The new resident with severe psychiatric issues, also a Ionuz, has been off drugs for the last 6 weeks since they, combined with his psychiatric medication, can make him suicidal. The other Ionuz is now a very positive influence in the Centre but struggles with money management.
Finlay MacKenzie is now on his final visit to Romania before retirement. Jeremy Ross, son of Jackie Ross (the founder of Blythswood), takes over from James Campbell as the Blythswood CEO next week and will be monitored by James till he officially retires in 4 months’ time.
There has been no recent movement on contractual negotiations for renting their depot in Cluj. Balazs has visited Montenegro, part of old Yugoslavia, and Blythswood have undertaken to support a church there, largely composed of Roma refugees who now have citizenship in that country. The pastor, himself a refugee from Serbia, does not yet have citizenship in Montenegro.
Blythswood are still looking for a Ukrainian, among the 10,000 Ukrainian refugees in Cluj, to be responsible for what they are doing in the Ukraine.
Adi has now raised the salaries offered by Talita Kum in line with government salaries. His own daughter returns early from pregnancy leave to fill one vacant post and Adi is doing some teaching himself.
He already has about 10 older children who have graduated to high school into a fledgling TK3.
Updates on the persecuted Church – 12 September 2023
Barnabas Fund, 12th August 2023 (excerpts)
- A church minister in southern Kaduna State, Nigeria, was burned to death on 7 September by Fulani Islamist extremists. Three other men were able to escape, but he died in the blaze. “There was no reaction or support from the military forces,” said a senior church leader. Pray that security forces will be awakened to the need to protect Christians.
- A man and a woman in Nepal were attacked on the morning of 5 September for preaching Christianity. A group of extremists handed both Christians to the police. Church leaders report attacks on 7 church buildings in the last 3 weeks. Pray that the 2 arrested will not face charges despite the vague wording of a law banning “hurting religious sentiment”.
- 5 suspected jihadists have been arrested and 5 bombs discovered in Kampala, the capital of Uganda just days after the arrest of another member of the bomb plot as he attempted to enter a church service with an explosive device on Sunday 3 September. All men are linked to the Allied Democratic Forces who carried out a school massacre in June.
- A new report raises concerns that the Azerbaijani blockade of Armenian Christian enclave Nagorno-Karabakh, which began nine months ago on 12 December, represents the beginnings of a new Armenian Genocide.
Fraser thankfully recovered all the old data after severe technical issues when upgrading some of the NetACT servers. Pray for the systems to be up and running for staff and students throughout Africa without much delay. He has now been invited to help another theological college in South Africa with their library set-up.
The NetACT theological journal may see changes in the near future – possibly joining forces with Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa’s new journal.
Thank God that Dawn is developing good relationships with prison staff at Drakenstein and was able to give one warder a lift home today.
She has offered to provide one to one counselling for men at Medium A from the Restorative Justice course. Pray for a suitable time and for promises made during RJ to be kept.
At least 3 Jehovah’s Witnesses attend the Maximum Bible study every Saturday and their influence seems to be growing. Pray they will hear the truth, question what they learn from JWs and know Jesus for who he is.
Pray for the leaders, staff and volunteers of Hope Prison Ministry to be inspired, humbled and surrounded by God’s power and love.
Thank God for 2 good Bible classes at Drakenstein today. In Maximum we looked at Honesty in Earning – how much harder to be honest or trustworthy if everyone else is being dishonest. It was encouraging when one man gave an example from his cell cleaning rota. Some inmates don’t clean properly so it is tempting for him to do a shoddy job too. Then he remembers who he is and who he really is working for, so he cleans the room thoroughly, for God.
The new resident with severe psychiatric continues to be a challenge but Ionuz has benefitted greatly from his time in the Centre but still struggles with money management. They have now lost 3 lads within a few weeks but are expecting two more coming in.
One of Blythswood’s partners in the Ukraine has dropped out since they have other sources of funding who require less accountability than Christian Aid. Negotiations continue for funding of Ukrainians still in Romania.
Balazs’ wife Agnes is coming on Blythswood staff to deal with contractual negotiations for their depot in Cluj. A potential tenant would like to lease the whole depot.
Blythswood are still looking for a Ukrainian in Cluj to be responsible for what they are doing in the Ukraine.
Adi has still not found replacements for the two teachers he has lost and may have to take a more active role in TK2 himself.
He already has 8 older children who have graduated to high school and therefore has them in a fledgling TK3.
Updates on the persecuted Church – 22 August 2023
Barnabas Fund, 22nd August 2023 (excerpts)
- On August 19, Ehsan, a young Pakistani Christian man, uploaded a video on his TikTok account showing solidarity with the Christian community in Jaranwala, Punjab following anti-Christian riots on August 16. Ehsan, from Sahiwal, 62 miles to the south, was accused of uploading a “blasphemous” message in the video that was hurtful to Muslims’ feelings and dishonouring to Islam. He and his family were forced into hiding once the complaint was registered with the police.
- Pastor’s wife Peace Chinyereugo was fatally wounded and her husband Samuel was injured in a shooting outside their church in Edo State, Nigeria on August 14. The church’s assistant pastor was also injured. The pastor and his wife had just arrived at the church in their car when 3 gunmen approached and opened fire. The pastor and his assistant both received hospital treatment. Ask the Lord to draw close and comfort Peace’s family and friends. Pray for healing for Samuel and his assistant as they recover from the trauma of the attack.
- 2 Myanmar churches and a pastor’s home have been damaged in airstrikes by the military in Christian-majority Chin state. 7 people were injured when a church and a residential home in Ramthlo village were hit on August 12. The same day a pastor’s home in the courtyard of a church in Hakha city was damaged in a missile strike. A church was also hit in an airstrike in Kayah state on August 12. Pray for healing for those wounded in the airstrikes.
Simxolele, a young man with a face full of prison tattoos, sometimes comes to Bible study in Maximum. Most weeks he’s evangelising other inmates and can’t make it. He’d been in and out of prison many, many times, always visited by his parents and thinking he always would be, until his mother told him that if he was sent back again, she wouldn’t visit any more. She wanted him to change his life. The next time he was sentenced she was true to her word. She has neither visited nor answered his phone calls. He was sure she hated him and covered his face with bitter and dangerous symbols. Then he met Jesus.
Now he has left gang activity behind and is living out his faith humbly in the room, helping the older men, washing up for them and showing the change in his life. Give thanks for the warders who care and try to help the men.
Pray that Dawn will have wisdom and understanding to interact with the men. There’s an opening for someone to do another Bible study at Allandale Prison. Pray that Dawn will know whether to volunteer for that gap.
The NetACT Journal Board meets soon to appoint a new editor. Pray for wisdom. Fraser is setting up the Mukhanyo Library system to automatically print spine labels and book plates. It is painstaking finicky work to get everything matching the labels they already have..
Serina, a lovely lady in our Wellington church, holds a street Sunday school in the town, sometimes in a field where the gangsters gather at the edges and gang-related gunfire accompanies the lesson. Pray for her safety and that of the children.
Another resident has been expelled for drug use and a new resident has arrived with severe psychiatric problems at the request of the local psychiatric hospital. So, challenges continue, particularly for the night staffers, Sergiu and Avram.
Balazs has a significant load of paperwork with Christian Aid increasing their requests for accountability from Blythswood’s partners in the Ukraine over the next year’s funds. Negotiations are also going on for the funding of the Ukrainians still living in Blythswood premises in Cluj.
Because of other paperwork commitments, Balazs has fallen behind with contractual negotiations for letting the Blythswood depot in Cluj.
Blythswood are also looking to take on a suitable Romanian who speaks Ukrainian to be responsible for what they are doing in the Ukraine.
Adi’s summer camps have all gone well and the Blythswood shops in Jimbolia continue to be a major contributor to the running costs of the afterschool TK1 and TK2 activities.
Having lost the Head Teacher for TK2, Adi has now reported the loss of a key teacher in TK1 – both because of the recent salary increases in the public sector.
Despite these setbacks, Adi has not given up his dream of launching TK3 for older children.
Voice of the Martyrs, 17th August 2023
Mateo and Elena are church planters advancing God’s kingdom in Central Mexico. Elena was diagnosed with a rare brain aneurysm that required surgery. However, in the most recent round of tests, the doctors found that the aneurysm had been healed. One even called it a miracle from God.
Still, Elena and Mateo continue to face enormous pressure to stop their gospel outreach, including threatening phone calls, an unexplained fire in their house, and spiritual attacks on Elena and their two young daughters.
The couple are worried for the safety of their children, even fearing that they could be kidnapped and trafficked. Pray for the physical and spiritual safety of this family and for comfort, wisdom, encouragement, and healing as they continue to bear witness for Christ.
Specific areas within southern Mexico have a high concentration of indigenous minority groups. These minority communities, which maintain a separate identity and language, are systematically oppressed by local authorities. Christians among them are persecuted by Marxist and animist groups as well as village leaders.
Tribal leaders persecute Christians in defence of their indigenous culture, and the federal government allows this. These communities are remotely located and difficult to reach. Despite persecution, the number of Christians has continued to grow in these areas.
Updates on the persecuted Church – 14 August 2023
Barnabas Fund, 25th July 2023 (excerpts)
- 21 people were killed in 2 Christian villages in the Barkin Ladi Area of Plateau State, Nigeria on 9th August. Fulani Islamist extremists attacked Batin village at around 1.30am, killing 17. The gunmen then murdered 4 more people in nearby Rayogot community. Twelve of the dead were internally displaced people who had fled to the area to escape previous extremist violence. Local Christians had warned security services that the latest attacks were planned but say the authorities failed to take action to halt the gunmen. Pray for an end to this persistent anti-Christian violence.
- The number of Christians arrested in Iran in the first 3 weeks of July has risen to 69. At least 10 are still being detained. Those released say they were forced to sign commitments not to undertake any Christian activities, or ordered to undergo Islamic re-education classes. Almost all of those arrested are converts from Islam. Ask the Lord to sustain those now forced to refrain from meeting with other Christians or to attend Islamic classes.
- A Christian charity worker and her daughter who were abducted in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 27 July have been released. The charity announced, “It is with a heart of gratitude and immense joy that we at El Roi Haiti confirm the safe release of our staff member and friend, Alix Dorsainvil and her child!” Join with our brothers and sisters in praising God and giving thanks.
Thank God that the taxi situation is quiet now and the taxi owners, Western Cape government and City of Cape Town authorities are talking to each other. Pray for a fair and lasting situation and no more violence or disruption. Pray that those caught up in the violence, looting and disruption and who are now suffering emotionally and physically will be given peace, healing and restoration.
A topic at Maximum today was sparked by a question from a young man who acknowledged he’d made many bad decisions in his life but is very keen that all his future decisions will be putting what God wants first. Pray that he will keep to this and that all who are eager to put God first will see clearly how to do this in their lives.
Pray that the men will not put on a well-behaved persona in the Bible study but be deeply involved in gangs or other ungodly activities/mindsets when back in the room.
Fraser is now moving to set up definite dates for upgrading some of Hugenote College’s systems. Please pray that this goes smoothly. He is discovering more intricacies with getting the church’s tax status in order.
Ruth is coming to visit us. Pray for a smooth journey on Friday, no taxi disruption whilst she’s here and a good (if short) rest to recover from the Glasgow bugs.