to be shared by Annet and Damien in the UK.

“It is a huge disappointment for them, and us, that their visit has been postponed,” says BMS Regional Leader Mark Greenwood.
“They are doing priceless work in Mozambique. Our prayer is that you will hear them tell you all about it in the UK, in your church.”

God called Annet and Damien to Mozambique because he has a heart for justice. They stand alongside person after person who is alone and needs support. Now it’s our turn to support them with prayer.

Please share this article with your friends. We want the Millers to feel lifted up in prayer from churches across the world, not just for their visa and family situation, but for God to use their lives for his kingdom.

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Justice in Africa: God’s heart for the poor

Justice in Africa:

God's heart for the poor

Mob justice. Corruption. Exorbitant court fees. These are just some of the problems that people in Mozambique and Uganda face when trying to access justice. But thanks to you, BMS World Mission is doing something about it.

Christian lawyers in Africa are standing up for the poor and marginalised. They’re helping people like Sarah in Uganda, a widow who fell into legal trouble after her husband died. Whether it’s through legal representation, mediation or legal education, BMS-supported lawyers are helping the oppressed find justice.

Watch the video above to find out how your support is helping Christian lawyers in Mozambique and Uganda stand up for those who need it.

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10 reasons why you should serve with BMS

10 reasons why you should serve with BMS

Choosing to serve with BMS World Mission could be the most incredible, life-changing step you ever take, and it might just be around the corner. If you’re wondering if God can use you overseas, here are ten reasons why you should push that door open right now and find out more.

1. You'll help transform lives around the world in the name of Jesus

A woman uses a sewing machine at skills centre in Uganda.
When you serve with BMS, you’ll witness the incredible joy that a transformed life brings.

When you serve with BMS, you get the chance to show people what Christ’s love feels like, and looks like, and it will be one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever do.

From accountants and doctors to development specialists, our workers are helping bring life in all its fullness to some of the world’s least evangelised and most marginalised people – and you can join them. You can confront injustice. Teach children robbed of an education. Alleviate poverty. Free women from trafficking. Introduce people to Jesus. This is what we do at BMS, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

2. You won't be going alone

People stand and worship at the Baptist Assembly in 2017
During your challenges overseas, remember that Christians back home are praying for you.

BMS has been supported by Baptist churches across the UK for hundreds of years, and we still are today.

Christians you may never meet will pray for you every day, lifting you up to God, because when you serve with BMS, you’re part of a big, beautiful family.

The training is second to none and is of vital importance for preparing you for long-term overseas service

3. You don't have to be rich

Money is not everything. But it’s not nothing, either. Being able to take care of your family and think about your future are not things you need to sacrifice to serve with BMS.

That’s why we cover housing costs, living expenses and even pension contributions for our workers.

4. You’ll get to work in some amazing places

Afghanistan is beautiful. Seriously, seriously beautiful. Just take a look at the photo below, at those magnificent colours, and remind yourself how stunning God’s creation is.

An aerial view of mountains in Afghanistan

Well, you could be in Afghanistan, making a very real difference to people’s lives.

“Hearing first-hand how the work you have been involved in has helped change lives is both humbling and rewarding,” says BMS development worker in Afghanistan, Tim*. “You also experience amazing hospitality, and share in the joy and the heartache that your local friends, colleagues and neighbours are going through.”

And if you don’t find yourself in Afghanistan, you could be in Chad, where BMS is making a huge impact on the health of local people, and where the sunset over the River Chari is stunning:

The sun sets over the River Chari in Chad.

Or, you might be in Guinea, working on projects to empower women and children, and you’ll get to see scenery like this:

A tree in Guinea

Mission isn’t tourism. But it is an opportunity to see parts of God’s creation most of us never encounter. We should also mention that your annual travel costs to and from the UK are covered, you receive a generous leave allowance, and when you return home we will help you travel round UK churches telling people about what God has done in and through you.

5. You’ll join an amazing, global team

Members of the BMS-supported legal team in Mozambique stand in front of their office entrance
The BMS-supported legal team in Mozambique speaks up for the poor and needy, and is made up of BMS workers from the UK, Uganda and Mozambique.

This is one of the very best parts of serving overseas with BMS. The people you work alongside are some of the most passionate, wonderful Christians you could ever hope to meet. They are our fellow workers and partners overseas. They’re the World Church. They’re our brothers and sisters, and you will learn so much from them.

Want to find out more?

Just click here to get in touch and find out more about serving overseas with BMS.

6. You'll be well prepared

Language studies. Living in community. Biblical and mission training. We will help you with it all, in the field and at our mission training and hospitality centre. You’ll learn about God, you’ll learn about yourself, you’ll be discipled for service in another culture. Tempted yet? Let pharmacist Claire Bedford tell you more.

“The training is second to none and is of vital importance for preparing you for long-term overseas service,” says Claire, who is serving at a BMS-supported hospital in Chad. “Many months of UK training gives time to adjust to the fact that you’re going to be leaving the UK for quite a while, as well as learning how to live in community.”

Unconvinced? Let our very own Mission Bros address your concerns

7. You'll make history

Albania was a closed communist state until 1991. Nepal, a Hindu kingdom hostile to the gospel. When they opened to mission, BMS was there. And you’ll be serving in countries where we have faith that God has more exciting plans in store.

8. We take security and your welfare very seriously

We have someone on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready to answer your call in an emergency.

We have protocols for evacuation and kidnapping should either situation ever arise, and measures to protect your identity in sensitive countries.

Mission can be dangerous, but we’re risk-aware, not risk averse.

You’re looked after so well, with all aspects of your life cared for

9. Worried about your children? We care about them too

We pay for your children’s education overseas, help them learn the local language, and take care of any medical needs they have, just as we take care of yours.

And some of the happiest kids we know grew up with mission families, learning first-hand what it means to serve the least of these. Take Graeme in the video (above), he grew up as a mission kid – and just look how much good work he is doing now!

10. We've always got your back

You’ll always have someone to turn to at BMS. We pride ourselves on our pastoral and professional support, no matter where our workers are. And we want you to thrive.

“BMS is great to work for,” says Sophie*, who is helping to run the communications of a BMS partner organisation in Tunisia.
“You’re looked after so well, with all aspects of your life cared for, not just the job you signed up to do.”

Click here If you're praying for people to serve with BMS
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Do you feel God could be calling you?

We are urgently looking for people to serve in Afghanistan, Chad and Guinea. We also have other exciting mission vacancies all over the world. If you would like to find out more, email opportunities@bmsworldmission.org or call 01235 517651 and speak to Tom, our Mission Personnel Organiser.

Don’t put off the new adventure God has waiting for you. If you feel God is calling you, and if you have the skills we’re asking for, get in touch today!

* Names changed

Justice League

Christian Lawyers are speaking up for the poor and oppressed in Mozambique.

In a small church, with an orange sand floor and iron-sheeted walls, the attention of 25 people is focused unwaveringly on a tall woman in her mid-fifties. An experienced Mozambican lawyer, speaking to them in their own language about their rights. One minute everyone is roaring with laughter, the next they’re silent. Lidia commands respect. She’s teaching them about gender based violence. About what Scripture says. What the law says. Giving them biblical keys to unlock answers. Is it okay to beat your partner? No. Is it okay to force a teenager to marry? No. People are answering. Nodding. Understanding. Some of them are visibly moved.

After the session, which lasts all morning, nine people come forward to ask Lidia questions. That’s Saturday, and on Tuesday morning two people arrive at the Christian lawyers’ office in Maputo to get advice about the family issues and domestic violence they’re experiencing. They’ve discovered that help exists.

The BMS-supported legal team in Beira.

This is what the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC) is all about. Teaching people the law. Speaking up for the poor and needy. Defending the abused and oppressed. Christian lawyers coming together, in one of the least developed countries in the world, to share God’s heart for justice and see the vulnerable realise their rights.

Through your gifts, prayers and support, BMS World Mission has been walking with AMAC every step of the way. The association was born, in part, out of our legal work in Uganda with the Ugandan Christian Lawyers’ Fraternity; and over the last six years, we’ve seen AMAC grow from a dream into an established organisation educating churches, schools and communities on their rights and providing legal aid for some of the country’s most marginalised people. A small number of Christian lawyers – from Mozambique, Uganda and the UK – are demonstrating that the law is good, that much of it comes from the Bible, and that it’s for everyone. They’re gathering members and momentum. And they’re just getting started.

People with no money believe that there is no justice in the world

The challenges facing many Mozambicans are huge and varied, so the BMS-supported justice league has a lot of work to do.

For the poor and vulnerable here, the law is literally a foreign language. It is written in Portuguese and almost 50 per cent of the population, like many in the church Lidia was visiting, don’t speak it fluently. An added problem is that the laws, although good, are relatively new (with Mozambique only obtaining independence in 1975, and then suffering through civil war from 1977 to 1992) so they have not had long to become established.

Widespread poverty and a lack of opportunity mean that countless people are suffering injustices without even knowing there are laws in place to protect them. The justice system is simply inaccessible.

“People with no money believe that there is no justice in the world,” says Gervasio, a BMS-supported lawyer in Beira. Our team is working to show them that’s not true.

Legal education saved Aida* from a loveless, forced marriage. She was 16 when her parents demanded she marry a 40-year-old man or face a severe beating. Her sister, a preschool teacher, attended an AMAC legal education session and had one of her friends ask about child marriage. AMAC explained that it is illegal in Mozambique for anyone under the age of 18 to get married, and it is also illegal to beat a child.

Equipped with this knowledge, a group from the training went with Aida’s sister to her parents’ house and confronted them, explaining what they had learnt about the law. The parents confessed they hadn’t known it was wrong.

Luis Generoso, Executive Director of AMAC.

They were sorry and relented. That was a year ago. Now, Aida is living with her sister and is part of a church. She is free from fear of violence and forced marriage, and is thankful to the Christians who helped her.

Education is helping people trapped in abusive marriages too, by changing the minds of their pastors. In Mozambique, pastors are often called upon to mediate cases between church members, but many believe that when it comes to marriage, reunion is always the answer – even in the case of extreme domestic violence. This is changing. One pastor who was strongly against ever condoning separation when he first met with AMAC, stood up at the end of the legal education in his church and told his congregation: ‘if your partner hits you once, come to me. If it happens again, go to the police and I will support you.’

Lawyer Kathy Russell.

“A lot of change can be made through education,” says Kathy, a lawyer who has just finished four years of service with BMS in Mozambique.

“We’re empowering the Church to take justice seriously and to act.”

Not all injustice is obvious. Working in churches and communities, the BMS-supported legal teams based in Beira and Maputo regularly meet people who are unregistered citizens or who believe they are married when legally they are not. These legal misunderstanding can have big ramifications. By explaining simply how to register a baby (or in many cases an adult) or get married legally, AMAC is helping people learn when they are outside of the law and what to do about it.

On the outskirts of Beira, eight couples recently got married. Through AMAC training, these men and women discovered they weren’t legally husbands and wives. Now they have the protection marriage can bring – the women will no longer lose their homes and security as well as their partners if their husbands die. It’s all very biblical. Disputes over land. Widows and orphans.

All our legal education is focused on empowering the most vulnerable in society. AMAC runs sessions with rural, untrained pastors and with city street boys; with teenagers in schools and with preschool teachers working with disadvantaged children. Our lawyers have even started working with a deaf church, where the congregation struggles to understand or be understood by the community and is very vulnerable to abuse and injustice.

As well as teaching people about their rights, BMS-supported legal workers are advocating for the voiceless. We’re representing imprisoned street children to see that they get a fair trial and don’t remain in custody indefinitely. We’re helping single mothers to receive the child maintenance they’re entitled to. And we’re supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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We’re empowering the Church to take justice seriously and to act

Tiago* sits on a pew in First Baptist Church in Beira and quietly tells a story. A grown man raped his 12-year-old niece. It took nearly four years to get the culprit convicted. The man got two years for his crime – impersonating a police officer to scare a child into following him to an isolated place, sexually assaulting her and then running away. He is appealing his sentence.

The injustice is brutal. While Tiago’s niece still suffers, her attacker has never been imprisoned and despite being convicted, he will remain free until his appeal is heard and denied. “Here in Mozambique, rape is a crime. Yet the accused person was never arrested,” says Tiago. “It’s very difficult for [my niece] to forget what happened. It’s never left her mind.”

The AMAC team has been walking alongside Tiago’s niece since he brought the case to them. No-one is happy with the outcome, but Tiago has hope that some justice will be done. “Without doubt, AMAC should continue,” he says.

“They assist people without charge. They walk with the client step by step. They gave us good treatment, provided psychological assistance and accompanied us in court.”

Annet, our legal team leader in Mozambique, has been helping to support Tiago’s niece. She has more reason than most to empathise, having herself survived sexual violence as a child – an experience that motivated her to become a lawyer in the first place. “Justice is at the heart of God. It’s a mission from God himself,” she says. “If Mozambican lawyers can understand why it’s important for them as Christians to do justice for the poor, they will transform many lives.”

And Mozambican lawyers are doing just that.

But they need your support. There aren’t many lawyers here, let alone Christian lawyers willing to give up the lucrative career they’ve studied hard for to pursue justice for the vulnerable.

Annet, BMS legal team leader in Mozambique.

And yet those who have captured the vision are holding fast to AMAC’s mandate: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1: 17).

Your gifts, your prayers and your partnership are vital. “Without BMS support, maybe we can’t survive,” says Luis Generoso, AMAC’s Executive Director and one of its founding members.

And it’s so important that AMAC survives, and thrives.

Antonio, Kathy, Leonardo and Lidia, four members of the AMAC team in Maputo, changing lives through the law.

“If you don’t have justice, you feel like you are not valuable,” says Marie Josee, a BMS-supported lawyer in Maputo. “We exist and manage to do this work because of BMS. I want you to know that the money and the efforts you are giving are not in vain.”

In a small church, with an orange sand floor and iron-sheeted walls, the attention of 25 people is focused unwaveringly on a tall woman in her mid-fifties. She’s telling them about their rights. Telling them that the Bible and the law say that they have value. She’s handing them a set of keys. Giving them a way to unlock some of the doors they’ve been trapped behind.

She’s opening their minds. And the knowledge she is giving them is setting captives free.

 

*Names changed

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 around the world.

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Learn to do right; seek justice.

Real people are suffering injustices and abuse every day in Mozambique. We want to stop this, and you really can help us.

Invest in our justice mission in Africa. Commit to regularly praying for and giving to the work you have just read about by becoming a BMS 24:7 Justice Partner. For more information click here or phone 01235 517628.

Meet the inspiring Mozambican Christians you’re supporting

This is BMS:

Meet the inspiring Mozambican Christians you're supporting

The work of BMS World Mission has many different faces. This is what we look like in Beira, Mozambique.

Jeremias, Felizarda and Gervasio are transforming lives. They’re bringing justice to abused women, teaching teenage girls their rights, and working with a deaf community to educate them on laws they’ve never been able to hear.

And they’re doing it because you give to and pray for BMS.

We’d love you to meet the local Christians you’ve been supporting in Beira. Get to know them by watching this video:

Please share this video with your church to introduce them to some of the inspiring people they support when they give to BMS.

Jeremias, Felizarda and Gervasio are so thankful for your support. It’s enabling them to use their skills, training and passion to share God’s heart for justice with some of the most vulnerable people in their city and beyond.

And we are so pleased to be able to support them. They are three of the 194 dedicated local workers we partner with in Mozambique and around the world. Amazing Christians using their gifts for God’s mission in their home countries, supported by you.

Click Here if you’re praying for Jeremias, Felizarda and Gervasio
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Felizarda teaches school children, communities and churches about their rights. You support her work.
Felizarda teaches school children, communities and churches about their rights. You support her work.

“I want to thank all of you who are supporting me with this work with [the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers] here,” says Felizarda. “You are blessing us to bless other people.

“So thank you for everything you have done and will do in the future.”

Please pray for Felizarda, Jeremias and Gervasio, asking God to strengthen and equip them as they continue working to bring justice to people in Mozambique. Pray too for the rest of the team at the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers, which includes Annet Ttendo Miller, Damien Miller, Jane Edwards and Kathy Russell.

Become a 24:7 Justice Partner

Our God is a God of justice.

You can play an important role in our justice work in Mozambique when you sign up to become a 24:7 Justice Partner. Support Jeremias, Felizarda, Gervasio and the rest of our legal team by committing to regular prayer and giving today.

Click here to partner with our justice ministries.

The BMS team working for justice in Beira, Mozambique.
The BMS team working for justice in Beira, Mozambique.

5 ways you’re fighting violence against women

Me too.

5 ways you're fighting violence against women

Trafficking, sexual abuse and domestic violence: these are just a few of the huge issues women face around the world. BMS World Mission is working to change this, and your support is vital. Here are five ways you are empowering women and making an impact in the battle against gender based violence.

Everybody’s talking about it. Gender based violence (GBV). And it isn’t just Hollywood that’s affected. For thousands of vulnerable women and girls living in different parts of the world, it’s a common occurrence and a daily part of life. It’s always wrong, wherever it takes place. BMS, along with local partners, is taking a stand, and your support is making it possible. Here are five ways you are fighting GBV and empowering thousands of women around the globe.

1. Keeping girls in school

Children at a Ugandan school we're working with.
Children at a Ugandan school we're working with.

Education should be a fundamental right for everyone. However, in Uganda acts of violence towards young girls stop many from receiving the education they so desperately deserve. It’s not uncommon for girls to be abused by teachers while their friends are playing outside, and this abuse often leads to pregnancies that force many to leave school. BMS is working in Uganda to help primary schools devise and implement child protection policies. By putting these safeguarding measures in place, we hope that more girls will be able to enjoy learning without fear of abuse.

2. Freeing women from prostitution

Khao San road in Bangkok, one of the red light districts in the city.
Khao San road in Bangkok, one of the red light districts in the city.

Prostitution is degrading to women, but unfortunately for many it’s the only way to earn a living. BMS works with local partners in India and Thailand to free and empower women who have been trafficked into the sex industry and give them employment. They are trained as bakers and jewellery makers, or taught to create bags and t-shirts, with profits put towards a salary, health insurance and a retirement plan. These skills set women up for a future without sexual exploitation. A future of freedom. We also support Freeset in India doing similar work.

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Become a 24:7 Justice Partner

By partnering with BMS and our justice ministries, you can help more women around the world access justice and learn their rights. Commit to regular prayer and giving. Click here to become a 24:7 Justice Partner today.

3. Helping women to know their rights

Corruption and a lack of understanding of the legal system prevent many women from knowing the rights they have as human beings. In Mozambique and Uganda, widows are some of the most vulnerable people in society, frequently having their homes stolen by their husbands’ relatives and completely unaware of their rights. BMS-supported lawyers in these countries are educating women on their property rights and rights as citizens. They also educate local churches on the legal issues that members face as well as helping to advocate for clients in domestic abuse cases. By teaching women to understand the law, you are empowering them to take a stand against injustice.

Annet Ttendo Miller is one these lawyers. She decided to become a lawyer after being raped at the age of 13. Annet is pioneering our justice work in Mozambique and previously worked with BMS as a Christian lawyer in Uganda. Watch the video above to hear her inspiring story.

4. Saving mother's lives

A prop used in a BMS safe birthing training coursein Afghanistan
A prop used in a BMS safe birthing course in Afghanistan

Maternal health is a woman’s issue, according to men in Afghanistan. With childbirth being considered a dirty business and men being the key decision makers in society, women often end up giving birth in the filthiest room in the house. This, combined with traditional practices such as pushing on the stomach to make the baby arrive more quickly and smearing animal dung on the umbilical chord after it’s cut mean that Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for new mothers and their babies. BMS is working to train men and women in safe birthing practices and challenge the culture around pregnancy. This training is empowering pregnant women and can save the lives of mothers and babies who might otherwise die in childbirth.

5. Making churches safer places

Domestic violence poster used for an event in an Indian Church
A domestic violence poster used for an event in an Indian Church

GBV is often a topic that is brushed under the rug in the Church. We are involved in raising awareness of the injustice (and its presence in the Church) in churches in the UK, India and Mozambique.

In India, BMS has educated and engaged churches with the reality of domestic and sexual abuse, training pastors and giving them the opportunity to discuss the topic which, for many, has never been talked about before. This has resulted in a changing culture within these churches, challenging the beliefs around abuse and standing up against it.

Being quiet on the topic of GBV is often the case for the UK Church too. Here at home, BMS has been engaging churches through our Dignity initiative – encouraging Christians in the UK to continue to fight against abuse and to seek to make our churches a safer place for everyone. To get your church involved, click here.

Thank you for helping us empower women and stand against injustice around the world.

Justice: I wept when my rapist’s family came for my son

Justice:

I wept when my rapist's family came for my son

What doesn’t kill you can make you stronger and define your life. This is the story of what led Annet Ttendo Miller into becoming one of the key pioneers of BMS’ justice work in Uganda and Mozambique.

Annet Ttendo Miller never thought she would turn 14. Being raped at a young age left her uncertain if she would live or die. Now, working with BMS World Mission in Mozambique, she helps others get the justice she was denied.

“You could have an abortion and go back to school,” my devoutly Catholic mother said. When I was in secondary school, a stranger had raped me. No one knew, until my mother realised I was pregnant. Even today, I’m still surprised she gave me a choice. In my Ugandan culture, our parents tell us what to do. There are no equal levels where you would sit and discuss these things.

I asked for a night to think and decide. If my father found out, I’d be married off and my education would be over. He would not believe that I’d been raped. Then he would throw out my mother, thinking she had arranged the pregnancy to lower my bride price.

I could not sleep that night. I knew it didn’t matter if I kept the baby or not, there was no way I would survive this.

“Let me die honourably,” I told my mother the next morning. If I died while she helped me to have an abortion, she would be blamed and carry a stigma for the rest of her life. But, if I died giving birth, no one would blame her. So, we made a plan.

I knew it didn’t matter if I kept the baby or not, there was no way I would survive this.

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My mother and I confronted the family of my attacker. Of course, he denied responsibility. My mother threatened to take him to court. “You’ve destroyed my daughter’s education,” she said, angry and bitter, “you’ve destroyed her life.” Eventually, they made an agreement and talked out the details in front of me. They decided that I would carry the pregnancy to term and after the child was born and weaned, my attacker’s family would support it and take care of my education.

Then, my mother found a friend in the next village who would hide me. “If God helps us and you live through the birth, then maybe you could go back to school,” she said. I was 13 years old and so small. I never, ever thought I would survive.

My mother packed my things and took me to this village. That’s where I had the baby.

I raised him for a year and a half while I went to school. I woke up early, fed him, changed his nappy, went to school from eight o’clock until noon and then I did the housework and my homework. This was my life until they came for him. But I’d grown so attached to my son. When they took him, I cried my heart out. I pleaded with them to care for him like he was their own.

When he turned four, my son was enrolled at my mother’s primary school, also part of the arrangement. She let him call me “aunt” to protect me. “Bond with him or he will never know his maternal side,” she told me. When he turned 14, I told him the truth, the entire story. I told him that his name is Ebo and regardless of the circumstances, he is my son and I love him. We are friends now and despite everything, I thank God for my son.

Annet raised her son for 18 months before giving him up to her attacker's family

Watch Annet sharing about her experience in a video originally recorded for our Dignity initiative to counter gender based violence.

It was really for vengeance that I studied law.

To me, seeing my attacker get away with rape didn’t feel like justice. I told myself that if I studied, I’d become a lawyer. I actually wanted to be a judge, so I could get retribution against any sex offenders who came before me. I would be able to sentence them, even give harsh punishments, like death.

Another reason I wanted to study law was because I kept asking God to please lift up my head and make me somebody. I’d been shunned by the village for being an unwed mother. Even while I studied, people would tell me, “You can’t go around saying ‘oh this happened to me’. No one can give you a platform to tell your story.” So, I always kept my head down.

My prayers were answered. I did become a lawyer but I realised that God wanted me to use what I’d learned to help people, not punish them.

Today, I am still humbled to know that God heard this prayer.
I’ve only been telling my story for the past three years. Before, I was ashamed of what happened. Now, it feels like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

A woman wearing a black cloak with a white shirt smiles for a photo
Annet Ttendo Miller is working to help the oppressed in Mozambique. Please join us in praying for her today.

God lift my head, make me somebody

God told me to work here

I almost didn’t stay with the Ugandan Christian Lawyers Fraternity (UCLF). I’d been given a two-year position with the EU that offered five times the salary, a car, a television and a house. I had a week to decide and I thought I might as well try UCLF.

The office was very small. I kept asking myself, “Is this where I want to work?” On my first day, a lady walked in and I started filling in her form. I asked, “Who referred you here?”

“The Holy Spirit,” she said. After I’d written the words, I realised what they were. “Hold on, tell me the truth, who sent you here?” She looked at me and said, “I was told the person I’m supposed to see is going to leave.” That made me pause. I listened to what she had to say. During the meeting, we talked more and prayed together. “You have studied law,” she said, “but God wants you to understand biblical justice, that’s what he’s teaching you. He wants you to go to different nations.”

The next day, after a colleague met with her they told me, “Annet, she is mad!” And that’s when I realised what God was telling me. I stopped looking for other positions. I’d found his calling for my life and UCLF is where he wanted me to be.

Annet is a Ugandan lawyer and BMS mission worker who began her work with the Ugandan Christian Lawyers’ Fraternity in 2006. In 2012, she moved to Mozambique to lead the launch of a BMS-supported legal ministry there (Association of Christian Mozambican Lawyers). She is helping women with similar experiences to her and others who urgently need to know their rights and someone to enable them to stand up for them.

Annet Ttendo was talking to Vickey Casey