This month: spiritual hunger in secular France, the Bishop of Egypt on the future after revolution, behind the scenes with church workers in war-torn DR Congo and Sri Lanka and insights into reconcilation in Israel-Palestine. Produced and presented by Mike Stranks.
Six families made homeless through January floods in north-east Brazil received much-needed supplies and spiritual comfort, thanks to the quick action of a CMS mission partner.
Marcus Throup (right), who was in charge of the Cathedral of the Resurrection Joao Pessoa during a leadership transition, managed to get a team together and organise a collection campaign.
“We took food, clothes and nappies to the shelter where the suddenly homeless flood victims were temporarily housed,” he said. “It was great to pray with them and in a practical way remind them that God is our shelter and rock in times of trouble.”
30 days, 30 new church members In just a month, the Cathedral of the Resurrection has seen growth from “no young people” to more than 30 young members.
Mission partner Marcus Throup, who recently started heading the young people’s work at the Cathedral, explains: “With a small team we adopted an informal, creative, participative discipleship group that meets each Sunday.”
Marcus says new people are turning up each week, “some who had never set foot in a church building before. Praise God for this fantastic start!”
Marcus normally serves as assistant minister at the Cathedral.
When a food programme in a squatter area in Manila recently closed its doors, staff at Jigsaw Kids Ministries felt they needed to stand in the gap for the hundreds of starving children.
“But it seemed such a big undertaking,” said mission partner Tim Lee, founder of Jigsaw, which already provides food for hundreds of children in Manila.
“Trusting fully in God,” Tim said that within a few weeks, he and the Jigsaw staff bought the necessary equipment and put people in place to provide hot meals for local children ages 0-16. In the first week, more than 200 children showed up needing food.
Tim says, “At present, we are serving three hot, nutritious meals a week. We are seeing God’s miracle of the five loaves and two fishes daily. Jigsaw rarely has sufficient funds in advance to cover its food budget, yet each week God provides enough from gifts that are given.”
Jigsaw was started six years ago, with Tim and his wife Kate buying plates of rice for 12 children. Today Jigsaw operates four centres for street children. In addition to food, Jigsaw provides shelter, education and love for more than 1,700 children.
The young people at the (future) Maison Kimbilio in Lubumbashi, DRC marked the International Day of Street Children yesterday by taking mattresses out to sleep at the site of their new centre, reports mission partner Ian Harvey, working with Project Kimbilio.
"At Kimbilio today our children have moved out to sleep for the first time at the site of the new centre. We have been busy taking out bunk beds, mattresses etc over the last week. They will be staying there on a temporary basis over the Easter holidays! They have been really excited about this prospect and wanted to start sleeping there as soon as they finished their exams last Friday! It is great that this corresponds with the International Day of the Street children which is a campaign to give a louder voice to the millions of children all around the world who live and work on the streets.
"Our toilet and shower block is now complete and usable! It is currently being tiled and the next step is to get running water into the taps! There is a Congolese team who will be digging a well on site over the next few days! I don't envy them that task!"
Maison Kimbilio is a proposed children’s village situated on the eastern outskirts of Lubumbashi, the 2nd city of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A four-hectare site which is currently mostly scrub land has been purchased by the Anglican Church of Congo and made available to Kimbilio for its development. It has a small stream running on one of its boundaries providing a ready source of water.
The site will comprise of accommodation for children in three houses; a primary school and other educational and training facilities; a football field and other sports grounds; offices and meeting rooms; agricultural fields; health care facilities; staff accommodation.
A new church, a new school and 10 new mission partners (pictured) have been established in recent months in India, thanks to CMS partners Noel and Yashoda Kotian.
The church, on the outskirts of Bangalore, is still small, but already a handful of people from non-Christian backgrounds have decided to follow Jesus. In Mysore, the new school for dozens of poor students has two teachers and “the children have done well in their studies” according to Noel, who directs the Christian Education of Evangelical Fellowship of India (CEEFI).
“At the end of last year, we trained ten young people in Mumbai to do cross cultural missionary work. One young man was sent near Pune to do evangelism and church planting,” Noel said.
CEEFI works all over India, helping hundreds of thousands of people grow in Christ through training and resources published in over 20 languages.
It's not every day you're greeted with hugs and smiles by the President of the USA. Alf Cooper, CMS mission partner in Chile, was surprised to be pulled out of a lineup by President Obama on a recent visit to the country.
Alf was among those being presented to President Obama in late March because of his other role as Protestant chaplain to Chile's President Pinera.
Soyanne Muzard, head of communications at Alf's large city-centre church La Trinidad, takes up the story:
"According to what was reported President Obama broke into the line when he came across the Chaplain of the House of Government, our beloved Pastor Alfred Cooper. He gave him a warm hug and allowed pictures to be taken which surprised President Pinera."
Although President Pinera began introducing Alf as the person who "took care of the souls of those who constitute the House of Government" besides his other responsibilities, it was clear that President Obama remembered Alf from his visit to Washington in February along with recued miner Jose Henriquez.
"The President of the United States reminded him that they had already met at the Hotel Hilton in Washington DC at the National Prayer Breakfast which was held at the beginning of February this year, where our Pastor was the interpreter of Jose the miner, who gave testimony of how he lived when he and his fellow miners were trapped underground in the San José mine and how God rescued them.
"The presentation was made before 3,000 people including members of congress and other important people from all over the world."
Alf continued the evening sharing the gospel at his dinner table alongside a prominent TV current affairs presenter, a senator, and other notables of Chilean society.
People with HIV and AIDS in Nepal are getting much-needed, practical help from Christians, thanks to CMS co-mission partner Bhibin Shakya, director of Grace Community Services (GCS).
“After being infected by my husband with HIV, nobody would help me,” said one woman helped by GCS. “I thought my life was over, but GCS gave me sewing training and helped me tackle my problems and stand on my own two feet. I have also accepted Jesus as my saviour.”
In addition to counselling and skills training, GCS raises awareness through educating Christians. About 50 church leaders participated in a recent GCS seminar in Dhading, which focused on how and why Christians should help those who are HIV+, who often face harsh discrimination. Bhibin and his team also spoke on the massive problem of human trafficking.
Similar events were held throughout the year at other churches.
One pastor remarked that his “eyes had been opened”, adding, “Most of the time I share the gospel but never realised that we should also think about social issues such as girls trafficking, HIV/AIDS and family counselling.”
On World AIDS Day (pictured), Bhibin and his team took to the streets to rally against discrimination towards people living with HIV/AIDS. “Our slogan was ‘God loves all equally,’” he said.
More than 16,000 people packed into churches, town halls and conference centres across the UK to hear Chilean miner Jose Henriquez and mission partner Alf Cooper share a powerful story of rescue and redemption through Jesus.
Widespread media coverage, from the BBC, the Times, Sky News and several other outlets brought the message of God’s love to thousands more.
“We were encouraged that the BBC, by putting Jose’s testimony up prominently on their site, actually shared the gospel with thousands,” said John Martin, who coordinated press and media for the two-week UK tour, which was called “The 34th Man” as the 33 rescued miners had previously testified to the presence of a “34th man” – Jesus – being with them through their 69-day ordeal.
Whilst Jose andhis wife Blanca moved audiences to tears with their account, mission partner Alf Cooper, who also serves as Protestant chaplain to President Pinera of Chile, issued a powerful call to prayer to UK Christians. “In Chile, I was tasked with calling the nation to prayer, and the whole world saw the power of prayer. Imagine what could happen here if everyone in the UK rededicated themselves to prayer!” As a result, hundreds of people have agreed to commit to regular prayer for mission through CMS.
Other outcomes from the “34th Man” tour included hundreds of people declaring that they wanted to follow Jesus. Alf told the story of a taxi driver who drove him and Jose to Heathrow and ended up praying that Jesus would enter his life.
Alf and Jose also visited mining areas in north-east England, which are still struggling following strikes and closures. When they shared their story at Kirkby Miners’ Welfare, it was standing room only with hardly a dry eye in the place.
“The local minister has since rededicated his life to mission in that community,” said CMSstaff member Gaenor Hall, who arranged the meeting. “He will be giving a DVD of the event to every church in the area.”
Summing up the tour, Alf said, “Jose would only tour under the condition that our speaking would permit calling people to Jesus. We felt that this was a realistic approach to missiontoday, mission sponsored by CMS from Chile to Europe, the other way around to traditional mission enterprise. We could see that the UK is hungering for spiritual reality.”
The tour was briefly interrupted by a request from US President Barack Obama for Jose and Alf to attend the annual US National Prayer Breakfast. “He was visibly moved by Jose’s story and later commented to us how he admired Jose’s leadership skills,” said Alf.
This month: Indian mission partners on an allotment in Southall, Jonny Baker on CMS's new pioneer mission leadership course, visits to Peru and Chile and we celebrate some of CMS's passionate supporters of the work in Latin America at the recent Adelante! conference.
Twenty-eight countries in Africa still practice female genital mutilation. CMS mission partner in training Ann-Marie Wilson thinks this is "28 too many" and has set up a network under that name to take a stand against FGM.
You can listen to her on a recent edition of Premier Radio's Woman to Woman programme here: