As mentioned last time Neal and Lesley have had visitors hence the bumper post this week. Whilst the leaves are still falling back in Corsham, plans are already well underway for some Christmas joy to share with the refugees: Click to read about Weeks 5 & 6
Category: Overseas Mission
From Sunday 8th to Friday 27th October Steve is visiting Chiang Mai in Thailand. There are two main purposes:
- spend time at the WEC boarding home where some of WEC’s MKs (missionaries children) live. They attend Grace International School while their parents serve the Lord either in Thailand or another country. Steve’s role is to give pastoral support and practical encouragement to the couple running the home. He will be there from 10th – 17th and from 22nd – 26th October.
- attend Asiacon, a large conference for leaders from four areas in Asia. From 17th – 22nd he will give presentations on safeguarding and talk with individuals.
Please pray for Steve to be able to minister effectively in both of these situations.
To learn more about Steve and Gill’s work download their biannual prayer letter here
Catch up on some of the people Lesley introduced us to last week (sorry for no re-post on the CBC site, maybe you should read here before going on).
Then on to a big Wednesday when Neal gave an address in six-languages; and some dancing that was truly the oil of joy instead of mourning (Isaiah 61), a glimpse of the “day of the Lord’s favour” surely.
And that’s just half-way through the week, be sure to read (and watch) to the end: http://grindrods.simplesite.com/436990349
Sorry for the terrible pun… This week’s update sees not only an absorbing a game of Connect 4 but also connections with a range of individuals. Read their stories here Week 2 and please pray that they will connect with Jesus too.
As most of you will know, we fare-welled Neal and Lesley recently as they returned to Austria after their trip last year to spend four months working with the Oasis Refugee Ministry in Traiskirchen, just south of Vienna.
It certainly sounds like they’re right back in the thick of it with powerful stories of love and tragedy already, but don’t take my word for it, read for yourself: http://grindrods.simplesite.com/435831945
Hi to you all!
It seems strange to say we will see you all soon but if all goes according to plan we will! Next weekend we fly, arriving back late on Sunday evening in the UK.
Our last week will be a tight one as we have a few more projects we want to complete however, to quote one of our favourite TV police chiefs ‘You can only do what you can do’ (answers on a postcard please).
Talking of police….Steve and Ruth – who were with us last night for a catch up/goodbye/meal – were amazed that during our time here, although we have been stopped by the police on numerous occasions we have never been fined. Martin’s honest ploy of opening the window, smiling and greeting them with a loud and British ‘Good morning!’ seems to amuse them and after a brief glance at our licences, we are waved on.
Talking of waving…that is also how he deals with them when we pass all the police checks, while I am sinking into my seat wondering why he must draw attention to us, and now they wave back – silly me, of course, waving works…
Talking of Steve and Ruth…they have said goodbye to the Oak Hall-ers and have a brief moment to catch their breath before heading off on Tuesday to a conference where Steve will be speaking, it’s been a pretty exhausting time for them both. The feedback from the holiday group though was very encouraging, so all their efforts have been worth it.
Talking of things that are worth it…whatever our efforts, whatever we manage to achieve, there is nothing more worth it than giving of ourselves to God. He is worth our all whatever the cost because He has already paid the highest price and somehow He thought we were worth it!
Last Sunday we joined the hoilday group to visit a tiny village church over the mountains and into, what felt like, the jungle. The caretaker/evangelist from Sanga Sanga, runs the church here, planted a few years ago, in a very hostile area where there is little other Christian influence around. We were delighted by their welcome and joined in with their worship – we hope it was as encouraging for them as it was for us!
Things we will miss…the entertaining antics on the road, the amazing shops – all tiny but crammed full with anything and everything, all the folks at Sanga Sanga, the ‘wheelbarrow bird’ (we will explain all), the home entertainment system – monkey treks through the garden, learning from Cath and Tony/Steve and Ruth about Tanzanian life, cheap ‘n’ fresh fruit ‘n’ veg sold at the gate…and so much more.
‘For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.’
See you soon,
Jo ‘n’ Martin
“Would you be willing to spend three months as short term volunteers at the Oasis Refugee Centre in Traiskirchen, Austria?”
Thus began Neal and Lesley’s journey last year. Now they are preparing to return once again. You can read about those preparations and regular updates on their blog at: http://grindrods.simplesite.com/
But don’t worry we’ll keep you up to date on this site and Facebook too.
This post by Steve and Ruth Lancaster was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane
|Welcome to the warehouse church – started
18 months ago!
From “The Shed” to “The Warehouse”! Last Sunday Ruth and I returned to AICT Dakawa – the ‘Shed’ Church – for the first time since last February. However, there wasn’t much activity in the lean-to shed adjacent to the church leader’s house because the new partly-finished church building, just 100 yards away, is now in use. Compared to the shed it feels like a cavernous warehouse, especially when there are only 30 people sitting inside! There’s still work to be done (cementing the earthen floor, fitting the remaining window grilles and doors) but it’s testament to the dedication of the members that they are even at this stage, having only begun eighteen months ago! Listening to the notices I worked out that their average weekly collection is about £5.50, so goodness knows how they’ve managed it!
|How’s that for a central aisle?! Men on one side,
women on the other
The choir danced and sung, the generator spluttered outside, the microphone hummed, and the boy on the keyboard insisted on playing sound effects whenever the leader finished a sentence! It was amusing at first but after 2.5 hours not so much! From a preaching point of view there were certainly fewer distractions, although I might just miss those pesky cockerels which used to hang around ‘the shed’! I preached in Swahili on the letter to the church at Ephesus from Revelation 2 where Jesus rebukes the church for having lost their first love – and so the focus turned to our love for the Lord, and for each other. Putting it into practice is always the hard part but I did manage to shake hands with the boy on the keyboard afterwards!!
|All 20 carriages of the deluxe Kigoma-Dar train
going at break-neck speed round a bend!
An adventure by rail! I attended Unit Leader meetings in Nairobi in January and decided to do the first leg of my journey using a different mode of transport! Despite a couple of raised eyebrows from colleagues here, I chose to travel from Morogoro to Dar by rail. You may well question the raising of eyebrows at such a choice but when there’s only one ‘deluxe’ train a week that doesn’t guarantee delivering you to your destination on the same day, it becomes a bit more understandable. It took me 6.5 hours, sitting in a surprisingly new and comfortable carriage, to travel 115 miles. That means that the average speed was 18 mph!! I had ample time to watch the Tanzanian world go by, even though it was accompanied by the monotonous drone of African rap music echoing down the carriage! Still, it was much preferred to the alternative coach journey and it did take out the risk of getting stopped by the traffic police had I gone by car!
|Two weeks later and the Deluxe derailed!|
That being said, having mentioned the word ‘risk’, imagine my surprise just two weeks later to read in the newspaper that the very same train had derailed on its way to Dar! Apparently the intense sun had buckled the rails and the driver, despite maxing out at 18 mph, hadn’t been able to stop in time! So maybe there was some justification in those raised eyebrows after all!
|An African Puff Adder, much like the one we
nearly stepped on!
Anyone for a stroll?! For those who tend to get a bit wobbly when the word ‘snake’ is mentioned, avoid this paragraph! During our New Year team retreat in the idyllic surrounds of Masumbo Camp, Iringa, the suggestion of a stroll to the river rapids sounded very non-threatening. But this is Africa! We enjoyed some bouldering as we clambered over the rocks near the half-empty river, but not before encountering a rather fattened Puff Adder! We were walking single-file through the bush when, suddenly, I froze mid-stride because a few feet away, lying right next to the path, was a 3ft snake. This is how Wikipedia describes it: “The African Puff Adder is responsible for causing the most snakebite fatalities in Africa. It’s normally a sluggish species and relies on camouflage for protection, but as its Latin name implies, it can strike violently. If disturbed they will hiss or puff loudly, adopting a tightly coiled defensive posture. They may strike suddenly and at a high speed, to the side as easily as forwards.” Well, it was indeed sluggish and camouflaged, but we were mighty thankful that we didn’t experience the rest of the description! In fact, it didn’t move a muscle, except for its tongue which was busy sensing our whereabouts! We backed up rather slowly, gave it a wide birth, and continued on our merry way, mindful of the fact that for many a rural African, such encounters don’t end as well as ours did. The remainder of our retreat was spent talking and praying through team issues, relaxing in our little hobbit holes, and playing pickleball! Ruth organized our New Year’s Eve celebration with party games, poetry and sparklers! We closed our time together with a communion service, sitting around a campfire under the African stars accompanied by a gaggle of glow worms!
|An African Hobbi hut at Masumbo!|
|Some of the team relieved to have survived the
Power Encounters: One of the joys of being unit leader is that I hear about what happens in other ministries and locations around Tanzania. Whilst I sometimes hear stories that make it seem that there’s not much visible fruit, I also hear stories that thrill the heart and reassure me that what we’re doing is certainly not in vain! Over the last few months it does seem as though a few exciting things are beginning to happen in places considered to be ‘unreached’ with the gospel. One particular team is rejoicing over a number of healings, a baptism in the sea, and a neighbour who came to Christ. Another small team in a rural village is rejoicing that a guy, who asked them for a copy of the New Testament so that he could compare it with the writings of his religion, has now decided to give his life to Christ. He’s since been baptised and has changed his name to reflect this!
Just a few weeks ago, I heard from another small team where ‘the light of the Gospel is beginning to shine and the Holy Spirit is at work.’ The team had only been in situ for a few weeks and was looking at ways to reach out into the community. A number of students at a local primary school had been experiencing demonic attacks and their religious leaders had already ‘prayed’ for them, but with no result. The team offered to pray for the students and, somewhat surprisingly, their offer was accepted! When they arrived to pray there were 26 children in the classroom who had been suffering from these attacks! The team was able to share the gospel and, during a mammoth three-hour prayer session, some of the students were delivered from demons! God provided this incredible opportunity for this team and already there are signs that a number of people are keen to know more about Jesus. Please pray for this ongoing situation and for the protection of the team as they continue to shine their light into what has been a very dark community.
Stories like these warm the heart don’t they? They open our eyes, broaden the mind, deepen and refresh our faith, and even challenge some of our beliefs! They encourage us to pray and they cause us to rejoice in a God who is still in the business of changing lives and moving powerfully against the enemy. Despite the hiccups that we sometimes experience within the Church, it’s great to know that people are being introduced to the gospel, lives are being changed, disciples are being made, and His Church is being built and strengthened through a whole range of ministries.
Points for Prayer & Praise:
The conference centre at Sanga has certainly entered the final phase. Whilst there is still a lot of work to be done, most of the walls are now up and the place is a hive of activity as fundis work on the plastering and begin work on the interior. Building supervisor Matt and his family head off on home assignment in April, whilst Tony holds the reigns!
Ruth has been immersed in Sanga administration and end-of-year accounts and is also busy preparing to teach two English courses at Sanga in February and March.
|Why throw it away when you can sew it up!|
I’m trying to keep the travelling to a minimum during February and March so that I can concentrate on preparing teaching material for the IBM conferences which start in early May. The subject this year will be something along the lines of ‘Show me a leader with moral integrity’, and my hope is that much of that prep will be done before I head off to lead an Oak Hall Israel trip in April.
For those who also like to pray through our itinerary we’ve included some dates below. Many, many thanks for your support and your prayers.
19th Feb: Preaching at Morogoro AICT
20-24 Feb: Ruth teaching English at Sanga
7-8 Mar: Steve travels to Dar for UL meetings
27th-31st: Ruth teaching English for beginners, at Sanga
2nd Apr: AICT diocese-wide fundraising day for the conference centre at Sanga
3rd-13th Apr: Steve to Israel
5th-8th May: Ruth attending Tz Ladies Retreat (speaker: Kathy Larkman)
|The bottle boys of Africa! These guys walk the streets
collecting plastic bottles and in return they get the
equivalent of 13p for every kg collected!
|Bird of the month – notice the pink eyelid! It’s an owl –
but what sort?
We are happy to announce that four people are being baptized today – one at the 9:15am service and three at the 11:15am service. We welcome their friends and family to this special occasion.
Persecuted Church Sunday 20th November
This afternoon we will have a special event focusing on the persecuted church. Tea and cakes will be served at 4:30pm, and we will be welcoming David and Sue, an experienced couple who have worked for some years in both Ghana and the Middle East, as our speakers. They are now involved in outreach to migrants in the UK and beyond. They will give a short presentation at around 5.20pm and will share further during the evening service, with David preaching.
Ladies’ Bible Study
The next ladies’ bible study notes are available on the table at the back. Please take one in preparation of the study on the 28th November. Contact Kathy Larkman or Anne Holmes for more details on these meetings
The Craft Group
The Craft Group will meet on the first Saturday in December and we will have the opportunity of making Christmas Cards or carrying on with quilt blocks for the next quilt! The first quilt for Tanzania is well on the way now and when completed we hope to show it to the church folk before it is taken out to Tanzania. If anyone has any scraps of cotton print material they wish to clear out, the craft group could make use of them for the next quilt which will be for Steve and Ruth. A couple of people have suggested we visit charity shops and buy good quality cotton skirts, or similar, to use! Any donations of materials can be given to Pam Mitchell or Kathy Ewins.
The Toddler Group is praying for someone to lead the team. They are also in need of more helpers. It is held on Thursday mornings following the school calendar. Please see Kathy Larkman for details.
You are invited to the Ark Christmas Party on Saturday 26th November 10-11am at Corsham Baptist Church. Puppets, songs, games, food, party bags and the Christmas story. Please bring an adult to stay with you for the party. Aimed at 0-7 but all welcome. We are excited and look forward to seeing you there! If you want to know more, please speak to Alexa Simm or Heather Chilcott.
Town Carol Service
Each year a different church in Corsham organizes the town carol service and this year it is our turn!
The event, which takes place through the High Street and ends at St. Bart’s, is on Tuesday 20th December, starting at 6:45pm. Louise would like help with the following activities:
- 3 x stewards to crowd manage
- 3 x helpers to heat up mince pies
- 4 x helpers to hand out mince pies
- 2 x helpers to erect and remove banner from town
- This is a lovely community event but quite big to organize so please sign up on the sheet at the back if you can help, or contact Louise in the office. Many thanks to those people who have already done so!
Short Refugee Video Clips
Recently there was a feedback session from Neal and Lesley regarding their time in Austria. These are the links to the videos that were shown.
Men’s Christmas Event
There is a men’s Christmas event on the 29th November at Priory Street. Please sign up at the back if you want to attend.
Carol Service Band
Do you play an acoustic instrument? – strings, woodwind or brass? If so, it would be great to include you in this year’s Carol Service Band which will accompany the carols on the evening of Sunday 18th December. There are likely to be a couple of practices beforehand, one of which will probably be on the afternoon of the carol service itself. The band last year were brilliant, despite some struggles along the way. If you’re interested in taking part, please either speak to David Morrell, or email him at email@example.com – and let him know what you play, and roughly what standard you’re used to playing (so he doesn’t write parts that are too hard this year!!).
Bible Society Christmas Aids
The Bible Society has wonderful Christmas aids again this year for spreading the Good News. Steve and Heather Chilcott’s daughter, Emma, designed the Bible Verse Calendar and costs 50p and a new ‘free’ set of stickers for your Christmas cards. The ‘free’ stickers from last year are still available too. biblesociety.org.uk/Christmas will show you what’s available or call 01793 418300.
Christmas tree decorating!!
Invitation to all (young and old!) to come and help decorate our church Christmas tree on Saturday December 10th, 3-5pm. Crafts, food and some carol singing!
This year the Nativity will be held on Saturday December 17th at 5pm at Priory Street.
Monday: Mums’ bible study, 9:30am
Tuesday: Rudloe Tots, 10am, Rudloe Centre
Wednesday: Morning prayer, 7:15am
Thursday: Toddler Group, 10:00am; Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 7.30pm
Friday: Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 9.30am; Engage, 4:30pm; Energize, 5:30pm.
Saturday: Prayer for gospel expansion 8.30am; The Ark, 10am; Café on the Green, Rudloe, 2:30pm
28th Nov: Ladies’ Bible Study, 7:30pm
29th Nov: Men’s “Christmas Chili” night, 7:15pm
30th Nov: Midweek service, 2pm
3rd Dec: Craft Club, 10:00am
4th Dec: Prayer evening, 6pm
10th Dec: Tree decorating 3-5pm
12th Dec: Ladies’ social, 7:30pm
13th Dec: Seniors’ Christmas meal, 12pm
14th Dec: Midweek Christmas service, 2pm
17th Dec: Nativity service, 5pm @ Priory St.
18th Dec: Carols by Candlelight, 6pm
19th Dec: Missions’ prayer, 7:45pm
20th Dec: Corsham Town Carol Service, 6:45pm
24th Dec: Christmas eve service, 6pm
25th Dec: Christmas day joint service @ Priory Str, 10am; no evening service on Christmas day
1st Jan: Joint service at Priory Str. @ 10am; no evening service on new year’s day
This post by Steve and Ruth Lancaster was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane
Last month we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary – and to mark the occasion we spent a day in the African wilderness getting nibbled by tsetse flies! We put our trusty car through its paces and bumped our way around the back of the Uluguru mountains to the Selous Game reserve. It was only 115 miles away but it took us 5.5 hours to get there due to the fact that, for much of the time, we were doing less than 10 mph on a stony dirt track! We had a top day on safari, seeing over sixty species of bird, and hundreds of hippos and crocodiles on the Rufiji River. The one sobering aspect of our day was the lack of elephants. The Selous used to be famous for its large elephant population (109,000 in 1976) but, during the last 40 years, 88% of its elephants have fallen to the poacher, a sad trend that continues across Tanzania.
For the rest of Jan/Feb it’s beenbusiness as usual, as we’ve continued in our various roles and made some preparations to hand over some of our responsibilities. For Ruth, it’s been about the management and accounting work for IBM and Sanga Sanga, and for me, translation and preaching, as well as member care for some of the missionaries in the unit.
So, what exactly is this thing called “home-assignment”?!
Is it just a big long holiday for missionaries? Is it like a sabbatical? Is it secret code for a ‘fundraising trip’? Do missionaries go on home assignment when they get so fed up with their host culture that they need a break? Well, there’s probably an element of truth in all of these – but as definitions go they don’t paint the full picture, so let me try and explain. In former years, within missionary circles the word’ furlough’ was used to describe such an activity. The dictionary definition is this: “A period of time where a soldier is allowed to be absent from service, especially to return temporarily to their own town or country.” I also found another definition, although I’m not so sure it’s too helpful….. “Work furlough is a correctional programme which allows prison inmates to leave an institution for the purpose of regular employment but returning to confinement at nights and weekends’ – hmmmm! Let’s go with the first – although it does have its limitations because it suggests a time of getting away from active service.
|Construction work at Sanga Sanga continues apace|
Today, mission organisations prefer to use the term ‘home assignment’ because they want to emphasise that missionaries who are back in their home countries are still on active service, working and doing ministry, but just in a different venue. And so that is why I’ll still be involved in preaching, and why we’ll both be out and about speaking at various AIM events and prayer groups, raising awareness of what AIM is doing in Africa, as well as informing people of what we’ve been doing during the last 2.7 years. In fact, one of the main purposes of our HA is to reconnect with our sending church and report back to them. It is our church that we are primarily responsible to, and it is our church, in partnership with AIM, that commissioned and sent us to Tanzania back in July 2013. And so we need to spend time with them, along with other supporters, to inform and hopefully inspire, as well as to say a big ‘thank you’ to those who have supported us financially and prayerfully.
Home assignments—they’re biblical you know!
This is how it was right at the very beginning of the missionary era. At the end of Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas are coming to the end of their first missionary journey, and after four years on the road they returned to their ‘sending church’ in Antioch. “They gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them….. and they stayed there a long time with the disciples”. That, however, is where any comparison between the Lancs and Paul and Barnabas stops! They travelled on foot everywhere; they planted church after church, and they also had to endure beatings, imprisonments and a lot of opposition from religious leaders and government officials!
Home assignment also provides opportunities for spending time with family and friends. Besides grappling with a new language and trying to adapt to living in a new culture, I think the hardest part about being overseas is the separation from family. We’re so thankful for the modern conveniences of email and skype that the missionary of yesteryear could only dream of, but nothing beats face-to-face quality time with those who are nearest and dearest. There’s also a need to take time out from a ‘field assignment’ and spend time in a home culture where things are familiar and relaxed, because after a while some of the cultural norms here can begin to wear you down. I (Steve) have noticed this especially in the last six months where my grace and patience levels are low, my tolerance and compassion reserves are sometimes depleted, and my spiritual tank is in need of topping up! In short, one can become rather tetchy and grumpy when things don’t happen as they would at home, and where you get fed up with certain aspects of a culture! We’re certainly looking forward to a change of environment and temperature, doing some holidaying, and to recharging the batteries on a number of levels!
Twenty things we’re looking forward to on HA!
Not sweating, good internet connection, going to Israel, being at Corsham Baptist Church, exercising normally, spending quality time with family and friends, no mosquitoes, watching Carlisle United play, not battling with Swahili, eating pork pie and celery, not having power-cuts, long light evenings, driving on smooth roads where most people adhere to the highway code, being cold, meeting new nephews and nieces, playing golf on greens, preaching in English, skiing, climbing a mountain or two, and going to the chippie!
Livingstone and his first ‘home assignment’!
Sorry folks, but I couldn’t finish our first term without referring once more to the good doctor! David Livingstone set out for Africa in December 1840, and arrived back in England 16 years later in December 1856 for his first home assignment! And even then, he nearly didn’t make it! Twenty months before heading home he meandered his way across the continent of Africa, trekking from Luanda (in Angola) on the west coast, to Quillimane (in Mozambique) on the east coast, exploring the land and looking for ideal sites on which to set up mission stations. He covered the 2230 miles by foot and on ox-back, only to arrive on the Mozambican coast, ravaged by malarial fever, to find that the ship which had been sent to pick him up, had run aground on a sandbar!
He then waited a further six weeks for another ship to come, and during the long journey home aboard the not-so- aptly named HMS Frolic, one of his African attendants, who had never seen the sea before, jumped overboard due to insanity! The ship was then nearly wrecked on an island near the Bay of Tunis due to a snapped engine shaft, only to be saved at the last moment by a providential wind which carried them away from the rocks! And finally, to add insult to many an injury, after five months at sea, the boat docked in Dover whilst his wife and friends formed a welcoming party for him….. in Southampton!! Needless to say, we’re hoping that our journey home won’t take quite as long, and won’t be quite as eventful!
Ruth founds this beast, a Huntsman Spider, sitting on the
back seat of the car when she got home one day. If she’d
seen it during the journey, who knows what ditch this
arachnaphobe would have driven into!
Thank you so much to those who have helped make this first term in Tanzania possible. To those who support us financially and pray for us regularly – we want to say thank you for your partnership and backing. And we hope you’ve enjoyed following our tentative steps into Tanzanian ministry and reading about some of our adventures and misadventures along the way! Our aim has been to keep you informed about the ministries we’re involved in, but also to give you a glimpse of what life in Tanzania is like. We’re not exactly sure when we’ll next be in touch via newsletter or blog, but we look forward to meeting up with many of you over the next 6 months, and we’ll certainly be in touch before we head back to Tanzania in September, God willing.
Steve and Ruth
- That we would finish our term well and do what we need to do before we leave on 7th March.
- We’re praising God for what we’ve been able to do through Him during our time here, thanking Him for safety and protection, and for His continued blessing on our lives.
- Please pray that we’ll plan wisely for our HA and that we would also be a blessing and encouragement to those we meet.
- Please continue to pray for the work of IBM – for Tony as he heads up the seminar programme, and for Matt as he continues to supervise the building of the conference centre.
- Please pray for spiritual refreshment during our HA – and for re-charged batteries!
Postal address in UK (from 24th March – 7th Sept): West Sevington Farm, Yatton Keynell, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 7LE.
|How’s that for a big-nosed moth!|
|Now he just needs some passengers!|