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.

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. 

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.

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)

Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – June 7th 2022

Daniel Centre

Luisa came online today to be introduced to me and a couple of the Daniel Centre lads are in phone contact with Alex, Soreen & Ovidio in prison.  They will be able to visit them soon and take in food parcels that Luisa is preparing for them.   The expected new arrival has materialised – his name is Robi and he is in the process of applying for work at the nearby supermarket.

The new Ukrainian refugee family in the Daniel Centre apartment show little sign of wanting to learn Romanian or English and have little meaningful contact with Balazs.

Balazs and Finlay MacKenzie were able to visit churches in Ukraine but encountered issues in channelling Christian Aid and Blythswood money through them.  They were put in touch, however, with a Dutch-sponsored Christian NGO in the Ukraine which is eager and available to interact with them.

Talita Kum

Because Balazs has been visiting Scotland recently and also spending a lot of time getting involved in the Ukraine, 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 1st 2022

(excerpts)

Christians attacked after blasphemy allegation

Barnabas Fund, 24 May 2022

Several Christians were injured and homes destroyed by a mob of Muslims in Bauchi State, Nigeria, after a Christian woman was accused of blasphemy in a WhatsApp message.

The woman, Rhoda Jatau, had shared a video in which a Ghanaian convert from Islam protested the killing of a Christian student Deborah Samuel (who was stoned and clubbed to death in Sokoto State after allegedly insulting Muhammad) and allegedly made disparaging remarks about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

A group of young Muslims people searched for Jatau after Friday prayers on 20 May, but she had already been moved to a safe location.

The Muslims then attacked the Christian community, injuring several Christians including the pastor of a local church.  They tried to burn down the church building but, being unable to get access, set fire to adjacent buildings.

The mob also looted Christian shops and businesses, as well as setting more fires.

Bala Mohammed, the governor of Bauchi State, has ordered security forces onto the streets in an attempt to preserve order.  “My administration has a special regard for peace and religious tolerance and I will not fold my arms to allow unpatriotic people cause trouble in any part of the state,” he said.

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons Update – June 1st 2022

Give thanks that Fraser had a very good meeting yesterday with representatives from Mukhanyo Theological College.  It now seems definite that Fraser will be supporting them with the provision of an online library catalogue across all their campuses and also their sister colleges throughout South Africa.  The latest issue of the NetACT journal was published today, and Fraser is now in the process of finalising details for his trip in July with staff from the Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary.

The RJ follow up sessions Dawn leads on Mondays are going well.  This week we discussed anger, which led onto fear.  The teaching on anger at Pardeberg prison was used to defuse a potentially violent situation in one of the rooms.  Pray for Ebrahim in Drakenstein Maximum to be fully released from the temptation to suicide.  Decades ago he was in contact with satanists.  Now he’s a firm follower of Jesus and has seen many answers to prayer.

Pray for the communities where drug taking and crime are increasing exponentially.  The men worry about the dangers that face their children outside.  Pray the men’s altered lives would be part of the change and they would be able to trust God enough for their families.

Zebulun church in Wellington is planning an outreach soup lunch on Thursday.  Pray that they continue to make a positive impact in their gang-ridden area of Wellington.

Recognising individual talents, weaknesses and misfits is very important.  Pray especially that the leadership of the prison ministry will be aware of this.

Please pray as we gather documents to apply for a renewal of our visas to stay in South Africa.

Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – May 18th 2022

Daniel Centre

Development work at the Depot has gone well and is almost ready.

Luisa has now contacted Alex, Soreen & Ovidio in prison and is working on getting food parcels to them as prison food is minimal.  Luisa continues to be very effective in getting the lads more co-operative in the Centre which, with a new arrival expected, will be back up to capacity.

The Ukrainian refugees who were in the Daniel Centre apartment have now returned to the Ukraine and a new family has come to replace them.

Balazs, along with Finlay MacKenzie, Blythswood’s Elpis Foundation in Romania and churches in Ukraine, is now building up a team to handle the money channelled through Christian Aid and Blythswood for reconstruction and for internally displaced persons in Ukraine.

Talita Kum

TK1 and TK2 are now working normally again, have added extra-curricular activities and are preparing their children’s fair for the town onsite at TK1 on June 1st this year.  Adi is also preparing a summer camp and an HIV camp and possibly a children’s outing in Austria.