23/10/2003 -Prayer: James’ field studies
In a country reliant on farming, BMS agriculturalist James Taylor is helping to make real changes to poor people’s lives in western Nepal.
Volunteer James has joined the staff team for 18 months at the Rural Development Centre (RDC) in Pokhara, which is run by BMS partner, United Mission to Nepal (UMN). He’s working as a training advisor on a number of the Centre’s projects as it aims to help poor rural families overcome farming-related problems.
RDC has a crucial part to play because almost two in three farmers who participate on their courses do not grow enough food to feed their families for the whole year.
Farming is central to the economic framework of Nepal. Eighty per cent of people are reliant on subsistence agriculture. There are two million farms throughout Nepal and agricultural products account for 40 per cent of the national gross domestic product.
James has been in Pokhara since mid-July after an initial ten-week training and orientation programme in Kathmandu. The work is challenging and varied, and James is getting to know the Centre’s training staff (40 Nepali staff and a Filipino vet) who have warmly welcomed him.
RDC training takes place either in the town of Pokhara or out in nearby rural communities. The Centre also carries out work for other development organisations, and recently James accompanied two trainers to a village a few hours from Pokhara, evaluating the impact of a water and sanitation project.
Getting there involved lots of walking, plus a long bus and boat trip, before the group picked and splashed their way through rice paddies. James needs to get used to this – the Pokhara area is one of the wettest in Nepal with rainfall almost four metres a year.
Another element of James’ work is leading training workshops for farmers. The Centre aims to empower marginalised groups and course participants are encouraged to be actively in control of their training, rather than just passively receiving it.
One training course offered at RDC is pig-raising – something which radically changed the life of a lady called Santu Maya, a 67-year-old from a village called Lamachaur.
Santu Maya lives on her own since her husband died and her children grew up and moved away. She had previously kept chickens and pigs but the pig-raising training at RDC taught her skills about selection of appropriate breeds, the treatment of diseases, how to make pig sheds and keep them clean, and feeds.
She is now applying these skills and selling pigs commercially. She has two piglets and is planning to add two more. Santu Maya says that if training like the sort she received was given to poor families in other parts of Nepal, many others like herself would benefit.
That James and the staff at RDC would continue to be practical and forward-thinking in their training courses.
For greater empowerment for the poor in the Pokhara region.
That many more lives like Santu Maya’s will be changed through RDC’s training.
17/10/2003 - Short-term Mission Placement
Volunteer Placement in Short-term Mission – January-July 2004
BMS World Mission is a leading Christian mission agency. Each year we send around 180 participants on short-term projects across four continents. On this volunteer placement you will provide vital support to the short-term mission team during the busy months of January to July 2004. You will deal with enquiries and applications for all the programmes and assist with the project management of the Summer Teams and Action Teams (gap year) UK Tour.
We are looking for a committed Christian with an interest in short-term mission. Ideally the person will have previous administrative experience, be well-organised and relate well to people of all ages.
This is an exciting role based at our offices in Didcot. Ideally the person will be able to commit between 18-35 hours per week. It is a voluntary position and travel expenses and a midday meal in our restaurant are provided. Rent-free accommodation in Didcot and up to Ł15 per week subsistence costs are available for someone whose home is outside the area.
For a job description contact
Manager for Volunteer Development
BMS World Mission
PO Box 49
Fax: 01235 517601
For an informal chat contact Julie on 01235 517653.
Applicants are asked to send a CV with details of two referees (tutor/employer and church pastor) to the above address by Friday 7 November 2003.
Other volunteer posts exist within BMS World Mission. Please contact us if you are interested.
Click here to link to BMS Website page detailing further opportunities
02/10/2003 - Prayer: ords’ open invitations
The BMS India Summer Team has returned to the UK with experiences and memories to treasure following a challenging and emotional four weeks teaching street children in Calcutta.
A BMS World Mission pastoral couple are bringing the Christian faith out in the open in more ways than one.
Mark and Claire Ord, leaders of Genoa Baptist Church, are keen to raise the profile of the church and evangelical Christianity in general in an especially Catholic area. They are doing this most successfully through a number of open-air events.
The last one was held a few Sundays back (21 September), when the church did a concert in the local park, which was sponsored by the council. A publicity campaign of leaflets plus announcements in the local newspaper brought a number of people from outside the area’s evangelical churches.
Amongst the audience was the police commissioner for Genoa, who came to the church the day after the event to congratulate Mark and Claire on the concert.
Previously, in April, 11 people from Penarth, South Wales, contributed music to a church open-air concert, as well as to two services, and gave testimonies at house groups. This was of great encouragement to the Ords and the whole church.
Another key event for the church this year was a regional Sunday school weekend at the start of the summer. This was the first time such a gathering had taken place and attracted 50 children (aged three to 15) from eight churches.
There is very little Christian teaching material for children in Italian and translating becomes difficult because of cultural differences. So, the teaching team, including Mark and Claire, had to write their own material – sketches, teaching and songs – which was on the book of Daniel. The children and young people had a great time! There are plans for the event to be repeated in 2004.
It’s an exciting time for Genoa Baptist Church, which has a congregation made up of a mix of different backgrounds and nationalities. There’s a building project set to start, which will include a new balcony and baptistry, as well as a set of new pews. Three more housegroups are underway in addition to the two already running.
The church is also ready to welcome a brand new BMS Action Team for six months from 10 October. Catherine, Hannah, Peter and Rebekah will be involved in children’s work, teaching English and work with immigrants and the homeless.
Mark and Claire, who have two daughters, Beth and Naomi, have worked with BMS in Genoa since 1997.
That those who came to the recent open-air concert in Genoa would have been challenged by the messages they heard.
For the children and young people in the Genoa region to continue to be involved in the churches. Give thanks for the work done by Sunday school leaders.
For all the new things happening at Genoa Baptist Church and that the Action Team would settle well and be a great asset to the community.
25/09/2003 - Summer team big hit with India street kids
The BMS India Summer Team has returned to the UK with experiences and memories to treasure following a challenging and emotional four weeks teaching street children in Calcutta.
The India Team was made up of 12 people from churches around the UK who became involved in three major education projects which aim to give some of the poorest children in Calcutta some hope and prospect for the future.
The team included professional teachers as well as people from non-teaching occupations and was co-led by primary school teacher Jane Coates, from Moortown Baptist Church, Leeds. She describes some of the experiences:
“The Malancha School provides education for 350 pupils and we soon found ourselves with 150 children in front of us, aged three to ten, ready to be taught. The heat and humidity were a problem – it was like teaching in a sauna! The teaching commitment was greater than I had anticipated and so I was grateful that I had taken a generous supply of posters, resources, bi-lingual books, games and craft materials with me.
“We divided ourselves into three teaching teams of four members to create manageable groups and we had a translator to help communicate. The team put in a lot of time, effort and care into preparing for lessons and in supporting non-teacher colleagues. We prepared activities, talks, stories and drama for each of the schools we worked at.
“We taught at the Mobile School for street children. Here, the children were collected by minibus from their pavement homes and brought to the school where the first task was to wash them and give them a school shirt to wear. There were around 30 children aged from three to ten years old, and this was their first experience of school, which aimed to give them skills before moving them on to a bigger school. The mobile school also provides medical care and a free meal to the children before they go back to the streets.
“The children were utterly charming and enthusiastic, worked patiently and co-operatively, and eagerly responded to the different teaching style and activities. It was also very striking how they took responsibility for each other and for younger brothers and sisters.
“I am so glad that I had this opportunity of short-term mission. My four weeks in Calcutta were wonderful.”
BMS also sent four other Summer Teams this year to Brazil, Poland, Spain and Sri Lanka. For information about Summer Teams in 2004, please e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 01235 517647.
25/09/2003 - prayer: new IMC intake
When you think of getting involved in world mission, Birmingham might not immediately spring to mind! But, for 13 BMS trainees, this is where they will be challenged, encouraged and prepared for overseas service.
The group of long-term mission personnel in training at the BMS International Mission Centre (IMC) includes teachers, medical specialists and social workers.
They started the new term at IMC last week (16 September), and will receive appropriate, effective cross-cultural training from the team of tutors based at the centre – Alan, Sue and Sarah – plus visiting leaders and lecturers.
They will have periods of personal study as well as time set aside for an overseas awareness trip next spring, before their time at IMC ends in July 2004 when they prepare to move to their overseas locations.
People currently have a country assigned to them as a ‘priority’ destination for their long-term mission with BMS. However, something to learn whilst at IMC is that they must be flexible, for it is possible that come next summer they might be better used somewhere else! In recent years, newly-trained BMS personnel have gone to places including Nepal, Guinea, Albania and Uganda.
This year there are a total of five children who will be looked after by BMS child carers, Dawn and Miriam. Three children are of pre-school age and so will be cared for whilst their parents are in daytime study; two will be in local primary schools.
The centre is residential with full catering facilities and is ideal for the numerous other groups that use it, such as BMS mission teams and people from outside organisations.
Please pray for the BMS mission workers in training for 2003-4. They are:
Emily and Mark, members of New Baptist Church, Burton on Trent. Mark is a renewable energy consultant; Emily a GP. They have one child: Isaac (one).
Fiona and Iain from Faringdon Baptist Church, Oxfordshire. Iain is a GP and Fiona is a qualified speech therapist. They have two children: Jenny (seven) and Peter (four).
Geraldine and Grant from Dumfries Baptist Church. They are both social workers and have three children: Ross (seven), Eilidh (three) and Murray (ten months).
Chris and Christine, members of Dorford Baptist Church, Dorchester, who are both school teachers. They were on the BMS Uganda Summer Team in 2001.
Brian and Nicola from Christ Church Methodist, Croydon. Brian is a programme officer at the Centre for Economic Policy Research; Nicola is a primary teacher.
Lizz and Pete from Harborne Baptist Church, Birmingham. Pete is a secondary school teacher and Lizz a physiotherapist.
Sue from Stanton Road Baptist Church, Luton, who is a radiographer.
Additionally, Miriam & Robert, a carer and pastor from Cornton Baptist Church, Stirling, will be at IMC for one term from January 2004.
For the 13 students starting on their mission journey with BMS at IMC – that they would have eyes and hearts opened further by God over the coming year.
That what is taught to the group over the coming terms would be relevant, clear and informative.
That the daily life of IMC would be enhanced by the new intake of trainees. Pray for all who work hard to make the centre clean and comfortable.
18/09/2003 - New toilets for afghan refugees
Over 1,500 families trying to resettle after Afghanistan’s years of war will have new latrines installed in their homes damaged in the conflict thanks to a BMS Relief grant sent this week (15.09.03) to support an ongoing rehabilitation programme.
The grant of Ł15,800 has been sent to the BMS partner organisation in Afghanistan which has the responsibility to construct and install the latrines as part of the rehabilitation programme taking place in the Shamali valley, north of the capital Kabul.
The grant marks the beginning of the third phase of the rehabilitation programme which has been ongoing for the last two years with the aim of improving the short and long-term quality of life prospects for internally displaced people (IDP) and developing household health, hygiene awareness and practice. BMS jointly supports the programme with other partner organisations including CARE and UN-Habitat.
Last year BMS sent a grant of Ł16,500 for the construction of 2,500 toilets as part of previous phases of the programme.
As well as the installation of the latrines, the programme also includes the repair and reconstruction of irrigation systems and a training programme of hygiene awareness and disaster preparedness for local communities. Many of the IDP attempting to move back into the area joined the workforce.
So far, 26 women and nine men have been assigned as community liaison officers to carry out hygiene promotion among the target community. The liaison officers visited every house in the 39 villages within Shamali valley, providing hygiene education to 15,900 adults and children on the subjects of hand washing, drinking water and the benefits, maintenance and proper use of the new latrines.
Follow-up surveys report a positive social impact as a result of the rehabilitation programme with significant improvements in the health knowledge and practices of the community.
An increase in cultivation, trade and gatherings for religious celebrations indicate positive signs of permanent resettlement. Good relationships have been maintained between the agencies running the rehabilitation programme and the local authorities, which are keen for the work to continue in the area.
David McLellan, BMS Manager for Mission Partnerships, says, "This holistic work has brought together several aspects of changing people’s lives for the better, including hygiene, health, education and re-skilling. Importantly, it has also contributed to restoring dignity to many who have suffered the effects of many years of war and injustice."
18/09/2003 - Prayer: school’s summer revamp
BMS teacher Margaret Gibbs is looking forward to a new term in the new-look Albanian Bible Institute (ABI) in Durres, which underwent a summer makeover.
The school was repainted inside and out and rewired by a team of volunteers from the USA, and is a much improved and safer environment for the teachers and students to work in.
It’s a challenging time for ABI as it goes into the new academic year without a director and in need of more teaching staff, especially those that are not only able to teach theology in a cultural context but learn the language and build good relationships with the students and their families.
English teacher Margaret is a key member of the ABI teaching team, which includes both foreign and Albanian staff. They dedicate themselves to providing teaching to students that is appropriate and applicable, and to building up and nurturing future leaders of the Church in Albania. It is a joy for Margaret to see the growth of individuals throughout their three years at ABI.
Outside her work at ABI, Margaret attends and get involves with Disciples’ Church in Durres, which has about 100 members and is 11 years old.
The church has also been recently refurbished. Members of the congregation spent time plastering and painting the meeting room and laying a new floor, which should make the acoustics better!
People from the church were busy over the summer with children’s and youth camps, and there has just been a time away for couples with 50 attending. Six people from Durres also took part in a ten-day prayer and outreach trip to Albanians in Macedonia. These events are helping to strengthen relationships within the fellowship.
Disciples’ Church is excited by the return of two members from study abroad. Maki is back after two years at Bible school in Budapest and will oversee youth work at the church, as well as preach. Gensi has been on a two-year masters course in the USA and now back at Durres will assist with teaching.
Margaret has been teaching in the port town of Durres since 1998, and previously worked with BMS in Nepal during the mid-90s. She begins a six-month Home Assignment in the UK at Christmas.
For ABI as it starts a new term with both encouragements and challenges. Pray especially that a new director and new staff would be found.
That the Disciples’ Church would continue to grow in relationships and service. Give thanks for the return of Maki and Genci and pray for its pastor, Arvid.
For Margaret in her teaching, her church involvement and that she will achieve everything she needs to do before her UK return at Christmas.
04/09/2003 - The Action starts here
For 34 young Christians, the experience of a lifetime kicks off this weekend.
The 2003-4 BMS World Mission Action Teams begin their cross-cultural training at the BMS International Mission Centre (IMC) this Sunday (7 September).
There are a total of nine Action Teams in 2003-4 – the largest number sent out by BMS since the programme for 18-25 year olds started over a decade ago.
Over the first four weeks of their Action Team year, team members will be getting into shape spiritually, mentally and physically. There will be cross-cultural training at IMC, covering topics such as evangelism, presentation skills and teamwork. The teams will also be put through their paces at a Christian outdoor centre in Wales.
Tom Howell, BMS Mission Teams Organiser, says, “The next month’s training is an incredibly exciting time as all the teams get to know each other, hear more about their overseas location, the culture that they’re about to enter and learn more about God.
“Please pray for fantastic team dynamics, total reliance on God and for the Action Teamers to develop flexibility and humility; two key characteristics needed to make their overseas experience an amazing one!”
The nine teams will be in the UK until early October when they depart for six locations – Brazil, India, Italy, Thailand, Trinidad and Uganda – for six months. When they return to the UK next April, each team will then share their experiences on a two-month UK tour.
This year, Action Team members come from across the UK – from as far north as Aberdeenshire and as far south as Cornwall – plus one person from Germany. For many of the young people, the next year represents a gap year before university; for others it’s time out before or between employment.
To see who’s going where and what they will be doing overseas, go to the team profiles listed on the right. These will be updated during the Action Team year.
04/09/2003 - History in the making
A Baptist seminary in north east Brazil led by BMS worker John Dyer is changing methods that have been in place for over four centuries.
The seminary in Natal, Rio Grande Do Norte state, was inaugurated on 2 August and represents a new way forward for theological education in Brazil.
It is the higher education wing of the Baptist School for Ministerial Formation, which belongs to the state’s Baptist Convention. John, who is Director of the School and runs other leadership courses in the state, explains:
“Among Brazilian Baptists, seminaries are still seen as places where pastors are trained. Our recently adopted mission statement proposes a new approach to theological education. The present system has been going for 450 years! To our mind the new seminary should be a training ground for all those who wish to do theology at a higher level and not just future pastors.
“The seminary will encourage all its students to go on serving the Lord with the gifts they possess as pastors, teachers, administrators, evangelists and disciplers. What a wonderful team effort that would be in the local church!”
The seminary is in a prime location on the main avenue in and out of Natal. It has got off to an excellent start, attracting 20 students and six teachers. John is assisted in the work by wife Maria, who is Administration Co-ordinator, and Maria Lęda, Brazilian Education Co-ordinator.
Plans are in hand for two extensions in the interior of the state, in the town of Mossoró and the Seridó region. Preliminary discussions are also taking place between the seminary and nearby Potiguar University to grant recognition for the degree course. Marigia, the Extension Co-ordinator at the university, says, “The moment is right for the seminary and university to strike a partnership.”
John is enthused by developments in Natal. “We are extremely pleased with what has happened. People here are telling us that this is history in the making! It's a great privilege to be here for such a time as this. Baptists in Natal are becoming more and more excited about this new development.”
Some comments include:
“It’s so much easier to get to.” (Solange, student)
“My church has several people interested for next year.” (Pastor Valderi)
“I was going to study in Recife, but can now do my theological training in Natal.” (Junior, student)
“The breath of the Spirit is bringing new life to the Baptists.” (Pastor Marcus)
John and Maria Dyer have been with BMS World Mission in Brazil since 1978 and in Natal for the last four years. They have one son, Joăo Marcos.
As well as directing the seminary, John pastors Living Water Baptist church, which became a fully-fledged Baptist Church in June. Maria also works to improve literacy in the region.
28/08/2003 - bangladesh: 179 baptised in river
One hundred and seventy nine people have been baptised in the River Kalnadi in a ceremony conducted by a BMS partner organisation.
Five pastors, who work with the Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha (BBCS), baptised the 179 people, mainly aboriginals from the Orao and Santals tribes who had come from surrounding villages within the district of Dinajpur. In this area, close to Nababganj Phulbari where the baptismal ceremony took place, the BBCS is planning to open a new Centre of Evangelism for the district of Dinajpur.
General Secretary of BBCS, Robert Sarkar, who was one of the five pastors,
described the event: "In the morning the five of us prayed and then started to go
together to the river place. We were all singing and dancing through the villages
and along the river bank. We conducted the baptismal ceremony - it took about an
hour to baptise the 179. Each of us baptised two people at a time by our two hands."
The BBSC is mainly concerned with evangelism across several districts in Bangladesh and operates through 324 associated churches and 120 pastors. It heads up education and health ministries and is involved with two large schools for children, hostels, clinics and hospitals in different parts of the country - including the Christian Hospital in Chandroghona (CHC) where BMS has three mission workers preparing to begin work this month.
"I regularly visit different areas because of BBCS projects, but the visit to Nababganj Phulbari was mainly for baptism," says Robert. "I also took the opportunity to look into the land which we are going to purchase for a new Centre of Dinajpur District for evangelism. I have a vision, prayer and plan for this area, that many souls shall come to the Lord, and this is not only for this area but other Districts too."
BMS has had a continuous presence in Bangladesh for the past 210 years. Beginning work at CHC this month is Cheryl Norman, a paediatric nurse, Mandy Burns, a physiotherapist and Carol Harvey, a neonatal nurse.
28/08/2003 - prayer: congo’s classroom challenges
As UK schools begin a new academic year with its usual highs and lows, spare a thought for education in D R Congo, which is by no means easy.
BMS teacher Pat Woolhouse, who has worked in Congo for 30 years, is deputy head of a Christian secondary school in Kimpese. Her school is one of the best in the region – but still has many hurdles to overcome to give Congolese youngsters the best education possible.
Last year, Pat concedes that test results had not been as good as hoped for, but that other schools experienced the same. Pat suspects that pupils and their parents are spending so much time and energy just surviving and finding school fees that actual study time is at a premium.
Most believe that paying fees entitles them to passing exams. Many that don’t pass then go on to obtain false documents to continue their studies. For a few the pressures can get too much, as Pat saw first-hand recently. After being told he had to repeat his third year, one pupil was so worried about how he would pay for this extra year that he refused to eat and later died.
There are so many children in Congo who don’t even have a very basic education because of the expense for their parents. An estimated 40 per cent of children in Congo receive no schooling – thousands were used as child soldiers in the country’s civil war.
The sixth formers at Pat’s school took their state exams in July as planned – but were fortunate to do so. Exams are often subject to postponement, sometimes for a few weeks. For students in some parts of the country who have to walk for several days just to reach their exam centres such a delay would see them go without food or money.
In spite of the problems that face them, the school at Kimpese that Pat works at, which has over 500 pupils, has a very good reputation. It is built on a strong Christian ethos and parents turn to the school because of the moral and spiritual teaching offered – daily morning prayers, Sunday services and Bible studies.
Quite a number of the children come along to Scripture Union meetings held locally, but they are irregular attendees and not yet very committed. A holiday club was organised over the summer for six to 15 year-olds, so hopefully many more will come along to the regular SU groups as a result.
For both parents and pupils in D R Congo as they cope with pressures concerning school fees. Pray for God’s provision.
That students where Pat works will come to a faith in Christ through their time at the school and through involvement at groups like the SU meeting.
For Pat Woolhouse and others like her, changing the lives of many children and young people in Congo through their care and teaching skills.
Tel: 01235 517647
Fax: 01235 517601