Mozambique: The relief response begins

Mozambique:

The relief response begins

The Cyclone Idai relief response has begun. But Beira still needs your prayers and support.

After our initial call for prayer and support, BMS World Mission supporters donated over £70,000 towards relief efforts in Mozambique. Thank you so much for your generosity. You’ve helped us kickstart the relief response in Beira. But the people there still need you.

“I have conveyed your prayers, support and encouragement to all those I’ve met from the CBM and they have been extremely grateful to know the world is standing with them,” says Rachel Conway-Doel, BMS Relief Facilitator. Rachel recently returned from Beira after flying out in March to help the Baptist Convention of Mozambique (CBM) assess the need created by the cyclone. 200,000 homes have been destroyed, and over 1,000 cases of cholera have now been reported, with at least two reported deaths. Cholera vaccination programmes have begun in Beira and other cities in Mozambique, with over 900,000 vaccines being shipped to Beira alone. Mosquito nets have also been provided to many people, including all our supported partner workers, to help combat a rise in malaria cases.

Destruction on a Beira street, with upturned trees and paving slabs
Your support is vital for the Cyclone Idai relief response.

The Cyclone Idai Relief Response

The long-term relief response in Beira will take the form of reconstruction of infrastructure, agricultural recovery and legal education support. As the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai shifts out of the media spotlight, we know you won’t forget about the people of Beira. Please continue to pray and give so people there can rebuild their lives.

“I have lived nearly 30 years in Beira and have never seen anything like this,” says BMS worker Carlos Tique Jone, who was in Beira when the cyclone struck. He and his family are safe, and he is working with CBM to help facilitate the Christian relief response. Watch the above video to hear a thank you message from Carlos, and see how your prayers are already having an effect.

Pray for Mozambique

We asked some of our supported partner workers in Beira what they wanted prayer for. Here’s what they said:

From Agira, Fernando and Lídia, who work with the Association of Christian Lawyers (AMAC) in Mozambique:

  1. Pray that their families will be protected from cholera and that the vaccination programme can reach everyone.
  2. Pray for Lídia’s house. Part of her roof and wall has been damaged and as she is both studying, working and living alone, this is hard. Pray for her and her house to be protected.
  3. Pray for the people AMAC serve – beforehand they were vulnerable people, and now they will be more vulnerable because of the cyclone.

From Constância, Elídia and Anibal, who work with Baptist Convention of Mozambique:

  1. Pray for the many mothers and widows whose homes are uninhabitable and who don’t know how to restore their lives.
  2. Pray for Mozambican churches, facing huge financial needs as they start to rebuild. So many churches have been affected, and so many members are in financial need themselves that rebuilding is going to be a massive challenge. Pray for all of the Christians struggling to rebuild their own lives while also helping their churches help others.
  3. Pray for jobs. Many companies have closed, so many people have lost their jobs. Pray for the Mozambican economy and its effect on ordinary people.

If you want more prayer points for your church, please visit our previous update: Pray for Beira.

Thank you for remembering Cyclone Idai survivors. Please keep praying for the relief response in Beira. And if you want to do even more, you can help our brothers and sisters in Mozambique by giving today to Disaster Recovery and Relief. Thank you.

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Words by Laura Durrant.

Cyclone Idai: Mozambique needs your prayer

Cyclone Idai:

Mozambique needs your prayer

On Thursday 14 March, Cyclone Idai hit the city of Beira, Mozambique. Please join us in prayer for those affected.

Beira suffered high winds, heavy rains and flooding and 90 per cent of the city may have been affected. Hundreds of people have lost their lives. BMS World Mission has made contact with local partners and is in the process of assisting relief responses. Please pray for Mozambique at this time.

The destruction

Debris from the cyclone is piled shoulder-high beside roadways that have been covered by sand blown in by heavy winds. Buildings have lost their roofs, and trees are uprooted.

Flooding from burst riverbanks and heavy rain pose a threat to the safety of survivors. The outbreak of waterborne diseases is a concern, due to the disruption of water supplies, as is the lack of shelter, food and clothing. Cases of cholera and diarrhoea continue to rise.

The aftermath

President Filipe Nyusi announced that search and rescue operations to find survivors from the cyclone had come to an end. As of 30 March 2019 it has been reported that 501 people died as a result of the cyclone.

Devastation is extensive, with around 100,000 houses identified by the authorities as having been destroyed. Efforts are now concentrated on rebuilding infrastructure and helping those affected.

A vector graphic map shows where Beira is located in Mozambique.
Beira was at the centre of the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai.
Debris is piled up on a sandy road.
Debris from Cyclone Idai is piled shoulder-high, and roadways are covered in sand.

The intervention

BMS is assessing the best way to assist in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. “We are supporting the Baptist Convention of Mozambique (CBM)’s relief response by strengthening capacity support and lending our help to its relief programme,” says Rachel Conway-Doel, BMS Relief Facilitator.

Rachel was able to attend meetings with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) on 30 March 2019. She said of the meetings, “It is encouraging to hear of all the work that is being done — but much more is needed.”

BMS will continue to consult with CBM on how British Christians can best support the Mozambican Church in its response. Thank you for all your generous giving and faithful prayers as we do so.

Updates on personnel

“We were getting messages from a friend saying that her windows had broken. Water was coming into the lounge and kitchen and she was worried. We also got a message from a friend who thought that the roofing on her daughter’s bedroom had come off,” says Liz Vilela in her latest blog post, describing the cyclone.

A tree is uprooted from the ground, breaking the pavement,
Trees were uprooted by strong winds.

We have been in touch with our mission personnel on the ground:

  • Carlos Tique Jone is in Beira assessing damage to buildings. “I praise the Lord that I am alive,” he told BMS.
  • Jane Edwards has flown into Maputo instead of home to Beira.
  • Sergio and Liz Vilela are safe. Sergio has returned to Beira to assist relief efforts.
  • Annet and Damien Ttendo-Miller are currently in Uganda.
  • Mark, Susanna, and Lizzie Barrell are at their home in Maputo.

Please pray especially for our local workers in and around Beira. BMS has been in touch with:

  • Pr Moises, General Secretary
  • Anibel
  • Carlos
  • Fernando and Lidia, Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC)
  • Staff at the AMAC office
A terracotta church building against a blue sky that has lost its roof.
Liz and Sergio Vilela's church is the Igreja Baptista do Aeropuerto in Beira. It lost its roof and suffered damages in the storm.

Pray for Mozambique

  1. Pray for all those in Beira, including BMS World Mission worker Carlos Tique Jone and his family. Pray that those who need help would receive it soon and that God would use his people to bring relief and help even now.
  2. Pray for those who have lost family members and homes. Pray that God would bring them the help they need and that we who have not been affected can find ways to be useful and merciful to them.
  3. Pray for God to strengthen those helping and comfort those traumatised.
  4. Pray for all BMS mission personnel and local workers, that they will be safe and be used by God in the lives of their community at this very difficult time.
  5. Pray for the relief response following this tragedy. Pray that Beira will recover quickly.
  6. Pray for a compassionate, sustainable and God-inspired response from the international community, including our community of churches.

Thank you for your love for Mozambique. Please keep praying for the people of Beira and for our partners there. If you would like to do something more, you can help our Mozambican partners on the ground with relief and recovery work by giving to BMS Disaster Recovery now.

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A life transformed

A life transformed:

Lídia’s story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you been inspired to support BMS' justice ministry?

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

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

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

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Cyclone Idai update

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

Find more updates on the continued relief efforts here.

Words by Laura Durrant.

From the frontline: stories to inspire you

From the frontline:

stories to inspire you

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

The surgeons in Chad who came to the rescue after dark

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

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

Giving hope for a better future

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

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

A night of praying with women in pain

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

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

‘The seeds we received are a gift from God’

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

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

News in brief from around the world

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

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

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

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

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

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*Names changed for security reasons.

Fighting domestic abuse in Mozambique

Fighting domestic abuse in Mozambique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Name changed

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

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

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Time for action: the latest blogs from our Action Teams

Pictures from recent Action Team blogs

Time for action:

the latest blogs from our Action Teams

Read the latest blogs from our Action Teams to see what they’ve been up to so far during their time overseas!

From teaching English to local children to navigating their way through a different way of life, our Action Teams are already making an impact on the people they’re serving. We’ve created a list of their recent blogs posts for you, so you can catch up on all they’ve been up to!

1. Team Thailand

The Action Team in Thailand have dinner with their supervisors
Team Thailand experience some local cuisine with their supervisors, Helen and Wit Boondeekhun

From the bustling city of Chiang Mai to the rural village of Wang Daeng, Anna, Jonny, Keziah and Paul are experiencing the full variety of life in Thailand. Read their latest blog post to find out how they’ve been connecting with their new neighbours and dealing with the consequences of praying for rain! And while you’re there, check out Jonny’s vlogs – we think they’re great! It’s all great inspiration for prayer!

2. Team Delhi

Imagine having to completely adapt to a new way of life in a matter of weeks. That’s what you have to do when you’re part of an Action Team – and it’s no different for Amy, Cody, Hannah and Orla! In their latest blog post, they’ve created a list of unusual things you might spot in Delhi, from locals armed with selfie sticks to cows in the middle of the road! Take a look at their blog to see how they’re adapting to life in Delhi, how you can pray for them, and what it’s really like to live in such a fascinating city.

The Action Team in Delhi take a selfie in a tuk tuk
Team Delhi practice their selfie-taking skills to try and fit in with local people!

3. Team Mozambique

Visa problems aren’t ideal for your first two months overseas, but they didn’t stop Alex, Andrew, Jack and Rebekah, from serving the local community. From teaching English at the local Christian school, Rei dos Reis, to running a bible study for local children, they’re already a real asset to their new neighbours. Thank you for praying for their visa situation and praise God for the privilege of serving in Mozambique.

Experience a graduation ceremony from Rei dos Reis school!

4. Team Kolkata

The Action Team in Kolkata let off a lantern
Team Kolkata experiencing all the lights of Diwali

All Action Teams lead busy, rewarding lives, and Cameron, Emily and Erin in Kolkata, India, are no different! They’ve been teaching English to children at a local Christian school, as well as helping them put on their Christmas play and getting involved with an organisation that helps women living in slums to find employment. Head to their blog to read all about it and see some pictures of the wonderful children they’re teaching. Be inspired to pray for them when you do!

5. Team Peru

Perued

(verb)

To have your plans change at any moment without warning; something Becky, Bethan, Katie and Marika experience a lot! They’ve still managed to get stuck in at a local Christian School, teaching English and battling it out at the school Olympics! Have a look at their blog to get a better idea of what life is like for them and how you can offer prayer support.

The Action Team in Peru take a selfie while competing in a school sports day
Team Peru competing with Bethel Christian School at their Olympics

6. Team France

The Action Team in Francetake a selfie in front of the Louvre
Read Team France's blog to find out what it's like to be on an Action Team!

Ever wanted to find out what makes an Action Team tick? Now you can! Caitlin Esther, Jonny and Tafadzwa answered your questions about what they’ve been up to in their latest blog post. Give it a read and see if your question was answered! And even if it wasn’t, you’ll get a look at what it’s like to be part of an Action Team – and some prayer points too!

We love hearing about what our Action Teams have been up to, and how they’re helping transform lives all over the world. If you want to stay up to date with everything our Action Teams are doing overseas, like their Facebook page, or follow them on Instagram. Check them out today and be sure to leave them some encouraging comments!

If you’re interested in joining an Action Team yourself, or know someone who would be, click here find out more!

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

Buffalo, corn, radishes and chillies:

a recipe for success

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

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

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

1. Mozambique: cattle and corn

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Afghanistan: lettuces and radishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re fighting hunger and food insecurity

3. Nepal: buffalo and goats

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

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

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

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

4. Uganda: bananas and chillies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Names changed to protect identities.

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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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Justice in Africa: God’s heart for the poor

Justice in Africa:

God's heart for the poor

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

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

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

Support our legal work. Give today.
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The top 10: Action Team photo competition 2018

The top 10:

Action Team photo competition 2018

We bring you the finalists in the annual BMS World Mission Action Team photo competition.

Be warned, you’re about to be bitten by the gap year bug. We certainly were as we looked at the Action Team photos submitted by the class of 2017/18, though sadly most of us are beyond our gap-year years! If you know anyone who isn’t old like us and might want to do a Christian gap year in places like these, share this story with them! They could be our next crop of Action Teams

We loved judging these photos. And, after much debate (it went on for hours), we finally picked our top ten. They are beautiful.

Tenth place: Nepal

A mountain isin the distance, while in the foreground is a bench, with sunlight shining on it
What a stunning sight this is. We adored this photo of the Annapurna Himalayas the moment we saw it.

Rachel Paton will never forget this view from a five-day trek in the Annapurna Himalayas.

“As we got ready to begin our descent early in the morning, the sun filled the valleys with a golden haze,” says Rachel. “I was overwhelmed with a sense of how privileged I’d been to see sights such as these.”

Ninth place: Nepal

A woman in red clothing, crouches behind a statue, pinching a cigarette in her fingers
This candid shot of a woman smoking a cigarette was taken when the Nepal Action Team were visiting a temple.

This woman was begging at the foot of a temple staircase in Bhaktapur, a town east of Kathmandu. And then for a moment, she retreated behind an enormous stone statue just as Rachel Paton took her picture.

“She seemed to be hiding; weary, perhaps, of being visible but often ignored by so many people passing by,” says Rachel.

Eighth place: Guinea

Children sit behind desks as a teacher writes on a chalkboard
Children fill a classroom in Guinea, though just like in classrooms around the world, concentrating all the time is not possible for every child.

There are over 80 young children packed into this preschool classroom in Guinea. Teaching assistant and Guinea Action Team member Eleanor Hyde found space somehow to take this photo of the children’s eagerness to learn.

“They jump up to show you their work, and with huge smiles encourage you to keep teaching them,” says Eleanor. “These are God’s children, gifted and purposed.”

Seventh place: Nepal

Small blue boats on a lake with mist in the distance
This picture from Nepal captured our attention because of its beauty and the sense of tranquillity.

The serenity of Phewa Lake in the Pokhara Valley was captured by Rachel Paton (she really did take a lot of great photos!), with its stillness contrasted by what was happening behind her.

“There were tourists out for a stroll, locals using the lakeside footpath, Tibetan refugees selling handcrafted jewellery, and women washing clothes at the edge of the water,” says Rachel. “It is a wonderful place to visit.”

Sixth place: Nepal

Children in blue clothing smile and laugh as they pull on a flag
It is play time at a Nepal school, with these young children having the time of their lives.

Children couldn’t contain their excitement when this parachute was brought out at a rural school in Nepal. And Action Teamer and gifted photographer Rachel Paton was there to capture the joy.

“We had to work hard to convince them that this particular parachute was not to be used for flying, just for playing with on the ground!” says Rachel.

Fifth place: Guinea

Children in the distance wade through water
Children on a small island off the coast of Guinea head into the water in search of fish to catch.

Guinea Action Teamer Mhairi Cole was on a small island off the African nation’s coast when she saw a group of children being given a fishing lesson.

“They proudly presented their huge catch,” says Mhairi. “And then later on, we had the opportunity to try some. I would give the fish a five-star rating!”

Fourth place: Mozambique

A young child peers behind a tree in Mozambique
This adorable scene during a game of hide-and-seek was captured in Mozambique.

Who doesn’t love a game of hide-and-seek? The children Action Teamer Rhiannon Cleghorn met in Mozambique clearly do. And though this boy had only trees to hide behind when Rhiannon was playing, it meant an adorable photo of him could be taken.

Third place: Mozambique

A man and a woman walk on a beach at sunset
Along with great need and a history of conflict and colonial oppression, Mozambique has glorious beaches enjoyed by local people every day. They are even more stunning as the sun sets, as this image shows.

Living by the coast was one of the biggest blessings for the Action Team in Mozambique, says Rhiannon Cleghorn.

“Sunday afternoons were spent at the beach playing football and making some of our best friends,” she said. “To top it all off, the sunsets were always serious ‘creation appreciation’ experiences.”

Second place: Nepal

Bells of different sizes hang from a pole, with a mountain range in the background.
These prayer bells in Nepal were wonderfully captured with the contours of the valley in the background.

This is a photo that makes you want to stand where photographer Rachel Paton did. She took this photo at the iconic Buddhist temple, Swayambhu, which is on top of a hill in the Kathmandu Valley.

“We were up there as the sun was setting, and the evening light striking this row of bells caught my attention just before we started to head down,” she says.

And the winner is: Nepal

An elephant with a trunk painted with colours looks at the camera
This photo, taken in Nepal by Rachel Paton, caught our attention straight away.

What a striking photo this is, and an obvious first place in this year’s Action Team photo competition. It was captured in Nepal by Rachel Paton (who else?!), and shows the beauty of God’s work in the form of this majestic elephant, Mayabhati.

“Three men were responsible for her around-the-clock care,” says Rachel. “It was amazing to see her, just as it was amazing to learn about the unique relationship that people in Nepal have with these parts of the country.”

Congratulations not only to those in the top ten, but to everyone who submitted a photo. You’ve inspired, moved and challenged us, and reminded us all of how magnificent God’s creation is.

Do you know a future Action Teamer?

Our Action Teams programme is one of the best Christian gap year programmes out there. If you know anyone aged between 17 and 23 who wants to serve God overseas then encourage them to get in touch with us today. You never know, they might just make next year’s photo competition top ten!

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

You can change a child’s life by praying today

You can change a child’s life by praying today

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

Lebanon

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

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

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

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

Bangladesh

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

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

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

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

Kosovo

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

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

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

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

Albania

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

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

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

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

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

Peru

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

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

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

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

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

Nepal

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

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

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

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

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

Guinea

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

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

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

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

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

China

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

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

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

India

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

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

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

A girl walks towards other children standing under a bridge in India
School is being brought to street children in Kolkata, giving them the opportunity to learn.

Mozambique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you're praying for this Click Here
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Are you a teacher? Come and work with us

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

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

* Names changed for security reasons

Justice League

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

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

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

The BMS-supported legal team in Beira.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luis Generoso, Executive Director of AMAC.

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

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

Lawyer Kathy Russell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspired to give? Click Here
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We’re empowering the Church to take justice seriously and to act

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

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

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

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

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

And Mozambican lawyers are doing just that.

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

Annet, BMS legal team leader in Mozambique.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*Names changed

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

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Learn to do right; seek justice.

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

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

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.

You’re giving so much more than just presents this Christmas

You’re giving so much more than just presents this Christmas

Here are some of the ways you’ve helped people in desperate need this year.

A tarpaulin. A plastic groundsheet. Some thermal underwear. Did these items make your Christmas wish list?

You’ve given these – and other great gifts – to people in desperate need this year.

You’re providing a lifeline for Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Burma (Myanmar), and keeping hundreds of people warm in the harshness of a Ukraine winter.

As you wrap your presents and prepare for Christmas, consider this our thank you note for what you’ve already given. And a reminder of the suffering you’re helping to alleviate, in Jesus’ name, every time you give to BMS World Mission.

Refugees look through a gap in their shelter in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
Vital aid is reaching refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, thanks to your donations. Photo by Medair/Nath Fauveau.

Rohingya refugee crisis

The Rohingya people have witnessed their loved ones being raped, beaten and executed, and their villages reduced to ashes in a brutal military offensive. The scale of the terror inflicted by Burma’s soldiers is unimaginable, as is the exodus of those being targeted. More than 650,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed from Burma’s northern Rakhine State into Cox’s Bazar district in southern Bangladesh since August. Hundreds are still crossing every day, many of them children who have run for their lives.

How you are helping: By giving to BMS you’re helping more than 500 refugees. They arrive at camps exhausted, hungry and traumatised. They have next to nothing. The tarpaulin, ground sheet and stretch of nylon rope you’ve funded for these refugees are providing shelter. Thanks to you, Rohingya people have protection from the elements, and women can maintain their dignity thanks to hygiene kits containing sanitary products. People will also receive soap for washing and laundry, as well as a cup and a three-litre water jug.

Ukraine

The conflict that erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014 between pro-Russian separatists and pro-Ukrainian groups has displaced 1.5 million people and killed at least 10,000. Government pensions and social benefits have been stopped for people living in areas under separatist control, while schools and hospitals have also had their funding halted.

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How you are helping: The temperature in eastern Ukraine is expected to drop to -7 degrees Celsius early on Christmas Day, and it could drop as low as -28 later in the winter. You’re providing over 1,000 people with coal, firewood, ceramic heaters and wood burners so they can survive, and children are being given thermal underwear.

Rachel Conway-Doel, our Relief Facilitator, talks about the crisis in Ukraine and what you can be praying for.

Syria conflict

Lebanon continues to host the highest concentration of refugees per capita in the world, with an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees and over 15,000 people from Iraq living there. Close to half of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children.

How you are helping: You’ve already helped dozens of children who have had their access to education shattered by conflict, and that support continues.

Thanks to your giving, at least 30 more refugee children are being taught English, Arabic and maths this school year, and doing what every child has a right to do – play.

Refugee children sit behind desks during a class in Lebanon.
Refugee children in Lebanon are being given an education thanks to you.
Your support this year has been amazing – look at what else you’ve done!

Mozambique — You gave food to 1,000 people affected by a fuel tanker explosion in Mozambique.

Haiti — You helped provide cholera prevention and treatment through water filtration after Hurricane Matthew.

Nepal — You provided food, blankets and medicine to more than 1,100 people following severe monsoon flooding.

Philippines — You helped to give medical check-ups and disaster training for community leaders following July’s earthquake.

Bangladesh — You helped to fund the rebuilding of 50 family homes destroyed by landslides in June.

South Sudan/Uganda — You gave food, tools and seeds to over 1,000 South Sudanese people in danger of starving.

No matter how much you gave this year, you made a difference. People you will never meet have been fed, sheltered and comforted thanks to your kindness. We thank you for all that you have done, and can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in 2018. Happy Christmas from all of us at BMS.

Meet the inspiring Mozambican Christians you’re supporting

This is BMS:

Meet the inspiring Mozambican Christians you're supporting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Become a 24:7 Justice Partner

Our God is a God of justice.

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

Click here to partner with our justice ministries.

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

5 ways you’re fighting violence against women

Me too.

5 ways you're fighting violence against women

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

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

1. Keeping girls in school

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

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

2. Freeing women from prostitution

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

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

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Become a 24:7 Justice Partner

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

3. Helping women to know their rights

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

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

4. Saving mother's lives

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

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

5. Making churches safer places

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justice:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was really for vengeance that I studied law.

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

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

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

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

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

God lift my head, make me somebody

God told me to work here

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

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

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

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

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

Annet Ttendo was talking to Vickey Casey

Education in Mozambique: faith like mangoes

Education in Mozambique:

faith like mangos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Children in a PEPE class

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

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

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

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

“Anything you would like to,” Liz replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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