As we begin another new year, it’s such a joy to know that we invest together in something that will last, we partner together in something that all of history points towards and we serve together knowing our labour is not in vain!
In April 2016, we arrived in Istanbul to spend two years focusing on learning the Turkish language and culture with the longer-term plan of working alongside a national church in a smaller city elsewhere in the country.
The film ‘Out of Africa’ begins with Karen Blixen’s words, “I have a farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills”. Well, I work at what used to be three farms at the foot of the Ngong Hills: Africa International University has a beautiful 50 acre campus some 15 miles from the centre of Nairobi, Kenya.
We arrived in Kurdistan 10 months ago with a commitment to learning the local dialect of Kurdish and understanding the culture. This was with the aim that we might be equipped to share the good news about Jesus Christ, disciple believers and, under God’s hand, see Kurdish churches planted for his glory: churches with mature believers, reaching out with the gospel, discipling new believers and seeking to be a blessing to the wider culture.
After a few years in northern Italy, we have moved ‘home’ to Sicily. Here I grew up, here my parents laboured. Palermo is the 2018 Italian ‘Capital of Culture’. And what a feast of richness in this city, capital of Sicily, with over 1 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, defined by many as ‘the most conquered’ of world cities.
We are an international family. Susana and I met in Costa Rica and worked together there in ministry for one year during my Spanish language study. Susana was sent as a cross-cultural missionary by her church in Korea in 1996.
Every Tuesday lunchtime at a university in central Bangkok, a small group of students meets together. They study the Bible, share and pray together and talk about how they can live for Christ on their campus. These students are not Thai, instead they come from Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, China and Germany and they use English as they meet. They are part of a growing number of internationals coming to study at Thai universities.
Imagine a growing town with schools, shops, industries, clubs, sports and everything else a modern town ought to have, except for one thing: a church that faithfully proclaims the gospel. Imagine a town that has in fact never had an evangelical church in it, even though it has a very long history.
MusaweNkosi means “God’s grace” in Zulu. MusaweNkosi was started in 2001 to show God’s grace particularly to orphans and their carers in the rural areas around Empangeni, near Durban, South Africa in the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
One aspect of ministry in Sierra Leone is working with under 18s. It is both exhausting and refreshing. In any given week we are parent-figures, teachers, role-models, advocates, and facilitators-of-fun.
In March, which is the month when the temperatures are too hot for people to work in the fields, Fidel took a trip up north, near the borders with Mali and Burkina Faso. He joined four pastors in their evangelistic film campaign amongst a strongly Muslim and animistic population.
On the night of 13 November 2015, as all our screens filled with the terrors of the attacks on the Bataclan, Paris restaurant terraces and the area around the Stade de France, our social media screens began to fill with one phrase: “Pray for Paris.”