As Paul wrote to the church in Rome, ‘preaching the gospel where Christ was not known’ remains at the heart of the vision of many missions. Sending workers to preach that gospel among people groups in West and North Africa, the Middle East and beyond who do not know Christ demands commitment and determination, both from those who go and the organisations and churches that send them out. Good sending involves adequate training, which is where our course fits in.
We had 12 adults and one little girl representing 7 nationalities – Germany, Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, South Korea, Brazil and South Africa. Someone from another mission also attended part-time.
Where were they going?
The biggest group went to Bourofaye Christian School (BCS) in Senegal, and two others went to North Africa and the Middle East. All of the destination countries have very few believers, which means that long-term cross-cultural mission is essential to reach the people there with the gospel. Without practical support such as teaching and caring for the missionaries’ children, many long-term workers find it almost impossible to stay. Our group members are an essential element in church planting teams. Ten of the staff are now in place, and the Belgian family are engaged in pre-departure training.
How was CBC involved?
CBC kindly agreed to host the course in 2017, following the sale of the WEC property in 2016. Given how well it went, we repeated it this year.
Paul wrote to the Romans:
“I plan to do so [visit the Christians in Rome] when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.”
Just as the church members there were encouraged to assist him on his journey to the unreached, so CBC assisted our group members on their journeys with the same purpose.
We had over 50 people directly involved, some giving many hours, in hosting, child care, catering, transport, devotional messages and more. The support and engagement was brilliant and so much appreciated. Without the enthusiastic and committed involvement of so many CBC members the course would not be possible. Thanks too to those who were involved in prayer and encouragement for us and the group.
Our group also contributed to each Sunday morning service and in Junior Church, as well as running a mid-week session where they spoke about their journey into mission and were prayed for.
What was the course about?
The course at CBC has a specialised focus on working with missionaries’ children to help equip teachers, family tutors, administrators, and dorm staff for their roles. It covers safeguarding (including health and safety), looking after boarding children, emotional well-being, teaching skills, the missionary kids’ experience, cross-cultural transition, specific country information and Christian education. There was also input from several visiting speakers.
How are they doing?
The new staff members at BCS have settled in well. Angela sent us this photo, which also includes Philip who attended last year and several others who were unable to come.
Angela talks about her class:
Teaching the youngest year group has many joys. There’s never a dull moment as curiosity is a common trait throughout the day. They love learning new things and my heart is filled every time I see them grasp new concepts. The children don’t usually hold grudges, so each day is a fresh start. You can get to know them quickly because all of them are very open and enjoy sharing their opinions. They can be selfless, thinking about other people, and they often choose to pray for others and their pets. Watching them progress and grow as individuals, as well as a collective group, reveals how much God loves the little children and how important it is to see the world with a loving, child-like vision.
The two ladies who went to other places are also doing well. Keep praying for their adaptation and integration into the culture.
Yes! The course will again be hosted by CBC, and the dates are 21st July – 1st August. The 21st-27th July are for all participants, and the extra few days will focus on additional skills needed for teaching assistants and dorm staff.
climbed the gangway Friday 9th November for the first time, quite a
moment for us all as this has been four and a half years in the
planning. A tad emotional after spending two weeks living in the middle
of Conakry, Guinea as part of the Mercy Ships On Boarding programme
intended to give us the experience of living alongside the culture in
which the AFM (Africa Mercy) is operating in. During this time Lynne
helped out in a youth centre offering English language lessons to
Guineans whilst Matthew and Stuart built some kitchen units in one of
the accommodation units the workers are housed in.
for our work, Matthew has the hardest job as he is outside on the deck
in the heat of the day, he has been brilliant and we are so proud of him
as he just gets on with chipping rust, painting and storing ship.
Lynne is learning the role of ward administrator. My carpenters role is
great, I have built special tool boxes, fixed locks and made coat racks
and storage shelving for the academy. Our
commute to work is a matter of minutes. Each flight of stairs are only
16 steps, however, with nine decks we have no idea how many ‘stair
steps’ we take each day (particularly Stuart and Matthew) – and our legs
sometimes really feel it!
We have been out and about in Conakry a little and have grown quickly accustomed to the poverty and chaotic traffic. We will venture further afield in the coming months and hopefully have access to one of the ship’s vehicles.
are now into December and the AFM certainly has a full calendar of
events leading up to Christmas embracing the many cultures and
traditions of the crew volunteering here – actually it started late
British crew had a surprise gift of chocolate Advent calendars, courtesy of Mercy Ships UK office (thank you!!) and on 30th November this year the AFM had their first ever classical evening. Lynne accompanied a duet for ‘Panis Angelicus’, there was Spanish folk guitar, an opera singer and piano solos. Good fun and an opportunity to dress up. (We’re honestly not on a cruise!) On 1st December, we helped decorate the ship for Christmas and in the evening there was a brilliant ‘African Gala’, hosted by African crew who were fundraising for their ‘On Boarding’ fees which they will be doing on the ship (the same as we did in Texas). On Wednesday 5th December we celebrated the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas – the calendar says ‘Sinterlaas’ so not really sure how it’s spelt – however he came to the ship (on a boat we think!) and gave presents to the children. We went out for ice cream afterward!
Ice cream in the evening seems to be a favourite pastime for many Mercy Shippers. Thursday evenings
are community evenings with some worship and a message. This week’s
was very special as the children from our Academy led this and also it
was a ‘Global Gathering’ where we have a live link with the ISC in Texas
and national offices and remote workers can also listen in too! The
MCs in both Africa and Texas were superb! Friday 7th December
was a British crew Christmas which involved mainly eating British
Christmas snacks – and Christmas pudding – sent from the UK and chatting
with other British crew members of which there are quite a few! Yesterday, Saturday 8th
we ventured out with a few others in a minibus to Dubreka waterfalls
(we wanted to get there before they dry up in January as the rainy
season is now over).
were well worth going to and a swim in the pools was just lovely. It
made up for the 3 1/2 journey back in chocka- block roads, fumes, lane
closures & generally chaotic roads. Our driver took good care of us –
and certainly knew some side road (?track!) diversions!
When we got back we went to the Deck and Engineering BBQ and karaoke and another amazing sunset on the upper deck. (Deck 8)
Had a quick shower (two minutes only here on board!) before going to Winter Wonderland – another AFM tradition – where some hugely talented crew make all sorts of things to sell to other crew as fundraising for their crew fees. (Some crew work so hard raising money to be here.) Today, Sunday, is a rest day for us before the start of another working week!
Work continues as
normal – all day, every day as we are a hospital ship! Our commute to
work is a matter of minutes. Each flight of stairs are only 16 steps,
however, with nine decks we have no idea how many ‘stair steps’ we take
each day (particularly Stuart and Matthew) – and our legs sometimes
really feel it!
children’s orthopaedic ward is pretty much constantly full and will
continue to be during the six weeks of orthopaedic surgery which
continues until Christmas. Lynne sees, and hears, every day, the
painstaking and hard work involved in learning to walk following
surgery. Teams of nurses, doctors, rehab specialists are all on hand.
Maxillofacial surgery also continues as well as some other general
surgeries. The work here is truly inspiring and humbling. A screening
team have recently been upcountry in the last couple of weeks (a good day or so travelling just to get there!) and already patients are starting to arrive in preparation for surgery.
following are a couple of patient stories which our communications
department have cleared for crew to share in blogs, newsletters, etc
Thanks to all who are supporting the work of Mercy Ships with financial help for Matthew and we are pleased to say all finances are in place for our first year of service. Just a a reminder that if you want to follow this blog and have it appear in you email inbox please put your email address in the box at the foot of this page.
Prayer points for us…–
for physical strength for Matthew and Stuart working in the African sun
and for endurance and compassion for us all as we work alongside Mercy
Ships medical crew to deliver healing and hope to the forgotten poor. –
as we celebrate Christmas here in Guinea and for our family and friends
back home that we will all know the true meaning of Christmas.
‘For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; and the government is upon His shoulder, And His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.’
Tickets are sold out for all three sessions! There are still opportunities to help on the day and to provide mince pies etc. Please sign up on the sheets on the table at the back (by the red Christmas card board) or contact Rhiannon Price.
Carols by Candlelight Service – 16th December
Next Sunday evening is our carols by candlelight service. If you would still like to be in the band for this special service, please contact David M.
Christmas Service Offerings – 2018
On Saturday 15 December, the offering taken at the Farmyard Nativity Events will be given to Compassion UK’s “Most Needed Fund” and will be used to support the work of their Child Survival Programme in many poor communities across the world.
On Sunday 16 December, the offering from the Carols by Candlelight Service will be sent to support the work of the Oasis Centre, our mission partners in Austria working alongside refugees. In February,we will be sending out a Building Team to renovate a toilet and make it fully accessible for the disabled; the money will be put towards the costs of this work. If you are able to gift aid your donation, special yellow envelopes for your monetary offering are available on the table at the back of the building. Please do mark them “NATIVITY – COMPASSION” or “CHRISTMAS – OASIS”. When the offering is taken on the day, only the contents of the yellow envelopes, and loose cash/cheques will be included in the offering total. Blue envelopes will be treated as regular giving to the general work of the church. Please do pray about how you can contribute towards this offering, and speak to Paul G (COTG Rudloe), Michael P (Priory Street 9.15) or Roger H (Priory Street 11.15) for clarification.
Our(red) Christmas card board is at the back. Please use this to pin your card to the CBC fellowship (pins in glass jar on the table). If you have cards for specific people/families, please hand deliver personally or post (please do not put/leave on the tables at the back as we end up with scores of unclaimed cards by the end of the festive season!!). There is also a card to sign for the Littles as they celebrate their first Christmas on Africa Mercy!
The men meet in the hut tomorrow night for another “fight night” prayer meeting. Please speak to Ian H if you would like to know more about this.
Women’s Christmas Meal – TOMORROW NIGHT !!
We are ordering curry from Haq in Corsham for our Christmas meal! There will also be delicious home-made puddings. This is an invitation to ALL the women in our church and you are welcome to invite friends as well! Cost is £10pp. PLEASE SIGN UP ON THE SHEET AT THE BACK!!
Elections of Safeguarding Deacon, Elder and Fabric Deacon will take place at the January Church Meeting on 21st January. Nominations for these positions will open on 23rd December and close on 6th January 2019. Adrian Pillinger and Martin Sheringham have indicated their willingness to be renominated for positions of Elder and Fabric Deacon respectively.
There will be no evening service at Priory Street on 23rd & 30th December.
LESLEY GRINDROD, contributor for today’s blog post
A huge part of our lives as followers of Jesus here on earth revolves around ‘waiting.’ I’ve no idea how many times the Bible tells us to wait (it must run into the hundreds at least) but it’s pretty telling that one of the fruits of the Spirit is patience!
But waiting is SO hard, isn’t it? Even waiting for a bus causes me to grumble, shuffle my feet and constantly check my watch! I must be one of the most impatient people I know – ask Neal. He only has to respond with “Wait a minute…” when asked to do something, to be confronted with the most un-holy displays of impatience, ingratitude and frustration!
In Titus chapter 2 Paul describes how we ladies should behave as we wait for ‘the blessed hope – the appearance of our Lord Jesus.’ Verses 3 and 4 tell us we should be full of dignity and self-control, displaying solid faith, generous love, and patient endurance; loving, respecting and caring for our husbands, children, our homes and each other. We should always model behaviour that will point those who see us to Jesus!
Oh my, such beautiful words (who wouldn’t want to live like this?) but how horribly tough they are to put into practise! But my dear sisters – ‘practise’ is the key word here! It’s only as I repent over each stumble, each impatient word and deed, that I grow in my ability to ‘wait with patience.’ I need to constantly practise being patient, practise being loving, kind and respectful, practise living my life as an example of Godly behaviour, just as a musician needs to practise their instrument. All the while trusting my heavenly Father to forgive my mistakes, clean me up, and set me off again on this bumpy road called life.
Living ‘right’ while we’re waiting relates to every part of our lives. I’m pretty sure we’re all waiting for something – a promise as yet unfulfilled, an improvement in our finances or health, the salvation of a loved one, the restoration of a broken relationship. But whatever we’re waiting for, the message is the same: “…Live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope ….”Titus 2:12-13
Here’s a beautiful example of ‘Godly living while waiting.’ My son and daughter-in-law have been waiting for 12 years for a baby of their own. Despite the many disappointments and ever-present heartbreak, they purposed to honour God by bravely sharing their difficult journey through infertility with other couples facing similar problems. They’ve organised several Bible-focused retreats with expert speakers and worship leaders to encourage, support and pray with precious couples who were utterly weary and disillusioned. God has greatly blessed these events over the years.
Then suddenly in April this year their miracle happened – they became pregnant! And on Friday last week my tiny little grandson, Ezra, made his appearance, 7 weeks early but absolutely perfect in every way!
So be encouraged my dear sisters. Whatever it is we’re waiting for, let’s hold onto God, believe His Word, trust Him for the future and be determined to live ‘right’ in the waiting.
“So much effort measuring speed but we’re still overwhelmed with accidents.”
Our last update began with the words “three down, three to go”. Four months later, in terms of our IBM regional conferences, it’s now “six down, none to go”! Project Peter is now complete and we have much to be thankful for! All six conferences went to plan and I was able to teach all of my allotted sessions: 46 in total. Despite travelling 3,000 miles on the dicey roads of Tanzania, we didn’t experience any hold-ups, punctures or accidents along the way, just numerous police checkpoints which continue to suck the joy out of driving! Oh that these large figures dressed in white uniforms were angels! Alas, they are not! In terms of attendance at these events, we had a combined total of 160 pastors, evangelists and wives turn up, the largest number we’ve had for a few years. All seemed to be very happy with our focus on the book of 1 Peter, and of particular relevance to the pastors was chapter 5, where Peter urges elders in the church to be shepherds of God’s flock, serving as humble overseers, and being examples to those they lead.
It’s been encouraging to read the feedback from the pastors, although one did question why we were studying 1 Peter when Paul had written many other letters! Another pastor commented that the letter had been brought to life for him, and at the Kilwa seminar, it was great to hear that, as a group of churches in the area, the pastors had decided to use my notes to teach their congregations. It was a timely reminder for me that those hours of labour spent in the study have not been in vain and that the audience is wider than just those who attend the conferences. The teaching material has now been put into book form so that the pastors can have something more permanent for future reference and study. You’re welcome to a copy – if you can read Swahili!
Our August conference took place in the dead-end town of Ifakara! It’s a one-street African town with many dusty side-roads leading off it, and a real sense of run-down-ness. Yet despite its location and its last century feel, we had 43 pastors/evangelists/wives travel in for the event. Guesthouse prices ranged from £3.20-£8.50 and all of the cooking was done right outside the church under the shade of a mustard tree! On the menu for the three days was typical Tanzanian fare: rice, beans, ugali, spinach, and watermelon, although I was concerned that some super-sized catfish might make it onto our plates at one point! A random guy on a bike turned up one afternoon trying to sell five of the large slimy wrigglers for £3 each! At the end of the conference it was a real encouragement to see that the pastors had collected £30 towards the work of IBM – and this wasn’t the only conference where this happened. This year we’ve found that there is a growing sense amongst the pastors that they appreciate what IBM is all about, and want to step up and help with costs.
Our conferences in September and October (Magambua and Mbeya) also went well. The beauty of the Magambua event is that it’s way out in the bush with the nearest tarmac road being 100 miles away! That means few noisy distractions to contend with for the teacher, just the occasional herd of cows or goats trotting past the church door! The other benefit for Ruth and I was that we were able to stay with some fellow missionaries, who supplemented our rice and beans diet and ensured we didn’t have to stay in a spartan pastor’s house which had only two working lightbulbs! As we wrap up this conference season, we’re able to say that God’s Word has indeed been taught, and we pray that these church leaders will grow in their faith and lead their congregations into a closer relationship with Jesus – because that’s what this is all about. I’m thankful to God that he’s enabled me to teach again this year. Teaching in Swahili is still far out of my comfort zone but the bottom line is that it is He who has empowered me to do so! I’m very much aware of Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 3: 5 & 6: “For we are not competent in ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” In other words, as the Good News version says, “There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work, for the capacity we have comes from God alone.”
Oak Hall Returns: In August Ruth and I hosted an Oak Hall group at Sanga for two weeks, with 22 guests coming to experience the sights of Tanzania and a taste of mission. They worked hard on various projects at Sanga, helped to paint a dormitory at Agape Children’s Village (an orphanage), went on safari and climbed into the Uluguru mountains, but one of the highlights was visiting a small AIC church out in the rurals, set in the midst of a Muslim village. The eye-opening moment for the group came during the service when they were ceremoniously presented with a confused-looking cockerel and a tonne of bananas as a gift! The welcome and the generosity the church showed towards us in the midst of their humble surroundings was overwhelming. The intrepid Oakies returned home with some precious memories and, for one guest in particular, the African adventure looks set to continue as she’s since applied to teach with AIM somewhere in Africa! A taste of mission seems to have developed into wanting more!
“The times they are a changin”!
For our team here in Morogoro there is plenty of change ahead, although it seems as though missionaries serving overseas live within a revolving-door environment where people are constantly coming and going. Our team mates Tony and Cath Swanson are in the process of saying their goodbyes and packing their bags after being in Tanzania for 20 years. In a weeks’ time, they’ll head to the UK for six months before continuing their consultancy roles with AIM, based in Uganda. Tony became the Co-ordinator of IBM way back in 2004 and he’s been at the forefront of developments at Sanga over the last 14 years. He’s lived and breathed all things Sanga, and I’m sure if you were to cut him in half you’d find Sanga blood flowing out! Both Tony and Cath have been an enormous support to us and we’ll miss their wisdom and maturity as well as their friendship and support. On a more playful note, I’ll particularly miss my battles with Tony on the ‘browns’ of Morogoro golf course, and to hearing Cath recall her latest missionary mishap during the course of her many travels!
To mark the end of this era, we headed to the wilds of Mikumi National Park a few weeks ago and enjoyed a team day on safari. The highlights of our day in the bush included watching over 200 buffalo jostling for position at a waterhole, and a lone leopard out on the plains. The lowlight, however, was receiving a phone call telling us that there was a fire in the upper room of the newly-built conference centre! One of the free-standing halogen lamps had been placed too near the curtains and it hadn’t taken long for the fire to spread up into the ceiling boards and roofing sheets. The alarm was raised quickly and our amazingly brave Sanga team were able to put out the fire with the use of ladders and buckets of water! It could have been so much worse, but thankfully our guys were able to deal with it before it caused too much damage, and the repair work was completed within a week. A footnote to the story is that the local fire brigade (think Trumpton!) turned up once the fire had been put out!
All that remains for us to say as we approach the end of another year, is an enormous THANK YOU for your prayers and support and, although it feels way too early to be sending festive greetings, once it arrives, have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year!
8-13 Dec: Unit leader meetings in Dar and Lindi (south Tanzania)
16 Dec: Preaching at Emmanuel Church, Morogoro
18 Dec: Amani School Board meeting in Dar (Unit)
23-27 Dec: Christmas hols
6-10 Jan: Unit Leader meetings in Nairobi
8 March: Term 2 complete! Return to UK for six months!
You might remember that we were looking to recruit an accountant for 12 months for IBM. The AIC has actually appointed someone on a part time basis to cover Ruth’s absence during our home assignment (March-Sept 2019), so that’s an answer to prayer, at least in the short term. Ideally Ruth would like this person to continue managing the accounts when we return to Morogoro next year.
Please pray for the Morogoro AIM team as we enter this time of transition. Whilst Tony and Cath will leave on 9th Dec, we’re hoping to have a new family (Wildasins) joining the team in February, depending on the issuing of work permits! Please pray for this to happen soon! Ruth and I will then be heading back to UK on home assignment in early March, and the Dixons will then also be leaving Tanzania in July! Please pray for Pastor Yohana Batano as he picks up the baton passed on by Tony as the Co-ordinator of IBM!
Please pray that we would finish our second term well! In many ways this has been a hard year with an on-going sinusitis battle for me, increased responsibilities for Ruth at Sanga, discouraging pastoral situations within the AIC church, growing cultural fatigue, and a seemingly growing police presence on the roads! I’ll admit that my levels of patience and grace are running low as we enter the final three months of this term. It makes me more aware of just what a fragile clay vessel I am! Thankfully, “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4:7)
Friends of Sanga Sanga
We invite you to become a Friend of Sanga Sanga. What does that mean? It means that we keep you updated with news and prayer requests of the ministry at Sanga Sanga via WhatsApp or email. You will receive a newsletter (written by Ruth!) via email twice a year. You can ask for a speaker to come to your church or mission event. And you will receive invitations to come and see what we do and perhaps help with some practical work. If you would like to become a Friend of Sanga Sanga please let us know or click here to sign up!
Easter Sunday in Jerusalem?! If you’re looking for something to do over Easter next year, then how about heading to Israel and Palestine with Oak Hall? I’m leading another trip (trip code IS19) from 16th-26th April, and it would be great to see some familiar faces on the trip. For a detailed itinerary and more details please see the following link: www.oakhall.co.uk/israel/Israel