Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.

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Hearing God’s heart

BCT has served children with disabilities – and their families – for many years. But it was a powerful encounter with one individual boy which began all this. As we look back at BCT’s journey so far, here’s where our work with disabled children started:

A tiny boy who was no more than a bundle of rags opened my eyes to the neglect and stigma facing children living with disability – and to God’s blueprint for community, writes Susie.

Children at a displaced people’s camp in Uganda

I was walking through a huge tented ‘city’, home to some of the 1 million Ugandans who had fled the brutality of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Weaving along a track between tents, I saw a bundle of rags on the ground. As I drew nearer, I was shocked to realise it was a child, white with dust. The dust was in his eyes and his mouth. People were just stepping him over him.

I saw he was floppy and probably had cerebral palsy. As I knelt down to pick him up and cradle him, people approached and said, ‘Don’t touch him: he’s nobody.’

I was shocked. ‘How can you say that?’ This little boy had been created by God and he was precious. I call him Beloved and his memory has never left me.

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Where the journey began

As we celebrate BCT’s 20th anniversary, we look back at where it all began for us. The next three blog posts will pick up three key threads of BCT’s work, and outline how we first engaged with these issues and where God has taken us since then. First, let’s look back at BCT’s very first steps – and especially our involvement in serving children affected by HIV.

A dying boy in Zimbabwe set me on a 20-year journey and taught me that God can use us in ways we could never imagine, if we surrender our plans to him, writes BCT Director Susie Howe.

I had worked with adults with HIV or AIDS for years when I first met with Taurai – but he broke my heart.

He and his family were living in a decrepit hut in Zimbabwe and they had nothing: no food, no water, no clothing. Taurai’s father had already died and Taurai was now close to death.

The six-year-old was desperately emaciated and covered in sores. He had lost his hair and didn’t talk.

People avoided him, believing him to be infectious. I had never worked with children before but Taurai captivated me.

God opened my eyes through this little boy. Taurai needed to know that he was a child of the King that he was amazing. And the whole community needed to know this too – and to take care of Taurai.

This was Zvishavane, 1995, and in many ways where BCT’s journey began.

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Responding when culture harms

Susie, Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Dr Ann-Marie Wilson

Susie Howe and Carolyn Gent were delighted to attend the Global Connections forum in London this week, on the subject ‘Responding when culture harms’. It was so encouraging to be able to meet like-minded people, and to share about child witch accusations, their impact and what SCWA is doing to respond.

Susie was invited to present alongside Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons) and Dr Ann-Marie Wilson (founder of FGM charity 28 Too Many).

We’re really thankful for the growing number of opportunities to raise the profile of child witch accusations and SCWA’s work. Please continue to pray that God will help us connect with other organisations interested in the issue, so that we can work together to bring change.

 

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More than conquerors

‘In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:37-39)

It’s been a rough few weeks for our UK team. Illnesses, alarming family crises and inexplicable technical problems have combined to leave us reeling. It’s felt as if we’ve been under attack from all sorts of angles and, of course, that’s exactly what has been happening!

We know that our enemy, the devil, prowls around, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He hates the people of God and wants to destroy us and bring our plans to nothing. When we are involved in something like SCWA, which so clearly confronts dark and evil practices, it’s no surprise if we’re on the receiving end of a backlash from the enemy.

But the wonderful truth is that nothing – absolutely nothing – can separate us from the love of God, and nothing can stand in the way of his purposes.

So, we’re currently hard pressed, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We choose to hold tight to God, to persevere in prayer and to press on in the work we know he has called us to.

We’re sharing all this to encourage you to persevere too, when you feel under attack. We are ALL more than conquerors in Jesus. But we also want to underline just how important prayer is. It is a vital weapon in the armoury God gives us. Please stand with BCT by praying for us.

Find out more here about the different ways you can pray for BCT.

 

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Come to our party!

BCT is 20. And to celebrate, we’re getting together with some friends to give thanks for everything God has done for us over the last 20 years, and dream dreams for the future.

There will be worship, film and short talks, followed by a cream tea with Pimms and live jazz.

It’s all happening on Saturday 22 June, from 3-6pm, at Community Church Putney, SW15 2LL.

We’d love for you to join us. If you want to come to the celebration, please tell us, using the form below. Thanks!

Yes! I would love to join you at BCT's 20th Anniversary Celebration on 22nd June.


Name:
Phone number:
Email address:
Number of people coming (including yourself!):

 

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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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