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Prayer News 17 March 2017

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3: 1-3 (NIV)

Europe, Middle East and North Africa

Britain: CMS Community Vision Day

Please pray for the third annual CMS Community Vision day being held this Saturday (18 March) in Oxford. Like last year it will be an opportunity to spend the day with members of the CMS leadership, sharing news and looking together at the vision for the year ahead.

Each year the day looks at the key focus for the year ahead. The first year looked at the call to “live dangerously”, asking questions about who CMS was and what it did. Last year, it focused on the new look of the Society and the refocusing of the community around its call to pray for, learn from and participate in mission together.

One of the key focuses this year is to grow the life of the community locally – supporting CMS groups and regions. Please pray for this and for all who lead and attend, and for a renewal of vision and passion for mission.

Britain: CMS community in Scotland

The CMS community in Scotland are holding their annual conference this Saturday (18 March) in Stirling. Pray that it will be a day of learning, prayer and action as they explore creative, practical ways of looking at and responding to conflict transformation within both local contexts and the wider world. The title of the day is “Reconciliation in a Fractured World”.

Iran: Two Christian converts arrested

On 20 February, two Christian converts were arrested in Urmia, the capital of West Azerbaijan province in Iran. The home of Anousheh Reza-bakhsh (known as Veronika) and her son Soheil Zagarzadeh Sani (known as Augustine) was raided by Revolutionary Guard intelligence officers.

Veronika and Augustine are converts to the Catholic Church and were baptised in Istanbul, Turkey in August last year. Following their baptism they returned to Iran where Augustine and his mother continued to read and learn about the Christian faith.

At the time of their arrest, their home was searched and Christian books and material were found among Augustine’s belongings. He has been a keen follower of online Christian theological training programmes and Christian satellite TV channels. Currently, there is no further information about their whereabouts and well-being since the day of their arrest. It is believed that they have been detained at the intelligence building of the Revolutionary Guards, where access to information and detainees is strictly denied.

Iran continues to monitor and persecute Christians across the country. Often, detainees are subject to psychological and physical harm by the authorities.

Iranian Christians request prayer that:

  • The Revolutionary Guards will disclose the location of Veronika and Augustine 
  • Veronika and Augustine will not be harmed and will remain in good health 
  • Efforts to discover their whereabouts will be successful 
  • God will grant his peace and strength to Veronika and Augustine and their families 
  • All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow him.

Source: Middle East Concern

Britain: The annual meeting of the Partnership for World Mission (PWM)

CMS executive leader Philip Mounstephen will be attending the annual meeting in Sheffield on Monday and Tuesday of the Partnership for World Mission (PWM) heads of agencies. PWM is the umbrella body for the Church of England Mission agencies. Pray that the meeting will strengthen relationships and the common commitment to the mission of God.

Britain: Clean for Good

Clean for Good is a brand new business being started to provide high quality contract cleaning services for commercial premises in London. It’s a business with a social purpose – paying the Living Wage to all of its staff, providing good working conditions, investing in cleaners and promoting the value of cleaning and cleaners.

The business has been established by a group of churches and Christian charities, as a Christian initiative to promote positive change for some of London’s lowest paid workers. The founder investors are Church Mission Society, the Parish of St Andrew by the Wardrobe (in the City of London) and the Centre for Theology & Community (CTC) and two private individuals. Grants have also been offered by St Sepulchres and the Pickwell Manor Foundation.

We just heard that they have a new business manager, Catherine Pearson, who started work this week. Thank God for this appointment and please pray for her, and for the business as a whole, that it will flourish and grow and help more people over the next year.

Britain: Fresh Expressions meeting

Philip Mounstephen will be at the Fresh Expressions partners’ meeting at Swanwick on Wednesday and Thursday (22-23 March). CMS has a long association with the Fresh Expressions movement, not least through the Pioneer programme. Please pray for strengthened relationships and new pathways to be forged together in mission.

Britain: CMS selection conference

Please pray for the CMS selection conference in Oxford that runs from Thursday (23 March) to Saturday (25 March). Please pray for wisdom, guidance and discernment for the selection panel and peace and joy for the candidates and reassurance about their calling.

Asia

South-East Asia: B and M

Give thanks that mission partners B and M have arrived safely in South-East Asia. At the moment they are quite busy with organising their accommodation and juggling life accompanied by two young children, which can be quite challenging. Pray that they will be able to move in soon and for the family's spiritual and physical protection.

India: Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMC)

Rev Jim Paul is a chaplain at Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMC) in Tamil Nadu, India. His ministry of pastoral care to terminally ill patients also extends to that of their family members who suffer with them. Jim writes:

“Namitha is only 10 months old. When she was five months old, her health deteriorated and she was diagnosed with neurological complications. She was admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). She and her parents were previously based in Dubai due to work but now reside closer to home in Tamil Nadu and have shifted Namitha to CMC for treatment. It has been four months since CMC received her into their care and she is now on artificial life support. 

"I had a meeting with Namitha’s grandmother just before Christmas at the cafeteria. She looked very disappointed when I asked her about Namitha’s health status and she said: ‘Our family spent more than one crore (ten million) Indian Rupees for her treatment in the last few months. We even sold our car in order to pay for the subsequent costs of sustaining her. We cannot bear it any more. We requested for the doctors to stop the treatment by ending her life support but they refused to do so as it was against medical ethics. We wait for Namitha’s return…Kindly pray for us.’

“Please remember the family in your prayers”

Latin America

Peru: A national emergency

Mission associates Juan Carlos and Penny Marces write with an urgent prayer request:

“Please pray for Peru at this time. By Wednesday this week (15 March), many areas in the country had been declared 'in emergency' covering much of the country. This was because of the rains, which were heavy in the mountains – although it is the rainy season, this year having arrived late they are now excessively heavy – and the swollen rivers are causing landslides and mudslides across Peru. While so far the loss of life has been small (not counting livestock), half the coastal areas (from around 300km south of Lima to the border with Ecuador) are affected.

“One of the most pressing problems is water. It is not actually raining on the coast (it never really does!) and water comes from the rivers coming down, but the dams are having problems. Most of Lima was without water yesterday and, of course, the areas worst affected by the landslides and mudslides have no water either. In several areas of the northern coast, where there has now been standing water/mud for over a week, there are increasing fears that there will be outbreaks of dengue and Zika fever (transmitted by mosquitoes).

“Please pray for the authorities and for people to be able to respond adequately, and for us all in Lima to be responsible in our use of water.”

Honduras: Steve Poulson

This Sunday Steve Poulson is being commissioned to go to Honduras to serve street children. He is being commissioned at St Mary’s, Amersham, where Steve was youth worker, by CMS mission director for Latin America, Henry Scriven, and executive leader, Philip Mounstephen. Pray for Steve, that he will feel afresh the calling of the Lord upon his life and for the final preparations before he flies to Honduras.

Guatemala: Follow up to the fire that killed 19 children

Pray for the follow up (both personal and political) to the tragic fire in the girls’ home in Guatemala. Mark and Rosalie Balfour (who are language learning at the moment) work with Street Kids Direct and the Mi Arca centre in Guatemala city. They are very involved in the consequences of the fire and continue to minister to many children and families living in desperate poverty.

Brazil: Faith Gordon

Give thanks for new ministry possibilities for mission partner Faith Gordon in Recife. Please pray that these will come to fruition and pray for Faith and daughter Vanessa as they live and witness in their neighbourhood, church and school.

Diocese of Northern Argentina

Pray for the Diocese of Northern Argentina. Mission partners Bishop Nick Drayson and Catherine Le Tissier are on home leave and planning for their daughter Stefanie’s wedding at the beginning of April. Mission partners David and Shelley Stokes continue work in Juarez and the Chaco with the training of leaders for the Wichi, Toba and Chorote churches. Mission associates Chris and Helena Wallis work in the same team with the SEAN Abundant Life course. Pray for the new leaders whom they have recently trained. Mission partners Ed and Marie Brice in Tartagal pastor the congregation in town and help with the training courses as well. Pray for the growth of disciples.

Bolivia: Giving thanks

Give thanks for the recently completed visit of the team from the Diocese of Birmingham to their companion diocese of Bolivia. Pray for all the follow up from the meetings and teaching and for the growth of the congregations in Bolivia – two of them are led by local partners, Walter Toro  (Tarija) and Franklin Cuenca (Santa Cruz).

Africa

South Sudan: An update

Please continue to hold South Sudan in your prayers. CMS trustee, Jane Shaw, writes with an update:

Headline prayer for all suffering famine. As you will have seen from today’s BBC News, the situation of famine in South Sudan is no better. Humanitarian aid has now reached the four worst-affected counties but aid workers were then advised to leave one, Mayendit, because of fighting. When they persuaded the authorities to let them remain, renewed fighting then forced them to withdraw. There has since been more fighting in Leer county, amid complaints that rebel-controlled areas have seen no food aid.

“Fighting is also reported in many other places across the country. Eight Samaritans Purse workers have also been kidnapped for ransom (in the form of food aid) from a village near Mayendit and last week two Indian engineers were kidnapped while working for an oil company. A priest, Rev Simon Kwaje, was found brutally murdered on the road in Yei last Friday, the day of National Prayer, and Archdeacon Margret of Yei Diocese has asked the question why the government has started targeting preachers.

“Cholera has reached Malakal and 5,574 cases countrywide have been reported. In the midst of such suffering, please pray for church people and all who are striving to re-establish order, justice and peace. Pray especially for the bishops, supporting their people and defending them like lions.

Maridi Diocese: continue to pray for Bishop Justin and for God’s ​wisdom in leading and directing the diocese. Pray also for all who work in the diocesan Office, the clergy and people of the diocese, the Mother’s Union, and the Chaima Christian Institute – for their safety and well-being. Pray also for the British Army contingent of Royal Engineers, working to support the protection of civilians camp in Malakal and providing supporting infrastructure.

Signs of hope: Give thanks that Sudan is providing 10,000 tonnes of sorghum as a contribution to the emergency in South Sudan, and is providing shelter for refugees who cross the border – there are currently 305,000 South Sudanese taking refuge in Sudan (not counting the 300,000 who chose to remain in 2011 and have residence permits). The UK government has given £2.5m for these refugees.

“The new oil refinery in Upper Nile state is nearing completion and the operating company claims it will be operational, with products on the market in South Sudan, in June this year. This should both provide some revenue and relieve the crippling fuel shortage. Pray that both the fuel and the income are used for peaceful and positive purposes.

“And finally give thanks that 910 students who have been living (in squalid conditions) in the UN’s Protection of Civilians camps in Juba have been able to leave the camp to sit their secondary leaving exams. Pray that there will be a brighter future for them, and all South Sudanese people.”

Uganda: Potter’s Village

Please pray for the The Potter’s Village (a child crisis and medical centre) in Kisoro, South West Uganda. We have just heard from the people running it, Mike and Sue Hughes, who write asking for prayer:

  • “We have an eight year old on the ward at present called Vian. He has severe inflammation of his kidneys which has been causing very high blood pressure leading to convulsions. The mother has requested prayer for him.
  • "We continue to despair at the local practices leading people to cause their children to die. A three-week old baby came in yesterday evening with burnt areas in the groins as a result of local herbs put on some sores. The area was horribly inflamed and he had developed sepsis as a result of the infection. Sadly, he died during the early hours of this morning after vomiting a large amount of blood. Prayer is needed to know how effectively to deal with these practises in this part of Uganda. If the child had been left alone, he would still have been alive.
  • "Please pray for us as we continue to look for good nurses to replace the ones leaving to work with the government. The government has put nurse wages up to a level that we cannot compete with. Please pray that nurses with a heart of love for the work of God, and the project, will join us.
  • "We have 17 resident babies, with 12 under four months of age and seven under two months. This is hard work for the carers. Pray for good health for the babies and stamina for the carers!”   
     

Tanzania: Christine and Paul Salaman

Please pray for mission partners Christine and Paul Salaman who are based in Tanzania but who are returning back to the UK this summer. They have recently heard that their son Isaac has a place in a good school in St Austell. Unfortunately, they can’t apply until later for their other son Daniel. Please pray that they get him in at the same school.