Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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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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.

Read more…

 

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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.

Read more…

 

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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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