Don’t let families freeze in Ukraine this winter

They've lost so much:

Don't let families freeze in Ukraine

People like you are shivering with cold right now in Ukraine. Even though they’re inside. You can help keep them warm.

Fighting for survival in Ukraine continues long after you’ve escaped the shells that exploded close to your home. The temperature falls to as low as minus 25 degrees in winter, and to survive you must find warmth. But for many people, that warmth is as distant as the peace they once lived in, a peace that must seem even more difficult to hope for after Russia captured three Ukrainian naval vessels earlier this week.

Children, the elderly, family after family have all had the foundations of their lives shattered by the war between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia separatists. We’ve sat with them and heard their stories. And they’re heartbreaking.

An elderly woman holding a stick stands in front of firewood
You can help the elderly keep warm in Ukraine this Christmas.

Alexander and his family witnessed their town being destroyed by shelling and constant shooting. They had no choice but to flee, though even after they did, they were not out of danger. Winter was coming, but the one source of heat in the empty house they found to live in – a stove – was damaged and Alexander couldn’t afford to restore it. Months of watching his children suffer from the bitter cold, in danger of all the illnesses that come from it, lay ahead.

Were it not for the local Christians who came to their aid, Alexander, his wife Maria and their five children would have suffered more than the human body can withstand. The Christians who helped them are being supported by BMS World Mission. They’re being supported by you. That support provided a ceramic heater for Alexander and his family, providing enough heat to keep one room warm. One place to escape the cold. One place for a family to live.

“We wouldn’t be living here if not for the Christians helping us,” says Alexander. “Thank you for your help. What you’ve done cannot be described by words.”

There are countless people like Alexander and his family fighting for survival this Christmas. You can help them by giving today.

A Ukrainian family in a damaged house, that they escaped to
Alexander, Maria and their five children, have survived Ukrainian winters with your support.
A small gift will make a huge difference

£6 can supply enough wood and coal to keep a family warm for a week

£14 can protect a child from cold by clothing them in thermal underwear

£25 can provide a family with a ceramic heater

There are local Christians on the ground in Ukraine desperate to deliver the supplies that families need to keep warm this winter. They need your help. Will you make a donation today?

“No one expected that this conflict and this war would last so long,” says Igor Bandura, Senior Vice President of the Ukrainian Baptist Union. “We are praying that through our presence, God would be present there among people.”

As you prepare for Christmas, please do think about giving the gift of warmth to a Ukrainian family like Alexander’s. To the families that Igor meets. To the people who are shivering in a room without a heater because war has destroyed their livelihoods and their peace.

Please give today. Please be the difference.

Two boys shovel coal into a bag
Children in Ukraine are shivering today. You can help them.

Kang-San Tan on: mission and being led by the Spirit

Kang-San Tan on:

new frontiers of mission, taking risks and being led by the Spirit

He’s shaken a lot of hands, remembered a lot of names, and travelled a lot of miles since he left Malaysia to take up the position of BMS World Mission General Director. Now that Kang-San Tan has been in the role for a year, we thought it was a good time for a chat.

Let’s look back to when you first arrived at BMS. What was it like for you?

I think it was a bit overwhelming because of the diverse aspects of BMS work, not only with our colleagues in Didcot, but also with our mission personnel and UK churches, and just trying to get my head around the long history of BMS. My colleagues really helped me to get to know each aspect of the work, and I’ve really appreciated that.

What was it about BMS that attracted you to the role of General Director?

I was converted in a small Baptist church in Malaysia, and in a way we, as in many other Asian and African and Latin American countries, trace our roots back to the Baptist missionary movement. It is quite moving for me in the sense that I have worked with various aspects of Asian mission as a theological educator. So, when I was invited to come and serve with BMS, it was almost like a full cycle back to my Baptist roots.

To be seeing God raising a non-western mission movement, and yet to serve with a historic mission society, reflects the sovereignty of God and also reflects the changing Christian mission. It points to an exciting future, not just for me personally, but for BMS and the wider Church.

A video to play in your church: Kang-San Tan’s special message to you

We’d really love it if you watched the video above and shared it with your church. To download it, all you need to do is hit the button below.

How has God supported you over the past year?

Psalms 127: 1 says that unless the Lord builds the house, we all labour in vain. There is a danger that we rely, as leaders, on our own wisdom and strength, but really it is good to be reminded it is God’s work, done in God’s way and in God’s timing. And for me personally, I have been reminded that we need to rely on the Spirit of God, God’s wisdom and God’s resources.

BMS workers receive a welcome marked with beautiful garlands at an event in India
As you can see, Kang-San Tan received a tremendous welcome when he visited India earlier this year.

Aside from visiting UK churches, where else have you been in the past year?

Well, in February I went to Kolkata, and in May I visited Lebanon to see a little bit of our work in the Middle East, and then in August I visited France. I’m still looking forward to visiting other BMS workers in Africa and in Latin America.

What piece of BMS work has most impressed you?

In Kolkata, I was introduced to BMS-supported work that seeks to plant indigenous discipleship making movements among a major group of Hindu communities. A lot of this work has grown and existed, not only because of the passion of our Indian churches, but also a sense of partnership from our UK churches.

We were on a boat in Kolkata and went out into a remote Hindu community that has no church. I met some young believers, many of whom have been Christians for just a year or two, and they’re leading fifty small groups. Many of them have this passion, a sense that they have received the gospel, not because of their own merit or good work, and they are passionate to serve Christ.

Gabi and Maher, two Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, in a classroom
Kang-San Tan visited Lebanon where Syrian refugee children like Gabi and Maher are getting their education back with your support.

Can you tell us a little more about the experience of visiting Lebanon?

We heard stories of people opening their homes to Syrian Muslims who were strangers, who were former oppressors and enemies. There were many practical expressions of Christian love demonstrated by Lebanese Christians. Many of them I visited are much poorer, and have far less, than many of us who live in western societies. I think it is a challenge for me, and for us Christians in the West, as we think about groups of migrants that are flooding into Europe who are our neighbours.

Let’s look ahead to what’s to come for BMS. What would you like to say to our supporters?

Over the past year, we’ve been able to look at our five-year strategy and bring together some reflections and lessons. But in the coming 24 months, BMS will be engaging in a process of consultation with our staff, Trustees, BMS Council, mission personnel, our partners globally, and closely with our supporting churches.

Watch this space as we begin to unfold a process of consultation so that in our vision for the future, new frontiers and priorities, we don’t neglect our historic work and our historic partners. We hope that you are excited to be involved with BMS in this re-envisioning of the future together, for the growth of God’s mission, both locally and globally.

BMS General Director Kang-San Tan holds a cup, along with his colleague, Steph, at a BMS cafe
One of the many ways Kang-San Tan has been meeting people is through BMS Café events.

How excited are you about meeting BMS supporters and our supporting churches?

I think I’ve spoken at over 20 churches so far, and each year I’m looking forward to visiting another 20 more. I think BMS is really a mission that belongs to our Baptist communities and we can’t do the work that we do without that close partnership of our Baptist communities.

And so, I want to say thank you, not only to churches, but to the many of you who are prayer supporters. Please know that your partnership in the gospel is so vital for us to continue our work, to impact the nations, to see one million live transformed. Please know that our prayers and your support are an integral part of our work for mission.

And finally, what can people pray for?

Please pray that we do not run ahead of the Holy Spirit, nor do we lag behind, not taking risks or pioneering new work. So, I ask you to pray for the BMS leadership, to pray for a good sense of teamwork and community work, but also not forgetting the cutting edge of mission.

BMS is a ministry of over 200 years and yet we are excited that we are still pioneering into new frontiers of mission today. So, join us in this exciting venture of being a missional community, which is not just for BMS but for every church and for every disciple of Jesus Christ.

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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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The sick baby, the pharmacist and the hospital that needs you

The sick baby, the pharmacist

and the hospital that needs you

Claire Bedford is an extraordinary pharmacist, but she’s not superhuman. She could do with some extra help at work, as could her colleagues. This is where you come in.

Claire didn’t have to go into work. It was her day off and it had been a hard week, just as every week is at Guinebor II Hospital near Chad’s capital. But BMS World Mission worker Claire wanted to go in as a courtesy to the facial surgeon holding a clinic. And God clearly wanted her there too.

One of the first patients to arrive was three-month-old Ache*. Her parents had travelled for a day on terrible roads to attend the clinic at the BMS-supported hospital, and they were desperate for help.

Precious little Ache had a huge growth covering her left eye, preventing it from opening, and it was spreading down her cheek. The surgeon knew immediately what was needed to treat the growth – a mass of small blood vessels known as a haemangioma – only the hospital didn’t have the drug in stock.

Ache’s father hurried into nearby N’Djamena to find a supply, but when he returned to Guinebor II there was a problem: the tablets were too large for a baby.

A three-month-old baby with a growth over her left eye is held by one of her parents.
Ache was unable to see out of her left eye when she was brought to Guinebor II.

Everyone turned to Claire for help. She calculated what the baby needed according to her weight, and used a pill cutter she’d sourced in the UK to chop the tablets to the required dose. Ache and her parents went home with the medication and instructions on what to do with it, and Claire stayed on to help more people.

We tell you this story because it demonstrates how your support allows Claire to show God’s love to patients at Guinebor II. But you should also know that only a few days before, Claire was not in the pharmacy, or on a ward supporting sick people, she was deciding what to do with a pit latrine blocked with bottles and nappies. She was the one making the decision because there was no-one else to do so.

And that’s not the only way pharmacist Claire is called to help with the running of the hospital. She recently had to negotiate the cost of tiling the hospital’s new emergency room, while at other times she’s taken on a HR role.

Her colleagues pitch in too, taking on administration work to ensure the hospital can continue taking in patients like Ache, and those from the Muslim-majority community that surrounds it.

Claire Bedford, a pharmacist in Chad, holds two babies while on a hospital ward
Join BMS pharmacist Claire Bedford at Guinebor II Hospital in Chad and you'll be part of beautiful and inspiring work.

But here’s the thing – you can help make things better.

We have a host of important positions available right now at Guinebor II Hospital. We just need the right people to apply.
“The patients aren’t being neglected,” says Claire. “But we could do so much more if the job vacancies were filled.”

Could you help Claire? Check out these vacancies at Guinebor II

General Manager: this critical role needs to be filled so that Claire and her colleagues can have the weight of administration, finance, and building and project management work taken off their shoulders. The right candidate needs to have managed a small to medium sized organisation. If that’s you, get in touch.

Surgeons and doctors: Guinebor II currently sees 14,000 outpatients a year, has 2,000 inpatients, carries out 1,300 operations, and delivers 1,800 babies. The team urgently needs more surgeons and doctors to cope with the demand for healthcare both now, and into the future. If you think you can help, find out more today.

Nurses: we’re looking for nurses who are well qualified and can train others. Find out more now.

Ophthalmologist: you’ve probably got access to an ophthalmologist at your local hospital, but there isn’t one at Guinebor II. If you’re an ophthalmologist and feeling called to serve God overseas, we want to hear from you.

Family GP: the doctor who takes on this role will be providing life-changing care for those most in need. If that’s what you’re passionate about, we want to hear from you.

Obstetrics/gynaecology doctor: there is no reliable gynaecology service for women in the community that Guinebor II serves. We want to change that by filling this position.

Midwives and community health specialists: Chad has one of the worst maternal and child mortality rates in the world. Help change this by working at the maternal health centre we opened in 2015. Find out more about this role today.

Endoscopist: waiting for an endoscopy can be frustrating, but at least most of us can get one. In Chad, you need to go private, which means you need money. If you’re an endoscopist, we really want to hear from you.

Paediatrician: if you’re a paediatrician, then please consider the infants, children and young people you could help at Guinebor II. Find out what to do next here.

You may not be qualified for any of the roles we’ve told you about today, but it’s quite possible you know someone who is. Tell them to find out more. Tell them about Claire. And tell them about Ache – for she was brought back to the hospital recently and Claire got to see her again. She is getting better, and we hope she’ll have full vision soon!

“Her parents were overjoyed,” says Claire. “You could just tell in their faces how happy they were. The father couldn’t stop saying ‘shukran’ (thank you). With my limited Arabic I couldn’t really converse with them, apart from replying ‘afwan’ (you’re welcome).

“It was a humbling experience to know that such a simple treatment was making such a huge difference to this young girl’s life.”

A baby with a growth over her left eye just about manages to see out of it
Ache can begin to see out of her eye thanks to the help of BMS pharmacist Claire Bedford.

Claire and the team at Guinebor II are desperate for more people to come and join them. If you have any of the skills we are looking for, we would to love to hear from you! You could make a huge difference to patients like baby Ache.

* Name changed to protect identity

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.

If you’re praying for the Millers Click here
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Release from addiction, safe pregnancy and our very latest prayer requests

Release from addiction, safe pregnancy and our very latest prayer requests

We believe God intervenes when we pray. Would you please pray for these people today?

A pregnant mission worker recovering from a terrifying health scare. Villagers enslaved by addiction. And a family facing the demands of moving countries. These are real people who need an outpouring of love and prayer, and they need it from all of us today.

Lois and her unborn baby

A few weeks ago, BMS World Mission worker Lois Ovenden, based in Gulu, Uganda, was rushed to hospital, suffering extreme pain under her ribs. The fears for her health were magnified by the fact that she was 19 weeks pregnant at the time. The doctors couldn’t work out what was wrong and transferred Lois to Kampala, 200 miles away from her two young children.

After days of worry and pain, Lois was told she had pericarditis (inflammation of the fluid lining around the heart). The condition is treatable and shouldn’t affect her baby, and Lois is back home now with her husband, Joe, and their children, Connie and Reuben. Praise God! Please pray for Lois and the family.

A woman and a man, and a boy and a girl, smile at the camera, with the girl holding a cat
Pray today for Joe and Lois Ovenden, and their children Connie and Reuben.

• Pray for Lois’ swift return to full health and for the health of her unborn baby. Pray there would be no complications from the medical scare.

• Pray that God provides an assistant to support Lois in her speech therapy work with children and that the right person comes forward today.

• Give thanks for the Ovendens’ BMS colleagues, Linda and Tim Darby , who looked after Connie and Reuben while Joe was at Lois’ bedside. Pray for a blessing over them, and their children, Joshua, Annabelle and Elsa.

A village shackled by addiction

Alcohol addiction is ruining lives in the village of Wang Daeng, in northern Thailand, where BMS church planters Helen and Wit Boondeekhun work in what is largely a Thai Buddhist community. But alcohol isn’t the only problem. A highly addictive drug called yaba – a toxic mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine that leads to aggressiveness and paranoia – also has its destructive grip on the village.

• Pray that Got* breaks free from alcoholism, and that his wife, Suree*, returns to the Bible study where Wit has been supporting her.

• Pray for wisdom for Helen and Wit as they try to start a group for people who want to liberate themselves from addiction. Pray that people would be open to receiving help and to hearing about the gospel.

A village road is covered with tarmac. There are shops on one side, and trees on the other.
Stand alongside BMS church planters Helen and Wit Boondeekhun as they tell people about Jesus in the village of Wang Daeng, in northern Thailand.

Politicians, women in Nepal, and many of you

• Pray for continued peace in Mozambique following the recent death of opposition leader, Afonso Dhlakama. Pray that his successor and politicians across Mozambique will promote unity.

• Pray for the women who are being helped at a gynaecology outreach service in Jajarkot, west Nepal, this week. Pray their surgeries would go as planned, and there would be no complications afterwards. Give thanks for all the personnel at the International Nepal Fellowship (INF) who are helping them, and for BMS worker Chris Drew who is working with INF.

• Pray for all those attending the Baptist Assembly in Peterborough this Saturday (12 May). Pray for safe journeys for us all, and for a day of joy and community.

• Pray that Ann*, a worker at a BMS-supported home for children with disabilities in Thailand, opens her heart today to Jesus. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work a transformation in her life.

Our brothers and sisters in France

Christians in a nation as secular as France can sometimes feel like they’re on their own. We can change this.

BMS mission worker Christine Kling gives a sermon in France
Pray for BMS worker Christine Kling, who is telling people in France about Jesus.

• Pray for the 400 people at the three-day French Baptist Assembly that starts in Lyon today (10 May). Pray for a great sense of unity and fellowship, and for inspired worship and teaching, and that every logistical issue would be overcome.

• Pray that people who have never stepped into a church before will hear about the Saturday evening services about to start at the Baptist church in Gif-sur-Yvette, near Paris. Pray the services would help BMS worker Christine Kling connect with people who do not attend church.

• Pray for the couples who have come to the end of a marriage course in Brive-la-Gaillarde south west France. Pray thanks for their deepening relationship with God, and pray their marriages continue to become stronger.

• Pray that God will guide BMS Action Team staff as they choose the right person to fill the final space on the next France team.

A family facing a stressful move

Arthur and Louise Brown have been BMS workers for years in Beirut and are coming to the UK with their children, and it’s all very stressful as moving can be. Please pray for the whole family, for Arthur in his role as Regional Leader for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and particularly these things:

• Pray for energy for Louise who must complete her dissertation this week if she’s to graduate before leaving for the UK.

• Pray for Arthur and Louise’s daughter Jessica as she sits her IGCSEs. Pray Jessica would get the rest she needs during her exams.

• Pray for the family to feel God’s presence as they face the emotional and logistical demands of moving countries.

A woman in a grey dress and a man in a green t-shirt stand on a terrace with the countryside behind them.
Please pray for Arthur and Louise Brown who are preparing for a big move to the UK.

We’ve one more request, but it’s a really important one. Please share this article with your friends, family and church before you do anything else.

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

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* Names changed to protect identities

Coming to the aid of pregnant refugees

Technology and mission:

Coming to the aid of pregnant refugees

Women in refugee camps in Uganda are in danger of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. That threat is about to change for thousands of them, thanks to an electronic device and your support for BMS World Mission.

They’ve fled a civil war, trekking for days to cross the border from South Sudan into Uganda, seeking sanctuary from crippling food shortages and men with guns and machetes. They’ve fled to save themselves, their loved ones, and the ones yet to be born.

The South Sudanese women who make it to the Bidi Bidi refugee camp in northern Uganda find a settlement of tents and mud-brick huts that sprawls for miles. The number of people living there, roughly 280,000, is higher than the population of many a British city, and most of them are women and children.

Refugee women and children walk along a dirt track in northern Uganda
Women and children have walked for miles to escape conflict in South Sudan.

Left behind because they were killed, abducted, forced to fight, or too weak to travel, are brothers, sisters, grandparents, children… and future fathers. An estimated one in five women of childbearing age in humanitarian emergencies like this are likely to be pregnant. Keep that in mind when you read the following:

– An estimated 830 women die every day from pregnancy and birth-related causes around the world.

– Of these maternal deaths, 99 per cent happen in developing countries.

– More than 50 per cent of maternal deaths are caused by conditions that could be detected if vital signs were assessed.

A £20 handheld device that measures blood pressure and heart rate can change these statistics. It is called the Microlife Cradle VSA (Vital Signs Alert), and from March, hundreds will be used in the Bidi Bidi camp, and the Nakivale refugee settlement in south west Uganda.

A patient in Haiti has her blood pressure and heart rate checked.
The device has already been used to help pregnant women in Haiti. Picture by Hope Health Action.

How does the device work?

The device needs minimal training to operate and uses a traffic light warning system that shows the risk of shock or high blood pressure in a patient.

– A green light shows the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate are normal, and they are likely to be well.

– A yellow light shows the blood pressure is high, and the patient could have pre-eclampsia, a condition that occurs in pregnancy, or soon after delivery. If untreated, it can cause a pregnant woman to suffer a seizure, stroke or even die.

– A red light shows that blood pressure is very high and the patient could have severe pre-eclampsia, or may have severe bleeding or infection.

Watch a step by step guide to using the device

Thanks to your gifts, at least 7,000 pregnant women will receive a medical check that could save both their lives, and the life of their unborn children. The device will alert volunteer health workers to a problem that can then be referred to a doctor or nurse.

BMS funding of £18,000 will help partner organisation Hope Health Action (working with King’s College London and the United Nations refugee agency) distribute more than 700 of these devices into the two camps from March and train people to use them.

South Sudanese refugees climb a hill at the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda.

By giving to BMS, you’re making a life-saving difference to women in the Bidi Bidi and Nakivale refugee settlements.

But it could lead to so many others being helped, as it’s hoped a successful programme will prompt the Ugandan health ministry to distribute the device to other refugee camps.

We give thanks for your gifts. Amazing things are happening because of you.

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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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Top 5 stories of 2017

Looking back:

Top 5 stories of 2017

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

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

1. Big thinking for little minds

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

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

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

2. Pray for our new mission workers

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

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

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

Pray for them today by clicking the link below.

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3. 5 ways you're fighting violence against women

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

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

4. Baptised in a barrel in Phnom Penh

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

5. Feeding of the 400

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

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

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

Other great stories made possible by you

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

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

Our workers need your prayers right now

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

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

Annie Brown

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

Annie’s prayer requests

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

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

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

Paul and Sarah Brown

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

Paul and Sarah’s prayer requests

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

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

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

LINDA AND TIM DARBY

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

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

Linda and Tim’s prayer requests

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

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

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Claire-Lise and David Judkins

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

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

Claire-Lise and David’s prayer requests

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

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

CLAIRE BEDFORD

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

Claire’s prayer requests

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

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

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

Andy and Jenny Saunders

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

Andy and Jenny’s prayer requests

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

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

Rory* and Catherine*

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

Rory and Catherine’s prayer requests

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

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

Andrea and Mark Hotchkin

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

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

Andrea and Mark’s prayer requests

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

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

Christine Kling

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

Christine’s prayer requests

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

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

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

Simon and Wendy Hall

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

Simon and Wendy’s prayer requests

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

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

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

Mary*

Mary is using her skills in palliative care in Tunisia.

Mary’s prayer requests

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

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

Daniel and Regiane Clark

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

Regiane, Ana and Daniel Clark.
The Clark family are working with BMS in Lima, Peru.

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

Daniel and Regiane’s prayer requests

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

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

David and Dorothy McMillan

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

David and Dorothy’s prayer requests

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

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

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

Angus and Helen Douglas

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

Angus and Helen’s prayer request

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

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

Kathryn Smith

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

Kathryn’s prayer request

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

Judy Cook

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

Judy’s prayer requests

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

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

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

Laura-Lee Lovering

(more…)

Building a strong Church means investing in its leaders

Building a strong church

means investing in its leaders

BMS World Mission is committed to empowering strong and effective indigenous leaders for God’s people around the world.

“If mission agencies do not invest heavily in leadership, it’s bad stewardship,” says Rev David McMillan, a BMS worker in the Netherlands. “It’s critical that indigenous leaders are raised up, trained, equipped, and resourced for the good of Christian witness.”

An important part of BMS’ five-year strategy is to empower strong and effective indigenous leaders. We’re doing this by equipping people with leadership skills and with biblical understanding. By 2020, we want to have developed missional thinking among 20,000 people in the UK and 10,000 people overseas. The work David and his wife Dorothy are doing at the International Baptist Theological Study Centre (IBTSC) in Amsterdam is helping us to reach this faith-stretching goal.

If people learn to lead well, the Church and the missionary world can work much more effectively.

BMS worker Dorothy McMillan is helping to build up Christian leaders for Europe and the world through her work at the International Baptist Theological Study Centre

BMS partner IBTSC exists to provide high-level theological education to current and future Christian leaders from across the world, with a particular focus on Europe. Their former students are leading churches, seminaries and mission agencies and are serving in countries such as Czech Republic, Russia, Moldova, Lebanon and Ukraine. Amongst its graduates is the centre’s current rector, Rev Dr Stuart Blythe.

Some may argue that training well-educated leaders is not important in comparison with life-saving health work, the provision of justice, or sharing the gospel – but we believe training leaders has a vital role to play in 21st century mission. We need strong leaders in order for all the life-saving work to be supported and enabled. We need them to be influences for good and to shape the future of our churches, our communities and our world. These leaders can’t and shouldn’t all come from rich Western countries. We want to empower leaders from the World Church, called to serve in their own countries and contexts. Leaders who we can, in turn, learn from.

“If people learn to lead well and to think strategically then it’s much easier for people to follow,” says BMS worker Dorothy, “and the Church and the missionary world can work much more effectively.”

BMS worker David McMillan says that “If mission agencies do not invest heavily in leadership, it’s bad stewardship."
BMS worker David McMillan says that “If mission agencies do not invest heavily in leadership, it’s bad stewardship"

Master’s and PhD-level education through IBTSC is just one of the ways BMS is supporting future leaders. We’re proud to be training leaders from a huge range of backgrounds and experiences. In Lebanon, we partner with the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, training up leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa, who will often be returning to serve in contexts hostile to the gospel.

In Peru’s Amazon, we are enabling river pastors to access theological training for the first time in their lives. Through our training centre in Nauta, we are reaching different areas of the rainforest every year, inviting the isolated pastors we meet to come to six residential training weeks and to learn with a community of other Christians.

Laura-Lee Lovering is helping to run our training centre for river pastors in Peru's Amazon
Laura-Lee Lovering is helping to run our training centre for river pastors in Peru's Amazon
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“Training is important at all levels, so that we have strong leaders who understand the needs of their church, the needs of their mission agency,” says Dorothy. “Ultimately, what’s most important is that the gospel is more effectively communicated.”

We would love you to stand with us as we pursue the goal of equipping Godly leaders for service across the globe.

Find out more about BMS’ leadership strategy and why David thinks it’s important by watching this video.

Support our work equipping Christian leaders for Europe and the world by giving to BMS today.

Springs of water in Afghanistan

Springs of water in Afghanistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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