Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Do not disturb

‘Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee
All things are passing;
God never changeth.’ St Teresa of Avila

I always find St Teresa’s words comforting, largely because I get ‘disturbed’ quite easily – I’m a bit of a worrier. And there’s a lot going on in the world at the moment which could disturb us, if we let it.

After a year of Ebola in DR Congo, 2,300 people have been infected and, if anything, the spread of the virus is accelerating. In the UK, we are facing the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, carrying the threat of food and medicine shortages. New research is revealing just how extreme the climate emergency is. And for us and our project partners, the issues affecting the children we serve are huge; at times, those issues seem completely intractable.

Yet, there is still hope. Our God is the same, ‘yesterday, today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8). He is strong, he loves us and he is utterly faithful. So we should not be disturbed, whatever is going on around us.

Of course, that’s not to say that we should just ignore the problems in the world. Far from it. We have the power to act: to bring change on big issues, to influence decision-makers when we can’t bring that change directly, to play a part in God’s plan to make Earth more like heaven. When the challenge is just too great, we can pray to the one who endures forever, who can literally move mountains. There are some alarming things going on in the world but then, that’s always been true. It’s up to us to choose whether or not those things disturb us!

We and our partners are bringing change on issues that harm children. You can be part of this work, too. Here’s how.

 

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Susie in Rwanda

Susie with APRECOM’s Odeth (centre) and Emma (right)

Our Director, Susie Howe, is currently visiting APRECOM, our partner in Rwanda.

Susie says: ‘It’s a joy to be visiting APRECOM again. Whenever I spend time with Odeth and Emma, the extraordinary women who run APRECOM’s work, I come away inspired and thankful that BCT has the privilege of being a running partner with them.’

Susie has already been in Rwanda for a week and will be returning home in another week’s time. In the meantime, she asks for our prayers, particularly for the following points:

  • Pray that Susie and the APRECOM team will keep in step with the Holy Spirit, be filled with his presence daily and be effective in imparting his truth and word through training seminars.
  • Pray that, through those training events, God will bring outcomes that exceed all our expectations.
  • Susie will have very little rest, so please pray for supernatural strength and energy and for the joy of Jesus to flow in all that she does.
  • And please pray that Susie and the APRECOM team will be alert and sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, hold things lightly and be ready to respond flexibly to every situation and circumstance, confident that God has everything in hand.

Thank you so much for praying.

Find out more here about APRECOM’s work, supporting children affected by HIV or living with disabilities.

 

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Please pray for LVLE

Please pray urgently for Jean-Paul, Edwige and the team at LVLE in DR Congo. There has been a confirmed case of Ebola in Goma, and Jean-Paul’s church (which adjoins his office) caught fire last week.

Please pray:

  • For protection from Ebola for all the team and their families, and indeed that the disease will be stopped in its tracks in Goma and generally. (You may have seen that two health workers were murdered in North Kivu; such is the suspicion around Ebola.)
  • That God will sovereignly protect the LVLE office and equipment as the windows have been smashed by the fire. Thank God that no-one was harmed in the fire and that the office itself was not destroyed.
  • That God will give his peace and comfort to Jean-Paul and the team, who are due to go out to Masisi as part of their training of church leaders in SCWA’s ‘The Heart of the Matter’ resource.
  • That the church will be enabled to restore their buildings soon and to quickly replace the chairs and the musical and other equipment lost.
Thank you so much for praying with us. These events are alarming but we know our God is sovereign.
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Past, present and future

‘In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 1:4-6)

It was wonderful. Our 20th anniversary celebration last month exuded joy and gratitude to God for all he has done for us and through us. We sang, we laughed, we dreamed, we ate and drank, and we celebrated God’s goodness. Inspired by three beautiful short films, created by our friend Phil Mash, we looked back to how it all began for BCT and remembered how God has nurtured and grown the work, and touched the lives of tens of thousands of children. We also looked to the future and outlined our plans to resource church leaders all over the world to reach marginalised children, in the name of Jesus.

In our experience – and in the Bible – God fulfils his plans for his people and does not rest until those plans are completed. We rejoice at how God has fulfilled his plans for BCT so far, but we are confident that those plans are not yet complete. God is not finished with us yet!

Please continue to pray for BCT; that we will hear God’s voice, follow his leading and obey his commands as we look to the future. May he have his way in us and our project partners, until his plans are completed – for his own glory and for the sake of the countless children who need to know and experience his love.

Above all, we all wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for journeying with us. We are looking forward to the next 20 years with expectation, and we hope you will carry on with us to see God’s plans continue to unfurl.

By the way, I hope the photos in this post will give you a flavour of what was an unforgettable day. And naturally, all three of the films I mentioned are now on our YouTube channel.

 

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Two prayer requests

Prayer is the engine that powers BCT’s work. It underpins everything we do and we believe passionately that, when we pray, our God answers. Right now, we’d really value your prayers for two particular things.

Firstly, Odeth from APRECOM (pictured) has a very severe bout of malaria. Of course, you won’t need me to tell you how serious malaria can be, so please pray that Odeth will recover fast and feel no lasting ill effects.

Also, it seems that the Ebola epidemic in DR Congo is getting worse. More than 1,400 people have now died, and it’s proving very difficult to control the spread of the virus, because of the civil unrest there and the widespread suspicion of foreign medical workers. Please pray that the epidemic will soon be brought under control. And pray in particular for protection for the team at LVLE and their families.

Thank you so much for your prayers. We know that our God is with us, and that he is for us, not against us!

If you’d like to pray for BCT more regularly, here’s how you can do that.

 

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A young life saved in Zambia

Carolyn, our Training and Project Development Coordinator, met Chico when she visited Zambia in April. He has hydrocephalus, his prognosis was poor and the local general hospital had done very little to help him. Our local partner, Wukwashi, immediately arranged for a referral for surgery at the main hospital in Lusaka, funding the transport costs and any additional medical costs that might arise.

We heard this week that Chico has now had a shunt fitted, which will stop the fluid build-up on his brain. Once again, Wukwashi wa Nzambi has lived up to its name – ‘God’s help’.

Carolyn comments: ‘This may not be the end of Chico’s difficulties, but there is no doubt in my mind that Wukwashi’s swift response saved his life, and his parents now know that they are not facing the future alone, whatever it may hold.’

This is just one example of how Wukwashi is making a huge difference to the lives of disabled children. Find out more here.

 

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‘Real buzz’ at the SCWA forum

We’re really thankful for an excellent SCWA forum in London yesterday, connecting with church- and organisational leaders around the subject of witchcraft accusations. We also benefited from valuable input from Dr Julian Eaton on how common worldviews in the global south affect how mental disorders are perceived and treated.

BCT Director Susie Howe comments: ‘There was a real buzz in the room; everyone contributed to discussions and it was good to get the perspectives of those working in very different contexts to ours. Despite different working backgrounds and faith perspectives, it was great that we all shared a common heart to address the stigmatisation and harm of those accused of witchcraft and indeed of those who are stigmatised because of the mental health conditions that they live with.’

The feedback from the day was very encouraging and the delegates were enthusiastic about keeping in touch and attending future SCWA events. We’re looking forward to developing relationships with the organisations represented at the forum, and continuing to learn together. We hope that, in due course, working collaborations may emerge from these relationships.

Find out more about how SCWA is addressing witchcraft accusations against children.

 

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Big enough to answer, loving enough to listen

‘Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counsellor?’ (Isaiah 40:12-13)

My grasp of interstellar navigation is sketchy, to say the least. But a quick Google search tells me that our nearest star (Proxima Centauri in the Alpha Centauri system) is 4.24 light years away. If my maths is correct, that equates to a distance of about 22 trillion miles. This, I remind you, is the distance to our nearest star: the galactic equivalent of popping down to the shops.

When we start talking about space, the distances involved quickly become mind-boggling. But this is the universe our God created. When Isaiah talks about God marking off the heavens ‘with the breadth of his hand’, this is the sheer scale of God’s work which he communicates, whether or not Isaiah himself would have fully understood that at the time. We so easily forget just how awesome our God is (and in fact, we probably don’t fully grasp that at the best of times) but Isaiah’s words remind us of God’s immense power and majesty.

On the other hand, Isaiah also emphasises God’s love and gentleness. In verse 11, God ‘tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart’.

As we pray, this is the God we call out to: the God who is staggeringly powerful but also wonderfully caring. So we can pray with confidence, knowing that God is big enough to answer and loving enough to listen.

I don’t pretend to know what you’re contending with at the moment, but I hope it encourages you to know that our awesome God is with you in the midst of it all. I also hope it inspires you to pray, however unlikely it might seem right now that you’ll get the answers you want.

Of course, we’d also love it if you would call out to our awesome, loving God for our overseas project partners, and the children they serve. Find out more about how you can pray for them, here.

 

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Carolyn is home

Carolyn is now back from Zambia, after a hugely encouraging visit to Wukwashi wa Nzambi, our local partner. Carolyn says:

‘It was such a joy to return to Zambia to visit Joyce and Henry Mutembu at Wukwashi Wa Nzambi, which has been a partner of The Bethany Children’s Trust since 2006. It was my first trip back since 2015, and I was excited by the opportunity to catch up with them.

‘God took us down a couple of unexpected paths with the trainings, but inspired and directed our response, so these were valuable and fruitful times. God is front and centre in everything Wukwashi do and as they honour and glorify him, he is blessing them beyond all measure. It is a privilege to be a part of this work.’

Thank you for praying for Carolyn and the Wukwashi team during her visit. Our prayers have definitely been answered!

For the full lowdown on Carolyn’s visit, including some fantastic stories of individual children Wukwashi is helping, download her report here.

 

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Walking in step

The shock of learning that children were being branded as witches taught me we had to change hearts and minds if we wanted to fulfil our vision of transformed communities, says Susie. BCT is now at the forefront of addressing accusations of witchcraft against children. This is how that aspect of our work began:

Aristote (L) and two friends

Aristote’s uncle had lost his job so the family blamed 11-year-old Aristote. The local ‘prophetess’ in their part of Kinshasa confirmed he was a witch.

To ‘free’ Aristote of ‘evil spirits’, the husband of the prophetess and his associates held Aristote over a bonfire, burning his buttocks and groin. They did the same with three other children they’d accused of witchcraft.

The four children were dunked in the river – then locked up in church for five months, with no medical care and virtually no food. One of them died.

Aristote’s mother had been left to bring up six children alone so she had done what culture dictated and had sent Aristote to live with her brother and sister-in-law in good faith. She loved her son.

So, when her sister-in-law failed to produce Aristote and revealed he was with the prophetess, Aristote’s mother stormed round to the church, threatening to call the police. The prophetess released Aristote who was by then a virtual skeleton, in desperate need of medical care. Appalled, his mother contacted EPED.

Read more…

 

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