The war in Syria took his faith. God restored it. You are sending him out.

The war in Syria took his faith. God restored it. You are sending him out.

A former atheist is going back to Syria to serve the Lord, thanks to your support.

The shell killed every one of the children, and Yaccoub watched it happen. Some of them were as young as four, the oldest no more than seven. “I was walking home and a bomb fell on a school bus, right in front of me,” he says, in a matter-of-fact way that you get used to when talking to people who’ve seen war in their own countries. Yaccoub’s country is Syria. He was about 14 when the war started, and not much older when he came face to face with killing. “The whole bus blew up and burned,” he says. “And all the children inside died.”

Today, Yaccoub is one of the most quietly inspiring people I’ve met. Softly spoken, but with a strength and kindness that shines through in his patience with my questions. He needs it on a hot afternoon in Beirut. He’s missing lunch for this. He’s sitting at a desk in a world-class theology college in the heart of the Middle East. A place for sending people out into the mostly Muslim world. Behind him is a geometric design in green, made of beautifully painted words in Arabic, which say: to see communities restored. By the time you read this, he will have graduated.

A young man sitting at a desk in a college, with a blue arabic print on the wall behind him,
Yaccoub is ready to share God's love in Syria, where the war is still ongoing.

Yaccoub is committed to going back to Syria, he’s committed to making a difference in his community and he’s passionate about reaching out to seekers in love. He’s getting ready to be used by God in a country that desperately needs hope, but the road to get to this point has been hard. It started before the incident with the schoolchildren. Before the war.

“It was a very nice country, everyone lived in peace and we had a really good life,” Yaccoub tells me about growing up in Syria. “Then religion went into politics, which started the conflict, and it ruined everything.” Yaccoub grew up in an Orthodox Christian home and was just beginning to explore faith seriously when Syria’s civil war began. “That was the turning point in my life,” he says. “The war started, and for me there was no God. I became a total atheist.” He even got a slogan tattooed on his arm proclaiming that there was no life after death.

His disillusionment culminated in the experience of watching innocent children killed on their way to school. And yet it also left him hungry for a kind of clarity about what life might mean. “It reinforced my atheism, because I saw that God created those children and then he took their lives,” he says, and yet it also left him thinking: “that there was some kind of power at work,” but one he didn’t understand.

Yaccoub’s aunt invited him to church and he started meeting with an evangelist who, at one point, made Yaccoub so angry he threw him out of the house. “I went back to church convinced that there was no love there. But when I got there, the person I had kicked out of my house was the first person to greet me. And after the service he was the first person to come and hug me. This really touched my heart.”

The war started, and for me there was no God. I became a total atheist.

Thanks to the prayer and love of his aunt and his own research into the Bible, Yaccoub came to Christ. “When I was intellectually searching for God I also had the life example of my aunt with me and that was the main reason that I decided to follow Jesus,” he says. And today he has a vision to take both the intellectual and the loving, life example to his generation back in Syria.

A student in a blue tshirt with a brown wall behind him, which is covered in blue arabic text.

“Most of my friends are outside of the Church, and I was like them. I know how they think and I know why have this hatred inside of them towards God and towards religion in general,” he says. “My studies here have provided me with the tools to work with those people. It’s also helping me enlarge my vision so I can reach out to them in a correct way.” Yaccoub has a passion for reaching out with love rather than some of the rough treatment he encountered on his way to Christ. And he has a vision to use social media to impact people his own age. Yaccoub is 21 years old.

BMS provided four grants of £7,500 each over 2018 to pay for a full year’s study for students like Yaccoub. Every person who supports BMS, through prayer or giving, has been a part of his year of preparation for going back to Syria and serving God. You are an encouragement to Yaccoub and the other students like him.

The Body of Christ is united across different nations and we’re all connected

“I want to thank the people who give without knowing us,” Yaccoub says. “In my opinion that is great. I would like to thank them for the opportunity they are giving us to study here, to let them know that we are being transformed at many levels, theologically, spiritually and in our characters.”

When Yaccoub goes back to Syria he’ll be starting an organisation that will help women whose homes have been destroyed by war in Syria to develop sustainable ways of supporting themselves. He’s also helping in a ministry to provide financial aid to university students whose studies have been interrupted by the conflict, and plans to start outreach based on Facebook, YouTube and social media platforms popular in the Middle East. He’s 21, he’s been through education and formation, and God is going to use him.

A man in a blue tshirt sitting at his desk smiling.

“We need leaders in our churches and our ministries,” Yaccoub says, “and people supporting us in this seminary are helping us to send out these leaders to areas where they are needed. They are sending prepared leaders.”

Yaccoub is not going back to a country at peace or that hasn’t been wounded. There has been far too much destruction and far too much death already. But we have hope in the resurrection. Be it in a faith that dies in the face of death and gets reborn, or a new hope in young people prepared and supported by their brothers and sisters around the world.

“The Body of Christ is united across different nations and we’re all connected somehow,” Yaccoub says. Thank you for supporting him. Thank you for being part of a new hope.

I want to thank the people who give without knowing us

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Update

Great news! Following his graduation, Yaccoub has been accepted for a second year of study. Praise God for this opportunity to prepare even more deeply for ministry in his country, and pray that God gives him all the skills and formation he needs for the tasks prepared for him!

The kingdom builders: meet six BMS workers giving it all for Christ

The kingdom builders:

meet six BMS workers giving it all for Christ

Today, they’ll face everything from apathy and suspicion to persecution. Yet nothing will stop these BMS World Mission workers sharing Jesus’ love in hostile, remote and hard-to-reach communities.

The couple opening minds in a secular nation

Names: Samuel Duval and Valérie Duval-Poujol

Location: Mus, southern France

The challenge: serving in a country where evangelical Christians are almost non-existent, the Muslim community is the largest in Europe, and secularism is a hallmark of national identity.

The ministry: Facebook. YouTube. Email. And also in the church they planted. Pastor Samuel Duval and theologian Valérie Duval-Poujol embrace every way possible to tell people about their faith. People from across France are sending them questions about the Bible and Jesus, reaching out for answers. BMS workers Samuel and Valérie are listening, engaging, and telling them about Jesus.

A man wearing glasses and in a jacket and wearing a waistcoat, stands next to a woman with glasses and wearing a light blue shirt
Church planters Samuel Duval and Valérie Duval-Poujol embrace traditional and modern means to communicate their faith.

“The one thing that French people have is that they are thinkers,” says Samuel. “The French Baptists are just a few, but we have a massive impact with theology. When someone is a Christian in France, he can’t just be a regular Christian, he is a strong Christian.”

The youth worker using football and music to share his love for Jesus

Name: Ajarn Tah

Location: northern Thailand

The challenge: alcoholism and drug taking are destroying lives in the Thai Buddhist village where youth worker Ajarn Tah works. BMS workers Helen and Wit Boondeekhun brought him in to try and stop young people from drifting into addiction.

The ministry: starting a football team takes hard work, patience and, critically, players. Tah managed to form his team of ten to 13-year-olds in just one afternoon. Clearly the recruits knew what to do as they not only won their first match, they did so 6-1! And more than just the beautiful game, young people are hearing about a meaningful life. Before each match, the entire team goes to a local church to sing Christian songs, play games and hear a short message.

A woman in a white t-shirt stands next to a man in a white t-shirt in a forest.
Football ministry is helping Ajarn Tah, pictured here with his wife Ajarn Baeng, connect with young people in a village in northern Thailand.

Tah’s work in the village of Wang Daeng also sees him teaching guitar to pupils at the village school, using Christian songs to share his passion for Jesus.

The multi-tasker who's all about bringing new light

Name: Isaiah Thembo

Location: Kasese District, western Uganda

The challenge: helping people turn their lives around when they’ve dropped out of school and have no qualifications, money or hope.

The ministry: teaching skills like tailoring, carpentry, mechanics and hairdressing at a BMS-supported training centre.

“People have businesses now,” says project manager, Isaiah. “And that means they can earn money, rent a house, and send a child to school.”

A man wearing a smart suit and tie stands in front of trees, smiling at the camer
BMS worker Isaiah Thembo is supporting projects in western Uganda that help bring people out of poverty.

And Isaiah has not only helped to turn lives around at the skills centre. He’s also helped to install solar powered lighting in churches in western Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, where communities have no electricity. People use the churches to read and study because they have light, instead of burning kerosene lanterns which produce a toxic smoke.

“These projects are connecting the community to God,” says Isaiah. “They are helping people, and transforming hundreds of lives.”

Watch: this is the difference your support has made to a mountain village

The pastor who takes on the Amazon to connect with believers

Name: Pastor Luis Alvarado Dolly

Location: the Peruvian Amazon

The challenge: reaching rural communities accessible only by boat or through dense rainforest where Christians are very isolated. There’s also the very real threat of being bitten by mosquitoes, tarantulas and snakes.

The ministry: providing theological and leadership training to rural pastors who have never received it. Pastor Luis visits river and jungle pastors, inviting them to stay at the BMS-supported Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre where they get biblical training and lessons in how to care for their land.

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

Combining a relentless passion for the gospel with a brilliant smile and a heart for the poor, Pastor Luis is inspiring Christians to be stronger, better leaders in their communities.

The woman resisting persecution to help people find Jesus

Name: Gillian Francis

Location: Kolkata, India

The challenge: working in communities where Christians are persecuted, threatened, imprisoned, and killed. Hindu and Muslim fundamentalist groups attack Christians, angry that people are believing the gospel and accepting Jesus into in their lives.

The ministry: Gillian helps lead a huge church planting movement in villages in West Bengal by overseeing the critical and complex administrative work that’s needed. With her support, tens of thousands of people have heard about Jesus for the first time, giving their hearts to him and opening their homes to become places of worship and transformation.

A woman wearing a grey top and holding a microphone sings
Gillian Francis is playing a key role in helping house churches to flourish in West Bengal, India.
Partner with us in mission

We’re so proud to call Samuel, Valérie, Tah, Pastor Luis, Gillian, and Isaiah our colleagues. All this work can only happen with your help. If you commit to giving regularly to BMS, you can help us to plan ahead and meet the needs, both spiritual and physical, of people who would otherwise have little hope.

Become a 24:7 Partner today and commit, at whatever level you can, to stand with us every day in mission. You will also be standing with Samuel, Valérie, Tah, Luis, Gillian and Isaiah.

Introducing the Lynches

4,956 miles to Dhaka:

introducing the Lynches

On Thursday 26 April, Louise and Peter Lynch fly to Bangladesh with BMS World Mission. Find out why they feel called to mission and what they’ll be up to overseas.

Whether it’s climbing snowy mountains in Scotland or ridiculously long cycle rides, Louise and Peter Lynch are always up for an adventure. And this time round, they’re getting ready for a big one. Having worked as a social worker (Louise) and a pastor (Pete) in the UK for 27 years, they’re leaving this country behind and moving to Dhaka, in Bangladesh. Amidst packing up their belongings and selling their car, they sat down with us to talk about the new venture that they’re embarking on with BMS .

Two people standing behind a green garden backdrop.
Social worker Louise and pastor Peter have two sons, Calum and Jonah.

Alright, we’ll start off with an easy question. How would you describe each other in three words?

Louise: Oh that’s hard! I want to say adventurous, principled, and football-crazy.

Peter: Dynamic, thoughtful, and fun.

Tell us about your decision to move to Bangladesh.

Peter: Since first becoming Christians we’ve always had the sense that God was calling us to work overseas at some point. The last 27 years have been a bit of a surprise in some ways because we’ve been UK-based all of that time. But it came to the point where it felt like change was coming, our family circumstances were changing and it freed us to look at what God might want for the next phase of our lives. So, we began talking with BMS. As the conversation developed there was a growing sense that the skills and experience we have and the needs in Bangladesh were a good fit. We’ve grown into the idea and sensed that this is where God wants us.

Boats in a major river in Dhaka,.
Dhaka is famous for it's rivers, which are vital for the city's transport and trade.

Do you think the skills you’ve gained while working as a social worker and pastor in the UK will be transferable?

Louise: I think so. What’s excited us about Bangladesh is that the role involves the sort of things that we’ve got experience in. It’s going to be difficult because we’re used to working in a UK context, so doing the kind of cultural switch and learning different ways of working will be more challenging. We’re quite heavily reliant on speaking skills, so being able to do that job in Bengali is going to be very challenging.

Peter: What we offer is probably some experience of having been on the road in terms of pastoral ministry, training and community engagement for a number of years, so we’re hoping those skills will transfer and contribute something to a different cultural context.

What exactly will you guys be doing out in Bangladesh?

Peter: The first thing will be to just meet people, to build relationships, to learn the language and try and understand and adapt to the culture. I think in the longer term, the Baptist Sangha – the name of the denomination there – see us having a role in leadership development, helping to train and encourage pastors and community leaders in the different parts of Bangladesh. It’s quite a broad role, but potentially a very exciting and far-reaching one.

Louise: It’s not so directly written into the job scope, but I think very likely some safeguarding training around all the different projects that the churches work with too. We’re trying to really work in partnership so don’t want to predict what we’re going to do too much until we’ve really met the people we’re working with. What we need to do is discuss with the leaders in Bangladesh what they most want and then take it from there.

Map of Bangladesh with an arrow pointing to Dhaka, the capital city.
Louise and Peter will be based in Dhaka, working with Baptist church leaders.

How’s language learning been going so far?

Peter: We’re making a bit of progress. It’s quite enjoyable, but we’ve not really got into the in-depth stuff. So just learning vocab, learning the alphabet, understanding how the script works, those sort of things.

Louise: We can say random words at random times, no sentences yet! We think we’ve learnt the phrase for ‘I don’t understand,’ but we’re not convinced we’ve got the pronunciation right!

Peter: We’ve learnt how to say ‘how are you?’ and ‘what is your name?’, the normal things to begin a conversation.

Louise: Men’s and women’s toilets we’ve got sorted out as well.

What excites you the most when you think about moving to Bangladesh and your role there?

Peter: For me, I think it’s standing alongside Christians there so that all of us can be the people God’s called us to be. We recognise the Church there has challenges and struggles, you need to know their situation, and part of what excites me is just being able to be an encourager and to stand alongside and partner with people so we can be faithful to Jesus in whatever place he puts us. Also, I’m really excited about living in a different culture, learning from the Church in Bangladesh and seeing what following Jesus looks like in a completely different place to what we’re used to.

I’ve been to parts of Asia before and I just loved the colour, the dynamism and the hospitality in those places. I also love all geography and geology stuff, so being in the massive delta and the kind of outwash of the Himalayas, in a bizarre way, quite excites me as well.

I’m really excited about living in a different culture and learning from the Church in Bangladesh.

Woman on a mountain covered in snow, wearing Crampons
Louise loves the outdoors and is always up for a challenge, as you can see from this photo of her up a snowy mountain!

Louise: For me, when I read what the Baptist Sangha writes about their vision for their churches and the schools they run, that they want them to be like beacons and really great places, that excites me. I’d like to be part of something that means when children or adults come to church, meet Christians or go to Christian run schools, that they see something really different about the quality of care and the love they receive. That makes me very excited.

I’m also looking forward to the food, and deep down I’d like to see a tiger. I like exploring so I love new situations – I’m just looking forward to new smells, new sounds, everything.

What are your biggest fears about moving there? What are you most worried about?

Louise: I think in the UK I understand how things work, so I know where to put my energies if things need to change. I think it will be really hard not knowing how things work, and that can leave me feeling really ineffectual and frustrated. So I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge.

Peter: Building good relationships is key to life isn’t it – it’s key to everything we do. I think just doing that cross-culturally, we’re hopeful that that will happen. I think to have good team relationships, to have good relationships with partners and just building good friendships. That’s not a fear or an anxiety, but it’s a recognition of what we need the most to enjoy being there, fulfilled and useful in what we’re doing.

Pray for wisdom and insight about where we settle ourselves.

So what are you going to miss the most about living in the UK? Your two children are at university, aren’t they?

Louise: Yes, thanks for reminding us!

Peter: We’ll miss just being able to see the boys (Calum and Jonah), see Louise’s mum and dad, and we’ll miss good friends that you can just drop in on and share life with. I’m hoping there will be access to various ways of keeping up with sporting events and I’m sure we’ll end up missing food that isn’t spicy, and going for a run. We like exercising and being outside so having some restrictions on what’s appropriate in terms of activity will be a challenge for us.

Man taking a selfie high up in the mountains.
Both Peter and Louise are going to miss the mountains and being outdoors.

Finally, what can people be praying for?

Louise: We would really like to make friends when we arrive in Bangladesh. Being able to meet people and make friends would be really, really important.

Peter: Pray for God’s wisdom in knowing how quickly to do things, or how slowly to do things, and to have the right attitude of being there to serve others and to serve God.

Louise: We’re borrowing a house when we first arrive and then we’ll need to decide where to live. That will be quite an important decision, so we’d like some wisdom. Pray for wisdom and insight about where we settle ourselves.

If you want to commit to giving and praying regularly to support Louise and Peter, become their 24:7 Partner by clicking the box on the right!

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Could you be called to mission overseas? We have plenty of opportunities to serve with us.

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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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.

Six aspiring Christian leaders get baptised in the Amazon

Video:

Six aspiring Christian leaders get baptised in the Amazon

Watch this video to see the beautiful moment when a group of Peruvian Christians get baptised in the River Marañón, in Peru’s Amazon rainforest.

Have you ever glimpsed a pink dolphin jump out of a river? Or dipped your toe in the muddy-brown water that is its home? Have you ever peeked through the trees to watch, in the tropical heat, six Christians submerge themselves in Amazonian water (alongside the dolphins and a fair few piranhas) as a witness and symbol of their faith in Christ?

If you haven’t, now is your chance.

Watch this video to find out what led these Peruvians to get baptised, and to see the special moment when they take the plunge.

I have come back to my faith and I really want to serve God. That is why I got baptised.

Llino and Leysey are two Christians who live in isolated river communities in the Amazon rainforest – communities accessible only by boat. BMS World Mission has been supporting them, and other Christians and pastors like them, through our Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre.

At the centre, Christian leaders and future leaders get to learn basic theology and how to share the gospel. They also learn ways to practically help their communities develop.

Llino is one of six Christians who recently got baptised in Peru's Amazon
Llino is one of six Christians who recently got baptised in Peru's Amazon

“When I first came I was a bit reserved and I didn’t relate very well to the other pastors,” says Llino. “But with time I have become more open and able to talk. All of the teaching I have received here has been really useful.”

The centre also exists to help these Christians – who have never had any theological training and very little Christian community – grow in their own faith and get to know Jesus and his heart for them better. For Llino, Leysey and the other Christians who got baptised, the centre has been a huge catalyst in their journey of faith.

Leysey says that the centre has helped her grow in her faith
Leysey says that the centre has helped her grow in her faith

“I have come back to my faith and I really want to serve God,” says Leysey. “That is why I got baptised.”

Each course runs over the period of a year, and involves six residential training weeks. The trainee pastors receive scholarships to attend. Llino is really excited by what he has been learning at the centre.

“I feel like I am being prepared to be a leader not only in my church but also in my community,” says Llino. “I am very happy that my learning here is preparing me for leadership roles in the future.”

Our work in Peru’s Amazon is just one example of the way we are working to grow God’s Church and support his children around the world. Please pray that Llino, Leysey and the other Christians we are serving in Peru would remain strong in their faith and would be a powerful witness in their communities.

Thank you.

“I feel like I am being prepared to be a leader not only in my church but also in my community.”

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Meet and laugh with Laura-Lee Lovering, the BMS worker who’s helping to head up the amazing work at the centre, by watching this video.