Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – June 29th 2022

Daniel Centre

Robi has found work at a nearby supermarket, Ionuz is still inactive, had to be put out for a few days and has returned quite chastened.  Dani too moved out with friends for a few days but has now moved back in.

The Ukrainian refugee family in the Daniel Centre apartment are now preparing to return to the Ukraine.

Balazs is very taken up with channelling Christian Aid money to three mainly Baptist NGOs in the Carpathia, Odessa and Ternopil areas of the Ukraine.  The first tranche of money – £420,000 – has already been forwarded, but this is only the beginning of a 3-year programme.  Pray for the NGOs as they handle this amount of money and for Balazs as he is responsible for keeping them accountable.

He has a 10-hour drive from Cluj to the Ukraine to meet with representatives of the NGOs, speaks no Ukrainian and has to rely on a translator.

Talita Kum

Because Balazs has been spending so much time with the Ukraine connection, he has not been in touch with Adi in Jimboliya for an update on his activities there.

Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Update – June 29th 2022 (excerpts)

Christian Vietnamese family forced out of home

Barnabas Fund, 24 June 2022

A Christian family in Vietnam’s Nghe An province have been forced from their home village for refusing to re-convert to a local animist religion.

The local authorities on 4 June voted to expel them from their home village in Ky Son district, confiscated their livestock, a plough, and wood for building a house, as well as cutting off electricity supplies for a week.  The family home was also attacked with stones.

A child was denied a birth certificate without which they may be unable to access healthcare or attend school.

The family has sought refuge elsewhere, requesting help from central government to resolve the ongoing issues.

In a report to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam, 26-year-old Xong Ba Thong said his family, his parents and younger siblings converted to Christianity in 2017 after hearing evangelistic radio broadcasts.

He explained that in 2019 local authorities told the family that “it was against the law to follow another religion”.

The family applied to join the Vietnam Evangelical Church General Assembly, a legally recognised religious group, and their application was approved in April 2022.

According to Thong, “they said the law has no effect here, in this province.”

The family are from the Hmong ethnic group who suffer the worst persecution in Vietnam.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Change of Tunisian constitution on Islam? – June 29th 2022

Barnabas Fund, 23 June 2022 (excerpts)

A new draft of Tunisia’s constitution does not name Islam as the North African country’s state religion.

In May 2022 Sadaq Belaid, a legal expert appointed to oversee the drafting process by Kais Saied, President of Tunisia since 2019, said that the aim of the change was to combat Islamist extremism.

The new draft, submitted to President Saied on 20 June, will be voted on in a referendum on 25 July.

“80% of Tunisians are against extremism and the use of religion for political ends,” said Belaid earlier this month. 

“If you use religion to engage in political extremism, we will not allow that,” he added.

President Saied confirmed after receiving the draft, “The next constitution of Tunisia won’t mention a state with Islam as its religion, but of belonging to an umma which has Islam as its religion.”

“The umma and the state are two different things,” the president explained.  Umma is the global Muslim community or international Islamic world.

The population of Tunisia is 98% Muslim but the country has since 2014 had a guarantee of freedom of religion.

The Christian community includes some Tunisian converts from Islam and their children.

Local Tunisian churches are not prevented from functioning but have no legal status so cannot own property.  Converts from Islam are stigmatised by the majority Muslim community and may be rejected by Muslim relatives.

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons Update – June 29th 2022 (excerpts)

The Restorative Justice course was allowed to continue at Voorberg even though the gang-related stabbing of an officer caused the rest of the prison to be shutdown. 

The first day brought early insights to one man who told of abuse towards him and his family by the farmer they worked for and on whose land they lived.  This produced a great hatred of all white people, expressed in his crimes against them.  He was also plotting how to destroy the farmer and his family once he was released from prison.

Just a few hours into the RJ process he realised that what he was doing was wrong.  Instead of planning murder, now he’s planning to write a letter to the farmer, explaining the effects of his actions and taking a step towards changing his future.

We frequently hear “I’d never known that before.”    Several confessed they’d been planning revenge once released but now know it’s not the way to go.   It’s about presenting the facts and encouraging the men to look at themselves and their actions honestly.

39 inmates take part in a room with no covid-distancing and acoustics that make it difficult to hear what the men say.  The family restoration day on Saturday was a big occasion but facing tough questions from loved ones and telling the truth makes a huge impact.  The families who came heard the truth from their men, which is sometimes hard to bear but marks the start of a restored relationship.

Pray for Fraser’s trip to Namibia in July, that he will be able to fit everything into the time he is there. 

We presented our applications for our visa extensions for the next three years in Cape Town last week.

James flies out to visit us next week, arriving on Tuesday.  He and Fraser haven’t met in the flesh since August 2018. 

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Christians beheaded by IS in Mozambique – June 29th 2022

Barnabas Fund, 21 June 2022 (excerpts)

Islamist militants raided a Christian village in northern Mozambique on 17 June, beheading one resident.

The raid by terrorists linked to Islamic State is the first in recent years in Nampula province.

IS has also claimed responsibility for the “beheading of several Christians” in raids across Cabo Delgado province, to the north of Nampula.

The militant Islamic State-affiliated organisation Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama effectively gained control of an area of Cabo Delgado in 2017.

The province has been termed “the Land of Fear” owing to brutal violence meted out against both Christians and moderate Muslims.

Beheading, skinning and cutting off the limbs of their victims are the group’s typical methods, with one expert commenting, “What they do to the people they capture and kill I have never seen anywhere in Africa.”

In late 2021 Mozambican, Rwandan and South African forces had started to drive the Islamists back. However, the Islamist insurgency now appears to be spreading.

In December a pastor in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado was abducted and decapitated by Islamists, who then ordered his widow to carry the head in a sack to a district police station and report the murder.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Home Burned, Children Killed by Radical Hindus – June 29th 2022

Voice of the Martyrs, 23 June 2022 (excerpts)

Sahid and his wife, Memona, have 6 children and live in a small Hindu village in Pakistan.  In April 2022, a Hindu religious leader and one of Sahid’s relatives confronted Sahid and Memona about their Christian faith.  The religious leader questioned why the couple had not attended Hindu festivals or participated in Hindu prayers. 

The leader and Sahid’s relative threatened them to renounce their faith in Christ, but they remained firm.  Around 2 weeks later, their home was set on fire, and the 2 youngest children were killed.  When they notified the police, the authorities tried to pressure them to claim the fire was an accident. 

All Pakistani Christians face difficulties, discrimination and persecution because of their Christian identity.  Some take great risks to witness to Muslims, baptize converts and gather them into churches, and many Christians are working tirelessly to equip, encourage and educate Christian youth.  Some boldly share the gospel and distribute God’s Word in Muslim neighbourhoods and cities, some of them home to extremists like Taliban. 

Approximately 98 percent of Pakistanis are Sunni and Sufi Muslims.  There are roughly 4 million Pakistani Christians, nearly 2 percent of the nation’s population.

Christians converts from Islam and Pakistanis born into Christian families are persecuted by their communities, Islamic extremist groups and the government.

Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – June 21st 2022

Daniel Centre

Robi has successfully found work at the nearby supermarket, but Ionuz is still inactive, had to be put out for a few days and has returned quite chastened.  Dani too moved out with friends for a few days but has now moved back in.

The Ukrainian refugee family in the Daniel Centre apartment are now preparing to return to the Ukraine.

Balazs is very taken up with channelling Christian Aid money to three mainly Baptist NGOs in the Carpathia, Odessa and Ternopil areas of the Ukraine.  The first tranche of money – £420,000 – has already been forwarded but this is only the beginning of a 3-year programme.  Pray for the NGOs as they handle this amount of money and for Balazs as he is responsible for keeping them accountable.

He has a 10-hour drive from Cluj to the Ukraine to meet with representatives of the NGOs, speaks no Ukrainian and has to rely on a translator.

Talita Kum

Because Balazs has been spending so much time with the Ukraine connection , he has not been in touch with Adi in Jimboliya for an update on his activities there.

Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Update – June 15th 2022 (excerpts)

Attack on Assyrian Christian family in Turkey

Barnabas Fund, Jun. 13, 2022

An Assyrian Christian family were attacked in a village in Mardin, Turkey, after a church service on Sunday 5 June.

The service in Mor Gevargis Church was the first held in the building in almost 100 years. The renovation of the church was started in 2015 by the Assyrian Ancient Foundation.

After the service the Yilmaz family – the only Assyrian family who live in the village – were attacked at their home by a group of 50 Muslims.  The family were entertaining visiting clergy officiating at the service at the time.

The attackers were led by a Muslim family with whom the Yilmaz family have had a long-standing dispute over land.

The mob attacked the home with stones, sticks and other weapons.  They then set fire to wheat being grown on lands belonging to the Yilmaz family.  None of the family were injured, and the fire was eventually extinguished after witnesses alerted the police.

Some members of the Muslim family were arrested in connection with the incident. 

Cengiz Yilmaz said, “But we are not afraid. We will continue to stay here.” He accused the attackers of choosing the day of the church ceremony to re-open the land dispute.

The tiny remnant Christian community in Turkey, including a small number of converts from Islam, still bears the trauma of the genocides of the early 20th century, in which at least 3.75 million believers were killed by Ottoman Turks.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Christian Man Beaten to Death in His Home – June 15th 2022

Voice of the Martyrs, Jun. 09, 2022

After becoming a prominent, active leader of his church, Kalithas received threats from Hindu extremists in his community.  They warned that he would face severe consequences if he continued his bold witness in the village. 

On Dec. 16, 2021, four men came to his home and started kicking his gate.  Kalithas rushed toward them, asking why they were destroying his property.  The men threw alcohol in his face and started beating him.  When he fell to the ground, three men held him down while the fourth struck his head with an iron rod. 

After the men fled, villagers rushed Kalithas to the hospital.  He remained in a coma until he died on Dec. 20.  Pray that the four men who killed him are brought to justice and also come to know Jesus.  Pray for Kalithas’ family and pray that villagers who hear his story will also put their trust in Christ.

The island nation of Sri Lanka, off the eastern coast of India, is still rebuilding from a civil war between Buddhist and Hindu factions that ended in 2009.  The government has put significant efforts into resettling those displaced during the conflict between the majority-Buddhist Sinhalese population and the Hindu Tamil separatists.

There are strong churches in the country as well as parachurch organizations that provide Bible training, theological education and missions training.  Churches in Sri Lanka are actively sending missionaries to other countries in South Asia.

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons Update – June 15th 2022

(excerpts)

Ebrahim in Drakenstein Maximum is teaching other inmates to play instruments and now leading the chapel music group.  He wants to introduce as many as possible to Jesus and the non-believing drummer has now committed himself to the Lord.  He was teaching a regular to play the song “Still” (Hide me now) but only knew the chorus, not the melody or lyrics.  On Monday Dawn had packed a random selection of music to take on Tuesday.  One of the pieces was “Still” which she left with Ebrahim.  Isn’t it wonderful when God arranges such things?

Hylma asked Michael in Maximum 2 weeks ago to read the Psalms (probably Psalm 46).  He couldn’t believe what he read first: “Stop fighting.” How did Hylma know he’d been fighting days previously?  Hylma hadn’t known but God had and the Holy Spirit worked through her.  May he grow more like Jesus, persevere in his theology and strengthen his relationships with children and family outside.

Pray for the 6 men at Obiqua Restorative Justice follow up sessions every fortnight who see their attitudes changing.  One kept quiet when a warder scolded him in a derogatory and insulting way.  Before there’d have been a fight.  Pray they’ll break the cycle of violence and despair.

A Restorative Justice course at Voorberg Correctional Centre starts next week.  Pray protection for us all  – the enemy is unhappy when his territory is invaded.

Gideon, Medium A, is to be released on parole next week,  resolved to rely on the Holy Spirit in the outside world.

Fraser waits for final confirmation from Mukhanyu College of the level of library support they need.  It is likely he will also help provide a catalogue for the John de Gruchy library (a Christian theologian who resisted apartheid).  Fraser visits them next week for their needs on the catalogue setup.  NETS staff will provide him with what he needs for his training trip to Namibia.  (11th – 13th July)