“All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5: 5-11 (NIV)
Europe, Middle East and North Africa
Egypt: Prayer for all those affected by the recent bomb attacks
Please continue to pray for the families of the victims and others who are suffering following the two bomb attacks in Egypt that killed at least 45 people earlier this month.
A BBC report writes: “Egypt’s government imposed a three-month state of emergency following the bombings in Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta on Palm Sunday. The attacks on Christians, who make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s population, raised security fears ahead of a visit to Cairo by Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, scheduled for 28-29 April. In a visit to Pope Tawadros II, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi vowed to hunt down those responsible for the bombings.”
Please also pray for proper medical help for the injured and for protection over churches in Egypt.
Iran: court hearing for Christians
Iranian Christians request prayer for the forthcoming court hearing for Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, his son Ramiel and other Christians who were arrested at a picnic in Firuzkuh in August 2016.
Pastor Victor has been charged with evangelism, acting against national security, conducting illegal Christian gatherings and misuse of the title “doctor”.
Those arrested in August have been charged with acting against national security and organising and creating house churches. Ramiel faces additional charges of propagating the teaching of his father.
The presiding judge will be Mr Ahmad Por at the 26th Islamic Revolutionary Court. The date is not confirmed, but it is expected that a verdict will be delivered. As Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and the others await the court hearing and possible verdict, please pray that:
- The case against the people arrested at the Firuzkuh picnic will be heard
- The case against Pastor Victor will be dropped and that he would not face imprisonment
- Those detained and/or waiting for the verdict of the court will be peaceful and strong in Christ
- All officials including the judge involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow him.
Source: Middle East Concern
New Zealand: Sad news about a mission partner based in Asia
We have just heard from our friends The New Zealand Church Missionary Society – NZCMS for short – who write with some sad news:
“We are saddened to share with you the news that one of our mission partners has passed away. He had been recovering from a mosquito borne disease when he unexpectedly passed away in the early morning on Thursday (6 April).
“He and his wife had been with us for over nine years and during this time they had mentored and walked alongside many international students in the East Asian city where they lived and worked. The mission partner's love for his Father God, his desire for others to know and experience that love, and his joyful way of living was infectious, touching all who met and came to know him.
"Please pray for his wife at this time, for all those who knew him as ‘dad', and for all of us as we grieve the loss of this man of God.”
Nepal: Empowering women through training
Grace and Milan Magar, local partners based in Nepal who are working with Asia CMS, write:
“In Nepal, leadership positions are dominated by men and so we thank God that we are able to train and equip women from various denominations throughout the country.
“During one training seminar, the participants travelled for two days and some walked for 12 hours to catch the bus to come to the training centre. Many participants are the wives of church leaders, but had never set foot in a Bible training centre. It was their first opportunity to be trained and equipped for mission work. One of the students said that in the past her husband had abused her and made her feel she was worthless and a curse to the family. But the training has restored her self-esteem and confidence. Before an audience of invited guests at her graduation, she testified that the training had given her the belief that women can do great things for the family and the church. She said that she has been refreshed by the spiritual and learning environment of the training.
“Another woman shared that her husband has started to call her more than three times a day and now listens to her. In Nepali culture, it is unusual for men to call their wives or seek their views. It is a privilege to be part of a movement that is transforming marriages and lives. We thank God for these women and couples who have been directly touched by our equipping, counselling and mentoring ministry. Please pray for me and my wife to continue to minister these people and create a legacy for the next generation of leaders.”
Latin America: Adelante 2017 conference
The Adelante Latin America Conference starts this evening (Friday, 21 April) at the CMS Oxford headquarters, running until Saturday evening. We are expecting about 90 people to attend over the weekend. Please pray for speakers Catherine Le Tissier and Nick Drayson, Tim Curtis, Levi Santana and new Central America mission partners, Steve Poulson (Honduras) and Azaria Spencer (Guatemala). Pray too for this important reunion of supporters of the work in Latin America and for members of the Latin Forum who are organising it.
Latin America: Mary Rollin
Mary Rollin, CMS local partner officer for Latin America, has had open heart surgery this week. Please pray for a swift recovery.
Honduras: Steve Poulson
Mission partner Steve Poulson leaves for Honduras on Monday, 24 April. Pray for safe travel and for his first few weeks working with street children in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Paraguay: Tim Curtis
Mission partner Tim Curtis arrived from Paraguay on 11 April. He will be at the Adelante conference starting today (Friday, 21 April) and then has a busy programme of church visits. Pray for these visits and for a good rest while on leave.
Peru: Recovering from flooding
The Diocese of Peru is working in several communities to help with recovery from the recent flooding. Pray for funds and efficient distribution of relief. Mission partner Paul Tester is one of the coordinators of this effort.
Ecuador: Sharon Wilcox
Please pray for mission partner Sharon Wilcox in Santo Domingo, Ecuador, who is in a time of transition.
Ethiopia: Drought and a state of emergency
Mission partner Rosemary Burke who is based in Ethiopia writes:
“Please continue to remember the drought in the south and east of Ethiopia and the consequent food shortages.
“Pray also as the state of emergency has been extended for a further four months; pray especially for wisdom for those in authority, that groups would try to resolve their differences by talking and not by resorting to violence, and that government decisions might be just and equitable.”
Uganda: Jenny Ottewell
Jenny Ottewell, a former mission partner in Uganda, has written to ask for prayer. She supports the Church of Uganda's children’s ministry and Rev Richard Rukundo, a local partner. She has been a member of a group called Church of Uganda Children’s Ministry UK (CUCMUK), which supports the work in Uganda.
Very sadly, Jenny has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She is fine in her spirit, and is undergoing palliative care support, yet faces an uncertain future. Jenny writes: “I value the continued prayers by those who share my faith, that I do remain faithful to my hope in resurrection, that death is not the end but the beginning of life with Jesus our Saviour."
She also specifically asks for prayer for new people to volunteer with CUCMUK.
Kenya: Caroline and Dick Seed
Please pray for mission partners Caroline and Dick Seed who are based in Kenya. Caroline writes:
“We thank the Lord that we were both able to be present at the funeral and burial of my father in Swansea at the end of March. Thank you for your prayers and loving words of support and encouragement through that time.
“Dick’s mother moved to Cape Town at the end of last year to be near his youngest brother. However, she has been in nursing care for the past three months after several nasty falls. We flew down to Cape Town for a week after Easter to visit her and will return to Kenya for just three days before we leave for the UK on 29 April. Please pray that we will get everything we need to do done in the short time we are back.
“We are looking forward to visiting churches and meeting some of you during the summer.”
Ethiopia: Chris and Suzy Wilson
Mission partners Chris and Suzy Wilson who are based in Gambella, Ethiopia, write with requests for prayer:
“At a time when there seems to be trouble everywhere, it’s worth opening this prayer update to say that Gambella has remained peaceful. Last year, February-March-April was a terrible time for the region with many losing their lives to ethnic violence. This year, although there have been several raids by the Murle, ethnic tensions have remained contained and the region has been much quieter. Please join us in giving thanks for this, and pray that it will continue.
“Nevertheless, it’s been an eventful month here on the college front. Wendy Lemarquand, Bishop Grant’s wife, and one of our friends at the Anglican Centre, had a significant cancer scare. Cancer has now been ruled out but she is back in the US having tests to discern why she has several fractured vertebrae. Please pray for her and Bishop Grant at this time. In addition, we have learned of a fairly serious problem between two of our students – both of whom are our friends who we have been eating and praying with each weekend – which, last we heard, had led to one of them being put in prison. Please pray that both would know God’s presence with them as this all gets worked out.
“In terms of praying for us, a few days ago we received news that the rains are on the way, and so we are making plans to return to Gambella. Please pray for safe travels and for continued progress with learning Anuak and making friends. Thanks for all your prayers and support.”
South Sudan: An update
Please continue to hold South Sudan in your prayers. CMS trustee, Jane Shaw, writes with an update:
Headline prayer: President calls for tolerance and acceptance, but fighting continues: President Kiir on Good Friday called for tolerance in South Sudan and mutual acceptance, saying the nation belongs to all ethnic groups. But recently fighting between government and rebel forces has increased, especially in Pajok (Eastern Equatoria) and in Wau, where three World Food Programme employees were killed last Monday, two with machetes and one from gunshot wounds. Fighting was also reported last Friday from Raja, in Lol state (Western Bahr-el-Ghazal), where 15 were killed and 28 injured; in Waat (Jonglei state), Matot and Wunker (Upper Nile) and in Unity State. Pray that this seemingly endless cycle of attacks and killings may be brought to a halt.
Maridi: Recently wind and heavy rain caused a tree to fall on a local restaurant, killing two and injuring four soldiers. In a separate incident, a policeman shot a local businessman, after a misunderstanding about a closed court case. The shooting was followed by a public protest demonstration. But otherwise Maridi seems peaceful – pray that this may continue. Pray also for Bishop Justin and his clergy, and for the Chaima Christian Institute – give thanks that it has secured grants of £3,000 from Salisbury Education Committee and £500 from the St Denys Trust, to support student teaching and to provide refresher training for clergy. And within the Diocese, pray for the Kozi Archdeaconry.
Are church leaders being targeted? Radio Tamazuj reports that since the civil war broke out in 2013, 39 church leaders have been killed, 32 of them ordained priests, mainly from the Episcopal [Anglican] Church; 17 of the total were killed in Jonglei state, seven in one atrocity in Bor. Pray for safety and for courage for all those in ministry, lay or ordained, as they confront violence and try to encourage their people.
Refugees flee to Sudan: UNHCR reports that 28,000 refugees from South Sudan arrived in Sudan in March alone; another 20,500 living along the border with East Darfur have recently been reached. 85,000 South Sudanese have arrived in Sudan in 2017, making a total of 380,000 since the civil war started in December 2013. UNHCR is concerned about finding enough land to accommodate them, let alone medical care, food and shelter. Pray for all who have fled their homes, and for those who try to provide for them where they arrive.
Currency collapse: The South Sudan Pound has sunk further against the dollar and the current rate is 146 to the dollar. In fact only politicians and those with connections can access dollars – they are mainly sent out of the country to support families living elsewhere, or for holidays. But the effect on prices in the market is severe. With civil servants (particularly in Yei and Jubek) not having been paid for three months, there is understandable resentment at conspicuous consumption by, for example, customs officials and oil company workers. Pray for the rule of law, for the return of justice and integrity, and for a proper management of the country’s finances.
Signs of hope: Give thanks for rays of light in the darkness:
- A second relief caravan (convoy) of trucks has left El Obeid (Sudan) for Bentiu, carrying 962 metric tonnes of food aid. And Sudan is considering the possibility of opening an air bridge for food drops during the rainy season. Pray that, in whatever way is possible, food aid will reach all who need it without obstacle or hindrance.
- 30,000 primary school teachers are to receive a monthly incentive of $40 (on top of basic pay of $3 a month) as part of the EU-funded IMPACT programme. Pray that this will empower and encourage them and be of great benefit to their pupils.
- Archbishop Daniel has consecrated two more bishops in the Aweil region – +Joseph Mamer Manot as the first new bishop of Wanyjok Diocese in Aweil East, and +Peter Garang Akuei as the new bishop of Nyamelei Diocese in Lol State. Pray that these new leaders will encourage and inspire their people to trust God and work for peace.