Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – December 6th 2022

Daniel Centre

In his new Blythswood capacity, Balazs has been visiting the Divine Grace University in Moldova, a Blythswood partner there, and also to meet up with Ukrainian partners since the Christian Aid security advisor has told him not to visit Ukraine directly for the time being.  The University also functions as a mission school and training college for nurses and social workers with many students from the Stans of the former USSR.

Julien and Cipri prepare to leave the Centre later this month to share an apartment.  Damian has been back in the Centre for a week but his attitude has not improved and he may be expelled again. 

Blythswood has received a further “winterisation” £450,000 from Christian Aid which has to be spent before the end of February for generators, fuel, wood-burning stoves etc.  The communities themselves have to decide how to use the money under the SCLR initiative (Survivor Community-Led Response).

Talita Kum

Adi has paid the final bill to the Romanian body of EU funding for cancelling the TK3 and TK4 project for the time being but was able to do it without having to pay a fine, thus leaving open the relaunching of the project at a future date.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Pastors, Newly Marrieds Arrested at Reception – November 30th 2022

International Christian Concern, November 30, 2022 (excerpts)

Nine Christian pastors were arrested and jailed on false charges of conversion activities in Azamgarh, in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on Monday. 

The pastors and a recently married Christian couple were arrested by police at a wedding reception. Radical Hindu nationalists pressured the police to act against the Christians. 

Witnesses told how the pastor of an Assemblies of God Church hosted a wedding reception at his house for his daughter and son-in-law.  During the reception, police raided the home and confiscated Bibles and other Christian items, alleging that the gathering was a conversion program.  The pastor explained that it was purely a wedding reception for his daughter, but police ignored his pleas and arrested the pastors and the newly wedded couple. 

“These days are very challenging days in our state,” a Christian leader from Uttar Pradesh said.  “More than 200 churches were shut down in the last few months, and 52 pastors and Christians are reeling in the prisons across the state of Uttar Pradesh.”  

Another Christian leader said, “Christians are living under the fear of being targeted and attacked for no reason, and police just need a complaint for them to act and send them to jail under the anti-conversion law.”

The United Christian Forum (UCF) recently released a report which said that violence against Indian Christians is at an all-time high.  This year saw the highest spike in incidents across India.  Uttar Pradesh was the most egregious, with 149 attacks against Christians.

Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Update – November 30th 2022 (excerpts)

Approval granted to 125 churches in Egypt

Barnabas, November 22, 2022

The government of Egypt licensed 125 churches and church-affiliated buildings on 14 November.

It is the 24th batch of approvals made since the government committee overseeing the licensing process started work in 2017.

The decision brings the number of churches granted licences to 2,526 out of the 3,730 that applied for registration after a Law for Building and Restoring Churches abolished Ottoman-era restrictions on church buildings in 2016.

At the committee’s previous meeting in April, members approved 239 churches, their largest batch.

To obtain a licence, churches must prove land ownership and comply with structural and safety regulations, including the provision of fire extinguishers.

Before the committee started work it was extremely difficult for churches to obtain a licence and many congregations had no option but to worship illegally in unlicensed buildings.

In 2018 the government permitted Christians to worship in unregistered buildings pending the completion of the licensing process.

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons Update – November 30th 2022 (excerpts)

At Drakenstein Maximum Bible study Walter, a long term resident and regular Bible study attendee, objected to another man sitting beside him, got up and sat by himself at the back.  Dawn reminded him that, as a follower of Jesus, you are to forgive anyone who offends you.   Walter returned to his seat.  Later in the class he apologised to the other man.  That took – strength and humility. 

Ebrahim in Maximum says he’s innocent and it often leaves him very depressed.  His wife believes and supports him.

Teswill in Medium A is quietly evangelising, particularly with Smee, a senior general in the 26 prison gang.  The Holy Spirit seems to be moving in Smee’s life.  Pray for wisdom for Teswill as he relates to Smee.

At the year-end events in Maximum and Medium A, many men came to individually thank Dawn and Hylma for being there all year.  They delegated a man to give public thanks and a letter including thanks to our husbands for their support, assuring them we’d be looked after if there was any trouble.  Another man, very talented in art, gave each of us an original work of his.  At Maximum, Dawn played 3 carols with men of the guitar group and the rest of the men singing along.  It was quite something.

A prison officer wanted to talk to Dawn one to one for counselling.  They have a very difficult job with great strains on their family lives.  Thank God she is there to listen, maybe another great opportunity.  She returns to Maximum next week for one-to-ones with 3 men and hopefully a proper chat with the officer.

Fraser is still trying to get the latest NetACT journal issue published before he leaves for the UK.  He travels to the UK on Thursday.  He is in the Dingwall area from 5th-21st December.  He flies home with Dawn on January 18th.      

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Mali – Missing – Presumed Kidnapped – November 30th 2022

Aid to the Church in Need, November 22, 2022 (excerpts)

Fears are growing that a priest who disappeared in Mali has been abducted by Islamist militants.  German missionary priest Father Hans-Joachim Lohre went missing on Sunday (20th November) after celebrating Mass at a convent in Bamako, the country’s capital.

Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) was told by the Missionaries of Africa – known as the White Fathers – that everything points to him having been kidnapped.

Father Lohre’s car was found abandoned and a cross which he always carried with him was lying on the ground.

The priest, who worked in Mali for more than 30 years, before his disappearance, told ACN that missionaries faced potential danger from Mali’s growing Islamist militant groups.  He said: “We are an easy target, but we have a mission”, adding “we have been told that the jihadists are watching us.  The jihadists come in groups, on motorcycles, and the local communities have to make deals with them. They are forbidden from ringing church bells and drinking alcohol, and women are forced to wear the veil.”

But he stressed that concerns about his personal safety did not keep him from continuing his ministry in Mali.

Extremist groups have overrun swathes of central Mali, imposing Shari‘a in the areas under their control.

“Therefore, it is crucial that we foster good relations with the Muslims around us.  We provide Christians with deep knowledge about Islam, so that when they return to their communities, they can help to build bridges and make contact with the surrounding mosques.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Woman Restrained by Family Opposed to Christ – November 30th 2022

Voice of the Martyrs, 10 November 2022 (excerpts)

Sita is a 65-year-old woman and the only believer in her family.  She was an active member of the church, but three years ago, her son married a woman who is aggressively opposed to Christianity.  The daughter-in-law turned the family against Sita. 

Since that time, the family has barred her from attending church.  Sometimes she is able to slip out to a women’s fellowship group.  Front-line workers have given her an audio Bible so that she can listen to God’s Word when she is alone at home.

84 percent of Nepalis are Hindus.  Hinduism is more prominent in the south, along the Indian border, and Buddhism is more prominent in the north.  There are small Muslim and Christian minorities as well as a growing Marxist (atheistic communist) movement.

The government of Nepal is taking an increasingly strong stand against religious conversion.  Despite the 2015 constitution that guaranteed religious freedom, Parliament passed a bill in 2017 criminalizing conversion to Christianity.  Christian communities are small, but they boldly witness for Christ despite harassment and risk.

84 percent of Nepalis are Hindus.  There is a small, visible Christian community in Nepal, but believers experience opposition from extremists among the Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Marxist groups.  Christians face harassment and beatings from local Hindu nationalists who envision Nepal becoming a “pure” Hindu nation.

Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – November 9th 2022

Daniel Centre

There were concerns from their night supervisor Sergiu that he had detected the smell of marijuana when some of the lads were having a party downstairs but the boys have categorically denied this.  The day supervisor Danny has also admitted to the occasional joint.  A recent addition to the residents, Darian, evidences an addiction to slot machines and perhaps to drugs and there is concern that he is funding his ‘hobbies’ through shoplifting.

Louisa continues to profit from regular counselling and a Christian Aid guru will do a safeguarding and accountability course with her when she visits Romania next week.  Louisa feels she needs more excitement and challenge in her work.

James Campbell, the head of Blythswood, has recently visited Balazs to see their projects in the Ukraine and Romania.  Overseas funding has dropped for the Blythswood projects, probably war-weariness in the West, and they plan a new appeal in the New Year.  In the meantime, they will be cutting down the number of projects they can support from 14 to 6.  Most of the shoe-box distribution will now have to devolve to local groups and churches which receive the bulk of the shoeboxes in Romania and the Ukraine.

Talita Kum

Adi will keep TK1 and TK2 separate till the end of the year with 84 mostly Roma primary school and 4 high school children and then relocate the TK1 children to the TK2 building because of heating and lighting costs.

Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Update – November 2nd 2022 (excerpts)

Barnabas Fund, 26 October 2022 (excerpts)

Burkina Faso is in danger from Islamist militants, warned army Captain Ibrahim Traore when he was sworn in as interim president of the country on 21 October.

“We are confronted with a security and humanitarian crisis without precedent,” said Traore, who ousted his predecessor, the military leader Paul-Henri Damiba, in a coup on 30 September.

“Our aims are none other than the reconquest of territory occupied by these hordes of terrorists,” he added. “Burkina’s existence is in danger.”

Damiba himself had seized power in January, forcing out Burkina Faso’s last elected president, Roch Kabore.

Both coups resulted from anger among soldiers at the authorities’ failure to curtail Islamist groups who have carried out relentless attacks on civilians, many of them targeted at Christians, at the cost of thousands of lives.

Since 2015, jihadi violence has spread from neighbouring Mali and Niger to affect most regions of Burkina Faso, particularly the north and north-east.

It is estimated that Islamist groups control at least 40 per cent of the country and that two million people have been forced from their homes because of the insurgency.

More than 6,000 schools are shut, 50,000 teachers are without work, many thousands of children have no education, the terrorists prevent people from farming and carry away all the cattle.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

100 Killed in Somalia Terrorist Attack – November 2nd 2022

International Christian Concern, 31 October 2022 (excerpts)

Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, launched a deadly attack in Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu, on Saturday, October 29.   

Two cars packed with explosives blew up within minutes of each other near the city’s busy Zobe intersection.  Following the explosion, militants opened gunfire on passers-by.   

According to a statement released by Somalia’s president Hassan Sheikh Muhamud, “So far, the number of people who died has reached 100 and 300 are wounded, and the number for both the death and wounded continues to increase.”

The attack took place at the same intersection where a truck laden with explosives blew up on October 14, 2017, killing 512 people and injuring over 200 more.  That attack was the deadliest in Somalia’s history and has also been attributed to Al-Shabaab.   

Police spokesperson Sadik Dudishe released a statement following the October 29 attack describing some of the victims of the attack, which included women, children, and the elderly.   

He said, “the ruthless terrorists killed mothers.  Some of them died with their children trapped on their backs.”

Please pray for the victims of this recent terrorist attack in Somalia.

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons Update – November 2nd 2022 (excerpts)

Everything seems to be in place for Fraser’s trip to Lesotho next week.  One of the trainees is so keen that he has already started using the software. 

Ryan Faber, an American missionary based in Zambia, has agreed to take responsibility for updating contact details for the NetACT community. 

Dawn’s session at Maximum was again cancelled, this time because there was no member of staff available to sit in with the Bible study.

The Drakenstein Prison Commissioner is not friendly towards spiritual work within the prisons and has the capacity to block many things.  Pray that she’ll see how God can make an unimaginable difference in the lives and behaviour of the men, that she’ll rise above the character she’s displaying at the moment and that whatever makes her hostile will be overcome by God’s healing touch.

We still don’t know if the twice postponed Restorative Justice process at Drakenstein Medium A will go ahead from November 28th.  Sometimes the inmates lob difficult questions at Dawn and Hylma.  Pray for wisdom and the ability to communicate clearly.

Pray for Alfred in Medium A who longs to break the cycle of prison – release – prison in his life.  He has never had a South African ID number and South Africa is a country where it’s hard to do anything without your ID card.  

A man whom Dawn was trying to help get over alcohol problems has starting drinking again to the dismay of his family.  Pray for wisdom for Dawn as she tries to help.