Category: Mission and Ministries

From Tanzania to Corsham Baptist

Picture of Steve and Ruth

As you may know Steve and Ruth landed back in the UK after their Tanzanian service just before Christmas and had to quarantine over Christmas period.

They are now wrapping up their time with AIM and readjusting to life back in the UK. One aspect of this is, following Paul and Barnabus’ example in Acts 14:26-27, has been reporting back to various churches on their work and what God has been doing. They hope to return to living in Corsham in mid-March.

You can see the full report below.

Compassion – Jan 2021

Periodically, we have guest speakers from our various mission partners and this week it is time to hear from Paul Wagstaff of Compassion, who has recorded a specific video for CBC where he reports back on the impact of donations from people in our church.

Paul also speaks of storms he has experienced as we do too and asks what we seek to anchor ourselves to in order to weather them.

The disciples in Matt 8:23-27 knew they were in a storm but they were oblivious to where their hope came from even as Jesus lay in the boat with them. Watch Paul’s full message below.

The link Paul mentions at the end is: https://compassionuk.org/hope/CORSHAMBC.

Next Sunday evening at 6pm we will have the opportunity to pray for these children and the work of Compassion in our monthly prayer meeting.

Never say never!

Picture of Steve and Ruth

This post by Steve and Ruth Lancaster was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane

Back in 2010, in my role as an AIM mobiliser I made a brief visit to Morogoro to stay with an AIM missionary couple (the Swansons), little knowing that three years later we’d be joining them in the work at Sanga Sanga.  Towards the end of that trip, Ruth flew out from the UK to join me for some holiday.  It was Ruth’s first visit to sub-Saharan Africa and she can vividly remember walking down one of the bustling Morogoro streets thinking to herself, “I could never live here!”  Well, I wonder if God had a little chuckle at that point, knowing that His plan was for us to live and work here for 7.5 years?!  We often joke that, in God’s economy, it’s dangerous to say the word ‘never’, but obviously in Ruth’s case, the thought was just as dangerous!  God has a habit of using people in places and situations where they could never have imagined living, doing what they never thought they’d be doing.  And yet He always follows that ‘never-never’ call by equipping His servants to carry out what He’s called them to do in never-never land! 

We can both testify to that.  Ruth can testify to the fact that God has equipped her to manage the finances at Sanga, alongside many other tasks and roles she would never have imagined doing before she came here (building maintenance!).  Although I’m not a fantastic linguist God has enabled me to preach and teach in Swahili on 229 occasions, despite the fact that I would often find myself thinking (whilst preaching) ‘What on earth am I doing standing up here preaching in another language?!’  He has proven the words of a phrase I heard at Bible College 18 years ago: “God often doesn’t call the qualified but he always qualifies the called.”  The verse that we chose for our third term prayer card highlights this issue of God equipping His servants for a role: “There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work.  The capacity we have comes only from God.” (2 Cor 3:4)

Being equipped by God to do what He has called you to do does not, however, guarantee that the road ahead is going to be straightforward!  I think our 7.5 years of living in Morogoro can be compared to the state of the roads in Tanzania!  There are sections where the tarmac is new and smooth, where the road is straight for many a mile – but there are also sections where the roads are rough, twisty, potholed and yet another rumble strip shudders through the car, testing your shock absorbers to the limit!  There are also quite a few unpainted humps in the road which are invisible until you’re on them!  Likewise, that’s how life can be for us all at various times. 

Certainly, in the last couple of years, there have been more potholes and humps than we would have chosen on this journey, but despite them, God has enabled us to do what we came to do, and this part of the journey is nearly journeyed!  And we’re realising (rather slowly!) that God uses the humps and bumps more than the ‘straight and the smooth’.  In fact it would seem from the pages of Scripture, that there are times when God leads us purposefully down into some potholes in order to accomplish His purposes in our lives.  And more often than not, at the time we haven’t got a clue why!  
Although it doesn’t use potholes as an analogy, I’m reminded of a poem I came across years ago called The Weaver.  My guess is that I’ll look back over time and wish I hadn’t complained so much about all those humps and bumps!

Surviving the Seminar Season!  A few weeks ago we were able to wrap up the IBM conference season with a four day seminar for AICT Evangelists at Sanga Sanga, with over 120 people in attendance.  This was concluded with another goodbye ceremony and yet more yards of coloured cloth being wrapped around Ruth.  The presentation of an African shirt provided many minutes of comedy as I struggled to get the thing over my head, whilst silently vowing never to wear it again! 

No, these aren’t snow goggle marks – they’re
tribal tattoos.  A conference attendee.
Steve’s very last Swahili session!

The Evangelists’ conference provided a real contrast to the last of our regional seminars, held in Iringa back in October.  The church building we met in was a challenging venue as it was situated at the top of a steep road leading into the city.  The sound of labouring lorries struggling up the hill in first gear was never far away!  Added to that was the constant sound of pan-clattering as the adjoining corridor was used as a makeshift kitchen.  Strangely enough, I never did see the hygiene certificate on the wall, although in defence of the cooks, the food was good and we didn’t get dodgy stomachs! It was a challenging week in many ways and brought added meaning to the scripture where Paul says, “Preach the Word, being prepared in season and out of season.”  In other words, be prepared to preach when it’s convenient and when it’s not; when it’s noisy and when it’s quiet; when it’s well-attended and when it’s not!  So concluded the teaching series on Mark’s gospel, after which we headed straight off to our annual AIM retreat (also in Iringa) where I was involved in teaching, this time from John’s gospel.  I know for sure that any ministry back in the UK might not be as ‘colourful’ as it is here in Africa!            

Project Pack-down!  With our goodbye ceremonies complete and handovers all but done, we’re now preparing for our Tanzanian departure on 20th Dec.  This week is definitely where the pack-down gets serious as we sell off our household goods and aim to squeeze our worldly belongings into six suitcases!  We leave Morogoro on Tuesday 15th and head to the coast for five days, where we’ll take in the last of the African sun and enjoy the last few days of mask-freedom!  Arriving back in the UK on 21st Dec is going to be a shock to the system in terms of climate and Covid!  We’ll quarantine over Christmas in Cumbria and then plan on heading down south to Wiltshire in early January.  The first two months of 2021 will see us on home assignment, and then come 1st March, our term of service with AIM will come to a close.  At this point, we’re still not sure what the next chapter looks like and the canvas is looking fairly blank!  However, we believe that the Artist in charge of the next tapestry will reveal the pattern according to His timing and purpose.  Please pray that we’ll remain patient as we watch, wait, and listen! 

Saying farewell to the staff at Sanga Sanga

We hope to be in touch with a final newsletter sometime in February but for now we’ll sign off from Tanzania and wish you all a very happy and healthy Christmas.  Many thanks to those of you who have supported us on this journey, whether that be through prayer or pounds, or both!  We’ve been blessed with faithful, loyal and loving support along the route – and for that we are extremely grateful.  We could not have done this without you.  To those who have supported us financially, we’ll be in contact in the New Year to let you know about the ‘shutting down’ process!  For now, it’s ‘kwa heri’ from Tanzania, knowing that it will soon be time for ‘hello’ in the UK!  

Prayer Points: 

  • We’re thanking God for the completion of this year’s conferences, and praying the teaching goes on to bear much fruit.  
  • We’re thanking God for good farewells and a sense of closure to our time in Tanzania. 
  • We’re thanking God for His protection and blessing during the last 7.5 years.  
  • We’re praying for guidance with regard to the next chapter; that we’d be open to His leading; that God would show us clearly what the next step is; for wisdom as we plan our home assignment including where we should live!
  • Please continue to pray for Pastor Batano, John Enock and the staff at Sanga Sanga as they continue with the ministry in our absence.   

Every blessing

Steve & Ruth

PS. For the Corshamites among you, here’s a weird connection with our newsletter title!  Did you know that the first time the phrase “never say never” first appeared in print was back in 1837?  Charles Dickens used it in his novel ‘The Pickwick Papers’ – which was apparently written in Pickwick, Corsham! 

Ruth just about managed to cram John’s head
with as much information as he needs!
The flamboyant trees are in full bloom at this
time of year, Tanzania’s own Christmas trees!
Who’s pinched the arch?
Bird of the month: Brown-hooded Kingfisher,
a frequent visitor to our garden in Morogoro

Carols with Compassion

Our mission partner, Compassion, has organised a carol service with TBN, why not arrange to watch with some friends?

Get all the details here, or the key summary follows:

  • Carols with Compassion airs on TBN on 2nd December 2020 at 7:30 pm
  • Carols with Compassion will be on Compassion’s Facebook page live on 6th December at 8:00 pm
  • A link to the video will be available for you from the 7th December 2020

Updated 15 Dec: Here is the full recording for you to catch up.

You’re Invited to ‘On the Ground’ With Compassion

For the first time, we’ve organised a series of online events, now called “On the Ground”.

We want to give you an informative update on what sponsored children and their families are facing during this time and how our local church partners are responding to their needs.

Two of our Compassion UK staff will host the event. They’ll share a story about an initiative by our church partners to reach many families in need.

We’ll then hear from one of our staff on the ground to learn more about the realities they’re facing, followed by a time of prayer together. We’ll have some time for any questions at the end as well.

Upcoming on the ground events

  • Monday 26 October, 8.30pm. On the Ground — Christmas edition. Streaming live on Compassion UK Facebook, Youtube and here.
  • Monday 16 November, 8.30pm. On the Ground — Burkina Faso. Streaming live on Compassion UK Facebook, Youtube and here.
  • Monday 23 November, 8.30pm. On the Ground — Colombia. Streaming live on Compassion UK Facebook, Youtube and here.
  • Monday 30 November, 8.30pm. On the Ground — Peru. Streaming live on Compassion UK Facebook, Youtube and here.

If you’re not able to make this time, a video of the event will be available on YouTube.

Souper Friday – get involved

In January we started “Souper Friday”, a free lunch of soup and bread, tea and coffee from 1 to 2.30pm every Friday in Corsham Baptist Church hall. Since the lock down we have taken this ‘on the road’ in the form of delivering food parcels along with a socially distanced chat and prayer! We are collecting groceries from local supermarkets to enable this and reducing food being thrown away at the end of the day. This is available to all church folk and the wider community in Corsham, Chippenham and surrounding areas.

We need volunteers to :

  1. Assist Joan and Jo with phone calls to clients ;
  2. Assist with collecting food from Chippenham or Corsham ;
  3. Assist with sorting food for delivery (Thursday evening) ;
  4. Deliver food, chat and prayer (Friday morning) ;
  5. Assist with meeting additional needs.

You don’t need to commit to serving every week. Please contact Colin (details in directory), the office answerphone or contact page.

Tearfund’s Autumn Partner Church Update

Dear Friends,

2020 has been a year like no other. We have all been deeply affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and for the communities where Tearfund is working, the impact has been severe.

Many communities have found accessing healthcare, clean water and basic hygiene supplies difficult, while lockdowns have made it impossible for many people to provide for their families.  

But thanks to your prayers and support, Tearfund has been able to respond. Our partners and local churches are providing information, supplies and support to communities around the world.

In our latest update to you Nigel Harris, Tearfund’s CEO, has shared what challenges communities face and how we are responding. Please make time in your services to share this video, thank God for what He has been doing and pray with us for the millions affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Thank you so much for your support. 

Tearfund’s Churches Team
churches@tearfund.org

Please pray:

  • Give thanks for the way we have been able to respond so far. Pray for the local partners and churches we are working with who are serving their communities so faithfully.
  • Pray for the safety and protection of our partners, and the people they are serving. Particularly those in situations where social distancing is not possible.
  • Pray for provision, for those around the world who are not able to earn a living due to local lockdowns. Pray that their needs would be met and they would not be pushed further into poverty.

World Mission: From the Inside Out

WEC logo

Dear Friends,

We are having a really inspiring time taking part in the WEC UK conference online. We would like to invite you to an open event which is part of this conference. If you are able to join it would be brilliant, even for part of the time.

Vision:Unplugged An inspiring hour sharing WEC’s Vision!  Come and find out more.

It will be live streamed on both YouTube and Facebook.  You are very welcome to join – Wednesday 30th September 7.30pm –and available for replay for one month afterwards.

We do hope that some of you may be able to join.

Blessings,
Gill and Steve

Fancy using your trade skills in a completely different way?

Paint brush, pliers and other tools

Our great friends and partners at Mercy Ships need our help – and it involves two weeks in the Canary Islands next summer…  Mercy Ships deploy hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need. But a ship takes a whole lot of maintenance, and every summer their massive hospital ship goes into shipyard – this is a critical time when serious renovations and heavy-duty projects are tackled. 

Plumbing, welding, painting, installing new equipment; all together, they need 50 people to step up and offer their trade, to keep the medical ministry moving and make an impact for the Kingdom.

They are looking for people who can just spare 2 weeks (or more) in summer 2021 to work on the world’s biggest hospital ship in the Canary Islands.  Your trade is a mission skill, and they need you to use it to serve God.

Check out this video clip of one of their ships in dry dock undergoing annual maintenance

Want to know more? Why not get in touch with the team at Mercy Ships for a chat  volunteering@mercyships.org.uk

We are proud to stand with Mercy Ships as they are changing the lives of the poor but the success of their mission depends on guys like you – let’s do this!

Making the Message of Mark Matter

This post by Steve and Ruth Lancaster was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane

Monduli seminar
The Monduli conference – the heart of
Masai land

We’re now midway through our conference season and preparing for our fourth event, this time in the wilds of Magambua (23rd-25th Sept), a 3 hour drive from the nearest tarred road. So far the IBM events have gone really well, with 90 pastors (and wives) in attendance. During the 3 day course we journey together through the gospel of Mark, although with only ten teaching sessions we’re only scraping the surface of some of the major events.  Here’s the breakdown, with a few added comments:

1: Intro to Mark.  A man who was possibly a failed missionary but was given a second chance by Barnabas, and who later became very useful to both Paul and Peter.

2: The Parable of the Sower.  A session that promotes more discussion than any other, quite possibly because many of our pastors are also subsistence farmers!?

3: Jesus calming the storm.  A key lesson for me this term, as I keep trying to apply the truth that Jesus is in the boat with me as I face the waves.

4: The feeding of the 5000.  Jesus doesn’t actually need the five loaves and two fish to do his work, but he chooses to use the small amount the little boy can offer to feed thousands!   

5. Peter’s confession of Christ.  If Jesus really is who he says he is, then we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.

6: The donkey-riding King!  King of the Universe – yet he comes in humility and gentleness.

7: The authority of Jesus and the rumble in the temple!  What do we need to remove from the courtyards of our lives in order to give room for more reverence and worship to God?

8: Anointing the anointed.  The deep devotion of one woman who was prepared to give something of immense worth to Christ. 

9: The power of the cross.  Jesus (who didn’t deserve to die) was crucified, whilst Barabbas (who deserved to die) was freed.  Our middle name is Barabbas!   

10: He has risen!  Some of the most important words ever uttered by an angel!

Steve’s just relieved he didn’t get
the jacket!
At the three conferences so far, the day that stands out from the rest is the third day of teaching.  From a teaching/preaching perspective it has felt as though there has been an extra ‘uummpphhh’ to sessions 9 and 10.  Swahili utterance has felt more fluid and there’s been a real feeling of the message hitting home. The singing that follows these sessions has borne testimony to the fact that hearts and minds have been challenged and blessed, as we’ve considered the awesome power of the cross and the empty tomb.  It’s our hope that the teaching the pastors receive will enable and inspire them personally, but that they might also be mobilised to pass on what they’ve learned to their congregations.  

The Long Goodbye!  At each conference so far the closing minutes have involved a farewell presentation to us from the pastors and their wives, even though we haven’t shouted from the rooftops about our departure home to the UK!  I’d rather pop out the back door once the conference has finished!  A lengthy speech is normally followed by a procession of swaying gift-givers who parade to the front and wrap us up with tribal blankets!  At the Monduli event we were robed in Masai gear, followed up by the longest of photo-calls! 

At the Monduli seminar – clearly the couple on the 
right didn’t get the joke!


At the Pwani event, in an attempt to get us to rethink our exit strategy, pastor Reuben quoted from Acts 18:20 where the Ephesians pleaded with Paul to stay: They asked him to spend more time with them.  I politely quoted the end of the verse which says, but he declined!  Such farewells are indeed a blessing and enable us to realise that the work God has given us to do has not been in vain.  Such farewells also help us to finish well and give us the platform to say good goodbyes!  It also gives me the opportunity, in my closing speech, to lift up my Enabler in all of this. 1 Peter 4:11 says whoever preaches must preach God’s messages; whoever serves must serve with the strength God gives, so that in all things praise may be given to God through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs glory and power for ever.  In a season which has seen a few struggles, I am so aware that it is He who has given us the strength to do our work here, and therefore the glory belongs to Him.