“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:3-4 (NIV)
Europe, Middle East and North Africa
Lebanon: CMS staff trip
Please pray for CMS’s executive leader, Philip Mounstephen, and regional manager for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Tanas Alqassis, as they visit Lebanon over the next few days. Pray for strengthened relations with people in mission and local partners, for good learning, and for the whole trip to be effective for the Kingdom of God.
Glasgow, Britain: The Well
Please pray for The Well, Glasgow, a Christian resource centre that provides help and support to many diverse refugee and immigrant communities within South East Glasgow.
They offer help through many ways including drop-in advice and information and various activities to develop skills and confidence. They are currently in a search for new premises, a need that is very urgent given current numbers and capacity. Please pray for this.
They also write with another need and prayer request: “We are short of volunteers – we really need help on Wednesday either morning or afternoon, and Thursday morning with the advice work. Please get in touch with us if you can help via this page.”
Iran: Verdict still pending for four Church of Iran members
We have just heard from our friends Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) who write:
“A verdict in the trial of four members of the Church of Iran denomination in Rasht is pending after local authorities decided to refer the case to Tehran.
“Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie are charged with ‘action against national security’. The four men were arrested on 13 May during a series of raids by security service (VEVAK) agents on Christian homes in Rasht. If found guilty, they could face a maximum of five or six years in prison. A ruling was expected prior to Iranian New Year on 21 March; however, the decision to refer the case to authorities in Tehran will mean a further delay.
“The deadline is also overdue for a decision on an appeal by Mr Omidi, Mr Mossayebzadeh and Mr Fadaie against a sentence of 80 lashes each for drinking wine during a Communion service.
“The latest developments come amidst an apparent rise in repression as the 19 May presidential election approaches. As we mentioned in a previous edition of Prayerspace, two Catholic converts, Anousheh Reza-bakhand and her son Soheil Zagarzadeh Sani, were arrested in Urmia, the capital of West Azerbaijan Province, after their home was raided by Revolutionary Guard intelligence officers.”
Please pray for all these people and for their protection against those who wish them harm. Pray that God will grant his peace to them all and that they will not be anxious. Finally, pray that all Iranian officials involved in their cases will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow him.
North Africa: M and T
Please pray for two mission partners, M and T, who help lead a training and ministry centre, preparing, supporting and sending workers into the nations of North Africa, as well as reaching local North African immigrants. Their call is to multiply workers into the eight hard-to-reach nations of North Africa, while also supporting local Muslim background believers, helping both groups remain spiritually healthy and increase in fruitfulness.
They write: “Our DTS (Discipleship Training School) lecture phase is now in the seventh week. T had a great week teaching on the awesome subject of the Lordship of Jesus. The week after next, M will also spend a week with the group – she’s taking them away to a retreat centre and facilitating a few days of spiritual retreat. Pray for her as she leads this time; for the group to have wonderful times of connection with the Lord, and for them to develop new habits through this week.
“Every autumn, here in Spain we host a separate three-month residential course designed to prepare people to live and work in Muslim nations. This year, for the first time, the same course is being run in the spring at a centre in the Netherlands. We are trusting that as a result of this course we will see many more people equipped for long term fruitfulness in North Africa.”
India: Church planting in Bangalore
Two CMS mission partners living and working in Bangalore, involved in theological education and church planting, write asking for prayer for two things:
“Please pray for God to use our church plant, its Bible study groups and children’s activities to build and transform people’s lives.
“On a separate note, India has been gradually recovering from the impact of November’s ‘demonetisation’ – 1,000 and 500 Rupee notes were suddenly scrapped, leaving Rs 100 (just over £1) as the largest valid note. Only one seventh of all the cash in India was still useable! The new, bright purple Rs 2,000 notes took time to come, cash machines needed adjusting and, even if you got one, you had to spend it all at once because nobody had enough change. For a couple of months, there were huge queues outside banks. Factories closed, because they could not pay their workers – barely half of Indians have a bank account. All because lots of cash was stored up by people avoiding paying tax (so-called ‘black money’). Things are finally getting back to normal now. Please pray for people who may still be feeling the effects of this economic incident."
Nepal: Tailoring training
Former CMS local partner Ram Prasad Shrestha, the director of the National Missions Commission of Nepal (NMCN), writes:
“In November 2016, the National Mission Commission (NMC) of Nepal launched a livelihood development programme for women living in the slums of Kathmandu.
“The purpose of this programme was to equip women who lived in marginalised communities with skills that would enable them to eventually start a tailoring business for sustainable and dignified livelihoods.
“Rai was among five women who enrolled in the ‘Tailoring Training’ programme. Married at the age of 14 to an 18-year old, she lives in the slums by the Bagamati River. In a family of seven people, only her father-in-law is able to physically go out to work and earn an income. Her husband met with a major accident whilst working at a construction site. He had a serious fall from a building and broke his hands and legs. By God’s grace, he survived although after several months of treatment and physiotherapy, he now barely walks and relies on a stick for support when moving around the house.
“Rai shares her situation: ‘I have to take care of him at every moment; even to the toilet and around the house.’ She expresses her desire to improve the family income: ‘I want to learn tailoring and start a small shop to earn a living because there is no one else in my family who can do so besides my aging father-in-law.’
“Through ‘Tailoring Training’, NMC hopes to raise funds to provide the likes of Rai with a sewing machine to smoothen the process of starting their business.
“Please pray for Rai:
- That she will come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of her life and that of her family’s.
- That the tailoring training will enable her to eventually start a sustainable tailoring business.
- That her husband will be able to recover substantially.”
Northern Argentina: Catherine Le Tissier and Nick Drayson
Catherine Le Tissier and Nick Drayson are CMS mission partners serving in Argentina. Nick is the diocesan bishop of Northern Argentina, (an area roughly the size of France), and Catherine is an occupational therapist. They write asking for prayer for:
- “Our next three years leading the diocese, for consolidation and growth.
- Finding appropriate ways to develop local expressions of how to be a church community.
- Our family as it spreads out over the globe.
- Continued health and strength as we travel and serve.
- The wider development of intentional discipleship.”
Peru: Paul and Sarah Tester
CMS mission partners Paul and Sarah Tester together with their children have recently returned to Lima, Peru, for one of their daughter's new term at school. They write asking for prayer:
- “For our family and our ministry to be firmly rooted in the unchanging Jesus Christ.
- For serenity in all of the upcoming changes that we face and the challenging situations in which we find ourselves.
- For courage to change the things God calls us to change.
- For wisdom and discernment to hear and follow God’s call, especially regarding roles and responsibilities.
- For those in Peru affected by unseasonal rains, which have led to floods and landslides.”
South Sudan: Killing of aid workers
Please pray for peace in South Sudan. We heard earlier this week that the death toll of an attack on aid workers in South Sudan has risen to seven, with the news that the driver also died. David Kim Choop was driving the vehicle when he and six aid workers were ambushed and killed on Saturday, 25 March.
The four South Sudanese and three Kenyans worked for a local non-governmental organisation called GREDO (Grass Roots Empowerment for Development Organization) and were attacked while on a routine food convoy from Juba, the capital, to Pibor.
The ambush caused the highest number of aid workers killed in a single incident since South Sudan’s civil war began in 2013. At least 12 aid workers have been killed so far this year and at least 79 killed since 2013, according to the U.N.
Northern Uganda: John and Cathie Rutter
CMS people in mission John and Cathie Rutter write with news and prayer:
“As most of you know, until 23 January we were scheduled to go out to Kajo Keji Christian College in Kajo Kaji diocese, South Sudan, to teach and do admin. But at that point, the violence which until then had not penetrated that area broke in – the college had to close and staff and students dispersed. To their great credit, by 21 February, when we flew out to Uganda, they had relocated the college and diocesan office to Moyo, 20 miles away but in Uganda, found accommodation (an abandoned orphanage) and started the complicated process of rebuilding their community in very different circumstances.
“We want to tell you about Rev Stephen, one of the diocesan staff. He is full of joy and always smiling and laughing – a great gift in these difficult times for them all. One of the issues for the struggling people on the camps is that goods are more expensive in Uganda than Kajo Keji, a double pressure when money is in very short supply. Stephen told us a story of a man in the camp walking past a primary school lesson who overheard the teacher say “What is 1+ 1?’ and one pupil incorrectly answered ‘4’. Not waiting to hear anymore, the man rushed off and reported to his friends ‘Even 1+1 is more in Uganda’. It’s a joy to be able to share in laughter with the rest of the staff, as they cheerfully endure so much.
“Please pray for:
- That the suffering in the refugee camps, which is great, will be alleviated, and for the many staff and students at the college who have family living there.
- That our teaching will be clear and relevant to the needs.
- For safety in travel for staff who take risks going into South Sudan to try to get more supplies from the college.
- For the dedicated students who are having to live in difficult conditions after the good provision at Kajo Keji.”