SOMA strikes spiritual gold in South Sudan
A team from SOMA UK (A Faith2Share member) went to South Sudan recently to hold a youth conference and were warmly greeted in Wonduruba, 85 miles west of Juba - an area that has suffered at the hands of various inter-group rivalries. Team leader Ron Hart says that some of the local insecurity from inter-group tensions has escalated into community violence and spilled into the church - particularly affecting young people. "We were the first visitors for very many years, and our presence itself generated excitement, curiosity and faith. Bishop Matthew and the delegates all spoke with warmth and enthusiasm for the conference. It had come at just the right time for them, and they said it had greatly helped the reconciliation process," said Ron. Some people received healing, including one elder who arrived with a walking stick and ended up dancing!
IEM helps people read in villages
A community-based literacy awareness programme led by Indian Evangelical Mission has attracted more than 56 people at one sitting drawn from several neighbouring villages in Chhattisgarh state, central India. Held in Sathlawand village at Panchayat community hall, the meeting started with a cultural song by a woman from one of the villages and a play acted out by the literacy teachers to encourage people to think about the importance of literacy. “I have never been to school and I did not even know how to read my name. Now I can read and write my name, I am so happy,” commented Mrs Sukumani, of Chinnari village after the classes. IEM says it has seven literacy centres in its Batri mission field in Chhattisgarh state and has a goal this financial year of starting 10 more centres to make at least 100 more people literate.
Pray for peace in Ukraine
Faith2Share's partners in Ukraine - and Crimea in particular - are asking for prayerful support amid the uncertainty of the current crisis there. Church leaders and Christians from both Russia and Ukraine are also urging the global Christian community to join them to pray for the end to this dangerous situation and for the leaders of these countries to reach an agreement and restore peace. Sergey Rakhuba, president of Russian Ministries, reports that Yuri Sipko, a prominent evangelical Russian leader and former president of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia, has issued a challenge to the church in Russia to resist pro-war rhetoric and propaganda, and to stand high with their prayers and spiritual responsibility. Sergey Rakhuba adds:"Please pray specifically that evil forces would be stopped in any attempt to destabilise, divide and conquer Ukraine. Pray there would be no bloodshed as a result of this conflict and peace would be restored. The church in Russia and Ukraine would emerge stronger and more unified in order to serve as instruments of reconciliation and peace and to be salt and light to those around them."
Faith2Share goes fact-finding in Central Asia
Faith2Share associate director Anton Ponomarev is travelling for much of March. His first port of call is Central Asia where he will be seeking to encourage local emerging mission movements and exploring how we can partner effectively with them. As he explains: "This is a fact-finding and relationship building trip. We are always trying to find out what God is doing through emerging missions and in Central Asia we do not have much knowledge and influence - so we are looking at trying to partner appropriately with those partners we know." At the end of March (22-30) Anton and Faith2Share's regional coordinator in Asia, Vijay Isaac, will be facilitating a Faith2Share Depth Discipleship Consultation in Nepal.Please pray for these two trips.
Restrictions on Christians in Syria
Syrian Christians are requesting continued intercession for their country following the formalisation of rules of submission by an extremist group in control of the town of Raqqah. That's the message from Middle East Concern (MEC), which reports that measures include Christians having to pay a special tax, known as jizya, and having to conduct their religious rites behind closed doors in places of worship and in ways that are not visible or audible to Muslims. Also, no Christian symbols can be visible. In public, Christians have to abide by Islamic commercial, dress code and dietary regulations, says MEC. Let us pray that Christians in Raqqah would know the daily presence, protection and peace of Jesus and let's pray too that a solution can be found for the whole Syrian crisis. Read more on this MEC report here.
Join a pilgrimage towards water justice
Christians are invited by the Ecumenical Water Network (EWN), a network of churches and Christian organisations promoting people's access to water around the world, to use this season of Lent to reflect on how we can be better stewards of God’s Creation and live out God’s love in how we relate to others. Since 2008, the EWN, part of the World Council of Churches, has campaigned to create awareness on water issues around the UN's World Water Day on 22 March. Weekly reflections and other resources on water are being posted on WCC's website for the seven weeks of Lent. This year's contributors of reflections are eco-theologians and church leaders including Dr George Zachariah of the Mar Thoma Church in India and Rev Dr Stephen Larson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva, Switzerland.
Youth camps bear fruit across Peru
Local youth leaders have successfully organised Christian camps for 17 to 25-year-olds in different parts of Peru. A common thread is that for the first time all three of this year’s camps were headed up by local youth leaders themselves, with youth-ministry coordinator Lizbeth and Paul in a more supervisory role.That's the message from Paul and Sarah Tester, who are missionaries with CMS (a Faith2Share member), in Lima.“This year’s youth camps have been a time for seeing fruit," say Paul and Sarah. It was encouraging to see how Alexandra, from San Patricio mission, Ventanilla, (one of the young people whom Paul has invested in over several years) took a lead and showed in prayer times how her faith is growing. In Arequipa, Victor, youth coordinator for the south, did a great job of organising the camp for that region. Six young people from far-flung Juliaca also joined the camp in Arequipa - some of whom had first met when they began to visit new missions five years ago. Meanwhile, three young men from a recently formed mission in Chiclayo, in the north of Peru, travelled 480 miles to Lima to attend the youth camp.
Dalits speak out against discrimination
"The cry of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in India has not been heeded by successive Indian Governments and these groups face discrimination on several counts. In society they face harassment and difficulties because they are born into Dalit famlies - and the Indian government discriminates against them because they are not Hindus." That's the message from the Dalit Christian community, who were sharing about their struggles with the UN special rapporteur on religious freedom and belief, Prof Heiner Bielefeldt - at a meeting organised by the National Council of Churches in India. He is currently in India (18 to 27 February) at the invitation of civil society organisations, the Indian Social Institute and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. For more information, go here.
Mission worker's plea for flood victims in Bujumbura
Please pray and help the victims of the recent floods in Bujumbura, Burundi who have lost family members and seen their homes destroyed. That’s the message from Deogratias Niyonzima, president and legal representative of Christian Community Development Burundi (CCDB) – a Faith2Share partner and based in the capital of Bujumbura. Deogratias and a team from CCDB, were the first people on the scene to help the victims of the torrential rains, flooding and landslides in the northern areas of the city. More than 100 people were killed, in one of the poorest parts of the capital, and at least 12,000 people are now homeless as their homes have been swept away. The rains began on 9 February. Deogratias was in Nairobi last week for the CMS/CMS Africa People in Mission conference where he shared his concern with Faith2Share. Support can be sent directly to Burundi through CCDB here.
Africa conference provides food for thought
People in mission from across Africa and beyond have returned to their respective ministries after a thought-provoking conference organised jointly by CMS and CMS Africa (both Faith2Share members). Held last week in central Nairobi, Kenya, the event saw more than 100 missionaries gather for fellowship, knowledge sharing, worship and visits to community development projects (including a transformational dam and agricultural project in Yatta, south of Nairiobi, pictured). CMS executive leader Philip Mounstephen and CMS Africa head Dennis Tongoi talked about shared strategies and set out their vision for the future. "As people in mission we are harvesting leaves of the tree of life - as salves and balms for wounded hearts and minds to a wounded world," said Philip. Quoting the last line of an old English poem, he added: "Mine, O thou Lord of life, send my roots rain." Serah Wambua, of CMS Africa, summed up: "This is my prayer that the Lord will send my roots rain" – an encouragement for delegates as they returned home.