“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15
Europe, Middle East and North Africa
Iran: Encouraging news about Christmas celebrations
Many Christmas services across Iran and the neighbouring region were packed to the brim reports Elam Ministries. At one Persian-speaking church in a country near Iran, over 1,200 attended their Christmas celebration and a few hundred had to be turned away, such was the desire to learn more about Jesus.
It’s also reported that at least 100 Iranians gave their lives to the Lord during Christmas in churches within the region and 300 other new believers from a Muslim-background will shortly be baptised in a country near Iran.
Elam Ministries also reports that for the first time in years they have not received reports of house church raids or any news of arrests in Iran over Christmas amongst believers. Give thanks for this and please pray for continued protection for all Christians in Iran and the wider region and that many more would to come to know Christ this year.
Britain: Church of England’s World Mission and Anglican Communion Panel
On Tuesday (17 January), executive leader Philip Mounstephen will be leading a discussion at a meeting of the Church of England’s World Mission and Anglican Communion Panel about how we can better sensitise the UK church to global issues within an increasingly isolationist world. As well as people from other mission agencies in attendance, it will include representatives from Church House and Lambeth Palace. Please pray for a good, positive and creative conversation.
Britain: Trisha Wick
Trisha Wick, a mission associate who is working in Hull as a pioneer minister, writes with news and prayer requests:
“We were encouraged by how God helped us with our Christmas programme. Our ‘Christmas Chaos’ was the main event and included an adult nativity play in which 21 people took part. We put out 40 chairs to seat those who came and God blessed us with a total of 78 people who attended with many new faces. Our Christmas dinner was a sellout and we had a performance of ‘The Fourth King’ which was arranged by the Credo Arts Group. It was brilliant as it was an interactive journey through the nativity story so people journeyed through the downstairs of the building involving themselves in various scenes they encountered.
- “Please pray for protection for the building and safety for all those who enter and as we promote Messy Church, that new families will come.
- "Pray also for a meeting on Wednesday 1 February when some of our diocesan leaders will come to Longhill to assess the last year and make plans for the future.
- “Finally, please pray for funding needed for new chairs for our chapel.
Many thanks for your prayers. May God bless you in 2017.”
South-East Asia: B and M
Please pray for mission partners B and M and their two children as they prepare to return to South-East Asia in early March. Pray especially for B as he travels to meet the people that he and M will be working with and also prepares a place where they can live. Pray also for Raj Patel, regional manager for Asia, as he will also be going to meet up with various people there and look at possibilities for the future.
Nepal: Unreached people
Milan Kumar Magar, a local partner based in Nepal, writes with news and a prayer request:
“Chanak Ram Chaudhary belongs to the Tharu, one of the most unreached people groups in Nepal. They used to be landlords in the far west of Nepal but lost their possessions after their land was confiscated and they were cheated by members of the upper classes. Today, many of them work as a Kamaiya (servant) for their landlords.
“When Chanak Ram first came to our training centre, he was a churchgoer but was shy and lacked confidence. However, his learning heart, faith and integrity made him an eloquent preacher and he has now brought more than 100 people to Christ.
“I praise God for being in such a strategic place and able to impact and influence emerging leaders of unreached people groups. Our investment is bearing fruit from the far western parts of Nepal to the most eastern parts. We also recently reached out to the Mushar people, taking the initiative to build relationships with the most marginalised and the poor. We adopted two Mushar communities and distributed winter clothes and blankets to 140 people who could not even afford to buy winter clothes or protect themselves from the cold. The Lord moved my heart when I saw them in such a deprived state and my immediate thought was to help them and transform this community through Jesus. The Lord is so good. He spoke with some friends and we were able to share the gospel. Today, children and elderly men and women from 40 families can use those winter clothes to protect themselves from the cold. They could even celebrate Christmas with the comforting knowledge that Christ loves them. Please pray that the Lord may help us to continue reaching more unreached people.”
Latin America people in mission visit the CMS office
This week we have four couples visiting from Latin America.
Bishop Alf and Hilary Cooper are in the UK from Chile; please pray for their travels and visits to churches and for Alf as he finishes his latest book. They have both had serious health issues recently but are now very fit and grateful to God for treatment and healing.
Jess and Mark Simpson are on holiday from Rio de Janeiro where Mark is chaplain of Christ Church while remaining a mission partner and working to support local partner Alexandre Teixeira in his ministry in Mage and Friburgo. Pray for Jess and Mark as they return this coming week to Brazil and await the arrival of their first child in March.
Alex and Jane Cacouris are also at Christ Church Rio as short termers; pray for a good rest and holiday and for the children, Mylo, Maia and Louis.
Catherine LeTissier and Bishop Nick Drayson are mission partners here in the UK for their daughter Stefi’s graduation and her wedding to Rhys on 8 April as well as for many church visits. Please pray for rest and stamina for all the activities and travel. They are both speakers at the next Latin American conference, Adelante, on 21-22 April.
Bolivia: Walter Toro
Walter Toro, a local partner in Tarija, Bolivia, sends greetings for the New Year, especially to those he met on his recent UK visit. He thanks the Lord for making it possible, and asks for prayer for the small congregation at the Good Shepherd community who are in search of a plot of land to build their own church. Please pray too for time during the summer break to relax and for the thriving group for married couples, starting again in February. Pray also with Walter and his wife Adelita for their daughter Brisa Belén, hoping to start university in the near future.
Honduras: AFE project
We have just heard from Steve Poulson, a mission partner in training, who writes:
“Please pray for the AFE project in Honduras (a children’s and community project) that educates children and young people who live on Tegucigalpa’s rubbish dump. Pray particularly for their work with the older students going off to college and for new avenues being explored for the ministry. Also for the Manuelito Children’s Home in Honduras and their work helping the teenagers and young adults transition into adult life and work.”
South Sudan: Three new bishops to be consecrated
Today (Friday, 13 January), mission partner Garry Ion drives north from Uganda to South Sudan with CMS regional manager for Africa, Stephen Burgess. As well as visiting lots of building projects they will be attending the consecrations of three new bishops. The service will be held on Sunday (15 January) in Emmanuel Cathedral, Kajo-Keji, a building Garry helped to design and build six years ago.
Please pray for those being made bishops on Sunday. Emmanuel Murye is to be enthroned the new bishop of the Diocese of Kajo Keji and Seme Nigo and James Keny are to be made bishops for neighbouring dioceses in the Yei area (Keny in the new Diocese of Morobo). They become church leaders at a very difficult time in South Sudan’s turbulent short history and the church is playing both a vital role in supporting war-torn communities and encouraging peace with political leaders.
Sudan: Zanga Moses
Please pray for a young Sudanese man Zanga Moses who had attended S5 and S6 and A levels (getting the best results at his school) at Shining House orphanage in Kisita Village, Masindi, northern Uganda and returned to Sudan in order to study to be a Catholic priest. However, a Catholic agency could not be found to sponsor him and Zanga is now caught up in the trouble and living rough with two younger sisters. They are desperate to reach the Ugandan border but have no money. Please pray for them.
Sudan: Latest update
Church Mission Society trustee, Jane Shaw, writes with news on Sudan:
“One of the four Christians on trial in Khartoum has been released through a lack of evidence. However, the other two Sudanese pastors and a Czech aid worker still face charges including possessing footage of government forces’ atrocities in South Kordofan. They are accused of espionage and other crimes against the state, some of which carry a death sentence.
“In Blue Nile state, Sudanese government forces have again attacked SPLM-N bases, again violating their unilateral ceasefire (which a SPLA-N spokesman had dismissed as “media propaganda”). Pray for genuine negotiations for peace in Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains.
"Pray also that the visit of the British Permanent Under-Secretary from the Foreign Office to Khartoum may have a positive influence. He is there to find ways to strengthen bilateral relations – he will visit Darfur to inspect DFID-funded projects and discuss action against illegal immigration as well as talk about investment possibilities.”
South Sudan: Weekly update
Please continue to hold South Sudan in your prayers. Jane Shaw writes with an update:
“The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Juba, Loro Lukudi, invited to hold a prayer service at the president’s residence, urged President Kiir to make forgiveness the key in the new National Dialogue Initiative. The president said: ‘I am determined to make the year 2017 a year of peace and reconciliation’. Pray that his determination may be shown in effective action to end fighting and establish peace throughout the country.
“The president has promised to visit Yei in February, at the invitation of the people and church leaders, ‘to consolidate peace and reconciliation’; the Episcopal Diocese of Yei, led by Bishop Hilary, plans to celebrate its centenary on 6 February with activities over five days. And the Roman Catholic Bishop of Yei intends to travel into the bush to meet the rebels and find out their grievances but he awaits approval from government. Pray that his initiative, the church celebrations, and the visit of the president, will all contribute to establishing security, peace and safety for the people of Yei, who have suffered so much.
“Please continue to pray also for Maridi Diocese and Bishop Justin, and this week remember the Western Archdeaconry, led by Rev Canon Stanley Modogu Gugu. Pray also for the huge number of Christians displaced from their parishes and now scattered in Maridi town.
“In other news, fighting continues across many areas of the country. At Busseri near Wau, a church was demolished and Bibles torn up and in Yambio, government soldiers killed civilians, looted and burned houses and hundreds forced to take refuge in schools. In another episode of violence, a soldier opened fire on a funeral gathering in the Yei area, killing one woman and injuring six. The Dean of the Episcopal Diocese of Lui, Rev Noel Knight, has been kidnapped from Juba by unknown criminals. Pray for the re-establishment of law and order and a country-wide cessation of hostilities.
“Ordinary life continues to be difficult with the South Sudanese pound slipping from 90 to the dollar to 105 (it was at 18 when first floated in December 2015). Aweil Hospital has reportedly run out of medicines, as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supports only children and pregnant women. Pray for all who are struggling to feed and care for their families in very troubled circumstances.”
Uganda: Nicci Maxwell
Nicci Maxwell, a short-term mission partner in Kisoro, Uganda, has been very unwell for the past few weeks but she is slowly recovering now. Please pray for her full recovery.