Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Witchcraft and Human Rights conference

Last week saw a multi-agency conference in Lancaster on Witchcraft and Human Rights. This event followed on from the 2017 UN workshop on the same subject. Several members and supporters of SCWA were present, including BCT’s Carolyn Gent, who presented on the Church’s role in addressing accusations of witchcraft against children.

Carolyn tells us:

‘The conference offered a real range of presentations, including academic research papers and practitioner reports. There was also lots of discussion, great networking opportunities, and chances to meet people who are engaging with witchcraft accusations against both adults and children, and with other human rights issues related to witchcraft. It was an exciting two days with a real sense of momentum and energy behind the issue.

‘What was really obvious was the increasing understanding of the fact that the Church needs to be at the centre of at least part of the response to the phenomenon. It was great to hear people from other parts of the world talking about how some of the most successful interventions have been by pastors and other church leaders. It’s so encouraging to see a real shift in thinking on that. There’s a real sense of excitement about the work of SCWA in particular – it’s been singled out as a beacon of hope in demonstrating that change is possible from within the Church. Our resources and our model are being picked up by other groups. It’s absolutely the case that the Church is implicated in child witch accusations – that’s a matter of real concern to us and to others – but the fact that we are able to show how the Church is actively engaging in changing the story has been a real breakthrough in this conference.

‘I also had some really good conversations with people working in other parts of world, and it was great to reconnect with Dr Bob Priest and Dr Opoku Onyinah, who are such fantastic supporters for our work and highly regarded as experts on the issue.

‘All in all, it’s been a really good two days. Thank you so much for your prayers. God is very good!’

Find out more about SCWA’s work to prevent witchcraft-related abuse against children, and why this work is so important.

 

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The long view

‘As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth… so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’ (Isaiah 55:10-11)

At the time of writing, BCT is on the cusp of 20 years of work. 2019 will be our 20th anniversary! Looking back over those 20 years, we can see thousands of lives have been changed, by the grace of God and through the dedication of our partners. Even more people have benefited indirectly, as the impact of our work ripples outwards into wider communities. We rejoice that God has blessed our efforts and brought transformation to so many vulnerable children.

That’s not to say that those 20 years have been all plain sailing – there have been some very difficult times indeed, with disappointing outcomes and painful decisions. In the darkest moments, it has been hard to see God at work at all.

But taking the long view, God’s presence, provision and guidance are thunderingly obvious. Things take time to grow. If a tree doesn’t shoot up within days, it’s silly to think it will never grow. If we care for it faithfully, it will flourish, but we have to be patient. In the same way, God’s purposes often take time. He promises that his word will achieve his purposes (Isa 55:11), and it’s as we look at how individuals and communities have grown over a matter of years that we get a true sense of God’s transformative power at work.

Above all, our anniversary celebrations are a chance for us to say thank you. We’re overwhelmingly grateful to God for his faithfulness to us, to our project partners for their courage and commitment, and of course, to you for your support, prayer, encouragement and generosity.

We praise God for his leading and provision over the last 20 years. As we step forward into the next 20, we wait with anticipation to see what he will do next, and we submit ourselves to his will and perfect timing.

Find out more here about who BCT are and what we’ve been doing for 20 years!

 

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One more toy

Still Christmas shopping? This year, please consider buying one extra toy. For the disabled children at the support groups run by Wukwashi, toys are not just a source of entertainment – they’re vital for developing cognitive and motor skills. So, Wukwashi are asking for more good quality toys, to support these children in their growth and development.

Could you buy one more toy this Christmas, to ensure a disabled child gets a gift too?

For info on exactly what kinds of toys we need and where to send them, click here. Merry Christmas!

 

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Meet Lyn

We’re delighted that Lyn Edwards has just joined BCT as our new Operations Manager.

Lyn qualified as a nurse and has experience of paediatric oncology and general nursing. She has been a childminder and a foster carer for disabled children and young people, and for the last 23 years she has been working for a charity based in Leicestershire, supporting disabled children and their families.

While in that role, Lyn authored, designed and delivered a disability awareness training programme for early years providers, and was responsible for an inclusion project that supported disabled children and young people to access play, sport and leisure activities.

Until she was 18, Lyn lived all over the world including Africa, the Far East and the Middle East. This time was foundational for her faith, her future career choices, her values and who she is as an individual. She describes herself as a gentle activist, passionate about the rights of all children and young people, especially those who are at risk and those marginalised by society.

Please pray for Lyn as she steps into her new role.

And you can find more items for prayer here.

 

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Excellent SCWA Forum

After months in the planning, it is good to report that the Stop Child Witch Accusations Coalition Forum in London earlier this month was a success, by God’s grace.

Delegates from ten different organisations joined members of the SCWA steering group for the event, which explored the delegates’ experiences of child witch accusations and what steps could be taken to address these accusations.

Those who attended said they understood the issue better as a result of the Forum, and felt better equipped to take positive action. They plan to:

‘Engage all programmes especially in Africa to isolate and respond to the issue.’

‘Look for creative ways to surface the issue in a non-threatening, non-judgemental way.’

‘Explore how my organisation can join the forum / networks and conversation in DRC.’

We’re looking forward to building relationships with everyone who joined us for the day and continuing the conversation. Let’s keep the momentum going, build from here and give thanks to God for a really good day!

Find out more here about how SCWA is taking action to address and prevent accusations of witchcraft against children.

 

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Hearts and minds

‘The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.’ (Proverbs 4:7)

Wisdom doesn’t just mean knowledge; it means understanding the world in a new way. It’s more than just a collection of ideas and information. It makes a difference to how we live. As we see God bringing his wisdom to communities, it challenges fear, prejudice and harmful cultural beliefs. Because of this, the ways in which those communities treat their children change, and the children’s lives are transformed. This is why we’ve made it a key element of our strategy to address attitudes and beliefs.

Last month, we saw a vivid example of this at a training workshop in Rwanda, facilitated by our Director, Susie, and organised by our local partner, APRECOM. The workshop focused on disability and the importance of including and empowering disabled people, within churches. The beginning of the two-day workshop felt like tough going, probably because most of the delegates had received no input on this issue before despite, in some cases, serving as church leaders for decades.

But during the course of the workshop, there was a dramatic transformation in the delegates’ attitudes. Midway through, one participant commented: ‘What have I been doing all this time? My ministry has been about having big crusades, when these are the ones who most need love and help.’

Another confessed: ‘I just want to repent of the way that I have neglected these children. From now on I will be their champion.’

The workshop ended with the delegates drawing up plans for practical action, setting dates that they will begin the activities and citing who will be involved. Several committed to going through their villages to identify homes where there are disabled children, and to build friendships with them and their parents.

We’re so grateful to God for touching hearts and minds so powerfully, and for the real difference he has made possible, through that. We pray for more of the same and, of course, we’re also open to receiving more wisdom from God, ourselves – we want our own hearts and minds to change too!

Find out more here about how we aim to change hearts and minds through our Transformation Resources.

 

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Visit report from Rwanda

Thank you so much for praying over Susie’s visit to Rwanda in September and October. By God’s grace it was a really fruitful trip and Susie is delighted to share just a few of the highlights with you here.

 

Visit to Moses

Four-year-old Moses lays in the arms of Marie, the young girl who is child-sitting along with her friend Abigail, whilst Moses’ mum is out at the market. ‘Moses can do nothing,’ she says. ‘He can only eat and cry, but he can’t walk or talk or even hold up his head…’

Read more.

 

Gatsibo training workshop

As soon as we finish visiting Moses in Bugesera, we jump back into the car to travel four hours to Gatsibo for a two-day training workshop in disability inclusion for 30 key church leaders in the Eastern Province. Peace Plan has funded the conference. Those attending are leaders in authority over several churches. If they catch the vision, they can envision others…

Read more.

 

Kajera HIV support group

Arriving in Kajera, the men lounging around the local shops scrutinise us without smiling. Kajera feels like a depressed place. Alcoholism amongst men is common according to Odeth. It’s the women who keep the community going.

Mama Keven meets and welcomes us. Dressed in a faded pink skirt and top with a multi-coloured chitenge around her waist, she looks strong and healthy…

Read more.

 

Visit to Itetero

We’re now back in Kigali and have come to visit Itetero, a project that BCT and APRECOM have been working with and helping to support over the past year. BCT channels its support to Itetero through APRECOM.

Based in a sector called Busanze, Itetero exists to support children with disabilities and their families and to mobilise others to do so. Headed up by Pastor Aloys, Itetero runs a school in the grounds of the church that he currently leads as well as a support group for the children’s parents. It also does home visits. APRECOM joins with Itetero in the home visits and helps to run the support group.

Read more.

 

Find out more about how BCT and APRECOM are helping to change the lives of children living with HIV or disabilities.

 

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Standing in the Gap

Last year, SCWA ran a prayer campaign for children accused of witchcraft, and the issues surrounding these accusations. We were delighted with how our friends and prayer partners responded to the campaign and, since the needs of children accused of witchcraft are as acute as ever, SCWA have decided to resume the prayer campaign this Autumn. So, ‘Standing in the Gap’ will run again from now until the end of January, with new prayer updates every two weeks.

The first prayer update for this season (and the eleventh of ‘Standing in the Gap’ as a whole) is now available here.

If you joined us for ‘Standing in the Gap’ last year, thank you! We would love to have you with us on the campaign again. If you weren’t able to be part of ‘Standing in the Gap’ then, do join us now. Let’s call out to God together to protect vulnerable children and change the deeply-ingrained beliefs which lead to their abuse.

Find out more about ‘Standing in the Gap’ and read the latest prayer update here.

 

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Visit report from DR Congo

Thank you so much for praying for Carolyn during her visit to LVLE, our partner in Goma, DR Congo. As Carolyn puts it: ‘God’s fingerprints were all over this trip, long before I actually arrived.’

Even securing a visa to DRC was a minor miracle in itself and, after arriving in Goma, there was plenty going on to encourage Carolyn hugely.

 

Child protection training

It became clear that the LVLE team had done an excellent job of conveying the concepts and justifications for child protection to local schools and churches during previous trainings. Carolyn facilitated a training session, aiming to help the participants to put what they had learnt into practice and to start to build upon it. There were some excellent practical outcomes, including creating and applying child protection policies, and exploring how to equip children to report abuse.

Read more.

 

The Heart of the Matter

The pilot of ‘The Heart of the Matter’ – a resource addressing child witch accusations – took place in Goma just over a year ago, so a training event now offered a wonderful opportunity to find out what had happened over that year. Carolyn went through a summary of each module of ‘The Heart of the Matter’ with the participants, who remembered it clearly and in detail.

The participants shared wonderful stories of how attitudes towards children in their communities are being transformed, and made detailed suggestions for the next steps in addressing child witch accusations. There was a real sense of momentum at the end of the meeting. What’s more, a very positive meeting with the Bishop of Goma a few days later has presented an opportunity for Jean-Paul to train the 55 Anglican church leaders in Goma, in ‘The Heart of the Matter.’

Read more.

 

Review and planning

Carolyn’s visit also included a review of LVLE’s work, resulting in specific recommendations to help the team develop their training programme for church and school leaders, and their support for street-living children.

Read more.

 

Find out more here about how LVLE is championing children’s rights in an environment where abuse is rife.

 

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Introducing the new SCWA film

We’re delighted to be a founding member of the Stop Child Witch Accusations coalition. Tens of thousands of children worldwide are falsely accused of witchcraft and, as a result, face untold abuse. So, we believe it’s vital to catalyse a Christian response. SCWA is determined to work with affected churches and communities to bring to an end the phenomenon of child witch accusations.

SCWA’s new film explains more about who we are, what we do and why it matters.

If you want to be part of a movement bringing this awful practice to an end, here’s more about how you can take action.

 

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