Danutz, who has been off work for months, has left the Centre for a week to stay with Cipri, a former Daniel Centre resident. The 3 social work students, who have been doing their practicum there, will cook Christmas dinner on December 18th while Jeremy Campbell, the new CEO is in Romania. He will be there for a 3-day visit to Ukraine with Balazs and Olga – their new Ukrainian organiser – to make their next Shoebox film. They will do this in co-operation the Heritage Foundation and Light of Reformation in Ukraine.
Contractual negotiations for renting their Cluj depot have stalled as the principal renter is not willing to meet their minimum rent price.
Balazs has just returned from a 21-day sponsored trek in the Annapurna range of the Himalayas in Nepal.
Christian Aid funds have been delayed for the first time and that is putting pressure on the Ukrainian partners.
Balazs will then accompany James Campbell as they fly out on January 10th to visit the projects that Blythswood sponsors in Africa.
There is no current update on Adi’s afterschool work with the children in TK1, TK2 and TK3.
NetAct has no finance and hasn’t fulfilled its obligations to Hugenote College for months. Fraser met with the NetACT office manager and will have further meetings next month to discuss the future direction of NetACT.
Much of his recent work has not been directly for NetAct. His library, online learning and IT experience are of great value to the theological colleges he’s been helping. This could continue with or without NetAct. Whether we could continue living where we are depends on Hugenote College and how much rent they would ask from us. Unlike in Nigeria, we have no real feeling that our time in South Africa is coming to an end.
During Fraser’s time in Pretoria, he was training Lutheran Theological Seminary in a new library system which they had installed without fully understanding how to use it.
After the theft of his phone last week, he is still struggling to get everything set up on his new phone, including connection to the church bank account for his responsibilities as church treasurer and re-connection to his UK bank account. Dawn is scheduled to go to the UK so can get him a new UK SIM card there.
At Maximum Bible study, a man spoke of a very high ranking 28 gang member who was fasting because he wants “the Holy Spirit to touch him” – obviously some sort of spiritual awakening within him. Pray believers will reach out to the broken man behind the powerful gangster.
Pray for inmates for the very hot Christmas period to be a time of deepening of their faith, service and character-building and to be peacemakers as tempers fray in the heat and frustration of prison life.
Things have been going more smoothly for Fraser as he finalised manuals he needed for providing training for a Seminary in Pretoria this week. He arrived there safely, and the training got off to a good start. Pray the week will be beneficial for all, for the rest of his time there, especially delivering training on one part of the system for the first time and for safe travel home on Saturday.
He and the editor are working hard to produce the next issue of the NetACT journal by mid-December. The British Library recently suffered a massive cyber-attack, and is still not available for other libraries to access its catalogue records online – a problem for several colleges Fraser supports which rely on the British Library to get good catalogue records for their books.
Thank God for the desire of Drakenstein inmates to draw closer to the Lord and have the courage to change, even if foregoing the “privileges” of criminal behaviour inside. The Lord really is behind it all.
Dawn needs strength to do everything whilst Fraser is away and wisdom for us as we talk to those God puts in our paths. Though Dawn got a puncture on the way home from the airport, it was just outside Wellington and close to someone who was able to help and change the tyre.
The Boland office of Dawn’s local area seems less provided for in finance and personnel than Cape Town and especially Pollsmoor, though we have many prisons here. Since 2020, more staff and volunteers have left than have been recruited. A Pollsmoor stalwart (ex-gangster, a man who connects with the inmates) wants to move his family to Wellington to help here – an answer to prayer for a backup for Dawn in Drakenstein? The fields are ready but there are so few workers.
The Daniel Centre is now stable with 6 positive residents and little drug issue. 3 social work students have been doing their practicum there and have been having good interaction with the residents.
Contractual negotiations have started for renting their Cluj depot as they wait for the completion certificate on their rebuilding project. The Blythswood chairman David Laing has now visited Montenegro and has given his blessing for their support to the Roma church there.
Balazs has just returned from a 3-day workshop in Chișinău, Moldova with Blythswood’s Richard from Belfast, 2 Christian Aid staff and representatives of their 3 Ukrainian partners – the Heritage Foundation in Odessa, Light of Reformation in Ternopil and Serve Now in Irpin, to discuss their ongoing aid to that country. Some of the partners’ workers have miraculously escaped relatively unhurt from having their van bombed by a Russian drone.
Blythswood have now taken on Olga, a Ukrainian living in Cluj with her husband, to be responsible for their Ukrainian work. She will make quarterly visits to the Ukraine but not initially with Balazs and Jeremy Ross for the filming of the next Shoebox appeal as it will clash with her daughter’s singing in the church choir.
Balazs leaves soon for a sponsored walk with a friend in the Annapurna range of the Himalaya in Nepal.
There is no current update on Adi’s afterschool work with the children in TK1, TK2 and TK3.
Updates on the persecuted Church
Barnabas Fund, November 8th, 2023
Hyacinth Alia – a church leader and Governor of Benue State, Nigeria – condemned a violent attack on three Benue villages on 17 October in which nine people were killed. He also called on security forces to act against the armed militants. Around 45,000 Nigerian believers have been killed in anti-Christian violence since 2009. Ask for the Lord’s intervention to bring peace for our brothers and sisters, and for all people.
At least 26 people were killed on 24 October in a Christian area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Extremists attacked residents in the town of Oicha with machetes. An estimated 5,500 have lost their lives in anti-Christian violence in DRC since October 2017. Pray for an end to this terrible violence.
The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention issued a “red flag” warning on 1 November highlighting the risk of an Azerbaijani invasion of Christian-majority Armenia. Armenia is currently hosting nearly 120,000 thousand refugees who have fled the Armenian Christian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh since a 19 September Azerbaijani attack. Ask the Lord to protect His people from further attack and to provide for those who have been forced to flee their homes.
The two colleges in Pretoria which Fraser is assisting with library cataloguing both need a lot of help. Issues with hardware on the ground are causing headaches and Fraser is limited in how much he can do remotely.
Another college in Potchefstroom reached out to Fraser for help but hasn’t responded to his initial response. Fraser must know if he needs to incorporate them in his scheduling. He is frantically trying to balance his time between six different projects now.
The Head of Drakenstein Maximum has given the go-ahead to the new music initiative. Pray that the ocarinas will arrive safely from the USA – the best place to order them from. May music touch the men and open feelings and abilities they didn’t realise they had.
Many more men in Maximum want to start the Explore the Bible course. Pray they will learn to apply Jesus’ teaching to their own lives and continue thinking and questioning customs they take for granted. After Dawn mentioned how some Nigerian churches turned women away for wearing trousers, even if they were genuine seekers, one man asked if more restrictions are put on women than on men (they all agreed such behaviour wasn’t right).
Alexander, an ex-gangster prison ministry colleague of Dawn’s, has written a short testimony about his life and of how God has changed him. Now he’s dedicated to serving God and to being as good a husband and father as he can be.
Pray for those who live in townships and areas where violence has become the norm and life is lived in a constant low-level warzone.
Ionuz with the severe psychiatric issues is doing better and has moved on to a rental apartment. The other Ionuz continues to be a very positive influence in the Daniel Centre and does well at work.
Dany had a small accident with his eye but is back at work again. Jeremy Ross, the new Blythswood CEO, will visit Cluj in December to make the new Blythswood film on shoeboxes and will include the Ukraine on this visit. Balazs is still busy with Christian Aid work and they will have an initiation workshop in Moldova next week with 10 Ukrainians, 2 Blythswood workers and 2 Christian Aid workers.
A Ukrainian refugee had moved into the Daniel Centre apartment but has been given notice to move on after beating up the two boys of the woman already there and asking the Daniel Centre lads for drugs.
The lawyer representing the potential renters for their depot in Cluj has had an accident which is delaying the contractual negotiations.
Blythswood now has 5 possible Ukrainian candidates for a position with responsibility for Blythswood’s activities in Ukraine. They think they know which candidate best fills the job profile.
Balazs sets out with a friend on November 19th to do a “Just Giving” sponsored walk in the Annapurna range of the Himalayas in Nepal to raise funds for Blythswood.
The Talita Kum 1 & 2 teaching is going well with Adi and his daughter now filling their vacant positions. They have 70 children to work with in addition to the 7 children in the fledgling TK3.
The Shepherd’s Academy continues to grow.
Barnabas Fund, 17th October 2023 (excerpts)
Barnabas Aid’s theological and pastoral training programme, The Shepherd’s Academy (TSA), continues to grow, with over 800 grassroots church leaders from more than 30 countries now registered. TSA provides training opportunities for church leaders in the Global South who often struggle to access formal training or education to support them in their God-given calling as leaders of the church.
600 leaders are undertaking short courses while 200 are studying for an undergraduate degree. Less than a year ago there were just over 400 students registered.
TSA programmes combine guided self-study and online classes, keeping overheads low. Each undergraduate student is linked to a local TSA study centre. There are now 20 such study centres in 12 countries.
“I might never have had this kind of opportunity to study without TSA,” says Pastor Godwill, “With the kind of tutorials and tutors we have at TSA, and the small amount of money we pay as tuition fee, I can only say we have been favoured by God to have TSA.”
Barnabas Director Dr Patrick Sookhdeo says, “Our mission is to form in a new generation of leaders the character and integrity that will give them the foundation to face their challenges, find hope in hopeless situations and counter untruth with truth.”
Give thanks for the excitement and joy when a college wants to do something advanced, gets a long list of complicated instructions from Fraser, follows them perfectly and can provide resources to their students. (Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary in Windhoek)
Fraser has just started helping the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Pretoria. The librarian’s computer was stolen last week.
Justo Mwale University in Zambia is going through hard times just now.
Another small theology college in South Africa has reached out to Fraser for help.
Dawn had 2 lively sessions at Drakenstein Maximum and Medium A on Self Control in Saving and what the Bible has to say.
A man in Maximum, when he was a juvenile and awaiting trial, prayed to Jesus Christ (whom he did not know) promising that if the case was dropped he would follow him. The case was dropped; the man forgot his promise. Next time, the same thing happened. Before the next trial, he heard the Lord say, “No. This time you go to prison so that you can truly repent and follow me.” The man got a long sentence but is now one of the most enthusiastic members of the Bible study.
A couple of the men in the Medium A Bible study are being released on parole very soon. Pray they find a good Christian community and not forget all they’ve been taught in prison. Pray they find jobs and make most of the new chance.
Updates on the persecuted Church – 10 October 2023
Barnabas Fund, 11th October 2023 (excerpts)
- A church leader in Algeria has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and a £605 fine for holding an unauthorised religious meeting in a place not permitted for religious worship. Pastor Youssef Ourahmane, of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), in March 2023, supervised Christian families who stayed at a church compound including a chapel sealed by the authorities. Since closures began in 2018, 41 of 45 EPA churches have been closed, 15 of them physically sealed. Pray for Youssef’s appeal against his sentence and for the Algerian people.
- 29 were killed and 56 wounded when the Buddhist extremist Myanmar military bombed a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Christian-majority Kachin State on 9 October. The victims had fled another IDP camp after being forced from their homes. Ask the Lord to bring an end to anti-Christian violence in Myanmar, and for peace for all people.
- 2 pastors have been targeted in separate incidents in southern Nigeria. Pastor Nicholas Omoroka escaped after gunmen shot at his house. His son Christopher, in his 20s, was killed in the attack. Pastor Agbadamashi Emmanuel and family were abducted on 6 October. May the Lord comfort Pastor Nicholas and family in their loss and for Pastor Agbadamashi and his family to be freed safe and unharmed.
- The first church building to open in the modern Muslim-majority Turkish Republic was inaugurated on Sunday 8 October in Istanbul. Church leaders and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took part in the inauguration ceremony.