Warm greetings on a blustery autumn day. It is time to send you an update once again. Thank you to those who have been praying for us and even getting in touch to ask for news.
This time we are starting with family news. In our last letter we explained that Steve’s parents had just moved into a care home. Sadly, Steve’s dad, Derek Clive Bryant, passed away (with Covid 19) on 23rd April, at the age of 85. Clive was a lovely man who followed Jesus for many years and was a strong supporter of WEC. The funeral had to be very small but it gave glory to God for his life. Steve’s mum Cynthia was unable to attend due to ill health and Covid restrictions. Due to the virus and the distance involved, we have not been able to visit her and this has been very difficult. Please remember Cynthia in your prayers, and pray that we will soon be able to visit.
The rest of the family are doing well. Michael and Bethany returned from Liberia in August and we were able to see them before the current lockdown in Wales took effect. Bethany has started her paediatrics training post and Michael continues with a mix of locums, teaching and telephone triage. David is as busy as ever with garden work, easier now that he has a car. Peter and Miriam moved house just before the lockdown and have been kept very busy with refurbishment as well as continuing their jobs from home.
Ministry has continued throughout the lockdown period, and we have been as busy as ever. Last time we mentioned Bourofaye Christian School and Grace International School: both of these schools closed for a while, but are now reopened (BCS on a very limited basis). In July and August we were able to run the MK Staff Training online instead of having a residential course based at our church. This involved nearly two weeks of two Zoom meetings (total four hours) each day – we are thankful that it went smoothly and that the participants engaged really well with the course. It involved a lot of preparation for us beforehand as we adapted our style to suit the online context. Most of the new staff for BCS are now in place and others are seeking to join them in January or next summer. A home schooling teacher has just arrived in the Gambia, and another teacher will go to Chiang Mai next year.
Steve also gave some separate training to a couple who are heading for Chiang Mai to fill the role of long term dorm parents for Grace International School students living at the WEC boarding hostel. It is a wonderful answer to prayer to have this couple en route – please pray for them and their children as they seek to overcome the hurdles involved. The team there would like to see them in place as soon as possible.
Back in June, Steve ran two days of online safeguarding training for WEC leaders across Europe. This was supposed to happen in the Netherlands but, like everything else, it was put online! We are grateful for the technology that enables us to continue with our work.Last week we were very blessed to be able to join in with the WEC UK conference, which took place via Zoom. It was very encouraging to engage with others in prayer, listening, sharing and seeing what God is doing both here in the UK and overseas, through the ministry of WEC. On one evening there was a one-hour event open to the public – this is still available online on You Tube and we recommend it to you.
Currently WEC UK is running a Candidates’ Course for nine people who are joining as long term missionaries. This is wonderful to see in a time when it might be expected that there would be less interest in committing to world missions. Most of the people on the course have a long term connection with WEC, through attending one of our missionary training colleges, or helping at summer camps and other activities. It is so good to see the long term effects of their involvement with us over time.
Did you know that worldwide, WEC has 1920 members from 67 nationalities, working in 90 countries? At the conference we learned of some encouraging global developments such as the current fast growth of the Church in France, through the united efforts of churches and mission agencies, and the individual experiences of many who are seeking to reach their neighbours here in the UK.
Some countries that received missionaries in the past are now starting to send their own workers. WEC is very much involved in this exciting development. Also we are now part of a global inter-missions group seeking to support missionary families from all senders, including the more recent ones. New sending countries face unique challenges, although there is huge potential for reaching the unreached with the Gospel. Please pray with us for effective partnership and good mutual understanding between old and new.
Covid 19 has affected all of us, although we did not want to make it the central emphasis of this letter. We are thankful for so many things – health and strength, God’s provision for our family, and the opportunity to have two short breaks in August and September in the Forest of Dean and the northern Cotswolds. Our allotment has yielded large quantities of soft fruit, potatoes, onions and beans. As we live on the edge of a small town, we have been able to enjoy lots of country walks and Steve continues with running. Gill misses her swimming sessions but Steve has recently returned to the gym.
One summer day while out walking, Gill picked one of every wild flower she could see.
In this time of loss and change, it is good to remember this Bible verse from Isaiah.
Warm greetings to all of our friends. It’s time to share our news again, and we do want to thank you for your prayers and support over the last few months.
Imagine living in a place where….
…earth tremors are commonplace, and you may often need to wear a mask to protect yourself from pollution………your daughter may be at risk from bride kidnap………the mountains are beautiful but your apartment is infested with cockroaches………your activities are under surveillance constantly and bureaucracy is an ongoing challenge.
Imagine living there not just for a week or a month, but long term, through all seasons, coping with sickness, ethnic uprisings and the ongoing stress of being a foreigner.
Recently we had the privilege of hosting a family who live in just such a situation. It was so good to have the opportunity to spend time with them doing some training, eating together, sharing and praying. It is crucial to pray for those who live and work in difficult places – it is costly to see areas like this reached with the Gospel.
Training and travel
The last few months – as with the earlier part of the year – have been characterised by training and travel. At the end of July we ran the MK (Missionary Kids) Staff Training course at our church in Corsham. There were 8 participants from 8 different countries (well, two from Germany but one person from two cultures!). Most of them went to BCS in Senegal but one lady from a Swedish mission agency has gone to Ethiopia to
teach children at home in a remote area of the country. In addition we did one day of training with a local primary teacher, at the end of June – she is now serving in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In August we arranged for alternative training for a couple who applied very late to go to BCS. Thanks to some of our WEC colleagues, we were able to ensure that they got the input that they needed, as well as spending a day ourselves talking with them over Skype.
In September, both of us travelled to the USA to attend two conferences at a mission centre in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The first conference was a small gathering of people from all over the world, involved in supporting missionary families. Those who attended came from Korea, Brazil, Spain and India as well as the UK, USA and Australia. The vision for this gathering was to establish ways of working together globally to ensure that care for missionary kids is genuinely international. There are now many new sending countries, especially in parts of Africa and Asia that have traditionally received missionaries in the past. This is an exciting development, but there is a need for all of us to continue to work together to improve care for our families. The second conference was much bigger and provided good opportunities for networking with others.
While there we were able to take a day off to visit the Amish Farm Museum in Lancaster County. It was fascinating to learn more about their way of life, and we especially enjoyed chatting to the teacher at their one room school house.
Almost straight after the visit to the USA, Steve went to Spain to attend Eurocon, a WEC regional conference for all of our teams in Europe. As a result of his presentation on safeguarding, he has now been asked to do some safeguarding training for leaders in Europe, probably in the Netherlands in the spring.
At the end of September we were able to go away to Norfolk for a two week break, which was a wonderfully restful time. We enjoyed visiting nature reserves, windmills and beautiful deserted beaches with more seals than people. In November Gill was able to make a brief visit to Liverpool with her sister, to meet her cousin (not seen since our wedding day in 1982!) and see the area where her mum grew up. It has changed a lot!
Peter and Miriam continue to live in Nottingham and have just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. They managed a week’s holiday in Scotland with only half a day of rain. David has recently passed his driving test and is looking forward to having a car – this will make things a lot easier for him as he currently cycles many miles to work in all weathers. Michael and Bethany are busy at the ELWA hospital where they have recently introduced a nutrition programme for children under 5. Please pray for the success of this programme, as it is hard to get the supplies to the places where they need to be.
Praise and prayer
As it is only a few weeks till December 25th, we want to wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas season and God’s blessing and peace for the New Year. We look forward to hearing your news too.
This letter comes with our love and greetings.
For a change, we are starting with family news.
We had a wonderful joy-filled day on 10th
November, when our youngest son, Peter, married
Miriam at Cornerstone Church in Nottingham.
Bethany and Michael will be
going to Liberia at the end of
January to serve at the ELWA
hospital run by Serving in Mission
(SIM). This hospital just outside
Monrovia hosted two of the
largest Ebola Treatment Units
during the epidemic that swept
through Liberia in 2014-2016.
We have just enjoyed a lovely Christmas spending
time with all of the family over the holiday period.
David lives locally and continues with his gardening
business. He still has plenty of winter work as the
weather is so mild at the moment.
Gill turned 60 in August and to celebrate we had
a special holiday in September, staying in a
cottage on the Norfolk coast. One of the
highlights was seeing seals playing in the sea
along a beautiful deserted golden beach.
This photo was taken in front of a seventeen
arch bridge near the home of some friends that
we visited on our way back from Norfolk. We
like this picture because of the ideas
represented by the bridge. More of this below….
We joined WEC in 1989 and went to serve at Bourofaye Christian School (BCS) in Senegal, to help provide education and support for the children of missionaries. The parents’ goal is to use all possible means of sharing the Good News of Jesus, the One who is the bridge to God. Since returning to the UK in 2001 we have served as WEC’s International Missionary Kids
(MK) Consultants, seeking to help our MKs and their families as they cross the many bridges of transition in their lives, caused by living in more than one culture, changing schools frequently and facing lots of goodbyes. In October Steve helped to organise a day conference on family debriefing, a training day designed to help missions to support their families as they go through changes. Some transitions are planned or gradual, whereas others are traumatic and sudden, perhaps involving deportation or evacuation. Our goal in WEC is to support our families as much as we can, conveying Christ’s love to all of our workers and helping them towards maximum effectiveness. A summary of the training from the conference will be published in the January edition of our Educare magazine, which Gill has been working on.
MK Staff Training
In our last letter we asked for prayer for our summer training course for new MK workers. Thank you to those who prayed! We had 12 adults and one little girl on the course this year, heading for BCS and two other locations. Once again our church, Corsham Baptist, did a wonderful job in hosting our participants, catering and providing all kinds of support from child care to transport to tea and cakes. We are so grateful for the efforts of our wonderful church members and leaders, without whom it would be really difficult to run the course at an affordable cost. For 2019, it is scheduled once more to take place at Corsham Baptist Church from 21st July to 1st August, so we would appreciate your prayers again.
Travel in 2019
There are several overseas visits scheduled for 2019. Steve is still finalising a major trip, and it is likely that he will travel to East Asia for a couple of weeks in March. In May Steve will be attending the Child Safety and Protection Network conference and refresher training in the
US, to upgrade his own safeguarding knowledge in the international context. This is essential for him in his role as WEC’s International Safeguarding Officer. Both of us will go to Eurotck in Germany in May – an excellent opportunity for networking and mutual learning for agencies based in Europe. Steve has been invited to give some safeguarding training at two WEC conferences later in the year, Eurocon in Spain in September (regional conference for European team leaders), and the WEC France conference in October.
Once again we want to thank you for your support, prayers and interest in our work. We look forward to hearing your news too, especially at this time of the year when so many of us enjoy catching up.