Spiritual workout advice from the heart of the red light district

Staying strong:

spiritual workout advice from the heart of the red light district

Ashleigh Gibb shares how she’s learnt to maintain her spiritual health as she shares God’s love in the bars and brothels of Bangkok’s red light district.

They seem contradictory: strong spiritual health and Bangkok’s notorious red light district. But for BMS World Mission worker Ashleigh Gibb, who has been serving there for the last two years, staying spiritually healthy is one of the most important parts of her calling.

Ashleigh works with BMS partner NightLight. She goes into bars and brothels to provide the women working there a safe space where they can share their stories and be themselves. She spends every day with victims of human trafficking. She is surrounded by women who sell their bodies because they have nothing else to sell. Understandably, it takes a toll on her spiritual strength. So Ashleigh takes action to keep her spirit healthy, so she can get through every day serving these women in the best way she can.

We asked her to talk us through a spiritual workout, so you can keep your spirit as strong as Ashleigh’s.

Ashleigh Gibb in Bangkok
Ashleigh Gibb stays physically and mentally strong while working in one of the world's most unloving places.

1. Don’t skip leg day

Your physical and spiritual health are two parts of one whole – make sure you’re working on them both. As personal trainers (like Ashleigh used to be) will often say: “Don’t skip leg day,” meaning: don’t just do the things you find easy or fun. For Ashleigh, discipline has paid off.  “God has blessed me with a phenomenal gym,” says Ashleigh. “I’m able to work out physically, but it’s also a good outlet for me to get all that trauma and anger out on a barbell.”

You don’t have to go to the gym as often as Ashleigh does, but why not try out something like pilates or a fitness class? It’s a great way to strengthen your physical body, as well as keeping your mind focused, so you can spend some time in prayer without distractions.

2. Stick to your exercise routine

It’s easy to say that you’re going to spend more time focusing on your spiritual health, do it for a couple of days, and then forget about it. Ashleigh knows all too well how difficult this can be. “I have to be so intentional about prayer and about being in the Word of God,” she says. “Because if I take myself away from that, then that’s when the enemy starts to feed me lies.”

It might be difficult at first. But if you create a routine and stick to it, you’ll soon find that it becomes a natural part of your daily life. Try to find a regular time when you can work on your spiritual health in whatever way you find helpful.

Ashleigh Gibb in Bangkok's red light district.
Ashleigh Gibb keeps her spirit healthy, so she can always support the women she meets in Bangkok's red light district.

3. Find a workout buddy

You don’t have to do this alone. Let other people into your life who can encourage you and who can hold you accountable. “I’ve got some spiritual mentors,” says Ashleigh. “They love me, they guide me, and they aren’t scared to ask me difficult questions about where I’m at in my spiritual journey.”

Find someone you trust and who you can rely on as your spiritual mentor. Be open about your spiritual journey with them and encourage them to be open about theirs with you. Hold each other accountable when you make commitments in your spiritual lifestyle and tell each other when you are struggling. It’s easier to do it together.

My spiritual mentors aren’t scared to ask me difficult questions about where I’m at in my spiritual journey

4. Use your mistakes to bulk up

Ashleigh is open with the women she meets about the struggles she’s had in the past. She tells a story of an African woman she met on the streets of Bangkok, and how shocked she was at how similar their lives were. “We just stood on the street and wept,” says Ashleigh. “In that moment, she needed to be loved. And she needed to know that she was loved by Christ and I was able to offer that to her because I was vulnerable.”

Be open about your mistakes and learn from them. You’ll only hurt yourself more if you keep them shut away and refuse to grow from them. Use them to improve your spiritual strength, and, like Ashleigh, you will be able to help others improve theirs.

Ashleigh couldn’t be where she is today without your prayers. Please continue to pray for her:

  1. Pray that Ashleigh’s spiritual strength continues to grow as she continues working with NightLight and serving the women in Bangkok’s red light district.
  2. Pray for a brothel Ashleigh goes to regularly. It was recently raided and all the women who worked there were put in prison. Pray that these women are treated fairly.
  3. Pray for the Thai Government, that they will be able to crack down on human trafficking while still preserving the dignity of victims.
  4. Pray for victims of human trafficking worldwide, that they will receive justice and be liberated.
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Fearless: taking on the Sahara Desert, raging rivers, and the sex industry

Fearless:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Joining the fight to eradicate TB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Epic cycling and powerful emotions: the impact of Life’s First Cry

Epic cycling, powerful emotions and teddy bears’ picnics:

the impact of Life’s First Cry

It’s inspired tears in some and action in others – a simple video about BMS World Mission work with mums is having a powerful effect.

A humbling number of churches have already given to Life’s First Cry, and we know more and more of you are being inspired every day by the powerful work BMS is doing to save the lives of mothers and babies in Afghanistan. Thanks to you, we have trained local women to give safe birthing training in Afghanistan’s remote mountains. Thanks to you, families don’t have to fear for the lives of their children any more.

Some churches have used Life’s First Cry at harvest time. Others have shown the video on a mission Sunday or taken a special appeal for BMS work. Again and again, UK Christians are getting in touch to tell us how powerful and moving they have found the video. We believe that is because your gifts are making God’s work happen in Afghanistan. And we wanted to share some of the amazing things you’ve said and done in support of that work, in Afghanistan and around the world, inspired by Life’s First Cry.

Taban, a mother from Afghanistan and her daughter Chehrah
Thanks to your support, Taban can focus on giving her daughter, Chehrah, a future that wouldn’t have been possible before.

After hearing about Life’s First Cry, Stanley Road Baptist Church in Morecambe decided it was important to share its message of hope for mums and babies with their children. They had the brilliant idea of running a teddy bears’ picnic in their midweek toddler group, Toddler Time, as well as a Life’s First Cry service. We think this is a great way to engage young children with mission and the church. Thank you so much, Stanley Road!

Thank you, also, Ian!

Ian Richardson on his bike outside a leisure centre
Ian Richardson took on the highways and byways of the Scottish Borders to raise money for BMS work.

Ian Richardson is a bit of a hero in the BMS office. He watched Life’s First Cry and decided he needed to do something to help. His passion for cycling gave him an idea: why not do a sponsored cycle ride? And ride he did! Ian cycled a whopping 1,016 miles across the country and raised a massive £2,273.75! Thank you so much, Ian, for supporting life-transforming BMS work!

Selly Park Baptist Church decided to get creative to support Life’s First Cry. Their Sunday School created a display that was, by all reports, beautiful, about the work BMS is doing, including information about Afghanistan and pictures of the work going on there. The display was featured in their Life’s First Cry service, where BMS guest speaker and former worker in Afghanistan Elizabeth Lee was also speaking. To top off their service, they held a harvest lunch of soup, bread and cake.

Thank you so much for the creative ways you’re supporting Life’s First Cry!

These are just a few stories of the way in which churches around the UK are using Life’s First Cry. But we wanted to find out what people outside a worship service would think. We showed Life’s First Cry to mums and dads to see what they thought of the crucial work BMS is doing in Afghanistan. The video below captures some of their reactions.

Mums and Dads react to Life's First Cry

Losing babies and mothers dying in childbirth are not easy subjects to think about. We know they bring up hard emotions and painful memories for many people. We’ve heard such encouraging stories about the sensitive way speakers and churches have dealt with it. One BMS speaker, Wilma, told us:

``A number of women expressed how they were deeply moved by the video. An elderly lady had lost a baby over 80 years ago and was able to relate to the sorrow felt by the Afghan parents.``

Thank you, Wilma, for sharing so sensitively. We hope that the support that you have helped to inspire will mean that far fewer women, in a country with less medical provision than our own, will have to experience the pain that so many families around the world face because of lack of knowledge and support.

Thanks to your help, mothers in Afghanistan are getting that support. And we are planning to help more so that they don’t have to be afraid for their children’s lives. So that children don’t have to worry they will lose their mothers.

Every church service, every fundraising activity, every share on Facebook and special collection makes a difference, and we want to say a huge thank you to the UK Baptist Family for the love and support you’ve shown for Life’s First Cry and BMS work among those who need it most.

If you haven’t watched it yet, here’s the video again:

If you’ve been inspired by these stories and haven’t yet held a Life’s First Cry service, it’s not too late! Go to our Life’s First Cry resource page to find everything you’ll need to make sure this important story is told.

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We’d love to be able to personally thank every church that supports us, so even if your church isn’t mentioned here, please know that your supporting is always incredibly important to us. Get in touch by email at mail@bmsworldmission.org or on Facebook to tell us how you have used Life’s First Cry and whether you’d recommend it to other churches to show in the coming year.

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

‘Bring me a teacher’

The Syrian girl who demanded an education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please pray

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

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

*Names changed

Saving lives in Afghanistan: four mothers tell their stories

Saving lives in Afghanistan:

four mothers tell their stories

Christians in Afghanistan are saving mums’ and babies’ lives this harvest.

Can you imagine losing ten children? Many mothers living in remote villages in the mountains of Afghanistan don’t have to imagine. It’s been their life. Giving birth used to be a terrifying prospect for these women: they never knew whether they, or their babies, would survive. For hundreds of women across Afghanistan’s icy mountains that’s all changed, thanks to transformative training courses supported by BMS World Mission. Thanks to you and your support. Children born in these villages are far less likely to die before they’ve had a chance to live. Mums don’t have to live in fear anymore.
We want to introduce you to four of these mothers, so they can share in their own words the way that you have helped transform their lives.

1. Negar: ‘The men are really helping, they’ve had the lessons as well.’

Negar, a mother from Afghanistan

My children didn’t all survive. I’ve given birth to about ten children in all, but three of them passed away from tetanus. Us women used to keep carrying really heavy loads all through pregnancy. We wouldn’t be eating and drinking very much. And we’d give birth down in the barns.

The birthing lessons have really made a difference to the way we look after ourselves when we’re pregnant. The men are really helping, they’ve had the lessons as well. They’re the ones who are saying, ‘don’t do the heavy lifting’. They’ll bring water into the house, they’ll make sure their wives get a couple of hours extra sleep during the day. This has really made a difference to the way that men behave.

And it means our children come into the world healthy and whole. They are not passing away from hepatitis, and pneumonia, tetanus.

2. Maheen: ‘If we had known about this a generation ago, it would have made so much difference.’

Maheen, a mother from Afghanistan

Eight of my children passed away. I have eight living children as well. The others died from bleeding, from other complications, from getting sick after they were born. Even my children who survived had problems when they were young. One of my sons had problems with diarrhoea and deafness for about two years when he was younger, he’s still deaf in one ear. Another had problems with his heart, and other complications. We took him to the clinic and they managed to save his life. He’s a nice, big man now. This was before we had any of these lessons we have now.
I’m one of the local midwives, and since I took part in the training and became a facilitator I’ve delivered about 35 children and they’ve all been fine. I’ve applied what I learned in the lessons and those have been healthy deliveries.

If we had known about this a generation ago, it would have made so much difference. There are so many women from this village who are not here today, because they lost blood and died during childbirth. And children who died from infections. I recently helped my friend here with a baby that couldn’t breathe. We knew how to pat it on the back, how to give it the breath of life and to start it breathing. And he’s okay now. We’ve learned so much. And we want to learn more.

Life’s First Cry, our 2018 harvest appeal, shares the hidden struggles of families in rural Afghanistan.

Click the button below to download the video and visit www.bmsworldmission.org/cry find out more about all the amazing resources that you can use to share how women’s lives are being transformed.

3. Taban: ‘I’m happy to be a mum.’

Taban, a mother from Afghanistan and her daughter Chehrah

This is my daughter Chehrah. I gave birth at home and, because Chehrah was born after we started the lessons, we knew to make the place nice and clean. And, praise God, Chehrah’s fine. She’s really well. We didn’t know much about childbirth before we had the course. Some of my other children had problems with malnutrition and things, because we didn’t really have much idea about feeding ourselves well as mums. This time, I found it a lot easier. I wasn’t so worried, and we had a nice place to have the baby. Chehrah was born in the night, and the next morning we went to the clinic to get her vaccinated.

I’m happy to be a mum. It’s a nice thing. I am really hoping I can bring my children up well, and they will be healthy.

4. Andisha: ‘What we’ve learnt here is the reason that my children are alive.’

Andisha, a mother from Afghanistan

Our kids just kept dying. Some of them would live for a few hours. Some would live for a few weeks. And then they would pass away. And that was just terrible. You can’t really cope with that kind of feeling. But after the course we changed what we do, and our children have survived. Now that we have two living children I am very happy. It’s hard to describe the difference between then and now.

It’s really great being a mum. It’s a really joyful feeling. Our house feels much better. It really made a difference that my husband went on the course as well. He was a real help when I was expecting – he helped around the house and we’ve been more in agreement. It’s brought us closer together. I am really happy now.

What we’ve learnt here is the reason that my children are alive. The lessons you have given have made all the difference in the world.

For these four women, giving birth is no longer a terrifying prospect. But for many other women in Afghanistan, it still is. Please show Life’s First Cry in for your harvest service this year to support this extraordinary work and help keep more mothers and babies alive.

Visit www.bmsworldmission.org/cry to find all the resources you’ll need, including the British Sign Language and subtitled versions of our Life’s First Cry video, collection jar labels and gift envelopes. Thank you for supporting this powerful work and giving families hope for the future.

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Four-month-old Navid yawns in his mother's arms in his home in Afghanistan
Your gifts to BMS are saving the lives of babies like Navid.

Pioneer mission: The church planters who need your prayer

Pioneer mission:

The church planters who need your prayer

Being Jesus in a village that is 100 per cent Buddhist is challenging work. Our church planters Helen and Wit Boondeekhun would love you to partner with them in prayer as they live out their faith in Wang Daeng village. Meet them and their new neighbours in this video brought to you straight from Thailand!

“We have one secret believer. But nobody really knows about this. She hasn’t been brave or bold enough to tell her friends yet, because it’s hard.”

It’s really difficult for people to convert to Christianity in Wang Daeng, in northern Thailand. BMS World Mission workers Helen and Wit have been living out their Christian faith in the village for the last two years – faithfully serving the community and trying to meet the practical needs of their new neighbours.

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They’ve been building friendships, teaching English, and helping women develop new skills. They’ve also hired a youth worker called Tah, who is training young people in football and guitar, and building relationships with their families.

Helen, Wit and Tah have become part of the community – and they’re so happy that their new friend Suree has become a believer. Now, they would love to see more fruit!

Would you pray with them for Wang Daeng? Download our prayer poster at the bottom of the page, print it out and stick it somewhere you will see it to remind you to pray for Helen, Wit and Tah, and the village of Wang Daeng.

PLEASE PRAY

  1. Pray for ten people to come to know Jesus Christ as their personal saviour in the next 12 months, through the ongoing witness of Helen, Wit and Tah. Pray that they will be the beginnings of the first church in Wang Daeng.
  2. Pray for Suree. Pray that she would continue to grow in her faith, and that God would give her boldness to share the gospel with her family and friends. Pray too that he would give Wit and Helen the wisdom to support her and disciple her well.
  3. Pray for Tah, as he seeks to build relationships and share the gospel with young people in Wang Daeng. Pray for energy, discernment and opportunities for him to pray with and encourage his football players and guitar students.
  4. Pray for God to bless Wang Daeng and all of its inhabitants with peace, joy and opportunity. Pray for real hope to drive out despair.
  5. Pray for Helen and Wit as they live and serve in Wang Daeng. Everyone knows that they are Christians, and they feel like there are thousands of eyes on them. Pray for protection and blessing on their lives, so that they can be salt and light.
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Click the image to download and print the prayer points.

The North Korea you never see – and seven prayer requests

The North Korea you never see

and seven prayer requests for this isolated nation

The power of prayer is needed more than ever in North Korea. You can play your part today.

The Holy Spirit is moving in North Korea, and it is incredible. Christians are worshipping there, praying there, and sharing God’s love there. And yes, the demonstrations of faith may well be monitored and contained, but people are following Jesus. They’re doing so with tremendous courage and belief, often alone, hidden, or under the gaze of an observer, cut off from the global community of Christians we’re so privileged to access.

What you can see below are images from North Korea. Look at the streets, the metro and the buildings, and imagine what it would be like to be a Christian there. Then read the prayers. Read them aloud, to your friends, or in church. Pray wherever you can, just don’t let them go unspoken. Don’t let your brothers and sisters in North Korea feel alone when they’re not, and don’t let the darkness stop others from seeing the light of Christ in their lives. Pray for North Korea today.

The Juche Tower in Pyongyang, North Korea, seen across a river with a barge crossing it
How amazing would it be for the Word of God to be preached one day on this riverbank in Pyongyang?

1. Pray for more opportunities to share the gospel

Please pray for opportunities for people to speak Jesus’ name and share his ministry without fear. Pray that the Bible is read and understood, and that it reaches people yet to hear the truth of our living God.

Pink and green coloured apartment buildings seen from the top of the Juche Tower in Pyongyang, North Korea
So many people in these homes have yet to hear the good news. Pray today that would change.

2. Pray for a repeat of the Christian revival

Pray for thousands of people to accept Christ into their hearts, just as thousands did in Pyongyang in the early 20th century. Pray for the Holy Spirit to sweep through North Korea’s capital city and beyond, liberating people in the freedom that comes with following Jesus.

A man reads a newspaper in Pyongyang Metro
Pray that people would come to use the Bible as their source of truth.

3. Pray for protection and boldness for Christians in North Korea

Please pray for encouragement for the Christians who want to worship openly in North Korea. Pray that they would be kept safe, and would feel the freedom of rejoicing that you feel in church.

The outside of Pyongyang Railway Station, with people milling around
May Pyongyang Railway Station one day become a start point for people wanting to share the gospel in North Korea.

4. Pray for the reunification process

Pray that the leaders of North and South Korea would repeat their handshake of earlier this year. Pray that both nations would pursue a peaceful relationship that would allow families separated by the border to become whole again for good.

A mural of Kim Jong-un and workers in Pyongyang Metro
Join us in praying for economic prosperity for the people of Pyongyang and beyond.

5. Pray for the economy to grow

Pray for economic development for North Korea, one that is sustainable and ensures people have plentiful access to food and healthcare. Pray too that leader Kim Jong-un would accelerate his country’s focus away from the military, and towards developing the economy.

6. Pray for people who need medicine

Pray that people who are sick do not suffer from the sanctions imposed on North Korea. Pray that medical supplies are plentiful, and that aid workers are not restricted in trying to reach people who need help.

Planes at Pyongyang Airport. A North Korea plane, and a Korean Air plane
Join us in praying for students who want to leave Pyongyang to study overseas.

7. Pray for students who want to travel

Please pray for North Korean students who would like to travel abroad to further their studies. Pray that travel restrictions would not be imposed upon them, and that they would be welcomed into other nations and classrooms with open arms.

You can hear more about what God is doing in North Korea by signing up to our Project Cyrus prayer network. There may even be an event coming up soon near you, so find out more today.

And while you’re here, please share this article with your friends and ask them to pray for North Korea. Let’s start a revival of hope together.

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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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Syrian mothers are desperate to send their children to school

You can help end modern slavery in the UK

You can help end modern slavery in the UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can break the disconnection that lets modern slavery thrive

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

*Names changed

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

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People are meeting Jesus in hospital

People are meeting Jesus in hospital

Hospital patients become Christians in a Muslim-majority community. Thousands receive prayer and pastoral care. And the healing that only Jesus can provide is experienced by people for the first time. All of this happens at a BMS World Mission supported hospital in Chad, where the gospel is being spread in traditional and innovative ways.

Waiting rooms can often be the most terrifying place in a hospital. Anxiety thrives among the rigid rows of chairs. And sadly, for many, so does loneliness.

The waiting area at Guinebor II Hospital near Chad’s capital may appear different to those most of us are familiar with – there are benches, not chairs, and the space is open to the elements on three sides. But we’re all familiar with the feelings that people experience there.

BMS-supported chaplain Pastor Djibrine knows them well too. He sits with patients, talking to them as they wait to be seen by a doctor or nurse.

The Bibles available for people to read provide scope for discussion, as do the Christian films shown on the solar-powered television in the corner.

Pastor Djibrine also makes bedside visits, praying with people, comforting them, and answering questions about Jesus. And while some patients ask to keep the Bibles they find at the end of their beds, others receive Scripture through micro SD cards for use in their mobile phones.

People in the waiting area at Guinebor II Hospital.

The cards contain 35 Bible stories in four languages, and Pastor Djibrine gives them to people interested in the gospel. Your gifts pay for these cards, just as they do for the Bibles. And lives are being transformed.

Pastor Djibrine (right) talks to a man at a BMS-supported hospital in Chad.
Pastor Djibrine (right) shares tea and conversation outside a BMS-supported hospital in Chad.

Abdelhaziz* was at the hospital receiving treatment for cancer. While he was there, Pastor Djibrine spent time with him, chatting and explaining his faith. Through these conversations, Abdelhaziz met Jesus and decided to follow him. When he was well enough to go home, Pastor Djibrine gave Abdelhaziz an SD card and put him in touch with believers in his home town. Having gone into the hospital unwell and far from Christ, Abdelhaziz left with his faith placed in Jesus, and part of a new community.

Another person who wanted to know about Jesus was Hassan*, a young Muslim man studying religion at the University of N’Djamena. Not only did he leave the hospital with his own Bible, he also asked Pastor Djibrine for a copy for his friend. The Holy Spirit at work outside the hospital’s walls.

Healthcare excellence and God's love – BMS worker Kat on the work at Guinebor II Hospital

Look what you've achieved in 12 months:

• Over 5,000 patients at Guinebor II Hospital were touched by the love of God through prayer, conversation, and home visits – work that continues today.

• An average of 35 people a month were given a Bible or CD with narrated biblical stories.

• One hundred people received micro SD cards containing Bible stories.

• Almost 3,500 people watched a Christian film in the hospital’s waiting room, and the films are still being shown regularly.

Through your giving, you’re helping people who are sick and frightened find healing, comfort and strength in Christ. People are getting to read the Bible, hear its truth in their own language, and receive prayer from Pastor Djibrine. And some people, such as Abdelhaziz, have decided to follow Jesus for themselves and have been welcomed into a community of believers.

Thanks to your support, Guinebor II Hospital has become a shining beacon of hope in Jesus, and we think that’s amazing.

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* Names changed

Women around the world need you to pray

Women around the world need you to pray

Freeing women from the sex trade. Giving women a voice in Afghanistan. Equipping women to start their own businesses. These are just some of the ways that BMS World Mission is working to empower women around the world. And to thrive, these women and these projects need your prayers.

Empowering women to set up businesses in Guinea

Guinea, where Caroline and Victor are empowering women by setting up self-help groups.

Women in Guinea are underprivileged, often not having the same standard of living as men in society. BMS workers Caroline* and Victor* are helping these women to set up self-help groups, where around 20 women come together each Sunday to save money corporately, which can then be loaned to members of the group. This then lets women borrow money to set up small businesses, so they can provide for their families and the community around them.

Caroline and Victor’s prayer requests:

– Pray for the woman who is borrowing £80 every two months to finance a restaurant, so she can continue to provide for her family and those around her. Pray for success.

– We’re looking for four stakeholders to form a committee, who will then provide training so more self-help groups can be established. Pray that we would find the right people for the job.

Freeing women from the sex trade in Thailand

Paul and Sarah Brown are reaching out to survivors of sex trafficking and women who’ve been sexually exploited in Bangkok, Thailand. They’re empowering these women by teaching them how to make jewellery and cakes, as well as giving them opportunities to receive business training.

Their prayer requests:

– Pray for ways we can support, empower and enable women who are survivors of trafficking.

– Pray that more traffickers will be brought to justice and that Bangkok’s local authorities will become better equipped to find them.

Paul and Sarah Brown, who free women from sex trafficking.

Giving women a voice in Afghanistan

Women in Afghanistan often don’t have a say in what goes on in their village, where men are generally the key decision makers.

Afghanistan, where our team give a voice to women by setting up women's councils.

BMS partners in Afghanistan are working to change this by creating a women’s council in every village they work in. Making sure that the council is representative of all women in the village, it regularly meets alongside a men’s council which often already exists. This allows women to have a say in important decisions that will affect them, like where the water pipelines and latrines should be built.

BMS workers Catherine* and Rory* are part of our team in Afghanistan.

Their prayer requests:

– Pray for women-headed households in these villages, where men are away working and send money back when they can. Food shortages are predicted this year, and these families will be the ones hit the hardest.

– Give thanks for the local female staff that work with us in Afghanistan – they’re amazing role models. They are showing that women can work and empower people.

Empowering women in France

It’s dangerous to be a homeless woman in France, as many face abuse or are at risk of being forced into prostitution. Christine Kling, alongside a group of volunteers, set up a day shelter for these women. It gives homeless women a place to stay, rest and eat a meal, and it’s a place of dignity and respect.

As a pastor, Christine also wants to see more women in France step into Christian leadership. Through training and mentoring, more women are becoming confident in their gifts and calling.

Christine’s prayer requests:

– The homeless shelter requires many volunteers to keep it running. Give thanks for the people currently volunteering, and pray for new volunteers to come forward to join the project.

Christine Kling, a pastor of a church near Paris.

– Pray that more women in the new generation of Christians in France will feel confident and supported in their calling as pastors.

Providing employment for survivors of sex trafficking in India

Kolkata, where we work to provide employment for women wanting to leave the sex trade.

Thousands of women from rural villages in India have been trafficked into Kolkata to work in the red light district. BMS works alongside local partners offering employment to those wanting to leave the sex trade. The women also receive training – including learning how to read and write – as well as one-to-one counselling.

Prayer requests:

– Pray for the health and safety of foreign staff in India, as they do what they can to help empower women in challenging conditions.

– Pray for wisdom and guidance as our partners look to create a further 200 jobs over the next three to four years for women wanting to leave the sex trade.

– Pray for BMS volunteers Annette and Ron Salmon as they work alongside vulnerable women in India.

We have many more workers and partners who are involved in empowering women. From projects in Uganda and Mozambique that work to educate women on their legal rights, to workers in Nepal who provide teacher training, leading to better education for girls. Please continue to pray for our workers all over the world as they help women see their God-given value. Let us know you’re praying by hitting the big blue button!

*Names changed to protect identity

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Justice League

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

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

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

The BMS-supported legal team in Beira.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luis Generoso, Executive Director of AMAC.

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

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

Lawyer Kathy Russell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Mozambican lawyers are doing just that.

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

Annet, BMS legal team leader in Mozambique.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*Names changed

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

Subscribe to Engage

Learn to do right; seek justice.

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

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

Meet the Vokuhls

Nepal bound:

Meet the Vokuhls

Pippa, Toby, Jakey, Ella and Millie Vokuhl fly to Nepal on Saturday with BMS World Mission. Find out why they feel called to mission and what they’ll be up to overseas.

After months of preparation, Pippa and Toby Vokuhl are ready to begin an exciting new chapter of their lives, serving God in Nepal. They are part of Headington Baptist Church in Oxford and have three children: Jakey (nine), Ella (seven) and Millie (three).

Amidst packing up their house, saying goodbyes and doing other last-minute tasks, Pippa and Toby sat down with us to talk about the adventure they’re getting ready to embark on.

Pippa and Toby, along with their three children, Jakey, Ella and Millie.
Pippa and Toby, along with their three children, Jakey, Ella and Millie.

Have you always wanted to work overseas?

“I would say yes for both of us – since our teenage years we’ve felt called to work overseas,” says Pippa. “We both worked in separate places overseas before we got married. I worked as a physiotherapist in Uganda and Toby worked as a carpenter in Nazareth.
“Toby and I actually met at All Nations Christian College,” Pippa continues. “So even from the start of our marriage, mission was very much on the agenda.”

How did you decide to move overseas?

“When we started to consider whether an overseas assignment might be right for us as a family and if that was something God might be calling us to,” says Toby, “it led us to start having conversations with BMS.”

“We had a Skype call with someone in Nepal telling us about the project and whether Toby would consider taking this role,” says Pippa. “As we got off the call, we both looked at each other and went, yes! This is the right one! So we both had a deep peace about this being the right thing to do.”

I’m looking forward to being able to encourage Nepali Christians and likewise them to encourage us

What will you be doing in Nepal?

“My background is in construction management,” says Toby. “I will be working with a local BMS partner as part of their disaster response and resilience department, based in Pokhara – there’s still a lot of ongoing work in terms of the reconstruction of housing that was damaged in the 2015 earthquakes.

“I’ll be working with local colleagues to help with the construction of houses, as well as training craftsmen, giving people the necessary skills to build a better future for themselves by teaching them how to improve the quality of their own homes.”

“For me, it’s a bit less clear at the moment,” says Pippa. “Initially when we get there it will be about settling the family in.

The Vokuhl family will be based in Pokhara, helping with relief work.
The Vokuhl family will be based in Pokhara, helping with relief work.

“We’ll both be doing some language study for a couple of months, and then after that I’ll be praying that God will give me the right role.”

The Vokuhls were the 'family of the week' on the BBC Oxford radio breakfast show back in November
The Vokuhls were the 'family of the week' on the BBC Oxford radio breakfast show back in November.

How did your children react when they found out they were moving?

“We were really encouraged by their response – they were really up for it and excited,” says Toby. “They’re now working through the sort of thoughts of losing friendships and how they can maintain them in Nepal, but in general they took it really well.”

What are you looking forward to when you go?

“Getting to know local Nepalis,” says Pippa. “Getting to know Nepali Christians and learning from them, being able to encourage them and likewise for them to encourage us – to be part of that global Christian family. I’m also looking forward to seeing my kids having new cultural experiences as well.”

“For me,” says Toby, “I’m really looking forward to meeting local colleagues, meeting with local Christians and joining in with the ongoing relief efforts, as well as the cross-cultural experience and the chance to learn new things.”

Even from the start of our marriage, mission was very much on the agenda

What can people be praying for?

“If you could pray for the kids,” says Pippa. “Toby and I have had experience overseas, so we know what to expect. But if people could pray for them with the transition, that they would just feel really settled and happy.”

“I think pray for general health really, that would be great,” says Toby. “It would be a shame to catch the flu just as we’re getting ready to go out!

“You can get tired and weary with all the work involved in a move, so also pray for energy, calmness and for peace. And please pray for the journey to Nepal and our stay in Kathmandu, before our journey to Pokhara where we will then settle ourselves in.”

If you’re an individual and want to commit to giving regularly to support the Vokuhl family, you can become a 24:7 Partner by clicking the box on the right.

If you’re a church and want to support the work they’ll be doing out in Nepal, you can become a Church Partner with us by clicking here.

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Could you be called to mission overseas?

Vive La Revolution

France:

Vive la revolution

God is turning lives around in hyper-secular France, where evangelical Christians make up less than one per cent of the population. You are part of the revolution.

Twenty young people become Christians at a youth conference in October 2015. Another hundred go forward to be prayed for, desiring to step out in faith when they get back home. An angry man who has had a very difficult childhood and gets agonising stress migraines makes friends with some Christians. He meets Jesus, becomes part of a church community and finds peace. His headaches stop completely.

A man who believes in God but has never had a relationship with him has a physical, almost tangible encounter with the Holy Spirit while reading Romans 6 in a Bible study with a BMS World Mission worker. He sees himself completely differently. Sees his sin nailed to the cross. He gets baptised.

The gospel is shared, heard, encountered. The revolution has begun.
It’s not the revolution of a nation – huge, unmissable and hard-won with guillotines and bloodshed. It’s a revolution of lives. Of individual men and women, won and transformed by Christ’s love in one of the most fiercely secular nations in Europe. It’s happening in the whisper. It’s happening through your support. It’s happening right now.

French-ness and the gospel – a real explosive mix

Connexion 2017, a youth conference in France, is causing a revolution amongst young French Christians.

Statistics about the evangelical Church in France are pretty discouraging. While Muslims make up seven per cent of the population, evangelicals comprise less than one per cent. France prides itself on its secularism, and the French Church has a turbulent history, which doesn’t help. “There are two worlds in France,” says BMS pastor Christine Kling, “people who go to church, and people who have no contact at all with faith.”

And yet some stories defy the statistics. They’re miracles, really. Christine’s is one of them. Until a few years ago, Christine was in that other world she describes: she barely knew anything about Christianity.

It wasn’t until 2010, when she moved to Scotland following the death of her husband, that she came to hear the gospel message and have her life utterly transformed.

Six years later, Christine came back to France with BMS, ready to share Jesus with French people who are still as far from him as she once was. Now, she’s working to revitalise a dying church.

Christine Kling
BMS worker Christine Kling, who is a pastor of a Baptist church near Paris.

Understanding that broken relationships and loneliness are huge issues for the French, Christine is using her personal experiences to share Jesus. “I always speak about relationships to explain that in Jesus I feel accepted,” she says. “I feel loved. I never feel alone anymore. There’s this new sense of freedom. I was freed of my sadness.”

Christine’s call back to France is already having an impact.

A man and his wife pray and pray for a pastor to come and serve in their rapidly shrinking church, which has been without a leader for 15 years. Just months before he dies of cancer, Christine arrives to see if she can help. He calls her an answer to his prayers.

Homeless and refugee women of all religions and none gather in Massy at a day centre organised by Christine and the pastor of the local Reformed church. They find safety and rest. They find a place to share their stories. Some of them ask for prayer.

Flashes of light in the darkness. 

Even the fact that the evangelical Church is a minority within a minority in France (evangelicals = less than one per cent, Protestants = two per cent) is actually, in some ways, a strength. “Because we’re so small, there’s no hesitation about what our role is,” says BMS pastor Philip Halliday, who heads up the Home Mission Department of the French Baptist Federation (FEEBF).
“It’s obvious – it’s to live out the gospel and to find fresh ways of communicating the good news of Jesus.”

That’s what Christine is trying to do in Gif-sur-Yvette, near Paris. And it’s what BMS workers Claire-Lise and David Judkins are doing in Brive-la-Gaillarde – in the physical and social centre of France. They’ve moved away from a traditional church service model in order to better share the gospel with people who have not yet encountered Jesus.

Hallidays
BMS workers Phillip and Rosemary Halliday travel across France, offering pastoral support.

They meet around a table, sharing food and stories, studying the Bible and praying together. The first Church Around the Table officially started in September 2016, and by January 2017 they’d grown large enough to split into two Tables, welcoming around 30 people altogether.

Six people have been baptised since the BMS church plant started.

Six people whose lives have been radically transformed. Who’ve seen the light.

Louise* is going through a difficult separation when she meets Claire-Lise and David. She’s into Buddhism, and when she finds out Claire-Lise is a pastor she tells her she is wrong. Louise is totally against Christianity. But then God touches her heart, and she starts asking questions. Amazingly, she asks for a Bible. She reads it, believes it, gives her life to Christ. She finds peace, forgives and accepts herself and reconciles with her husband. She gets baptised.

And she gets sick with cancer.

Louise’s non-Christian husband prays for her to get better and, by prayer and radiotherapy, she is healed. He gives his life to Christ and is baptised too.

Michael Harrington, David Judkins and David Braggeal
BMS worker David Judkins and part of his church planting team.

“Their whole family is transformed,” says David. “He is somebody who’s struggled with depression, and now we’re struggling to control him in the group because he’s such a goofball, making jokes all the time.”

Beyond the local church, in the very centre of the Federation, BMS workers have helped to instil a hunger for mission that is permeating the life of French Baptists. “They have given their fire and passion for mission to others at the heart of the Federation,” says FEEBF General Secretary Mark Deroeux. “People are now able to say that, yes, as Christians, it’s possible to give your life to Christ and not be afraid of being a witness.”

In a mining village in the north of France, a struggling young pastor called Thierry Auguste receives a BMS grant to pay his salary. Fifteen years later he is the President of the Baptist Federation, helping to drive the vision of churches across the nation. He says he has never forgotten the gift. Says that, “When I had nothing and BMS helped me, I felt very rich all of a sudden.” Says that the gospel is worth all the sacrifices he now makes to volunteer for the Federation, that “the fruits we receive from the ministry are most precious – they’re men and women who give their lives to Christ.”

When I had nothing, BMS helped me – I felt rich

Following a terror attack in Paris, 200 people gather together for an ecumenical service in Brive, organised by BMS workers and their church planting team. In the midst of tragedy, non-Christians come into a church to pray.

The evangelical Church in France is small, but it’s not weak. At its heart is this fire to share the good news. To reach more people. To save more hearts. And the Christians here are a tiny minority, but they are strong. They believe what they profess – if they didn’t, they’d walk away from the Church and never come back. Because it’s not normal to be an evangelical Christian, it’s hard.

And yet, there is so much in France and the French that is already a reflection of the image of God. As church planter David says: “in their creativity, hospitality, and relationships, there’s so much there that is reflective of God’s plan and desire.

“If the two could go together – this core French-ness and the gospel that’s embodied in that –then you’d have a real explosive mix.”

Fifteen new Baptist churches are being planted across France.

The number of evangelicals here is nine times greater than it was 60 years ago.

The revolution has begun. It’s not the revolution of a nation, not yet. But it’s a revolution of individual lives. It’s people coming to life. The challenge for the French Church is to dare and to keep on daring. To be bold and to speak out for the gospel. The challenge for us, France’s neighbour, with a larger, stronger, better-resourced Church, is to keep helping them to shine.

*name changed

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John and Sue Wilson
BMS workers John and Sue Wilson pastor a church in Paris, and Sue also organises the national youth conference.
Beaux Guests

They’re shining God’s light in France, with your support.

Philip and Rosemary Halliday

Philip is President of the French Baptist Federation’s (FEEBF) Home Mission Department, overseeing the 15 church plants across the country and encouraging FEEBF churches to be more outward looking. He and Rosemary travel across France offering pastoral support and vision to pastors. Rosemary is also involved in a local church’s young adults’ ministry.

John and Sue Wilson

John and Sue are breathing new life into Avenue du Maine Baptist Church in the heart of Paris. John also leads FEEBF’s Ministry Commission, while Sue heads up the Federation’s Youth Committee, which includes organising the national youth conference.

Christine Kling

Christine is the pastor of the Baptist church in Gif-sur-Yvette, near Paris, working to replant and grow the congregation. She also helps run a day shelter for homeless women, works as chaplain at a residential home in Gif and does project management for FEEBF.

Claire-Lise and David Judkins

Claire-Lise and David are pioneering Church Around the Table in Brive-la-Gaillarde. They’re building relationships and sharing Christ as they lead the church plant, which they hope will become a movement of disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

Do something wonderful: support Wonderfully Made

Do something wonderful:

support Wonderfully Made

We believe that every human being is fearfully and wonderfully made. And that includes children with disabilities, like Sam.

Sam is blind. He also has a brain condition that manifests a bit like cerebral palsy, which means he can’t really control his limbs. He is five years old.

Sometimes Sam wakes up in the middle of the night laughing. Happy. He has a beautiful little giggle and a lovely smile. He likes to be hugged very tightly – a big, strong cuddle calms him down when he’s upset.

Sam’s mum died when he was a baby, and his dad handed him over to the Thai state soon after. He’s been living under the care of BMS World Mission nurse Judy Cook since he was 18 months old. “He is absolutely gorgeous,” says Judy. “He has got this little giggle and this smile, and he is so cuddly.”

My hope is that he knows throughout his life that he is loved

Sam with Becca, one of the carers at the BMS-supported Hope Home
This is Sam. He is getting excellent care thanks to your gifts to BMS.

Without the BMS-supported Hope Home, run by Judy, Sam would most likely be living in an orphanage for children with disabilities in Bangkok, alongside hundreds of other children. And he wouldn’t be getting the one-on-one care and attention he needs.

While the team at Hope Home are doing as much as is possible, it’s unlikely that Sam will make huge progress in his physical development due to his condition. What we can give him, though, is love.

“My hope is that we give him as much love as we can,” says Judy, “and that he knows throughout his life that he is loved.”

Sam is fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Although he can’t articulate what he is thinking or feeling in words, every time he wakes up laughing, or smiles when Judy or one of her team gives him a hug, we know he knows what it is to be happy. And we are so glad.

Sam Hope Home Thailand 2017

Sam is just one of the wonderful children benefitting from your support in Thailand. We’d love to introduce you to Tada, Phil and Natalie, three of the other children you’re helping. You can meet them by watching our Wonderfully Made appeal video.

Andrew Dubock, former Editor for BMS, thinks these children are so important that he’s come back to BMS to tell you why you should get involved. Watch his video message now:

Wonderfully Made logo

If you are looking for an upbeat, positive, and important message to share with your church this harvest (or sooner, if you like!) please speak to your minister and encourage them to use Wonderfully Made. We would LOVE for churches in every village, town and city in the UK to get to know Tada, Phil and Natalie and to see how wonderful they truly are.

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And we would love to raise lots of money through the appeal to continue to support them and thousands of other wonderfully made people around the world.

As Andrew says in the video: “The important thing is that we, as Christians, help people.” Will you help us to help them by supporting Wonderfully Made?

If you are looking for an upbeat, positive, and important message to share with your church this harvest (or sooner, if you like!) please speak to your minister and encourage them to use Wonderfully Made. We would LOVE for churches in every village, town and city in the UK to get to know Tada, Phil and Natalie and to see how wonderful they truly are.

Super children - Wonderfully Made
Natalie is Captain Kindness, Phil is Mr Determined and Tada is Adventure Man in Wonderfully Made, this year's BMS harvest appeal.
Pray for Sam and the children and team at Hope Home
  • Pray for Sam to be happy and healthy
  • Pray for all seven children who live at Hope Home, that they would encounter the love of God as they are cared for by Judy and her team
  • Pray for the children who come to Hope Home for respite care. And pray for strength for their families, as they look after children with complex needs
  • Pray for energy, strength and patience for Judy and her team. Pray that they would be filled with the joy and love of the Lord as they serve the children at Hope Home, and that they would find time to rest
  • Pray for our Wonderfully Made appeal, that thousands of Christians would be encouraged by it, and that it will help us to transform even more lives
  • Pray for all the people, in Thailand and beyond, who will be helped by the money raised by Wonderfully Made. Pray that they might experience fullness of life

Six aspiring Christian leaders get baptised in the Amazon

Video:

Six aspiring Christian leaders get baptised in the Amazon

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

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

If you haven’t, now is your chance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

100 families drink clean water thanks to UK Christians

A community and school in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains have access to safe water thanks to UK churches and BMS World Mission.

Imagine having to walk for three hours to collect river water so that your children can have something to drink. Some hot food to eat. A way to be clean.

Imagine carrying a full 20-litre jerry can on your head up steep hills in the hot sun, because if you don’t your whole family will suffer.

We all need water – but for many communities in Uganda, accessing it is a daily struggle. That’s why people in Musyenene, a village in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, are so thankful for the rainwater tank UK Christians have provided for them.

By supporting BMS, you’ve helped to transform lives in Musyenene. Find out how by watching this two-minute video:

Every time it rains, families in Muysenene and surrounding villages can access to up to 10,000 litres of water. People who used to have to walk for hours to collect river water can now get clean water much closer to home. This is not only saving time – especially for mothers and children who are generally responsible for collecting the water – it’s also affecting the spiritual and physical health of the community.

“Because of the tank, sanitation is okay here now,” says Ezra Muhind, a teacher at Musyenene’s school, which educates around 300 children from the surrounding area. “The tank has improved the health status of people in the community.”

Asumini Namatovu, a mother of five, says that the water tank has helped her family a lot. “My children are now healthy. They are drinking safe water,” she says. “I send a lot of thanks to the people who gave us this tank, because for a long time people did not have water and were suffering.”

School teacher Ezra Muhind says that the water tank has improved the health of the community
School teacher Ezra Muhind says that the water tank has improved the health of the community

Musyenene Baptist Church, which is the custodian of the water tank, is also noticing a change. Pastor Kasoro Tadeo, who leads the church, says that the tank has opened up opportunities for him to meet new people and invite them in. As a result of supplying free, no-strings-attached water, the church has welcomed more people into the family.

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Villages in the Rwenzori Mountains have access to clean running water thanks to UK Christians
Florence and Namatovu no longer have to walk for miles to get water for their families

Pastor Kasoro and the team looking after the water tank make sure that each person in the community takes only their share so that no-one in need goes without and everyone benefits from the water. The result is that families who once went to sleep without drinking or bathing don’t have to anymore. They now have access to clean water close to home.

“Water is life,” says Pastor Kasoro, “and without it, nothing can be done.”

Thank you for bringing life to Musyenene!

 

With special thanks to St Cuthbert’s, Rye Park, for their support of this project.