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Christian and Jocelyn’s* journey into the mission field was very different to what they’d ever imagined, but God made it clear he was calling them to serve overseas in a difficult place, where local believers are very much at risk.  

“We’ll never forget finding ourselves on the other side of the world and unprepared during a global pandemic, but we’ll also never forget that through that time, we experienced a deeper sense of God’s presence, peace, and complete faithfulness,” recalls Jocelyn.  

“We’ve also discovered how crazy this journey of faith is, and yet how beautiful those times of faith-stretching can be,” she adds.  

Jocelyn first felt God’s calling while a teenager in Northern Ireland and dedicated her time to periods of Bible study and short-term outreach trips, alongside working as a midwife.  

Her medical mission trips took her all over the world to places including Poland, East Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, and she became convinced God wanted her to serve him in a less developed part of the world.  

“I want to be someone who loves and cares for women who are not cherished like they should be and remind them of the outrageous love that God has for them,” she explains. “Now God has provided the opportunity to serve him doing the job I love and to use my midwifery skills to build relationships with women and their families.”  

Born in communist East Germany and growing up in West Germany, Christian had tried to be a Buddhist for several years before coming to faith in 2009, aged 28. He’s lived in Ireland, The Netherlands and Italy, where he shared the good news with migrant communities, especially among the boat refugees. 

In 2018, the couple met while they were both students at Cornerstone Bible College for Missions Training in The Netherlands.  

“Our two years at college were significant for us,” recalls Jocelyn. “It was there we’d come as single people with a passion to serve God wherever he would lead; and we left as an engaged couple, grounded in our vision and even more enthusiastic about serving God among the unreached, poverty-stricken peoples of the earth.”  

The couple say God gave them a common sense of calling to a large country in Southeast Asia, but early on, Covid meant their ‘Asian adventure’ didn’t go how they expected, and their plans were engulfed in a whirlwind of turmoil and emotion.  

“Our travels to several countries were cancelled just as we arrived and the trip was filled with chaos, disappointment, and uncertainty and we couldn’t help feeling very defeated,” recalls Jocelyn.  

“However, the trip was unexpectedly blessed too,” she adds. “Even though lockdown made it difficult, we got involved with several ministries and made valuable connections for the future. We were also able to explore the culture and pray for the people.”   

When the couple were advised to return to Europe immediately, Jocelyn was told she couldn’t fly to Germany as the borders were closed to non-German citizens.  

“It was one of those moments where I held my breath and prayed like I’ve never prayed before!” she admits. “Eventually, after some discussion, I was able to fly, but God’s timing is amazing because it was only because Christian and I had got engaged just the week before!”   

Despite the disruption and chaos of a global pandemic, Christian and Jocelyn graduated and then married in 2020, before starting married life in Northern Ireland.  

Christian joined Jocelyn as a member of SIM UK and they made plans to move to their desired country. 

In January 2022, Jocelyn was able to experience the joy and intensity of midwifery from a quite different perspective when she gave birth to their first daughter! 

Even though this happy event now made moving to the other side of the world more daunting, the couple remained determined to follow God’s leading and SIM helped them to prepare for the field and move to their desired country, where 93% of the population are ‘unreached’ or minimally reached with the gospel.  

“There are 60 entire people groups that remain unreached by the gospel to this day, and many don’t have a Bible in their mother tongue,” says Jocelyn. “The vast majority has never heard of God’s free gift of salvation, and most have never met a follower of Jesus.”  

The couple soon adjusted to a new climate, culture, and language lessons, but they weren’t expecting to have to survive a typhoon, tropical pests, and the house flooding in their very first month!

The couple are now settled in their new home that’s big enough for a family of four since welcoming a precious second daughter in 2023.    

Jocelyn says she’s amazed that midwifery opportunities arise naturally and she’s increasingly able to make use of her skills to bless people, while Christian works in a missional business as project manager for a software company.    

“I enjoy the growing relationships and cultural understanding that come with being so closely involved with so many locals doing work together,” he says. “Nearly every week, I have significant conversations with different colleagues.”  

There are now plans to set up a SIM base in the location through missional business that will aim to cater for the local needs, practically and spiritually and Jocelyn’s particularly excited that midwifery, health, and wellness will also be an integral part of SIM’s future involvement here. 

Meanwhile, the couple continue to grow in their delight as parents: “Our children are such a fun blessing and the best ministry partners ever as they open so many doors and hearts with the locals, especially during our regular road trips to rural, mountainous villages.  

“Our trips are to take a holiday and explore, but also to show the people we meet some love and care and then leave them with the message of hope in their language. It’s wonderful to have some small conversations and then hand families gifts of food, books, and a few audio Bibles in their language. These brief encounters thrill our hearts and we know they’re what our supporters pray for.  

 “God had led us on an interesting journey that’s been quite different to what we ever could have imagined, but we see his hand in all we do and thank him for many open doors and opportunities. 

“Our churches, family, and friends in Northern Ireland, Germany, and Italy have been a wonderful support to us, along with many mentors from Cornerstone and the leaders within SIM, who’ve guided us with so much wisdom, prayer, and experience in our journey of faith and we thank God for them.    

“We also thank God for his leading as we feel blessed to be part of this community, but we’re only one small link in his chain. While we have the privilege to ‘go’ and build relationships, we believe he wants to use his whole church to reach the least reached.”  

*Names changed to protect their identity 

By Kerry Allan

Pray   

  • Pray for the couple as they seek to be salt and light in a place where there are very few Christians.  
  • Pray that their family road trips will have a lasting impact as they share the love and truth of Jesus.  
  • Ask God to raise up more workers to join the current team of only five currently living in the country.  

 

SIM UK’s Stephanie Walker

Teacher Stephanie Walker has been faithfully building relationships within the community of Chiang Mai, Thailand, since 2020.

She began serving as a teacher at Grace International School, but in October, she stepped out in faith to begin an exciting new ministry.

She took on the role of TCK coordinator for SIM Thailand and also joined SIM’s Hope for Life team, whose vision is to connect with those who are broken and hurting and give them a glimpse of God’s hope.

“I was worried about beginning a new chapter in my service, but of course, God knew what he was doing!” says Stephanie, sent by Christian Life Church, Birmingham.

“The Hope for Life team was able to use my skills to start an English education ministry with two local schools and each week, I teach English for an hour.

“With up to 100 students each time, classes can be chaotic, but they’re always great fun and the schools now allow my Thai colleagues to pray for the children at the end of each lesson and to talk about God and Jesus.

“I’m loving my new roles. It’s great getting to know the TCKs and SIM families serving here, but also, that I can continue teaching and spend time in the schools, where we also teach life skills so the children can know they’re unique, loved and valued by God.”

Stephanie also helps run English conversation classes one evening a week as part of Hope for Life’s outreach to the community surrounding Chiang Mai.

“Each course runs for six weeks,” she explains, “and we’ve had students aged from just five to as old as 80, who come from the local schools we work in, or from the community.  

“The area where we work is to the north of the city and is quite deprived with lots of immigrants and where there’s lots of brokenness; broken relationships, broken families and people who are broken because of difficult life circumstances.

“Although the students are only learning some very basic English, we have a lot of fun in the process through speaking practice and playing games. I’ve learnt that Thais love to play bingo just as much as westerners!” she adds.

Stephanie shares the gospel with help from her Thai teammate Pi Ann at the summer camp

“We celebrate the end of the course with a camp, where we have fun and give out certificates. This year, we got the chance to go to the water park where of course, the students loved soaking me in water fights!

“For me, it was exciting to share the gospel (helped by my colleague, Pi Ann, who translated) and another highlight came when one of my students, Soi, gave me the biggest hug at the end, saying, ‘Teacher Steph, today was so much fun!’

“This is even more precious when I think of her story. Soi’s 11 and lives with her aunt and grandmother because her father died when she was young, and her mother has remarried. Soi has a difficult home life and because of this often expresses a deep need for love and attention.

“I met Soi at her school and then when I started my evening English class, she was one of the first to sign up and brought her schoolfriends with her. My Thai teammates have been spending time connecting with Soi and her friends at Shalom House (our new community hub that’s run in connection with the local church) where they play games, sports, and chat together.

“Soi refers to Shalom House as her ‘safe zone’ where she feels comfortable and it’s so encouraging as she’s now joined the Hope for Life Bible study, held there on a Saturday.

Nyomie, left, from Australia, with Thai colleagues Mint and Give, work alongside Stephanie on the Hope for Life team

“It’s been really cool to see how these conversation classes have opened up opportunities to build relationships and we’re going to invite students back for the next level as they really want to continue learning English.

“I love that it’s a team effort, where I’m able to teach English and build some relationship, but my Thai team mates can connect on a deeper level with the students we work with and really build a rapport.

“Looking ahead, I’m so excited to see what other activities we can run at Shalom House, such as art, music and gardening clubs, where people will see God through what we do.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Pray for Soi as Stephanie continues to speak hope into her life.
  • Pray seeds planted in all the students’ lives will begin to grow. 
  • Pray for Shalom House to continue as a safe place where SIM workers can further engage with the community.

Historically, Uruguay has been considered the most atheistic country in South America with nearly half the population identifying as ‘non-religious.’

The country has always prided itself as the most advanced and secular nation in Latin America, but the past few years have shown where this secular mindset leads and what can happen when you remove God from a culture. Uruguay is among the 20 countries with the highest suicide rates and the numbers only continue to rise.

Hannah Hawksbee

In 2023, SIM UK’s Hannah Hawksbee moved to serve at the Biblical Seminary of Uruguay in the capital Montevideo, where more than 40% of the population live, and where there are entire neighbourhoods with virtually no church presence.

Training Uruguayans to reach their own people has long been SIM’s goal and our work with the seminary has steadily grown over the years, leading to partnerships with several local churches seeking to train and equip the next generation of Uruguayan disciple-makers.

In her theological education ministry, Hannah teaches students and organises the Student Life department, helping to equip local Christians so they can reach communities that have yet to receive Jesus Christ and his message of hope.

Hannah with her colleague Fatima

“My prayer is that the Lord will help me to use the gifts and skills he’s given me well in his service, while also loving people well,” she says.

“I’d love my ministry to contribute to students growing in their love for the Bible, and especially in them reading the Old Testament deeply and thoughtfully, and that their faithful reading of the Bible grows their knowledge and love of Jesus,” she adds.

“My initial commitment is for two years, but my hope is to stay long term as I feel that you’re only just starting to get to know a place after two years. Building deep, meaningful relationships always takes time and intentionality – especially when you’re still learning the culture.”

Hannah’s association with South America began with her grandparents, who travelled to Paraguay by boat back in the 1950s, to serve among the Chaco communities.

“My dad was born in Paraguay and spent a lot of his childhood there,” adds Hannah. “As soon as he finished his studies, he went back to South America to work in Argentina and my mum headed there when they got married. I spent my childhood between Argentina and Paraguay. I’ve been a Christian since I was quite young and those places that were home to me, have shaped me and my faith in profound ways.

“Being a ‘Third Culture Kid’ means that you’re always working cross-culturally in some way or another because your culture is a combination of your parents’ and the places where you grew up. You get used to not fully ‘fitting’ in anywhere, but this can also be a blessing.

Hannah in Argentina with her brother Samuel

“If you understand a bit about multiple cultures, you can be a bridge between them, and my upbringing gave me an interest in other cultures and a diverse friendship group. While I love this, I’m learning that I still need to grow in my capacity to pay attention to the richness of what other cultures have to offer,” she admits.

After two years of studying theology in Canada, Hannah says she wanted to settle down and make somewhere home.

“I was ready to return to South America and come back to asado, dulce de leche and mate! Uruguay is a beautiful place where everyone’s been really welcoming. I’ve enjoyed exploring my neighbourhood and the local beach with my dog Bawny and my colleague’s been teaching me Uruguayan Spanish lingo!

Dulce de leche (left) and mate

“Doing theology in Spanish in a different cultural context is challenging, but it’s also humbling as I realise that I have to keep asking questions and admitting when I don’t know.”

Studying theology also played a key role in Hannah’s own faith formation and has grown her understanding of the importance of equipping Christians to think through the questions that might arise as they try to reach others with the gospel.

Hannah with her dog Bawny

“Wrestling and working through questions has been hard at times, but it’s also deepened and enriched my faith. The world throws a lot of questions at us, but God is big enough for our questions and the world view offered in the Bible can help us address these questions in life-giving and truthful ways,” she insists.

“I learned about Uruguay’s reputation as the most secular country in South America before coming and I’ve been struck by the amount of ‘spirituality’ around. I’ve seen offerings being left on the beaches and adverts for tarot readings at bus stops, so my desire is to train and support local Christians to press forward to proclaim Christ and see lives transformed.”

By Kerry Allan

Pray

  • Pray for the seminary as it faithfully seeks to strengthen the Uruguayan church.
  • Pray for Hannah, the professors, and staff, to be salt and light with the students they encounter.
  • Pray the region will be transformed by the gospel and Uruguayans will have a future that’s filled with peace, hope, and the truth of God.

Loving God’s Word and wanting others to faithfully teach it, is something that first struck a chord with Jonny Anderson while attending summer Bible camps as a young Christian.

In 2010, he began serving in Bolivia, alongside his Colombian-born wife Olga, who shares his heart to see God glorified amongst the Quechua people.

Jonny and Olga met at St Nicholas Church in Tooting

The couple have raised their family on the field with Olga home-schooling their three children, who are now studying at boarding schools with good Christian input, in the UK.

The couple’s ministries involve reaching out to communities where Christ is least known – both in and around the city of Sucre and in remote, mountainous areas – working mainly with the Quechua people, many of whom are from an Andean, animistic background.

Spiritual concerns are never far from the minds of the Quechua people and conversations open easily to gospel witness.

Almost 120 years after the first mission workers came to Bolivia to reach the ‘unreached people groups’ of the Andes, the church in Bolivia is growing.

“However, it’s easy to start a church without any Biblical grounding and people will attend as they have such a spiritual hunger,” says Jonny.

Telling Bible stories is a very effective way to communicate God’s truth to those who are oral learners

Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and reading comprehension levels are low. In a culture where much of the Bible is not yet available, oral Bible teaching methods are incredibly important.

The couple use oral Bible teaching methods with stories and pictures to start discussions and ensure the Bible stories stick in people’s minds and hearts.

“Our aim is to see healthy Quechuan-speaking churches worshipping God and following Christ in their everyday lives,” adds Jonny.

“Much of that involves children’s ministries, which are very under-developed in Bolivia, so we also help to train Sunday school teachers so they too can teach others how to follow Christ.”

Recently, the couple have also had more opportunities to teach in the countryside following invitations from local primary schools and churches open to hearing about Jesus.

And frequently, Jonny drives for many hours into the mountains to run training conferences for scattered believers and to visit the small, but growing churches.

“There’s no electricity in these rural churches, but there’s vibrant worship going on with cultural forms using dance, their own styles of singing and their own instruments, which are being used to praise God rather than for the drunkenness that’s involved in the fiestas that go on in most of Bolivia right now,” he says.

“These churches often revolve around one couple who are leading the church and in a culture where if you have the title of pastor or minister, people will accept what comes out of your mouth without challenge, leaders need thorough Biblical training and support in many ways.

“As teachers and preachers, we all need to be challenged as to whether we’re faithfully teaching Christ from the passage and we need to make the teaching as simple as we can.

“Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing that a dear brother has heard God speaking and the simplest person says, ‘I really understood this time’.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Thank the Lord for the couple’s work to support Quechuan-speaking churches through their teaching and discipling ministries.
  • Pray for unity in the small, fragile churches where there may be local opposition.
  • Pray for encouragement for the pastors faithfully teaching God’s Word in a way people can understand.
Yvonne needs help to expand her rural ministry so she can disciple more people in the farming community in Ghana, where she serves

Yvonne Mildred has a heart to see people in northern Ghana worship God daily and earn incomes that lift them out of poverty.

‘Together we can make it,’ or ‘Zurugaluu Jaab Kan Be’ is set up to do just that – helping particularly widows and young unemployed women, so they don’t head south with dreams of riches that often don’t happen, leaving them instead in deeper hardship and shame.

In Builsa land, where SIM UK’s Yvonne Mildred lives, in the north of Ghana, families use hand tools to grow their food.

If ‘Zuru’ buys locally-grown crops at fair prices, employing women to make food products from the crops, many farming families will be helped, as well as the women and discipling can happen as relationships grow. 

But there is more, says Yvonne.   

“The leaders of Zuru aim to run the business in ways that worship God, being missional, economically sustainable, and loving and caring for both people and the environment. 

“In some ways this is easy and joyful; in others, there are huge challenges as you may imagine. The weather is severe: very hot dusty months when desert winds blow sand south from the Sahara, and rainy seasons that can cause floods which destroy crops, homes and sometimes take people’s lives too.” 

Zuru is building a food processing centre to keep out the desert dust and provide a clean place for the women to produce the food products.

“We’re about 75% through with the construction, but we need about £10,000 to complete the buildings,” says Yvonne. 

“We have cost estimates for putting in the doors and windows, for plastering the main food processing building, and the shower and toilet block, for completing the plumbing and electrical needs, for painting and tiling, and for providing the cement ‘apron’ around the buildings that protects them from the dampness of heavy rains. 

“The pastor, who is the building contractor and well known locally for his excellent standards of work, tells me everything can be finished in one month if £10,000 is available, (but will, of course take longer, should the funds come in slowly).

“We dream of, and have trialled, producing sundried tomatoes, plus making other tomato-based products. A business mentor analyses the cost data so we can select the ‘front-runner’ product to make and sell first, but until the buildings are finished and signed off by the Food and Drugs Agency, we don’t have a clean place to produce food commercially.

“Can you come and help us, or do you know someone who can?” asks Yvonne. “We need an organic farmer who loves to disciple and train others, and we need a chef who also loves to disciple and train people, can get products out the door on time, and keep financial accounts of food production.”

Weeding peanuts

Meanwhile, Yvonne and the team continue to work seasonally on the organic farm, demonstrating ‘Farming God’s Way’ and producing food crops, including tomatoes, and growing peanuts that fix nitrogen in the land.

“As we work, the surrounding community watches, deciding whether they want to copy us, changing their ways of farming,” she says.

SIM Zimbabwe Director, Rev Caiphas Ngarivhume

DONATE – Please go to sim.co.uk/support/donate/ if you would like to support Yvonne’s rural ministry, and mark your gift Project 94023.

GO – If you’re an organic farmer or chef, please email[email protected] mentioning Yvonne Mildred and the Zuru project.

  • For the Lord to provide the £10,000 needed to complete the buildings.
  • For God to send an organic farmer and chef.
  • Give thanks that Zuru uses missional business to make a kingdom impact.

Death is a part of day-to-day life in Angola, where the overall life expectancy is 62. Health care is costly because there’s no health insurance and many end up turning to witchcraft as their last hope.

Irene Westendorp

However, a palliative care team set up by SIM UK mission nurse Irene Westendorp is providing care for terminally-ill patients and their families holistically – physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

While serving at the Christian hospital CEML (Centro Evangélico de Medicina do Lubango) in Angola, Irene noticed how terminally-ill patients were often discharged to face the world alone.

“They would then need to pay the price of a consultation to come back to the hospital if they had questions,” she recalls.

Irene realised the solution was to have nurses explain all the issues to patients while they managed their pain and so keep their families from spending unnecessary money.

“Previously, it seemed as though palliative care was only available to those patients who already had a nurse in their family, but creating this team meant the hospital could work together with discharged patients in their own homes,” Irene explains.

“The team provides support to the patient and their family from the moment of diagnosis to the terminal phase in order to alleviate physical and psychological suffering. They know we’re always there to answer questions, help with uncertainties and to give them hope in Christ.”

Slowly, the palliative care team gained the trust of patients and in time, visited many patients, where they treated their pain and gave spiritual counselling through prayer.

“Many times patients told us. ‘It’s good to know you’re here and that we can pray together’, “ says Irene.

Despite its success, the ministry still faces demanding situations, such as social problems within the family or community, or the role traditions and customs play in the Angolan culture.

“Because of the context in which many Angolans live, many still turn as their last hope to the traditional healer,” reveals Irene. “But our team is able to offer the peace of Christ to patients and show God’s love as they help them deal with the anguish and psychological distress in their final days.”

Irene, far left, with her colleagues on the palliative care team

Irene set up the palliative care project before she left her ministry in November, but she returned home knowing the ministry was in safe hands: “From the beginning, I trained local nurses to run this ministry and I learned so much about the love of Christ working with my Angolan colleagues and friends. So often I noticed how many of them ministered in such a natural way to those who were in need.

“Leaving my team was difficult, but I hope to visit frequently and see how the programme is growing and I pray many Angolans will come to know Christ through it.”

By Kerry Allan

Sao’s story

Please pray

  • For God to give his strength and wisdom to the palliative care team in Lubango.  
  • For Irene to stay connected with the team, despite the distance.
  • Give thanks for SIM health care ministries that are used around the globe to open doors to show God’s love and invite people into a relationship with him.

Offering financial support to the palliative care team will help keep this caring ministry operating. The team would appreciate sufficient funding to afford medications for patients, as well as mattresses and wheelchairs. Visit sim.co.uk/support/donate if you’d like to support this ministry, quoting Project Number 94388.

A vision in the making since the 1980s, CEML now has a great intern programme to train the next generation of Angolan doctors, but more medical specialists are required, either short term of longer term. If you are interested, please visit: https://www.ceml.org/

Driving in Guadalajara (Mexico’s third largest city) is something out of Wacky Racers! But to get anywhere quickly you need to drive and one day, Maribel and I were making our regular trip to the supermarket…

As we parked and Maribel got out of the car, she met two ladies wearing long gypsy skirts, who asked her if she wanted her hand read?

These ladies were begging for money. Eighty-five per cent of people live in poverty in Mexico, so it’s normal for many to resort to begging by providing some sort of service – whether it’s selling sweets, washing car windows at the traffic lights, children juggling in the road, or ‘telling fortunes’.

Maribel could have carried on walking and got on with the weekly shopping, but instead, she ‘put on the handbrake’ to talk with these ladies about Jesus – the one who knows the true future.

She told them what they were doing wasn’t honouring to Jesus and there was a better way if they repented and believed in the Lord to take away their sins. She also told them about a local church where its food bank could help them with their physical needs.

My ‘handbrake moment’ happened during my regular street evangelism ministry.

On the way to Arandas, my church pastor and I made a pit stop, ‘put on the handbrake’ and met a man called Ernesto, who was selling key rings – both the normal sombrero ones, but also ones with idols. Idolatry is engrained in the Mexican culture and we praised God for the chance to share the gospel with him.

As Ernesto looked at the key rings, he told us that he knew the Bible (Exodus 20) says: ‘Have no other gods before me ‘ but again, the temptation to make money was greater than honouring the Lord.

We encouraged Ernesto that Christ is the only one to be worshiped and the only one we need to be saved. Before we left, he promised he would read the Bible.

We believe it’s vital that everyone hears the gospel, including our children, and why we continually share God’s Word with them.

We pray other Christian parents will see how important it is to ‘put on the handbrake’ during the busyness of everyday life and to share the good news with those closest to them, as well as for Maribel and myself, as we seek to continue sharing the beauty of the gospel in this part of Mexico, where there are few evangelical churches and less than one in 100 know Jesus.

Please pray

  • That David and Maribel will keep their eyes on the Lord as they continue to lead people to freedom in him.
  • Praise God for David’s perseverance in learning Spanish and for the good progress he’s made after months of hard work.
The ‘Circle of Silence’
  • For more networking opportunities during the couple’s ministry within the ‘Circle of Silence.

Set up in 2019, by Middle East Christians in partnership with a local church, a centre for children with special needs is bringing hope to one region.

Both those who serve there and those who are served, come from a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds, including internally displaced families and refugees living in the camps around the city.

On any given day, at least four languages are spoken at the centre, where caring for the children is also binding together the fractured, displaced communities in one programme. 

Currently, there are around 50 children registered, with more than 30 on the waiting list and it’s hoped the centre can relocate to a larger site to provide further capacity and recruit and train up more staff.

The children come with a range of conditions, including Cerebral Palsy (CP), Downs Syndrome, autism and ADHD

Depending on the child, some come for hour-long 1:1 sessions, while others join groups for up to four full days each week. For others, it’s a combination of the two.

The children come with a range of conditions, including Cerebral Palsy (CP), Downs Syndrome, autism and ADHD.

The centre, which is supported by SIM and its mission partners, is free to attend and doesn’t advertise. However, its programme is recommended by word of mouth and sometimes word travels far. Enquiries can come by phone from parents living many miles away, who’re willing to relocate just so their child can be helped.

One of our workers recalls the story of a middle-aged lady, who comes to the centre with her niece’s son, who’s five and disabled. The woman is familiar with grief: her husband died when their children were young; then she had to flee her home as terrorist forces advanced in 2014, finally coming to settle in the area where she now lives with her married daughter.

In 2018, her niece died shortly after giving birth to twin boys, one with CP.  She took over their care when the father felt unable to look after them, alongside their older brother.

“The centre has provided her with essential support and given her the help she needs to care for the boy’s special needs,” says our worker. “He follows much of what’s going on around him and notices when his twin brother leaves to go to nursery school. His frame is very weak and he’s distressed that he can’t go with him to school.

“But with regular physiotherapy, he’s beginning to hold up his head and the aunt is herself encouraged by believers, visit by visit.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For SIM workers, who serve alongside Middle Eastern believers, to bring hope to the vulnerable.
  • That new team members will be recruited to serve long-term and short-term at the centre, and in other areas of the community.
  • Give thanks for this ministry that brings good news to the afflicted and binds up the broken-hearted.

When asked to write about what I’m thankful for during the past ten years, my mind is flooded with things for which to praise the one who’s brought us thus far.

The Lord has been faithful to us and here, I’ll attempt to name just a few ‘big picture’ things:

Joshua with his predecessor Malcolm McGregor

From the earliest months, I’m thankful for the smooth leadership transition from my predecessor, Malcolm McGregor. What a privilege to receive the baton from him and carry forward many initiatives that he’d begun with excellence.

Secondly, I’m thankful for the international board of governors. What an honour to work with them. Among other things, they supported the strategic decision to overhaul the global governance structure of SIM. This resulted in greater capacity and flexibility, allowing SIM to grow as a 21st Century mission.

I’m amazed at how the Lord has blessed our diverse organisation with men and women, who are skilled in leadership and sensitive to the Lord’s voice. I’m referring to members of the executive team, International leadership team; regional and country leaders; ministry leaders and members of all boards.

Today, we have more board members worldwide than in 2013, reflecting the blessing of 48 signatories to the SIM Mission Agreement.

The new governance structure gave rise to a new type of event: the SIM Global Assembly (GA) and the first three took place in Thailand (2015), South Africa (2018), and Kenya (2023). These serve not only a governance function, but provide a time for learning through workshops and a space for interaction among workers who’d not otherwise meet.

SIM’s Global Assembly held in February 2023

I believe one reason for the high quality of our leaders is our intentional investment in leader development. So far, 181 pairs of mentors and mentees have walked together for intentional mentoring in leadership.

I’ve seen an increase in local workers who are leading SIM ministries, who are sharing the practice of leadership and in the number of women in leadership roles.

Very early on, I knew we had leaders who exemplified our core value of ‘responsive to our times’.

The Malaysia Gathering in 2014 drew such leaders from across SIM and helped to clarify the why of our existence, with the priority on where Christ is least known, which soon led to renewed purpose and mission statements.

Two historic pandemics happened in the past decade: Ebola and Covid. I thank the Lord for his protection of our workers and that no active mission worker died.

An end to Ebola came in answer to many prayers, including a concentrated week of prayer worldwide in October 2014.

Surely the Lord had gone before us with the timely decision to build a new leadership structure, that infused the mission with more leadership capacity at all levels when the pandemics arrived? For many months, we were able to assist our entities to navigate safely the many aspects of these pandemics.

I’m also grateful for our global workers, who live out our purpose and mission in many difficult places. The Lord is continuing to call courageous workers into SIM, for his glory.

A region that some may consider a ‘hard place’ is the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia (MENACA). Since our merger with MECO in 2016, we’ve more than doubled the number of workers in this region, including many young people and families. The Holy Spirit is moving in the MENACA to draw many more people to himself. What a privilege for SIM to take part in this.

Joshua and his wife Joanna responded to God’s call to go to communities where Christ was least known when they spent 11 years serving the people of Niger

As the International Director and as a father, I thank the Lord for our hundreds of mission kids. How precious they are to our mission family! The Lord is watching over them as they are raised in many unusual environments and situations.

We’re grateful for God’s protection that we know about and all the protection that we’ll never know about. Yet we also grieve the loss of a couple of our MKs; may the indescribable grief of parents be met by the indescribable peace that flows only from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus identified his purpose on earth in Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.”

Although we cannot save the lost, we can seek them and introduce them to the one who saves. At the core of each experience, I’m thankful for, is the way it equips us to seek the lost more effectively.

Amidst adversity, pandemics, political upheaval, persecution, limited resources, and many discomforts, we are a people who spend our days seeking the lost. My most profound gratitude over the past ten years is for the salvation of many through the presence of SIM workers and ministries, each salvation story its own miracle.

To our God be the glory! Amen.

The nomadic Tamajaq (also known as the Tuareg) live in the Sahara Desert and the Sahel regions of Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

The Tamajaq are related to the Berbers of North Africa with a culture dating back 1,000 years.

Tamajaq man
‘The Blue Men of the Sahara Desert’. Image credit, Pixaby, Denis Doukhan

The men are known as ‘The Blue Men of the Sahara Desert’ because of the distinctive indigo blue veils they wear and during the rainy season, they move camp every three to four days in search of grazing for their livestock.

During the dry season, they move to find water, but prefer to stay in the vicinity of their ‘home territory’.

Andrawes* and his wife joined the SIM Niger team in 1999, where he spent many years helping to translate the New Testament into the Tamajaq language, which was published in 2016.

Niger is a landlocked country, where 80% of the land is desert and the heat can be so intense that rain often vaporises at it falls. The life expectancy at birth in Niger is 41 and 12% of all babies die before their first birthday and most of the population is under 17 years’ old.

The Tamajaq live in family groups within tents of wooden poles covered with goat hide

Today, Andrawes focuses on helping the good news take root in the heart of his people and to help remote believers grow in their faith.

One way is through his audio ministry that involves recording the gospel and making it available on SD cards to use on mobile phones and solar-powered Mega Voice radios.

“The Tamajaq live in an oral society, with an extremely low literacy rate,” he explains, “and being nomadic and semi-nomad, it’s easy to understand why probably less than ten per cent of Tamajaq people can read.

“They are used to hearing stories being told and listen intently, taking everything in; which is why we focus on helping them hear the good news in their own language so it can enter their hearts and make a real impact on their lives.

“We distribute micro SD cards and Mega Voice radios with gospel messages and the Tamajaq New Testament recorded on them; knowing these recordings will reach where we can’t go and be heard by hundreds, if not thousands of people, for whom this may be the only way to hear the good news about Jesus.

“We also proclaim the gospel through radio broadcasts on five radio stations, 15 times a week across Niger and receive occasional calls from our listeners to express their appreciation. Over the years, a good number of Tamajaq, certainly into the hundreds by now, have used their own money to call us, to tell us how much they love these messages. Some of them have encouraged us, to keep broadcasting these messages.”

The Tamajaq Ministry seeks to:

  • Share the good news of Jesus with the Tamajaq using audio and visual forms of communication.
  • Care for people’s health and help with community development.
  • Plant and strengthen the church among new believers.

Fifteen years ago, SIM helped set up a church in the main town nearest Tahoua (Niger’s fourth largest city) which is led by Andrawes’ friend, a Tamajaq pastor called Gad*.

Pastor Gad shares the gospel with two young men during his visit to their village

Pastor Gad (pictured) regularly visits three villages on his motorbike, which was bought by SIM supporters, spending time building relationships and explaining the gospel.

“Pastor G1 continues to be ‘salt and light’ in the north,” says Andrawes. “Recently, he spent four days in a new village and told me, ‘The problem with our people is ignorance. False teaching has been sowed in their head, so they have difficulty understanding anything contrary to this teaching. Therefore we have to go slowly, teaching them bit by bit the truth about Jesus.’

“He asked us to pray particularly for three men in that village with whom he spent time explaining the gospel. One of of them later called to tell him that he couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation he’d had with him.”

When working in one of the world’s poorest countries, it’s impossible to ignore the hardship people are going through every day.

Human needs are overwhelming in Niger’s poor and remote communities and why Andrawes also seeks to serve the Lord among the Tamajaq through practical support.

“Access to any sort of health care is almost non-existent and the nearest medical centre is up to 40 miles away and only accessible by a motorbike, or on a donkey,” he explains.

“Because of little faith in the health centre, coupled with lack of education and money for treatment, people tend to treat themselves with traditional medicine first – including prayers from the local Muslim priest. When this doesn’t work, for obvious reason, they travel to a medical centre, but by then, their body is weak and their system doesn’t respond well to treatment.”

Thanks to the generous giving of SIM supporters, Andrawes and his SIM colleagues run several community development programmes, including supplying farmers with millet from the SIM Grain Bank and providing one meal a day for schoolchildren in the poorest villages.

“Niger may be a hot place, but it can get relatively cold, especially for people who are not prepared for it, so last year, we also distributed blankets and soap to the two schools we are supporting,” he adds.

“We hope to be able to do more in the area of education, beyond just offering a daily meal, as we all know that education is the key to any social and economic development.”

Pupils enjoy their meals

“Malaria is also a huge health problem for the communities where our ministry is and abundant rain means more mosquitos. Since the flooding crisis of summer 2020, more people are getting malaria, especially children,” says Andrawes.

“After many years, we are now by God’s grace, seeing our work bear fruit,” says Andrawes, “and we are extending our outreach into the Agadez region, which is an exciting ministry opening for me. I recently joined a pastor from Agadez to meet a group of men who were very welcoming and said they were Christians. This is amazing and now these new believers need teaching to grow in their faith.

“We also have two projects planned, including setting up a Tamajaq-speaking Bible school and a regional Bible school.

“Planting and strengthening the church is our ultimate goal and although we’re unsure of what church will look like, we give thanks to the Lord that he is working among the Tamajaq.”

*Pseudonym used

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Praise the Lord for Andrawes’ audio ministry in Niger and the gentle spiritual awakening, SIM is witnessing in the Agadez region.
  • That the small Tamajaq Church will rise to the challenge of taking the gospel to their people.
  • For workers from Niger or other parts of Africa to go and serve among the Tamajaq.

Parents of a disabled child face many challenges, but it’s even harder in Bolivia, where disabilities are viewed as a ‘divine punishment’.

Stigma is widespread and parents often feel guilt and shame. Statistics show more than 90% of disabled children regularly miss school, but this shouldn’t be the case, insists Special Education Needs teacher Sarah Allen, who’s been working in Bolivia since 2014.

“Families need the help of their community the most, yet often find themselves ostracised,” says Sarah, who joined SIM UK in 2020, to change attitudes and offer support.

Sarah Allen

Sent by Strandtown Baptist Church, Belfast, Sarah hoped to start a ministry helping parents of disabled children living in the city of Cochabamba in a valley in the Andes.

However, her plans were delayed when her arrival coincided with Covid-19, the Bolivian presidential elections and the run-up to Christmas.

Twice a month, Sarah travels into the Andes mountains to run support groups

“It was hard to go into quarantine and then straight into the Christmas season,” admits Sarah. “The transition was hard but I was amazed by God continuously opening doors and saw his hand in so many little ways that really encouraged me.”

Despite the impact of the pandemic, Sarah was able to get her ministry up and running and after the schools finally reopened in April 2022 (after two years online) and she worked part-time at Carachipampa Christian School, teaching pupils with learning difficulties.

She also started support groups for support groups for parents, as well as free workshops for the kids themselves.

“It was absolutely incredible to see how fast things grew and to know that only God could possibly be doing it!” she insists.

Single mum Sarah with her adopted sons Edson and Danny

As relationships grew, parents began to wonder why Sarah and her fellow mission workers were helping.

“They began to ask questions about why we’re doing it and why we care – both about them and their kids,” says Sarah. “It opened up conversations about Jesus and the gospel and was exciting to see.”

One of Sarah’s big hopes for 2024 is to expand her kids’ club where all children are welcome and families hear the gospel message through drama, singing and puppets.

“Most children with disabilities are discouraged from attending activities in their church, or just refused entry entirely, but I feel so strongly, that if God can reveal himself to us, he can (and desires to) reveal himself to those with disabilities just as much.

“We want them and their families to know that they’re worthy and loved, both by us and more importantly, by God.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Praise God for all he’s doing in Bolivia through Sarah’s disability ministry.
  • For God’s guidance and wisdom as she provides support to children, parents, and teachers.
  • For families struggling to raise their children in a society that doesn’t value them and has few resources for them.
SIM UK’s Nicky Brand

Christmas is about giving and receiving – Even when you have very little, it’s traditional in Nigeria to share what you have with family, friends and neighbours.

Nigerian cin-cin

A special meal might be a plate of rice and stew and a small piece of chicken, accompanied by a bottle of ‘Mineral’ (a fizzy soft drink). Friends and visitors will also share ‘cin-cin’ – sweet cubes of fried dough.

Christmas is about going to church – If you’re a Christian, it’s traditional to celebrate the birth of Jesus (no manger scenes though) with at least a two-three-hour service of celebration, followed by a shared lunch.

Christmas is about travelling – Typically, many people will visit their friends and relatives at Christmas to share what they have. If money allows, women traditionally receive a ‘wrapper’ (a piece of cloth) from which to make a special outfit.

Christmas is about visitors – It’s a huge time for hospitality and is all about sitting and chatting, sharing the highs and lows of the year. People drop in at any time, on any day, and you’re expected to feed them or at least give them a ‘Mineral’! Rice and stew and chicken and cin–cin are shared until you run out and you go visit others!

Christmas is about new clothes – If they can afford it, parents buy or have new clothes made for their children as their Christmas presents. On Christmas Day, the church is bright and colourful with many children with newly-braided hair wearing their ‘Christmas’ outfit (often matching with their brothers and sisters) who love walking around with their friends showing off their new clothes!

Christmas in our ministry is about younger ones – reciting memory verses (often the first 20 verses of Luke, Chapter 2), singing special songs and dancing, while the older ones love to do dance routines to the songs they sing.

They’re so good at singing and dancing with inbuilt rhythm, unlike their ‘bature’ (white ) mother and also love to test their Bible knowledge with quizzes against their teachers and parents. Of course, they also eat special food, in this case, a rich dish of ‘jollof‘, which is vegetable rice with a small chunk of beef, accompanied by a Mineral.

Christmas in Bassa (our teenage girls centre ) is about making hundreds of Christmas cookies – The girls decorate them and package them with homemade gift cards, which we then give out while carol-singing around our neighbours.

Girls making Christmas cookies

We hopefully make a joyful noise as we go in the pitch black bringing joy to a struggling community. Sometimes, we get given a yam, a packet of spaghetti or even a live chicken to accompany us as we go! The girls love it and the community have a chance to be reminded that a Saviour has been born – Christ is the reason for the season.

So Christmas in Nigeria is simple but lovely. What can be shared is shared and sharing love and hospitality is what this very social country loves to do as people spend precious time with family and friends and neighbours

We in the western world can learn a few lessons from them…

Among our small but growing community of Jesus-followers, Alina* was having a very difficult time. She’d  been publicly accused of following Jesus, and greatly persecuted by the whole village and local officials.

Neighbours would come to her husband’s house, where they lived with his parents and his brothers’ families (it’s common here for extended families to live together), and shout insults at her. Fired from her job, the religious authorities told everyone to deny Alina employment. They even went to schools to say that if she or any of us gave the people ‘this book’ (i.e. the Bible), they were to report it right away.

Alina’s mother-in-law was outraged by the shame her son’s wife had brought on the family. She asked her son to divorce Alina immediately. It was a very difficult period for us all.  We felt partially responsible for the challenges our sister was facing. We also felt great compassion for her.  Our community prayed often for Alina and her in-laws.

But God has answered our prayers and opened the hearts of her husband’s family toward our community.  Some divine and unexpected circumstances enabled us to become friends with them, even with the mother-in-law.

This year, our community held our first retreat in partnership with some churches visiting from overseas.  We encouraged Alina to invite her in-laws. The night before the event, she called me, terrified of what they might think or do if they did attend.

I prayed with her and, in the end, Alina found the courage to invite them. Together, our hearts were overwhelmed with joy as we anticipated what God might accomplish in their hearts (and in ours!) during the retreat.

God blessed us with the most amazing time of his presence and glory: people came to Christ, we all grew in the knowledge of God, and some people got baptised! 

This same mother-in-law, who had been so angry about the ‘disgrace’ of her daughter-in-law’s faith, now believes in Jesus too.  She even asked us to baptise her right then and there!

After witnessing his wife’s baptism, Alina’s father-in-law also accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. The whole community was in awe of God’s power and grace.  We had just witnessed a miracle.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have the happiest ending… yet. 

Since returning from the retreat, Alina’s in-laws have again become distant from our community. At the retreat, away from the pressure of relatives and neighbours, they were able to accept the truth about Jesus, but as soon as they got back home, they were surrounded by people who imposed fear and shame on them for betraying their old way of life.

We hope and believe God will continue his saving work in this family’s hearts and that the gospel seeds planted will bring the fruit of true repentance and transformation.

By Esther Magay* (*Names changed)

Pray

•          For Esther and Team Tuz ((Tuz means salt in the local language) as they continue to make Jesus known in Central Asia. 

•          For Alina and her husband’s family that God would continue his saving work in their hearts. 

•          For this small but growing community of believers to courageously overcome opposition from neighbours, family members and the local authorities to boldly proclaim Jesus’ love in both word and deed.

Ram Shrestha has no regrets about leaving a fruitful ministry in South Asia to move to the UK and help a church plant share the gospel in Greater Manchester.

The respected and experienced missiologist, who’d been praying to serve as a mission workers for more than ten years, recalls: “My heart was so thrilled when I felt God’s call on my life could be fulfilled through SIM UK’s ENGAGE programme.

Ram Strestha and his wife Keshari moved to the UK three years ago

“Its vision is to bring gospel workers from the majority world to serve the diverse people groups growing in the UK.”

Ram is serving at the Good News Community Church (GNCC) in Rochdale, where he helps the church connect with the local multi-ethnic community by bridging cultural gaps, responding to needs and sharing the gospel.

“Rochdale has the highest level of asylum seekers anywhere in England and most residents are completely unchurched,” Ram explains.

“I lead the team sharing the gospel on the streets and in the markets, while partnering with other organisations to meet the needs of refugees and homeless people in the community.”

Soon after arriving in Rochdale, Ram and church leaders prayed for the chance to open a bookshop and when the GNCC moved to a new town centre venue, they were able to create a shop on the ground floor.

“We’re so very thankful to the Lord that by his grace, our bookshop is the first of its kind in Rochdale!” says Ram, who speaks English, Urdu, and Hindi.

“The shop is well stocked with books in different languages such as English, Arabic, Urdu, Chinese, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Farsi, and a few other dialects of Asian countries. It’s a wonderful way to meet new people and befriend them, alongside our street evangelism and weekly English classes,” he adds.

Students from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Romania, Pakistan, India, Italy, and El Salvador attend the free English language classes and are invited to stay on for a second session and hear Ram teach from the Bible.

“I see so much enthusiasm from these students as they become more confident and able to express themselves,” says Ram, “and I thank the Lord that every week, he’s enabled me to teach them and share the message of Christ.”

Weather permitting, Ram also mans a mobile bookstall, which he sets up at various locations around the town that has now expanded to run three times a week.

This gives him the opportunity for conversation, debate, prayer, witness and more. Other initiatives have included a community BBQ and kids play-day, which helped break down diversity barriers and allowed opportunities to build relationships, trust and the opening to share about Jesus.

“My wife Keshari and I also invite people to our home for meals because food plays a vital role in building relationships and it’s been a joy to talk and debate with them,” says Ram, whose three-year missionary term ends this month.

“The Lord has blessed us in our ministry and we’re really thankful to our praying friends and supporters who’ve stood by us in prayers, finance, and also visiting us in person.

“We’ve prayerfully said yes to the offer of staying, but need a visa so we can continue the ministry God’s blessed us with. The Antioch Network is working on getting a licence from the Home Office to sponsor us and we pray it will be God’s will to provide it.”

For more information about ENGAGE, please email our ENGAGE coordinator Tim Barrow ([email protected]) or call 01223 788288.

By Kerry Allan

Pray

  • For the successful renewal of Ram’s and Keshari’s visas to allow them to stay on in the UK.
  • Give thanks for the unique insight Ram brings to his ministry.
  • For SIM UK to be able to help more churches in the UK connect with the multi-ethnic communities on their doorstep.

What do snakes, bicycles and mango trees have in common?

The answer is they’re all causes of injuries and trauma that have resulted in Michelle Proctor being called into the operating theatre at Mukinge Hospital in Zambia, where she’s been faithfully serving for more than 25 years.

Michelle Proctor

Michelle, sent by All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, started in mission as a children’s nurse but has since fulfilled a huge number of roles at Mukinge.

Today, she helps with anaesthesia and also takes responsibility for SIM’s member care for the team in Kasempa, where Mukinge Hospital is situated.

“Trauma is one of the biggest reasons for admission to the hospital,” she says. “Africa is famed for its wildlife and people travel from all over the world to visit the game parks, but the local population has grown and spread to areas where animals live, so the very same creatures that many come to see, can be a daily problem for those living with them.

“The rains bring seasonal conditions and problems, including an increase in snake bites by cobras and puff adders.

“Mangoes on the trees mean children climbing trees, falling out of them and breaking bones, so it’s not unusual to have three or four cases a day of broken arms needing to be fixed in theatre!

SIM’s Mukinge Hospital was founded in the early 1950s

“There are also more cars and motorbikes around and big mining lorries on the road. All this, along with a high incidence of alcoholism, accounts for much of the trauma we see.”

Among the patients on the ward is this man attacked by a hippo in his own garden

Despite seeing many changes over the years, Michelle says it’s a daily blessing to use her nursing skills in a place where she can share her faith, pray, and even sing songs of praise with patients on the ward.

“If as a mission hospital we were to focus only on the healing (medical and surgical) side of things then, no matter how good we are, we’d just be another hospital in rural Zambia. What makes us different is our vision to reflect the glory of God by not only healing, but also through teaching and preaching,” she adds.

Prayer plays a central role in the day-to-day life of the hospital. “We’re blessed to be free to pray on our wards and with patients. We always pray before an operation and every hospital meeting starts and ends in prayer,” Michelle explains.

The hospital also raises money to pay for four chaplains, who support patients and visit them on the wards.

“Sometimes our best is just not enough and theses are hard days, but there’s always a chaplain on call for the difficult situation,” says Michelle.

“For example, I recently asked the chaplains to see a 14-year-old, who’d come into hospital feeling unwell and within 24 hours had delivered a premature baby. She had no idea she was pregnant and one of our chaplains was able to spend time with this new mum, counsel her and pray for her, all in her own language.”

“The chaplains aren’t just for the patients, but also play an important role in supporting the staff and our students.”

The nurses training college is a big part of the hospital and the hundreds enrolled have a weekly Bible study as part of their education.

“Most of our students will be posted to other hospital when they graduate and our hope is that they go not just as excellent nurses but as believing nurses, who will make a difference where ever they are posted,” says Michelle, who’s been spending more of her time recently caring for the premature babies in the hospital’s NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).

“It’s been a welcome break and change of pace from the busy days, and often nights, doing anaesthesia,” she says.

“I love caring for these little ones and getting to know their mums. These very premature babies are fragile and without specialised care – such as ventilation, high-tech monitoring and drugs to help the lungs mature – their chances of survival are poor.

“However, time and time again, I’m amazed by their will to live and how much can be done with what we have (keeping them warm, tube feeds, basic respiratory support, and antibiotics to fight any infections they get). These babies are our little miracles!

“It’s a difficult time for the mums and walking through it with them is an opportunity for us to show the love and care of our God.”

By Kerry Allan

Pray

  • Give thanks that Michelle is using her skills to follow Christ’s call to care for others.
  • For the appointment of more anaesthetic providers in 2024 to help keep the busy theatre running.
  • That Mukinge Hospital will continue to reflect God’s glory not only through healing, but also through teaching and preaching.

Four years after the first clod of earth was dug to mark the start of construction, a new complex has opened to help help SIM workers in a South Asian country create disciples in a country where Christians are in the minority.

Work on the three-storey centre began in 2019 after SIM bought a small plot of land next to the existing Allied Model School (AMS) in 2017.

And despite some challenges, including a pause in construction owing to Covid-19, the official opening took place earlier this year with a thanksgiving and commissioning service held in the new premises.

Building work started in November 2019
The new centre includes a brand new mission workers’ flat
Every day, SIM workers held a morning worship with the workers
Three Christian workers chose to be baptised after the completion of the new Project Centre (pictured below)

“We’re so grateful for those who had the vision to begin this project; for those who worked tirelessly with architectural designs, building oversight and the care of labourers, and for the generous donations from supporters of SIM who made this project a reality,” says SIM UK’s Dave.

“We’re so excited this project has finally come to fruition! It was started by faith and we’re thankful to God that the new project centre brings everything together in one place.”

It is hoped the new centre will have a lasting impact on the local community, churches and on the lives of young people

The new three-storey building enables the SIM team to expand existing projects and to use the upgraded facilities to provide practical and spiritual lifelines to even more children and young people from poor and disadvantaged families in the region.

The Allied Model School (AMS) provides quality education for nearly 300 students from underprivileged backgrounds, offering Christian teaching and discipleship, alongside government-accredited schooling.

The school has now opened a senior girls campus enabling girls to continue their education as long as boys. Previously, they could only study up to the age of 14.

“Girls must be educated separately, but space restrictions made this impossible before,” explains Dave. “Now there’s a tangible sense of excitement among both teachers and students, as we consider options for further development and growth.

“It also has the additional benefit of keeping more boys in AMS, as parents prefer to send sons and daughters to the same school.”

The Rural Education project educates some of the poorest children, whose families typically make a meagre living, moving from place to place, to find jobs working for wealthy landowners.

In order to offer more stable education to some boys from these families, boarding facilities are offered, so they can study at the AMS. When the hostel was transferred to the new building, it freed up space for the new girls’ section.

“This means more underprivileged children and young people will receive education, training and Christian discipleship from the hostel parents, local pastors and mission workers with a vision to prepare them for future ministry in their home communities,” adds Dave.

The new building provides much-needed space for the Youth Vocational Training Centre (YVTC), which is aimed at poor and illiterate young men, aged 14-21, who hear the gospel as they learn new skills, such as tailoring and motorcycle mechanics.

Whatever the weather, motorcycle mechanic students had nowhere to learn except outside in makeshift workshops

As many come from remote rural areas, the project also provides a hostel and the one- or two-year course includes a specific focus on Christian discipleship.

However, before the completion of the new centre, trainee tailors and their teachers were cramped inside a tiny, low-roofed room in blistering temperatures.

Trainee motorbike mechanics also had no choice but to learn outside — whatever the weather — in a makeshift workshop and students had just one small classroom to learn numeracy, literacy and study the Bible.

Young men learn skills, such as tailoring, so they can earn a living and look after their families

“The new centre provides vital space for the students to live and study,” explains Dave, “and now more than 30% more young men will be able to train at YVTC each year.

“The ground floor has three large classrooms so we can expand what we’re doing to offer not only tailoring and mechanics, but include carpentry and mobile phone repairing.

Young men living in the hostel study the Bible as they’re discipled for future ministry in their home communities

“We’re equipping these young men so they can earn a living and look after their families. Many come to faith before graduating and go back to their villages and run Sunday school or work with the neighbouring village’s pastor. Sometimes, they even start their own house church, so these boys are a very big part of church planting.

After four years of challenges and milestones reached, the SIM team pray the new centre will help their ministries and projects to grow even further and to bear fruit for years to come.

“In faith, we look forward to serving young people from a wider range of communities and to also open up relationships with new and unreached communities and reach more people with the gospel.”

By Kerry Allan

Pray

  • That the Lord will use the new centre for his purposes and kingdom growth and that he will be glorified in all that happens there.
  • Give thanks for the extra space to provide Christian education and vocational training to more underprivileged children and young people.
  • That local churches will be strengthened by the young men who are discipled at the centre.


For four years, Esther Enwezor had a vision to serve God in West Africa.

“I couldn’t go immediately for work reasons and then when I was ready, Covid-19 came and put my plans on hold,” she recalls.

Esther Enwezor

“But I believe that was the way God wanted it, as I ended up staying a year longer than originally planned!”

Esther arrived in Accra in February 2022: “When I left the UK it was winter and when I arrived in Ghana it was 40 degrees, which was a little bit of a challenge, but with the support of the SIM team there, I was able to get through it!

“I didn’t speak the language, but I learned a few phrases, such as how to greet people and ask how they were, so I could communicate a little bit and whenever I was witnessing, I always had an interpreter to help.”

Then aged 68, Esther served at ‘King’s Village’, based in Tamale in northern Ghana – a missionary project that provides healthcare, education, and community development to the country’s poorest communities.

“With my background as a nurse, I easily adapted to working in the hospital there and could also use my managerial experience to help the team look at different ways to do things,” she says.

“But I had a special interest in working with children rescued from child trafficking or abuse and so mainly worked in the nutrition centre, which over the years, has saved the lives of hundreds of children with severe malnutrition.

“Although it was difficult, the SIM vision is to ensure that no one dies without knowing Christ and without knowing the gospel, so I held onto that vision and drew on God’s energy within me as much as I could during that period.

“When you’re in your comfort zone, you don’t really know how much people are going through in remote places such as Ghana, but God gave me complete peace as I provided for people’s physical needs, as well as giving them spiritual support.

“The people I met in Ghana were very open-minded to hearing about the gospel and as long as you have permission from the chief of that particular community, they will create space for you and invite families to come and listen to the gospel!”

Supported by Community Church, Chafford Hundred in Essex, Esther says she was grateful for their ‘huge’ support during her time serving in Ghana: “Some supported me financially and others regularly called me to check how I was doing, which I really appreciated.

“I’m also grateful for the support of the mission workers on the ground. I got on well with everybody and they were always ready to help me, even without asking them.

“I was given a wonderful send-off and was emotional about leaving everyone, but I’m still in contact with the team and they send me updates about the children who’ve been reunited with their families. I’m now looking forward to going back next year for a short visit and spending time with them again.

“I’ve returned with a wealth of experience and am so grateful that God helped me to fulfil my desire and to use me to reach out to people I didn’t know before.”

By Kerry Allan

Find out more about serving with SIM UK by contacting us at [email protected]

Pray

  • Give thanks Esther relied on God while waiting to fulfil her desire to serve him in Ghana.
  • For children with malnutrition to respond well to treatments.
  • That others would be inspired to use their skills and gifts for short-term mission with SIM UK.

Find out more about King’s Village

The Circle of Silence is a mostly mountainous area in Central Mexico, where more than 23 million people live in rural towns and villages with almost no gospel witness – the highest concentration of unreached people in Spanish-speaking Latin America.

Eight states form the Circle of Silence where there are many issues, ranging from corruption, pagan rituals and drug and alcohol addiction; to unemployment, broken families and human trafficking.

The ministry of Donald and Becky Kamese, pictured with their sons, is to teach local pastors and help others plant churches in a vastly unreached region of Mexico

It’s here that Donald and Becky Kamese have a vision to help plant Christ-centred churches and help train pastors so that the Circle of Silence will turn into the ‘circle of proclamation’ for the gospel.

“Our goal is to see this area transformed through the gospel and bring a positive change in under-privileged communities,” says Donald.

“Only one in ten church ministers in Mexico have any Bible training, so our focus is on training them to faithfully teach the Scriptures and mentoring them as they go out and take the gospel to the unreached areas,” he adds.

The couple, who have three young children, are sent by Christ Church at All Saints, Wandsworth.

In 2021, they established a two-year Bible training course called Predica Vida (Preach Life) on a ranch and the first cohort of more than 20 students graduated this year – many of whom are ministering in the Circle of Silence.

“We’re now planning the next course, due to start in January 2024 and spend time visiting churches to build or strengthen relationships with pastors and promote the course,” says Donald.

Alongside the weekly course, the couple also hold workshops in churches and run an English language school, which is also growing steadily.

Donald is now working hard visiting local schools to promote the classes and build relationships with the headteachers.

“We’re grateful to God that the school opens opportunities in the community and lead to opportunities to share the gospel,” he adds.

“Our prayer is that we’ll continue to be faithful in the ministries that he gives us the privilege of being involved in.”

By Kerry Allan

Watch a video about the Kameses’ work in the Circle of Silence

Pray

  • That Predica Vida students will be rooted in God’s Word as they reach out to those around them.
  • For mission workers as they visit churches to build and strengthen relationships and promote the 2024 course.
  • For new Bible studies to open in the least-reached towns of the Circle of Silence.

From our beginning in 1893, SIM has a rich history of planting gospel seeds in hard ground and putting down deep roots.

Walter Gowans, Roland Bingham, and Thomas Kent believed God had called them to make disciples among the 60 million least-reached people of sub-Saharan Africa.

Unable to convince established mission agencies — most said it was impossible — the three ventured alone into the west African interior. Illness overtook all three. Gowans and Kent died in 1894, and Bingham was forced to withdraw to Canada.  This is a success story!

Illness preventing his return, Bingham sent a team who in 1902, planted a station 800 km inland at Patigi, Nigeria. From there, the plant began to grow, and SIM’s roots went deep.

Today, sub-Saharan Africa is bursting with approximately 650 million Christians. That number is expected to grow to 1 billion by 2050.  

The church association that grew from SIM’s pioneer work in Nigeria is now a fertile sending church, contributing workers to the Faithful Witness Initiative around the world.  Fruitfulness beyond Bingham’s wildest dreams.

God continues to call SIM to sow good seed in hard ground.

The Faithful Witness Initiative exists to stimulate and to encourage SIM entities to prioritize people, prayer, and resources toward establishing sustainable witness in least reached communities.

We send workers from anywhere the church already is to plant everywhere the church is not yet.  We have sent faithful witnesses from regions as diverse as Peru, Nigeria, Rwanda, north east India, Ethiopia, Czechia, Germany, and Gabon… just to name a few.  

So far, we have planted 65 workers from 22 nations in nine least-reached communities. These multi-skilled, multi-ethnic teams are putting down roots in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and among the Fulani of Northern Nigeria.

If today we can see the fruit of SIM’s founders’ sacrifice, we eagerly await what will grow from the labour of these 65 unique disciples. In faith, we always plant with the expectation of harvest beyond our wildest dreams.

This planting is just as costly today. This year, for a Nigerian member of the FW team in Mali, the cost was also his life.  Our precious colleague succumbed to illness while making Jesus known among the Moor people.  

In resurrection hope, the team buried his body in the hard ground of Kayes, Mali. We are convinced that God will raise our brother to glory along with Gowans, Bingham, Kent, and that great cloud of witnesses eagerly awaiting Jesus’s return.

In the words of SIM’s outgoing International Director, Joshua Bogunjoko: “My prayer for our mission family is that we become ever more faithful in waiting, faithful in worshipping, and faithful in witnessing. May our experiences of waiting — for the second coming, for answers to our prayers, for relief in times of hardship — form us into faithful worshippers. And may our faithful worship shape us into faithful witnesses.”

Pray

  • For our team in Mali and for God’s provision and comfort for the bereaved family. 
  • That many more workers will be called and equipped to reach the Moor people in the Kayes region of Mali. 
  • Praise God for the countless lives transformed since 1893, as faithful witnesses have disregarded the cost of obedience and followed God’s leading to make Jesus known in least reached communities.

SIM International Director of Finance Darren Campbell shares why good finance people are vital to the health of mission work

It’s rare to meet someone with an infectious enthusiasm for accountancy – rarer still to meet someone with the same enthusiasm for mission accountancy. But Darren Campbell, Serving In Mission’s International Director of Finance, is that person.

Almost from his schooldays growing up in Northern Ireland, he has wanted to combine his love of mission with his love of accountancy.

Darren says: “I’m passionate about mission finance because it matters so much.

“Think what would happen to SIM if we didn’t care about these things? Even though we are often short-staffed and might not have staff with all the correct qualifications, we must strive for excellence in the way we run our financial affairs.

“If we did things badly, the damage to us, and more importantly to our witness for Christ, would be enormous.

“We are stewards of God’s money and we have a responsibility to spend it wisely. It’s also vital that we have accountability across SIM and that the people who are responsible for the money, are accountable for the way it is spent. Ultimately, we’re all accountable to God.”

Darren is also passionate about training people to manage SIM’s money well, recognising that in many countries, there are not enough qualified people to do that work.

He adds: “That’s a key part of my role and is absolutely vital, especially in places where it is difficult to find trustworthy accountants. It’s a great way to witness to local Christians and to their churches, that we want to do things properly and not cut corners.

“It’s vital we get new workers because so many of our fields are struggling to find suitable people. That means we suffer a lot of burnout among our finance people, because they have such a huge workload.”

Darren and his wife Ruthie, who also works for SIM International, are sent by Cheam Baptist Church, which they joined when Darren was training as an accountant in London.

Ruthie grew up as an MK (Missionary Kid) in Nigeria and the couple met on the field in Kenya, where they both were serving in short-term roles with AIM (Africa Inland Mission). The couple also served with SIM in South Africa before God led them to the US.

Darren says: “I’ve always wanted to work wherever I felt my gifts and my passion for mission finance could be best used. Our children were very reluctant to leave South Africa and move to America, but we prayed about it and we feel blessed by what we do.”

The continuing need to raise personal support is a particular challenge for the couple, as they don’t have the kind of roles that even committed Christians often feel drawn to support.

“As passionate as I am about mission finance, I find it very difficult to talk about our own support-raising needs. We are very blessed to have two great churches behind us, who really support us well in all sorts of ways,” he admits.

“The costs in America are much higher than in South Africa, especially when it comes to health insurance, but we trust in God to provide the finance. If he wants us to stay in our roles, then he will provide the finance.

 “It’s a privilege to do the work I do and to serve SIM, which makes the gospel its first priority.”

By Tim Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks for all those using their finance and accountancy skills, which are so vital to the integrity and future of God’s kingdom.
  • For Darren and the SIM International finance team, as they serve SIM’s global leadership and support SIM finance workers around the world.
  • Give thanks to the Lord for Mike, who has joined the SIM UK team as Head of Finance and for others in the team, whose work makes it possible for others to continue serving the least-reached communities with the gospel.

Paul Todd was born in Nigeria, but grew up in Ghana, where he can still vividly remember events surrounding the 1960s coup: “Dad came over to my school mid-morning to take me home because their colleagues in Accra had been driving through the city when they encountered a shoot-out between the Ghana Army and the Presidential Guard,” he recalls.

Paul first started working in theological education with SIM UK in 1984

“It was very hard to buy anything in the supermarkets at that time and I remember long empty shelves and our friends helping us with supplies from the British military shops.”

As the son of missionary parents, Paul admits he sometimes felt like ‘a square peg in a round hole’ in the UK, so it was no surprise that God called him to follow in their footsteps when years later, after graduating, Romans 10:14 confirmed his call into mission.

“But at 22, I felt I was too young and inexperienced to consider being a pastor, so it was natural to think of working with SIM especially in theological education,” he recalls, “and Nigeria had the greatest range of opportunities to do so.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Romans 10:14

On SIM’s advice, Paul then did a year of missions studies before moving to Nigeria where eventually, he served teaching at ECWA’s (Evangelical Church of West Africa) Bible College in Billiri.

In July 1987, Paul left for his first furlough and with support from SIM, began a two-year Masters of Theology research degree at Queen’s University in Belfast.

“I completed this by July 1989 and returned to Nigeria, but this time to work at the Jos ECWA Theological Seminary (JETS),” says Paul. “I really enjoyed that period, but by the end of 1999, I was somewhat exhausted physically and intellectually, so I returned home for Christmas.”

While back in the UK, Paul married Tricia and the couple moved to Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Paul and Tricia Todd are sent by High Kirk Presbyterian Church in Ballymena, Northern Ireland

“At this point, SIM UK required that I take a leave of absence but in the back of my mind, I was still interested in missions,” adds Paul.

“I knew I needed to work on a PhD if I was ever going back into theological education and started doing one part-time.”

In 2005, the couple moved to Nigeria and Paul did field work for his PhD, while also lecturing at JETS.

Five years later and no longer SIM members, they returned to the UK, little knowing that an unexpected encounter at the Portstewart Keswick – Northern Ireland’s smaller version of the Keswick Convention – with the then Executive Director of ACTS Sid Garland, would lead them into a new area of ministry.

“I’d just completed my PhD but was waiting on heart bypass surgery – so the future was somewhat uncertain, but I offered to do some manuscript editing for Sid,” recalls Paul.

“Later, I agreed to take over the publishing side of the business and after consulting our church, came back into SIM with the plan to do editing work from our house in Northern Ireland and travel to Nigeria a couple of times a year to meet people and liaise with ACTS staff there.”

Since 2019, Paul has combined being Publishing Director at ACTS with his role as the SIM Nigeria Deputy Director. Using his editing skills, he helps to provide affordable books that encourage Nigerian Christians in their faith, witness, and ministries.

In 2018, a seven-year project he managed, finally came to fruition when ACTS published a translation of the Africa Bible Commentary (ABC) in Hausa – the heart language of more than 20 million people in the northern half of the country.

With many Nigerian Christians having a poor understanding of English, the ABC translation has become one of the most important theological resources for the church

Today, aged 65, Paul says he’s thankful that he can help to provide academic, affordable books that change lives and enable students to learn and teachers to teach more effectively.

“In the same year we celebrate SIM’s 130th anniversary, ACTs also marks a historic milestone as it celebrates 30 years of publishing and the Lord has truly blessed its work over the years.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For Paul’s work in theological education to continue equipping the Nigerian church.
  • For the country as it endures increasing security and economic instability.
  • For SIM’s new Faithful Witness teams expressing Christ’s love and compassion to communities without the gospel.

“As the ceremony ended, the school director thanked me warmly for speaking to the children. Then he added with a note of puzzlement: ‘You don’t teach like we do, why is that?‘ It was my turn to look puzzled. At that stage in my teaching career, I hadn’t done any classroom observation in West Africa. Furthermore, I’d given little thought to how I taught and none to why I did what I did. ‘Do you teach on Wednesday afternoons?’ the director asked. I shook my head, no. ‘Then I will come on Wednesday afternoons and you can tell me why you teach like that.‘ Somewhat dismayed, I nodded vaguely, breathing a prayer that something would crop up to prevent our meeting. ‘Teach like what?’ I thought.

Megan Patterson frequently travels overseas to help train teachers

“That was 30 years ago and today, I am still grateful to that Beninese school director for starting me on a journey of discovery as to why Christian teachers do what they do in the classroom and why it matters,” says Megan Patterson, SIM’s ministry point person for education.

“We all tend to teach in the same way we ourselves were taught, so it took me a while before I gave much thought to the crucial difference between being a Christian teacher and a teacher who also happens to be a Christian,” adds Megan, sent and supported by Livingston Free Church, Scotland.

“What I began to realise is that each classroom is actually part of the biblical story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. It’s not only information we are sharing, but theology – truth about who God is and what his intentions are in the world he has created.

“I’ve since had the privilege of exploring these ideas with countless teachers globally, and have many times been amazed how their understanding of their privileged and significant place in students’ lives has been revolutionised.”

Having thought and taught for many years about what it means to be a Christian teacher, Megan has now captured all her learning in a series of teaching videos.

“However strict the regime in which a teacher works – whether he or she is allowed to mention the Lord or not – we can teach in such a way that our students can notice the difference God makes to our understanding of the world.

“We can be confident that, in teaching as specifically Christian teachers, a chink of light can enter our classrooms and fall on the pages of our students’ textbooks. And we can trust that, under God, those students, their families and communities, can be brought from darkness to light.”

Give thanks that Megan’s ministry is to see:

  • TEACHERS TRANSFORMED as they learn to see God revealing himself through school subjects.
  • CLASSROOMS TRANSFORMED as the Holy Spirit enables teaching and learning.
  • CHILDREN TRANSFORMED as they are nurtured by their compassionate teacher.
  • FAMILIES TRANSFORMED as the message of God’s love reaches them too.

Contact Megan ([email protected]) to find out more about teaching opportunities with SIM.

Water engineer Lizzie White’s ministry is opening a door for the gospel in Peru

Lizzie White can often be found driving up precarious mountain roads for hours at a time, followed by an arduous trek in order to reach rural communities in the Peruvian Andes – but it’s all in a day’s work for this dedicated mission worker.

Since 2014, Lizzie has used her skills as a water engineer to help improve the quality of life for hundreds of farmers and their families.

Lizzie is based in Abancay, a large town deep in the mountains, about five hours south of the city of Cusco – which was once capital of the Inca Empire – and runs her ministry in partnership with a local Peruvian organisation called AIDIA, which does community development work in rural areas, including Bible translation, church support and church planting.

“The villages are scattered around and quite remote,” says Lizzie. “They’re often high up in the mountains and although many have roads, the journey can take a couple of days.

Digging a water trench

“I accompany the local Quechua-speaking Christians from AIDIA on their trips and get to know the church (and the community gets to know me) before beginning my water teaching.”

The remote villages are deep in the Andes mountains

Lizzie shows villagers how they can protect and maintain their water system properly to ensure water is clean. Parasites that lurk in unsafe drinking water cause a range of complaints, including anaemia, malnourishment and stomach upsets.

Lizzie teaches about the tiny waterborne parasite ‘gardia’

“I’ll also talk to individual families about how they can use water filters that remove microscopic parasites from drinking water in their homes,” she explains.

Demonstrating water filtration

Her ministry helps to break down barriers and change attitudes in many areas where there’s been opposition to the church.

“The water ministry work that I do really helps people to see that the church is there to be a blessing to the community,” she adds.

“It’s a great encouragement to believe our work is making a difference, both in terms of healthy lifestyles and community relationships.

During her time on the field, Lizzie, who is supported by Barnabas Community Church, Shrewsbury, has developed good contacts with the regional Peruvian government, which is keen to prevent the health and economic difficulties created by poor water quality and sanitation and Lizzie is invited to teach water hygiene in schools and train district staff about the long-term benefits of water filters. In February, she set up a SIM project with AIDIA and currently, local believer Noemi is supporting her in the water ministry.

“We’ve been praying for this for many years because it means we can visit even more areas and the Peruvian Christians I train up will eventually be able to take over the work,” explains Lizzie.

“I’ve been happily using some large one-off donations to help cover the contribution to Noemi’s wages, travel and office costs, and to buy water filters, but these stored-up funds are due to run out at the end of this year, so I’m praying that people will prayerfully consider helping financially so even more rural communities can be reached.”

By Kerry Allan

Click here to support SIM’s Holistic Quechua Ministries, Abancay, (Project Number 91151) or call us on 01223 788288.

Please pray

  • For energy and safety as Lizzie undertakes demanding journeys.
  • Give thanks for Noemi serving alongside Lizzie in delivering water, sanitation and hygiene training.
  • For many Peruvians to respond to the Living Water and the promise of salvation through this SIM ministry.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve just finished lunch with friends at a trendy new spot in the city following another predictable church service (three songs, 20-minute sermon, closing prayer). Now we’re going our separate ways to sabbath (i.e., nap, Netflix, watch football, grab a coffee).

There’s nothing overtly wrong with any of this. Our worship was sincere, our rest is necessary. But there are moments when everything about church feels comfortable. Too comfortable.

And perhaps this is because when someone stands before the congregation with a burden on their mind and a community on their heart, I tend to believe we aren’t just commissioning a mission worker, but a hero.

Of course, I do know mission workers aren’t heroes. They’re normal people leading surrendered lives — the same existence God calls all of us to, regardless of where we live or how we work.

But, after talking with a member of SIM’s Faithful Witness team in Ayutthaya, Thailand, I realised that many mission workers have seen themselves portrayed as other… namely, a superior, turbo-charged Christian with angel wings and a fast pass to the throne room.

Is this what John the Baptist felt when he declared: “After me comes the one more powerful than I”? Were the religious people of the day so fixated on the human before them, that they missed John’s prophesies about a Saviour come to restore them?

The Faithful Witness worker affirmed what I was beginning to sense from conversations with his team mates: admiration turned exaltation unnerves mission workers — deeply.

When we plant mission workers on a pedestal, we cement our feet to the ground below, assuming that we can’t invest our time, resources and energy quite so nobly.

Like many, I take myself out of the running because I see the Faithful Witness team in Thailand as courageous in ways I’m not. This is the opposite of what they intend. The Faithful Witness initiative is created to draw people in and to increase the community of believers sharing the message of Jesus with those who are living and dying without the gospel.

The more I talked to the FW worker, the more I appreciated his perspective. He’s learned that “hit-and-run evangelism” isn’t the approach. Being a mission worker is about abiding as a child of God and offering an authentic expression of Jesus to the world. It’s not about racking up a number of lives saved.

As he explains: “It’s possible to love people well and serve them genuinely, even if they never become Christians.”

Serving in missions means choosing devotion to the Lord over devotion to self.

When I ask him what this looks like in Ayutthaya for him personally, it entails relationships as he helps new team members acclimate and stewards connections with local pastors.

The population of Ayutthaya and the surrounding province totals almost one million, yet there are just 11 churches. “If you go in on a Sunday morning, you’re likely to see 30 people, on average … it takes a team to see an impact for God’s kingdom here.”

Along with Thai Christians, SIM’s multi-ethnic, multi-skilled workers are connecting with locals through ministry avenues such as teaching English, university outreach, sport, hospitality and community health work.

Caring for people is their chief job description, and the nuances of doing this in a honour-fuelled society that speaks a different language often yields frustration first, fruit second.

But the team persists. And in their persisting, I don’t see unattainable heroism; I see Christ and I see all of us. I see an invitation to inhabit foreign circumstances and call upon Jesus to transform fear into faith.

I see the chance to rise up each day and submit ourselves to a God who is far better at saving than we could ever be.

God’s saving grace may take the pressure off, but it doesn’t strip away our anointing. There are super-gifted people just sitting in pews for a whole host of reasons. Maybe some, like me, prefer to feel familiarity over vulnerability. But comfortable Christianity seems like a waste of the myriad talents and treasures God gave to each of us.

So, next Sunday, when my pastor prays his closing prayer and the lights come up, when the background music plays and people reach in their pockets for their keys, I will linger. I will stay. Instead of rushing out to my plans, I will make room for God’s plan.

It’s time to go from sitting in pews to speaking good news.

Pray

  • For God to raise up more patient, persevering and pioneering workers to join the Faithful Witness initiative.
  • For doors to keep opening up for the gospel to take hold in Ayutthaya.
  • For the team to continue building relationships of trust in their Thai communities.
By Ted Watts, who is serving with SIM UK at the Good News Hospital in Mandritsara, Madagascar

It’s 2am and the lights in the new surgical building start turning on one by one. The team are arriving – woken from their beds by a phone call, followed a few minutes later by a knock on their door from the hospital driver.

As the team gathers, we exchange tired smiles. All of us have worked all day, and not spent enough time in our beds so far tonight. But no one complains – not even a hint, because we all know why we’ve come – we’re here to save a life. 

 The anaesthetic machine is checked, drugs are drawn up, surgical instrument trays are opened – there’s no time to waste. Moments later, a young pregnant lady arrives on a trolley from the maternity ward. She is cold, drowsy and afraid.

Learn more about the Good News Hospital providing for Mandritsara’s population of 250,000 – as well as patients from across northern Madagascar – where staff share the gospel, as well as provide life-saving, compassionate care.

She’s in shock – bleeding inside her abdomen. After a day in labour, unable to push out the baby, her womb has split.  The life that she had nurtured for the past nine months slipped away at some point in the last 24 hours.

It’s desperately sad, but for the team, this isn’t the time for emotions – they will have to wait. For now, it’s into action.

The lab work to find a blood donor, but we know this will take up to an hour. So we need to stop the bleeding straight away – this lady needs an urgent operation to remove her bleeding womb. One of the anaesthetists puts a compassionate hand on the lady’s shoulder – there is time to quickly pray for her – a moment of calm before the rush of activity resumes.

What happens next might look to an outsider almost like a choreographed dance. Prep is applied, drapes are laid, instruments are passed from hand to hand. The injury to her womb is worse than we feared – she has also badly injured her bladder. But right now, the priority is to stop the bleeding. Clip, clip, cut, suture, clip, clip, cut, suture goes the rhythm.

At the other end of the patient, the anaesthetists treat her shock. They are relieved when the surgeons announce that the bleeding is controlled, and even more, so when a knock at the door signals the arrival of a bag of blood.

Moments later, a message arrives in theatre. There’s another lady who needs urgent surgery – this time a pregnant women in her 40s with eclampsia. She is unconscious after fitting multiple times. A key part of the treatment of this condition is to deliver the baby, and for this lady, that means a caesarean.

Click on the image to watch a video about plans for a new maternity unit

The theatre team look at each other and we exchange a little smile – not of delight, but of determination – let’s get ready to do this all again…

A while later, the second lady is wheeled out of theatre to the intensive care room. Equipment is washed, floors are mopped, the table is made ready for the next patient, whenever he or she arrives.

It’s been a hard night. Although two lives have been saved, two lives were also lost before they properly began. Lives that should have been lived. Lives that in the west would have been lived.

There’s been so much pain in and around this room tonight. You might take a moment to reflect on the brokenness that brought these women to this place – poor or non-existant antenatal care; stunted growth from chronic under-nutrition; primitive farming techniques; lack of education; lack of healthcare infrastructure; traditional healthcare beliefs; lack of skilled birth attendants – I could go on.

Sometimes my whole field of view feels so full of brokenness, but out of all this brokenness, something beautiful also happened.

In this obscure corner of rural Madagascar, God has been gracious to these two women and gracious to bring together everything that’s needed to save their lives.

SIM UK surgeon Ted Watts and the surgical team

He has shown his power through the small sacrifices and service of those who call him their Lord; he has been at work, using broken, weak, sinful human beings to make something that’s truly beautiful.

The effect of all of us working together creates not a triumph of achievement, but a triumph that displays what God can do through his broken people.

We pray that the brokenness that’s brought these women to Mandritsara, might also bring them to see the beauty of Christ in the gospel as they recover and have the opportunity to hear the good news.

Give thanks

That at the Good News Hospital:

  • Suffering is erased
  • The lame walk
  • Lives are saved and,
  • The good news is preached to the poor.

The challenge of inspiring the next generation into God’s global mission has been faced head-on by our team at SIM France.

They have collaborated with a young urban music band to produce a song and a series of videos, which are now being promoted widely on social media

A group of friends formed Dévotion after meeting in the youth group of an evangelical Paris suburb church. All are French, but come from diverse backgrounds.

They have built a dedicated following among young Christians in France and have more than 30,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel. They are known for being very authentic, very profound and for the way their lyrics reflect biblical truth very faithfully.

An impromptu performance by Devotion in Niger

Vincent Wastable, head of communications at SIM France, explains: “I’ve known them for some years because two of their members went on short-term trips to Benin with us a few years ago.

“I’d been thinking for a long time about how we could connect better with younger people, Gen Z especially. Many build their identity through social media, by watching influencers on the channels. And music is very important to them – wherever you look, young people always have headphones or buds on!”

Vincent approached Dévotion in 2020 to see if they would be interested in collaborating. To his joy, they were and they began thinking about a new song for the project, working closely with Vincent to ensure their intended lyrics reflected the reality of global mission today.

The result is the song Aller, which is French for ‘Go’.

Devotion in Niger

A key part of the project was an associated video series, for which the band needed to travel to Africa. That was delayed by a year because of Covid-19, but they eventually went to Niger at the end of 2022.

Vincent adds: “A couple of the band are freelance videographers, so they were happy to shoot and edit the footage.

“They spent two weeks in Niger, working with some of our SIM colleagues there, and it really opened their eyes to what mission is about.

“They produced a music video of the song for social media and a series of five videos that go into more detail and include interviews with some of our workers and staff.”

The song was launched in March and the video clip has now been viewed more than 30,000 times – far more than any other content SIM France has ever produced. As a direct result, Vincent and his team were able to host a webinar for 15 young people, who wanted to know more about mission and how they might be involved.

Vincent adds: “It’s exciting that people are engaging with the content. We’ve had great feedback from other mission agencies and we hope it will help others to connect better with the younger generation.

“We’d love to work more with the band, but we’ll leave that in God’s hands for now.”

Watch the video

By Tim Allan

Pray

• For the project to have a ripple effect among churches and young people across the French-speaking world, far beyond what Dévotion or SIM France could ever have imagined when they first started working on it.

• For the momentum and excitement created by the launch of the song and video to continue growing.

• That the SIM France team will see visible fruit from their work among the churches they are partnering with.

“Our clinic has always operated by faith. God has always provided.”

These are the words of Doro clinic’s doctor who, after six years at the helm is being moved by God into a new chapter. Simple words, but true.

The clinic has always been a project too big for its shoes. We’ve always felt like we were biting off more than we could chew. Running medical work in conflict-ridden South Sudan is… well… ambitious.

When SIM arrived back in Southern Sudan following the peace agreement in 2005, the old SIM buildings were still occupied by the army. Fresh off the heels of a 20-year civil war, the soldiers were well entrenched. Most buildings were destroyed and the ones remaining were at a premium. The military were not going to want to relinquish them. The church prayed and negotiated and managed to reclaim it from the military. That was only the first step.

Funds were raised to repair broken structures. An outpatient department was put together. A pharmacy and toilet blocks were added as the Lord provided funds. A leprosy department, a nutrition village, a maternity department all went up.

Is God leading you to move overseas with your health care credentials? We partner with hospitals across the globe and if you’re interested in community health and meeting the physical and spiritual needs of those in remote parts of the world where SIM serves, please get in touch with our team of mobilisers to find out more information.

But then, there were the staffing needs…

Refugees were returning to a post-conflict country. There weren’t any qualified medical personnel, so the team had to train community health workers from people who had basic literacy and numeracy. The team mobilised medical mission workers: doctors and nurses.

As the clinic grew, keeping up with all the new financial and staffing needs would be the next challenge. The surrounding population increased and so did the clinic’s reputation.

With the increase in patients, so also the finances had to grow to keep it all going. It’s resource intensive. It felt like every year was a struggle to make ends meet.

Then there’s the challenge of getting people to this field. South Sudan is, and always has been, a tough environment.

The temperatures are high, there’s lot of wildlife and always, the low hum of simmering insecurities.

Refugee versus host community conflicts flare up occasionally: inter-tribal conflicts, and even armed military conflicts. Add to all that, the seasonal flooding and subsequent food insecurity and you have a recipe for a testing field.

But, as our departing clinic doctor spoke, there was serenity in her voice: “What are you so surprised about? This whole thing has been a faith activity. How many times have we considered seeing our last patient, tidying up our desk, closing the doors, locking up and calling it quits? But God has kept everything going by an act of grace.”

We’re still in Doro because God wants us in Doro.

From getting the land more than 15 years ago to now treating tens of thousands of patients a year, every step has been made by our faith and the continuing mercy of God.

That’s the only way we know how to do this: We clinic by faith.

By Tohru Inoue

Pray

  • That God would provide the staff and finances needed for the clinic to continue.
  • The Lord to give strength and endurance to all SIM medical workers as they extend Christ’s love to the vulnerable.
  • For the sick to get the treatment they need and to turn to the great healer, Jesus, in their suffering.

With summer holidays just around the corner, can you imagine heading to your destination with 18 suitcases in tow? But that was the case for SIM UK’s Matt and Lisa Wallis, serving in Nigeria!

After weeks of sorting, packing boxes, moving out, and saying goodbye to family and friends, the couple arrived at their new home in Jos, with their children Joshua, seven, Charis, four, and Lydia, three.

“The time before we left was precious, so we wanted to make the most of that,” recalls Lisa, “but it was hard to say goodbye to so many friends and family we love and also to know we were leaving so much support behind. 

“But it was also exciting that our years of planning and preparation were finally becoming a reality,” adds Matt. “Taking 18 pieces of baggage, we expected at least some of them wouldn’t make it with us straight away, so were pleased it was only one bag that got lost and it wasn’t for long!”

The family needed seven luggage trolleys for their 18 suitcases

And despite a long, hot and bumpy journey from Abuja to Jos, the children coped well despite car sickness, and no service stations, says Lisa. “Tiredness and new sights were a blessing as we were either sleeping or taking in our new world.”

Matt adds: “The children enjoyed seeing the different sights, including people skilfully carrying bananas on their head and cars and trucks overflowing with their loads, but Lydia’s stomach didn’t enjoy the swerving and bumping caused by the many potholes on the roads!”

The couple have always wanted to return overseas since they both served in Nigeria with SIM from 2008 to 2010. Sent by Avenue Community Church, Leicester, they plan to be in Nigeria for at least two years, but hope it will be much longer.

“We’ve always wanted to return overseas ever since we got married and it feels like our life has been pointing to this point for the past decade as we studied for two to three years, to do this,” says Matt, who hopes to use his physiotherapy skills with Nigerian healthcare organisations and share the gospel with those in need.

Physio Matt is exploring developing rehabilitation services for the many people who need it 

The couple are investigating different ministry options, but Lisa hopes to work with vulnerable women and children, using her discipleship, education and trauma-healing skills, alongside looking after Lydia and Charis whilst they’re too young to go to school.

Lisa hopes to use her education and trauma-healing skills

“We want to use our gifts and skills in whatever way we can to enable those who haven’t heard the good news of the gospel to hear it for the first time and for those who have heard it, to come to know Christ and grow in their faith in him,” explains Matt.

Although the couple admit they had some concerns about moving to Nigeria, they take comfort knowing they have support from afar.

“Both our family and church family were so helpful through the process of preparing to leave and we wouldn’t have managed to get everything done without them,” says Matt.

“Knowing there are people back home in Leicester and around the world praying for us and continuing to support us financially is such a great encouragement.

“It’s great to know that we have people we can call on to lift us up in prayer when things are difficult and also to help in other ways if needed.”

The couple’s experience of serving cross-culturally will stand them in good stead, but as Lisa admits: “It’s early days and no doubt there will be a time when we wonder if we’ve done the right thing, but we trust God that he has us in the right place.

“We’re thankful that having lived here before will help with the transition, but it’s been a little harder for the children with less structure to their day.

“Some of the early highlights have been making friends on the compound, climbing trees and trying new sports with friends and seeing a different culture. One of the potential challenges is getting settled in a church as a family as the services are long and provision for children is very different to what they’re used to!”

And as the family gradually settle into their new life in Nigeria, they’re grateful for the wisdom shared by other mission workers who’ve been through similar experiences.

“However, each person or family comes from a unique situation, so it’s also important we think carefully about what’s best for our family without worrying if it’s the same as others,” explains Lisa.

“Since arriving we’ve been full of different emotions; excitement and relief to be here, sadness in missing people and some frustration in trying to move forward.

“But we expect hard times and want to be prepared for them. We know ministry is important, but it’s also important to invest in our personal time with God as well as our family relationships if we are to weather the storms as he is our constant rock in all of this.

“This verse from 2 Corinthians is always an encouragement when things are difficult and encourages us to hold onto the hope we have: ‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.’

By Kerry Allan

Pray

  • The couple will make good progress with their Hausa language learning.
  • For wisdom and guidance as they explore potential ministry opportunities.
  • They continue to settle more into life in Nigeria as a family and find a good routine and activities to do during the long school break.

Thinking about serving with your family?

Why not work with us to find the best fit for you? Email [email protected] or call 01223 788288 to find out more.

Imagine an island twice as big as the UK, where most of the population do not understand the language the Bible is written in.

That island is Madagascar – one of the world’s poorest countries – and it’s where SIM UK’s Debbie Simpson is working cross-culturally to help translate God’s Word for the Tsimihety people.

Debbie Simpson

“For us to see the message of the Lord spreading rapidly across Madagascar, it has to first be in a language that the people understand,” says Debbie, who is sent by Kells Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland.

There are 18 people groups in Madagascar and more than 20 languages, but it only has the Bible in what’s known as Official Malagasy (or Merina Malagasy – Merina being the people group who live in and around the capital city Antananarivo). 

For the past four years, Debbie and her fellow non-Malagasy mission workers, have been part of a project called Together in Bible Translation (TiBT) – a grassroots initiative that helps local translators, who know their own language and culture, to translate clear and accurate translations of God’s Word. 

Debbie guides the translating group

“TiBT works with 12 of the minority languages, facilitating and guiding nine small groups across Madagascar as they translate the Word of God into their own respective languages,” she explains.

“The project is called ‘Together’ in Bible Translation because I and my fellow non-Malagasy translators work together with our Malagasy mother-tongue speakers.”

The local translators come from all walks of life – from teachers to pastors and from farmers to shopkeepers – working in small teams of four or five, to translate parts of the Bible into languages specific to their own cultures and communities.

The Tsimihety team and right, the translation workshop

This month, Debbie and the Tsimihety team joined a TiBT workshop to meet with a translation consultant, hoping to get their final draft of Luke’s Gospel approved for publication. 

“The Tsimihety team were questioned about word choices and phrase structures, as well as some background history of Herod and his sons, but praise the Lord, the new draft was approved!

“I’m so proud of each member of the team for their stickability and perseverance. I pray this would be a huge encouragement for them and that they would approach new drafts and more hard work with a renewed enthusiasm.”

The Tsimihety Gospel of Luke (Liuka) will be printed and available within the next couple of months, strengthening the faith of local churches leaders, who with a good, solid Bible understanding, will be equipped to share God’s message of salvation.

John’s joy at reading the gospel in his own language

“As the Tsimihety people read stories in their heart language for the first time, I pray many will come to a new understanding of the love of God and their need of salvation as a direct result of this Tsimihety Gospel of Luke,” says Debbie.

By Kerry Allan

Pray

  • Give thanks for the enthusiasm of the Malagasy translators.
  • Give thanks for all engaged with this ministry and pray for grace and understanding as their cultures interact. 
  • That the Lord will prepare the hearts and minds of the of the Malagasy people to receive his Word.

Through missional business, SIM workers are able to cross barriers into communities where Christ is least known.

In places where there are few Christians, entrepreneurs, professionals and tradespeople can use their skills as a platform to offer both economic and spiritual hope with those they interact with.

Some of the businesses within SIM, include artisan handcrafts, language institutes, tourism, vocational training, business consulting, food processing, personal coaching and many more.

Business ministries enable our workers to integrate quickly into the culture, develop an identity within the community and build trust with the local people they work with.

Global Ministry Point Person for SIM’s Business Ministries, JP Gradone, explains: “Business Ministries opens up an opportunity for people who’ve always had a desire to serve God oversees, but only saw the possibility in the context of the traditional mission model.

“Business Ministries allows them to align their vocational skill set with the calling of God to the unreached in a holistic manner.”

In Asia, business ministries are serving least-reached communities in nine countries.

Among SIM’s workers are Stephen and Lucy* from Australia, who joined an existing BAM English teaching business.

But within a few weeks of starting, the first Covid lockdown happened and the couple had to switch to YouTube video tutorials and run online classes.

However, the experience helped Stephen and Lucy to genuinely become part of the community as they stood shoulder to shoulder with local people.

“It was two years of hard work, but we learned a lot,” they say.

Today, they’re building connections with professionals, who are eager to learn English, through in-person classes and corporate classes at various workplaces.

Reflecting on what they’ve learnt, Stephen remarks: “We’re currently participating in a course about the theology of business and it’s been such a blessing to reorient our hearts toward a God-focused perspective on money and business.

“The leader has been encouraging us to realise that business is a tool that God has given us as a means to help lift burdens off people. The aim isn’t profit (although we must steward our resources towards profit so our businesses can continue to run and bless people) but to help as many people as possible. “

The couple are now looking forward to building up the business team, employing more staff and building deeper connections with those they encounter.

“As we make some steps forward in our business, there’s a real joy in thinking about how God might use these steps to bless more people and to let them see something of him,” adds Stephen.

First published on SIM Australia’s website (*Names changed)

Pray

  • Praise God for the different skills he gives people to use in his global mission.
  • For the lives of employees, clients and customers to be transformed through SIM businesses.
  • For God to mobilise more of his people to open doors to the gospel through business.

Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries, and access to healthcare is beyond the reach of many living in rural parts of the island.

But for nearly 30 years, SIM’s Good News Hospital has been a beacon of hope for the district of Mandritsara, where many villages have no gospel witness and where vast swathes of the area are inaccessible even to 4×4 vehicles for all but a few months at the end of the dry season each year.

The rural mission hospital provides vital healthcare and shares the gospel with patients

What began as a small outpatient clinic, is now a 58-bed hospital with three general operating theatres, an ITU, eye surgery theatre, two inpatient wards and a maternity ward.

It carries out approximately 1,800 operations a year and provides for Mandritsara’s population of 250,000 – as well as patients from across northern Madagascar – where staff share the gospel, as well as provide life-saving, compassionate care.

The hospital day starts at 7.30am with a gospel talk, with many patients already gathered on the benches in the main outpatient department. The Malagasy people love listening to stories, and so they love listening to words from the Bible. Each ward has a gospel talk every morning and evening, and the hospital employs three full-time evangelists who spend time talking and praying with patients, as well as distributing gospel tracts.

All the staff are Christians, who have the opportunity to pray and share the gospel with patients, and the team prays together before every operation.

“Most of the people here are animists, which brings a lot of fear into their lives, but at the Good News Hospital, they hear the gospel,” says senior surgeon Ted Watts, who’s been serving with SIM UK in Madagascar since 2017, alongside his wife Rachel, a paediatrician.

Ted Watts and his wife Rachel, a paediatrician, have been serving at the hospital since 2017

“When patients come back for follow-up treatment, we ask them what they’ve made of what they’ve heard.”

Despite heart-wrenching encounters of suffering and death due to advanced disease and limited resources, the staff draw strength that since the hospital started, more than 60 churches have been started in surrounding communities, so God is clearly at work.

However, with very limited training opportunities and fewer than 100 surgeons serving the island’s 26 million inhabitants, the hospital has always relied on overseas missionary surgeons and the challenge is how to equip the hospital for the day when that’s no longer the case.

To secure the hospital’s long-term future, it launched an exciting programme to train Malagasy doctors where there are most needed. Spearheaded by Ted, who is sent by Beeston Free Evangelical Church, the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) course trains and disciples Malagasy Christian junior doctors to be highly-skilled and compassionate surgeons, who love Jesus and love to make him known to others.

“While we do very much welcome both junior and senior doctors from the UK and overseas joining us for a short time, at the heart of our plan is looking to the future, when some years down the line, we’ll have local, Malagasy surgeons, who are mission-minded and providing high-quality surgical care,” explains Ted.

“We believe the best way forward is to train Malagasy doctors who in turn, can train the next generation of missionary surgeons to follow in their footsteps,” he adds.

The new theatre complex, which opened in 2021, provides facilities for the trainees who will graduate after five years with a surgical qualification equivalent to one from the UK.

The first PAACS trainees Drs Santatra, Rado and Tef

“Alongside teaching the junior doctors the knowledge and skills they need, we can also model and teach them to be surgeons who are compassionate towards those they treat.”

By Kerry Allan

SIM Stories videos

In September 2022, a team from SIM Stories visited Mandritsara to spotlight the work God is doing there in videos and interviews.

Watch this moving video about the hospital
Watch this encouraging video of the PAACS training programme in action

Why Mandritsara?

Visit www.mandritsara.org.uk/mandritsara to learn more about God’s faithfulness over the past 28 years

Please pray

  • Give thanks for the wonderful opportunity this rural mission hospital has to bring good news to people as it provides quality, compassionate care.
  • For the PAACS programme to bring glory to God as the young Malagasy doctors are trained and discipled.
  • For more medical doctors to join the team in Mandritsara.

Learning a language requires dedication, determination and patience, but for SIM workers, it’s an ideal way to engage with people and tell them about Jesus.

When SIM identified Ayutthaya as one of the least-reached places in Thailand, an opportunity arose to introduce our Faithful Witness programme to the region.

Caitlin took this photo of Ayutthaya’s annual King Narai festival

Faithful Witness aims to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to communities with limited exposure to the gospel and Ayutthaya has just 11 local churches and an estimated 500 believers.

SIM UK worker Caitlin (left) moved to Thailand in November 2022 to serve with the Faithful Witness team and teach English as a foreign/ second language to adults.

In 2015, she left her home in the Philippines to study in London as an international student at UCL. After graduating, she spent three years studying at Cornhill Bible College, before embarking on an intensive English teaching course.

“I’d originally came to London at 18 with quite specific goals and plans in mind (do well at university, start a career in medical research, find a partner, etc). Getting involved in a church and growing to know God wasn’t really on my radar at all, but it ended up being the defining thing of my time here,” she says.

“By God’s hand in my life, I’ve always literally been a sojourner without home or roots and when my time in London came to an end, I felt no particular desire to go back to either the Philippines or Australia where I’d grown up.

“Whilst doing an apprenticeship at my church, I’d started talking with SIM about the possibilities of how I could help others to know Jesus and the opportunity in Thailand seemed to fit well. It’s so geographically and to some extent, culturally close to the Philippines and there’s a need to reach those who don’t yet know Jesus.

“I’d been to Thailand with my family and coming back as an adult and knowing Jesus, I was struck by how busy the Buddhist temples were and how so many have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear.” (Ezekiel 12:2)

A temple food offering for monks
Making merit is a famous temple activity

Supported by Euston Church, Caitlin began learning Thai at a missionary language school soon after arriving in Thailand.

“By God’s grace, it’s been going along steadily and I enjoy learning about both language and culture from my lovely teachers,” she says.

Caitlin with her teacher

“I do have a good memory and find it easy to learn things generally. I grew up speaking and learning several other languages, so it’s been somewhat easier to learn another one.

“It’s also been helpful having foundations in other tonal languages, particularly my home dialect, Hokkien, which on occasion, does share some surprising linguistic similarities with Thai.”

However, Caitlin admits the process of learning Thai can also be challenging.

“It’s been an interesting bag of emotions. I don’t feel particularly confident in speaking Thai and as an Asian mission worker, people generally assume I’m Thai, so I’m grateful that people here are generally very gracious when I make mistakes.

“It’s more than learning vocabulary, grammar and alphabets as there’s the whole layer of actually just relating to people and I feel frustrated when I don’t feel I can participate in conversations because I don’t fully know the language,” she admits.

Now halfway through her year’s training, Caitlin’s progressed to learning how to read and write the language: “It’s a phonetic alphabet, which is a big help and you can figure out the tones of words, as well depending on the specific combination of characters and tone marks. It vaguely reminds me of chemistry learning to apply random rules to problems and feels like a (quite enjoyable) game of Bananagrams!”

Caitlin’s alphabet workbook

In November, she’ll join the Faithful Witness team in Ayutthaya and although she’s not yet sure exactly what her ministry will be, she’s excited to start using the power of language to cross barriers and find gospel opportunities.

“It’s been humbling when I find learning the language difficult because it’s driven me to pray a lot more knowing I can’t really do much else,” she says.

“And while I pray that soon I’ll be able to communicate better with people here, I trust God’s sovereignty in salvation, knowing it’s his heart to rescue the lost and not my skill or lack of skill.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks Caitlin is motivated by Christ’s love to make disciples where he’s not yet known.
  • For patience and God’s help in the process of her language-learning.
  • For people in Thailand to hear, believe and be saved.

People living in the crowded Cape Town townships face staggering challenges when it comes to poverty, unemployment, violence, and a host of other issues, but SIM’s Sarah Hopkins has found a way to help transform lives through her compassionate and diverse ministry.

Sarah is an Integrative Arts Psychotherapist and runs regular groups for adults and teenagers, combining emotional support with practical training and studying the Bible.

Sarah is using her sewing and therapy skills to help people living with trauma in the Cape Town townships

Following the end of a short-term mission placement in South Africa, Sarah joined SIM UK in January to continue her successful ministry. Her journey to South Africa began after she graduated from university with a degree in costume-making. She then spent 10 years in England teaching and running sewing classes and gaining a Masters in Integrative Arts Psychotherapy to fulfil her long-held dream of living and working in Africa.

“I enjoy being able help people holistically emotionally, practically and spiritually so when I came to a stage where I felt there was nothing keeping me in England, I prayed and pursued options of approaching organisations to work in Africa, where I believed I could best use my gifts and skills,” she says.

Sarah is bringing the hope of the gospel to underprivileged families in South Africa

“I’d always imagined being in a rural place and never expected to end up in South Africa, so it was a surprise when I was offered Cape Town, but I had a peace about it because I realised it would be a good place to use my therapy skills and three years on, I’m still here!”

As part of her ministry, Sarah befriends people living in the Cape Town townships, where she combines her creative skills with her therapy training to help people recover from the traumas they experience.

“I teach practical and life skills to help them develop as people and to help them find their identity in Christ through bible studies,” she explains.

Sarah runs weekly groups, including a sewing class for women from the townships, which she started from scratch three years ago, beginning with teaching the basics, including how to use a sewing machine and cut out fabric, until today, the women are proficient seamstresses producing wonderful garments, from dresses and hoodies, to bags and hats.

Making hoodies…
…and making hats
Three years after the sewing group began, the women are now proficient seamstresses

As well as teaching them to sew, Sarah uses her therapy skills to also help them emotionally: “The sewing classes are a safe place where the women can support each other and honestly share how they feel, which they really appreciate.”

One of Sarah’s goals for 2023 is to help start a business so the women can sell the things they make: “I want the women to earn an income for themselves and also to find more meaning and purpose in their lives making and producing things.”

Sarah also runs women’s counselling skills course and weekends away that are centred around the themes of self-worth and identity in Christ.

Praise God that on their last retreat, attended by 22 women from difficult backgrounds, one woman committed her life to Christ!

Another aspect of Sarah’s ministry is building relationships with underprivileged teenagers. Estimates suggest that up to 80% of children living in the Cape Town townships area will have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives and all from a very young age, so Sarah’s approach is to take them into God’s creation and trek around Table Mountain once a month.

Building relationships with youngsters during a trek up Table Mountain

“After a while, we stop and have a little snack,” she says, “then I do a therapeutic session with them on the mountain and then a Bible story before we walk back.”

Sarah also supports colleagues in another Christian organisations to train and equip them in their work with homeless people. And as she looks forward to expanding her ministry, there’s no doubt Sarah will continue to use her therapy and creative skills to serve the needs of others by bringing comfort, hope and healing to the people she ministers to.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks Sarah is building relationships and can share the hope she has in Christ with the families she comes alongside.
  • That the hearts of those she serves will be healed as Sarah points them to Christ.
  • That Sarah will continue to use her sewing and therapy skills for God’s glory.

‘Whilst on an early-morning walk one day, I came across a disabled boy playing in gravel,’ writes SIM UK mission worker Kate.*

‘He was so tiny that I prayed to find him again. Some time later, I went searching for him with a friend and in a very narrow shabby area, God finally led us to him, by which time half the community seemed to have joined us.

‘To the mother’s shock, we all poured into her little house uninvited as I tried to explain how we’d been looking for her son. She was absolutely bewildered!

‘More and more people came into the room and at least three other children with disabilities were pushed towards us. In the muddle and crowd, we found out that the boy was nine years’ old despite his tiny head and stature.

‘The mother was raising five young children by herself after her husband died last year of Covid. Her teenage sons were out selling tomatoes on the street corner and once again, my heart ached as I heard just a little of this mother’s story and her difficult family situation.

‘We promised we’d return when it was less chaotic, but before we left, we prayed for her and her son.

‘Suddenly, the room erupted and all the kids were pushing forward to be prayed for and even the old ladies too. We tried to do one general prayer for all, but they wanted individual attention, so we prayed for each one.

‘It was wild, chaotic and unorthodox, but so amazing to sense the Holy Spirit working! When we finally pushed our way out the door, we were escorted along the street by clapping and cheering children. Wow what a visit, thank you Jesus!

‘Since the first visit, I’ve returned to pray more with the mum and tell Bible stories, which she remembers. I’m now praying for someone to regularly visit with me as I can’t go there alone.

Kate* is one of SIM’s 52 Faithful Witness workers and the only one in this new area of the Middle East. Faithful Witness sends workers to places where people have little or no opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus. As well as the Middle East, it’s building teams in Chad, Mali, Thailand, East Asia, South Asia and North Africa.

“I’d love to be working in a more definite team and to have a housemate, but I trust God will be preparing the way and people to make this possible in his perfect timing,” says Kate.

*Name changed

Please pray

  • Praise God, since this first visit, Kate has returned to the little boy’s home.
  • For the boy and his family to be receptive to Kate and open to hearing the gospel.
  • For new team members to join Kate and help her ministry flourish.

Find out more

If you feel God is calling you to serve in this pioneering ministry, please email [email protected] and read more about this ministry here.

The house looks like many others in the Ethiopian lakeside resort of Bahir Dar – discreet, behind large metal gates and hidden from prying eyes.

You enter through a door in the gate and come into the small, shaded front garden. A brick built two-storey house, with shaded verandahs, sits behind. After the dusty streets outside, it’s a welcome haven amid the hustle and bustle of the town.

But this is no ordinary house; no, this is a house with a purpose; a house where children are offered hope, encouragement and, perhaps most important of all, love.

What unites these children is that they are all disabled. All have physical disabilities and some have cognitive disabilities too. These are the children who are served by SIM’s long-standing ministry, Hidden Abilities.

Started by SIM workers John and Phyllis Coleman seven years ago, Hidden Abilities provides physiotherapy and occupational therapy to children who’d otherwise have no help. The Colemans had a disabled daughter and, in trying to help her, they saw the desperate need for such a centre in Bahir Dar.

In the honour-shame culture of northern Ethiopia, having a disabled child is seen as a mark of disfavour with God. The children are often shut away behind closed doors, sometimes even chained. The Colemans knew God thought differently about those children and so Hidden Abilities was born.

The centre is now being run by Jake Wilson and his Ethiopian wife, Asse. The couple, who met in Ethiopia and have two young children, used to work at a youth centre in Mekelle but had to move to Bahir Dar because of the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

Their heart is to share the gospel through their work, making the most of every opportunity to explain why the do what they do. The town they work in has a complicated faith make-up, with Orthodox Christians making up the vast majority, a growing Muslim population and a very small number of Protestant Christians.

And while they can’t always be as explicit about their faith as they would like, they take every opportunity to pray with and for the families they serve.

Jake says: “We hadn’t planned to work in a centre like this but God opened the door for us to come and use our gifts here.

“We don’t have physio training but we have both done a lot of sports ministry. Asse has a background in social work and we both worked with the parents of disabled children in Mekelle, so we understand the hurt. We’ve also done trauma healing training and that all helps when we connect with the families who come here.

“We don’t do any of the hands-on work, but we are helping run the administrative side of the centre and encouraging the staff.”

There are very few physios in Ethiopia, so the centre relies on overseas mission workers to lead the treatments and train local workers.

The centre treats children of all ages, from birth up to the age of 18. No two children are the same, so the treatments have to be tailor-made.

Besides a shortage of trained staff, the centre also struggles to find the kind of equipment which would be regarded as standard in wealthier parts of the world. They have been blessed by handymen from overseas, who’ve made some pieces and helped local craftsmen do the same.

The centre does not charge any of the families who come and often help with transport costs. They also help the poorest families with food, medical and education expenses, sometimes paying school fees or buying uniforms and books.

SIM worker Jake, who also teaches deaf children at a nearby school, adds: “We operate very much on a shoestring and we pay our staff a very modest wage.

“Our biggest need is for people – we’d love to find local physios but we also need expatriate physios, occupational therapists, teachers and carpenters! We’re happy to take people short-term or long-term so if you would like to help change children’s lives here in Bahir Dar, please get in touch!”

By Tim Allan

Get in touch

If you’d like more information about Hidden Abilities, please email [email protected]

Pray

  • For the children who come to Hidden Abilities to understand how much God loves them.
  • For the staff to stay motivated as they help the children develop.
  • For God to raise up more workers for ministry to disabled children in Ethiopia.

“Come back next month.”

It’s not a phrase we receive with much charity. It can sound more like a dismissal and seems like the response you’d get in situations where demands on a service are more than can be handled.

I imagine a busy government office clerk behind a wall of papers, biting down on a pencil as they type into an antiquated computer. Glasses hanging low on their nose, they barely make eye-contact as they say: “Come back next month.”

The diverse team at SIM Doro Clinic serves more than 100,000 people from within the local community and refugee camps

Overstretched and under-resourced, they would be happy if you didn’t.

A lady came to the SIM Doro clinic in South Sudan with a list of symptoms. Staff suspected she may have leprosy but needed to be sure; medication can’t be handed out without being certain. It’s also strictly regulated by the South Sudan Ministry of Health and only available in the capital.

“Come back next month,” the staff told her. They would be able to determine the diagnosis if she did. But they weren’t sure if she really would return. Many interpret that phrase ‘Come back’ as a sign that the clinic is unable to help: a quiet way to dismiss someone without saying it outright; the cue to look elsewhere for help.

I find it an act of faith for someone to hear those words and actually come back.

It reminds me of the story of the ten with leprosy who came to Jesus. They might have expected to be healed right there on the spot, but Jesus, instead, tells them to go and show themselves to the priest. It sounds like he’s just sending them away.

Like he was sitting behind an inbox full of papers; all kinds of people needing a miracle. “Go show yourself to the priest.”

In Doro, a month came and went. The woman came back to the clinic. The staff, providentially delayed from leaving for a medical outreach, were pleased to see and assess her again. The picture was now clear: she, indeed, had leprosy and was immediately given medication to start treatment.

Working with a leprosy patient at the Doro Clinic
(Photo by Neil Sandoz)

“Come back in a month,” she was told again. They wanted to see how she would do. Would she come back?

She did, and the treatment was working. God was healing her.

After the consultation, one of our health workers in the clinic, thanked the woman for choosing to come back. She lowered her head with a smile and gave herself the softest little clap. She was pleased – pleased, perhaps, that her faith was rewarded.

As God said to the only one of the ten cleansed of leprosy who came back to thank him: “Your faith has healed you.”

By Tohru Inoue

Pray

• Thank God for the healing this woman received.

• For people to have faith to return to the clinic for follow-ups.

• For God to keep providing all that is needed for the Doro clinic to continue serving its community.

A quickly scribbled diagram on a napkin is a treasured souvenir of Bill and Doris’* journey into mission.

The jotting showed the possible routes the young married couple could take to confirm God’s call on their lives and although they didn’t realise it, it was a key signpost on their pathway to serving with SIM.

The couple, who have three young children, are planning to serve long-term in Central Asia, but if you’d told them that would be their career path when they first met at college, they would’ve laughed at you.

Bill was looking forward to an engineering career, thinking he would most likely stay in the same company for most of his life, while Doris, who’d gone to college on a Navy scholarship, knew she’d be spending the next seven years moving to wherever she was posted.

God’s first surprise was that Bill, despite his reluctance, realised he’d have to put his career second if he wanted to be with Doris, who was about to start training to be a submarine officer.

“After Doris graduated, she was posted to South Carolina and we moved down there,” he recalls. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I found an engineering job and we joined a really good church. We began leading a small group and got really involved, with lots of opportunities to host and felt quite settled.

“Even though we were a small church, it was missional and we helped support some mission workers. But we thought our role would always be sending, rather than going ourselves.

“After about 18 months or so, Doris was posted to the west coast, so we had to uproot and start all over. I had to give up my job and when we moved, I had a few months without a job. Doris was on a schedule that meant she was away for three months at a time.

“It was tough at first, but I eventually got a job and we found a good church and began to enjoy our new life. Again, we were involved in hosting small groups, often including people who weren’t Christian, but I couldn’t see how God could use an engineer and a submarine officer in missions.”

God had another surprise in store. It just so happened that the church they had joined supported an SIM mission couple serving in Asia and when the couple spoke to the church during a home assignment, Bill and Doris began to see what might be possible.

The four of them even went out for lunch and the couple patiently explained the various routes into mission, plotting them out on that napkin!

Doris left the Navy at the end of her term so she and Bill could start a family and, some time later, God produced another surprise when Bill saw an exciting job in Philadelphia and they made plans to move across the country again.

“I was as surprised as anyone, but the job was right in my specialist area,” Bill explains. “By this time we had two kids, but Doris agreed to move, so we headed off again, packing all our stuff into a van and going.

“God surprised us again because while we driving over we had a call from someone at SIM with an engineering background, who wanted to get to know us and, I think, show us engineers could go into mission!”

The area they moved to was very multicultural and the couple made friends with an Egyptian couple on their street and, again, opened their house to students and others for Bible study.

Increasingly, they were finding people coming who didn’t know Jesus but were eager to learn.

From there, they took a 16-week course in cross-cultural mission and moved through the SIM membership process.

Bill adds: “By then we were thinking it might be possible for us to go, but we didn’t really know where. We knew we wanted to go where the gospel had not been shared widely, so we were thinking it could be the Middle East, North Africa or Central Asia.”

While they were at the SIM US head office in Charlotte, God surprised them again. By his grace, their time in the guest house overlapped by one day with a couple who were serving in Central Asia with their own young children. If ever Bill and Doris needed confirmation of God’s calling, that was it.

Now, of course, God’s big surprise is that they will soon be living in that very region, doing the same work. At first, this involves learning the language and culture and neither of them has any idea where God will take them after that.

As they know, God loves to surprise his people. All his small surprises so far are now pointing to that big surprise of full-time mission in Central Asia. *Names changed

By Tim Allan

Pray

  • For God to make his calling fully known to Bill and Doris as they move to Central Asia.
  • For all the practicalities of moving with three children under five to Central Asia, that God would smooth support-raising, visas and everything else.
  • For God to encourage and empower the couple as they start long-term service in a place where so few people know Jesus.

Friday, March 10, was a beautiful day.  Later that evening, rain began to fall and what seemed like a typical wet season shower, soon became a relentless downpour as Cyclone Freddy ripped through southern Africa for the second time in a month.

The amount of water released by the tropical storm in just a few days was unprecedented as torrential rains and damaging winds wreaked havoc and people said it was the worst cyclone they’d ever seen.

The local hospital became inundated with injured people as reports, videos and photos of flash floods, landslides, washed-out roads and bridges, crumpled houses, spoiled crops and lost lives came streaming in. 

Those who suffered the most were the ones living on hillsides, near rivers, or in low lying areas. 

SIM workers witnessed the aftermath of large rivers of mud that flowed down hillsides, sweeping away houses and property.  Downed power lines also dotted the landscape cutting access to power and water.

Long-standing SIM UK couple Megumi and Helen Fazakerley, say: “Huge amounts of brown water cascaded through neighbourhoods, sweeping away homes.

“Malawi’s commercial hub, Blantyre, recorded most of the deaths, including dozens of children.”

SIM UK’s Ruth Guinness, who is based in Blantyre, serving in an international role as Ministry Point Person for Theological and Missiological Education, says: “Our church has 60 families and 13 have had major damage to their homes, but it’s amazing to see their resilience, in spite of all that’s happened.”

One SIM nurse experienced first-hand the difficulties the local hospital faced in its response to Freddy.  A young man, who would have normally been saved in a western hospital, died because resources were not available to help him. 

The hospital morgue ran out of space as local residents clamoured to search for missing loved ones. The morgue doors even became difficult to open due to the number of bodies stacked up in its way. 

Cyclone Freddy has been declared one of the worst tropical cyclones in Malawi’s history. The reported death toll is 438; 918 injured and 282 people still missing, but it’s likely these figures will continue to rise as search and rescue teams rummage through the debris.

The need is great

In the midst of the destruction, relief efforts began immediately.  Local churches organised volunteers to support the collection and distribution of much-needed supplies to affected areas. 

Teams purchased maize, beans, sugar, salt, soap, toothpaste, blankets and other necessities and sorted them into relief buckets.  Meanwhile, teams with all-terrain vehicles delivered supplies and relief buckets to the hard-hit areas.

A SIM volunteer says: “It’s really wonderful to see the outpouring of support by so many different people. Teams are working together in good fellowship to organise and deliver supplies. 

“Adults, teenagers and youth carry and fetch items from the cars that are donating items for the flood affected victims, with no grumbling, just teamwork.  It was also quite humbling when we delivered supplies at a school which had been transformed into a refugee centre.

“There are hundreds of locals, now living at the school who had lost everything, and were very grateful to receive our donations.”

How you can help victims

Donations have begun coming in, but more are needed. Photo by SIM Malawi

SIM Malawi is launching a response to this disaster by providing care for victims that will likely provision of food, basic utensils, clothing, temporary shelter, counselling, and transport.

Please click here to donate and please mark your donation as Malawi’s Disaster Relief project 96759.

By Lee Forland, SIM Malawi

Please pray

  • For the families whose lives were devastated by the cyclone.
  • For survivors to have the courage to face the long road of rebuilding communities and put their trust in God.
  • That the work of those providing emergency relief is guided by the grace and strength that comes from God alone.

God has given us the powerful tool of sports to share his love with young people all around the world, offering them a hope found only in Jesus Christ.

Sports Friends is a SIM ministry where multi-ethnic teams use sports to share the gospel, built around more than 13,000 godly coaches, who pour their lives into the young people on their teams: They love them, pray for them, get to know their families, share with them the truths of God’s Word, and connect them to the local church.

For more information, go to www.sports-friends.org

More than 265,000 youngsters have been helped by thousands of Sports Friends coaches in 19 countries all around the world, since the ministry began 20 years ago.

In 2012, Sports Friends sent their first workers to Peru. Read this encouraging story by mission worker Sandra Gargate, about the impact of this amazing ministry on a young boy called Luis and how he became a catalyst for change in his community:

Luis during his Saturday training

Have you ever tried to find your way in the dark without the help of a light? As a parent longs to see their child walk safely and firmly, likewise, our God in heaven also longs for us to follow his light, because it’s the best way for our lives. Ten months ago, in the city of Pucallpa, Peru, coach Tito Braga began doing sports ministry with just  four children on the small football field at his church. But then, little by little, the children’s mum invited other children to join and the group expanded to include nieces, nephews, schoolmates and neighbours’ children.

Among the group was Luis, who’d been invited to participate in the team by one of his aunts.  He was very kind and laid-back and enjoyed learning new sports techniques and the teachings of God’s word. However, Luis had a burden in his heart that meant he was badly behaved towards his mother and family at home. When Luis learned of Christ’s love through the teachings of God’s word, he began to change his attitude with his mother; God’s word was illuminating and changing his heart day after day. The God of light made Luis a child of light — a little candle for his family and friends to see! 

This new change in Luis’ life was a great light to other children and adults in his community. One day, his neighbour asked Luis’ mother where Luis went every Saturday, because she’d seen how different he was wanted her son to be the same. Luis’ mother replied that he attended the sports ministry of the church, and so the neighbour began to send her son as well.

More and more, the light of Christ is reflected in the lives of Luis and the children of the sports ministry of the Pucallpa community, impacting others and encouraging them to follow Christ. Give thanks with us for this little community of light!

Please pray

  • Praise God he’s given us the powerful tool of sports to share his love with young people all around the world, offering them a hope found only in Jesus Christ.
  • Give thanks for the faithfulness of thousands of volunteer coaches who serve sacrificially.
  • For churches and church planters to join partner with Sports Friends, here in the UK.

There are not many patients in Mandritsara who can’t find someone to accompany them to the hospital.

Most can find a family member, or a good friend, who will cook, clean, change sheets and do other personal care, but E had no friends or family and was completely rejected.

Nineteen years ago, married and full of hope for her life and future, she went into labour in her village, but sadly, things didn’t go as hoped.

Photo by Adrian Butcher

Three days later, her baby was stillborn and she developed obstetric fistula, which meant she wasn’t able to control the flow of urine, resulting in a perpetual foul smell.

“We regularly see women who’ve been left by their husbands and no one wants to associate with any more. These are some of the most ostracised patients we see,” says lead surgeon Ted Watts, who’s been serving with SIM UK at the hospital since 2017.

For nearly 20 years, E had lived with this devastating condition and bravely made her way across the country three times to have an operation. Each time, her hopes were dashed as the surgeries weren’t successful. Each time, her spirit was a little more bruised.

When she came to the Good News Hospital, E was cautious.

“She was afraid to hope, but so happy to hear that we would try to help her,” recalls Ted. “We found a local lady who was happy to help look after her in hospital and we planned the surgery.”

The operation took three-and-a-half hours and E spent 14 days in hospital allowing everything to heal before doctors did a ‘dye-test’ to see if the repair had worked.

Ted with E following her successful surgery

E knew the routine this was her fourth time and she knew how much hung on the result of the dye test.

“When we went back to theatre to do the test, as she was waiting, E simple said to me, ‘Doctor, I’m afraid.’ She knew how much the results of this test would set the direction for the rest of her life,” adds Ted.

There was no leak.

“Fistula surgery is a massive emotional roller coaster for the surgeon to bear the weight of the hopes of these ladies; to share in their delight when they are healed; but feeling responsible if they are not.

“As I told E the news, she broke down with tears of joy and of relief after 19 long years of rejection. We all cried and praised God for his grace,” says Ted.

As a parting gift, E was given a new dress to take home, lovingly made by women in the community.

“We’ve been privileged over the last couple of years to see an number of those women responding in faith and to see them embracing not only a new life physically, but a new eternal life,” says Ted.

“We also want that dress to be a picture of the new life that Jesus holds out to them, who’s not ashamed to lift up their heads and say you’re a daughter of the King. And whatever we can do in this hospital to demonstrate that to these women is hugely powerful.”

If you are interested in joining this mission-centred medical ministry, please contact Ted Watts at [email protected]

By Kerry Allan

Ted is the senior surgeon at the Good News Hospital, whilst his wife Rachel works in paediatrics. In 2020, Ted led the team to build a new operating theatre complex and began to work on a new vision to train Malagasy surgeons. Read how these exciting plans came to fruition and how they will ensure the hospital’s future.

Listen to ‘The Dress’

a SIM Stories audio story

Warning: contains graphic content

Please pray

The Good News Hospital
  • Thank God for E’s healing.
  • For God to bless this mission-centred medical ministry in Madagascar.
  • That he will help Ted to lead in a Christ-like, servant-hearted way that blesses the team and brings glory to God. 

SIM UK has begun the search process for a new Director after Steve Smith moved on from the role after nine years.

Steve Smith

His commitment to helping and equipping churches to reach out with cross-cultural missionary vision has been a hallmark of his time with SIM UK, pioneering the launch of the ENGAGE and HowWillTheyHear initiatives.

Other notable achievements include the organisation’s merger with Middle East Christian Outreach (MECO) that provided fresh opportunities to pool resources, prayer and personnel to strengthen gospel outreach alongside Middle Eastern churches and peoples.

During his time leading SIM UK, Steve has overseen the growth in member numbers from around 120 to the current level of 160 members and associates, as well as the relocation of the SIM UK’s head office from Wetheringsett to Trust Court, Cambridge. 

SIM UK is looking for a new Country Director.
Colleagues gathered at SIM UK’s head office, both in person and online, to bid farewell to Steve

Steve says: “It’s been my joy and privilege to serve as UK Country Director for SIM. I’ve worked with so many churches, leaders and colleagues committed to helping people reach communities with the good news of Jesus and my greatest joy has always been to hear that one more person in one more community has met with the crucified and risen Jesus.”

SIM UK Board of Trustees intends to appoint an interim director following Steve’s departure on February 28, with a view to making a permanent appointment later this year.

There was only one problem when eight-year-old Achara* and her mother Ambhom* were due to move from Thailand to New Zealand, where Ambhom’s partner had found a good job – they needed to improve their English.

As well as Ayutthaya, the current Faithful Witness locations include Mali, Chad, North Africa, the Middle East, Nigeria and South Asia

Looking for help, they connected with ‘The Centre’ in Ayutthaya, Thailand, where Serving In Mission’s Faithful Witness team provides a fun location to learn English.

Faithful Witness in Forgotten Communities was established in 2019 to help workers reach the unreached – people just like Achara and her mum.

The project raises additional financial and prayer resources to provide short-term funding for those going from non-traditional sending countries to seven current team locations – one of which is Ayutthaya.

Recognising that God has called people from anywhere to everywhere, the project exists to empower countries that used only to be able to receive mission workers to send them too.

SIM’s Faithful Witness Prayer Coordinator says: “It’s a return to the roots and first love of SIM: to reaching into new areas and bring the gospel to people who aren’t going to hear it otherwise.

“It’s about giving workers a start-up and a helping hand to establish ministries and projects in strategic locations.”

Now that some workers are nearing the end of their initial three-year funding, they have begun returning to their home countries, knowing that going back to their place of calling will require full support to be raised.

Ruth, a SIM worker at The Centre, says: “Achara and Ambhom loved being a part of our community here. Over time with us, they heard the good news of Jesus and they expressed some interest in God.

“I gave Achara the ‘Jesus Storybook Bible’ which I believe she loves and has taken to New Zealand. I hope the experience here and the love they felt will stay in their hearts. We are praying they will be guided to a Christian community in their new home.”

Had there been no team in place, Achara and Ambhom might never have met a faithful witness for Christ, so please scroll down to see how you or your church can get involved with sending workers from anywhere the church is, to everywhere it isn’t.

By Fiona Murray

Pray

• For *Achara and *Ambhom (names changed) who were impacted by the ministry of a Faithful Witness team.

• For unity and love in SIM’s multicultural Faithful Witness teams.

• For financial help to create teams in places where Jesus is not known.

Find out more

Email [email protected]

To donate

To give to the Faithful Witness project, please click here and quote project number #99746.

Now serving as Country Director in a South Asian country, read how God placed mission on this SIM leader’s heart at a young age…

How old were you when you came to faith?

  • It was when I was around five. I remember being attracted to Jesus as my Sunday School teacher taught about him and refusing to leave her class (for three- to five-year-olds) until I was eight!

Did it help growing up in a Christian family?

  • Yes. The church I grew up in had mission partners with the South American Mission Society (later Crosslinks).  My dad would write letters (by hand!) to them faithfully every few weeks and whenever they’d visit our church on Home Assignment, they’d always come to our house. 

How did God put mission on your heart at a young age?

  • I went to a state school that wasn’t Christian or church-connected, but because it was old, it had a chapel and a chaplain! The chaplain was also the Religious Studies teacher and when I was 13, he did a module on World Poverty and Development that opened my eyes to life beyond the UK.

Also, every year, he and other Christian teachers would take a group of us to Spring Harvest and I remember (again aged 13) feeling God was calling me into mission somewhere very hot and dusty!

How did God lead you into mission?

  • My first mission trip overseas was at the age of 15 to Poland— again organised by the school chaplain.

It was a very significant time in my discipleship: learning to trust the Lord out of my comfort zone, and really enjoying daily Bible studies. 

We were an unusual bunch — three of us aged 15 from school; a university student aged about 20; and two couples in their 70s and 80s.  One of them (who was about to drive us across Europe in a minibus) revealed to my parents just before we left, that he’d been evacuated to my school 60 years earlier during the war!

How did God lead you to Serving In Mission?

  • I’d been introduced to SIM by the school chaplain and my first experience was SIM running orientation for a team of young people (I was the youngest at 16) from local churches going on a short-term trip to Mozambique.

After A Levels, I joined SIM’s GAP (Global Awareness Programme) and spent six months serving in Angola. It was shortly after the civil war and so again, it was a formative time — learning to rely on the Lord in all kinds of hairy situations.

I then studied Music at Manchester University and expected/planned to spend more time as a professional musician of some sort, but God moved me into full-time ministry faster — first, in student ministry, then working as a mobiliser for SIM UK and later, overseas.

Did you ever have any doubts about serving overseas with a young family?

  • I’ve wrestled with many questions and concerns about following the Lord’s calling with our kids.  Of course, God knows about them when he leads us into challenging situations and places, but saying lots of goodbyes, moving from place to place, and adjusting to various cultures has its challenges.

Tell us about some of the joys of your ministry?

  • Having the privilege of working with believers from the country where we serve and with others from around the world. 
  • Living in more remote parts of the country where, if it were not for this calling, we’d never get the chance even to visit. 
  • Driving into the desert with some of our students to meet people in villages, eating together and having heart-to-heart conversations. 
  • Seeing the Lord touch hearts and change lives.

What advice would you give someone considering mission?

  • Keep prayerfully pushing doors and see what happens.

Don’t be afraid to do hard things or go to ‘hard places’ but go with a good support team (especially lots of people who love you and will pray with you).

Recognise that you are weak and will need help along the way — that’s one of the reasons why mission agencies like SIM exist; to help us flourish and thrive rather than crash and burn.  We’ve needed, and deeply appreciate that wisdom and care and support along the way.

Interested in serving short-term?

Find out more about the many opportunities for short-term mission and contact one of our mobilisers, Beth Jennings, ([email protected]) about her work to engage young people with global gospel needs.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • The Lord will open the eyes of the young adults to the gospel opportunities worldwide.
  • That God will guide SIM UK how best to help young people find their place in global mission and to ensure accessible mission pathways through the UK church.
  • For SIM workers in South Asia to keep sharing the gospel with love and boldness.

Bangladesh is among the most populated countries in the world and poverty affects a third of those living in its capital Dhaka.

There is a large population of mothers and children who live or work on the streets of Dhaka, putting them at risk of exploitation and trafficking. 

SIM’s Children’s Uplift Programme (CUP) seeks to protect and bring freedom to these vulnerable women and children by providing basics such as food, medication, education and the good news of the gospel.

CUP also provides training in employable skills on a one-year training programme, where the women learn sewing, jewellery-making and attend literacy and numeracy courses, while their children are looked after.

When Sanu was begging on the streets of Dhaka, she could never have imagined how SIM Bangladesh’s Children’s Uplift Programme (CUP) would transform her life.
While the women are in the training programme, their babies stay at CUP’s day care, where they are fed, educated and enjoy other activities

They can then use these skills to find safe employment once they finish their training. Read the story of one student at CUP whose life has been transformed.

Sanu’s story

Sanu’s* life has not been easy: “Feeding my children and keeping a roof over our heads is my main concern in life.”

The 32-year-old mother-of-three started work when she was sent from her village to Dhaka to be a house helper, aged 10.

Sanu’s mother wanted a better life for her and thought it would be a good opportunity. 

Since then, Sanu has worked many jobs to try and provide for her family as her husband isn’t able to work full-time owing to a chronic illness. She’s been a maid, worked in clothing factories and even loaded bricks for construction.

But after losing one of her jobs, Sanu became desperate and was forced to beg on the street for help as there was no other way to provide for her children. 

It was then Sanu’s life changed after she was introduced to CUP and started attending the training programme.

Her sense of responsibility and love for her children made her thrive and having completed the programme, she’s now in the process of taking a job with one of CUP’s partner businesses.

Sanu says she’s excited to learn even more skills and is determined to keep working hard to achieve her dream of achieving a stable income so that her family are safe and well cared for. 

(Name changed)

  • SIM’s anti-trafficking and exploitation ministry For Freedom  supports ministries like CUP and is focused on the protection of those most at risk.

For Freedom is responsible for coordinating SIM’s global anti-trafficking response, and providing training, support and strategic guidance to SIM workers, local churches and partners in the countries and communities where our mission workers serve.

For Freedom worker Karin says: “These women have a dignity inherent in them because they are created and loved by God. The CUP project does an excellent job of treating each and every woman as special and letting them know that God cares for them.”

To learn more about CUP, visit their website.

Please pray

  • Give thanks that God intervened in Suna’s life when he directed her to CUP.
  • Give thanks for the work of CUP to prevent trafficking and exploitation by empowering these women to break the cycle of poverty and gain skills to secure safe employment.
  • For God to send more workers to serve with CUP.

As the death toll from the earthquake in Turkey mounts, SIM’s workers in the region are helping mobilise aid to the affected region.

The tragic earthquake struck in the middle of the night on February 6 and was followed by many tremors and a second quake several hours later. The epicentre lies close to Turkey’s border with Syria and communities in both countries were devastated.

Devastation in the town of Antakya, about 130 km south west of the epicentre of the first earthquake
Map by SIM (not to scale)

While Turkey is the focus of much media reporting, the situation in northern Syria is equally horrific, especially as infrastructure and resources are already weak after more than a decade of conflict and sanctions.

As the death toll passes 25,000, with many thousands more left injured or homeless in the middle of winter, many buildings are unsafe or too badly damaged to be used.

To raise relief funds for those affected, friends of SIM at the International Turkey Network (ITN), an advocacy and partnering network for advancing the kingdom of God in Turkey, have set up a giving page, through Antioch Network (US), accessible via this link: https://www.aplos.com/aws/give/AntiochNetworkInc/Earthquake

An ITN spokesperson confirmed that funds given through this Antioch Network portal will go directly to trusted partners, including Turkish humanitarian organisation First Hope Association (https://ilkumutdernegi.org/en/) and the Kurtulus church.

We encourage you to pray for those affected by the tragedy and those working to find and help survivors, in both Turkey and Syria. Our colleagues and partners in the region are asking that we pray:

• The Lord will comfort all who mourn.

• Faced with overwhelming needs, local authorities, NGOs, and faith-based organisations, will respond in ways that prioritise those most in need.

• Help will quickly reach those needing shelter, food and other essential support.

• Winter storms will clear so that aid provision is not hampered.

• Christians in affected areas will stand strong in faith and hold out the hope of Christ.

• This great shaking will prompt many to acknowledge God’s great power and the great frailty of human beings, and respond to the gracious offer of security in Jesus. 

The moment we most doubt can sometimes be the very moment God chooses to use us, in all our weakness.

That was certainly the case for Kuba, SIM’s only mobiliser in Poland and one of only two in Eastern Europe.

He joined SIM late last year, with the goal of mobilising workers and galvanising the Polish church to become more mission-focused.

But the major turning point in his life had come five years earlier, when, after a long period of doubt and withdrawal from the church he’d served all his adult life, God called him to re-commit his life to Jesus.

Born and brought up in Gdansk, a port city on the Baltic coast, Kuba was born into a Christian family. His grandfather pastored a church and was imprisoned under the Communist regime for his faith.

His parents took him to church and he went to Sunday School and then Christian camps as he grew through his teenage years.

Kuba says he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t interested in mission work, reading biographies of famous missionaries of the past. He even went on mission trips to orphanages in Belarus and became friends with members of the Finnish mission agency organisers.

He went to technical college, where he studied IT and electronics, and harboured a desire to become a mission pilot. While studying, he qualified as first a glider pilot and then an aeroplane pilot, but after college, where he met the woman who was to become his wife, that dream faded as he confronted the reality of having to earn a living.

“After we got married, our first daughter came along and then her sister two years later,” he recalls.

“It was hard to see how we could go into mission at that point. My wife was working as a chemist and it seemed impossible. I also thought by then I was already too old to go into missions!”

Kuba continued to serve in his church, but after some years, he noticed a growing sense of disconnectedness between his faith and his life.

He says: “That time coincided with a period when the church had gone through a painful time, which led to some people leaving. It was very tough and gradually, I stopped going to the midweek meetings and then stepped down from being an elder.”

For the next two or three years, Kuba stayed disconnected and wonders now whether he was having his ‘midlife crisis’.

Kuba says: “I cried out to God, knowing that I wanted him to change my life. I prayed and started to read the Bible more. Slowly, people started noticing a change in me. I began going back to the midweek meetings and people could tell something had happened in me by the way I spoke and my new attitude.

“Even though I can’t remember a time when I didn’t call myself a Christian, I really doubted at whether I’d really been a Christian. It was as though I’d just been converted and I knew I’d been really saved.”

Eventually, Kuba was invited back as a church elder and now preaches regularly, his life transformed by God.

However, the born-again Kuba has found his path to mission since then, has been far from straightforward. There are no mission agencies in Poland and he found it hard to get any information.

As the pandemic unfolded, Kuba, like so many people, was thrown back to the internet, which is where he came across SIM UK, which put him in touch with DMG, our partners in Germany, who in turn, put him in touch with SIM’s Central Asia director.

Central Asia is a prime location for Polish and other Eastern Europeans to work in mission. Many of those countries have a shared heritage as former Soviet states; many of them can speak Russian so communication is less difficult than you might think; and the provision of visas is usually easier.

Kuba is now an associate member of SIM, being mentored as a mobiliser and working out how best to mobilise the Polish church. Alongside that, he is working full-time as a software developer for a large multinational.

Kuba is realistic about the challenges. While other Eastern European countries, like Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, are sending many mission workers, Poland is a long way behind. He knows he must first challenge churches to be more mission-minded and believes the way to do that is by inspiring pastors to be more mission-minded.

He says: “I hope to make good connections with pastors in the Polish church and to see more Poles go into mission, but this is long-term work.

“I hope my story can help people see that God can use anyone at any stage of their life. I thought I was too old for mission and worried about earning a living, but God has different priorities. He calls us to serve him in all aspects of our lives, not just in church, and that is what I’m trying to do.”

“I hope and pray many other Polish people and Eastern Europeans will do the same.”

By Tim Allan

Please pray

  • For Kuba’s ministry to grow and prove fruitful so many will be brought into a relationship with Jesus.
  • For the Polish church to see itself as a potential sender of mission workers and to catch the biblical vision for global mission work.
  • For God to raise up more Polish mission workers to serve in places where the gospel is least known.
Naomi Coleman

After 10 years teaching in the UK, Naomi Coleman was at a crossroads professionally and looking at the next step in her career.

“I was never particularly interested in travelling, foreign foods or languages,” she recalls. “I was also quite clear that I never wanted to work overseas.”

But after reading Matthew’s Gospel during the long school holidays of 2013, Naomi realised you can’t place limitations on following Jesus.

“I’d handed many aspects of my life up to God, but I was really struck that you can’t put conditions on where you follow Jesus. I wanted to follow him wherever, so at the end of that summer, I prayed for direction, asking God to make it really clear if he wanted to send me overseas.”

Within weeks of that prayer, Naomi received an email from a missionary family she’d been praying for over several years, saying how they urgently needed a teacher to support them in their ministry with the Good News Project in Mandritsara, Madagascar.

An aerial view of the Good News Hospital, which opened in 1996

‘Oh no,’ I thought, ‘this is what God is calling me to.’” she admits.

After visiting the family while they were back in the UK on Home Assignment, Naomi arranged to spend her next summer break in Mandritsara to see whether this was something she could see herself doing.

“My big concern was that I wouldn’t be able to do it,” she reveals. “I was quite confident in my teaching, but the idea of living somewhere different and the challenges of living in a very poor place and letting go of everything I enjoyed in my life in the UK, made me feel unsure if I could really do this.

“When it was time to leave Madagascar, I really felt God telling me to come back, but knew I had to test that, so I talked with my family, with my church and made contact with SIM UK.

Their combined help, support and encouragement confirmed it was the right thing to do.”

Sent by Cambray Baptist Church, Cheltenham, Naomi moved to Madagascar in 2015, leaving a school where she was part of a big staff team and had the help of classroom assistants, to teaching the children of three missionary families in a makeshift classroom in the spare room of her house on the hospital compound.

“It was very strange to begin with. We basically had wooden desks, a fan, and a whiteboard, and I had to do everything myself, from writing the timetable to building display boards from old cardboard boxes!” she recalls.

Over the years, Naomi’s taught many children across all ages and even done babysitting in order to serve the missionary team in their roles, or just to enable them to catch up on things they need to at home, or enjoy some precious child-free time.

Although day-to-day life can be quite hard with little running water, power cuts and most recently, the Covid pandemic, Naomi has enjoyed seeing the ministry team diversify and expand.

Since 2015, more space has been dedicated to teaching and there are currently families from three different continents serving in the growing multicultural team.

During her time in Mandritsara, Naomi has taught a total of 18 children and relished being free to bring a biblical world view into the classroom.

“Teaching a small number of children over a long period of time gave me the chance to really build relationships,” she adds. “I also get to know their parents and being part of the missionary team means I’ll often go to church with the children, or have lunch with their families etc, so it’s been lovely to get to know them so well and been a privilege to pray with them and to see them grow spiritually.”

Through her ministry, families have been able to stay on the field and continue serving, but after seven years, Naomi now feels it’s the right time to pass on the baton to someone else.

“I’ve done seven scorching hot seasons and honestly don’t want to do another one! Emotionally, this can also be quite a tough place to be: You invest in people; you love people and then they leave, so I think now’s the right time to step back and take stock and reconnect with everyone back home in the UK.”

And now, after a well-earned time of rest and renewal, Naomi intends to carry on partnering with SIM UK and continue her gospel work by doing the job she loves.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Thank God for Naomi’s ministry and the impact she’s had on her pupils’ lives during the past seven years.
  • For God’s guidance as she considers her future.
  • For God to raise up her successor to help with the education of Third Culture Kids (TCKs) in Mandritsara.
Stephen and Heather have been Christians for more than 44 years

When Stephen and Heather moved from the church, where they’d worshipped for 21 years, to a large city-centre church, they discovered many people in the congregation had been missionaries themselves or had a heart for mission.

Then soon after joining, they attended the first New Word Alive conference in Wales and heard John Piper speak about ‘finishers’ – people in their mid-50s and beyond, who are empty-nesters, still fit and healthy, and who may be able to retire on a good pension.

“He challenged the audience to think about this and we both felt a tingle up our spines and knew that God was speaking to us,” recalls retired GP Stephen.

The couple’s daughter and son-in-law then invited them on a trip to East Africa, to support a mission partner in a hospital, where there was also a hospice.

“The founder of the hospice was very keen to meet Stephen knowing he’d an interest in palliative care,” says Heather.

At the time, Stephen was studying for a distance learning Diploma in Palliative Medicine with Cardiff University, which he subsequently took on to a Masters.

“Little did we know that the hospice founder was already lining us up to help with the rollout of a teaching programme in the area, so we subsequently went for three months at the beginning of 2010,” says Stephen.

A couple of years later, Stephen was working part-time in two hospices, when he got chatting with a colleague, who was excited to learn that not only did the couple have experience of palliative care training in Africa, but that Heather, a former administrator in Christian education, spoke fluent French!

This was the start of the couple’s ministry to equip French-speaking African health care professionals with the skills and confidence to start affordable and appropriate palliative care in their countries.

Today, the couple regularly travel within both East and West Africa, to work with others to improve palliative care services and the production and safe distribution of morphine for pain relief.

“There’s also intentional provision within palliative care for spiritual care and we’re excited by the prospect of helping local Christians to develop their own skills in communication and care, as they come alongside people in the community who are nearing the end of life,” explains Heather.

“It’s also very satisfying to help in a small way in the development of national cancer plans and to see local health professionals begin to train their colleagues within their own settings and culture.

“Each visit confirms to us how important it is for Christians to be involved in this type of care, to bring the light of Christ to those working in this setting, as well as, of course, to those at the end of life.”

However, no matter your experience, there are always challenges to overcome when you’re in your mid-60s.

“We’ve sometimes asked ourselves, ‘What are we doing here?’!” admits Heather.Then we reflect on a morning visiting patients with colleagues who are providing care without access to the medicines they need to adequately treat their patients’ pain… or we feel moved when after a five-day training with health professionals, we receive the following feedback from a colleague on skills they’ve acquired:

‘I can assess the palliative care patients in our facility’
‘I know how to give bad news’
‘I am not afraid of death any more.’

Heather and colleagues

“It’s a privilege and deeply satisfying to be serving with a supportive SIM team around us of all ages and a number of nationalities and it’s great as a couple to be using the gifts and life experience God has given us together in our retirement,” adds Stephen.

“Even when it’s so hot and humid and everyday life is full of challenges. Even when everything is done so differently in a different culture and in another language. Even when we miss family and friends back home so much, we realise we are in the right place.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For the couple’ work to develop a training hub in palliative care will help local health professionals train colleagues throughout West Africa.
  • Give thanks for the progress Stephen and Heather have made
  • Give thanks that SIM values experience, maturity and spiritual insight and that age is no barrier when you’re following God’s path.

SIM For Freedom Sarah Scott-Webb recently returned from two weeks in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where she met Ukrainian church and denominational leaders. Here is her account of that visit:

Our conversations were raw, intense and often emotional… tears were shed on both sides many times.

I returned reflecting on these conversations, and several key things that were repeated over and over again. One is that all the Ukrainians spoke of this being a spiritual war, not merely a physical one.

They are convinced that God is using them as David to bring down Goliath; that he is using Ukraine to bring light into the darkness of the Russian nation; and that through this war, the oppression and darkness that holds Russia captive will be broken and that God’s kingdom, peace, truth and light will come to Russia.

As I listened, it felt like I was hearing the Old Testament come to life. They told stories of miracle after miracle:

  • Of storms coming off the coast of Odessa that were so strong the Russian navy couldn’t land.
  • Of strong winds blowing Russian parachutists into the Black Sea.
  • Of strange swarms of bees attacking the Russian army as they tried to invade a town near Kherson.
  • Of rockets and missiles landing beside families, in churches, and in preschools and not exploding.

After the Ukrainian army drove the Russians out of Kyiv, two Ukrainian generals went on national TV and said, “We don’t know how that happened — our army wasn’t big enough to do that — that was the Lord’s army not ours that drove the Russian army out!”

These testimonies and miracles are giving the Ukrainian people strength​ to keep going, because every day they are seeing the hand of God at work.

But in the midst of this, is the reality that the battle is taking a huge toll on the church. Ukrainian pastors are struggling; they are burnt out and exhausted.

The pressure on them to remain and to provide constant encouragement and help is overwhelming and they desperately need time out to recharge and receive care and support.

In many towns and villages, the church has been the only place still there to give help and support.*

Pastors who have stayed in Ukraine feel incredible pressure to do so, because if they leave, who else will care for the people? They fear for the safety of their families and are exhausted and totally overwhelmed, yet another leader spoke of churches in western Ukraine seeing 60-70% of new believers from refugees from the east.

There is no doubt that God is moving in a very powerful way in Ukraine, but the physical reality is horrific. The conditions in Ukraine are far worse than anything we see in our media coverage. The concern for survival over the coming months of winter is huge.

Winter in Ukraine is cold; they have no power, no heat, no way of keeping warm; there are very real fears that thousands will die from cold.

I sat beside Ivan at lunch one day. He is the president of a seminary in Bucha that was bombed and looted, and he witnessed many atrocities being committed.

He said to me, “I can’t believe you have come to be here.” I replied, “Ivan, many people in our country care deeply about what is happening here and many, many people are praying for you.”

He was silent for a moment and got emotional as he said, “It is this that gives us hope to keep going. We feel the prayers of the nations, and we are so humbled that people as far away as your country are praying for us. We have been humbled by the radical compassion of Christians around the world who don’t even know us, yet pray for us.

“Please tell the Christians in your country thank you. And please keep praying because we feel it — you are carrying us.”

By Sarah Scott-Webb

For Freedom is responsible for coordinating SIM’s anti-trafficking response globally. For Freedom provides training, support and strategic guidance to SIM teams, workers, partner ministries and local churches involved in anti-trafficking work

*Sarah is working closely with colleagues in the European Freedom Network (EFN) and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) to look at how we can provide respite and pastoral care for pastors and church leaders, so they in turn, can continue to care for their people.

Please pray

  • For the establishment of a just and stable peace in Ukraine.
  • For the trauma taskforce as it seeks to support Ukrainian church leaders with appropriate trauma care.
  • For a mild winter; that we will not see people dying of the cold.

‘The choir is a true reflection of our multicultural church’

The Jah family
Lawrence runs a weekly street ministry

With more than 20 years’ experience in evangelism and discipleship, Lawrence Jah has taken time away from being a pastor in The Gambia to help a church in Glasgow grow its cross-cultural gospel ministry.

Since arriving in the summer of 2021 with his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Priscilla, Lawrence has devoted his time to building friendships with those from diverse cultural backgrounds, including West African asylum seekers, refugees, and international students from Nigeria, who are living locally.

He also runs activities to help the Africans members of Harper stay firmly rooted in their faith and connected with the wider church family.

The couple man their city centre bookstall

Reflecting on his first 18 months in Glasgow, Lawrence says: “By the grace of God, I’ve been privileged to engage with people,  not only from African backgrounds, but from all nations, ethnicities and cultures.

“Now those who’ve been coming to church at Harper, need to be properly integrated into the wider Harper family life to reflect a multicultural and multi-lingual church.”

One of Lawrence’s key achievements in 2022 was helping to fulfil an ambition of pastor Alan Knight to launch the first African choir at Harper.

The Harper African Voice choir
Lawrence, centre, with Pastor Alan Knight and SIM UK Director Steve Smith, right

The choir now sings regularly as part of the Sunday service and even performed for SIM UK Director Steve Smith when he visited the church in October.

“The Harper African Voice Choir is a true reflection of the impact of cross-cultural mission in and through us in Glasgow,” says Lawrence, who is hoping to stay on for a third year of ministry so he can build on the foundations he’s already laid.

“This is key because they majority of those we’ve been privileged to share the gospel with, have not been established in their faith,” he adds.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • That the thousands of tracts Lawrence has distributed on the streets and among families during door-to-door, will have a life-transforming impacts on those who read them.
  • For God’s financial provision and visa extension to allow the Jah family to stay in Glasgow for another year.
  • For new ministry opportunities for Harper Church to reach the lost in Glasgow in 2023.

Serving overseas long-term had always been on Al and Rachel MacInnes’ hearts, but it took many years for them to take the plunge and move to Greece.

While the couple both had fulfilling UK ministries, they never forgot a sense God was calling them to share the gospel in places where there are far fewer believers than in the UK.

Al and Rachel MacInnes with daughters Charis and Lois

As a student at Leeds University, something Rachel heard at her Christian Union had always stuck with her – that, “If you have even just a little bit of willingness to serve overseas, you should go [or at least explore going!] because there are far more people who stay than who go.” 

After spending her gap year serving in a Bible translation project in West Africa, she felt long-term mission was still something for the future, once she had some more life experience under her belt, closer to home.

A condition of getting engaged to Al three years later, was that he was also willing to consider going overseas, even though he’d always seen his future ministry in the UK.

Getting ‘a bit more experience’ led to many years of invaluable
learning and shaping, challenges and joys

The couple, sent by Hope Community Church, Cambridge. also noticed how cross-cultural mission positions overseas often went unfilled for years, whereas most ‘full-time’ Christian jobs in the UK had dozens of applicants.

“Then the Lord called Al to lead a small church-planting team just outside Cambridge and ‘a bit more experience’ turned into 14 years of invaluable learning and shaping, challenges and joys as the church grew,” says Rachel. “We had no idea we’d end up staying in the UK for as many years as we did!”    

HowWillTheyHear places and supports gospel workers who are serving refugees all across Europe

The Lord started to put Greece specifically on Al’s heart after he led a short-term team to Athens in 2018 and Rachel had been engaging with ministries in the city through her work for the refugee and migrant ministry HowWillTheyHear.

Leaving their church and taking away their two daughters, Charis (13) and Lois (10) from their ‘wonderful community’ were always the biggest blocks to making a final decision – until the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Covid-19 lockdowns gave us some sense of what it might be like to be away from those we love and helped us realise that life with just the four of us, plus the Lord was manageable!” recalls Rachel.

Charis (13) and Lois (10) with a view of Athens

Then after a family trip to Greece, they knew it was the right time to finally take the plunge and apply, knowing the Lord would close the door if it wasn’t right.   

Despite a few setbacks, including battling with Greek bureaucracy, the family moved to the vibrant, multicultural capital, Athens, where they enjoy a new outdoor lifestyle (when it’s not too hot)!

Al’s focus is serving in partnership with European Christian Mission (ECM) as Country Coordinator, supporting existing evangelical churches and helping them to plant new ones.

Rachel continues to mobilise people to share the gospel with refugees and migrants and helps orientate and care for new workers coming to Greece.

“Ultimately, we’d love to see a growing network of church-planting teams of Greeks and non-Greeks reaching across the whole of Greece and for many of those churches to include migrants who have met Christ since coming to Greece,” says Al. And in order to fully integrate and thrive in their life and ministries, the family are learning Greek.

Learning Greek verbs

“It’s a very hard language!” admits Rachel, “but learning it well is crucial – not just so we can all feel more comfortable here, but also, because good communication is key to building relationships and building relationships is key to sharing real life and gospel truths with people.”

And while Christmas is much less important than Easter in the Greek Orthodox Church tradition, the family are looking forward to spending their second Christmas in Athens and to the gospel opportunities it provides.

Carol-singing in the community

“At Christmas, the Greeks go in for lots of festive lights and special foods and value time with family,” says Rachel, “and it’s lovely to find so many large nativity scenes in public, although they might not all be to our taste!

“We hope to do the same as last year, when our church went out carol singing and it was a great witness, especially as you can stand outside one apartment block and be heard by dozens of households at once!”

“We’re doing something Greeks don’t expect from ‘church’ by coming to people in their community and we then hope to have opportunities to talk about why we bother with all these celebrations…”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For God to use the couple’s gifts and experience to reach others for Christ.
  • Give thanks the family are making good progress with the huge challenge of learning a new language.
  • For opportunities to deepen relationships at their local church.

We’ve seen Sports Friends flourish in Africa, Asia and the Americas and it’s the kind of impact we dream of seeing here in the UK.

SIM UK worker Cat Tongkao

Serving In Mission’s Sports Friends ministry is built around more than 12,000 godly coaches who pour their lives into the young people on their teams.

They love them, pray for them, get to know their families, share with them the truths of God’s word, and connect them to the local church.

More than 250,000 youngsters have discipled by countless coaches all around the world, since the ministry began 20 years ago.

Cat Tongkao started with SIM UK in 2010 and moved to Thailand, where the ministry had launched a couple of years earlier. Together, Cat and her husband, Somchai, served with Sports Friends for eight years in Thailand, before moving to the UK in 2018.

Today, Cat leads the communications team, while Somchai is pioneering the Sports Friends ministry in the UK. 

Somchai and Cat Tongkao

“We’ve seen Sports Friends flourish globally, but when we first moved to Manchester, we weren’t sure whether this ministry was right for a UK context,” admits Cat.

“There are so many opportunities in the UK for young people to play sport with academies and after-school clubs, but we saw a niche here for non-competitive, inclusive, church-centred sport ministry.

“Somchai and our church pastor piloted a weekly football team, welcoming kids who may not be the greatest at sport and don’t play at school, or who may not have the financial means to join an academy team, but who want to have fun and build their confidence.

“We now have between 30-40 young people coming down to the park for training twice a week. We can’t keep them away! It’s become a safe place just to have a go, maybe score some goals for the first time in their life and, of course, hear about the life-changing love of Jesus.”

Encouraged by this success, Somchai ran the first UK Sports Friends training course to equip other Christian leaders who are interested in starting their own church-centred sport ministries. Since then, two more churches in Manchester have launched teams.

Somchai (centre) with Sports Friends Director of Training Ben Wildman and coaches (l-r) Matt Thorner and David Oluleye who have launched teams at their churches in manchester

“It was encouraging to look together at what the Bible says about sport, how the church can use it to break down barriers, and how coaches can be intentional about opening the Scriptures and building authentic, loving relationships with their players,” he says.

The couple, who are sent by Holcombe Brook Methodist Church, Bury, and serve with Bridge Community Church, Radcliffe, are now praying God will continue to open doors for more UK churches to develop fruitful, church-centred sport ministries.

Sports Friends Deputy Global Leader and South East Asia Regional Co-ordinator, Jill Ireland, who is sent by St Andrew’s Church, Oxford, says: “Like music, sport is often spoken of as a universal language that can cross barriers of race, religion, culture, language, politics and socio-economic barriers.

“We’ve seen this to be true in the 18 countries in which Sports Friends is working and more recently, here in the UK.

“In the diverse community in which Somchai and Cat are working, their sports programme in the park welcomes young people and families from all backgrounds with a loving, welcoming, and inclusive embrace.

“It’s free, it’s in their local park, it doesn’t matter where they come from, what language they speak, how good they are at football, they make new friends as they play together and we hope have their hearts opened to the love of God.”

By Kerry Allan

Sports Friends snapshot:

18 COUNTRIES / 5 CONTINENTS
325 LEADERS
10,000+ CHURCHES
12,000+ COACHES
250,000+ YOUNG PEOPLE
1,000+ SHORT-TERM PARTICIPANTS

For more information, go to www.sports-friends.org or contact Somchai directly at [email protected]

Please pray

  • Give thanks for the thousands of sports ministry leaders and coaches around the world with a passion to make disciples through sport.
  • Praise God for the countless young people’s lives that have been transformed as they have heard about about Jesus and encountered the love of God through the faithful witness of their coach.
  • That God would open doors for new partnerships in the UK so our workers can train even more churches in sports ministry. 

“If I’m honest, we never set out to be a sending church!” admits Richard Brewster, the pastor of Avenue Community Church in Leicester, which supports three families serving with SIM UK in East and West Africa.

Avenue Community Church, Leicester

“We’re not a big church and we often struggle to know how to reach out to our own local community, let alone the world,” he adds, “but we’re committed as a church to preaching our way through the Bible on Sunday mornings and to listening to, and living out, God’s Word in our midweek small groups.

“It’s our experience as a church that the Bible really does have the power to change us and open our eyes to God’s commitment to making disciples for Jesus of all nations. 

“Over time, a number of families and individuals in our church family have felt the call to be part of God’s global mission and we’ve had the enormous privilege of talking with them, praying with them, and more recently, sending some of them out into the mission field.

“It’s hard saying goodbye to people you love and who are also some of your most faithful and committed gospel workers here at home, but we want to be open-handed with all the gifts God gives to us – including the people in our church. 

Richard Brewster says it’s a blessing for a local church to be part of God’s global mission

“Sending people away to serve overseas is an act of love and an act of faith, and it’s not without cost, but we are reminded again and again, that every sacrifice we make for Jesus here and now will be worth it in the end.

“Being part of God’s global mission is a blessing to us as a local church as the whole church family gets involved in praying for, loving, and supporting, the people we send. 

“It’s such a joy to see the people we send out depending completely on God for everything they need – and then seeing God at work to provide their needs! 

“I also think we’ve gained a bigger, more global vision of God and his church in recent years; particularly the children in our church, who’ve seen families with children their own age, move overseas to serve.”

By Kerry Allan

Read the Harrisons’ story – one of the families sent by Avenue Community Church, reflect on their experience of leaving the UK to serve in Ethiopia.

Please pray

  • That more churches will partner with SIM UK to engage in world mission.

Simon Harrison and his wife Ally are serving with SIM in Ethiopia, but still find it hard to believe they are actually there!

The couple and their children Samuel (10) Mia Belle (seven) and Madeline, (five) moved to the capital Addis Ababa in July, and are sent by Avenue Community Church, Leicester.

Simon, a GP, is using his medical skills to provide opportunities for evangelism and discipleship, while Ally is teaching music at Bingham Academy, a school that serves children of missionary families and expats, as well as Ethiopian children.

“One of the reasons it’s so hard to believe that we’re finally in Ethiopia is that we’d been praying about overseas missions for over 14 years!” reveals Simon.

“Initially, we’d thought we’d go overseas immediately after getting married, but we spoke to various mission agencies at the time, who advised me to finish my postgraduate training as a doctor. So instead of going abroad, we moved to a Muslim area of Leicester in order to gain some experience in cross-cultural ministry.

“Eventually, three wonderful children came along, as well as some health challenges, and before we knew it, it was 12 years later and we seemed no nearer to serving the Lord in an overseas mission context!”

However, a few years ago, the couple’s good friends, who are already serving with SIM in Addis Ababa, mentioned a need for an elementary music teacher at Bingham, so they began seriously praying about whether the Lord might want them to serve him there.

“We felt led to begin the application process and as we progressed, gradually, the Lord allayed our fears and broke down every barrier we thought might keep us from the mission field,” recalls Simon.

From support-raising and health needs, to the children’s education and the reaction of family members, the couple say the Lord has helped in an amazing way and opened doors as they trusted him with each step into mission.

“We’re just an ordinary family, but we have an awesome God who can do amazing things!” says Simon.

The Harrison family

Parenting anywhere is hard, but parenting on the mission field is even more challenging as it involves navigating a new culture and helping your children thrive in foreign systems while learning to do the same yourself.

The children have all settled into school well and seem to have made a remarkably smooth transition to being in such a new and different place,” says Simon.

“They enjoy living at the school and having friends nearby to play with, but finding foods they like has been difficult because availability here is quite limited.”

With their family, friends, and their sending church behind them, the family are coping well with the transition to Ethiopia and have been greatly encouraged by the help SIM can provide as families prepare to serve overseas. Read more about SIM UK’s work to support and care for families.

“We’re just so grateful to the Lord for all the love, prayers and support that have enabled us to get to this point,” says Simon.

“However, we can’t pretend that everything is easy living here in Ethiopia and there are many things we’re missing about home,” he admits. “I’m learning Amharic, which is known to be a hard language to learn, and there are times it’s easy to feel very discouraged, but we know that investing this time is really important for our life and ministry here.”

Yet despite the realities of life on the overseas field, Simon and Ally remain motivated to carry on because they’re convinced they are where God wants them to be.

“One of the most common greetings here in Ethiopia is ‘Selam no?’ (which literally means, ‘Is it peace?’) and we’ve had a lot of practice responding to this phrase since arriving in Ethiopia,” says Simon.

“But although we have some homesickness, we can truly answer, ‘Selam negn, Exhabilhir Yemesken’ (‘It is peace, praise God!’) because we know we’re where the Lord wants us to be.”

by Kerry Allan

Thinking about serving with your family?

Why not work with us to find the best fit for you? Email [email protected] or call 01223 788288 to find out more.

Please pray

  • For Simon as learns Amharic and waits to get his medical licence to work in the country and for Ally adjusting to being in the classroom again.
  • Give thanks God’s love and grace is sufficient for the whole family as they adjust to ministry and new life in Ethiopia.
  • For the Lord to provide for all their needs.
Nicky with her assistant Elisa

Former teacher Nicky Brand is celebrating more than 15 years of serving in Nigeria, as part of a SIM project offering hope and the love of Christ to orphans and vulnerable children. 

Nicky is supported by Gateway Baptist Church, Burgess Hill, Sussex, and has helped set up care centres throughout Nigeria, where children are given shelter, education and nurtured spiritually.

The first point of contact for many of the orphans and vulnerable children is the city centre halfway house known as Gidan Bege, which means House of Hope in the Hausa language.

Here, children as young as five, are able to escape from a harsh life of begging on the streets and an endless struggle to survive.

Some are rescued from villages where they have been beaten and abused, after having been wrongly accused of involvement in witchcraft. Malnourishment, parasites and malaria are common illnesses, and many of the children are suspicious and fearful.

The children are provided with food, shelter, an education, and, most importantly, are shown the love of Christ.

King’s Kids ministry cares for around 360 needy children currently in 10  CARE (Children At Risk Educational) Centres throughout Nigeria.

The City Ministries project runs its own primary school called Cornerstone Academy, which opened in 2010 in the village of Gyero, about half-an-hour’s drive outside of Jos, for 100 pupils.

The school

There are also two secondary schools attached to the teenage boy and girls centres, where children from the local community are able to attend.

“It’s awesome to see how far we’ve come and how God has provided as we pour out our lives into these young ones so that they can grow up to impact their society for good,” says Nicky, who has slowly been transitioning into more of a consultant role now the ministry is established.

“The care centre in Bassa is set up and capable people are running things, so I have the freedom to check other areas and to assess and plan and train to help things run more smoothly,” she adds.

Pupils at the Bassa centre

Although no longer teaching at the school, Nicky regularly visits the Bassa centre, to teach life skills and discipleship to the girls some of whom do academic studies, and some vocational education.

“Although discipleship is challenging, it’s a privilege to walk alongside these girls and we’re always thinking how we can expand and train them to be Nigerian women ready to impact their societies for good,” says Nicky.

Recently, Nicky helped to launch a new sewing project to help six local girls who have had little or no schooling, to acquire a skill to be able to provide for themselves.

Sarah, a tailor (above right, runs the sewing programme for SIM
The sewing girls showing headbands they recently made

“Sarah is a single parent and a tailor who is running the programme for us. The girls are really enjoying learning together how to sew and also being discipled in their faith. After a year, they’ll graduate with a sewing machine,” says Nicky.

And although Nicky has a much different role in the ministry than she ever expected, she is confident in God’s faithfulness into the future.

“There are still many challenges as I juggle all my roles, but I’m amazed at the way God has provided for all my needs and protected me thus far. I can see how God prepared me in my ‘previous life’ as a Home Economics teacher for my ministry and how he is leading me into the next season.

“We are Christ’s vessels serving here; helping those we can and shaping the next generation to shine as lights to their communities across the country, which is very unstable at present and needs a lot of prayer.

“However, if we can train the next generation of Nigerians to be God-fearing individuals, who are honest and hard-working, then there is hope for change.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For an end to the growing rate of kidnapping for ransom as lawlessness in the country increases.
  • Praise God for a new minibus to bring more children to the school and for the staff who serve enthusiastically 24/7.
  • For funding to come in to provide grains for the next year.

To say Pastor Michael* took an interesting route into Christian work would barely do justice to his astonishing story.

His journey towards leading a large multicultural church in a Central Asian city, has included:

• Rejecting Christ

• Fearing for his life after a confrontation with the Russian mafia

• Trying to commit suicide

• Being brought back to Jesus in a powerful and dramatic way.

Michael’s rejection of Christ came when he was in his 20s, as he ignored his mother’s pleas to join the church. He preferred instead to concentrate on his business career and ‘enjoy his life’, with no thought of God.

He admits he behaved in ways that dishonoured God and led him into the murky world of dealing with Russian organised crime.

His business involved exporting grain, to be used in the manufacture of alcohol and flour, from his home region to Russia. But when a large consignment could not be delivered on time, he knew there would be trouble.

Michael said: “I simply ran away to try and escape them. I knew they’d want to harm me because the delay meant they’d lose more than £80,000 and that was very serious.

“I hid in my house and drank poison to try to kill myself. Then I tried to gas myself, but always I came back. For three months, I didn’t go out but then they found me.

“I had no choice but to go to them. I prayed before I went, even though I didn’t know God, and I said goodbye to people. I really thought they would kill me.

“But when I turned up, the boss told me that he’d once been given a chance as a young man and he was going to give me another chance. I couldn’t believe it when he said he would let me go.”

On the long train journey home, Michael experienced the transformative moment of his life. As goosebumps broke out over his whole body and the hairs on his neck stood on end, he heard a big deep voice say clearly: “Now you know that I am the answer to this problem.”

Michael has no doubt it was the voice of God and from that moment, he re-committed himself to the faith he had been brought up in.

Incredibly, he then went to a seminary in another central Asian country to study theology and, in 2002, was taken on as an assistant pastor at his church.

Two years later, in 2004, he married and is now the father of three daughters. He launched an office supply business and now serves as a consultant to many businesses.

In 2009, he took over as lead pastor of the church, which now numbers more than 200 people from a huge variety of backgrounds and cultures.

The church faces many challenges, not least from a climate in which Islam is growing fast and the government attitude to Christianity is less tolerant than it once was.

While the church is registered and people meet together every Sunday morning, local people are wary. As one small example, the men who collect the rubbish every week will not come on to the church property; instead, the rubbish has to be left outside.

Despite that, the church is determined to serve their community and is always looking for ways to help, which was shown during the Covid lockdown, when they helped feed many families.

SIM workers are well connected to the church and are exploring the best ways to help. Michael would love to see more workers come to his city, especially workers who are keen to learn and work with the church, rather than seek to impose their own ideas.

He would also love to see Christian businessmen come, so they can start small enterprises and begin to employ local workers.

The challenges of this region are significant, but not insurmountable. The people are warm and welcoming, the cities are modern and there is no shortage of gospel work.

Michael says: “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few in this part of the world. We’d love to have people here who can help us grow the church and then see us send people from our church into mission.”

*Name has been changed

Get in touch

To find out more about this ministry, please email centralasiaregionaldirectorassistant @sim.org or talk to our team at [email protected] for how you could use your business skills in mission.

By Tim Allan

Please pray

  • For God to raise up more workers from around the world for the Central Asia region.
  • For Michael as he pastors his church in tough circumstances, that he would have God’s wisdom about what to take on and how open to be.
  • For Christians in Central Asia to be bold, but wise, in sharing the gospel with their neighbours.

Notoriously the most dangerous prison in South Africa, Pollsmoor, casts a dark shadow over the Cape Town community beyond its walls. 

School delinquency, drugs, gangs and teenage pregnancies ensnare local youth, breeding and perpetuating a cycle of darkness and lack of hope.

The Westlake township

Wanting to share the hope offered through the good news of Jesus Christ, Freeman Ndlovu put the word out that he was starting a free football programme for boys and young men – the only requirement for participation was showing up.

To everyone’s astonishment, 28 young men came to play.  There was just one problem – Freeman didn’t own a football! 

Thinking quickly, he got them jogging laps around the sports field, then managed to buy two balls for the following night and Young Legends was born.

The ministry was featured as a SIM story last year, but it continues to see wonderful growth.  In fact, it’s having such success that the city of Cape Town has provided Young Legends with the use of land and have accepted them into the South Peninsula Football Association League.

It’s also spreading, with projects being replicated on the other side country in Johannesburg.

Why such success? Because Young Legends is about much more than just playing sports and doing activities.

During the pandemic, they prepared and distributed food to many needy families, shared the word of God, and offered prayer, encouragement, and words of wisdom to people.

Discipleship, in partnership with local churches, is also very important. Each Young Legends leader is assigned two members to mentor. As a result, there continues to be a growing spiritual awareness and sense of purpose in the children and young people

A Young Legends team. Photo by SIM South Africa

Their testimonies speak volumes. One young man says: “Being around the Young Legends family and living with one of the members, I’m taught about the word of God, and I started attending church.”

Another says: “Young Legends is a blessing from God, and I’m proud and happy to be part of it.”

Xolisa Mdamoyi, a Young Legends football player, puts it like this: “The vision is not about playing soccer, and winning tournaments and leagues so that we can make money, but it was something totally different. Basically, what the Young Legends family wants to do is to change lives.”

Thanks to the initiative of Freeman and his friends, in partnership with churches and organisations like SIM, that vision is becoming a bigger and brighter reality.

By Lee Forland (Main photo by Kennex Media SA, via Pexels)

Please pray

• For God to use this exciting youth ministry to see more lives transformed.

• Give thanks that the gospel of Jesus can be the anchor to enable young people to be selfless, respectful and understanding. 

• For the upcoming training, at the end of November and first week of December to go well.

Nadeem* could have been justified in disliking – and maybe even hating – the Faithful Witness family visiting his West African village. They are foreigners, Christians, and new owners of a piece of Nadeem’s land, which his fellow villagers gave these mission workers without his consent.

But in a country where more than 90 per cent of the people are least likely to be reached with the gospel, God is doing something remarkable by drawing non-believers into encounters with Faithful Witness teams.

Yakouba* and wife Mariama* began visiting Nadeem’s rural village last year. They stayed in a guest house across from his home and were pleasantly surprised when their Muslim neighbour kept showing up and trying to befriend them.

“I would walk over to his house and sit down with him,” recalls Yakouba. “He was so open and warm in receiving us. Even giving us a pumpkin that he grew for his family! I said to myself, ‘Wow, this man is so generous.’ The next time we visited the village, I brought some things for him, too.”

Yakouba learned that Nadeem needed money for medication and his wife needed food. He and Mariama gladly helped them as the burgeoning friendship developed.

Nadeem confessed that, at first, he was upset with the couple. After working on a water reservoir installation in the area, they had approached the villagers and asked for a piece of land to build on. Yakouba explained that Faithful Witness needed a reliable place to stay during future trips. The villagers offered up some of Nadeem’s property, but didn’t discuss their decision with him.

When Nadeem learned that this land went to the Christians responsible for bringing safe, clean water to his people, his spirit softened. Yakouba adds: “He said now he is happy to let us use the land. We believe that is because Christ has come to it.”

Yakouba and Mariama had to leave the area for several months to deliver their new baby, but they were thrilled to find Nadeem eagerly awaiting their return. He immediately brought Yakouba to his farm to gift the mission worker with grains. “When I saw how happy he was, I felt God tell me to go to his house because he was so excited to receive us,” Yakouba shares.

The men talked for two hours. At one point, Nadeem shared that he lost a daughter to a mysterious illness. Yakouba saw an opportunity and went to find a translator with a better understanding of Nadeem’s dialect. Yakouba asked Nadeem if he was prepared for his own death. Nadeem answered: “No, I don’t know where I’m going.”

When Yakouba asked if his friend realised there were answers to his questions about death, Nadeem replied, “Yes, and I believe you have the answers to those questions.” Yakouba then shared the gospel message.

“There and then Nadeem was ready,” says Yakouba. “I thought he’d need to think about it or something, but no, he was ready to accept Christ. He spoke to his wife and prayed.”

Yakouba noticed a protective charm hanging around Nadeem’s neck and told him it was time to remove and burn it. The new brothers in Christ set the charm on fire and welcomed the protective power of the Holy Spirit.

The next time Yakouba visited Nadeem’s house, the men went and prayed together in his room. Yakouba says, “[Nadeem] said I should not have any concern. He knows what he’s done and he is a Christian. He only needs us to be praying for him so he can withstand any persecution that comes from his people. Once they know he’s a Christian, they will abandon him.”

Mariama also intends to speak with Nadeem’s daughter as if she accepts Christ, Yakouba is confident her mother will, too.

For now, Nadeem is the second-known believer among his people, and Faithful Witness rejoices at God’s perfect plan for his life.

By Amy Bareham Chapman

*Names changed

Please pray

  • That the truth of the gospel will fill the hearts and minds of Nadeem’s wife and daughter.
  • For protection and provision for Nadeem and his family.
  • For revival in those parts of West Africa where Christ is least known.

SIM workers have been helping out with food and medical relief in the flood-hit Sindh province of Pakistan.

SIM workers joined the flood relief response

Our workers arrived there to find water covering many of the fields and people very concerned about the impact on this year’s harvest. The floods have not only destroyed homes, but have also severely damaged crops and many people will struggle to buy food as inflation is certain to increase.

At one local village, they set up a medical camp with a team that included two doctors, two nurses, a public health nurse and leaders from SIM.

They conducted an examination clinic, before handing out medicines where needed. They also distributed flour and cooking oil to those who needed it most, under the direction of the village leader.

The SIM team then visited a second village, where the brick-built houses had survived the flooding, but the stables for animals, built of mud bricks, were severely damaged.

Once again, the team handed out food supplies and as they did so, lots of the village children gathered around. That ​​​​​​​prompted the team to lead a short Sunday School for the children – a beautiful time of fellowship and learning in the midst of hardship.

There is still a huge amount of work to be done to help people in this region, especially as many of the international relief agencies are starting to leave. Our workers will continue helping with immediate food relief as people get back on their feet and as the waters subside, help more communities build simple, solid, elevated houses that can withstand future rain and flooding.

SIM’s responses to the earthquake in 2005 and the floods in 2010 enabled us to bring hope, help and good news to many communities.  People with gifts in administration, relief, construction and public health spent a few months equipping and encouraging Pakistani Christians as they reached out to communities around them. 

SIM Pakistan has set up a disaster relief fund: £26 will feed a family for a month, while £80 will provide temporary accommodation for three families.

Click here to donate and please mark your donation as Pakistan Emergency Relief Fund(98170).

Pray for

  • The churches in Pakistan as they respond to flooding that has devastated much of the country.
  • The love of Christ would shine through acts of practical service.
  • The Lord would raise up people willing to serve for a few months with expertise in administration, relief, construction, or public health.

A major Bible school has reopened in Ukraine, even as fighting continues in the country.

Leadership and faculty staff at Odesa Theological Seminary, which is a close partner of SIM, have decided to start the new academic year as usual, despite the ongoing conflict with Russia. Only five months ago, their city was under hostile missile attack.

Courses will be running on campus, online, and also at extension sites in some of the areas where students live.

A spokesperson for the college says: “Last week, we had the first campus session for the students of the Bachelor of Pastoral Ministry programme. It was a time not just of learning, but of great fellowship for both students and faculty.

Learning at Odesa Theological College.
Photo by Odesa Theological College

“The usual routine — lectures, breaks, homework, student fellowship — which we used to take for granted, feels like something special and even therapeutic this year! The students left for their churches refreshed and encouraged.”

The college, which has more than 2,000 graduates, was founded in 1989 and runs courses in Pastoral Ministry, Leadership of Christian Education, Biblical Preaching and Biblical Studies.

As well as training gospel ministers, the school is also seeking to live it out. Anticipating a difficult winter, and irregularities in gas and electricity supplies owing to the war, they are considering opening dormitories for people who have lost their homes.

While all acknowledge the instability and potential danger, students and staff ​​​​​​​say they are grateful to God for the opportunity to continue training and being equipped to share the gospel.

By Chris Moss, SIM International

Please pray

• For the establishment of a just and stable peace in Ukraine.

• For the safety of students and faculty, their families, and for all Ukrainians.

•  For wisdom in preparing for the coming winter.

It is difficult to share the life-changing words of Christ with people when they don’t have a Bible in their own language.

John-Mark and Sara Sheppard are SIM mission workers in northern Liberia. Since 2013, they’ve lived among the Manya people, who are predominantly Muslim, with the goal of giving them the message of the gospel in their own language.

Over the course of the couple’s most recent term, they achieved a milestone in this undertaking – when the task of translating the New Testament into the Manya language was completed.

“Starting in October 2021, the Manya translation team embarked on an intense period of revision and proof-reading, during which we worked through the whole New Testament twice, painstakingly checking for consistency, Biblical accuracy, and good style,” recalls John-Mark.

Eventually, 30 New Testaments were printed in Monrovia, then transported to Voinjama via taxi by their SIM teammate, a full day’s journey on early rainy season roads.

The team started distributing the copies immediately.

“We sent copies to pastors and evangelists across the border in Guinea, who are eager to start using it in their ministries in various villages, prisons and a mission hospital there,” says John-Mark.

The team then presented the published Scriptures to delighted villagers who had helped with the community checking of the translation.

The brand new Manya New Testament is presented. Photo by SIM Liberia

One village elder remarked: “What you have given us is light. Even though we may not live long, we will pass this light on to our children.”

Completing the Manya New Testament is a major achievement, but much more work remains. Even during home assignment, John-Mark meets remotely with a translator to draft portions of the Old Testament. Initially, they are creating a series of Manya language Bible story books and recordings that convey the message of God’s love and redemption, from creation to Christ.

The recordings are already being broadcast over radio in Monrovia, hosted by Manya speakers, who tell listeners about Christ in the language that speaks to their heart.

Crossing the barrier of language to share the good news about Jesus is a long labour of love and respect and the Sheppards plan to return to Liberia in 2023 to continue making Christ known in this transformational way.

By Savannah Brewer

Please pray

  • That the Manya who have heard the gospel and believed it, would be bold with their newfound faith.
  • That the Manya New Testament and Bible story books would have a gospel impact on Manya communities.
  • For the funding needed to complete the Old Testament translation.
David and Maribel Easton with their children Samuel and Eliana

David and Maribel Easton, from Thornton Heath Evangelical Church, are set to leave the UK for Mexico, where they plan to plant churches that are faithful to God’s word.

Here, David shares their story:

Why are you going?

Paul says in Romans 10: 13-16 that there is a need for the gospel to go to people who’ve never heard God’s word and the Lord spoke to me through this and also, through Matthew 9:37-38, which kept going round and round in my heart and mind.

It was 2013, when we visited Maribel’s family in Mexico and other churches, that God revealed the great need for the gospel, and the need for Mexican people to have church plants that were faithful to the word and Bible training.

The reasons for this were twofold: one, because of the prosperity gospel being rife in the churches, and, secondly, the thought that a believer can lose their salvation. So Mexican Christians say if you can lose your salvation then just give up, because the Christian life is so difficult.

These two teachings are toxic, and are unbiblical. This burdened my heart even greater for the Christians in Mexico, but also for non-believers – that there is a hope who is Christ, who is sufficient for salvation, and nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

How were you called to Mexico?

Guanajuato, one of many cities inside the Circle of Silence (Photo: Carlos Alcazar from Pixabay)

We have both studied at Cornhill in London, where we were truly blessed as we deepened our understanding of how to handle, proclaim and teach the Bible faithfully.

There was a lot of praying from 2013 onwards that if the Lord was calling us to Mexico, then he’d make it plain to me and to Maribel.

In 2016, God planted an idea that consisted of us starting a conference called ‘Awakening Hearts’. This came into being where we had 20 or more young people and adults come and hear the word of God faithfully preached.

We then ran two more, which also brought non-believers, believers, and those who had once professed faith in Christ. It was a time of blessing and again, the Lord showed me the great need for faithful Bible teaching in Mexico.

But as time passed, I couldn’t see how we could go to Mexico, because I didn’t see any mission organisation that worked in Mexico at the time.

It was when I met a guy called ‘D’ while at Cornhill Bible college that he introduced us to SIM and told us the great need in the Circle of Silence.

When Maribel heard about the Circle of Silence and the work that D was doing, her heart leaped, and for the first time, the Lord showed her that we needed to go to serve him in Mexico.

Maribel and I found SIM UK, who were very supportive in our calling and careful in the process as it took a whole year, with many interviews to make sure we were called to Mexico.

The least reached part of Mexico known as the Circle of Silence

Tell us about the Circle of Silence

The Circle of Silence is a mostly mountainous area of about 99,460 square miles in Central Mexico with a population of more than 23 million people, with almost no gospel witness.

It’s made up of nine states where only 1% of people or fewer have heard the gospel, making it an area with the largest concentration of unreached people in Spanish-speaking Latin America.

In the whole of Latin America, only one in ten pastors have had any formal Bible teaching, and this may not even be faithful Bible teaching, so the need is big.

The Circle of Silence is a key area as there are major universities and cities where Mexicans come and study, and then go back to surrounding areas. But we don’t just want them to be saved; we want them to be faithful Bible handlers, so that they can withstand any error that they will face, so our plan is to plant churches that are faithful to God’s word, train people, identify their gifts and send them to establish churches.

We’d also like to run conferences, and Maribel has a real heart for street children and ladies’ ministry. We believe it’s vital that men and women, boys and girls, hear the gospel and are trained to handle the word properly for God’s kingdom.

What is Mexico like?

Photo: R Don from Unsplash

It’s a very large country that covers an area of 1.964 million km2, which makes the UK look like an ant and elephant in comparison!

Corruption from the police, kidnapping, drug and alcohol addiction, poverty both physically and spiritually are huge. Gun crime, prostitution and human trafficking are also big problems, especially in Mexico City.

Photo: Candelario Gomez Lopez from Pixabay

Mexico has a lot of children, and in fact, there are more young people than there are old people, as the mortality rate is about 70 years’ old. It’s very rare to see a very old person in their 80s. This is due to health issues, young people dying in freak accidents, killings, and not being able to afford health care things we in the West take for granted.

Mexico has almost every eco system in one country. There is sun, with beautiful blue skies, with temperatures as high as 40°C, and low temperatures, depending on the area, of minus six centigrade or even lower.

There are stunning beaches with palm trees, rainforests with giant pine and oak trees that are huge in size, with various animals and insects – both friendly and deadly – which are not for the faint-hearted. There’s snow on the tops of the mountains in the north and desert areas, with huge canyons like Copper Canyon, which is four times larger than the Grand Canyon in the USA.

What is the main language?

The main language of Mexico is of course Spanish, although it has a different dialect, but this was a result of Hernán Cortés who came over to Mexico in 1519 with his men. Spanish is not the only language spoken – indeed, there are 68 different languages spoken by many tribes in Mexico.

Food as a doorway for the gospel

The ancient Mexicans cultivated many foods, mainly corn and beans, until the Spanish came over and brought animals. If you are food lovers you can pass by a chocolate shop like something from Willy Wonka, and if you know the history of chocolate, it originated from Mexico and was brought over to Europe and other countries by the Spanish Catholics.

You can get tacos, elotes, chocolate, burritos, churros, and even pizza, and the list could go on! I believe food is a doorway into the heart of a Mexican where the gospel can be brought.

Also, I mention food because Coca Cola is the main drink that is consumed; a Mexican family will drink three litres a day. This means there’s a real problem with type 2 diabetes, and people have other health issues as a result.

Family oriented

Mexican people are warm, kind and generous, and Mexican culture is very family-orientated. Mexicans do not tend to have small families, but are generally rather large and look after each other especially the older generation.

But times are changing and with LGBT+, abortion, and ultra-feminism coming up in society in prominence, less and less couples are having children or able to have children.

Our work will be a challenge, but we believe the Lord is leading us to Mexico. We need firstly financial partners to go, secondly, prayer, and thirdly, in the future, even other believers who have a heart for the gospel.

Please pray

  • For David and Maribel to fulfil their role in the Great Commission as they serve God in Mexico.
  • That they will trust the Lord to provide for all they need in their lives and ministry.
  • For God’s blessing as the family leave friends, family and the church they love.

This story is taken from an article that first appeared in the September issue of the Christian newspaper, Evangelicals Now (www.e-n.org.uk)

“The characteristic of a true sovereign is, to acknowledge that, in the administration of his kingdom, he (or she) is a minister of God”

John Calvin

We are all deeply saddened at the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. We extend our sincerest condolences to His Majesty The King and The Queen Consort, and the whole of the Royal Family at this time.

We grieve a leader who strove to emulate her own servant-hearted King, Jesus. Queen Elizabeth once said: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace…is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing.”

The Queen was a remarkable woman with a remarkable place in our lives; a guiding light who served her people. Our prayers are with her family and our nation, as we mourn her passing and celebrate her life and hope through faith in Jesus Christ.

This summer, the team from SIM Ecuador’s Waves of Hope radio ministry helped 90 children learn more about Jesus when they came face to face with their listeners for the first time. 

The team, who are based in Loja, travelled to the town of Gonzanamá for a special outreach programme organised through a local church, aimed at the children and their parents. 

Radio Ondas de Esperanza (Radio Hope) proclaims the gospel in Ecuador through quality Christian radio programming and recently expanded its coverage to Gonzanamá, Cariamanga, Quilanga, Sozoranga, Macará, and all the surrounding areas where before they were only heard in Loja and Catamayo. 

Radio is a key means of communication for many people in these remote communities, and visits like the one to Gonzanamá are an exciting way for the team to build relationships with their listeners and share the love of Christ in a truly personal way. 

The team now hopes to continue visiting these communities and even broadcast live programmes from there. In the coming weeks, an SIM worker will do a follow-up meeting with the children and begin to disciple them.  

MaGu Japa, who formed part of the radio ministry team, says: “Seeing the little children happy and attentive to the teaching was something that filled my heart. Although it was a time focused on them, their parents got to hear the good news as well and this challenged me to continue to share Jesus with others.”  

Jenny Cabrera, who works as a volunteer with the radio team, and accompanied them on this trip, adds: “Sharing with the children and youth of Gonzanamá this weekend was a very enriching experience. It was so special to see their faces as they understood God’s love towards them, and the good news of the gospel. Their parents were very supportive as they told them what they’d learned.”  

By Fabian Armijos

Please pray 

  • For the children and families who heard the gospel in Gonzanamá, and for the discipling opportunities after this event. 
  • For more listeners to be won for Christ. 
  • For more opportunities to travel to places where the radio signal is now reaching.  

Among the many ethnic groups in Liberia, there are people who live in areas so remote that they have never had someone tell them about Jesus Christ. When the Evangelical Church of Liberia (ECOL) carried out a medical outreach in one such village, the team and supplies had to be flown in by helicopter because the area is surrounded by rivers with no bridges. Some walked for hours to reach the clinic, and local people heard that these people came in the name of Jesus. Elders from one town asked ECOL to please send mission workers to tell them more…

Mission workers and supplies were flown in by helicopter to areas surrounded by rivers with no bridges

SIM International’s Prayer Guide is a fantastic tool to help us intercede for those living outside a saving relationship with Jesus, many of whom have never heard his name, like this excerpt from Liberia above, shows.

It’s always a joy to read the ways in which the Lord works through the prayers of his people and to join with voices around the world in petition for those who don’t yet know him.

By Prayer is SIM’s motto because prayer is our first response and God is the one we depend on in mission. It is truly by prayer that we praise God; seek his direction; request resources, and stay connected to the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to live as the Lord desires and accomplish the work he’s placed in our hands. 

Physical and spiritual barriers are broken down by answered prayer and despite a global pandemic, God never stopped opening doors to communities previously closed to the gospel message:-

  • One refugee, imprisoned for a short period during lockdown in Europe, requested Bibles in several languages as he shared his faith with inmates.
  • Practical services offered during lockdown turned hearts towards Christ and more young people are now wanting to join Sports Friends teams.
  • 40 UK churches – eager to learn more about reaching the nations on their doorstep – took part in SIM UK’s intercultural training and welcomed mission workers to serve alongside them.

And we are seeing more people looking to serve in some of the hardest locations around the word, including this Faithful Witness worker, serving an Islamic community.

“I have been given a name meaning Princess of Light,” she reveals. “I like the name in particular, because when I asked, ‘Why that name?’ they explained, ‘You will be like a light that shines in the darkness here’.

“I was amazed! I am here for that very reason – to be a light to those living in darkness. This is my prayer, that many in this community will encounter the True Light.”

By Linda Hunt, SIM UK’s Prayer Coordinator

Order your 2023 Prayer Guide for despatch in January

When she’s not busy dealing with four children and two cats, Erika Loftis SIM’s Asia Region Arts Specialist is painting beautiful botanicals and is passionate about the power of art in healing and spiritual and mental health.

Erika is currently serving in Thailand

“I’ve been artistic all my life, but have never studied it, so when I found myself struggling with my mental health, I decided to take an adult watercolour class,” she says.

“I sat in a room surrounded by women older and younger than me, some highly-skilled artists, some less so. They worked at their tables chatting about their lives, making jokes, complaining and even sharing religious stories.

“It was in this room that God used colour and line and women who didn’t even know him to heal my heart.

“I experienced the grace to make mistakes without judgement and it was this safety, along with an opportunity to grow in my technical skill, that I began to see how effective being creative was in lifting the cloud of depression and anxiety.”

Neuroscientists are proving again and again the benefits of creativity for all people, and it has been especially effective for people who are mentally or physically unwell.

As Christians, who are aware that we are made in the image of a creator God, it’s no surprise that there’s benefit in being creative, says Erika.

Science has determined that art making, in all its various forms, and often even just looking at art, can reduce stress hormones and give our bodies and minds a little break, leaving us clearer headed, and reducing stress-associated health risks like heart attacks. 

All smiles at the watercolour class

“Since having my own experience with the benefits of art making, I’ve been excited to see it used in many ways,” she adds.

“I’ve participated in art retreats: leading prayer and meditations on Scripture and creating art pieces in response.

“This included one using layers of pencils, paint, and ultimately gold ink, as we processed who Jesus says he is and who we have wanted him to be. 

“I know this is always an impactful time for the participants as God very often speaks to us in new ways. Very often there are tears, but I’ve also seen that people empowered to view themselves as artistic, begin to use art to pray, worship, and find healing, and so I’ve started teaching watercolour classes. 

“The most essential thing to create a healing artistic environment is not the presence of an art therapist, but the presence of emotional safety, particularly in group settings. This is achieved by encouraging positive speech both about a person’s own work and about the work of the people around them. 

“Encouraging everyone in your group or class to reflect on what they are seeing with comments like, ‘Those colours make me feel calm’ or ‘I love the shapes you have there’ help to foster a comfortable and emotionally safe environment.

“Another benefit of doing art in group settings (for instance, art retreats and classes) is the sense of community and connectedness that people can experience.

“If Covid has taught us anything, we have learned the importance of people in our lives! By creating a safe environment to create art, in a communal setting, a group can enhance a person’s healing and artistic growth.”

This article first appeared in SIM Creative Arts newsletter Artsbeat.

Check out SIM’s Creative Arts page to learn more about using your artistic skills in ministry.

Please pray

  • For more Christians with artistic talents to glorify God and display the gospel.
  • For God to open the ears and hearts of those touched by SIM creative arts ministries.

No business, big or small, escaped the impact of Covid-19, creating a challenge for many of our missional business people.

Almost a quarter of all businesses in the UK temporarily closed in 2020 because of Covid-19, while in India, 82% of small businesses suffered a negative impact on their business.

A great majority of these business owners were indigenous, so how much more challenging was it for those who were operating small businesses outside their passport country? Such was the case for many of our mission workers, says JP, SIM’s Ministry Point Person for business ministries.

Adobe stock pic by Stokkete

“Some existing BAM (Business as Mission) enterprises were impacted by Covid-19 more than others, with tourism and hospitality, the hardest hit,” he says.

“When it was clear the pandemic would be long-lasting, some of these businesses had to close, at least temporarily, or find alternative strategies to remain open.

“One person who had a tourism business was asked by a like-minded organisation if he could use his tourism vehicles to deliver food and essentials to hard-hit areas of his city. He gladly agreed!

“This was noticed by some business organisations in the area and he was then asked if he and his vehicles could be hired to make deliveries to homes during the Covid lockdown?

Through missional business, we can cross barriers into communities where Christ is least known, helping people engage in work, earn a wage, and experience dignity. By bringing the gospel to communities through missional business, we model godly profit-making — or profit-making with a conscience. We also become mentors to others who desire to do business God’s way, to bless and transform their societies. In the process, opportunities for spiritual conversations many times lead people to the Saviour and to being and making disciples. 

JoSHUA Bogunjoko, SIM’s International director

“Although it wasn’t as profitable as his tourism business, he was able to keep most of his employees working part-time and make enough money to avoid closing down.”

Other business owners used the pandemic to reflect on and re-evaluate their ministry.

  • One BAM business owner in Pacific Asia used the slowdown to develop a more intentional mission strategy for their business plan and another BAM business owner in South Asia used the reduced workload caused by the pandemic to improve the development of her staff.
  • A BAM couple in the Middle East, who’d been in business there for more than 20 years, were in their passport country visiting family and friends when Covid hit and then couldn’t return for 16 months.

During that time, their staff of approximately 10 local women ran every area of the business with exceptional results and was the greatest testimony of God’s faithfulness to the business and the result of years of training and discipleship the couple had invested in these women.

  • In South East Asia, our teams faced significant delays at the beginning of Covid lockdowns in being able to get products out of their countries because there were fewer flights and much tougher export controls.

“This impacted sales and the wages their local employees could receive,” adds JP.

“However, they were greatly encouraged by the ability of local SIM workers to be able to continue to sell their products and continue building relationships.

“They even had opportunity to participate in the Christian wedding ceremony and baptism of two of their weavers, who’d come to faith since SIM workers began working with the Muslim women five years ago.

“Business is challenging even when things are good. When you compound the challenges of running a business cross-culturally with the uncertainty of a global pandemic, the view can be quite dismal. However, it’s been very encouraging to see the faithfulness of our God combined with the resilience of our BAM workers.

“And when a business is profitable, it becomes part of your testimony and how you build trust in the community with other business leaders and people.”

Although Business as Mission is still a newer concept for SIM, JP is encouraged by conversations with colleagues and other sending entities.  

“This is a lot of new ground,” he says, “and we’re all learning as we go. This deviates from the traditional style of mission work, so it’s a paradigm shift for workers who’ve been in the field for many years. We’re helping them along; viewing businesses as just another tool in our toolbox to reach places where Christ is least known.”  

If you are interested in using your business skills in mission, take a look at the many opportunities available, or fill out an enquiry form and one of our Mobilisation Support team will be in contact.

Please pray

  • For more business-minded people to be raised up for gospel mission across the world.
  • That the owners of businesses with a gospel intention will be kept safe.
  • That these businesses would make a real impact for Jesus in places where he is least known.

In 2016, SIM UK partnered with TnT to develop Sunday school materials in Arabic with the aim of sowing seeds of faith across the Middle East in the lives of the youngest members of their congregations.

The translation project is now finished and more than 80 people have registered to download the free material from a specially designed Arabic website.

SIM UK teacher Mike, who has been serving in the Middle East for 19 years and helped launch the project, says: “Many Sunday School teachers use a story and a colouring page, but we wanted to offer a creative, biblical session that engages the children and gives them good foundations for understanding the Bible correctly for themselves.”

The Mustard Seeds curriculum provides appropriate lessons for youngsters, aged 18 months to 18, with everything churches need for a 30- to 60-minute lesson, including teacher’s Bible preparation and teaching plan; games, discussion questions, crafts and worksheets.

“The feedback from our partner churches is that they themselves felt fed and trained by using this resource, as well as it being excellent for the Sunday School classes,” says Mike.

After the translation work ended, the next step was to communicate with more Middle East churches and to tell them about this great new resource.

And despite the challenges caused by Covid, seven training days have been held, with more planned for November.

One of the training sessions for Arabic-speaking church members

A fellow SIM UK worker, who is a member of a local Middle East church, comments: “The training was excellent and really inspired us how we can teach the Bible to children. Since then, we’ve been meeting as a group on Tuesday mornings to prepare the children’s ministry that runs on Friday mornings.

“It’s been a huge encouragement to see the impact of teaching the children in a faithful, systematic way and to see the teachers benefiting from preparing and studying the Word together.

“We now have about 50 children – many unchurched – who are attending every Friday.”

Another comments: “The training was fruitful and a blessing for me personally as I realised the importance of studying Bible passages before teaching them to the kids. It was the first time I noticed the importance of understanding the context and conclusion.”

Mike says he is grateful to SIM UK supporters, who helped to fund a local worker to build contacts with churches across the Middle East and make them aware of the TnT materials.

“Jana connects with churches and promotes use of the material, as well as organises the training days and translates for the TnT trainer,” adds Mike. 

“As we come to the end of our time in the ME, it’s so exciting to see this project take off and it’s our dream to see many more churches across the ME using this fantastic resource.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks that the Lord provided the funding for Jana’s work to encourage many more churches across the Middle East to have a huge impact on the next generation for Christ.
  • That many of the 50 children attending a Middle East church each Friday and work through the TnT material, will come to know the Lord for themselves.
  • That those teaching the hope of Jesus to children in the Middle East will grow in their faith as they prepare lessons.

Go to www.mustard-seeds.net/arabic for more information.

Dr Joshua Bogunjoko was appointed SIM International Director in 2013

There is a very good reason why Serving In Mission’s first core value states that we are committed to biblical truth, writes SIM International Director, Joshua Bogunjoko.

We recognise this truth as the foundation for our faith; the guide for our lives; and the ultimate truth for living. Nothing else in the world could take its place in the life of a believer, community, society, or church.

SIM leadership worked on a new summary of our core values in 2021. We believe our core values are very important. Indeed, they are a key part of what binds us together as a mission.

In the summary, that commitment to biblical truth remains central and why we’re committed to teaching the Bible in all contexts and ministries, and translating it into people’s heart languages.

It’s exactly one of those translation efforts that made my own love story with the Bible possible.

I was raised in a small village in Nigeria, in a nominally Christian family. My parents attended church, but also worshipped idols. Although I was active in church, I didn’t know that I needed Jesus or could have a personal relationship with God.

Out of a desire to read God’s word for ourselves, my younger brother, Ezekiel, and I decided to work and earn money to buy our first Bible. We obtained this Bible when I was 11 and to years later, we earned enough to buy a second one. These were very precious to us, and I’ve always loved the Bible.

SIM mission worker Guy Playfair

Something amazing about my Yoruba Bible was that it was the inspired, infallible word of God, just like the English Bible of the first SIM missionary, Guy Playfair (pictured), who came to my village in 1912. In fact, his English one was a translation from the Greek and Hebrew, yet it was also inspired and holy. My Bible even used the Yoruba term ‘Olorun’ for the creator God.

By contrast, in my family and village were those who practised Islam. Muslims believe the true revelation of God in the Qur’an can only be accessed in Arabic and all translations of the Qur’an are considered commentaries. The Arabic word for God, Allah, is used by all Muslims, regardless of their own language.

Although our Bibles were precious, I didn’t commit my heart to Christ until I was a teenager in a boarding school run by SIM and now run by ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All) Church.

From my time of conversion, I was absorbed into a vibrant Christian student fellowship on campus. Coming to faith in a mission school meant I was immediately discipled; prepared for baptism; and trusted into active participation in ministry in my campus fellowship.

What might this have to do with SIM and our diversity today?

What I realise now is that my own language, my people who spoke this language, and the context where my language was spoken, were a legitimate place to gain knowledge of God’s revelation and pursue a relationship with him.

The same gospel principle that deemed my Yoruba Bible to be the inspired, infallible word of God, is the principle that calls all people worthy of dignity and participation in a gospel community.

The vision of SIM began when our founders set out to take the gospel to Africa in 1893… Read more of SIM’s history

Whether or not our founders (pictured) could have imagined welcoming such a diversity of people into SIM; the gospel intends this and is in its DNA. And so, by SIM’s faithful and humble pursuit of the gospel, we’ve become increasingly diverse.

If our God commissions his eternal holy Word be preached in every language – to be studied and interpreted by diverse peoples with the help of the Holy Spirit – how much more can we freely welcome diverse peoples to sit at the table of SIM and influence our organisation, which is merely temporary and created by humans?

As a child of God worthy of God’s revelation in my language, I, along with every worker, am worthy to participate in SIM because we all have access to the same biblical truth that daily and relentlessly shapes our lives and our journey.

Home page photo by SIM Stories East Africa team in 2018

Please pray

  • For our workers to be reminded of and embody each of these values.
  • That the Holy Spirit will refresh us with biblical truth and increase the diversity of our organisation.

A summary of SIM’s Core Values

Church-centred – We are part of Christ’s church and together we plant, nurture and equip churches.

Compassionate – We are people of love. We humbly offer compassionate, holistic service and eternal hope, through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Community – We live a life of integrity in obedience to God and in relationship with each other as we listen, learn, grow, and innovate together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Dependent on God – We are people of prayer. We trust in our faithful God and affirm the truth of the Bible.

Diverse – We are one in Christ. We embrace, and are strengthened by, the international, interdenominational and multi-ethnic diversity of His church.

Disciples who make disciples – We cross barriers to fulfil God’s global, urgent and unfinished mission.

Read the full ten Core Values that these 3 Ds and Cs summarise.

The move of believers from meeting secretly in homes to meeting openly began with a telephone call…The voice on the phone said: “This is the police.” Pastor Joe paused, dumbfounded as the voice continued: “We know you are getting ready to baptise Ahmed this weekend.” Joe’s mind raced. How could the police know this – the person’s name, the event, the time? Unable to deny it, he replied: “Yes.” Joe will never forget what the voice said next: “Then why don’t you do it in the empty church? We know you are meeting in homes weekly.”

Joe and his family have served for more than 20 years in North Africa, during which time he has been planting spiritual seeds, discipling believers in a country where only 0.4 per cent of the population is Christian.

Joe’s journey to North Africa began many years ago when he arrived there as a university student from sub-Saharan Africa. When he wasn’t studying accounting, he was active in a local church and soon felt the Lord’s call to missions, telling his pastor: “I feel I may leave to study theology and return long-term.”

The pastor said: “Because I know this is from God, I will give you all the support I can. You find a school and I will try to find a scholarship.”

One Sunday, Joe told his pastor the name and the cost of an African seminary he’d found. A few days layer, the reply came: “We’re glad to offer Joe a full scholarship for four years!”

Near the end of Joe’s fourth year, the church offered him a staff position. Joe and his wife Esther, who also had a heart for mission work, took the offer and made this place their home.

In time, the church invited the couple to consider ministry in another North African city, where an empty church building had stood with no pastor for more than 40 years.

The couple and their family relocated, ministering to local believers and sub-Saharan Africans students, who were there on scholarships.

The Lord is opening doors for sub-Saharan Africans to live and serve in North Africa

They met secretly in houses – until that unexpected call from the local police.

Taking courage, the believers began to meet publicly in the church, despite the insults that it drew. In the beginning, Joe sensed the presence of police in plain clothes in the street whenever the church held activities. Today, however, the police provide open protection, arriving in police vehicles and full uniform, telling him: “You take care of security inside; we will take care of security outside.”

Joe is partnering with Faithful Witness to see more workers strategically placed in the North Africa region and his passion is to see more Christian workers, particularly Sub-Saharan Christians, serving in North Africa where there are numerous opportunities for ministry. 

“North Africa has a rich history of Christianity,” says Joe. “God has put it on my heart to share more of the opportunities of what God is doing in North Africa and I want to remind people that we can’t think that things will stay the same. The more we serve God, the more we pray for wisdom to use our resources.”

Students reaching students

As leader of the North Africa Faithful Witness team, Joe’s vision is to see scores of French-speaking students on scholarship in North Africa to reach their fellow students.

Joe says, “If God has opened doors for us – sub-Saharan Africans serving in the Arab world – maybe others can come too?

“Difficult does not mean impossible, especially with God. If God opens the door, who can close it?”

Please pray

  • For five more francophone units from sub-Saharan Africa to join the North Africa Faithful Witness team.
  • For protection for workers and local believers in the region.
  • For many students to discover Jesus and have the courage to follow him.

The call to mission runs deep in surgeon Ted Watts.

He can’t pinpoint the exact moment when that began and may have been planted even before he called himself a Christian.

His journey to faith, and to mission, began when his brother, Tom, invited him to a Friday night youth club in the London suburb of Wimbledon where they grew up.

Ted, now the lead surgeon at The Good News Hospital in Mandritsara, northern Madagascar, recalls: “Tom, who is older than me, and one of my friends, Rupert, had been going to  the youth club and invited me to go along one day.

“I knew it was connected to the church, but the main attractions for me were that it was something to do on a Friday night, with free food, table football and, because I was at an all boys’ school, the chance to meet some girls!”

From those beginnings has grown a faith and a passion to serve some of the poorest people in the world.

The hospital Ted now works in serves a predominantly rural community of around 350,000 people spread across the northern third of Madagascar, a vast island that covers a bigger land area than France.

His patients are mostly subsistence rice farmers, scraping a hand-to-mouth living from tiny patches of land. He often sees them when their illnesses are very advanced, because they are very reluctant to stop working for hospital visits.

Ted credits the church he grew up in; his brother, who is now a pastor; and successive summer camps for first bringing him to faith and then discipling him to a greater maturity.

As Ted’s faith was growing, so was his interest in medicine. He has Crohn’s Disease and spent significant parts of his childhood in and around hospitals.

Ted and Rachel

He grew in his faith through university and medical school and met his future wife, Rachel, who is now a paediatrician, through the university Christian Union. On some of their earliest dates, they discussed what part mission might play in their lives together.

Ted says: “We both realised from very early on that we felt a strong call to mission. We discussed what we needed to do and how that calling might impact decisions about our future together.”

Ted first visited Mandritsara during his fourth year of university, spending six or seven weeks at the hospital and having his eyes opened to the reality of living in a very remote and hugely under-resourced community.

He says: “Until then, I think I’d been given quite a narrow view of mission – that you had to be teaching the Bible, or pastoring a church. But those few weeks broadened my view. It’s vital that you proclaim the good news but there’s also a value in caring for people, who are made in God’s image and who are suffering, or oppressed by poverty.”

Ted with Rachel and their two sons, Ethan and Jamie

Ted and Rachel married in 2006 and then spent more than a decade doing further medical, theological and language study. They have been serving with SIM UK in Madagascar since 2017, with their sons, Ethan, seven, and Jamie, five.

Ted in the operating theatre, above and below

Ted is one of six surgeons at Mandritsara, some of them fully qualified and others in training. That is a huge improvement on the situation two years ago, when Ted was the only surgeon and effectively on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The hospital has 58 beds and the 225 staff treat a huge range of conditions, from broken bones to women affected by fistula, and from cancer to complex neurosurgery.

More than 1,800 operations are carried out each year.

Ted says: “To anyone who says the mission hospital is dead, I would ask them to come and visit us. We provide a vital service in a place where there is virtually no state provision for health care.

“And we have the opportunity to share the gospel as we treat people, which I would never be allowed to do in the UK.

“Most of the people here are animists, which brings a lot of fear into their lives, but in hospital they hear the gospel.

“We have a small service in each ward every day, with a Bible talk; there are three full-time evangelists and we always pray with the whole team before every operation.

“When they come back for follow-up treatment, we always ask them what they’ve made of what they’ve heard.

“Since the hospital started, at least 65 churches have been started in surrounding communities, so God is clearly at work here.”

Ted knows one of his main challenges is to equip the hospital for the day he and Rachel decide to leave. That may not be for a few years but that day will certainly come.

He says: “We trust God. If he wants the hospital to remain open, he will raise up the people to make that happen.”

That trust shows how Ted’s call to medicine is interwoven with his call to mission.

By Tim Allan

Interested in medical mission? Enquire about serving with SIM here.

Please pray

  • For the schooling needs of Ethan and Jamie.
  • For Ted’s leadership challenges.
  • For the hospital to keep the gospel front and centre of all it does.
Northern Thailand

Years ago, in rural northern Thailand, a couple planted a church amidst the rice paddies and orchards and dedicated their lives to making God known to their non-believing neighbours.

That couple had a young son called Nong, who today leads the church his parents began.

Pastor Nong has great rapport with the local temple’s head monk, who recognises his good works, even to the point of defending him when there is religious contention within the village.

One day, Nong noticed a group of teenaged boys who loved to play football. As he watched them play, he wondered how he could connect with them. Soon after, he crossed paths with Sports Friends and heard about the power and potential of using sport to connect with young people.

Pastor Nong at the Sports Friends conference

Nong attended a Sports Friend training course and was fascinated by the model of making disciples through sport. He became increasingly excited and later, had a vivid dream of chopping down all the fruit trees in the church’s garden and creating a football field they could invite the villager boys to come and play on!

Upon his return, Nong called the church elders together and they listened with scepticism to his “crazy” idea of levelling the orchard. Who had ever heard of building a football field to draw village youth near to Christ?

However, Nong persevered and invited SIM UK’s Jill Ireland, who is the Sports Friends Regional Coordinator for South East Asia, to come and share with the church about his vision to use sport as a bridge into the community.

Jill and some of the Sports Friends Thailand team spent a Sunday with Nong and the church family, listening to their concerns and sharing more about the vision of sports ministry as a powerful tool for evangelism and discipleship. By the end of their visit, the elders were filled with enthusiasm and began to think creatively about the birth of their very own church-centred sports ministry.

Not long after, that “crazy” plan went into action and old and young church members arrived in the church garden with tools and purpose in their hope-driven hearts. They chopped down all the old, dried-up fruit trees and levelled the orchard to prepare the way for the Lord to meet with young Thais in a new way.

Jill Ireland says: “Pastor Nong and his church want to use this field to share not only sport, fun and friendship, but to share the gospel as well. They long to see these young people’s lives transformed and maybe those of their parents and families as they love them, care for them and share their lives in Christ with them.

“And we’re hopeful too with Pastor Nong and also the hundreds of Sports Friends-trained coaches all around the world that God will use them to share the gospel with those who are living and dying without Jesus.”

By Mary Fichtinger, Sports Friends writer

Find out more about Sports Friends: www.sports-friends.org and watch a video to see how God is at work around the world through this ministry.

Please pray

  • God will work in the hearts of the young people Pastor Nong coaches to understand the hope of the gospel.
  • For church leaders and pastors around the world that Sports Friends partners with.
  • Praise God for Pastor Nong and pray that he would persevere in his ministry.

With daytime temperatures in Niger regularly soaring above 40C (110F), the swimming pool is the one place for a hot and tired mission worker to cool off!

However, semi-retired doctor A’dele* spent most of her short-term mission working at SIM’s Galmi Hospital, where hundreds of men, women and children visit the outpatient clinics every day.

The 180-bed hospital provides compassionate care to Nigeriens from all walks of life and serves as a training centre for surgeons from several African countries

And despite having a salaried staff of around 250 Nigerien personnel, the hospital relies on international volunteers willing to share their expertise.

A’dele worked as a GP for many years while raising her family and today, works part time both in the UK and in the USA (doing short term locum Family Practice work), but after hearing about the staffing shortages at Galmi, she felt called to put her background in obstetrics and gynaecology to good use.

“I’ve wanted to be a mission worker since I was in my teens, so I was pleased and grateful to the Lord, to finally have the opportunity to fulfil my dream,” she says.

There are more than 20 million people in Niger and very few have heard the good news of Jesus, so A’dele was grateful to join the dedicated mutlicultural team, who use opportunities to share the gospel with patients, especially in the clinic.

“It was a privilege to be used by God on the mission field where the light of the gospel is very much needed,” she says.

And despite it being more than 25 years since she last worked on a maternity ward, A’dele – who is supported by Parkside Elim Christian Centre, London, UK and the Family Christian Centre in Maine, USA – was pleasantly surprised by how easily she remembered her obstetrics skills during her three months at Galmi.

A’dele with a mother and her newborn twins – one of the three sets of twins A’dele delivered during her first stay at the hospital

“It all came back very quickly – like muscle memory – and it was like I’d never been away!” she recalls.

“Unfortunately, many mothers don’t make it to hospital or their babies are born too premature, so I was thankful to God for the chance to help the ones that do make it to hospital and to save some lives in the process.

“One teenage mother (met on my most recent trip) spent a month on the unit following a botched home birth in her rural village in which she lost her first baby and ended up with massive complications. But I believe she saw and felt God’s love demonstrated in the care she received and it was good to see her smiling a few days before she was discharged to await further surgery.”

In February this year, A‘dele returned to Niger to help with staffing shortages partly caused by Covid and also took part in a health care mission outreach to four remote rural villages in the same region en route to Galmi.

Now returned, A’dele says her flexible schedule makes it possible to volunteer when she wants to and is keen to urge others to use their God-given gifts for short-term missions.

“There’ll always seem to be more reasons to ‘not go’ than ‘to go’,” she says, “but the rewards are plentiful, both on this earth – including the joy and help brought to others and the sense of fulfilment in the person going – as well as eternally.”

*Pseudonym used

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks A’dele was able to communicate with the patients and staff in Hausa.
  • That people’s lives will be transformed when they come to Galmi Hospital.
  • For more helpers to do various gospel work in West Africa, from church planting, youth work, healthcare and teaching, to admin and Bible translation.

Are you up for a challenge?

Go to our website www.sim.co.uk/serve/ministries to search for opportunities to serve, or contact [email protected] to talk to our team of mobilisers and discover which ministries and locations may be best suited for you.

SIM UK worker Anaïs lived in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) for six months before moving to serve in Nigeria.

After a brief spell back in the UK for visa purposes, she returned in February to finish her ministry assignment in trauma healing.

“I hear many stories that are heart-breaking; others inspirational and humbling, but in each and everyone’s story, I try to see God at work,” she reveals.

Anaïs trains counsellors and caregivers, as well as supporting persecuted new believers, traumatised by fleeing their families and communities.

She recently met a man from the north of Nigeria, who became a Christian about 18 months ago. After being threatened with death by his own brothers, he was brought to a discipleship centre in Jos.

After a year, he prepared to leave and asked to see Anaïs for some encouragement, telling her: “I don’t know where the pastor will take me, I just know I can’t go back to my village or else I’ll be killed by my own family members. The only thing I know is that I won’t renounce my faith in Jesus.”

Anaïs recalls: “I stood in awe at this young man’s determination and told him that I was the one that was being encouraged!

“We prayed together, and his eyes sparkled with hope when I told him about how the church in the west is praying for persecuted Christians like him, and how happy I was that I can now tell his story to others, so that we continue faithfully praying for him.”

In a country prone to unrest, persecution and violent attacks, Anaïs admits that discouragement and doubts creep in, but people never lose heart.

“I hear of attacks happening here and there around the area,” she says, “and the people affected long for justice, but they don’t give up and continue going to their farms despite the dangers.

“I hear some of the stories from the people I work with in the prisons, who are waiting for over a year or more to appear in court and, again, I long for justice and for human rights to be respected. And so on and so forth the sadness and brokenness creep in, but God’s children look up to heaven for strength.”

And despite the challenges, Anaïs has relished discovering Nigeria, its culture, its people, and its turmoil.

“I’ve grown to love it! My favourite places are the markets where there’s always something entertaining to notice amongst the crowds and hustle bustle.

“It’s a privilege to be serving here and learn from this resilient God-fearing community, who despite often having very little, their faith and trust in God is amazing.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Praise God for the strong community of believers he is building up in Nigeria. 
  • Give thanks for Anaïs growing understanding of Hausa that opened doors to opportunities to share the gospel.
  • For Anaïs as she returns to the UK and studies for a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. 

Click here for a free resource to help you and your church pray for Nigeria.

Find out more about SIM’s Faithful Witness initiative to share the good news in Nigeria.

One of my SIM colleagues working with churches in Manchester recently spent a week amongst the Arab-speaking communities. During one conversation, he was stopped in his tracks by one man who asked, ‘Are you trying to evangelise us?’

‘I’d like you to know about the Jesus of the Bible,’ he replied.

The man’s next words were direct and to the point: ‘Well, you don’t have to do that – we’re united and together as a community and that’s a dangerous thing for you to do here.’

That was just one response amongst many. We all know friends and neighbours – from all kinds of faith backgrounds – who are open to discussing the person and teachings of Jesus, but it’s hard to know how to respond to open opposition and hostility to Christianity.

Our Mapping Intercultural Mission research into how churches and ministries engage interculturally in communities in both Leeds and Manchester, confirms that some churches struggle to know how to engage with their multicultural and diverse neighbours in 21st Century Britain.

Participants in Manchester were asked what they felt were some of the greatest obstacles to mission where they were. People believed a ‘lack of confidence and understanding’ was one of the biggest barriers to engaging communities without Christ.

This isn’t a new topic for the church to grapple with. In Acts 10, God’s revelation to Peter and Cornelius sent ripples through the early church.

Only when he witnessed non-Jews hearing and receiving the good news of Jesus, did Peter say, ‘Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.’ Acts 10: 34-35

Yet even afterwards, it took time to recalibrate Peter’s practice and in Galatia, it took Paul to confront the gap between Peter’s conviction and treatment of others.

Peter’s fear of those in the cultural majority, combined with their sense of supremacy and pride, had left him out of step with the gospel.

Obeying everything Christ taught amongst our communities, not only fulfils the Great Commission in us, but also results in diverse churches, giving and receiving discipleship from each other.

This requires churches to move beyond fear and anxiety to trust Jesus Christ in humility and for us to keep in step with the gospel in how we relate to one another.

Otherwise, the combined effect of internal anxiety and an absence of knowledge will lead to a silent church that’s inactive in Christ’s mission.    

That’s why we’ve loved working with Crosslands Training to launch a foundations course in intercultural mission. It’s an introductory course for regular church members, designed to enable church communities to reach out in intercultural ministry in their local context to send and receive people cross-culturally.

As one church leader put it during a recent coaching session: ‘Intercultural churches are not a blueprint, they are an outcome of living out Jesus’ teaching.’

Exalting Christ above all other identities will reform and transform ourselves and our churches. Indeed, engaging all kinds of people in our communities means setting a course of self-sacrifice in the service of others.

We must never lose sight of God’s loving forgiveness of us. When we know the extent to which God has loved us in Christ then we have the essential ingredient for learning and testing how he wants us to treat those who are different to us even in face of hostility.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

It’s an exciting time to be alive in Britain today the diverse church has the opportunity to embrace Jesus’ call to people from every nation to follow him on the way of the cross.

Paul writing to the church in Corinth, says they are ‘called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours’. 1 Cor 1:2

Together, as the global body of Christ, the apostle calls us to follow his example of self-sacrifice in the interests of the rescue and restoration of others.   

By Steve Smith, SIM UK Director

  • Sign up for RESOURCED! each quarter here for tools and ideas to help your church grow in cross-cultural ministry.

A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime

– Billy Graham

Forty teenaged boys arrived with their coaches to camp in summer of 2006. However, there was one little boy that didn’t belong there that year…

David* was younger than the camp directors had recommended and smaller than a lot of the other boys. He was also from a village where there were no Christians and his coach had been praying for an opportunity to build relationships through his football teams.

By the end of the week, David committed his life to following Jesus and left camp to share the same message he’d heard from his coach with his village. More than 70 people accepted God’s gift of life and a church was planted.

Today, David has founded 22 sports ministry teams and continues to spread the good news of Jesus among the least-reached of Ethiopia the country where Sports Friends began in 2002.

SIM ministry Sports Friends shares a vision for local churches and church planters to use sports as a powerful tool to share his love with young people, their families and their communities, across Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

During Sports Friends’ camps, many young people encounter the love and good news of Jesus through crafts, dramas, games, and the relationships they build with camp staff and their coach who accompanies them.

“Our vision and hearts’ desire is to ultimately see many thousands of churches around the world using the platform of sports to touch millions of lives with the love of Jesus Christ,” says SIM UK’s Cat Tongkao, who leads the Sports Friends communications team.

*Pseudonym used

Please pray

  • Many young people would place their hope in the truth of the gospel and grow to become mature disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • For families to see how sports ministry has transformed the lives of their children and be open to hearing the good news for themselves.
  • For Sports Friends coaches serving around the world, as they strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around them.

“Among the several challenges confronting me as a mother in missions, the birth of our second child was the most remarkable,” says Jaara*. 

 “Giving birth away from home but in one’s country is challenging enough, but more challenging is giving birth in a foreign country, with weather, language, and cultural barriers,” she admits.

One of the villages where the couple serve as mission workers

In 2019, Jaara moved from Nigeria to West Africa with her husband Azi* and their young son, to join SIM’s Faithful Witness team, which launched that year.

Until they arrived, there was only one known Christian in the area, but the couple are passionate about reaching the lost with the gospel and have enjoyed many blessings, including being welcomed into two rural villages, where the locals are open to receiving workers willing to live among them and learn their language and culture.

However, giving birth while far away from home, proved one of the most challenging experiences of the couple’s new life overseas.

“There I was, in the labour room, unable to express my feelings and pain to the midwives because I couldn’t speak their language fluently,” recalls Jaara.

“I appreciated my husband’s efforts to translate, but it wasn’t enough. To the glory of God, our baby was delivered successfully, but then started the next phase of our struggles. 

“Our friends and missionary colleagues were very supportive and encouraging, but where I come from, a woman’s mother, mother-in-law, or an elderly woman stay with and care for baby and
mother for at least three months. Here, this isn’t the case.

“When James 1 says we should consider it pure joy when we face trials because the testing of our faith develops perseverance, it speaks to me because now I can say I’m more mature as both a mother and a servant of God,” she adds.

And despite her fear and inexperience, Jaara has ‘no regrets’ serving the Lord as a cross-cultural mission worker and says it’s ‘a privilege’ to nurse her baby daughter and to groom her children in God’s way and letting people around see that.

“I remember a mission worker telling me she’d love to show my baby to the locals during their weekly health meetings as an example of how a healthy baby should look, which is so uplifting!

“I hope my story encourages anyone transitioning through difficult times, that God is with us and works things out for our own good.”

*Pseudnoyms used

By Kerry Allan

There are opportunities to join the West Africa Faithful Witness team in medicine, community health, teaching, adult literacy, rural development, engineering, sports, media, church planting, and anti-human trafficking.  To find out more, please contact [email protected] to talk to our team.

Please pray

  • Give thanks that God is at work through the lives of SIM’s faithful witnesses throughout the world.
  • Give thanks there are more new workers hoping to join the Faithful Witness team in West Africa.
  • For movement of the Holy Spirit in areas where Christ is least known.

“The moment we put the first pair of lenses in front of her eyes, the elderly lady jumped up from her seat and exclaimed, ‘Yipee! I can see! I can see!’ The doctor and I looked at each other and smiled and together clapped in celebration with her. Then as she sat down, she started to weep. All she’d needed was a five-minute examination and a simple pair of glasses and suddenly for the first time in her life, she could see…”

Mark and Helen

Accompanying a team of eye doctors on their first medical mission in southern Ecuador, SIM UK workers Mark and Helen Azzopardi say the woman was one of many who shed tears of joy when putting on new glasses for the first time and finding she could read.

The couple say they have amazing memories from their time accompanying a group of ophthalmologists, from a church in Texas and US-based ministry ‘God’s Eyes’, providing medical care to five different rural areas in the Loja province.

Altogether, nearly 1,000 people got the chance to see an eye doctor and receive free prescription glasses.

“There’s something really special about being able to help people in a really practical way, caring for their physical needs and getting to see some instant results,” recall Mark and Helen, who translated between doctor and patient.

The medical brigade

“But it’s amazing to remember that for all the worth there was in seeing all those people jump in joy for the new physical sight they received, God used this opportunity to open them up to seeing the deeper, spiritual need they have to know Jesus.”

The couple joined the SIM team in Loja in 2020 to work with local Christians planting and strengthening rural churches in south Ecuador. They also teach in the missionary kids’ school and work with the El Sendero (The Way) youth ministry to reach 15- and 25-year-olds with the gospel in creative ways.

The team assemble the glasses

The couple, sent by Carrubbers Christian Centre, Edinburgh, were able to close the missionary kids’ school for the week in March and take the teenagers with them to get involved in the ‘God’s Eyes’ ministry, which provides free glasses to the world’s poorest people in developing countries

“The teenagers did a super job working as translators or constructing prescription glasses,” they add.

And as well as giving people the gift of sight, every visitor to the eye clinic was offered the opportunity to pray with members of the team.

The prayer areas

“To our delight, almost everyone accepted and during this time of prayer, we were able to share the good news of Jesus with them,” add Mark and Helen.

“It’s hard to communicate how amazing this is, as these areas of rural Loja have historically been very cold to the gospel,” they explain.

“There are a few established churches in Catamayo, the largest of these towns, and the others only have a couple of believers. Each area was specifically chosen where there are SIM church-planting teams, or where SIM is supporting local church planters.

“During the week, we saw the Holy Spirit working in people’s hearts in new and amazing ways! Between 60-80 contacts in each area said they wanted a mission worker to visit and continue reading the Bible with them because they’re eager to learn more about Jesus.

“The challenging part is, that for each of these areas, there’s only one missionary family and 60-80 contacts is an extremely heavy load.

“So, while we celebrate the fruit of this short-term mission, we’re praying God will mobilise more workers to the harvest as we become convinced at long last, he has prepared fertile ground here for the seed to grow and flourish in the years ahead.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For those who were able to receive tangible demonstrations of God’s love through the eye clinics.
  • For many eyes to be open for the glory of God.
  • For more workers to go and help the gospel grow in these five rural areas in southern Ecuador.

SIM UK wants to be a mission agency that is responsive to our times, committed to biblical truth and a servant to the church.

Over the next five years, we have chosen some areas to invest in as we continue with our vision to work hand in hand with evangelical churches to send and receive gospel workers, who are equipped for cross-cultural mission, and to make disciples wherever people live and die without hearing God’s good news. 

As part of our Strategic Review during 2020-2021, we listened to lead voices from within the changing UK and global evangelical church scene, consulted church pastors, youth workers, prayer group leaders, our alumni and retirees and our existing body of mission workers and staff members from across the country, in order to explore SIM UK’s role in mobilising people into mission in the years to come.

We now plan to invest in developing relationships across the diversity of the evangelical church, as well as with each generation. 

“We want the learning from these relationships to inform how we develop in the future and consider how to use new technology to be more effective in mission,” says Deborah Agnes, SIM UK’s Operations Director.

Deborah Agnes, SIM UK’s Operations Director

“Despite the restrictions of Covid-19, the pandemic seems to have been a catalyst for many to re-evaluate the things that really matter. In this unexpected way, we’ve seen continued growth in people enquiring with us,” she adds.

“It’s been a huge joy to receive workers from overseas into UK church placements, despite the restrictions of the pandemic. They are helping churches reach out across cultural boundaries to communities with gospel needs within the UK.

“Many churches are also seeking help with becoming communities that demonstrate our new humanity in Christ and are strengthened through diversity.  As well as immediate gospel impact, these activities have the potential to mature each church member and grow future cross-cultural gospel-workers, whom we would love to have serve through SIM UK!”

Mark Heasman, who stood down as co-chair of the SIM UK Trustees in January 2022, says: “We are being proactive, on the front foot, and anticipating what God is doing because we’re committed to raising up the next generation and giving them the microphone.

“The new vision goals show we are still relevant and committed to bolstering SIM UK for the future.”

Twenty years ago, Samuel* was teaching in a church school in Benin, where nearly half the population are under 15.

Megan Patterson

“It’s what many of our young people do until they can get a proper job,” a pastor explained to SIM worker Megan Patterson, who at the time was serving in Benin at the time and is now SIM’s point person for education.

“Watching Samuel at work, he clearly had ability and seemed to enjoy being with the children,” recalls Megan, who invited Samuel to attend a series of training seminars.

For four consecutive summers, Samuel gave up two weeks in which he might have been working his fields, to study with other teachers.

“Some worked in government schools, but most were like Samuel, teaching in church schools dotted all over the area,” explains Megan, who is sent and supported by Livingston Free Church, Scotland.

“The seminars included an overview of the Bible story and encouragement to think through everything that happens in a classroom through the lens of the Bible,” she adds.

The training helped Samuel succeed in his professional exams and he is now a headmaster in a government school, where he is putting into practice all he learnt.

Samuel (*Pseudonym used)

The school (above) is in a remote area, where school attendance is poor, but as Megan explains: “Samuel knows that growing food is important and he includes that and many other practical helps in the curriculum, showing by example the value of hard work.

“He is devoted to his pupils and their families.”

Asked how the seminars helped him, Samuel says: “Were it not for the training, I would have left teaching, but Jesus has made me one of his ambassadors.

“I learnt that sin has spoilt the whole world, making all teaching and learning difficult. However, the training taught me to love my pupils and helped me to understand myself better and to know that I and my pupils are made in God’s image.”

By Kerry Allan

If you would like to learn more about being an ambassador for Jesus in your school (even if you are not allowed to mention his name) have a look at this series of videos about what it is to be a Christian teacher and contact Megan ([email protected]) to find out more about teaching opportunities with SIM.

Please pray

  • Give thanks that Christ-centred education is a powerful force for the transformation of individuals and communities.
  • Praise God that Samuel is making a real and lasting impact in the hearts and lives of his pupils.
  • For Megan’s ministry to continue inspiring and equipping Christian teachers.

AN Egyptian mission worker told me of a recent encounter he’d had with a migrant from North Africa in Italy. Although he’d been in Italy for some time and knew local believers, the man hadn’t heard the gospel until the mission worker spoke with him.

The man wasn’t hostile, he was just confused and wondered ‘Where were the voices of other Christians and churches?’

It’s a beautiful and awesome privilege to bear the message of the crucified and risen Christ. When Jesus commissioned his disciples to go among all nations and preach the good news, the church became God’s instrument for gospel spread, which bore fruit and grew all over the world.

Speaking God’s word faithfully spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Christ and the true weight of God’s nature and work.

To the believer, Christ’s cross results in resurrection life, but in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wants the early church to understand that the word of the gospel isn’t always pleasant and depends on who’s listening.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16

In gospel growth we must take the rough with the smooth. 

Reflecting on hearing the gospel from an Arabic-speaker in Italy, the North African migrant observed that many Europeans had ‘no courage to share their faith.’

Have we become complacent in our preaching? Do we still dare to share the gospel broadly, recognising that it will bring hostility and challenges, along with the joy of seeing new believers trust in the Lord?

It is in Acts that we see the first bold step of Jewish Christians communicating their faith not only with fellow Jews, but with the non-Jewish Greeks in their community. Among diverse cultural backgrounds, the Holy Spirit was creating a multi-ethnic church to the glory of Christ.

In our age of migration and as more of us recognise the diversity of our communities, we’re called to reflect the likeness of Christ and serve, as churches, as God’s instrument for the spread of his word.

This discipleship in ethnically diverse communities requires a new-humanity identity within churches. In Ephesians 4, Paul urges his readers to exalt Christ and maintain the unity of the Spirit above all other competing identities.

Steve Smith was appointed UK Director in 2014

Where we may be tempted to shy away from speaking truth, we must remember that Christ himself endured hostility. Following in his steps, we too will experience painful or awkward challenges, alongside the delight of being an aroma of life to life.

On the streets of Glasgow

Take a walk around the streets of Glasgow and you’ll come across a smiling couple sat in front of a table full of Christian books and tracts and sometimes tea and coffee that’s set up twice a week at strategic locations in the city.

The street bookstall is one of the many ministries Lawrence and his wife Elizabeth are involved in since arriving in Scotland in the summer of 2021 as part of SIM’s ENGAGE programme.

SIM UK’s ENGAGE ministry recruits and places gospel workers from around the world in local UK churches that want to share the gospel with their multicultural communities.

Lawrence, originally from Sierra Leone, served in The Gambia for 24 years and has taken away from his role as a pastor to help Harper Church grow its cross-cultural gospel ministry – the first time the church has welcomed a mission worker in its 124-year history!

The church, which eagerly awaited Lawrence’s arrival, has a congregation made up of more than 25 nationalities, including many believers from African countries.

The family are greeted at the airport by members of Harper Church

With more than 20 years’ experience in evangelism and discipleship, Lawrence has begun a Harper Africa Church fellowship, which uses African form and language for worship.

He also runs other activities, all with the overall objective of ensuring the Africans in the church are firmly rooted in their faith and connected with the wider Harper family.

Pastor Alan McKnight says: “Lawrence is a gifted strategic leader and as the church is also a  few hundred metres from an immigration receiving centre, it’s a great opportunity for us to engage with people from all over the world.”

Harper Church

Lawrence says: “Elizabeth and I are excited and passionate about our call to serve God in Harper Church, primarily because by his grace, we have the relevant skills and knowledge to enable us to serve as agents of change in transforming the lives of immigrants in Glasgow from West Africa and other parts of the world.

Serving without sinking!

“All my past ministry activities have deepened my discipleship strategies, which I’m confident will help me, in collaboration with the Harper Church leadership, to empower and raise disciples, who will further produce disciples.

“However, we know there’s still room for improvement and want to acquire new skills and knowledge that we could take back home to raise up more gospel workers to reach the West African diaspora in Europe.”

And that’s why Pastor Alan has been helping Lawrence (left) learn that in Scottish culture, men – even pastors and reverends – do the washing-up, which is something he never did in The Gambia!

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Praise God for the amazing ministry opportunities opened for Lawrence and Elizabeth at Harper Church.
  • Give thanks Lawrence is building relationships with the West Africa diaspora in Glasgow.
  • For more workers to join ENGAGE and work alongside UK churches in building bridges into their multicultural communities.

Long-term SIM UK couple Victor and Rachel Fredlund have launched a response to the tragedy of disasters that have hit Madagascar.

On the heels of a prolonged drought, Madagascar has now been accosted by three cyclones within the space of a month.

In total, the disasters have impacted 10,000 residents directly, and another 50,000 indirectly.

Of the most severe cyclone, Batsirai, local pastor Clarisse de Manerinerina in Mananjary, testified: “I am currently 71 years’ old, but I have never seen such a violent cyclone.”

Crops and forests have been ruined by both the wind during the storms and the subsequent flooding, bringing the threat of malnutrition to thousands of people.

Damage in Madagascar from the cyclones (Copyright 2022 doctor)

Working with Mission Evangelique Independante de Madagascar (MEIM) and Communauté Evangélique Indépendante de Madagascar (CEIM), our SIM team in the area is acting to distribute aid to, visit with, and pray for the survivors, as part of the project, called Madagascar Emergency Relief SIM (MERSI Mission for short).

SIM Madagascar director Victor Fredlund said: “We expect in this present disaster to assist about 10,000 people with food and seed, and to give evangelistic witness to many affected.

“People have been given temporary shelter, but in the coming month, food is going to be in high demand and resources scarce.”

Aside from food, basics, and agricultural assistance, MEIM will also work toward the needs of extra support for the vulnerable, repair of housing, and reconstruction of church buildings. SIM’s Timothy Centre has an existing emergency house building project, which will be involved in these efforts.

The 2,000 reported church members who’ve been impacted by the cyclones are being equipped to multiply the reach of relief to Mananjary.

Victor said, “Church members will be encouraged to bring non-church people to access assistance with them as an outreach to their neighbours.”

Donate to this relief fund, using project number #098298 and read how SIM is working to care for survivors of Cyclone Ana in Malawi.

By Tianna Haas and Victor Fredlund

Victor and Rachel have served in South Africa for 40 years in the areas of healthcare, church planting, community development, and child and youth work. They work in Mseleni Hospital and with the Africa Evangelical Church. In June 2021, Victor was appointed Interim Director for Botswana, Mauritius, and Madagascar.

Pray for

  • Protection for the people of Madagascar during the cyclone season.
  • Rural regions, where suffering and lack of access to temporary shelter and medical care are most pronounced.
  • Christians in Madagascar to share aid and the hope of Jesus with their communities.

Two years ago, the Judkins family left the rural French countryside to begin a new ministry near Paris, where Peter helps lead a local church and his wife Claire-Lise works as a midwife.

Sent by Christ Church Balham, the couple have a passion for sharing the gospel through their work and with the French people they meet in their daily lives.

For many years, the family were based in Madagascar, where both Peter and Claire-Lise served at the SIM-supported Good News Hospital in Mandritsara and Peter co-led the missionary team.

In 2018, they moved with their two daughters Naomi and Keziah, to the south-west of France to help a budding multicultural church in Castres.

“Few French churches are able to support their own pastors, especially small and newly-planted ones,” explains Peter, who helped the Castres church proclaim the gospel in an area with only three evangelical churches.

“There is a huge need for more gospel-driven churches to be planted in France and for existing churches to be revitalised,” he adds.

Evangelical Christians make up only 1.23% of the population in France – The Joshua Project

Claire-Lise, Naomi, Peter and Keziah Judkins

In 2020, the family began the latest leg of their ministry journey after moving to a town specifically built in conjunction with The Walt Disney Company, which wanted to create a town near the Disneyland Paris resort.

Peter is once again leading a relatively new church plant (started six years ago) and seeking to engage the local community and see the gospel grow.

Every week, he also volunteers to teach French to students from many different countries.

“Because of Disney, there is a large international population who live in the area and struggle to integrate due to language difficulties,” he explains.

Because of the rise of Covid cases, the Val d’Europe church streamed some of its Christmas events on YouTube.

“Our two English Christmas carol services were well attended, including some Disney staff who saw the Facebook event online,” says Peter.

And 2022 is set to be a busy year as Peter has already started a Christianity Explored course and is also launching a preachers’ club to train potential future leaders.

“We want to put an emphasis on building one another up for the gospel and will also be encouraging more one-to-one Bible reading and praying together as we seek to fulfil our motto for the year: To welcome as Christ welcomes us and to go as Christ sends us.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks Claire-Lise can share Christ’s love through her work as a community midwife.
  • For energy and time for Peter as he leads his groups, as well as daily church responsibilities.
  • That the gospel would bear fruit in the Val d’Europe.

Over many years, SIM has been intentionally building a relationship with a least-reached people group, who are traditionally nomadic herders and one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa.

According to a SIM worker, who led a team in the region, many are illiterate and prefer to live away from towns and cities, making them “amazingly resourceful and resilient” as they cope with some of the harshest conditions on the planet.

In 2008, SIM helped sponsor a regional conference to bring together believers, who voiced their concern over the lack of trained pastors to teach the Bible, mentor and encourage followers from these remote communities.

The FMTC Training Centre was started two years later to meet this crucial need and equip believers with skills to teach and mentor others in their own communities.

The training centre accepts committed believers who show the potential to learn and lead. Students attend the centre during the dry season over a three-year period and the goal is to help them read and teach God’s Word in their mother tongue (there’s currently no other Bible training facility to equip people in this country for ministry in their own language).

The curriculum is taught by local pastors and includes a strong practical aspect, incorporating Bible teaching, literacy, story-telling and memorisation.

Staff also visit the students to encourage, mentor and provide accountability. Graduates then have the opportunity to return for periodic six-week refresher courses.

Read the story of two brothers, who have greatly benefited from the teaching at the FMTC Training Centre...

Transformed By A Dream

Playing together as small children in the 1990s, brothers Adam and Noah* never imagined doing anything different to their ancestors.

They embraced their nomadic heritage, their self-sufficient herding lifestyle, and the freedom of movement it afforded them. Although they weren’t aware at the time, God had other plans for their lives…

Years later, one night as Adam lay sleeping, he had a vivid dream that someone told him to travel to the south-east, many kilometres from where he was grazing his herd. In the dream, he was instructed to visit an older man who would give him an important message.

Adam obeyed the dream and as he arrived in the camp, a local believer met him and shared the gospel with him. He was encouraged to attend the FMTC Training Centre to learn more about what it means to follow Jesus.

After two years there, he returned home and led eight of his family members to Christ. In 2019, he attended a refresher course where he learnt about Paul the Apostle’s uncompromising love for Jesus. This challenged him not to be distracted from following Jesus. Adam said he felt further strengthened to face suffering with courage.

As Adam grew in his faith, he watched on in despair as he saw his younger brother, Noah, spiralling deeper into a lifestyle of hopelessness.

Noah had left his family when he was around eight, to live with the wealthy family of his best friend. He was treated as a son in this family, receiving clothes and eating well at every meal. However, some of the money was illegally gained and Noah was being drawn into criminal activity. Meanwhile, Adam was praying for his brother and pleading with him to leave that life behind and stop living so dangerously.

One day, Adam urged his brother, saying, “Leave that life. Come and live with us again. You need to turn away and follow Jesus. Stop your involvement in what you know is wrong.”

Soon after this, Noah’s friend was shot and killed while being chased.

It was a wake-up call to Noah and he finally listened to his brother and left his lifestyle behind. Adam shared with Noah the impact FMTC had on his own life and encouraged his brother to consider attending too.

Following three years there, Noah went on to study at a more advanced Bible school in order to gain an even deeper understanding of the Word. He and his wife are now in their final year.

Today, Adam leads Sunday worship meetings in the shade of a tree with local believers. Around 100 people gather for the weekly teaching. The believers are praying for many of their own people at several other wells where there is a growing openness and interest in the gospel.

God is also using Noah for his purposes and given him a burden to take the gospel to people in a region where nobody has ever heard about Jesus.

*Pseudonyms used. Representative image © Andrew Strong. Originally published on SIM Australia’s website

Please pray

  • Praise God Adam listened to the Good News and believed the words that were spoken.
  • Praise God that Adam had the privilege of leading his brother to Jesus and for the brothers to continue growing in their faith.​​​​​
  • For the desert tribes in West Africa to come to know Jesus.

Mary works alongside Inspire Saint James, based in central London

Mary Haile, from Ethiopia, is serving through SIM’s ENGAGE programme, based at a church in central London, where she teaches English as a second language and runs life-skills courses for homeless and vulnerable adults, asylum seekers and families from the church. 

“In our English teaching ministry, we’ve been blessed with students from all over the world. Our students are mostly immigrants who have come to London for work or to seek refugee status.

English classes

“God has used the ministry in powerful ways as we run classes in the church building and include the gospel within the class content openly.

“During lockdown, we had to run the classes online and we expected lots of challenges, but instead, we were met with a new set of students from remote countries, eager to learn English and to hear Bible stories  

“One student from Korea, even regularly joined at 4am in her time, because she wanted to learn to pray in English.

“Seeing the students’ interest, I led a six-week series on John’s Gospel and to our astonishment, students from China, Myanmar, Russia and so on, joined consistently. They were delighted to get more than mere English classes – they heard the true gospel – and we had students sob through the session where we discussed the crucifixion.

“Inspiring things happened in the first term of our online class. One of the radical things we saw was the transformation of a lady we shall call Lily.

“Lily was a regular at our classes and for months and I had no idea that Lily was transgender. She participated actively and started joining our weekly Bible study besides the English classes. After a while, we learned about her situation and I thought it would be a very long time before we’d see Lily lead a different lifestyle. But when we invited people for Christmas time, she was the only one to come to church in person.

“It was then that she shared with us how she felt like God had been chasing after her for a long time, yet she couldn’t make the decision to go after him because she lacked community.

“She asked if she could see the church’s counsellor. After a few counselling sessions, she wrote and said, ‘Tell Mary that I would like to be called K as that is the name that God knows me by’ and asked that we were to refer to him as ‘he’ from here on.

“Without us ever saying what he needed to do to repent, he started to de-transition back to his birth gender and legally changed his name to what was before. When he started coming to the weekly bible study, we learned that K had been on the streets for 25 years and had endured lots of pain in his life.

“By God’s grace, K accepted the Lord Jesus as his Lord and saviour and repented fully. He has now moved away to a different part of London where he works in an organisation that helps homeless people.

“K’s story of restoration and reconciliation with God is such a witness of the Lord’s active work through his body. May Christ’s church continue to be a light that shines in the deepest darkness. God bless.”

This story is one of many on the topic of ‘Reverse Mission’ that appears in the latest edition of SIM’s AfriGO magazine.

If your church would like to be involved with our ENGAGE programme, please email Tim Barrow at [email protected] to find out more.

Please pray

  • Give thanks that Mary has committed to a second year of service and for the deepening relationships she has formed through her ministry.
  • Give thanks with Inspire that English classes have been well attended with a diverse range of people eager to read the Bible.
  • That the Lord will bring many more to him through this outreach.

I sometimes think of retirement and what it would feel like to make my morning coffee and stare at an empty day planner and be able to take that first deep breath, writes Tohru Inoue.

Maybe you’ve seen this in your grandfather or father, or someone who worked long hours doing tough work to provide for the family?

After a lifetime of hard work, the first deep breath you ever saw them take was in retirement. They’ve earned this break; it’s time for them to rest a bit and let the children do some of the heavy lifting.

An old Kenyan man named Elijah has been at missions work a long time.

He put his hand to the plough when he was about 20. Ever since then, he’s been travelling around his Maasai community telling people about Jesus.

He’s carried the gospel through a rough region, delivering the message like precious treasure; travelling long distances on foot through dangerous terrain and wildlife.

He’s faced food scarcity in this arid area and illnesses caused by the lack of clean water. He’s also occasionally been at odds with cultural practices and with the people who hold those values dear. But the seeds of the gospel took and 10 churches have been planted in his time.

Now aged 78 he’s not as strong as he once was. His eyesight fails him when he wants to read his Bible. Walking those terrible distances just isn’t possible any more and on Sunday mornings, he preaches from under the tree next to his Maasai home – a traditional manyatta hut.

When SIM mission worker Beatrice visited him (above) he’d just left the hospital where he was admitted. Someone donated a bed so he would be more comfortable at night. His old body has been telling him it was getting tired.

When I heard that, I thought, ‘Rest, old man. Let the younger ones take over.’

But Elijah’s not interested in stopping and has just donated an  acre of land for a church plant and another for a children’s resource centre.

Elijah disciples a young believer

For him, this work is clearly more than a job. He’s got it in his head to continue to do whatever he can to make sure everyone around him knows about Jesus. He wants to tell everyone he can that God lives right there with them in Maasai land.

Elijah has made me rethink how I view work and retirement. I wonder how it might change us if more of us saw mission less as ‘work’ and more as just sharing some good news?

God found this man and told him, “Follow me.” God told Elijah to tell the world what Christ had done for him and he has never looked back.

It’s more than just work. It’s good news that needs to be shared. Tell me, when will you retire from doing that?

Tohru Inoue is a SIM writer, based in East Africa

  • Please Contact us if you’re interested in telling people about Jesus and the mission opportunities with SIM UK.

Please pray

  • Give thanks for Elijah as makes known God’s love and truth in a least-reached community.
  • For more to join the work among the Maasai in Kenya.
  • That we to remember that our ‘work’ involves simply telling people what God has done for us.

For SIM UK member Ted Watts, there was one major item in his diary for the beginning of a new year: “Start PAACS”.

Ted is the senior surgeon at The Good News Hospital in Mandritsara, where this week, a new five-year training programme begins to train young African doctors and ensure the future of the hospital’s medical ministry.

All hospital staff are Christians and take the opportunity to pray and share the gospel with every patient. But with fewer than 100 surgeons serving the island’s 26 million inhabitants, the hospital has always relied on overseas missionary surgeons.

“I’m very excited to be starting this programme of training and discipleship for mission-minded Malagasy surgeons, but it’s also very daunting!” admits Ted, who has been serving in Mandritsara since 2017.

Ted in theatre with the hospital’s two surgical trainees Drs Tefy and Rado

The programme is run in partnership with PAACS the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons and will give Malagasy junior doctors a qualification equivalent to a surgical qualification from the UK.

Ted and Rachel Watts live and work in Madagascar with their two young sons

“However, alongside teaching the junior doctors the knowledge and skills they need, we can also model and teach them to be surgeons who are compassionate towards those they treat,” explains Ted, who is sent by Beeston Free Evangelical Church together with his wife, Rachel, who works as a paediatrician within the small medical team.

“We want our graduates to be those who love Jesus and love to tell others about him surgeons who take every opportunity that health care provides to share the good news.”

Over five years, the PAACS trainees will do much of their training at the hospital’s new theatre complex, which officially opened on January 14.

“The hospital needs to expand how many operations it does as we anticipate the number of patients will continue to rise,” explains Ted.

The new complex was a long time in the making and includes three major operating theatres and a minor operating theatre; four consultation rooms and a new recovery and intensive care unit.

“It’s quite overwhelming to see what the Lord has done since 2020 when the process began and we had raised less than 25% of the funds needed for the building.

“The inauguration was an incredible day and so encouraging as it went as smoothly as we could ever have dreamed of,” says Ted.

The speeches and inauguration of PAACS

“The regional governor was visibly moved by the fact this facility has been built and asked us to build four similar hospitals in the region! We are so grateful to God for his faithfulness and that it was a day of praise and celebration, as we worship our Lord for his provision and give him the glory,” he adds.

To find out more, or if you are interested in joining this mission-centred medical ministry, please contact Ted Watts at [email protected]. For financial gifts supporting this new training programme, please visit the Friends of Mandritsara Trust website here.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For a solid spiritual foundation to the PAACS training programme to be established from the start.
  • Give thanks that the new surgical building was completed and the project is fully funded.
  • Praise God the hospital received 500 virals of a vital anaesthetic drug, amid a nationwide shortage.

IN these two years when the world has been reeling from waves of a pandemic, one of the most profound human experiences to be disrupted is our experience of community. 

Instead of colleagues down the corridor, we meet them on our screens. Instead of dinners with neighbours and friends, we talk three metres apart outdoors. Instead of going to church on Sundays, we plug in our devices or radios and listen to the preaching.

Community is vital to human flourishing. It is also one of SIM’s core values. While the conditions of the past two years may be historically unprecedented, disruptions to community life are not new. One such upheaval set the stage for the Christmas story we celebrate this weekend.

Mary and Joseph’s normal community was stripped away from them, not by a virus, but by the census decree of a foreign occupier who wanted to fill the Roman coffers with tax money.

Before Jesus was even born, he took his first of many journeys on this earth. Why would a God who designed humans to need community strip it away from this vulnerable young family at their moment of need?

Looking at the nativity scenes in my home two millennia later, I may begin to see a reason: Perhaps God wanted to replace their familiar community with a God-appointed one?

Our crèches do not display Mary, Joseph, Jesus and a flock of doting aunts, uncles, cousins, smiling grandparents, and neighbours bringing food. No, they include the improbable presence of local shepherds and foreign magi. The diverse fellowship gathered around the infant King was there because they responded to personal invitations from God – angels to beckon the shepherds and a star to summon the magi.

This year, we reviewed our Core Values, including “community”. Despite how fragile or unfeasible the practice of community may seem in times like this, we remain resolutely committed to it.

Obeying our mission calling already brings displacement, and Covid lays new displacements on top of this. Yet, let us reaffirm our belief in the value of community, in the possibility of community, and in a definition of community that, while not necessarily ‘normal’, is even better; it is divinely appointed.

There will be times when any one of our Core Values becomes almost impossible to live out. That is when we need them the most. This Christmas season, may each of you be blessed with renewed hope in the possibility of community and joy in the experience of it.

Merry Christmas,
Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Please pray

  • Thank the Lord with us for the many things he has done in 2021 and pray he will continue to move amongst the least-reached in new and surprising ways.
  • Pray for boldness, perseverance, creativity and compassion for our gospel workers around the world and ask the Lord for a great harvest in 2022.
  • That we will all look forward to the New Year with hope and trust in Christ.

Two years ago, SIM Associate Barbara Boynes stepped out in faith to serve refugees when she volunteered at Europe’s largest refugee camp in Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Many refugees on their way west, get “stuck” in Greece and the retired nurse became passionate about their plight after watching the harrowing events unfolding on the television news.

“I volunteered to help refugees in the UK and wrote lots of letters, but knew I needed to do more and get out of my chair and do something,” she recalls, “and so I asked God: ‘I know I have to go, but tell me where to?’”

Barbara prayed with a friend for answers and the following day, she read an article about an older couple serving with the HowWillTheyHear campaign, which was launched by SIM UK in 2015 to reach refugees throughout Europe.

“It was a miracle because nearly 40 years ago, I’d felt God telling me to go to Asia, but said no because I had young children,” she says.

“After reading the article, I joined SIM UK and they gave me four choices in Greece of where I could serve refugees and I picked Lesbos, which is close to Turkey and part of Asia Minor, so it seemed like I was fulfilling God’s calling from all those years ago!

“The moment I set foot in the refugee camp at Moria, I knew I was in the right place.”

For six weeks at the end of 2019, Barbara, then 68, worked as a volunteer with our friends at Eurorelief, showing compassion in practical ways, five days a week.

She recalls: “When I arrived, there were 15,000 people in a camp designed for 3,000. I expected it to be all gloom and doom, because all the refugees had been through great trauma and some had lost hope, but they were all smiles. I was amazed by their resilience.

“I was also inspired by the young volunteers I worked with and found joy in my relationships with them, as well as the refugees.

“I helped with the running of the camp and settling in the new arrivals – who were mostly from Afghanistan – and monitoring who was in each tent. I saw terrible things, but the joy came from conversations with the refugees as I tried to listen, show kindness and share the gospel where appropriate.

“I feel God used my age and experience as being older certainly helps because there is lots of respect for age in the Greek and Middle East cultures. As soon as I came back to the UK, I packed my suitcase, knowing I’d return.”

Barbara, who is supported by Vineyard Church, Ipswich, is now planning to reprise her volunteering role in the new year and serve at the new temporary camp on Lesbos in Mavrovouni, which was created after Moria was destroyed by fire in September 2020.

“I couldn’t have done this when I was younger,” she admits, “but my heart has always been for refugee ministry and it will always be so.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • God will keep refugees safe from disease, violence, hunger and other dangers this winter.
  • For his protection and blessing as Barbara returns to Greece in March 2022.
  • For governments to recognise the plight of asylum-seekers with compassion as they welcome them and treat them justly.

Two years ago, the Judkins family left the rural French countryside to begin a new ministry near Paris, where Peter helps lead a local church and his wife Claire-Lise works as a midwife.

Sent by Christ Church Balham, the couple have a passion for sharing the gospel through their work and with people they meet in their daily lives.

For many years, the family were based in Madagascar, where both Peter and Claire-Lise served at the SIM-supported Good News Hospital in Mandritsara and Peter co-led the missionary team.

In 2018, they moved with their two daughters Naomi and Keziah, to the south-west of France to help a budding multicultural church in Castres.

Claire-Lise, Peter, Naomi and Keziah Judkins

“Few French churches are able to support their own pastors, especially small and newly-planted ones,” explains Peter, who helped the Castres church proclaim the gospel in an area where there are only three evangelical churches. “There is a huge need for more gospel-driven churches to be planted in France and for existing churches to be revitalised.”

Evangelical Christians make up only 1.08% of the population in France

Two years later, the family moved to a town specifically built by The Walt Disney Company near its Disneyland Paris resort. Peter is once again leading a relatively new church plant (started six years ago) and seeking to engage the local community and see the gospel grow.

One of Peter’s weekly highlights is volunteering at a council-run project (left) that has various workshops throughout the week, from help with homework and parenting, to French classes for internationals.

“Because of Disney, there is a large international population who live in the area and struggle to integrate due to language difficulties,” he explains.

“It’s encouraging to be part of the wider project and think through how different members of the church could be involved in the various activities offered by the council to support those who might be struggling,” he adds.

Last year, Keziah and mum Claire-Lise hosted a Christmas bake-a-long on Zoom

And despite the challenges of Covid over the past 18 months, the Val d’Europe church is now back in full swing and looking forward to holding its Christmas events that last year had to be held via Zoom.

Plans include:

  • An English-speaking carol service for the anglophones and anglophiles of the area.
  • Potentially leading a Christmas service in the local prison.
  • A Christmas party for the youth group, followed by a Christianity Explored course in the New Year.

The church will hold a short Christmas Eve church service (as the French celebrate Christmas on the 24th) and then the Judkins will host Christmas Day at home with people from the church who don’t have family to go to.

“We enjoy the best of both worlds when it comes to celebrating Christmas,” says Peter. “On Christmas Eve, we celebrate the Réveillon with a short service, then go home to nice food and drink, games, singing carols, and spending time with friends.

“Then on Christmas Day, we celebrate the British way introducing a traditional Christmas roast (with crackers!) to our French friends it’s a great way to celebrate our Saviour’s birth together!”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For ongoing relationships and for increased understanding of the community that the Judkins seek to serve.
  • Give thanks Claire-Lise can share Christ’s love through her work as a community midwife.
  • That many French people will discover Jesus – the Light of the World – this Christmas.

Despite having to cope with the effects of Covid during their two years of studying in the UK, Donald and Becky Kamese are excited to take what they’ve learned back to Mexico.

The couple, who are sent by Christ Church at All Saints, Wandsworth, moved to South America in 2014 and two years later, founded Vida Impact Missions, which helps plant Christ-centred churches in a part of Central Mexico where many are hostile to the gospel and fewer than one in 100 know Jesus.

 “We learned there is an area called the Circle of Silence with the largest concentration of unreached people in Spanish-speaking Latin America,” says Donald. “Our goal is to see this area transformed through the gospel and bring a positive change in its underprivileged communities.”

After two years of planning, Donald and the team are set to open a Bible training centre Predica Vida (Preach Life) in January 2022, which will equip local leaders who want to spread the gospel in the Circle of Silence and beyond.

The Circle of Silence is a mostly mountainous area of about 99,460 square miles in Central Mexico, where more than 23 million people live in rural towns and villages with almost no gospel witness – the highest concentration of unreached people in Spanish-speaking Latin America. Locals tend to amalgamate animistic practices with the rituals of Roman Catholicism and fewer than one in 100 people knows Jesus.

“Only one in ten church ministers in Mexico have any Bible training, so our focus is on training them to faithfully teach the Scriptures and mentoring them as they go out and take the gospel to the unreached areas,” says Donald.

The Kameses

In 2019, the couple, left Mexico with their two young sons for the UK to start in-depth training at Cornhill Bible College.

“The past two years have been challenging and took us out of our comfort zone,” admits Donald, “but it has also grown our love for the Lord and his word in so many ways. We’ve seen God go before us, preparing the way and providing lots of people to help us.

“We’re so thankful for the opportunity to study and that we kept going, even when Covid meant everything had to go online. We’re also very excited to return to Mexico and live in a house with a garden where the boys can run around and play!”

However, Donald is most excited that God answered prayers to provide a facility for the training centre: “We’ve been given the free use of a large ‘rancho’ with dormitories and facilities already built, where we can open a residential centre.”

From tequila to truth

About 10 years ago, God transformed the life of a Mexican Tequila factory owner called C.

“Upon becoming a Christian, C renounced all activity associated with his past life. He paid off his business associates; closed the tequila factory; and began to focus on a more ethical business,” says Donald.

“We met C six years ago through a missionary friend who suggested we might be able to use the old ranch for gospel-related activities. Since then, Vida has used the ranch several times for retreats, respite, and Bible conferences. In early 2019, we shared our vision with C and he joined the team to help plan and advise the best way to take care of the business side of operating the ranch.

“He agreed to cover initial costs for the first five years, during which time, we will work to make the ranch self-sustaining. The ranch has the capacity for up to 100 and the students will probably come from the theological college and mission school we’re in contact with and we’ll also promote the programme in conferences and when we’re invited to speak in churches.”

“Although we should have plenty of candidates, our focus will be to train the few, who in turn, will be able to train many more and help turn the Circle of Silence into a Circle of Proclamation of the transforming power of Jesus Christ.”

By Kerry Allan

Second couple bound for Mexico

David and Maribel Easton

David and Maribel Easton, sent by Thornton Heath Evangelical Church, Croydon, are due to join the Kameses later next year to support the work of Predica Vida.

David explains “Since 2013, after several visits to Mexico, the Lord planted a seed of burden for Mexico heavy on our hearts.

“The burden consisted of seeing the lack of faithful Bible teaching; the need of reaching the lost with the gospel, and the warning against false teachers who have infiltrated the churches. 

“In 2020, I met Donald at Cornhill and discovered he had the same vision and burden as Maribel and I have.

“After much prayer and discussion, we decided it’s right for us to go to Mexico and to start ministering in the Circle of Silence, where there is a great need for people to hear the gospel. Donald recommended SIM UK, which loves the word of God, and God willing, we’ll be joining the team in October 2022.”

Please pray

  • For faithful biblical training of Mexican leaders.
  • For the family to settle well on their return to Mexico.
  • That God would continue to mobilise his people to serve in the Circle of Silence.

There were many surprises when Mary gave birth to Jesus, including a bunch of shepherds who visited without an appointment. That first Christmas was full of unmet expectations, twists to the script, and surprises that couldn’t have been humanly foreseen.

As I recall the many Christmases I’ve experienced over the years of living in various Bible lands, I remember the joy of celebrating in simple ways with much laughter, many unmet expectations and several surprises.

I remember walking down my street with my housemate giving chocolates to all the neighbourhood children and telling them it’s Christmas and our feast day.

For them, it was a normal school day and they wouldn’t have known it was Christmas — nor what Christmas is — but they were happy to be given chocolates. We welcomed and encouraged them to come and visit us later that day.

Another time, my housemate and I went to the local church expecting to then visit many people in their homes. This was a tradition for any feast day and Christmas was no exception.

We assumed that in usual style, we’d land up being fed lunch somewhere too. However, this time no one was going to be home to visit and no one invited us. We later sat at our kitchen table discouraged and deflated eating peanut butter sandwiches for our Christmas lunch (although we were thankful for peanut butter as that was a relative treat in those days!)

Learning from past experiences, next Christmas, my housemate and I decided we’d invite our neighbours to visit us and share the Christmas story and its meaning, by using a clip from the Jesus film in their language.

We couldn’t invite all the neighbours at the same time, so in true western organised time-orientated fashion, we invited one group at 3pm, another at 5pm, and then more at 7pm. We prepared lots of treats and activity sheets for the kids and a few games, plus the all-important video clip.

We cleaned the house and were ready…. would anyone come?

Gradually, a few kids arrived, followed by their mothers and we served drinks and sweets according to their customs.

Then more came and people squished up on the floor mattresses and then more — oh no, we’d run out of glasses and were these people on the sweets round or the cookies round?

Suddenly, people we’d invited for later, all appeared because they saw the others and thought now was the time! In a people-orientated society, what difference was it that you came at 4 instead of 7 when everyone else was arriving?

I remember the panic rising as we tried to manage everything and the room filled to overflowing. We tried remembering who the first visitors were and so gave them fruit — a cultural sign to say the visit is soon over.

But no one decided to follow this unspoken rule and still more came and squashed in and joined the laughter and ignored the video clip playing. Then I remembered we needed to pair the shoes (that were all kicked off at the door) ready for the guests when they left. About 60 pairs later, the deed was done, until some more came…

Our nicely-controlled, streamlined three-sittings of guests had collapsed, but no one seemed to mind the chaos, nor the shoddy hospitality, nor sharing of glasses. It was a truly communal celebration that left us exhausted, laughing and promising next year to do things differently!

Another time, we hosted an alternative nativity play for various international workers.

We each had to come dressed as someone or something from the nativity story and we spontaneously acted out the story as we read Scripture.

Our group included two pregnant ladies (so one was Mary and the other Elizabeth); Caesar Augustus; a duet donkey; someone dressed as the manger and a real baby Jesus dressed as Santa! So much fun as we remembered our Saviour’s birth.

It was in this Bible land that I first learnt the gift giving game whereby everyone brings one gift and people take it in turns to choose a gift or to steal one that’s already been taken and unwrapped.

I’ve never before seen such determination, scheming and near violence to stealing chocolate. Of all the gifts available, the various supplies of quality chocolate were by far the most popular! Maybe because quality chocolate was hard to come by in those days.

I also remember sitting on the floor with a couple of special friends reading Scripture and praying together and thanking God for his gift to us. We enjoyed hours of watching a colour-changing candle and enjoying a simple feast that we’d made. No fancy razzmatazz to this celebration, but oh so meaningful.

Or another year, visiting another international family and being served Christmas pudding and mince pies, courtesy of a parcel that had been sent by their home church. The British guy was so happy, but I don’t think the non-Brits really appreciated the pud!

The memories could go on of ways I’ve enjoyed celebrating our Saviour’s birthday and while there have been twists to the script of my celebrating Christmas, there’ve been many opportunities to share God’s gift of Jesus to those around me.

So as Christmas draws near, I pray many people will discover the good news of Jesus as we all enjoy celebrating his birthday.

Kate is currently serving with SIM in the Middle East

Please pray

  • That Kate will continue to be a beacon for Jesus as she builds relationships and shares the good news in regions where there are few believers.
  • Give thanks that Christmas is the perfect opportunity to share the gospel.
  • That the Bible lands will be transformed as lives are changed by the love of Christ.

When mission workers prepare to relocate and share the gospel around the world, they often begin by studying a new language. After all, it’s difficult to talk about Jesus without first learning how to…talk. But sometimes this language learning phase can seem like a detour and they wonder how long it will be until the ‘real’ work starts.

Candace* is a language coach serving SIM’s Faithful Witness workers and has spent almost 20 years equipping mission workers for their assignments. During this time, she’s realised that language learning is more than a series of stepping stones on the road to ministry; language learning is ministry.

“Culture and language aren’t separate things, they’re enmeshed together,” she says. “The stronger someone is at understanding the people they’re trying to love and serve, the better.”

For Faithful Witness teams, becoming well-versed in culture is pivotal as they live out the gospel in communities with virtually no Christian witness.

In this way, language learning is a beautiful reflection of Christ’s dwelling here with us; he humbled himself and became human to know us personally. Language students get to surrender the familiar and wear their own mantle of humility so they can appreciate the image of God in his children.

Candace discovered her own affinity for language as a little girl while poring over a family encyclopedia. By her teens, she’d used the book to teach herself Italian, German, and Spanish. Today, she speaks more than 12 languages and has a passion for helping mission workers thrive in their homes away from home.

Emotional support is a critical part of her virtual and in-person coaching sessions, because, as she explains: “Sometimes, people feel hopeless.

“Language-learning is not just an academic challenge, but really hits at the core of identity, personality, and a person’s sense of efficacy.”

Fluency is a spectrum, and every learner’s pace is different. Candace assists mission workers who experience added difficulty because, she says: “They have some form of neuro-divergence. They overcome those difficulties with great courage, perseverance and resourcefulness.”

Then there are people who feel so out of their element with language learning that they panic and self-diagnose themselves with things like audio-processing disorders without confirming with a professional.

“I’ll have them describe their symptoms, and what they’ve got is the disorientation of not being able to speak a language,” she explains.

It’s a fact that language learning can heighten stress and anxiety, which Candace has encountered first-hand: “Mission workers have losses. Leaving home, trouble with kids, frustrations with colleagues. They’re under a lot of strain.

“I’ve learned not to coach for the gratitude of other workers or for their friendship, but for unsaved people. I’m getting the workers ready for them and I find that emotionally a lot easier.”

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I Corinthians 13

Candace makes it a point to remind mission workers of the ‘why’ behind language learning. As she says: “There are all these technical aspects of language, but if you speak in the tongues of men or angels and don’t have love, then you’ll be like a clanging gong.”

Language proficiency is important, but a humble heart is essential. “There are lots of stories of people whose language wasn’t great, but everyone knew them because they just loved the local people so well and that spoke volumes,” says Candace .

“I think God has his own mark of success. Language aptitude isn’t the main criteria for picking mission workers, and it’s not God’s criteria. But you still want people to be the best they can be and for the message to be clear.

“People’s longevity in the field is really affected by whether mission workers can speak the language.”

To assist with the transition, a mission worker is paired with a language helper when they arrive in their new community. Often, language helpers are locals from the area who don’t know Christ. They quickly become invested in the lives of mission workers and their families.

“When helpers first start language sessions, they’re terrified of what’s expected of them,” says Candace. “They haven’t been to school and they’re not teachers, but when they realise that the knowledge they’ve already got in their heads is all they need, it’s actually empowering for them …This has a transformative effect on the mission worker as well.”

Many of the students and language helpers Candace trains are based in west Africa. In recent years, Candace and her husband have visited various villages to offer more support and assess the learning challenges.

“Travelling around living with people and coaching, setting them up with a helper – it’s all a way of letting mission workers know that someone cares about them.”

Recently, Candace’s coached Sara and Grace*, who serve on the Faithful Witness team in west Africa. They’ve diligently studied French and are now practising Arabic.

Grace’s language helper is a Muslim teen who introduces her to other women in the village. Grace says: “For now, I don’t have enough language skill to talk about faith because I don’t want to mislead them with my wrong words. But we talk about love and where we are going after we die. When they see that I’m trying to learn and speak the little that I know, they are very excited and try to teach me.”

Sara adds: “It’s a long process from the time we’re able to converse to when we share Christ. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I know the language now, so I’ll go preach the gospel.’ They’ll think I’m crazy and that something’s wrong with this foreigner if I don’t have a relationship with the women first.

“The gospel is why we’re here, but it’s not the first thing we do. People will receive it because of the relationships we form. If there’s no relationship, they probably won’t listen.

“When I’m learning, I maybe want to go home because I just don’t understand and it feels draining…then we get through it and I feel so good, so proud. It’s what I’ve been working so hard for.”

Candace acknowledges that mastering languages can seem daunting, yet she knows it’s possible when students have the right resources. Mission workers must try to make sense of the spoken word so they can witness the Word flourishing in least-reached areas. So, language learning is no delay; it ‘s crucial for discipleship.

*Names changed

By Amy Bareham Chapman

Please pray

  • For Candace as she provides educational and emotional support to mission workers.
  • Pray for those who see language learning as a barrier to missions. Ask God to give them courage to move forward in faith.
  • Pray for the Faithful Witness teams building relationships with least-reached people groups. Ask God to bring fruit from their discipleship.

With a population of 167 million, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated nations on earth. Almost 95% of the population is Muslim and the Christian community makes up 1%.

SIM’s Bangladesh Bible Correspondence School (BBCS) serves rural populations with little access to the gospel and a limited understanding of God’s word.

Through its distance learning school and various training programmes, the project has been reaching the lost for the past 63 years, by breaking down barriers between people groups as well as training and equipping local believers, such as Jerry, whose uplifting story you can read here:

I’m Jerry. My father is a pastor who affectionately named me Jerry and my brother Jim.

When I come to study in the city, a Muslim boy from my village also comes. He follows me and wants to offer love. I can’t agree to his proposal as a pastor’s daughter, but he tries a lot and he goes wherever I go.

Even after becoming a Muslim, he comes to church to see me. At one point, I became weak towards him and agreed to his proposal, but my family could not accept our marriage.

I suffer a lot. On the one hand, I lost my family and my father’s respect. On the other side, my husband loves me a lot. He is a very good man, but my parents and brother have not accepted me until today.

I wanted to give my husband the good news of Jesus, but he is very afraid, because if he is a Christian, he will lose his father’s property and be expelled from society.

With great difficulty I took a job in a Christian organisation. That’s why I have relationships with many Christian brothers and sisters, who sympathize with my condition, but some even said I should become a Muslim because my husband is a good man. And if I become a Muslim, my husband will be happy too and he will not lose his family property.

In the meantime, I was admitted to the Practical Training Programme organised by Bangladesh Bible Correspondence School.

By doing this training, I’m able to know what true Christianity is. Without Jesus, no one can go to heaven and I know how important it is to share the good news of Jesus with others. I also know the value of this salvation through Jesus Christ.

This training has changed my life. If I had not received this training, I might have made one more mistake: I might have become a Muslim by listening to those Christian friends, who don’t really know the true value of Christianity.

Thanks to the Bangladesh Bible Correspondence School, I have found new life and am now more motivated to give the good news to my husband. All the glory to the Lord!

Please pray

  • Praise God for his continuous blessings for BBCS over the past 63 years.
  • Give thanks the BBCS has been a major contributor to the growth of the gospel in Bangladesh and the spiritual development of its people.
  • Pray the Lord will build his church in Bangladesh to bring hope to this struggling nation.
Cat currently leads
the Sports Friends
communications
team and is sent by Holcombe
Brook Methodist Church.

When I was ten, I wrote an autobiography (I must have thought I’d had a pretty exciting life for a ten-year-old!)

Almost 20 years later, I stumbled across it while sorting through some old boxes. I was approaching my 30th birthday and found myself in a season of comparing my life with that of my peers – many of whom were married, had mortgages, and were climbing career ladders to ‘high and mighty’ places.

I, on the other hand, was raising financial support to continue serving in South East Asia as a mission worker with SIM – I had no rich husband, no mortgage, no career ladder… not even a dog!

I remember questioning whether I’d made a mistake by going down the missionary path: Should I have joined a graduate programme after university? Wouldn’t I have more money, comfort and security if I’d stayed in the UK and got a ‘proper’ job? I picked up my childhood autobiography and began to read.

At the end, there was a section entitled ‘The Future’, with the following written underneath: When I grow up, I either want to be an artist or do something sporty, but I’ll probably change my mind when the time comes!

I’ve no recollection of writing these words and in fact, I went in a different direction altogether – studying Modern European Languages and Linguistics at university, with a year teaching English in Austria, before two years’ sailing the high seas as a cruise ship photographer.

Yet, 20 years later, there I was doing perhaps one of the few jobs in the world that perfectly combines both art and sport in the role of Communications Director for SIM’s Sports Friends ministry, which uses sport as a platform to share the gospel with young people, their families, and their communities.

Find out about a current opportunity to serve with Sports Friends

Sports Friends trains coaches from local churches.

Sports Friends partners with 11,600 local churches in 19 countries.

350 new churches have been planted though Sports Friends in the past 7 years.

42% of the global population are under age 25.

Almost 300,000 young people have been helped by 13,000 coaches.

Donate £12 to provide a Sports Friends coach with a ball for his or her ministry team.

I felt God confirming to me that I had indeed made the right choice and that his hand had been on my life to bring me to this very point – with no mistakes and no need for comparisons.

He had worked through my own attempts to find meaning in a ‘dream’ job travelling the world at sea; through the life and death of my mum; to the realisation it was time to use the gifts and talents God had given me for something greater than myself.

I reflected on my life at the time – dodging through traffic on my moped ride to work; the bustling markets full of friendly people and incredible food; meaningful work shared with colleagues spread across five continents; a Bible study group with eight women from seven different countries… Life was rich – I was rich – but in ways contrary to what the world tells us.

Perhaps you’re like I was and questioning whether the challenges and sacrifices of following God’s call into missions are worth it? As missionary doctor Helen Roseveare once said: Don’t ask, ‘Is it worth it?’ but rather ‘Is he worthy?’ and I promise you, you’ll find that the answer is a resounding YES!

Please pray

  • Praise God that 150 young, new believers have come to faith in Christ through sports camps in Ghana. Pray their faith will grow so they can share the gospel with their friends and families.
  • Give thanks for the 13,000 Sports Friends-trained coaches who are bringing hope, peace and Christ’s love to their communities.
  • For God to open doors for Sports Friends to move into new areas that are least reached with the gospel.

In 2015, a devastating fire tore through a cottage at Serving In Mission’s Mseleni Children’s Home in South Africa.

Heroic efforts by care workers saved the lives of 13 of the children in the unit, but the tragedy claimed the life of a child and of a member of staff, who had gone back into the house to try to save him.

Rachel and Victor Fredlund

Long-term SIM couple – Rachel Fredlund and her husband Victor, sent and supported by Trinity Road Chapel, Tooting – together with local staff, have spent much of the past five years seeking to reopen the home by raising funds from SIM supporters, making upgrades and getting authorisation from government offices.

At times it seemed the early promises had been reversed, yet the continuing persistence of the home’s trustees and the community – along with the regular reminders of the children in need – spurred them on.

“God’s constant reminder of his concern for orphans and children and the regular and special support of SIM strengthened weak knees,” says Victor.

After many repairs, renovations and reports, and despite the impact of Covid-19, the couple’s prayers were finally answered when the home was re-registered in March.

Since it was first opened in the 1950s to care for orphaned children, the focus of Mseleni Children’s Home has turned increasingly to provide a safe and healing place for those who’ve experienced trauma and abuse, or who come from very dysfunctional families. 

Today, it has a specialised play therapy unit where trained staff show the love of Christ by helping children deal with problems arising out of their abuse and develop a sense of self-esteem and self-worth.

“It’s a delight to see the love poured out from carers to the children and to see their responses,” adds Rachel.

The children’s home is part of Mseleni Care and Compassions Ministries.  Also part of the ministry is the Ebenezer Early Childhood Development Centre and the Lulisandla Kumntwana (Reach Out To The Child) community outreach project that started up in 2002 working with local churches to help them share the love of Christ and care for the growing number of children orphaned because of AIDS.  

“The massive peak of AIDS orphaned children has passed, but many needs remain for orphans and vulnerable children in the community,” says Victor. 

Lulisandla Kumntwana continues to work in the community responding to the needs of children, youth, women, and families in the community, currently caring for orphans through advocacy, psycho-social support and after-schools clubs; HIV support groups for teens; young people’s life skills programmes – including one to prevent and alleviate drug and alcohol abuse – and a sports programme focused on developing healthy relationships and countering gender-based violence. 

The ministry also runs groups to support teenage parents and a programme to help hundreds of young people apply and register at higher education institutions. Plans include opening a crisis care centre for women and children who have been abused and a day centre to help people with alcohol abuse problems.

“There was great joy, praise to God and relief as the children’s home staff started to return and prepare for the arrival of the next children,” recalls Rachel, “but it’s currently only registered to take 20 children (about 50 per cent of capacity), which means that there’s a shortfall of around 50,000 rand per month for child-care costs.”

She adds: “It has been a long wait, and we don’t know what the future will be, but God has already led us through many trials and there’s been much joy in the journey, so we trust in his provision and look forward to seeing many children and young people experiencing his love and healing and becoming rooted and grounded in in him.”

By Kerry Allan

More on this ministry:

MINISTRY VIDEO

WATCH: Khanyisile’s story on Vimeo

Abused and neglected as a child, Khanyisile was taken to Mseleni Children’s Home, where she found love, acceptance and hope for the future. By giving her a new start and redeeming her heart, God now uses Khanyisile to help children facing the same struggles she did as a young girl.

GOSPEL GIFT

Will you or your church give a gospel gift to provide one month’s support for an orphan helped by this project?

Please pray

  • Give thanks for the long-awaited answer to prayer as Mseleni Children’s Home reopens.
  • For an increase in the registered capacity of the home, so vulnerable children are not turned away and the home can run a balanced budget.
  • For more churches to respond with care to the needs around them and be fruitful and effective to the glory of God.

It was a scorching afternoon in West Africa, with the sun searing down on a team of mission workers visiting two villages near their new home.

Peter*, a Faithful Witness mission worker, says their hosts were eager to offer refreshment and he was all too eager to accept … until he realised the water they poured was yellow-brown in colour.

“I was really parched by then,” Peter recalls. “It was the usual water the villagers drink every day, but I couldn’t take it because I knew I’d get so sick if I drank it even once.”

Instead of partaking, Peter listened as the villagers told him their needs. The majority reported stomach issues and most expressed dismay at a severe drought that occurs every few years and results in famine.

Peter left with a burden on his heart and an idea forming in his mind: “I thought about what we should do to eradicate this problem, because it’s a cycle.”

He drew up plans for a water reservoir that would provide a reliable supply of clean water to both villages and with the help of an SIM area director, he applied to the Nomadic People’s Network for funding for his project.

Around 50 organisations sent in grant applications, but only a handful of projects received support — Peter’s was one of them.

He soon returned to the region with supplies, a plumber, and an electrician and described “a celebration” as the crew started.

“People came out of all their houses, shouting in their traditional styles. The youths met us halfway on their bikes and escorted us to their village. Everyone came out shouting and banging. That was how they welcomed us.”

Faithful Witness team mate Andrew*, recalls: “They were all so jubilant. I had tears in my eyes and in my heart, I said, ‘Oh, Lord Jesus, how I wish it was you they were welcoming.’

“Imagine, if the villagers have this much excitement for their physical needs being met, how much more their excitement will be when their spiritual needs are met?”

As work began on the first reservoir installation, the project received lots of attention. The Faithful Witness team gathered to pray over the work and many of the Muslim locals asked each mission worker to pray in his or her tongue.

Peter recalls: “The villager would say, ‘Now you pray in French, now you in English!’ Their language is Arabic, so I don’t know if they understood the prayers or not, but the elders like to hear us pray and I was surprised that when we finished, they shouted, ‘Amen, amen!’

“I was so fascinated by that and am sure the Spirit is working in their hearts.”

Everyone did their part to help, with the villagers digging, collecting sand, and moving gravel. “That’s the joy of coming together,” Peter adds.

Throughout the process, Peter prayed and asked God for guidance on where to place things as he’d never worked on a project like this before.

Typically, villages will install solar panels at the bottom of water pumps, but Peter decided to install them higher up, where nobody could tamper with them.

Today, the village consistently has safe, running water, but because the pump doesn’t always produce steady water, Peter and his Faithful Witness team continue to pray for restoration and provision in the village.

Word has spread and new villages are approaching the Faithful Witness workers asking for their own clean water. Eventually, Peter would like to teach his neighbours how to garden more efficiently.

They eat mostly rice, noodles, and meat, but with fresh water, they could start growing green crops.

Most importantly, Peter and Andrew believe God is using the pumps as tools to open people’s hearts to the gospel and they are thrilled to be involved.

By Amy Bareham Chapman

*Pseudonyms used.

Please pray

  • That God opens the hearts and minds of the villagers as Faithful Witness seeks to share the gospel.
  • For protection as the Faithful Witness team works in this environment.
  • For financial provision for Peter and Andrew who need more support for their ministry.

The family on their last day in Benin

SIM’s Hilary Deneufchatel moved back to France from Benin, praising God she had fulfilled her goal of helping the Monkolé people have access to the whole Bible in their own language.

The Monkolé live in the north of the country where in the 1970s, a handful of men became Christians and today, there are two Monkolé churches, with several hundred members.

The New Testament was published in 2007 after many years of hard work by the small, dedicated translation team with SIM Canada missionary Grace Birnie. After Grace’s retirement, Hilary joined the team in 2011 and the Old Testament was completed in 2020.

Hilary with a copy of the Monkolé Bible

Three people form the current translation team – Hilary, pastor Samuel Tchebo and church elder Philemon Orou Jean. Samuel has worked on the project from the start and has a unique role as the only known Monkolé pastor.

Samuel says: “The work has changed enormously since I’ve been working on the team. When we started, we did all our first drafts on the blackboard, with lots of rubbing out. Then someone typed it up on a manual typewriter.”

The translation team, from left: Hilary, Pastor Samuel Tchebo, consultant Pierre Barassounon and Philémon Orou

Samuel goes on to describe the difficult process of copying, carried out on old machinery and coloured carbon paper. He says: “It was dirty and very difficult to read.”

Now, computers and Paratext software have transformed their work.

“It was pretty amazing to hold the Bible in my hands after so many years of translation work what tangible proof of God’s faithfulness!” says Hilary, who was also responsible for proof-reading an updated Monkolé song book that was re-printed.

“Some songs are translations of French hymns, but many were composed by the Monkolé themselves,” she adds.

Back in France, Hilary has embarked on training to become a Bible translation consultant, which means learning a new language – biblical Greek!

“It’s a difficult language to learn and very different from other languages I know, but I’m enjoying the challenge! As a former language teacher, I know that motivation is crucial, and I’m certainly very motivated!”

The Bible is open

The Monkolé Bibles were printed in South Korea and sent by boat to Benin. Once through customs, 2,000 copies then made their way north by lorry.

In October, Hilary was able to go back to Benin to see the completed Bible presented to the Monkolé people at a special ceremony.

“There was a time when I felt this would be impossible,” says Hilary, “but I know that many people felt I ought to be there and prayed that it would work out. God opened the way, and I was overjoyed to be there.”

By Tianna Haas & Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks for the safe arrival of the Monkolé Bibles.
  • That Monkolé Christians will be equipped to read, study and understand their Bibles.
  • Give thanks for translators like Hilary, whose work is dedicated to enabling everyone to have access to God’s Word.

Universities are places where the Christian faith is often put to the test and SIM’s Engaging the Universities initiative seeks to reach the next generation by sharing God’s love with students around the world.

Our Engaging the University initiative has five main areas of focus:

1. Student Ministry.

2. International Student Ministry.

3. Academia: Graduate students, lecturers, professors and researchers.

4. TEFL: Teaching English (or other language) as a Foreign Language.

5. Minding the Gap: (non-traditional ministry, or areas of the university campus that are overlooked).

Our primary directives include:

* Supporting and encouraging SIM workers in the university context.

* Helping them to think through the various ways SIM could be engaging the university in their country/region. ​

* Consider strategic places for SIM to get involved, based upon global trends and specific area needs. ​

* Support mobilisation and help get the word out about opportunities.

David Jeyachandran

David Jeyachandran is a SIM worker in Peru working in university ministry, who devised a unique way of helping students stay strong in their faith and not fade away during times of testing.

He explains: “We got together with our students and asked the question ‘How do we make praying for our university friends a part of our daily life?’

“We’d tried before with only limited success to find how we could make praying a daily habit. As all of us never forget to brush our teeth every single day, we thought about making praying for our friends a new habit by connecting it with an existing habit of brushing teeth.

“We started with three students and we now have 16 praying daily. When we start, we smile and give thanks to God for the many things he’s blessed us with and then pray for three university friends the same three friends every day, praying that: 

  • God will open their hearts.
  • God will create opportunities for students to listen to their friends and share how Jesus has impacted their lives.
  • They keep each other accountable by posting in a WhatsApp group and each student has another student, who reminds them if they forget to brush their teeth.

“We believe that praying makes a difference. When we work, we work, but when we pray, God works!” adds David.

To find out more about a wide range of university ministries, contact one of our mobilisers or email [email protected]

SIM’s Shalom House is a recovery shelter and safe house for women who have been trafficked and prostituted in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.

Established in March 2020, Shalom House not only seeks to help victims recover and heal, but to provide a safe space where they can learn about Jesus and grow in faith.

Most of the women have been trafficked from Nigeria and Shalom House has partnered with a Nigerian organisation, Pathfinders Justice Initiative (PJI), which provides training and support to the women after they return home.

This reintegration process in Nigeria is critical – without it, these treasures* are at great risk of being re-trafficked and exploited all over again,” explains SIM worker Hauwa*.

Currently, there are four women and their children, who are desperately in need of financial support. The ministry urgently needs to find £2,700 by  October 15, 2021, to help these rescued women and their children start a new life with their families back in Nigeria.

“This money not only provides counselling and emotional support, but seed money for each woman, so they can start a small business and be able to support their children and families – reducing their vulnerability to exploitation and protecting future generations,” adds Hauwa.

  • Treasures’ is a compassionate term used by our workers to describe a woman in prostitution or sexual exploitation.

Donate and help the faithful work of Shalom House that means the women can leave with skills to be able to earn a living and support their families after they return home.

Shalom House is Project # 95367

My story by Constance

‘My name is Constance*. I am 21 years’ old and I am a hairdresser. I have three children. My trafficker was my sister.

I’m from Nigeria and I used to have my own hairdressing salon. One day, one of my sisters (who is living in Cote D’Ivoire) told me that she had a hairdressing salon and I would make a lot more money hairdressing in Abidjan.

She begged me to sell everything in my salon and follow her. She promised me I would make a lot of money as a hairdresser in her salon, so I sold everything and gave her the money to pay for my transport fare.

When I eventually reached Abidjan, she took me to her house. When I asked her to take me to her salon, she told me to be patient. Later in the night, she gave me some clothes that were very short and see-through and told me to wear them so that I could go to work.

I was surprised and asked her what type of work I had to go for looking indecently dressed and at night? It was then that she told me that I was going out to work as a sex worker, and that I had to pay her 1million Francs (about £1,300) before I would be allowed to return to Nigeria.

I was very angry and told her I wouldn’t do the work but she forced me, and I had to start doing the work. I hated it so much. After a short while, I told her that I wouldn’t be able to do it any more, so she threw me out of her house and I was stranded in the street.

A lady came along and took me to a brothel.  When I got there, I refused to work as a sex worker and the landlord threw me out. At that point, I was determined never to work in prostitution and spent many days just wandering around and surviving on the little money that I had.

One day, I met someone who introduced me to the International Fellowship of Christians (IFC) and I was brought to the Shalom House.

I have been in the Shalom House for ten months. During this period, I have learnt how to forgive, how to endure, how to live in peace with others and I’ve learnt the word of God.

Since I do already have a business skill and have owned by own hairdressing salon in Benin City before I was trafficked, I will love for Shalom House to please help me restart my hairdressing business.’

*First names used for security reasons

By Kerry Allan

SIM’s anti-trafficking ministry For Freedom supports Shalom House with resources and training. Find out more and read how you can be our eyes and ears to stop exploitation.

Please pray

  • For protection for the women and workers at Shalom House.
  • For resources to continue this ministry.
  • For the millions of people enslaved and exploited around the world today, that the Lord will reveal himself as mighty to them in the middle of their deep suffering.

Geanne Van Maanen felt called to serve the Lord in South Africa during her last year at university in the Netherlands.

“The plan was to be there for a year, but it turned out to be longer than planned and after five years, my church advised me to find an organisation with a bigger network, which is how I ended up joining SIM UK in March,” she explains.

Geanne works and lives at the Melusi Christian Community, situated in Dundee, in the heart of Kwazulu-Natal.

Its motto is: ‘Serving Christ, serving others’ with the aim of giving practical help to families living in nearby squatter settlements and seeing communities transformed by the gospel.

Geanne supports local church activities and community projects, including the Food4Work programme, where every day, unemployed men and women travel to Melusi to work in the large vegetable garden or community kitchen.

They receive their wages at the end of the day in the form of a food parcel, and as well as being able to provide for their families, they are able to hear the gospel.

“Every morning, we start the day with a short devotion, a song and a time of prayer,” says Geanne.

The impact of showing God’s love is evident and none more so, than when Melusi held its first baptism service after the end of the Covid lockdown.

“Four people were baptised – each with their own unique story and powerful testimony – and it was so special to see how God is changing lives,” recalls Geanne.

Geanne was also able to resume her children’s ministry, which includes organising three kids’ clubs a week and a bi-monthly teenage Bible study programme.

“I was so glad to see our kids and teenagers again and realise how important it is to teach the truth and share the real story of Jesus as the living hope – especially for the teenagers who feel they have no prospects for the future,” she says.

And although there is still much uncertainty, Geanne says she feels blessed in her life and ministry: “I love to be outdoors and to be active and although we know things might change again, we trust that God is leading and guiding us.

“It’s such an encouragement to know he answers prayers and is working in the hearts and lives of people here.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks for Geanne’s faithfulness.
  • For God to call more workers and especially South Africans, to join the team.
  • That Zulu people will be set free from ancestral worship and that Jesus will become a reality in their lives.

How do you support a new believer who lost her sole source of income? An income that dried up when she stopped performing demonic healings because she turned to Christ? What do you do when she is extorted for money by people who are threatening the life of her eldest son?

For Kay and his wife Sophie, serving with Serving In Mission in Central Africa, these are some of the many questions they wrestle with as they seek to share Jesus with a wide range of people.

The couple, sent by several UK churches and another from France, are living in a remote area in the east of the country, with a diverse population of hundreds of ethnic groups and a massive Sudanese refugee population, who have never heard about Jesus.

New believer Harriet moved to the area last year to work as a religious healer and teacher.

“Hard times and illness found her, but a Christian neighbour paid for her medicine and a mission worker provided food for Harriet and her children when she didn’t have the money to buy food,” says Kay.

“She saw the love of Christ in practice and was curious. Confronted with the truth of the gospel, Harriet made the decision to follow Christ,” he adds.

But once her faith became public, Harriet endured a series of trials and tribulations including being threatened with her life by some family members and suffered a mental breakdown following a fierce and evil spiritual encounter.

“By the grace of God and with the help and prayers of other Christians, Harriet persevered and even shared her faith with four of her children, who have also given up family, friends, home and much more to join their mum on their own faith journeys,” says Kay.

Harriet’s eldest daughter, who was living in Libya was threatened with death by her husband when he challenged her about her interest in Jesus.

“She ran away; first trying to go to Egypt, then crossing the desert to see her mum and find out more about her newfound faith,” says Kay.

“Harriet’s eldest son Adam was a similar story, but it started out with him being held as a hostage somewhere in the middle of the Sahara Desert. His captors, miraculously, let him go without any ransom being paid and he made his way back home to also hear more from his mum.”

Yet despite the challenges of living in a difficult place where there are few mission workers, Kay and Sophie continue to invest in relationships with people like Harriet who need Jesus. (Today, Harriet is living in a new town where she regularly reads the Bible with several local Christians, trusting God is sovereign).

The couple make contact with people in villages through a variety of ministries, including education, healthcare, and agriculture.

“We are field neighbours with several of our friends in town and have had several people come and lend us a hand, give us advice and laugh at the crazy white people who are farming the old-school organic way!” says Kay.

“We seek to love our neighbours well with the love of Christ because we dream of more people coming to know Christ, and of churches being planted in his name,” he adds.

“It’s exciting to be part of God’s work and if we’re faithful to what he wants, then fruit will happen, and it will be partly because of what we do.”

By Kerry Allan

  • Kay and Sophie are serving as part of SIM’s Faithful Witness project, which sends workers to places where people have little or no opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus. Kay leads a team in Central Africa and there are currently opportunities to join him and/or other mission workers in Mali, Thailand, East Asia, South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.
  • To find out more, email [email protected]

Please pray

  • For the Lord’s protection on Harriet and her family.
  • For Harriet and her children to stand firm in their faith, growing in maturity.
  • For others in this region to respond to the good news like Harriet.

SIM’s goal to cross barriers to share the gospel where Christ is least known, remains unchanged in a post-Covid world.

Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya sit just over 600 kilometres apart. Although the two Thai cities occupy opposite ends of the country, they are strung together by a common thread: Hope for Life Thailand.

Hope for Life was established as part of SIM’s response in Africa to HIV in the ‘90s. The organisation then moved into parts of Asia, including Thailand, where it has facilitated community outreach initiatives for almost 10 years.

Chiang Mai-based Jacqui Croxon, who is Hope for Life’s HIV Ministry Point Person, says: “HIV is one of the symptoms we see of these broader issues of broken relationships with self, with family, and with God … so now, our vision is to work where there is brokenness in families and see Christ transform relationships.”

When SIM identified Ayutthaya as one of the least-reached places in Thailand, an opportunity arose to expand Hope for Life and introduce our Faithful Witness programme to the region.

Read more stories about how God is at work through our pioneering Faithful Witness project https://sim.co.uk/faithful-witnesses/

Faithful Witness, which aims to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to communities with limited exposure to the gospel, reports that Ayutthaya has just 11 local churches and an estimated 500 believers.

SIM worker Ruth Davies is helping develop the vision of Hope for Life programmes in Ayutthaya. She partners with a staff of three Thai locals to do this and calls them her phī̀n̂xng or her brothers and sisters. Together, they are exploring opportunities as they form connections and build trust with ministry partners.

The team has started by offering English lessons and visiting both a juvenile detention centre and a children’s emergency shelter. One of Ruth’s colleagues, Pheung, is passionate about art therapy. She provides a drop-in watercolour class for the community and encourages participants to share their emotions alongside the Hope for Life staff.

Ruth says, “I see this as a culturally relevant way to reach people. For the Thai Christians I know here, it’s actually their heart. Western Christians are more about evangelism and teaching, but for Thai believers, acts of mercy are really important.”

All of Ruth’s Thai team mates are first-generation Christians and value having someone with them who enjoys listening and prayerfully helping them pursue the Lord as they brainstorm ways to do the same for others.

She continues: “We see the brokenness; we know that it’s there. But the symptoms are overwhelming. It’s about finding those one or two symptoms we feel we’re equipped to help with.”

In both Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya, Hope for Life is prioritising the health and well-bing of young people as families show troubling signs of generational damage. Serving those aged 25 and under is crucial for Jacqui and Ruth.

Many of those young people have to confront real and painful issues like teenage pregnancy and sexual exploitation. And it’s still common for parents to go away to find work, meaning many kids are raised by grandparents who are ill-prepared to navigate modern issues.

This tangle of threats perpetuates unhealthy cycles for young people: “You have to stay on the journey with people because they’re up, then down…We want to share the impact Hope for Life is having, but the reality is that it’s not necessarily happily ever after, depending on the point in time for that particular person,” says Jacqui.

Ruth adds: “The frustrating thing is that the opportunity to get to the gospel can seem so far away. You have to build years of networks and relationships.”

She has experienced the cultural barriers first-hand, most recently, while trying to help Ayutthaya practically during Covid-19. Because she is a foreigner, leadership of the juvenile detention centre fear she is more susceptible to the virus.

But, as Jacqui observes, this can create opportunities for God to strengthen the faith of others. “You can never relate to people in the community like our Thai colleagues can,” she says.

“A lot of our work is releasing the Thai staff to go and do what they do well. If that means we do more of the administrative tasks, so be it.”

Life transformation rarely happens quickly, and Jacqui and Ruth are honest with themselves about this. As Ruth says, “You really do have to be a faithful witness. The faithful part comes first, before the witness part.”

Jacqui agrees, recalling a time when a leader asked how many people she had led to Christ that week. “I thought, oh gosh, I’m the worst mission worker ever, I led no one.”

She remembers the leader responding, “No, you led someone. Because everything we do is leading people towards Jesus.”

In an environment in which restoration can take decades, it is essential to rely on the Lord’s grace and divine timeline. Jesus himself demonstrated that discipleship is just as much a process as it is a destination.

Sometimes it seems the loose ends of mission work far outnumber the moments of arrival and completion, but in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya, through the work of faithful witnesses like Jacqui and Ruth, it’s clear God is knitting Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya into the tapestry of his kingdom.

By Amy Bareham Chapman

Please pray

  • For all SIM workers to build trust and lasting relationships as faithful witnesses in places where there is no gospel; no believers and no mission workers.
  • For Jacqui and Ruth’s teams to continue building relationships of trust in their Thai communities.
  • That God will continue to open doors for the Faithful Witness ministries in sports, community health, education and English language learning.

Luton is my home town, which I left as an unbelieving teenager and returned as church leader when my wife and I arrived with a small group of friends 18 years ago, to plant Hope Church.

It’s taken me many years to even start to come to terms with what it means to lead a church in a multicultural town like Luton. Most students in our schools are Muslims; white British people are in the minority overall and their numbers are declining.

The nations keep arriving on our doorstep, which gives the church a unique opportunity, but also presents many challenges.

At first, our church-planting team was both naive and ill-equipped to rise to the challenge. We’re now in a much better position to respond, after many years of serving the community.

Membership and leadership are now only 50 per cent white British, with many Africans, Caribbeans, Asians, and other Europeans as part of the family. The other ministry leader alongside me is an Asian Christian woman. We also have a wide spread of people from across social classes, including the most powerless in society.

Learning how to build honouring relationships where we learn from each other’s cultures within the church, has given us tools that are essential to build relationships with those who are different from us outside the local church.

It’s enabled me to establish strong friendships and work together with other faith leaders from across the town, including leaders of mosques and black majority church leaders.

Hope Church

Building a church that values unity amid diversity has been key.

SIM UK’s intercultural mission training course has been a great help as we continue to grow in this area. The course creates an opportunity for myself and my team to grapple with the issues involved with others who seek the same end and to receive input from those further ahead on the journey.

We’ve learnt how deep-rooted prejudices are and how they’ve been established over multiple generations and can’t therefore be quickly uprooted.

During the training, we were supplied with a survey to help grasp where the leadership team felt the church was in relation to unity amid diversity and were then encouraged to do the same with a representative sample of those from ethnic minorities.

To our surprise, those from minority backgrounds thought we were doing better than the leadership team did!

We’ve come a long way, but we’re under no illusions about how far we still must go. The default is to be a church with a white, middle-class culture, which other cultures accommodate themselves to.

We want to move away from this, but we’re learning that it’s an ongoing challenge and one in which we need all the help we can get. It’s one that I believe is essential if we are to fully represent Christ in Luton.

It’s a challenge that more and more churches will face in the future, as the UK becomes more like Luton, and there seems to be a growing number of church leaders wanting to make this journey. I’m sure that SIM has a key part to play in this.

Contact [email protected] to discuss how SIM UK can help your church in this ministry and also for details of upcoming intercultural mission training courses.

Read more about the course, which is designed to help equip churches, Christian organisations and ministry networks to reach people across cultures with the good news of Jesus.

Please pray

  • Give thanks for they unity and diversity of Hope Church.
  • For UK church leaders to rise to the challenge of reaching their multicultural communities with the gospel.
  • For SIM UK to help churches view this challenge as a unique opportunity.
SIM UK workers – part of the global SIM family with over 4,000 people serving worldwide.

Despite fear, restrictions, and difficulty surrounding travel over the past 18 months, God is still stirring up his people to cross borders to share his good news with those who living in spiritual deserts.

“It’s amazing that we have the most people applying to serve long term that I can remember,” says Deborah Agnes, SIM UK’s Personnel Director.

“Eighteen new workers joined our summer orientation. They will be serving on four different continents with their families. At the same time, we’re helping seven mission workers from south Asia, East and West Africa and Columbia settle into the UK,” she adds.

Teams serving in secure locations that normally struggle to recruit workers are also reporting an increase in enquiries. Faithful Witness teams serving in locations where previously people have not heard the name of Jesus are being welcomed, and people are turning to Christ.

We praise God for these answers to prayer, but recognise there is a spiritual battle being fought. Please do pray:

  • That people may see and know Christ as they look at the lives of our workers and hear the good news they have to share.
  • For protection and boldness for each new believer in communities normally opposed to the gospel message, and for roots planted deep in Christ to grow and be strengthened in him.
  • For each multicultural team, sharing the good news of Jesus, to have unity in shared vision and gospel values.

We covet your prayers too that the Lord of the harvest would continue to mobilise his people as despite these encouragements, there are still entire communities that have never heard the name of Christ. The need is great, and the workers are few.

If you would like to pray regularly for the work that God is doing through his people serving around the globe, please sign up to receive our weekly email with prayer requests from SIM UK workers, as well as mission-focused articles and regularly updated prayer resources.

By Linda Hunt

“What does success look like?’ is a question SIM UK workers Mark and Helen Azzopardi feel has been following them since they arrived in Ecuador and into a new culture with new responsibilities, new colleagues, and new expectations.

The couple have joined the SIM team in Loja, working with the local churches and planting and strengthening rural churches in south Ecuador.

Loja town square

Their main ministry is teaching in the missionary kids’ school and working with the El Sendero (The Way) youth ministry, which looks to disciple young people as they grow in their faith and also help reach those aged between 15 and 25, with the gospel.

Each week, the couple help with El Sendero’s English-speaking club REFF (Reflection, English, Friends & Fun) which is open to all young people who would like to learn and practise their English by discussing meaningful topics about life.

The club provides a natural platform for SIM workers to help young people in the city in a practical way, but also to build friendships and share their faith with them. Mark is helping El Sendero as it develops a media ministry and plans to use social media to reach even more young people in the city and the province of Loja.

“We’ve already produced a video to help the English learners in our REFF group with the differences between American and British English and have had an amazing response so far,” says Helen, who taught the British English alongside her American colleague Susan.

“Our hope and prayers are that making videos like this will help build the reputation of REFF and attract new people.”

English and media ministries

“Before moving, we were full of anticipation for ministry and life here,” says Mark, “and excited to see how God would use us. It was easier it some ways to imagine what the end result might look like, rather than considering the small steps and encounters that would lead us there.”

Mark and Helen

Considering what ‘success’ looks like

The couple, sent by Carrubbers Christian Centre, Edinburgh, admit they have sometimes found it too easy to feel discouraged, when asking themselves: ‘Why aren’t we fluent in Spanish yet?’ or ‘Why don’t we know more young people?’

“The way we choose to define success can have a huge impact on not only how we see the world, but also see ourselves ultimately as people of success or failure,” admits Mark.

“I think many will agree that at least in the western world, success is popularly measured in numbers and that ‘bigger equals better’.

“The unusual thing is that God seems to have a completely different way to measure success. Jesus teaches us in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, that God isn’t interested in numbers, but instead faithfulness.

“We’ve seen that it takes time to build relationships and establish a trajectory for ministry, so rather than feeling disheartened when these things don’t happen instantly, it’s been an encouragement to rejoice in the small events such as a positive conversation with a local pastor, small-talk at the market, or being invited to a local person’s house for lunch.

“We can see through all of this that God is helping us to build connections and little by little, give us a vision for what our life and ministry will be.”

Helen agrees, adding: “Our God is just as much involved in the ‘day-to-day’ of life as in the milestone events. We seek to be his ambassadors with each person we interact with and with each occasion that happens.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks for the great gospel opportunities that a media ministry brings and for a full-term person with a passion for media to join the SIM team.
  • For Helen as she meets with other teachers to agree a plan for the next school year.
  • That Mark and Helen would seek to be faithful servants of Christ above “successful” participants in the eyes of the world.
Carolyn Ford with friend at the dedication

After a labour of love spanning more than 40 years, the Kafa Bible was dedicated in Bonga, Ethiopia, earlier this year, writes SIM South Sudan’s Tohru Inoue.

Among those witnessing the dedication were Matewos Gebremariam and Carolyn Ford, representing the translation team – the latest in a long list of people involved, which just like the genealogies in the Bible, spans a lengthy period of time.

The translation work was begun in 1981 by SIM New Zealand mission worker Ruth Cremer. Ruth arrived in Ethiopia in 1954, aged 23, called by God through the verse: “You also, O Ethiopians, shall be slain by my sword.” Zephaniah 2:12

Ruth then recruited and mentored a number of native Kafa speakers to help with the project.

Many of the earlier translators’ names above didn’t see the end of their work. Some came for a season, and like working on a farm, tilled the soil but never got to see any buds form. Others tended the weeds, but left this earth before the flowers bloomed. They passed away, leaving behind their work for a whole new group.

At the dedication ceremony, the book of Ruth was read. It was an interesting choice as it, too, tracks the story of those who remain behind when others have left too soon.

In the story, Naomi’s husband and her two sons die, leaving her and her two daughters-in-law widowed. At this point, you would be forgiven for believing that the genealogy ends there – that no more names would follow on.

But if there is something I’ve learned from reading the biblical genealogies, even when it looks like names have run out, God keeps going until he’s finished his work.

Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth, eventually marries Boaz and becomes the mother of Obed, who becomes the father of Jesse, who becomes the father of David, the great king! But even David is not the last name …

Even after some names had left “early,” God added names who saw the translation work through. Some names came and translated the minor prophets; others came and did the Psalms, and others still typeset the text. And now, after all those names listed at the top, we’ve witnessed the fruit of the completed Kafa Bible!

Women with the Kafa Bible (Photo: Tom Fifield)

But fruits in turn produce seeds that yearn to be planted again. Holding the fruit of the Bible dedication is not the end, but a chance to grab a handful of this beautiful new seed and scatter it extravagantly until it finds good soil to start all over again. That will be the work for a whole new generation of names God adds (a name like yours, perhaps?)

His work is carrying on because it’s not done until he’s written in the last name.

The Kafa language

The Kafa language is one of 86 indigenous Ethiopian languages and spoken by more than a million people.

Even though a Kafa New Testament translation has been available since 2001, Christians in the region have had to listen to sermons translated from Amharic, mainly because pastors didn’t have a full Bible in the Kafa language.

Many people are also unable to read and write in their native Kafa – so the translation team has also produced an audio recording of the new Bible, which will truly change life there.

Please pray

  • Give thanks for the faithful work of translators who worked on the project and for other East African languages in the process of being translated. 
  • For Christians in Bonga to treasure God’s word and share the gospel with their neighbours.
  • For more Ethiopian people to come to know Jesus by hearing the good news in a language that they truly understand.

Wayne Sutton, Senior Pastor of Carrubbers Christian Centre

The Covid-19 pandemic has been probably the most disruptive event for the church since WWII and has compelled Christian leaders to re-evaluate their mindsets and their practices.

Wayne Sutton, senior pastor of Carrubbers Christian Centre in Edinburgh, says Covid-19 helped refocus questions of community within his church and in the first weeks of the pandemic, his church was like many others, scrambling to find a way to do and to be church effectively.

“We knew we had a week to get things online, so we just recorded the sermons from home,” he recalls.

Our wake-up call came when we realised people missed feeling like a family

“After a few weeks, our music team began recording items for a service playlist and our kids’ teams created a fantastic programme with teaching, songs and fun weekly challenges.

“Later, we fine-tuned our live-streaming process, along with others in our EoSGP (East of Scotland Gospel Partnership).

“Yet, our wake-up call came when we realised people missed feeling like a family. With activities at different times across the week, they missed the togetherness of our community, so we asked everyone to join the morning livestream and then for the house groups to meet directly afterwards on Zoom.

“There’s only been one or two brief periods when restrictions prevented us from going outside – we could usually meet in pairs outside – so we’ve tried to maximise on that and in one sense, church has become more intimate, more family-like and inclusive.”

Now, as he works towards the goal of gathering together in church each week again, Wayne says it will be important for churches to be more intentional and proactive and to remember “mission is sharing Christ and our life of faith”.

“Every service uploaded is a mission opportunity and anyone can now use Christianity Explored online,” he says. “We’re using some of the same digital tools as before, but in a different way and how it helps us to have better contact with our gospel workers, like those serving with SIM UK.

“We’re looking at how to keep the intimacy of smaller gatherings when the church can regroup; how the church can unpack the sermon together in house groups directly after the service and how to invite everyone back sensitively.

“Covid has been a profound wake-up for us and over the year, we’ve found our focus shifting and the key questions now are about: How do we actually want to do church?”

By a staff writer

Please pray

  • With Carrubbers Christian Centre as it continues to move forward together in the post-Covid season.
  • For wisdom as church leaders consider how best to adapt in different times.
  • For churches to hold out hope and peace and help people draw closer to God.
SIM UK Director Steve Smith

We’d like to get to know your Jesus – please could you come? is a question SIM’s teams of workers hear in places where there’s either no church, or it doesn’t have the resources to cross existing barriers with the gospel, writes SIM UK Director Steve Smith.

The apostles reported the same dynamic when Greek speakers came to Philip and asked, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ (John 12:20-26, see verse 21)

Although they were from different backgrounds to the first disciples, they’d heard enough to want to know more and in today’s world, there are still people waiting to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus with faith, hope and love.

SIM focuses its ministry resources amongst communities where Christ is least known – wherever there is no local church, no mission worker serving them, or little access to the Bible and gospel ministry resources.

This is the case in rural Niger and also, in parts of Great Britain. In both settings, there are whole neighbourhoods of people where Christ is not known, or even named. 

While past generations spoke of regions beyond missionary movement; today’s communities where Christ is least known, can be found just as much in cities where there is a strong gospel witness, as in the rural communities of Mongolia.

That’s why we need a new generation of faithful witnesses to address the barriers yet to be crossed in our diverse towns and cities – the sprawling suburbs, as well as the rural villages.

This will require churches and networks to break out of our current models of evangelism and church-planting and find new ways of crossing cultural differences to reach people’s hearts and minds with the transforming truth of the gospel. 

We need to give a compelling demonstration of the gospel through the way we relate together as believers and how we reach out in diverse societies. By 2050, 30 per cent of the UK population will be from ethnic minority background – up from 11 per cent in 2011.

In 2000, white worshippers were 87 per cent of churchgoers; then 73 per cent by 2020 and is expected to be 67 per cent by 2030, with believers from ethnic minority backgrounds representing 22 per cent.

Just as the apostle Paul taught the Corinthian church that they were ‘called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours’ (1 Cor 1:2) we too in 21st Century Britain need to intentionally develop Christ-centred community that rejoices in the gospel taught by the apostles and pursues mutuality in the gospel that the apostles instructed. (1 Cor 14:1-26) 

In his providence, God is providing his UK churches with believers from diverse background for the missionary task Christ has given his followers to work out mutually, with gospel unity in him.

The global scattering and gathering of south Asian Christians is a good example of this. We find communities of diaspora Christians from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand active in their faith across the world, whilst those remaining in-country often face governmental or civil persecution.

Future

Previous mission thinkers talked about degrees of cultural separation between the evangelist and the community in which they are working. Today’s missional church must now address the intercultural task of showing and telling the gospel amongst increasingly diverse communities – amongst groups of people who have limited access to the gospel.    

There are communities where the church is not reaching, and no mission worker is serving, all over the globe. SIM UK exists to help churches send many more believers to work amongst these people worldwide.

Those communities are also right here in the UK – even though the background noise of the media crowds can so easily drown out the voices of those who want to know more. The challenge to be faced in our own backyard cannot be underestimated and SIM UK wants to help.

Jesus taught that his people listen to his voice and follow him because they recognise his voice and that he has others he must bring into his gathered people. (John 10:1-18)

The church has a future while we practise an obedience of faith that both takes Jesus at his word and takes his word to people waiting to hear.

Simon and Grace outside the clinic

Simon and Grace Stretton-Downes have been serving at the Eternal Love Winning All (ELWA) Hospital in Liberia’s capital Monrovia for the past four years.

Simon leads the team at Trinity Dental Clinic, while Grace works, some of the time, as a nurse at the hospital. Periodically, the couple travel to rural communities to show Christ’s love by offering free, basic dental care.

There are currently only a handful of dentists and dental nurse practitioners to meet the vast dental needs of Liberia’s five million population a place where people die from infection caused by dental abscesses.

The couple are sent by St Gregory’s Church, Crakehall, North Yorkshire, and this June, embarked on their biggest dental outreach trip yet.

The team headed north to Voinjama, a town up in the far north of Liberia, just a few miles from the border with Guinea. As the crow flies, it is only 163 miles – but 250 miles by road. On a good day, it is a ten-hour drive; on a wet day two to three days, but the team were able to avoid the gruelling road trip and board a one-hour Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) flight.

The last leg was a 45-minute drive to Barkedu, a small, dusty town and home to the Manya people, who are almost entirely Muslim with just a handful of believers in Jesus.

Every day, the team walked to the Government Health Clinic, where they set up portable dental chairs and laid out their ‘field kit’, washing the instruments in the ‘palava’ hut and using a pressure cooker on a charcoal burner to sterilise them!

Although there were only 12 patients on the first afternoon, numbers soon grew and more than 150 patients were eventually treated, with some even having to be turned away on the final morning.

Some patients had endured pain for months or even years. Several attributed their dental infections to a curse from a local witch.

With permission, each one was prayed for, and an evangelist colleague Musa, himself a former Muslim Imam, shared the good news about Jesus with them while they waited – some even came back a second time to hear what he had to say.

At the same time, Grace carried out diabetes screening for those aged over 40 and gave them much-needed dietary advice in pictures and with translation.

“The team worked their socks off and many Manya heard the good news and saw it demonstrated,” Grace says. “It was so satisfying to see those we have trained take responsibility for treating their own people and being an instrument of God’s blessing.”

Please pray

  • Give thanks that many people heard the good news and saw it demonstrated.
  • For many more individuals’ and communities’ lives will be transformed through the dental outreach trips.
  • For wisdom as Simon and Grace seek a longer-term solution to meet Liberia’s dental needs.

By Kerry Allan

Simon’s OBE ‘surprise’

As well as the success of their latest outreach trip, Grace and Simon also had cause to celebrate the news that Simon was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday list for ‘services to dentistry in Africa’.

Simon helped plan, equip and train staff for the new Trinity Dental Clinic, which opened in March 2019 (the original, smaller clinic, established in 2008 was demolished during re-development). Another Liberian staff member is currently studying for a dental degree in Kenya.

In a country where there is a serious lack of dental care, Simon has also launched plans for a dental therapist training school to equip and support students to work in rural regions of Liberia where there is currently no dental care. This has involved discussions with the Liberian Ministry of Health to gain appropriate permissions, as well as Universities in both Liberia and the UK. It will be a significant investment of time and resources.

Simon says, “Receiving this honour came as a complete surprise and thought it was a scam when I first received the email. However, the whole Trinity dental team is delighted that they have been recognised in this way. We pray it will bring greater awareness of the dental needs and facilitate the plans to respond to them and bring glory to God.”

The commitment to see God’s word spread in Niger will be the hallmark of Jonathan and Elaine Burts’ ministry as they retire to the UK after 42 years on the field. Here, they reflect on how they saw God’s faithfulness during their long service.

Elaine and I (Jonathan) joined SIM and went to Nigeria in 1979, where we met, married and had our three children.

Serving in the rural development programme of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (later renamed ECWA – Evangelical Church Winning All) we became convinced it was the Lord’s time to move on as more and more qualified Nigerian agriculturalists joined the work.

In 1987, we arrived in Niger and after some French language learning, we were posted to Gueschemé (left) where we could use the Hausa we learnt in Nigeria.

It became clear to us that the great hunger for mother-tongue literacy was the way forward to both strengthen the existing village churches and to plant new ones. At that time, it was politically very difficult for any village headman to say no to hosting a Christian reading class in his village.

We taught classes ourselves and then in the early ’90s, started posting Christian men as literacy teachers in the area during the dry season.

Every reading lesson had a Bible lesson and the Gueschemé Bible School, which ran from January to April, required each student to do two seasons to complete the school. These graduates became the prime source of literacy teachers for new outreaches.

Later, a four-year residential Bible School for pastors opened in Gueschemé and a good number of our literacy teachers felt God calling them to further training. These men are now serving as pastors and evangelists in many parts of Niger.

From 1998 to 2006, our family was UK-based as there was no English language “sixth form” in Niger. However, we remained members of SIM Niger and my main task was translating Bible correspondence courses into Hausa. Each year, I spent a month in Niger seeing the literacy work and getting the courses checked out.

Our goal before the Lord was to open up the area for the gospel

In 2006, Elaine and I relocated to Dogon Doutchi, which is the northern part of the same church district as Gueschemé, so we knew all the church leaders and used correspondence courses and TEE (Theological Education by Extension) classes to deepen teaching in local congregations.

Through this period, we moved to having more year-round literacy teachers and fewer ‘dry season’ ones. This was what the churches wanted as they saw we were losing people when there was no shepherd living full time with the flock.

The Lord then led us to see the needs of the area south of Gueschemé, where there was only one evangelist for the whole area, so in 2013, Elaine and I moved to Dioundiou (have fun pronouncing that!) where our goal before the Lord was to open up the area for the gospel.

SIM recruited two families to join us and we were blessed to have a young Australian SIMer, Matt Warren, join us – first as an intern and then as a full member of SIM. An Ethiopian family also planned to come, but they ran into difficulties, mostly due to Covid-19.

However, overseas workers are not the backbone of the local church and wherever there was a group of even two or three Christians, we bought a plot and built a small house as a church-owned property for the Nigerien evangelist (making the bricks from scratch!)

We also bought fields, so these families had a place to farm and a way to support themselves after we left.

It is early days yet and the work of sowing the precious seed takes time, but there will be a harvest and we are seeing the first fruits.

We were told that Christians would not be able to buy land, but the Lord is the Lord Almighty and even if one family vetoed a sale, another quickly came forward and we had more offers of land than we required.

There are now eight villages in the two northernmost Dioundiou sub-districts, with housing and most with farmland.

At their farewell service in June 2021, many say they feel like orphans, showing the deep impact Jonathan and Elaine had during their 42 years of service in Niger

In the Spring 2020 issue of SIM UK’s Serving Him magazine, we asked supporters to pray for a village in Niger where the Jesus Film was shown. Six married men and a primary-aged boy asked to follow Jesus.

In a second village, three men became Christians when the film was shown and a fourth man a week later. In a third village, there was one man and a young teen. These are all in the Dioundiou area.

It is early days yet and the work of sowing the precious seed takes time, but there will be a harvest and we are seeing the first fruits.

One of the greatest blessings of long-term service in one area is to work aside young pastors and evangelist whom you taught when they were children. Now as adults they are co-workers and the future. They are Nigerien believers and will stay as we leave. The baton is passed, but fellowship in prayer and communication remains.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks for the ways God has used Jonathan and Elaine to make him known in some of the least-reached communities.
  • Give thanks that in pointing to God and not themselves, they have been a blessing to countless numbers in Niger and beyond.
  • Pray remote believers will stand strong in their faith.
Jonathan and Elaine’s prayer letters over the years tell us some amazing stories about their faithfulness and God’s goodness amidst the ups and downs of rural life in Niger, West Africa, writes Angus Reid, SIM UK Mobiliser for South-East England. As they retire after decades of service, it’s impossible to capture everything, but below are just a few glimpses:

2000: Jonathan edits an ajami version of Luke’s gospel, and a Bible correspondence course is translated into Hausa.

1998: Issa walks with a single crutch after all medical hope seems gone. And he had seen his brother come to faith, too!

2005: Jonathan and Elaine seek to strengthen believers scattered across a wide area by coordinating TEE (Theological Education by Extension).

2014: The Burts work on audio ministry, translating The Way Of Righteousness series into Hausa.

2015: Jonathan and Elaine build houses for evangelists – and the bricks have to be made from scratch!

2017: 230 students go through the Read and Live literacy classes, and a number come to faith. Rainy seasons are taking their toll on gardens, church buildings and the evangelists’ houses.

2018: Students graduate from the Bible School where Jonathan has taught.

2020: A taste of practical challenges the Burts face… mains power cuts; FM radio transmitter breaks; several car problems; residence permit issues; a rise of terrorism; and a road accident. On the other hand, there is a literacy class with two new Christians.

Nestled among the affluent suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa, is Westlake township, where shacks and shanties have sprung up in every available space and backyard.

In this setting, violence and crime are commonplace and various forms of abuse sexual, physical, drugs and alcohol are high. Many young people have little hope of finding a job and turn to gangs and drugs in a bid to escape the harsh reality of their township existence.

Westlake township has a population of more than 10,000 in an area intended for only 1,500

With four times as many people living in Westlake than intended, around half of young people are unemployed and half the children have no father figure in their lives.

However, by the grace of God, many children and young adults now have a new sense of hope and purpose, thanks to the Young Legends programme, which exists to uplift them through sport, music, drama and Jesus

Young Legends was started in 2018 by three young South Africans with a passion for the community they know and love. Today, this independent, grass-roots initiative is now a partner project of SIM South Africa. 

The vision of the project is for Young Legends to be a place where children and young people can get off the streets and express themselves through football dance and drama. It also extends to sharing the good news of hope that is found in Jesus and for it to be a means of unifying the community to bring about reconciliation and restoration.

A Young Legends soccer team

Football

Young Legends started with football and now has 114 young people between the ages of 10 – 36 regularly training and playing matches. But not everyone wants to play football and so drama and dance groups were started to provide opportunities for young people who enjoy the creative arts. 

Young people at a Young Legends programme in 2019

Drama

A drama club meets four evenings each week, with up to 45 young people taking part in traditional dance and drama/performance classes.  The activities in each class focus on individual student’s potential and teach them how to express themselves artistically, as well as providing therapeutic methods to enable them to focus, and build confidence and trust amongst each other.

Teaching the Bible and about Jesus is a part of each and every class, which starts and ends with prayer, and the impact can be seen in the Westlake community, with many parents saying they notice the difference in their children who attend Young Legends programmes.

The message of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation found in Jesus is restoring family relationships; giving young people a new sense of hope and purpose and leading to drop in crime and substance abuse.

Praise God

  • He is using this exciting youth ministry is having a great impact on the township of Westlake and lives are being transformed.
  • The gospel of Jesus can be the anchor to enable young people to be selfless, respectful and understanding. 
  • That 15 young men now are committed Christians and are being encouraged to reach their friends.

By Kerry Allan

In September of 2020, I took on the role of Strategic Review Associate, meaning I would be helping SIM UK’s leadership team as it undertook a strategic review to discern and guide the organisation’s future direction.

Given that I had only joined SIM six months previously, I was unclear of what such a process would look like. Now, ten months later, I am in awe of God as I look back on how he’s led us through this review.

Ella McCorquodale, Strategic Review Associate

The first stage was listening as I helped coordinate Zoom calls with many of our key stakeholders and created surveys so that we could hear what our workers, staff, supporters, churches, and wider networks most care about.

It was an honour to get to listen in on these conversations and to glimpse the passion that the SIM UK family has for effectively reaching those communities where Christ is least known. It was a careful process to distil down all we had heard and pull out the key themes that would guide the next stage.

Then it was time for the leadership to weigh up all the ideas placed before us and prayerfully discuss which to focus on for this next season.

Throughout the discussions, I felt particularly called to ensure that wider inclusivity and diversity – two of the goals of the strategic review – remained at the centre of the team’s decisions.

It was a real joy to see how SIM’s leadership thoughtfully discussed, graciously disagreed, and pursued God’s will throughout this stage.

I feel grateful for the journey God has led us on throughout the strategic review so far, and for the areas of growth he has highlighted. As we look to the future, I am hopeful for the positive, kingdom-focused ways SIM UK will continue to develop.

By Ella McCorquodale

Ella will be moving to Texas, USA, to begin her Masters in Social Policy Evaluation at Rice University. From there, she hopes to go on to shape the way corporations’ supply chains operate, in order to stop forced labour taking place.

Please pray

  • Give thanks for Ella’s faithful service as a Missions Assistant with SIM UK.
  • Pray for wisdom for SIM UK’s board and the Director’s Leadership Team as it moves forward with its Strategic Review.
  • Pray the decisions reached will honour God and equip SIM’s people in their call to make Christ known in communities where he is least known.

Ram Shrestha and his wife Keshari are sharing the gospel on the streets of Rochdale

Ram Shrestha is a respected and experienced missiologist who has chosen to leave behind a very fruitful ministry in South Asia to serve with a UK church-planting network in Rochdale.

Ram is among a group of new workers joining SIM UK’s pioneering ENGAGE programme, which brings gospel workers from overseas to work in UK churches and help them to bridge cultural gaps within their communities.

“I’m very thankful to the Lord for the opportunity to teach and preach across my home country for many years,” says Ram.

“By his grace, I was able to set up a national body, through which we trained thousands of pastors, leaders and youth, but I’d been praying to serve as a mission workers for more than 10 years and felt it could be fulfilled through SIM UK’s ENGAGE strategy,” he adds.

SIM UK connected Ram with The Antioch Network, which has various church-planting projects in the north of the UK, including Rochdale, which is a multicultural town with people from many nations, including Iran, Pakistan, India, Romania, Iraq and Africa.

By 2025, The Antioch Network aims to plant at least 16 churches in deprived areas of the UK.

However, Ram’s journey to UK mission wasn’t straightforward especially when Covid travel restrictions meant he and his wife Keshari found themselves stranded in the UK for six months.

“After visiting different places, God spoke strongly in our hearts that we should look for an opportunity to serve in the Rochdale are, but at the end of our first visit, the airport back home suddenly closed five days before we were due to fly,” he recalls.

“Kind and gracious friends sent gifts of money to meet our immediate needs and opened their homes to us. SIM UK then paid for our PCR tests and the airfare to return to South Asia while we waited for our visas.

“Then when the vaccination rollout began, thankfully we were able to alter our flights to arrive a few hours before the new ‘red list’ quarantine regulations were introduced.”

Since arriving in Rochdale, Ram has wasted no time in beginning his ‘community mercy’ ministry and regularly takes part in prayer walking and volunteering in a charity shop.

“We’re enjoying being able to move around freely and talk to people; sharing the gospel on the streets and inviting people to our house for meals,” he says.

The couple have also launched a new bookstall outside the church they serve, which has been attracting people who are open to conversation and prayer.

Ram is also leading Bible studies and preaching, although his strategy as a cross-cultural worker, won’t be to only use the local church to bring people for worship as he says the building can be “a barrier” for many ethical groups.

As the couple learn to adjust to a new context and culture, Ram says it is “a joy to meet people and build relationships”.

“While stranded in the UK and staying in three different places, I’ve learned to depend upon the Lord in whatever circumstance I may have to go through,” he adds.

“I know God sends his people to help and support in times of hardship and watches over us in our times of trouble.

“We were so excited when we finally got to move to the UK, but were worried about contracting Covid whilst travelling, so we trusted the Lord for his provision. I know he will continue to be with us as we obey his call for his mission.

“Ultimately, no pandemic or anything greater  can affect the plan of God and he will make things happen in his appointed time. “

By Kerry Allan

If you would like more information about ENGAGE, or to talk through how it might work for you, please email our ENGAGE coordinator Tim Barrow ([email protected]) or call 01223 788288.

Please pray

  • Give thanks for the partnerships that makes possible the important work of ENGAGE.
  • For Ram to build strong partnerships with Christian leaders in Rochdale. 
  • Pray visitors to the bookstall will return and be willing to exploring Christianity on a deeper level.
‘In 1913, he walked into my village and shared the good news of Jesus with us.’
Dr Joshua Bogunjoko is the International Director of SIM International

I come from Nigeria and many years ago, we were the communities where Christ was least known.

In 1911, Guy Playfair, a champion athlete from Canada, decided to take the gospel to Nigeria, instead of competing in the Olympics.

In 1913, he walked into my village and shared the good news of Jesus with us.

At that time, my community was known as a place of occult practices and folk Islam. My own family were Muslims and worshipped idols and I grew up in a home where you could still see the idols around. But God blessed this work and brought my family to salvation.

Crossing barriers to communities where Christ is least known has been the DNA of SIM from the beginning. It is who we are; it is how we’re made; and who we’re made of.

We are committed to places where Jesus is not yet known. That was the experience of my community and that is my heart today and the heart of all those who serve in SIM.

Playfair had responded to Jesus’ command to be his witnesses even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8) and a few years later, God called out to a teacher called Beth Webb, also from Canada, who came to Ibaja in Nigeria and it was there, God used her to disciple me when I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ while in high school.

God raised them up to bring the good news of Christ to my community – the people who were living in darkness at that time.

My wife Joanna and I responded to God’s call to go to communities where Christ was least known and we praise God for the privilege of serving the people of Niger over an 11-year period.

Today, Niger is still a country where Christ is least known and there are many more around the world.

That’s why we talk about ‘faithful witnesses’ in places where Christ is least known. They are the forgotten communities.

Seventy per cent of the world’s mission workers are in places where there are many churches and believers and only three per cent are in places where there is no gospel witness; no churches and no believers.

SIM believes it’s important to respond to the call of Jesus to be witnesses to him to the ends of the earth and why we launched our Faithful Witness scheme.

Faithful Witness Ministry Lead Michelle Krewson says: “Our desire is for our teams to build trust and lasting relationships as faithful witnesses in places where there is no gospel; no believers and no mission workers. We pray people will get involved by:

  • Praying for a least-reached community and team.
  • Sharing with their church or community.
  • Supporting a Faithful Witness worker.
  • Serving on a Faithful witness team.

The Faithful Witness initiative already has 38 workers on board – 15 already in place and 23 ready to cross barriers to make Jesus known.

If God is calling you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch via email to: [email protected]

How long does it take you to write a text message? Probably a minute at most. But imagine sending more than 1,000? On the off-chance your social circle was that large, the pace would be impossible for one person.

With four staff and 15 volunteers, the SIM Peru team in Arequipa only had a slightly better chance of contacting hungry families in their city each week, to distribute food packages and encouraging Bible material.

Many of those families were going without food due to the financial hardships of 2021 and along with Peru being a deadly COVID-19 hotspot and under military lockdown, their plight worsened.

SIM’s David Jeyachandran says: “Thousands of Venezuelan refugees in Peru, who normally made a living selling things on the street, were left without any source of income and our aim was to help them through this crisis.”

Using an Excel spreadsheet to register families’ details and notify and confirm distribution via individual texts, the team began delivering food parcels to as many as 300 people each week.

But as numbers grew eventually hitting 3,000 it became clear that such a manual approach was no longer adequate. At this point, David decided to draw on his roots as a software engineer and assisted by volunteer web developers build a simple online system.

Although the website has ‘no frills’, says David, it provides automated steps for the team to make it extremely accessible, especially for those on devices with low signals.

“The website allowed people to register online and place themselves on a map. It then helps us to allocate people to a food delivery point and send invitations via WhatsApp so people receive a message letting them know when and where to pick up food,” he explains.

Hosted for free and created by fellow members of his online crowdsourcing community for web systems, David says he couldn’t have made the website by himself even if he’d worked for 20 hours a day.

Volunteers who pack and deliver the food also play a vital part in the project’s success even visiting parks and other landmarks on foot to distribute supplies when bus services in the city stopped.

David originally came to Peru to do university campus ministry, not coding, but his previous experience opened doors to teach programming to students and work on SIM’s Latin American sites.

“Technology is a small part of any process, but without the website, the process would have been more complex and this was much less stressful for volunteers.”

By Tianna Haas

Please pray

  • Praise God he uses the talents and past experiences of his people to bless the world and glorify his name.
  • Give thanks for SIM’s food aid project to help Peruvian families in extreme need.
  • For the online system to continue functioning smoothly and open doors to gospel-filled conversations.
Tim McMahon is a SIM UK mission worker dedicated to ministry training

Understanding how culture affects community is vital when working in an increasingly diverse Britain and why SIM UK seeks to help churches and ministry teams develop in this area.

A team of united people from every tribe, tongue and nation celebrating and sharing their different cultures as they serve Christ, is a powerful witness and provides a close-up look at authentic Christian community for those we seek to reach with the good news.

SIM’s multicultural mission teams demonstrate the diversity of cultures the Lord has allowed to develop in his world, but we recognise that unity in diversity is not easy to do.

Until June 2021, SIM UK is running intercultural ministry training workshops to help to churches, Christian organisations or ministry networks as they seek to become truly intercultural.

This training is both theological and practical and gives churches a great opportunity to consider how it might better reflect God’s kingdom of all nations. Adrian, Assistant Pastor of Woodford Evangelical Church

Dr Ken Baker, SIM’s Global Training Director

Dr Ken Baker, SIM’s Global Training Director, has many years’ experience helping churches and SIM mission teams as they embark on the transition from being largely monocultural to becoming truly intercultural.

He identified the biblical principles that motivate such change and developed the practical training resources to help churches and ministry teams make the transition.  

SIM UK mission trainer Tim McMahon and Insur Shamgunov, who founded a missionary training college in Central Asia and a learning development consultant in the UK, then merged Ken’s training material with their experience to provide biblical and practical sessions on:

Insur Shamgunov
Insur Shamgunov
  • The biblical imperative for intercultural community.
  • Understanding culture and its effect on community.
  • The need for attitude change and the rejection of cultural supremacy.
  • Change of management principles and practice.
  • Case studies from practitioners of intercultural ministry.

By the end, each participant will be well underway to lead change in their church, organisation or network, by:

• Identifying the people group(s) in their locality that their church, organisation or network is seeking to reach,
• Making plans for cross-cultural ministry programmes and/or groups,
• Starting to see the beginnings of an intercultural ‘vibe’ develop, alongside some cross-cultural engagement.

We know that a church or ministry team becoming intercultural is a goal the Evil One would love to derail, so we pray the church and team leaders doing the training will have the faith and courage to pursue the intercultural ideal, despite any opposition and setbacks.

By Tim McMahon

Please pray

  • Give thanks that SIM has the people and experience to give biblical guidance and practical tips on how to be unified in Christ.
  • That participants will implement the biblical principles and practical wisdom shared during the training.
  • For churches and ministry teams to make the necessary changes so genuine intercultural community develops.
SIM UK’s Innovation Manager Chloe Blainey

I wonder what you think of when the words ‘next generation’ appear?

For me, it is both the children of today, who will become tomorrow’s adults; but also, the emerging world of technological, cultural and social developments that these young people immersed in a newly-digital world have created.

In SIM UK’s strategic review, the question weaving its way through many threads of listening and research, has been: What does the next generation of SIM UK look like? – both for the workers we send, but also the ways we equip, serve, and work with the UK church and mission members.

Generation Z (aka Gen Z) succeeds Millennials and refers to those born between 1995-2014. According to social scientists, Gen Z-ers are ‘digital natives’ and activists for development and improvement (as characterised by teen icons such as Greta Thunberg).

Generation Alpha follows on from Gen Z and refers to the first generation born entirely in the 21st Century. Early trends show digital ease and world-changing attitudes in Generation Alpha are only set to continue as technology becomes increasingly part of everyday life – already a large proportion of seven-year-olds able to code or use robotics.

When we match these attitudes and skills to the work of sharing the gospel, there are many exciting and creative possibilities of how the good news can be shared.

But we need to think how SIM UK will adapt to the rapidly-changing future, whilst remaining committed to its core purpose of sending and receiving workers who make disciples.

  • How can we use the gift of technology to mobilise and train digital natives?
  • How can we use the passions for social justice or the environment, alongside the sharing of the good news?

We long to see children engaged with mission from an early age, praying for communities around the world, or imagining ways they would want to serve Christ when they grow up.

That’s why in September 2020, we launched our monthly prayer resource SIMpray Kids in order to help the next generation pray effectively for gospel needs around the world, which you can sign up for here.

Becoming a Christian at university after the gospel was shared with me by a fellow student, whose family served in south Asia, helped mission awareness to be there from my first days as a believer.

How grateful I am that God led me from there to have the privilege of thinking about how SIM can best envision the next cohort of workers and supporters! 

But it’s not just youth we see as the ‘next generation’. There are also those who have retired early – bringing a desire to use skills and experience from diverse careers – as well as many other interpretations of ‘next generation’, based on diverse vocations or backgrounds.

SIM UK would love to see others enabled to be the next generation by the removal of any barriers that currently make them think missions isn’t possible for them.

It’s already an encouragement to see members of the next generations sent to SIM teams around the world even during a time of pandemic.

However long they stay, may their experiences not only benefit the communities they serve and make disciples in, but also equip and envision the next generation to mission support and service – just like the fellow student who shared the gospel with me.

Please pray

  • For the SIM UK review team as it considers how best to recruit, train and prepare future mission workers.
  • For God to be causing the children and youth in the UK church to consider their part in the Great Commission.
  • For our many next generation workers already in service, to be built up, developed, and used mightily for God’s purposes.
Kara B

Despite travel restrictions and the challenge of raising support during a global pandemic, 27-year-old physiotherapist Kara B never stopped trusting in God’s perfect timing.

“Raising support during a pandemic when people had less financial security was very challenging, but seeing how God worked it out has really grown my trust and faith,” she says.

When SIM UK had to hold its summer Orientation for new workers online, Kara took it in her stride and remembers it as a blessing.

“Being able to meet members of staff made me felt better connected to the organisation and I enjoyed learning about spiritual vitality and resilience as I waited to leave the UK,” she recalls.

“Throughout the months of uncertainty, I was also grateful for the support and encouragement of my church and for the prayers of my family, friends and SIM.”

Before leaving to join the SIM team in Ghana, Kara worked as a physiotherapist on the Covid wards at Barnet Hospital.

“God’s peace during my time of support-raising was a great blessing and doing virtual Bible study with some of my oldest friends during lockdown helped me process some of my feelings during the hardest months and maintain a healthy and consistent relationship with God,” she recalls.

Kara finally arrived in Ghana in January and although her new rural lifestyle is a far cry from bustling city life, she remains excited about pursuing her passion for cross-cultural mission during her two-year placement in community health ministry.

“After I arrived, I had to quarantine for seven days and after another negative swab, I was able to leave the compound.

“After two weeks, we then drove up to Tumu, where I’ll be living. It took two days and we drove through six regions and many villages, where I saw the lush green landscapes of the eastern region change to the dry charcoal dusted fields of the upper west region.

“My first impressions of Tumu were that it was larger than I expected and the goats and the sheep look alike! But the climate is so dry that it doesn’t just affects my body, but also the food.

“I know it will be a challenge adjusting to the climate, which will impact my capacity to do things, as well as life’s new speed, however, I’m looking forward to meeting new people, making new friendships and learning how to prepare local dishes.

“I’m also excited about understanding the culture more and joining in with what God is doing here. I’m learning the local language and I plan to go out every day to practise what I learn as I greet people and start a conversation with them.

“My work in community health education combines my health background with discipleship and I’m open to God using my fondness for youth work and creativity. My time in Ghana will also help me to discern if God is calling me to come back for a longer term.”

Art and poetry is an important outlet for Kara, who is sent by St Barnabas Church, north London, and much of the self-taught contemporary visual artist’s work is coloured by her deep Jamaican and Ghanaian roots.

“A good friend encouraged me to use my passion for art as one way of raising some support during lockdown and I found using my creative skills very liberating.

“Art is also a great tool for whilst I have a very basic grip of the local language and I can use it to bless others, as well as a way for me to process what God is showing me.

“This is just the beginning of my art journey and of course, my paints and sketch book have come with me!”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For Kara to adjust and transition well as she joins the SIM Ghana team.
  • That new relationships will lead to good conversations and opportunities for Kara to share the gospel.
  • For Kara to be sensitive to how God wants to use her skills in Tumu; to bless his people and to draw them closer to him.

Over the past five years, SIM UK has seen how God has enabled us to fulfil our vision to work with churches to send and receive gospel workers who make disciples in communities where Christ is least known.

“In 2019, we began to start seeking God about what he’d have us do in the next five years – not realising the world was about to change as dramatically as it did in 2020!” says SIM UK’s Personnel Director Deborah Agnes. 

“However, in many ways, Covid-19 has only emphasised the gospel needs of the billions who are living and dying without Christ around the world,” adds Deborah.

“The pandemic also opened our eyes to the opportunities – and limitations – of a world that’s digitally connected. We recognise we will only thrive if we understand what the next generation of gospel workers need in order to share the gospel in communities where Christ is least known.

“Over the past year, we’ve listened to our mission workers, staff, UK churches and partners,” adds Deborah. “We’ve had working groups looking at our service delivery and what we need to be aware of as we seek to send the next generation in mission. 

“We all had to rethink so much, going through the trials of the pandemic, but we are hugely grateful to those who contributed ideas, returned surveys and were part of working groups.

“Whilst our vision is remaining the same, our Strategic Review is considering how we will respond to a changing world and stay well-placed to serve the Church in its mission to the nations. There’s a lot more detailed work still to be done, but devising our strategic plan has proved a timely exercise and we look forward to sharing what main areas we want to develop over the coming five years soon.” 

SIM UK’s new central offices
SIM UK’s recent move to a new base in Cambridge has also proved timely given the logistical and financial challenges of this year and we pray our new base will enable us to better connect across the diversity of the evangelical church and meet the needs of mission in the 21st Century. Our new address is: 6 Trust Court, Histon, Cambridge, CB24 9PW.

Please pray

  • For wisdom as SIM UK enters the next phase of finalising its Strategic Review.
  • Give thanks and praise for the opportunities the new SIM UK base will hold to work with all our partners in the months and years to come.
  • That SIM UK will continue to serve churches seeking to cross barriers with the gospel in places where Christ is least known and the Church least resourced.

With more than seven million refugees in Europe, the HowWillTheyHear (HWTH) project has a passion to give people the skills they need to share the gospel with refugees living in their communities.

Despite the pandemic and Covid restrictions, HWTH launched a mission school in February for Muslim background believers (MBB).

HWTH wants to see more workers trained to be able to reach the refugees living among them and The Mission and Leadership Academy is aimed at three main groups:

New believers, those who want to get involved in missions among refugees and those already serving refugees.

When it opened, more than 80 registered Arabic and Farsi (Iranian background believers) students from eight European countries signed up and more joined in week two, including four men crowded around a single mobile phone in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos.

“The Mission Academy takes you on a journey to learn and gain new spiritual experiences and skills in the field of mission work, within the European context,” explains SIM UK mission worker and Arab speaker Peter Samir (right) who serves with the HWTH project and presents the training programme.

“Today is a real opportunity to discover who is the true God in the frame of freedom of worship and freedom of religious belief in Europe. There is a great general calling for Arab believers to share their faith and bear witness to God’s work for Arabs in Europe,” he adds.

Although all the weekly studies are online, students are also able to meet locally in person, to reflect on the main study themes of the four-month course:

  • Biblical dimensions of missionary work.
  • Cultural and anthropological dimensions in European society.
  • Challenges of the Christian faith in front of atheism and eastern religions.
  • Tentmaking and the financial independence of the missionary.

“With great feedback from the students, we pray they will know their calling and discover what the next step is for their lives,” says Peter.

Contact [email protected] to see how HWTH can help your church raise leaders among new MBB believers.

Please pray

For the pastors, leaders and teachers at the academy and those who are mentoring and supporting students in prayer.

For each student to use their training to reach more refugees and make more disciples by God’s grace and power.

The new potential mission workers will be a valuable resource to our local ministry partners seeking people to join them.

Fulani are one of the largest ethnic groups in west Africa with only a few believers among these traditionally nomadic herders.

Tambaya Ibrahim, a Bodaado Fulani, travels across Niger to preach to the Fulani and encourage new believers declaring: “God has called me to reach Fulani who had never heard the ‘habaru beldum’ (sweet news) and this dominates all my thoughts.”

Read Tambaya’s testimony below

I am a Bodaado Fulani. My father and forefathers are Wodaabe; all of them were cattle herders. I grew up in the bush. I knew only shepherding cattle – nothing else. As a child, I never visited a town, large or small. Sometimes, men might go to a town market, but children and women never went to towns. We only stayed in the bush.

I was born during the famine of 1974, when my people experienced much suffering, including the death of all our animals. Many lost everything. Within a week of my birth, my father was visited by Malaam T, a friend who was a Christian.

He brought the customary greeting for my birth and asked if he could pray for me. Although my father was a Muslim, he accepted.

Malaam blessed me and asked God to make me a worker for him.

Ten years later, during the second terrible famine, our people went to a large city to find food. There, two of my uncles met a mission worker, who explained to them the way of Jesus Christ. They trusted in Jesus that day.

From a young age, I suffered from terrible nightmares. My family thought these were caused by evil spirits and nothing could be done to alleviate these terrors.

On one occasion, I was taken to a traditional healer, who explained what must be done. My parents were away at the time, but when my mother returned, she flatly refused such a treatment. Then she prayed a prayer I will never forget, ‘Jesus, I trust you. You have saved me and my son. He is yours. If you choose to, you can cure him.’

Tambaya is on the governing board of SIM Niger, which advises and directs the vision of SIM’s activities in Niger


She then took me to another town to see my father, who was now a believer.

While there, a SIM mission worker talked with me about Jesus and asked if I wanted to follow him. I trusted Christ that day. God removed evil spirits from me, and the nightmares stopped.

My heart was filled with joy and I began to follow Jesus.

I learned to read and write and loved studying. Some years later, a pastor observed my passion for learning and encouraged me to go to Bible school. This was God’s leading and I studied four years at a Fulani Bible school in Benin. God has called me to reach Fulani who had never heard the habaru beldum (sweet news) and this dominates all my thoughts.

I travel across Niger to preach to Fulani and encourage believers, finding great joy in working for the Lord; my life a testimony to how God is answering Malaam’s prayer for me at birth.

Courtesy of SIM’s AfriGO magazine

Please pray

  • For the Fulani who have responded to the gospel, despite much opposition from their families and society.
  • For God to raise up more workers to be evangelists to their own people.
  • Give thanks that many people are coming to Christ all over the world and among communities where there were few believers in the past.

In 2016, SIM workers at our clinic in Doro, South Sudan, launched a maternity and family planning training programme.

The aim was to teach a vast and diverse community the importance of seeking safe reproductive health services, as well as reaching them with the good news of Jesus.

A total of 45 women have now been trained as reproductive health services promoters and are employed by SIM’s neighbouring health facilities to use their new knowledge and skills.

Many have also become believers through working in collaboration with the clinic’s chaplain during their training.

The diverse team at SIM Doro Clinic serves more than 150,000 people from within the local village and refugee camps.

The village of Doro was once a sleepy village in the middle of the bush, but today, hosts houses the largest refugee camp where more than 51,000 people are living – just outside the SIM clinic’s door.

Many living in other refugee camps around Doro, come from places that have in the past, been difficult if not impossible for mission workers to reach and seeking care at the clinic is the first time they have the opportunity to hear the gospel.

History

The clinic was started by Dr Bob Grieve in 1938. He and his wife, Claire, sought to serve the local Maban population with much-needed medical care.

They and their team also had a deep desire to introduce the Mabaans to Christ. Unfortunately, they were both killed in WWII when an Italian plane bombed the region.

The clinic was opened and closed a few times during the long 50-year civil war in Sudan and reopened its doors in 2008.

Currently, the clinic provides outpatient services including a very busy primary health care clinic, prenatal and maternity services, leprosy treatment, and a nutrition village that serves the needs of severely malnourished children.

By Kerry Allan

Your support

Support a clinic assistant with a week’s salary enables them to continue their work supporting those in greatest need. Click here for details.

Please pray

  • Give thanks the SIM clinic cares for the physical and spiritual needs of more than 35,000 patients a year.
  • For funding to enable staff to provide round-the-clock maternity services to an expected increased population by September 2021.
  • For protection of clinic staff and patients from Covid 19. 

It was the summer of 1987 and Samson, a Muslim, had just graduated high school and unbeknown to him, life was about to change in miraculous ways when a young girl called Veronica, introduced herself to him.

Veronica came from a devout Christian family and was part of the local Christian union, which was the ‘talk of the town’ as Samson explains: “We used to think the Scripture Union were the only faithful Christians in Nigeria. They were very dedicated, very Christ-like in everything they did.

“We respected them so much and said if you come from any other religion, don’t try to get a man or woman from their circle. But then one came my way.”

Veronica invited Samson to church and told him about Jesus. What developed was, in Samson’s eyes, a “holy, sacred friendship,” however, in the eyes of their parents, it was more a matter of forbidden love. “Me being a Muslim and she being a Christian was terrifying for them,” Samson shares.

Veronica adds: “It was so difficult because at first my mum was not happy, everybody was angry, asking ‘How can this be?’ There was a lot of fighting and arguments, but we kept on seeing each other.”

Surprisingly, it was Samson’s sister who tried to build a bridge between the families by going to Veronica’s family and saying: “If they love each other, I will fight for them.”

The church was also concerned about Veronica’s desire to marry a non-believer and it became a divisive issue with their pastor committing to fast and pray about their marriage.

Samson recalls him declaring: “The Lord says, ‘Leave them alone.’ He is behind this.” Sadly, for the couple, being left alone translated to being cast out and abandoned by the church.

However, eventually, the message of the gospel took root in his heart, and Samson professed faith in Jesus.

Since then, he’s attended Bible school and taken university courses in theology. He has led church plants and served as a pastor himself. Now parents to four adult children, they are preparing for the next chapter of their lives.

The couple plan to relocate to Thailand in late 2021 and will join a Faithful Witness team in a village that has little exposure to the gospel. Their two daughters, Eunice and Anne, will accompany them.

Eunice is 20 and has a passion for baking and dancing. She is studying international management and will continue her education remotely from Thailand. “Personally, I feel excited about it,” she says. “We are ready for new discovery and adventure; new beginnings in our lives as Christians and as members of SIM.”

Anne is 18 and the youngest (or as Samson refers to her, ‘the Benjamin’ of the house). She’s in her first year of university and wants to study communication and translation.

“I loved as a kid that my parents always talked about mission in their prayers. I’m now seeing it happen and I’m so happy and excited,” she says.

Samson and Veronica have jobs with an international school and between work and home life, they make time for Thai language learning as they try to raise funds for relocation, although this is proving difficult.

Veronica admits: “It’s challenging because you’ve been the one giving before and now you’re asking for help.”

But Samson stays positive and adds: “I’m not discouraged. I’m confident and tell my wife every day that the Lord knows what he’s doing. If he started it, he’s going to perfect it.”

And this perfecting is evident in how God is caring for details of the couple’s ministry in Thailand. The SIM team’s desire is to use sport as an outreach opportunity and Samson is an avid athlete, with table tennis, badminton, and volleyball among his favourites sports.

The family will receive a warm send-off from their Muslim relatives who recognise that something bigger is unfolding, says Samson: “They finally see that the Lord is behind it. It’s not at all by our power.”

While Covid and other lingering obstacles may seem overwhelming, Veronica and Samson are familiar with waiting on the Lord and submitting everything to him in prayer. And when doubt creeps in, they need only go back to the beginning to see God’s kindness on display.

By Amy Bareham Chapman

Plans to launch a surgical training programme in Madagascar are moving one step closer, as final ratification is expected by the end of April.

SIM UK member Ted Watts is the senior surgeon at The Good News Hospital in Mandritsara, and is spearheading an exciting vision that will ensure this vital medical mission continues for years to come.

The hospital plans to train local Malagasy doctors in partnership with PAACS the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons which exists to disciple African Christian physicians and train them to be surgeons.

With very limited training opportunities and fewer than 100 surgeons serving the island’s 26 million inhabitants, the hospital has always relied on overseas missionary surgeons

“While we do very much welcome both junior and senior doctors from the UK joining us for a short time, at the heart of our plan is looking to the future, when some years down the line, we’ll have local, Malagasy surgeons who are mission-minded and providing high-quality surgical care,” explains Ted, who is sent by Beeston Free Evangelical Church.

The five-year PAACS training programme would give Malagasy junior doctors a qualification equivalent to a surgical qualification from the UK and include a discipleship curriculum to enable graduates to be gospel-minded, as well as highly-trained in their medical skills.

Dr Jesh Thiessen, Dr Marco and Dr Ted Watts (Marco and Jesh are new surgeons recently arrived at the hospital and the three surgeons will be the ‘faculty’ for the PAACS programme)

As Ted explains: “Alongside teaching the junior doctors the knowledge and skills they need, we can also model and teach them to be surgeons who are compassionate towards those they treat.

“We want our graduates to be those who love Jesus and love to tell others about him surgeons who take every opportunity that healthcare provides to share the good news.”

The programme has already been approved by the PACCS surgical council and the decision now needs final ratification by the PAACS board, which is due by the end of the month.

“We hope the programme will be a blessing to the whole country as graduates take this brand of highly-skilled, compassionate, mission-minded surgery to the furthest reaches of the island,” says Ted.

Dr Marco supervises Dr Tefy (a junior surgeon, hoping to be one of the first PAACS residents) along with Njara and Hulda, two of the Good News Hospital’s theatre nurses
  • The Good News Hospital hopes to launch its PAACS programme in January 2022.

Please pray

  • For rising Covid-19 numbers to be brought under control and God’s protection on hospital staff.
  • For God’s will to be done as the PAACS board meets later this month to make a final decision.
  • That the trained graduates would be surgeons who take every opportunity to share the good news with their patients.

By Kerry Allan

When you pick a book, you’re not just reading words and punctuations – you’re travelling to places you have never been and meeting people you’ve never met before.

Many will tell you that a hunger for reading gnaws harder when you can’t find the right book. This is a hunger that mission workers Tony and Julia Mburu knew too well.

Biographies were a huge motivation for the couple during their discipleship training with SIM’s friends at the Kenyan organisation Mission Campaign Network (MCN).

Like hungry caterpillars, they devoured books such as The End of the Spear, For this Cross, I Will Kill You, and biographies of Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward and other brave mission workers.

These biographies, focused on taking the gospel to others and influenced the couple to become mission mobilisers, as the inspirational stories opened their eyes to God’s heart for saving the nations and their role in it.

From the outset of their ministry, they drew up lists of the best books they found, encouraging others to read them.

Many were dismayed and frustrated, however, by lack of access to these books. The couple therefore decided to source books for their friends, colleagues, and the people they were ministering to.

In 2013, they began selling books, soon discovering that selling to readers scattered around a country was not easy. As newlyweds setting out on life together, they did not have cash to rent premises, and they did not know a book supplier.

Their venture fizzled and their dream remaining untouched until 2020.

After they moved to Mombasa in 2017, a friend introduced them to a ministry supplying Christian books to booksellers and organisations in Kenya.

“The desire to get involved in bookselling was there, but we hadn’t fully grasped the logistics,” they said.

In early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic closed down the country for several weeks, causing job losses and pay cuts.

This also greatly affected the Mburus. Many of their supporters had little choice but to withdraw their financial contribution, while others significantly reduced theirs.

In no time, 40 per cent of their financial support had trickled away. They needed a fast solution, and the book idea was the first to come to mind.

People, now confined to their homes, had switched to shopping online, removing the previous obstacles of premises and distance.

Obtaining stock from a book supplier, they founded Bottomline Books in July 2020, with the goal of providing quality Christian books focused on discipleship and mission.

The name ‘bottomline’ is derived from the Kairos course’s training on bottom-line blessings; teaching that we are blessed to be a blessing – to spread the love of Christ.

Tony Mburu

Avoiding motivational and self-help books, Tony and Julia carefully select sound discipleship and missional books, biographies and biblical books for children.

Tony created a Facebook page and invited his friends to follow. His WhatsApp group has 196 participants and he uses the groups to market books, advertise new stock, and allow members to reserve books for purchase.

Tony takes photos of book covers to post with prices on WhatsApp and Facebook, where customers can order. Once payment has been made, the books are sent to a central pick-up point in various towns to be collected in person or delivered for a fee.

“Our goal is to build rich libraries in people’s homes, and we’re glad that we’re able to do that while augmenting our income,” he says.

Proceeds from book sales are used for MCN team ministry in Mombasa, to support other missionaries and for their own family needs.

By Mercy Kambura (This article first appeared in SIM’s AfriGo magazine)

Please pray

  • For perseverance and resourcefulness for many missionaries facing the loss of financial support during the pandemic.
  • For new support channels to open for missionaries, ministries and churches so they may carry forward all God has called them to do.
  • For readers to be transformed by the books newly available through BottomLine Books.

SIM UK’s most important resource is its people and the reason it created a special team to support mission workers and families in their ministries both in the UK and overseas.

Rob Eldred serves with SIM UK as our People Care coordinator

Led by our coordinator Rob Eldred, the People Care team includes Cheryl Gibson as Family Adviser for families and TCKs (Third Culture Kids), and Phil Griffin as Health Coordinator.

“People Care is about building relationships with those God has placed in our care and in partnership with churches, we strive to ensure our mission workers and their families are equipped, cared for and able to grow throughout their mission service,” Rob explains.

“In sending people, SIM recognises the sacrifice and commitment of those sent cross-culturally to make disciples and we want to be good stewards of the people God has entrusted to us.”

Rob and his team provide online debriefs, crisis care and ongoing support for workers, plus training in areas such as resilience and burnout, as well as liaising closely with our mobilisers and helping during SIM UK’s orientation programme for new workers.

The People Care team was set up in 2018, dedicated to caring for our mission workers’ health; spiritually, physically and psychologically. The principles of People Care are:

  • A genuine and intentional concern for people.
  • People care is a whole organisational commitment.
  • People care involves working in partnership.
  • People care applies to every worker.
  • People care is a flow of ongoing care from recruitment to retirement.

Support during a global lockdown

The coronavirus pandemic meant many mission workers returning to the UK had to delay their return; live with the uncertainty of getting flights and then leave quickly.

“All this impacted the way people left, meaning goodbyes and endings were cut short and they did not leave how they had hoped to,” recalls Rob.

“This was tough on those leaving and those being left and the people care team, alongside mobilisers, offered debriefs as part of the ongoing care.

“Coming alongside people and allowing them to process and grieve these losses was a crucial part of people care during this time. Doing this in partnership with the sending church also enabled them to understand what the mission worker was going through and what ongoing care was needed.”

The People Care team offered ‘crisis debriefs’ for mission workers feeling overstretched as their workload increased and colleagues left the field during lockdown.

“Crisis debrief gives the chance for the mission worker to talk to someone objectively outside of the situation, helping to normalise the stress going on and find healthy ways to cope and receive further support to sustain them,” adds Rob.

People care applies to all workers, including the children sent through SIM UK and the team seeks to ensure the whole family is valued and supported as they serve in mission.

Connecting with families was also high priority for the people care team throughout the pandemic,

“Our family adviser Cheryl initially sent resources around our families to help equip them, such as home-schooling ideas or coping with anxiety during lockdown,” says Rob.

“Continuous support was offered in the form of online debriefs for children; sending cards of encouragement, and regular catch-up meetings to help prepare the whole family to return.”

Despite the difficulties of this past year, Rob says it has been a joy to see candidates coming through the process and to be involved in equipping them to serve.

This has included running sessions during orientation, such as staying healthy, TCK support and resilience.

“Learning together is an enriching time not just for our candidates, but for us also!” adds Rob.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For the People Care team as it offers support and care to mission workers and the mobilisation team.
  • That the team will continue to serve with God’s grace.

“Many Sunday School teachers want a story and a colouring page, but we wanted a creative, Biblical session that engages children and gives them good foundations for understanding the Bible correctly for themselves,” explains SIM UK teacher Mike who, has served in the Middle East with his wife Vicky, for 18 years.

When the couple moved to a new church in 2013, they offered to help run the Sunday School with the help of some of the local church members and asked TnT if they could translate its ‘Mustard Seeds’
children’s activity sheets.

TnT Ministries’ range of faithful and creative Bible teaching material has been translated into 12 languages and is used all over the world.

“The material was both Biblical and creative and worked so well that the children became more than half the church attendance!” says Mike.

“There’s everything you need for a 30- to 60-minute lesson, including Bible preparation and teaching plan; games, discussion questions, crafts and worksheets,” he adds.

“We then saw the need to train more teachers, but not all those willing to help were able to use the teacher’s material in English, so we asked whether TnT would be willing to embark on a full translation of the Mustard Seeds curriculum.”

Since 2016, Mike helped with the translation and the result is a dedicated Arabic web portal of the Mustard Seeds curriculum that gives free access to lessons covering an age range of 18 months to 18 years.

“We’ve only a few remaining series to be translated and the next important step is to have someone dedicated to promoting this resource and training more Arabic-speaking churches how to use it,” explains Mike.

“Everyone who’s tried it loves it and we’d like to get funding to employ someone locally to visit churches, offering training and helping them make the most of the material.

“The feedback from our partner churches is that they felt fed and trained by using it, as well as it being an excellent resource for their Sunday School classes.

“The lessons are so easy to access and you can download the whole PDF to read on your device and then only print the resources you need for a particular lesson,” explains Mike.

“The big challenge ahead is to convince churches that this curriculum is worth the time it takes to prepare as it’s not a quick and easy resource, although it gets much quicker as you learn it.”

Rory Bell, TnT Director of Training, says: “The result of this collaborative project with SIM UK is a portal dedicated to providing affordable, user-friendly resources for the Arab-speaking world that are free to download. A subscription for English and other languages is required, but discounts are available upon request, especially for mission workers.”

Go to www.mustardseeds. net/arabic to register and for more information.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For the Lord to provide funding for a worker to help train Arabic-speaking churches to use the Mustard Seeds curriculum.
  • That the new resources will be widely used by churches across the Middle East.
  • That they would provide the foundation for a new generation of gospel workers.

For nearly 20 years, career coaches Daniel and Jeanie Ough have been helping people cope with the challenges of unemployment and landing a new job.

Daniel Ough

“After living and working in Dubai for seven years, we emigrated to Australia in 2011. We are committed Christians who feel passionate and excited about using our skills to serve the kingdom as volunteers, which we have been doing with missionary organisations and Christian groups around the world since 2013,” says Daniel, a former engineer, originally from the UK.

Jeanie Ough

“When we moved to Dubai, we had no idea that God would lead us into coaching, using skills that he had equipped us with through life’s experiences,” adds Daniel. “We established a coaching company and worked with a wide range of clients, from university students to corporate executives, doing individual coaching, executive coaching, and team development.”

In 2013, the couple began using their coaching skills with SIM Australia, where they are now Associates – giving presentations at SIM conferences, as well as coaching individuals and SIM teams around the world.

When the pandemic was declared and the international travel ban prevented the couple from travelling overseas, they returned to what they’d been doing in Dubai – helping job seekers.

“We decided we wanted to reach out to those who had lost their jobs, or faced uncertainty, by offering job-search help services for free,” explains Daniel.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters - Colossians 3:23

The couple launched a website, where those needing help getting back into the workplace, are able to access their help, including free workshops over Zoom that focus on skills such as preparing a strong CV; succeeding at interviews; networking effectively and managing a career transition.

“As we’ve publicised our services through churches, in Christian publications and over Christian radio stations, many of our clients are Christians, including mission workers returning from the field who are looking for employment,” says Daniel, “but we also have non-believers as clients and we welcome the opportunity to witness to them through this service.”

The Oughs’ help is freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world, as long as they speak English. Find out more at www.jobsearchhelp4u.com

By Kerry Allan

Today, there are no known believers in the Kayes region of Mali, which is predominantly inhabited by Hassaniya herdsmen.

Living in this remote region on the edge of the Sahara, which until recently, was only accessible by unmade roads, are three major people groups: Moors (Hassaniya), Soninke, and Fulani.

Faithful Witness West Africa
The Hassaniya welcome gospel workers into their villages

The Hassaniya – named for the language they speak – are mostly Tijani Muslims. However, they are open to gospel workers coming and living amongst them.

Enter John*, Deborah* and their ten-month-old son, from Nigeria. John and Deborah, met while they were in university and married in 2017. They bonded over a shared enthusiasm for missions and trusted that God would eventually reveal to them his plan. That revelation came when SIM partners spoke at the couple’s church about Mali’s need for Christ.

“Going to Mali as part of our Faithful Witness scheme was absolutely God’s plan for this couple,” says Daniel Nunkop, SIM’s West African Mobilisation Office Director. “He is very, very passionate about reaching the lost. This is evident in the way John has cultivated a thriving student ministry at a local university in his home town. He’s also devoted himself to learning and recently earned his doctorate in theology.”

And when it comes to the couple as a team, Daniel says: “I see them as looking into the future of missions, not just the now. They have what it takes. I’m so excited about them because they are young and they are vibrant.”

The couple’s journey to Mali was beset by enormous challenges, but they remained faithful and arrived in Mali’s capital city Bamako in December 2019.

“We must confess it wasn’t an easy decision to make,” they admit. “But knowing that there are people dying without the opportunity of hearing about the salvation in Christ Jesus is enough reason for us. What good is a room with 100 lamps when another is in deep darkness?”

During their first visit, the couple and their Faithful Witness teammates received numerous requests, including help with reading and medical care. This made it very clear to the whole team that Kayes is a field ‘ripe for harvest’ but in need of harvesters.

The couple have been in language school since January, but are currently unable to attend classes owing to Covid-19.

And despite the challenges to gospel work there – including insecurity, a harsh climate, isolation, and deeply held cultural beliefs – SIM Mali Director Joshua Ngunta remains optimistic: “We want to step into this land by faith.”

  • There are opportunities to join the Mali Faithful Witness team in medicine, community health, teaching, adult literacy, rural development, engineering, sports, media, church planting, and anti-human trafficking.  To find out more, please contact [email protected] to talk to our team.

Please pray

  • For peace and stability in Mali and for God’s protection of John and Deborah as they transition to their new ministry location among the Hassaniya people.
  • For God’s Spirit to prepare the hearts of the Hassaniya to receive the gospel.
  • For God to bring more workers to join the Mali Faithful Witness team.
Penny

In April 2018, after 15 years working with women and children in northern Ghana, Penny was called to lead a new team – new in role and new to each other.

Part of Penny’s role involves working to develop stronger partnerships with Ghanaian church leaders as she shares SIM’s vision of sharing the love of Jesus in places where the gospel has seldom, if ever been heard.

In her role of moving the team forwards, Penny, sent by Holy Trinity Church, Norwich, has been exploring what it means to be a ‘team’ – especially in this time of Covid.

“The answer requires that we seek to look with God’s eyes through his Holy Spirit to see who he is calling together to accomplish his work in his world,” she says.

Pam

When Pam came to Ghana to oversee the guesthouse in Accra, little did she know that God would be calling her from the bustling city of Accra to the northern town of Sandema.

The Lord had laid on her heart the need to equip churches to reach and disciple children and a team is forming between pastors and parents, who are united by a deep desire to see their discipleship happening within the home.

Yvonne

Pam, who is sent by Carntyne Church, Glasgow, shares a house with SIM teammate Yvonne, whose heart is to see marketplace leaders in Sandema, view their work as worship.

During COVID-19, this growing team supported one another through further online training and encouraged one another as they learned.

Lockdown also gave Yvonne, who is sent by St Silas Church, Glasgow, time to study more about business in mission and she was able to work through online Christian business courses with three church leaders.

Bev

SIM Ghana Personnel Director Bev changed teams by leaving the balmy beauty of Kenya for Ghana. In 2020, Bev, who is sent by New Life Bible Church, Wealdstone, travelled by plane, car and packed minibuses in order to spend time with her teammates and to understand more of what life is like for them.

“My desire is to see this team thrive in life and ministry,” she says.

Kara

In 2021, SIM Ghana has welcomed a new member to its team: Kara, who is sent by St Barnabas Church, north London, and will be using her physiotherapy skills in community health ministry in the north of the country.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For Penny and Bev as they seek to move the Ghana team forward and explore new ways of working in this time of Covid.
  • For Yvonne and Pam to make good and safe connections as they relocate back to Sandema after sheltering in Accra.
  • That Kara will integrate well into the team and settle into a new, rural lifestyle and culture.

Five years ago, more than a million people crossed into Europe and safer parts of the Middle East to escape conflict and poverty. Many of them took huge risks and embarked on dangerous journeys in an effort to find a better life.

Knowing the most important thing is to find new life in Jesus Christ, SIM UK launched the pioneering HowWillTheyHear (HWTH) ministry – in partnership with several evangelical mission agencies – to share the gospel with refugees and migrants in the midst of the crisis.

Today, the HWTH vision remains unchanged: to see the global church respond to the migrant crisis through prayer and practical action.

“The reality is that the problem is still massive, as last year’s fire at the Moria refugee camp in Greece and the coronavirus lockdown has shown,” says SIM Europe Director Marcus Baeder, who takes over as chair of the HWTH steering group from SIM UK Director Steve Smith.

In 2021, the campaign particularly wants to help those agencies, discouraged about recruiting and sending because of COVID-19, that within Europe, mission workers are still needed.

“We want to expand and build on the connections we already have with partner agencies and churches seeking to mobilise workers into refugee and migrant ministry. It can be from within Europe, from Arab diaspora – from anywhere,” says Marcus.

The ability for different agencies to recruit, train and serve together with multicultural teams composed of people who speak French, Arabic and Spanish, allows HWTH to offer a culturally diverse approach.

“Every part of the worldwide church – near and far – has a role to play in responding to the opportunity to reach out to refugees in Europe and the Middle East, whether that’s through sending workers, sharing financial resources or prayer support,” adds Marcus.

“The number of people with the desire to serve in cross-cultural ministry has not decreased because of COVID-19.

“We have enquiries from the Middle East and there are great opportunities to mobilise believers from Eastern Europe and to help local churches and agencies become more able to send successfully.

“The pandemic has forced HWTH to think innovatively about how we work, but moving forward, we remain true to the heartbeat of the campaign when it first began.”

By Kerry Allan

If you’d like to find out more about HWTH, please contact Rachel: [email protected]

Please pray

  • Give thanks people are still coming – from many nationalities – with a desire to serve in refugee and migrant ministry.
  • For God to continue opening paths for new mission workers to join HWTH and more churches and agencies to send them.
  • For new opportunities to share the gospel with some of the hardest-to-reach people who are now in our midst.

The Fulani are masters of herding and a majority Muslim people with a storied past. Prioritising the well-being of their animals, they follow well-established grazing patterns, which lead the Fulani to linger in rural areas.

Photos by SIM short-term mission worker Joni Byker

Approximately 40 million Fulani live in West and Central Africa, with an estimated 20 million found in Nigeria alone.

Historically in Nigeria, Fulani have identified with one of four class structures: The nomadic; the semi-nomadic; the settled; town Fulani; and the ruling class.

But the semi-nomadic Fulani (the largest of the four classes) are deemed outcasts and left on the fringes of society.

SIM worker Jon explains: “Because they have only ‘come in from the bush,’ in recent years, they are marginalised and not trusted by most settled people. Even the name Fulani seems to be a somewhat othering derivation of the Arabic word fulaan, meaning ‘so-and-so.’”

Furthermore, the Fulani are governed by a social code called pulaaku i.e. ‘Fulani-ness.’ that encapsulates the principles of reserve and endurance, in which the Fulani take great pride.

And while the Fulani are typically a peaceful people, several pockets appear to have recently formed affiliations with extreme Islamic groups, adding fuel to the fire of suspicion that keeps much of the world at arm’s length.

It is unsurprising that the Fulani are living and dying without hearing the good news of Jesus as they’ve simply had little opportunity to learn about him in their cultural framework.

But this is changing thanks to SIM’s Faithful Witness scheme.

A mobilised a team of workers has now been created to bring the good news to the Fulani in northern Nigeria. A few Christians have been ministering to them already, but Faithful Witness will bring further coordination and support to this space.

“If the Fulani are to be reached, it will require an approach that is as unique as they are,” says Jon. “It will mean employing all the principles of cross-cultural understanding at the disposal of the workers.”

For Faithful Witness, the best approach to building relationships is through language learning. Traditionally, the Fulani speak Fulfude, which according to Jon, is a remarkable but complex language that takes years to master, let alone use articulately.

Recalling his time befriending Fulani in Niger, Jon says: “I spent hours and hours and hours hanging out and just talking. Your back gets sore from sitting on a mat, but life happens around you, and you learn the culture.

“There’s no word in Fulfulde for ‘please’. But it’s in the way you say it – there’s the right way to say it and the wrong way. Language is a verbal expression of culture.”

Grant Birks, interim Nigeria Director, agrees. “Working among the Fulani is both a rewarding and challenging task.

“A key step in effectively working among them begins with first learning their language. This allows one to effectively communicate to them in their heart language, while showing them your love in Christ.”

Fulfulde language immersion will happen in due course. For now, the Faithful Witness team is starting with Hausa because the region uses it more widely and it is generally a more versatile language.

Another facet of relationship-building is appreciating the needs of the Fulani people. As more choose to put down roots and establish permanent homes, they are facing new challenges.

They must arrange education for their children and source clean water, but keeping and herding the cattle, which are practically extensions of their families, are also significant responsibilities.

Since the Fulani value outsiders showing interest in their animals, mission worker with veterinary experience could successfully form connections.

Grant adds: “Empowering the local church and Fulani believers to minister among the Fulani is a key step at reaching them for the gospel. Major ministry opportunities include theological education, the production of Fulfulde gospel materials, medical and movie-based outreaches and supportive based ministries.”

His charge to the Faithful Witness team, and to anyone considering mission work in Nigeria, is to, “Come and tell the stories – good stories – of what God is doing here.

“Although work among the Fulani often seems slow-going, God is actively working.”

By Amy Bareham Chapman

Please pray:

• Grace for the team as they adjust to cultural differences.

• Peace for the transition, especially as the team gets settled.

• Perseverance and encouragement throughout the language learning process.

Siegfried Ngubane is SIM’s Regional Director for Southern Africa

Our world has become very diverse and is becoming more diverse as people move around more easily and quickly than in previous years. In recent years, the topic of multiculturalism and multicultural teams has become popular and many books and articles have been published.

But for Christian missions, working cross-culturally has been part of the game right from the beginning.

The story of the early church is all about crossing boundaries. The book of Acts narrates the movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, fulfilling Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:8.

Like ripples caused by a stone dropped into a pool of water, the witness of Jesus’ followers extends to new people groups in ever-widening geographical areas. The Holy Spirit guides and empowers this movement from beginning to end.

The first signs of the cross-cultural gospel appear on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is accompanied by the miracle of people from all nations hearing the Good News in their own language.

This event indicates that the gospel is not confined to any single nation or tongue. It can address all people in their own ‘heart language’, which is a foundational pillar for the church in mission.

The story of Peter and Cornelius paves the way for a mission to Gentiles (Acts 10). We see an actual example of that mission in the church in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26). This is the first multicultural church, where Jewish and Gentile Christians worship, and apparently, share meals together — a big issue in their cultural world!

How interesting to note that the first multicultural church was also the first missionary sending church! Under the guidance of the Spirit, they sent out Paul and Barnabas on the first ‘overseas’ mission to Gentiles as well as Jews (Acts 13:1-3).

Mission today does not remain the activity of lone Christians, but is the calling of the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

A beautiful picture of the people of God in the end times is seen in Revelation 7:9: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”

God’s people are multi-ethnic, multiracial and multicultural. To reach the entire world for Jesus, Biblical diversity is required. A diverse team is better equipped to reach people in diverse contexts; it also models the gospel’s relevance for people of every culture.

Duane Elmer, author of many books on cross-cultural ministry, describes obvious benefits to multicultural teams. When God created the world, he pronounced it good. This proclamation allows us to celebrate the diversity of God’s creation in cultures.

Therefore, although there are challenges, the benefits are great.

SIM’s Faithful Witness scheme is a pioneering mission to share the good news of Jesus with those who have never heard it. The initiative seeks to place teams of multicultural and multi-skilled workers in communities across the world where there is no church and virtually no Christian witness. Find out more.

Fi McLachlan is Head of Christian Medical Fellowship Global

SIM along with many other mission agencies has historically been involved in both sending medical missionaries and running mission hospitals often in remote places.

Praise God for those who have served, sent and prayed for such people, but it’s always good to take stock, to ask what is currently on God’s heart.

With such changes in health needs, highlighted by the global pandemic, we have seen new challenges in health care and as such, Christians need to be asking where Christ is leading in such times?

One thing we can be sure of is that the compassion of Christ as demonstrated by Jesus himself in his healing ministry when on Earth is needed more than ever. People across our world still stand in need of physical, mental and spiritual healing.

Another thing we can be certain of, is that the Biblical command to make this same healing and saving God known, remains unchanged.

But in this COVID era, especially when we have appreciated our NHS workers here in the UK, we need to remember that for millions of people around the world, there is no such guaranteed access to health care.

Partner with SIM in response to COVID-19

Whilst the UK spends $4,536 per capita on health care, this stands at $32 in Bangladesh, or $24 in Ethiopia. For those nations around our world with limited resources, the need is especially great.

Whilst we are thankful that between 2000 and 2017, the maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) dropped by about 38 per cent worldwide; yet every day in 2017, approximately 810 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth and 94 per cent of all maternal deaths occur in low and lower middle-income countries.

Each year, 143 million additional surgical procedures are needed in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to save lives and prevent disability.

Of the 313 million procedures undertaken worldwide each year, only six per cent occurs in the poorest countries, where more than one-third of the world’s population lives.

As Christians, we need to be mindful of the changes afoot. Urbanisation requires us to review where we send people to.

How can slum dwellers across our world access affordable health care? How can we influence the development of health care systems in Christ’s name?

Are there ways in which gospel workers can serve in preventative health care (especially in a time of pandemics) where the need is greatest? How do we build partnerships that enable Christian health care professionals to go to countries closed to gospel workers, who will not grant visas to mission workers or pastors?

And as countries develop their own health staff, perhaps the role of UK personnel is to go and teach in universities, or in less well-developed specialisms, such as mental health?

Christian Medical Fellowship is actively seeking to raise up a new generation of health care personnel who will go and serve wherever Christ may call going in his name, using their professional skills and passionate about making disciples.

We need to work in partnership with agencies, as we do with SIM, training those that God is calling to be missionally-minded, and partnering in church-sending, disciple-making mission.

Please pray

  • For wisdom as CMF and partners respond to the health care injustices that have been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • For SIM UK and CMF to continue working together to mobilise more Christian workers for medical mission.
  • For God to bless and protect SIM UK workers serving in different health care ministries across the world.

Back in March, God gave SIM UK workers Josh and Helen an unexpected opportunity to partner with church leaders and develop an impactful online ministry during COVID-19.

“The pastors of two Ethiopian refugee churches asked if we could help them record their services so people could continue to worship during the Kenyan lockdown,” recalls Josh.

“As I had my photography equipment and a reasonable knowledge of how to go about this, we began to film their sermons and upload them to YouTube,” he adds.

“That weekly sermon recording turned into an online ministry of podcasts, midweek devotions, worship services and Bible talks, which were used by Ethiopian fellowships across east Africa, as well as in Amharic-speaking communities in the west.

“God provided us with loaned equipment and a recording space on campus that we turned into a studio. Using these things, we produced more than 100 sermons in five different languages.

“Not only did God enable us to give mission workers and pastors a voice they carried back home to their churches, we able to help establish a media ministry that will help to spread the gospel across Africa.

“There are now a number of exciting projects we hope to carry forward, including a series of videos working through the gospels in Sudanese Arabic, allowing Sudanese believers to hear God’s word, even if they cannot safely attend a church.”

Dr Yohannes Sahile, one of Josh and Helen’s professors at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology, and an elder at the Ethiopian Evangelical Fellowship Church, says: “When I told Josh about our problem, right away, he said he wanted to help

“Josh gave his expertise and his time to help us develop this amazing online ministry and enable our church to reach, not just our members, but many Ethiopian who live in Kenya and abroad – even in Europe, America and Australia.

“We are very grateful to Josh and Helen and also thankful to their supporters, whom we pray will continue to partner with them so they can continue their ministry.”

By Kerry Allan

Pursuing God’s calling as a couple

Josh and Helen have known each other for as long as they can remember. They both grew up as missionary kids in Tanzania, where their parents were church planting with Africa Inland Mission (AIM).

“For years we were classmates, but could never have imagined that God’s plan was for us to get married,” says Josh. “After not seeing each other for many years, God brought us together again in 2016 and we started on a new road as one.”

Before they came back into each other’s lives, God had been calling Josh and Helen individually into mission – placing ministry to Muslims on their hearts.

“As part of our training for these ventures, we both attended the Islamics Course in 2016 at All Nations Bible College. It was there that God made it abundantly clear that we had found the person we were going to marry and our individual visions for mission became a shared on,” says Josh.

“Since then, we have pursued God’s calling for us as a couple.” The couple, sent by Long Crendon Baptist Church and Emmanuel Church, Bramcote, took their first step into long-term mission in Africa when they moved to Kenya in 2018, to do a two-year Masters in Mission Studies, with an Islamic focus.

Photo by Josh

The couple worked with SIM UK to choose the right long-term placement and are now sure God is calling them to join the SIM South Sudan team, for which they will need to first study Arabic.

“We don’t know what the next few years hold, but we know that God will guide us step by step,” says Josh.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks for how God was at work to help Josh and church leaders work together to develop a fruitful online media ministry.
  • For Josh and Helen as they look ahead to join the SIM Sudan team and make plans for language study.
  • That God will clearly guide the couple as to where best he would use the gifts and skills.

When COVID-19 struck, Serving In Mission set up an Immediate Response Project to help provide critically-needed personal protective equipment (PPI) along with cleaning and medical supplies to our frontline workers across the globe.

The relief fund was designed to help relieve some of the burden many of SIM’s medical ministries were facing and to support dedicated healthcare professionals, like SIM UK’s Dr Mikey Bryant, who were determined to carry on their ministries.

Thank you!

Thank you for your prayers and donations to our COVID-19 Immediate Response Project. Please continue reading to see how your response helped SIM deliver essential equipment and materials to protect patients and staff at two rural health centres in Zimbabwe…

In the mid-1900s, SIM set up the Rusitu Hospital, which is a referral hospital for six rural clinics in a valley of more than 50,000 people. The hospital is part of a mission station that has a Bible college and a high school – all owned by the United Baptist Church, which was planted by SIM and is now one of our major partners.

Rusitu Hospital, Zimbabwe, is one of the most needy medical ministries in southern Africa.

It has an outpatients department, paediatric, male and female wards, a maternity wing, a lab and a family and child health clinic. The staff is made up of 14 nurses, three lab technicians, seven general hands, three nursing auxiliaries and two cooks. However, there is only one doctor, who is paid by the government and as these are often young doctors, they do not stay long.

With the money given by its supporters, SIM was able to buy and deliver the following items that were in very limited supply:

QuantityDescription
100Face Masks
50Aprons
100Face Shields
1,000Latex Gloves
1,000Surgical/ Sterile Gloves
5Infra-red Thermometers + batteries
10Electric Nebulizing Machines
4Hand Sanitisers (5ltrs)
Distributing PPE at Rusitu Hospital

Chikwakwa Clinic is a small rural health centre in a remote area of Zimbabwe, but serving more than 300 households (approximately 2,400 people) and a place where almost every month, babies are delivered.

It has two nurses, a nurse auxiliary and two general hands. It is run by a rural district council, which when the pandemic started, only had one thermometer and it was broken.

Rather than sanitisers, the clinic asked for liquid soap, which they put in containers for hand washing. They also desperately needed laundry soap, for washing uniforms and materials.

With the money given by its supporters, SIM was able to respond to the clinic’s urgent requests for the following:

The nurse in charge at Chikwakwa Clinic
QuantityDescription
10KN95 Face Masks
10Disposable Delivery Gowns
5Face Shields
16Batteries for thermometers
  
2Infra-red Thermometers
24Laundry Soap
12Liquid Soap

 “Zimbabwe is a land of peace-loving people but has experienced continuous economic downfall for the past 20 years,” explains SIM Zimbabwe worker Caiphas Ngarivhume.

“As a result, its the health system is ruined and workers at major referral hospitals have gone on strike several times, demanding basic equipment to enable them to discharge their duties. Most of the time, they are forced to bring their own materials so they can work.

“This situation was made worse by COVID-19 and frontline workers were dangerously exposed. Now these supplies will go a long way to helping them serve the community with confidence and we thank the SIM supporters very much for their generous gifts.”

When her youngest brother became severely ill, Mary Haile (left) and her family in Ethiopia searched for answers and healing.

“I stumbled upon audio recordings of Bible teachings online and it completely changed the way we prayed as a family and the way we viewed our situation,” she recalls.

“We learned to patiently wait and trust God and I decided to surrender my life for one purpose: To be a student of God’s word and to teach others the powerful truths I experience.”

Mary’s brother is now able to live a normal life with the help of medication, while over the years, God has guided Mary into full-time multicultural ministry, beginning when her father took her to the only international, English-speaking church as a young child.

“He hoped I would learn the Bible and pick up some English. I stayed there till I was 19. With more than 50 nationalities represented each Sunday, I was able to master the language and learn about several cultural differences we have with the western world,” she recalls.

“Slowly, God increased the love I have for him and his word, which slowly led to the path I’m on right now.”

As soon as she is able to travel, the 29-year-old will be partnering with Inspire St James, Clerkenwell, as part of SIM UK’s ENGAGE programme, to bring experienced workers from overseas to work with churches in their multicultural communities.

“I’m excited about being the first women missionary from Ethiopia to be represented in the ENGAGE programme,” says Mary. “The story of ENGAGE’s first mission worker Daphne Kabeberi, from Kenya, gave me such strength to boldly say that God has called me to the UK and that he is doing his business all over the world.”

Pete Nicholas, Senior Minister at Inspire Saint James, says: “As a united and diverse community seeking to inspire London with the good news of Jesus Christ, we have been keen to partner with SIM through its ENGAGE programme for some time.

“We hope that receiving an overseas gospel worker will both be a blessing for our church family as we learn how to receive a missionary to help us better to reach out in our multicultural context, as well as a blessing to Mary by continuing her development and helping her to fan her gifts into flame. 

“We’re excited about having Mary with us. We already have fruitful and well-established ministries amongst internationals in London through our English as second language classes that Mary will be helping with. We’ve also been working amongst and ministering to the local estates and Mary will be living on one with other church family members seeking to share Christ with her neighbours.”

Mary is grateful to God that her African background will give her an inroad when meeting people from many nationalities and backgrounds.

“I come from a culture where you can start a conversation and taxi drivers will invite you home! I’ve learned how to make deep connections fast and have grown to really love people from other nations.

“I believe God will use me in two ways,” she adds. “Some will be curious to hear from someone completely different from themselves, while to others, the fact that I too am a foreigner experiencing London just like them, will be the way in to start conversations and build relationships. I hope to be able to understand their challenges and desires from a different angle.

“I know London will be different,” she admits. “I’ve never worked abroad before, but the ENGAGE programme is designed to provide me with mentors who will guide me along the way. In my time at Inspire Saint James, I hope to be a useful part of the amazing church team and become an added voice and asset in their work.

“The biggest challenge will be leaving my family behind and having to adjust to a new way of eating and living. But these are challenges I welcome with open arms knowing that such sacrifices are a very small price to pay.

“By God’s grace, I want to build strong relationships and lead many to find their way back to God. That’s the fruit I long for more than anything.”

By Kerry Allan

If your church would like to be involved with our ENGAGE programme, please email Tim Barrow ([email protected])

Please pray

  • For Mary’s safe arrival in the UK following a delay because of COVID-19.
  • For Mary to be a blessing to Inspire St James in its work to reach the international community in Clerkenwell with the gospel.
  • For more workers to join ENGAGE as it seeks to partner with UK churches and grow their cross-cultural ministries.

Like many others, Regan King, pastor of The Angel Church in Islington, prayed for opportunities to engage with the local community, other than online, during the coronavirus lockdown.

“I read a story in the local newspaper about a lady called Hazel, who was trying to get an initiative off the ground to provide food to were self-isolating,” he recalls.

“Knowing we had a big church kitchen and large freezer, I contacted Hazel and offered to help cook meals. We started cooking 75 meals; then 150 and then it got to as high as 250 to 300 meals a week.

“We also helped distribute food to many elderly, vulnerable and homeless people to show God’s love in a practical way.”

Volunteers prepare meals

As more people in neighbourhood heard about the project, they began turning up at the church to collect their meals.

“I’d been praying for God to help expand the project, so we decided to invite them inside and play Christian music and videos while they ate,” says Regan.

“It also gave us the opportunity to start conversations and answer questions such as ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘Where is God when things go wrong?’ and we spoke about the hope and forgiveness found in the gospel.

“People were awakening to what true Christianity is all about. Before COVID-19, we were valued – but at arm’s length – then during lockdown, people were coming to us and saying: ‘We need you’.

Regan King, pastor of The Angel Church, Islington

“Many said the quality of discussion, without anger or judgement, and the way it was allowed to be free was amazing. We had great conversations ‘over the chopping board’ and one volunteer, who is a non-believer, admitted he could  see there was something about faith in crisis and he made a video of the project, which we put on our website as an encouragement to others.”

When the first lockdown ended, Regan was motivated by the love of Jesus to carry on with the project that continues to run from the church, with Hazel still providing volunteers.

Islington Council gave a grant towards the cost of the project, with several local churches and other Christian organisations in the community also coming on board.

“We now hold sessions three times a week, which are more formal, where we pray and have a Bible study – although those who come may not call it a Bible study as such!” says Regan.

“The aim is to discuss topical issues surrounding God’s identity, our problems and the hope that’s in Jesus, and things like depression and loneliness from a biblical perspective.

“We now have enough money to run the project until the end of the year and when our church reopened, everyone returned with a real spirit of understanding to continue loving our neighbours and being an example of God’s love to those around us.”

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13:35

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • God would use churches for his glory and bring many to the hope found in Christ in times where hope is lacking.
  • That churches will become ‘lighthouses’ for Christ and show clearly the way to salvation.
  • For churches to work together to use creativity and clear thinking in how to reach their communities with the gospel.

Egbe Hospital in Nigeria was founded in 1952 by SIM mission workers Dr George and Esther Campion.

Located in the small town of Egbe, over the years, the hospital has grown from a small maternity clinic, to a 75-bed, multi-service complex that serves a 100-mile radius of rural villages and small towns, whose approximately 200,000 tradespeople, cattle herders and small business owners, rely heavily on the hospital for medical care.

Egbe Hospital has been a shining light in a rural area of Nigeria for nearly 70 years

In 1976, the medical complex was transferred by SIM to Nigerian mission organisation, ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All). When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the SIM-affiliated facility faced a daunting task: protecting patients and staff from the virus, while fighting against a lack of education and information.

However, thanks to SIM’s COVID-19 Health Ministry Immediate Response project, funds were available to provide staff with critically-needed personal protective equipment (PPI) along with cleaning and medical supplies.

The hospital was also able to provide preventative handwashing stations at multiple locations and supply local church and community leaders with educational materials, such as leaflets and billboards.

Partner with SIM in its urgent response to COVID-19

The relief fund has helped to relieve some of the burden many of SIM’s medical ministries are facing and support dedicated healthcare professionals, like SIM UK’s Dr Mikey Bryant, who are determined to carry on their ministry.

Mikey, who serves at the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, where many Ebola patients were treated in 2014, said: “God has asked us to stay and serve the people of Liberia. He has called us here for such a time as this. These are the people who he has loved and sent his son Jesus Christ to die for. Our lives are not our own, they are his, and we have the privilege of serving him.”

Please pray

  • For hospital staff as they continue to upgrade their response to the virus and that many lives will be saved; both physically and spiritually.
  • Give thanks God is at work through his people to show compassion and grace during a time of great need.
  • For the fund to help SIM ministries in countries with few resources and fragile health systems as suffering and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

As a community committed to supporting families as they take the gospel to the least reached, SIM UK’s TCK coordinator Cheryl Gibson works within our People Care team to help families make good choices in order to reduce uncertainty and stress in their children’s lives.

Cheryl Gibson

Tell us about your role?

Cheryl: During our 15 years of serving with SIM in West Africa, my children got to experience a variety of educational settings – from home-schooling, local missionary school, boarding school and a few other options in between!  A lot of time was spent making sure they got what they needed educationally and emotionally and so I learnt a lot along the way.

On our return to the UK in 2015, there were challenges in helping our children make that huge adjustment to their passport country that was my home, but not there’s.

I appreciated the support and help I‘d received over the years and was keen to put my experiences as a mother, who had served overseas and as a home-school teacher, to good use. An opportunity came to help the TCK coordinator, mainly with home schooling resources, and then after he moved on, I took on the role.

My job is to equip and hopefully encourage our families as they leave for their country of service, to provide resources in both education issues and pastoral care and then when returning to their passport country, to be a support for our TCKs. 

I usually organise the children’s orientation programme before they head overseas and then a time of debriefing once they return. During these times of COVID-19, we have needed to adapt how we do this online.

A TCK, growing up cross-culturally while their parents share the gospel overseas, develops a sense of relationship to all of the cultures while not having a full ownership in any.

What advantages/benefits do TCKs enjoy?

Cheryl: Growing up abroad and having a world perspective gives TCKS a greater maturity and a heightened respect for other cultures. They are more also empathetic and tend to learn languages easily.

What do TCKs most struggle with?

Cheryl: The life of a Third Culture Kid is not a simple one. It’s wonderful, enriching, colourful, and filled with incredible life-altering experiences, but certainly not neat and tidy.

On their return to their passport countries, TCKs look as if they should fit right in – but they don’t quite. Differences in experiences and cultural backgrounds keep them from fully fitting to the patterns of their new home and this can give them a nagging sense of rootlessness and restlessness.

What do you hope to achieve in your role?

Cheryl: SIM UK desires to be a loving and caring community that believes in the worth and giftedness of each child, therefore my role is to try to meet the unique needs of all the TCKs so this can be achieved.

Please pray

  • For each of our TCKs to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
  • For wisdom for Cheryl as she seeks to encourage TCKs and help them in their transitions.
  • That God would use TCKs’ love of different people and cultures to glorify him.

Paula Beaton

Experts are predicting a significant rise in mental health issues owing to the profound effects of COVID-19 and social distancing rules that make it difficult for those looking to their local church for help when struggling to cope.

While many people are staying connected through the use of digital technology, Paula Beaton, (Executive Assistant to SIM’s Global Director of Strategic Development and International Personnel Director) has been relying on a tried and tested method of encouraging others and boosting morale during these difficult times.

“Not everyone is on the internet and I’ve reverted to good old-fashioned post to encourage friends from church, who may be elderly and lonely, to give them a sense of knowing they are remembered and cared for,” Paula explains.

When time permits, Paula posts a personal letter, along with SIM UK’s supporters’ magazine Serving Him and even a tea bag (sealed in a pouch) to bring good cheer and ensure no one feels excluded and forgotten.

“I’m grateful to God that he has blessed me with a gift of encouragement as it helps disciple other believers to develop a stronger relationship with Christ,” she says.

“Rather than add the magazine to the recycling bin, I can pass it on for others to enjoy. It also ensures the magazine is sent to someone who will pray for the work of SIM UK, as well as find encouragement in receiving a surprise letter.

“This also applies to other women’s Christian magazines, which my mother passes to me. I then deliver them to a couple of church friends’ letter boxes and they pass them around a small network of folks.

“Reading the stories and articles in these magazines helps us focus on what God is doing in the UK and elsewhere in the world. The news can be so gloomy these days, so having good news to read takes the focus away from ourselves and gives wholesome news to think about and bring to prayer,” adds Paula.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:1

Although a small gesture, Paula’s acts of kindness have had a really big impact. “Sometimes I get a note or card in reply or a phone call to thank me for thinking of the recipient and bringing cheer to their day. This then surprises me in return!” she says.

“People understand that with the need to keep everyone safe from infection, personal visits are less frequent for the time being and whilst we can’t easily meet face to face, sending these surprise letters is something I’ve loved doing over the past few months and hope to continue.”

Please pray

  • For God to comfort all those struggling with anxiety, depression, isolation and loneliness.
  • For the Holy Spirit to help us all be encouragers as we reach out to others with the hope found in Jesus Christ.
  • Give thanks that a global pandemic cannot hinder faith, compassion and acts of loving service in Christ’s name.

By Kerry Allan

How do you get started in a place where there is no gospel witness?  Why are there still ‘forgotten communities’ in today’s world?

They all require the church to count the cost if they are to be reached. But are we willing to send people to places that are risky because of remoteness, high levels of persecution against those choosing to follow Christ, kidnapping, or even a global pandemic?

Are we willing to invest for the long term – if multiple languages need to be learned, hearts are spiritually ‘hard’, or professional qualifications need to be improved in order to secure a visa? 

The church is finding all sorts of ways to cross barriers and reach people with God’s spoken word in this digital age.

A radio broadcast can be picked up in a remote Eritrean village; a Fulani herdsman can have God’s word on an SD card that plays through his mobile phone and young people in Indonesia can hear God’s word preached via YouTube.

We can be brought into relationship with one another, through the communication of God’s word across a distance, just as Paul found as he wrote to and prayed for the church in Colossae, whom he had never met. 

Yet the good news of relationship with God through Jesus is, at its heart, designed to be shared through relationship with his people.

God counted the cost and sent the word in human form, that we might know him. He has made the church his body on Earth today, to continue to bear witness to Christ in person through relationship; through lives lived out in the power of his spirit. 

Serving in Mission is excited to serve churches worldwide in sending and receiving their best people to hard places to bear witness to Christ through relationship.

Our Faithful Witness in Forgotten Communities initiative started last year to better enable this work.

This initiative is supporting new ministry efforts by SIM to launch and establish teams of faithful witnesses from all over the world to demonstrate the goodness of Jesus Christ in communities where people currently live and die without ever having one Christian friend.

Working with partner agencies and recruiting from churches across the globe, we are already seeing teams come together and we have prayed and listened to understand what is needed in eight specific locations – Chad, east Asia, Mali, the Middle East, Nigeria, north Africa, Asia and Thailand.

Each team has no more than two people from any one nation, and each has a mix of skills and experience, with an experienced team leader, sometimes from a partner organisation.

SIM International Director Dr Joshua Bogunkoko says: “Less than five per cent of missionaries and mission funding go to places where people have never heard the good news of Jesus. Traditional missionary sending depends on the presence of other mission workers in locations, and so cannot address this imbalance. SIM’s Faithful Witness in Forgotten Communities initiative is designed to send a team of gospel workers to where none exist.”

Each member of a Faithful Witness team is given up to one-third of their funding for the first five years, so they can get going and start communicating back what they are seeing and doing – building their support as they go.

If your church would like to partner with a specific team, you can find out more information at sim.org/Faithfulwitness or watch a video that features several SIM leaders giving an overview of this pioneering mission.

By Deborah Agnes, SIM UK Personnel Director

Please pray

  • For the Lord to raise up multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-skilled teams to work in this pioneering mission.
  • For gospel workers to raise the resources – financial and other needs – and trust in God’s perfect timing.
  • That churches will be led by the Holy Spirit and guided by his word and his love for all people to support the Faithful Witness ministry.

Although about 69 per cent of Ghana’s population profess to be Christians, there are still many people who have not had any meaningful contact with the gospel.

In 1977, the Ghana Evangelism Committee conducted a survey to identify communities as yet unreached with the good news of Jesus Christ. One area was the Kasena people of Chiana – in the Upper East Region – where translation work on the Kasem New Testament had begun five five years earlier.

Around the same time, circumstances in Ethiopia caused many SIM mission workers to leave and after discussion with the local chief in Chiana, it was agreed some of those workers should move to Chiana.

Many Kasena followed the traditions of their forefathers by making sacrifices to the local shrines and to ancestors as a means of reaching God. However, on hearing that the only sacrifice that God would accept had already been made through Jesus Christ, slowly churches grew and the Lord worked in the hearts of the Kasena people causing them to leave the traditional ways.

While SIM mission workers helped in planting churches among the Kasena in Chiana, the growth and spread of the churches was mainly through the Kasena themselves as they shared their testimonies and the gospel with family and friends.

This is the continuing story of one of the first families of believers in Chiana:

Sylvester is the day guard at the SIM house in Accra. He is a loving husband and father of two, and a final-year theology degree student. He also founded a charity that supports families and runs children’s holiday clubs in Chiana, where he grew up. He is about the same age as the Chiana church.

When asked by Pam, a member of the Ghana team, what sort of difference he thought Christianity had made to his family and community, Sylvester smiled and answered: “The fear is gone! We don’t have to be afraid of the spirits and the ancestors. People live more peacefully with each other. Husbands take better care of their wives. The children are better cared for. People don’t waste their money on sacrifices any more.”

He showed pictures of his uncle, John Akekudaga, and his sister Dinah Abanapawo, his ‘spiritual grandmother’, featured in the book, History of Good News Bible Church, Chiana 1978-2016, written by Pat Robertson, a former SIM missionary nurse in Chiana.

In her book, Pat wrote: “John Akekudaga knew he was missing something important in his life. Then in 1979, he met Peter Jenkins, a SIM missionary, and asked him why he had come to Chiana. Peter replied that he had come to tell people about the one true God. John said, ‘Come to my house and teach me.’ Peter went and as John learned more, he decided he wanted to become a follower of Jesus Christ.”

Aunty Dinah was the person who had the greatest influence on the young Sylvester. Her father died when she was very young, so she lived with various relatives and finally with a Muslim family headed by a distant relative of her father’s, where she ‘learned the Muslim prayers but did not understand them’.

Eventually Dinah married and had three children, but she returned to Chiana with the children to be with her mother in 1981. It was there that she met Peter Jenkins and one day, heard him explain John 3:1.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:1

Sylvester and Aunty Dinah

It spoke directly into her heart and she decided that day to give herself to the Lord.

Dinah enrolled in courses, to get to know God and the Bible better and as a women’s leader in the church, she attended classes at the local Bible College.

Sylvester still remembers as a child being gathered around the fire in the evening with various siblings, cousins and other children to listen to Aunty Dinah tell them Bible stories. Today, it is something he loves to do with his own children and the children in his church in Accra.

In 2019, Sylvester and Amy, a short-term mission worker from UK, led the children’s programme at SIM Ghana’s Spiritual Life Conference, giving back to the SIM team what had been given to his family 40 years ago.

“I had the privilege of visiting and talking to Aunt Dinah earlier this year,” recalls Pam, who is sent by Carntyne Parish Church in Glasgow.

“Her love of the Lord and her desire to reach others, particularly the children and women in the church, still shines out of her face. She truly is an ambassador for Christ and I’m looking forward to living near her and learning from her as I move to Sandema to encourage local churches in their ministry to parents and children.”

SIM Ghana worker Pam with Dinah outside her house in Chiana with picture books she uses to teach children Bible stories in local schools

Please pray

  • Give thanks that having God’s word in their mother tongue has greatly contributed to the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church in Chiana.
  • For SIM Ghana’s three teams currently working with other unreached people groups in northern Ghana.
  • For Pam’s work with a local pastor and churches to develop a new children’s ministry.
Naomi Coleman

During her four-and-a-half years in Madagascar, teacher Naomi Coleman has experienced surprise school closures, random food shortages, temporary ‘don’t go out’ rules, nearby epidemics and sudden relocations. But with the arrival of COVID-19, she feared what the implications would be for herself and her ministry.

Ted and Rachel Watts

Naomi, sent from Cambray Baptist Church in Cheltenham, teaches the children of the only family currently on the team – SIM UK doctors Ted and Rachel Watts, sent from Beeston Free Church, Nottingham, who both work at Mandritsara’s Good News Hospital.

The hospital does great work as a local church-run project that proclaims Jesus Christ, as well as providing excellent and compassionate medical care to some of the poorest people on the island, who travel for hours or even days, from surrounding villages where there is no Christian witness.

As in other countries, lockdown restrictions were put in place before the first coronavirus cases in Mandritsara were announced, but Naomi admits she regularly woke up during the night worried about what the implications of a mass coronavirus outbreak would mean.

“I wasn’t really worried about becoming unwell myself,” she explains, “but I hated the prospect of seeing our hospital overwhelmed as we only have a small number of doctors. Many people don’t have access to running water and they struggle to make ends meet ordinarily, so thinking about the impact of many people getting sick was quite frightening.”

Naomi made a number of significant changes, including teaching extra lessons to the Watts’ two young children to compensate for local school closures and moving house to be nearer her missionary colleagues and cutting down on non-essential journeys.

Talking through the ‘what-if’s with her team was vitally important, but not easy. However, as contingency plans were made and the ‘new normal’ became more familiar, Naomi put her trust in God to work out his purposes during the global pandemic.

“I tried to think much more about the eternal hope we have – not speculating about what the next few months may hold,” she says. “Usually, we’re looking ahead to the next visitor or short-term missionary coming to support the team, or a chance for a holiday or break. I really needed to adjust my mindset at a time when travel was so difficult. Using my time to pray, to worship through song and to study the Bible were really helpful in finding a good perspective and a sense of peace.”

When her local Malagasy church stopped gathering, Naomi tuned into to her sending church’s new online services. Friends in the UK soon became more used to communicating electronically and she was encouraged by supporters who were now more available to chat during lockdown.

By God’s grace, Naomi says it is a huge privilege to be part of a project that seeks to share the gospel, while meeting people’s health needs: “The Good News Hospital does not have the same kinds of resources and personnel as many British hospitals, but it does have the freedom to share the message of hope and life in Jesus Christ and be a beacon of light during a time of crisis.”

Please pray

  • Praise God for all the blessings he gave Naomi and more time during lockdown to reflect on his goodness.
  • For more doctors and surgeons to serve at the Good News Hospital, even for a short time, and for the plans to establish the long-term sustainability of the hospital and its gospel witness.
  • That the Good News Hospital will be a beacon of hope throughout the pandemic.

The Friends of Mandritsara Trust, which supports the work of the Good News Hospital, is building a new theatre complex to bring much-needed additional facilities and establish the long-term sustainability of the hospital and its gospel witness in Mandritsara. Read about these exciting new plans.

Every year, hundreds of Christians around the world move into unfamiliar environments, some with their families, in obedience to God’s call to take the gospel to all nations and make disciples.

Among them is a young family from Jos, Nigeria, who have taken a leap of faith to live amongst the Hassaniya, as part of the Mali Faithful Witness team.

Faithful Witness

Faithful Witness is an initiative of SIM that recruits and sends multicultural, multi-organisational and multi-skilled workers into communities across the world where there is no church and virtually no Christian witness – a description that fits the Hassaniya-speaking people of the Kayes region.

The Hassaniya-speaking Moors are considered unreached. Most villages in that region are without churches or Christian organisations, with the majority of Christians concentrated in urban centres. These villagers would have died without hearing the gospel of salvation.

 “There are no known believers amongst the Hassaniya, and less than a handful amongst the Soninke and Fulani,” says Joshua Ngunta, SIM’s Mali Director.

A SIM team on a fact-finding visit discovered God was opening opportunities ahead of them, but there was a need to get ‘feet on the ground’.

The Hassaniya villages they visited opened their arms in welcome. The labours of previous workers had lit the path for the new team and they saw God’s love and the mission workers’ goodwill through acts of compassion and other outreaches. They provided famine relief, built wells, schools and children’s clubs. The church teams showed the Jesus Film and distributed tracts. They held medical clinics, and learned their language and culture.

God had used these contacts to soften the hearts of the people; even their village heads were delighted to have the team and publicly honoured them. These villagers also expressed zeal to engage the team in conversations.

The Hassaniya of Kayes

The name ‘Hassaniya’ defines both the people and their language. They are typically rural and live mostly as pastoralists. Amongst the Hassaniya in Mali, there is only one known believer, but he is from a different region. They are mostly Tidjani Muslims and the country is dominated by Islam.

There are mainly three groups in this region. The Moors (Hassaniya), the Soninke people, who are business-minded, with entrepreneurs among them, and the Malinke (Maninka) with a very small number of believers.

No books of the Bible are translated into Hassaniyya, but The Jesus Film is available in Hassaniyya, as well as audio recordings of gospel stories from the Global Recordings Network.

Kingdom opportunities

God has opened doors to gospel ministry and the Hassaniya have expressed openness for workers to live among them and learn their language. The team has received numerous requests for help, including adult literacy teachers, medical staff and children’s club workers, among others. This became a sign to the whole team that this is a field ripe for harvest and in need of harvesters.

While the Hassaniya welcome the team, the team also realised the challenges to gospel work in the region. Insecurity, a harsh climate, isolation and deeply held cultural beliefs are huge impediments. 

Leap of faith

Undaunted by the enormity of the task, a young family from Jos, Nigeria, took a leap of faith to live amongst the Hassaniya.

“We must confess that it was not an easy decision to make, but knowing that there are people dying without the opportunity of hearing about the salvation in Christ Jesus is enough reason for us. For what good is having a room with a hundred lamps when another is in deep darkness?”

The family journeyed to Mali amidst enormous challenges. In spite of long waits, they considered it an adventure, and arrived Bamako in December 2019.

Their faith in the Lord and warm fellowship with other mission workers on the ground is helping them to scale the hurdles of a new environment and make it easier to deal with harsh weather, the higher cost of living, ill-health of their son, and learning Hassaniya and French.

God has been graciously on their side all the time. They are driven by the truth: “For the gospel is no longer good news if it doesn’t arrive on time.”

By Victor Bajah (www.afrigo.org)

Please pray

  • For God’s Spirit to prepare the hearts of Hassaniya herdsmen to receive the gospel.
  • For financial provision for the team and for God to bring more workers.
  • For peace in Mali and other west African states threatened by extremists.

For 25 years, The Good News Hospital has been a beacon of hope in Madagascar one of the world’s poorest nations.

Before it opened in a remote part of the island, patients needing emergency surgery would travel 200km to the nearest government facility. Today, the hospital performs approximately 1,600 operations a year. However, medical experts say the need is ten times greater. 

SIM UK member Ted Watts is the senior surgeon at the Mandritsara hospital and is spearheading an exciting vision, which by God’s grace, will ensure this vital medical mission continues for years to come.

“The hospital needs to expand how many operations it does as we anticipate the number of patients will continue to rise,” explains Ted, whose wife Rachel also works as a paediatrician within the small medical team.

Ted and Rachel Watts

The small, 57-bed hospital provides medical, surgical, maternity and ophthalmology services (including cataract surgery) to Mandritsara’s population of 250,000 – as well as patients from across northern Madagascar – where staff share the gospel, as well as provide life-saving, compassionate care.

 However, with very limited training opportunities and fewer than 100 surgeons serving the island’s 26 million inhabitants, the hospital has always relied on overseas missionary surgeons

“While we do very much welcome both junior and senior doctors from the UK joining us for a short time, at the heart of our plan is looking to the future, when some years down the line, we’ll have local, Malagasy surgeons who are mission-minded and providing high-quality surgical care,” explains Ted, sent by Beeston Free Evangelical Church.

Ted Watts, centre, during surgery at
The Good News Hospital

For this vital medical mission to continue, the hospital plans to offer the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) training programme to Malagasy doctors, which is a five-year integrated Christian discipleship and post-graduate surgical speciality programme.

 “We believe the best way forward is to train Malagasy doctors to staff the surgical department, who in turn, can train the next generation of missionary surgeons to follow in their footsteps,” adds Ted.

 A new theatre complex is being built to both increase the surgical capacity of the hospital, as well as provide essential training facilities for the Malagasy trainees.

The surgical complex will include three major operating theatres and a minor operating theatre; four consultation rooms and a new recovery and intensive care unit.

“We have made good progress because when the Government laid off construction workers during lockdown, we decided to keep our builders in employment, many of who are itinerant and need to work and because the infection rate on a building site here is low,” says Ted.

“Now it’s almost ready to put on the roof and we’re on target to perform the first operation before the end of next year.

 To find out more, or if you are interested in joining this mission-centred medical ministry, please contact Ted Watts at [email protected]

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For the hospital staff as they serve in the face of COVID-19.
  • For God to bless plans to recruit Malagasy mission-minded surgeons to hold out the hope of Jesus Christ as they offer compassionate, skilled surgical care.
  • For more Christian doctors and nurses to plug the hospital staffing deficit, which is ongoing.

On any given weekend, *Rachel and Joshua take their sons to the desert and visit archaeological ruins where the children can run around and dig in the sand – exploring a world of imagination that children back in the UK only find in museums and books.

It’s just one of the advantages enjoyed by the family, who have been serving in the Middle East for the past ten years.

During the week, Joshua travels to the city language school to help mission workers learn Arabic, while Rachel takes care of their three boisterous boys, Jonathan, six, Sam, five and Tim, two.

“Although I often feel the pressure that I should be doing more outside the house, I also see that the busier I am, the quicker things fall apart in the home,” she admits. “I’ve learnt the hard way that children of all ages need a lot of attention and my primary role is to take care of my family.

“The most important thing for our boys is for us to walk closely and genuinely with the Lord and have daily habits of spending time with him as a family.”

While raising a family halfway across the world can be daunting, Rachel and Joshua, who are sent by a church in Birmingham, say it is a privilege to help their sons follow God as they grow up in an Islamic community.

“As we teach the boys about Jesus, they often ask whether their friends and our neighbours love Jesus too. As a family, we then pray for them to know the Lord.

“Raising our family in a new culture gives great opportunities to talk to our children about the differences, particularly if the host culture is made up of different religions. Not fitting in is also a reminder that for all believers, our citizenship is in heaven and we are only passing through this life.”

Learning to speak Arabic is also a must for Rachel and the boys: “If the mother and children don’t learn the language, they will feel isolated from the father and his ministry. This makes it hard to immerse into the culture and stay long term.”

It has also helped them build relationships and to show God’ love by inviting schoolfriends and neighbours into the family home.

Tracks across the desert

“Middle East culture is very people-centred and spontaneous,” Rachel explains. “Although sometimes this means you need to flexible with your plans, which can be hard if you enjoy routine as visitors can arrive at your door anytime, but it’s important to show you care by genuinely welcoming them, even if the timing is inconvenient!

“The Lord has challenged me to see that interruptions are divine appointments and feeling prepared is not as important as being ready to give your time to the person who’s come to spend time with you.

“Arabs love children and our landlady and her extended family who live in the building have become like family to us and we are grateful for the way they have adopted us.”

So what advice does Rachel give mission families thinking of serving overseas?

“When you live in another culture, you will always be a student: Ask questions, listen and learn. The longer you are there, the more you will realise what you don’t know. It’ easy to get discouraged and critical by the differences between your culture and the new one, so guard your heart and keep a close, personal walk with the Lord and ask him to keep your heart soft, not hardened by trials, but moulded more to the likeness of his son.” *May have used pseudonyms

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For the family’s close neighbours and others in their building to know the Lord.
  • For wisdom as Rachel and Joshua decide on the next school for their son Jonathan.
  • Give thanks for the provision of a new pastor to lead the family’s local church.
Keith Walker is now serving as Consultant for Strategic Initiatives

For the past six years, Keith Walker has been part of Serving In Mission’s International Leadership as Global Director for Strategic Development. Here, he shares some of the highlights during this time and his views on what lies ahead for mission today.

What would you say have been some of the most significant strategic developments for SIM over the past six years?

Keith:  It’s been a period of very considerable change for us. Let me pick out three developments to illustrate the range of those changes in relation to our sense of purpose, our contexts of ministry and organisational shape.

  1. Our new Purpose and Mission Statement has made a huge difference in being clear why SIM exists.  Driven by the biblical conviction that no one should live and die without hearing of Jesus, it expresses the focus of SIM’s calling: Christ should be proclaimed in communities where he is not known.
  2. It was this sense of purpose that sat behind our glad engagement with MECO, leading SIM back into the Middle East.  We now have a growing work led by those who have laboured there for many years, but with SIM’s capacity to bring more workers into the harvest field.
  3. Given our renewed sense of purpose, it became clear that our International leadership structure needed to be refreshed to pursue that purpose in today’s world.  A major restructuring happened two years ago. This involved bringing new people into senior leadership without losing those with solid experience.

Where do you see SIM going in the years ahead and how will we take the next generation of potential workers with us?

Keith:  As I’ve stepped back, future direction is for others to decide.  But perhaps I can offer a couple of things.

I don’t believe that we need to trade off wise strategic direction in mission against the instincts of the next generation of workers.  It isn’t always helpful to shape mission according to the preferences of those coming forward to serve, but neither is it necessary.  My sense is that younger Christians are looking for authenticity and relevance.

SIM can be authentic, by remaining committed in heart and action to our purpose of proclaiming Christ, expressing his love and compassion in communities where he is least known.  And if we are serious about discovering where those communities are, relevance will be assured too.

For example, we have begun to look afresh at the needs of Europe.  The older way of prioritising mission sought to identify ‘unreached people groups’.  That approach led to many places that were and are, proper places of focus for SIM, not least the Muslim world.  But it tends to fail to acknowledge that there are whole communities of indigenous Europeans who are unreached.

As we continue to evaluate where the Lord is calling SIM workers to go, we also need to reassess where the Lord is calling workers from. 

The Lord is calling workers from many countries, some to come here!  And here in the UK, there are mission-ready Christians of Asian, African and Latin backgrounds whom the Lord has equipped for service here and elsewhere.

This reorientation of expectation is hugely challenging for mission structures and finance, but highly relevant to today’s world, and not least, to our country divided as it is by socio-economic and racial distinctions.

So what can our supporters do?

Keith: Be open – think differently about what a missionary might look and sound like, where they might come from and where they might go.  Then pray, receive and send, go and give.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • For unity, courage and discernment for SIM’s International’s leadership team.
  • For the long-term sustainability of SIM’s ministries and projects in the aftermath of COVID-19.
  • Give thanks for Keith’s God-given gifts and skills that have helped to shape SIM’s gospel community’s vision, both in the UK and overseas.

As Bingham Academy in Ethiopia prepares to reopen on September 22, SIM UK worker Theresa Ebrahim-Adem says she has never felt “so at home” anywhere else. 

Bingham Academy

This year, Theresa celebrates 15 years serving at the Christian school, based in Addis Ababa, which teaches the children of mission workers as well as the international community and Ethiopian families.

Theresa admits she was heartbroken when as COVID-19 struck and Bingham closed and went online, she and husband Aki took the difficult decision for Theresa to return to the UK with their two daughters.

“With so much of the future unknown, the hardest thing was to be separated from Aki, who remained in Ethiopia to care for his family and to continue mentoring young men in the community,” she recalls.

However, Theresa says she counts each hard moment she has experienced during her 15 years at Bingham as “pure joy, especially when I hold them up again all the ways that God has used me and blessed me in my work here.

“It’s very difficult to try and express how much I have learned from my time in Ethiopia,” she adds. “It is a country that has captured me and made me fall in love with it. It can be a frustrating place to live during the tough days, but looking back over the past 15 years, I can see God at work in many ways in my life and how he spent a lot of time putting me in his fire to refine me and challenge me.

“Working at Bingham Academy is demanding at times, but I’ve never felt so at home anywhere else. Teaching there is how teaching should be: We get to love our kids and help shape them the way I believe God intended teaching to be. 

“I am overwhelmed with God’s love for me and the privilege he has given me to work with him in Addis Ababa. I’ve had the honour of been able to speak into the lives of my students and given them the opportunity to search the scripture themselves and ask the hard questions.

“It’s been amazing to witness their faith journeys and see God pursuing and loving them. It has been a reward in itself to see students come to faith and grow in their relationship with our Lord and saviour.

“I continue to feel so blessed by God that I get to spend my days doing so many of the things that I just love doing: teaching history, hanging out with teenagers, talking about God and his amazing love for us; challenging my students to really think through the truth of the gospel; cheering our school teams on in their sports competitions, and all of it in a country that tests my faith and how I live it out each day.”

However, along with the blessings come some deep struggles and for many years, Theresa needed to trust and rely on God as she experienced the ups and downs of working as part of an educational and outreach project caring for Muslim boys from the surrounding neighbourhood.

Some of the Horizon Project boys

“Over the years, my ministry with the Horizon Project challenged me to recognise my role in prayer and service,” admits Theresa, who is sent by Hamilton Baptist Church, Scotland.

Bingham’s vision statement is ‘Teaching Truth, Equipping Generations, Impacting the world for God’s Glory’ and Theresa says she is grateful to all her UK supporters who have faithfully prayed for the work of the school since she arrived in Ethiopia in 2005.

“To have the opportunity to share in this vision and see it being lived out is a privilege for me, but also answered prayers for all my supporters, who have prayed for the work of Bingham for many years.”

During her time at Bingham, Theresa is thankful to God for providing teaching staff from all over the world – from Bolivia to Finland – and to have the privilege of witnessing numerous students grappling with God’s truth and choosing to believe. 

“I’ve watched them grow from little elementary students to adults and my previous students are now between the ages of 18 and 34, who are living all over the world,” she says.

“They are artists, medical professionals, teachers, government advisers, church planters, missionaries, and parents making an impact in their communities for God’s glory.  

“Seeing this web go out from Bingham all over the world gives me such a clear picture of how God’s body works and how he uses all of our gifts to fulfil his great plan to make disciples of all nations. By faithfully supporting me in my role at Bingham, we are all part of our God’s body, working to expand his kingdom.”

Looking ahead, Theresa is convinced God has called her to serve for many years to come: “There is a personal cost to following God’s calling to serve at Bingham, but I can also say it is worth it and I’m so excited to see what the next 15 years will hold .”

Overall, I am one of many people that would have a much worse life without you in it. You challenged me, taught me, showed me Jesus and became a friend. You shaped my studies, my politics, my faith and much more. I feel so blessed to have known you and hope my son (and any other brothers/sisters that come along) will have a teacher as impactful as you.

One of Theresa’s former students

By Kerry Allan

Prayer points

  • Pray for the school leadership team as it works through how school will work this year and that the Department of Education in Ethiopia will allow face-to-face teaching in the mornings from the end of September. 
  • Praise God that Bingham is fully staffed this year.
  • Pray for Ethiopia as COVID-19 cases increase daily and political unrest continues.
Tim McMahon is a SIM UK mission worker dedicated to ministry training

Riots in the USA over Black Lives Matter; a strident social media backlash in the UK – surely the dynamics driving this ugly clash aren’t present in churches committed to global mission? Or could we just be blind to them? asks Tim McMahon

The UK churches I visit as a Serving in Mission member are all committed to global mission. They exuberantly preach a gospel that proclaims salvation for people of all nations. They seek to practise ‘every member ministry’ and celebrate diversity of gifts.

Until very recently, such churches typically considered themselves to be inclusive, and church leaders often described themselves as ‘colour-blind’ to race. However, recent public expressions of passionate anger give voice to deep divisions present in our society and we’re beginning to ask, whether churches unwittingly contribute to these divisions.

One thing that’s clear is that the ethnic and socio-economic make-up of mission-supporting churches – even those in multicultural cities – is overwhelmingly monocultural. Why in practice, are Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming churches in the UK far from diverse?

SIM UK’s research designed to map intercultural ministry in the UK has shed light on the characteristics of ministries that break the mono-cultural mould.

Christian communities that engage people from many different cultures say inclusiveness is the most important factor contributing to their ‘success’. However, real inclusiveness means more than just being welcoming and friendly. It requires significant investment, personal sacrifice, and courageous leadership.

Churches with growing intercultural communities intentionally invest in the lives of people in the different cultural groups around them. They ensure their activities and meetings are accessible and visible to local ethnic minorities by providing signs in multiple languages. They don’t just teach their membership about the cultures of the communities they seek to reach; they encourage them to share in, and learn from, others’ cultures.

Members from different cultural groupings need to be visible and active in the leadership of a ministry. They need to have a real voice, affecting how disciple-making and training-up of church members is done. This needs to take account of the cultural context and communities within which the church resides.

Why in practice, are Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming churches in the UK far from diverse?

The leaders of genuinely intercultural churches lead by example. Not necessarily by being adept at cross-cultural work, but by being willing to go out of their comfort zone to deeply engage in the lives of those from different cultural backgrounds around them.

A willingness to be vulnerable – even to embrace weakness – is key. When people from a majority culture do this, they’re often surprised to find that they’re extended huge latitude by the minority groups they seek to serve. Repeated cultural faux pas are forgiven and genuine effort to humbly serve those who are obviously different is met with openness and interest. The gospel makes its way into communities previously considered ‘closed’.

A video of 50 countries singing Amazing Grace went viral during lockdown

God loves to turn human order on its head. His power is revealed through his people’s weakness. When we’re willing to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others, we find life and build joyful relationships.

When we’re willing to humble ourselves and learn from other cultures, we find those from other cultures are willing to listen to what we have to say – the gospel gains a hearing. After initial discomfort, we experience profound belonging when we embrace those from cultures very different to our own.

Please pray

  • Thank God for the gospel and its servant by which he forms a glorious heavenly gathering around Christ by people from every tribe, nation and tongue.
  • For our church communities to be transformed by the gospel of Jesus, to become aware of our ‘cultural blindness’, and to commit to learning from and even celebrating the cultures of other communities around us.
  • That cross-cultural missionary training will help workers share the good news of Jesus throughout the world.

COVID-19 has created a global health crisis affecting millions of people in every community where SIM workers live and serve.

While SIM continues to help its medical ministries in need of resources through its COVID-19 Immediate Response Project, economists are now signalling a severe global recession, with unprecedented levels of unemployment, pushing more people into extreme poverty than ever before.

But of equal concern is a hidden global crisis triggered by these health and economic catastrophes: the crisis of human trafficking amongst the world’s most vulnerable people. Combatting trafficking is a significant spiritual battle and while this may seem overwhelming, the good news is that SIM is able to take steps to stop this crisis happening in our communities.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is the illegal process of trapping people by violence, deception or coercion and exploiting them for financial or personal gain. Research has shown that people who experience the following are at particular risk of human trafficking:

Trauma.

Conflict, violence, natural disasters or public health emergencies.

Discrimination.

Loss of income and livelihoods.

Family violence and people who lack caring, supportive relationships.

 ‘We are going to witness a tsunami of trafficking in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic’

“Serving in Mission already knows that human traffickers prey on vulnerability and will flock to where there are crises of any sort,” says Sarah Scott Webb, co-leader of SIM’s global anti-trafficking ministry, For Freedom.

“Human traffickers lure victims by promising a better life, with the chance of earning money or receiving an education, of helping their families. They trick, deceive, and sometimes force them into situations of exploitation, abuse and slavery, from which they cannot escape.”

For Freedom was formed two years ago, to coordinate SIM’s response and address the root causes of human trafficking by providing training, support and strategic guidance to SIM teams, workers, partner ministries and local churches involved in anti-trafficking work.

“Prior to COVID-19, an estimated 40 million vulnerable men, women and children had been trafficked into slavery worldwide,” adds Sarah. “This statistic will increase dramatically over the coming months as loss of livelihoods will leave desperate families extremely vulnerable to false offers of work as they look for ways to survive. We are going to witness a tsunami of trafficking in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Severe economic hardship caused by loss of income and livelihoods will lead to an increase of families resorting to selling their children into situations of child labour and child marriage as a source of income.

“It is predicted that COVID-19 will directly cause more than four million girls to be married within the next two years and millions more men, women and children will fall prey to trafficking promising work and decent jobs. Migrants living in camps will also be at particular risk.”

For Freedom is now appealing to SIM mission workers to be aware of the trafficking risks in the communities where they work.

“By building awareness of what trafficking is and how traffickers trick people, at-risk communities are being protected. Sharing Jesus love in this practical way opens doors to be able to share the good news of Jesus welcome,” explains Sarah. 

“Over the next few months, we want SIM mission workers to be our eyes and ears about how we can help them protect vulnerable people in their communities and stop traffickers from maximising the situation.