We watch the news we can often feel useless. But, what can we do to influence the situation for good? Surely we must be compelled to pray for those in positions of power around the world. But does it stop there? Do you ever wonder how things might be different if those people had encountered the love of Jesus?
Amazingly, one in ten current world leaders studied at a UK university, including the presidents of Iran and Syria. I wonder whether they had any contact with the UK church, and what was their experience of Christians? Of course, it’s not just future heads of state that come here to study. Others in future positions of national influence are currently students: lawyers, teachers, politicians, civil servants, doctors, business chiefs. And as well as attending university, thousands also come here to study English, maybe even just for a few weeks or months.
These are the people that the United team are seeking to welcome. Through the café every Wednesday evening we want to provide a place that can be ‘home’ for international students whilst they are here in Brighton & Hove. A place to relax, to make and meet friends, to chat, ask questions, and share life. We welcome students from all over the world to share in our extended family, providing them with an opportunity to hear of Jesus and to encounter the love of God. As we talk, some express an interest to know more. Some may come to a Sunday service or to Alpha, or may simply meet one-to-one over coffee with a team member. Whatever their interest, we want to serve all the students by giving simple hospitality and seeking to reflect the love of God to them.
Living in a foreign country shapes a person, especially as a student. Their experiences here could help influence not only their own lives, but, through them, the lives of thousands of others, and even national policies. Whether they come to know Jesus for themselves, or simply leave with a more positive view of Jesus and His followers, Wednesday night in the back room of Holland Road Baptist Church could be shaping the world of tomorrow….
We trust you are praying as you listen to the news – keep doing that!
But if you’d like to do more, please get in touch with us. Perhaps you could:
Bake some cakes or cookies once a month – or just occasionally.
Host a student for Sunday lunch – regularly or as a one-off.
Be part of a new prayer team committed to pray for the students (you could do this from home).
Join the café team.
We’d love to hear from you! Please get in touch via the United web page, or chat to Tim Ison or Jenny Brown.
In 2015, Christians in Japan came together in large gatherings to pray, worship, and share the good news. In January, Bill Johnson from Bethel Church taught in Tokyo on the Kingdom of God, encouraging attendees to pray for each other to believe in God’s work of healing. In May, in the city of Kobe, 4,000 Christians from Japan, Korea, China, and other parts of East Asia saw pastors from those countries crying and hugging as they promised to walk in love with each other. One leading Japanese pastor shared that he had not modelled the Father to his children but had parented them in the way his unsaved father had parented him. His openness caused spontaneous reconciliation amongst many pastors, church members, and their families. Finally, Franklin Graham held a large Tokyo evangelistic rally at the end of November, which was a wonderful partnership between churches, their members and the rally staff. We were personally blessed as a neighbour attended with Rhonda.
2015 has been an important year for YWAM Tokyo, seeing the Lord gather 15 students, including 4 from Japan, and 10 staff for our first International DTS, (or IDTS), held bilingually in English and Japanese. Derick Domae and I co-lead the school which began at the end of September. We are coming to the end of the lecture phase and looking now to outreach to Thailand and the Philippines, beginning just before Christmas. I hope to spend a week’s pastoral visit with each of the three outreach teams beginning in early January.
One story illustrates the wonderful sense we have of the Lord’s guidance in the school. Some DTS students were wanting to be baptised and we made arrangements to have the baptism on a particular Thursday. That week’s lecture series required a schedule change, meaning the baptism would be on the Wednesday, which was Remembrance Day! I realised that we were remembering those who gave their lives as a sacrifice for our freedom, and that those being baptised were showing the sacrifice which the Lord Jesus Himself made for our freedom.
I spent my summer volunteering in Bolivia with ICS Tearfund, and now have a journal jam-packed with ten weeks’ worth of ramblings, anecdotes, thoughts and reflections. If you were to read this notebook, you would know all about a project in Cochabamba called Oeser, you’d be introduced to a team of incredible Bolivian and UK volunteers, and you’d hear about my experiences of living with a South American family, teaching English and learning how to sell a cereal bar in Spanish! I could probably write a whole book about my time in Bolivia, but to keep it brief I’m going to skip most of the details and just take this opportunity to share something that is particularly important to me. However, if you’d like to hear more about the ins and outs, you can either read a blog my good friend Ruth wrote, (https://tenweekswithtearfundoeser.wordpress.com) or ask me face-to-face!
The project Oeser provides grants for 15 children to leave the San Sebastian prison in the south of Cochabamba and come to a nursery in the Villa Candelaria each day. In Bolivia, if a mother is imprisoned for a crime, her child will stay with her in prison until the age of 6. I had no idea how to feel about this system. I still don’t claim to be able to judge what is best for these children; however, I do know without a doubt that it is important that they have the opportunity to go to the Nursery. As volunteers we rotated each week to pick up the children, entertain them on the long bus journey, and take them back again at the end of the day. They would bundle into the Trufi covered in snot, munching away on sweets, and normally shouting, crying or fighting. They were a lively bunch and if anything they were the ones entertaining me! I often felt unsure of what to do, due to both a lack of fluent Spanish, and a sense of hopelessness at the children’s exceptional situation. Each morning on the drive to collect the children I would pray for them, and God encouraged me that all He required of me in this situation, and beyond, was to love the people put in front of me.
I remember one of these mornings in particular because I was really questioning the importance of our role in this part of the project. Psyching myself up to be child-friendly at such an early hour was proving difficult already… then I was handed a screaming child. Thankfully, she calmed down over the course of the Trufi journey and she started to talk and play with me. Until we arrived at the nursery and she burst into tears all over again, pulling hard at my hand to go with her. I couldn’t stay, but the image of her face absolutely filled with fear stayed with me all day. I repeatedly felt stirred to pray for her. On the journey home she sat on my lap again, and this time there was a noticeable difference in her as she told me happy stories about her day.
I found out later that this was her first day at nursery. The first day she’d ever left the prison.
Sometimes God places people before us and simply asks us to love them. God loves this child immeasurably and unconditionally so I felt privileged that, despite my very apparent weakness and inability to change her situation, God could use me to show her His love that day. I feel honoured to have held her and taken her to the gates for her very first day of school, but it still breaks my heart that her mother couldn’t have taken my place, and that she had missed so much school already.
As a team we have plenty of other stories like this where we realised the extent to which these children are deprived a normal childhood as well as some of their basic rights.
Nearing the end of our time at Oeser, the UK girls went for a meeting with the director of the project. We were informed that a key donor had withdrawn funding so the charity would have to cut certain aspects of their work. Sadly, the grants for the children from the prison are the main cause for concern at the moment. We were actually shocked by the amount of money that is necessary to run this scheme for just one year. I’d never considered the cost of education before; I’d never really had to. Even though our target for one year is upwards of £13,000 I do believe that God can work miracles and there is no reason not to try to raise at least some of this money.
Before, I had been upset that the children were forced to go back to the prison every day, but then the reality hit that they might not be able to leave at all. On paper, the financial breakdown of the grant shows that Oeser offers these children: education, travel, healthcare, and food. But I have seen that Oeser gives the children so much more than this: they are loved by caring teachers that are dedicated to teaching them good values, and they have the opportunity to make friends and play in a playground. A chance to just be a child.
I want these children to have the opportunity to know freedom and not be confined to a prison for a crime they didn’t commit.
Thank you for reading this and thank you to everyone who donated to my fundraising for Tearfund or prayed for me while I was away. If anything in this article has impacted you in any way and you’d like to support the project, then there are several ways that you can respond:
-Pray! Prayer can connect us across the world and I believe there is power when we call upon the name of Jesus and cry out against injustice. Please pray for the ongoing work of Oeser, and specifically for wisdom and strength for the Director in this difficult season.
-Come along to our fundraising event and invite friends! There will be a quiz, music, cakes, and a short presentation about the project. This will be held in the hall at Holland Road Baptist Church on 20th November, 7pm-9pm. Each ticket costs £3 and teams can have a maximum of 6 members.
Living in a Muslim country, “insha’Allah” is now for me a totally normal response to many different situations. Literally translated it means ‘God willing’, as in, ‘Yes, I fully intend to, but I acknowledge that God is ultimately in charge and has sway in all our affairs’!
I ask when my papers will be ready to collect and the clerk tells me, “On Thursday, insha’Allah”. I take this to mean, on Thursday if you are lucky, if everyone works a full week and if the man with the stamp is in the office. In the souq I hear a voice calling after me in English, “Madam! Madam! Spices good price, you come back?”. I keep walking and respond “insha’Allah”, meaning ‘not now, maybe later and most likely never’.
I am reminded of all this “insha’Allah”-ing as I read about Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane. From the first humans in the first garden we know that when anyone disobeys God and goes their own way, an innocent one has to die to redeem the guilty one.
There in the second garden Jesus knew He had a job to do, a destiny to fulfil and a mission to accomplish. It would cost him everything, and the strain in his body was so great that he sweated blood, but here was no plan B. He asked if there could be another way but accepted what God had willed for him from the beginning.
When God reveals to me something that he has for me to do, will I respond “insha’Allah”, meaning ‘maybe’, ‘not likely’, ‘probably not’, ‘yes, but with a few conditions’? Or will I respond as Jesus did, “…not as I will, but as YOU will”? ! !
Obedience and faith are so beautiful and precious to God. Just say YES!!
We’re so thankful for our partnership with Holland Road these last 30 years in Japan! Here is a little of what is happening with us recently.
As we write, Sarah Aiko is returning from her YWAM Introduction to Primary Health Care outreach in Zimbabwe and Rhonda is preparing to fly to England to attend her graduation. By the time you read this, they will have moved Sarah Aiko’s things from King’s Lodge to Brighton where she will begin her university preparatory studies this fall!
Mary will move to Brighton to join Sarah Aiko this summer! She is nanny to our elder son David and his wife Tamara’s daughters, aged 3 and 1; also running a weekly programme for them and a friend’s two preschool daughters. She loves working with preschool children!
This September David, Tamara , Hannah and Amy will welcome “number 3”! Before then they will have moved in March into their very own house in Machida, Tokyo which will be closer to David’s company after it moves in June. We, too, will be moving – in May! Our mutual landlord has asked us to move into the house where David and his family have lived so that they may develop the house where we have been living as a chemist attached to their clinic.
Our second son, Jonathan, and his wife Kelly continue to enjoy their church involvement in Vancouver. They are thankful to receive mentoring in leadership by their small group leaders and hope to begin a new small group for the church this coming year.
Bob and I met with the Missions Pastor from Tokyo Baptist Church and shared information on the maiden voyage of the M/V Pacific Hope. There are possibilities for the church to partner with outreaches in Vanuatu in the summer. It is exciting to be building partnerships with local churches and involving them in the medical ministry of the YWAM ships. Visit www.marinereach.com for more details.
International DTS: We are excited to be planning a Japanese-English DTS to commence on the 22nd of this September. In addition to our core team of four, four more staff have joined us, and we are beginning to contact the list of speakers for the lecture phase. The web page will be updated soon, along with a brochure printed in Japanese, and then applications will begin. visit www.ywamtokyo.org for more details.
This last September I attended an important meeting called by YWAM international leadership to discuss some major changes to how YWAM operates. Our local YWAM area eldership sought to implement some of these through changing the format of our area staff meetings, and were happy that our first in January seemed to be successful!
At this time we are looking forward to our YWAM National Conference in March, where John Dawson of YWAM’s Global Leadership Forum will help us discover more of the implications of these changes.
Hokkaido is the island furthest north in Japan. Since 2006 we have been praying towards seeing YWAM work begin there. YWAM Tokyo DTS leaders Greg and Rachel have amazing testimonies as to how the Lord called them separately to Hokkaido before they met and married. Greg and I went to Hokkaido for the second time in early February, attending positive meetings with several Christian leaders there in order to explore these possibilities together.
I travelled up earlier than Greg to spend over a week with a young Japanese man whom I met at a friend’s church gathering in 2013. He was struggling with fear and depression but visited us last spring in Tokyo and was baptized at TBC. He did not do well on his return. The time I spent with him, though, was really encouraging as he was able to renew his church attendance there, begin treatment at a dentist, visit several doctors and also attend a local public gym’s training programme.
Our family has been blessed by the Christian Academy in Japan, which was established in 1950 for the education of missionary children. Rhonda has been able to teach there these last three years and also write curriculum according to the school’s curriculum writing method, teaching to secular standards using secular textbooks but through a Biblical perspective. It was an exciting challenge and good to have finished compiling and recording it.
Well, thank you for reading along! If you would like to keep up to date with our doings, please visit our family blog at www.somers-harris.com!
In 1961, a man called George Verwer climbed a tree in Austria to cry out to God in prayer. George was passionate about reaching people with the gospel, but he was going through a hard time. As George has recounted in sermons many times, it was during these prayers, that God gave him the name “Operation Mobilisation” for the new organisation he had founded a few years previously. Now, “OM” is a diverse multi-denominational international missions organisation with thousands of missionaries serving in over 100 countries.
So, what is ‘mobilising’, and why should you be a mobiliser? Well, I believe that mobilising is a combination of encouraging people and preparing people to do something – motivating their hearts and equipping, training or instructing them so that they can be effective. In Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels we read how Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, and in Luke 10 we also read how Jesus later sent out 72 ‘others’. Jesus was a mobiliser. He set a great example for us. He had certainly inspired and moved his followers’ hearts; he had taught them and prepared them, and at the point of sending them out, he gave them specific instructions and advice for their mission, including the encouraging words “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3).
We are now in our fifth year at Operation Mobilisation in Brazil. OM Brazil is in the business of mobilising people for Jesus. It was actually through George, that we were originally mobilised to join OM. We were sent to Brazil, but now that we are here, we are not often sent out, rather we are playing our part in preparing and facilitating others to go. We are mobilisers. Nélia is equipping missionaries with the English language. I, by maintaining an operational IT system, and helping in the leadership of the team in Brazil, am also equipping and guiding others. Of course, we also play a part in encouraging and motivating students, missionaries, and people we meet outside of OM.
So what is it like being a mobiliser? What keeps us motivated to mobilise? As in any job, there is a certain amount of repetition; but one of the great things about being in a training base, is that the faces are constantly changing. We are regularly meeting new people, seeing them change and grow, as they prepare to go out. Thanks to communications technology, we can keep in touch with how God is using them in whatever country they have been sent to. For Nélia, each new English term has different individual characters, and a different group dynamic. She needs to be creative and innovative in the material and methods she uses. Technology never stands still, but unfortunately it can get old, so for me there are always ways to do things faster or smarter or easier – and preferably cheaper! Of course, there are challenges and difficulties, and we learnt very early on that prayer is essential to our lives.
One of my favourite scriptures is so real:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3: 5,6)
So, what about you? Jesus sent the 12; then he sent another 72. Might He be sending you? Or if you don’t feel sent, do you feel called to mobilise others? George was (and still is) passionate about mobilising. But this wasn’t George’s idea; it was God’s. God sent Jesus. Jesus mobilised the disciples. Through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit mobilises us. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?
Holland Road is a mobilising church; a sending church, and a going church. To do these things is not just obeying, they are also acts of worship. It shows that we love Jesus. If you have received the gospel, then someone must have told you. What part are you playing in telling others?
On October 25th 2014 a team from Holland Road set out on a mission trip to Romania; with bags packed full of craft materials, toys, toiletries and food as gifts for our work, and warm clothes for the predicted cold weather. The team consisted of Jonny Holman, Sam Dracott, Debbie Varney, Jeri-Lee Kenny, Philip Deuk, Matt Lovell, Margie Fforde, Helen Wheeler and Pam Bebb.
We arrived in Bucharest during a snow storm and we spontaneously applauded the pilot upon the landing. Our team still had a further flight to catch, though, and it was no surprise that it was delayed. They found another plane, quite small with large visual propellers on the side, and we took off once again in the howling snow storm. Everyone was nervous!
One hour later we landed in Iasi. Not a drop of snow to be seen, but it was very cold. Pastor David and his son were patiently waiting. It was past midnight by now and we had been travelling since 9.00am. Pastor David’s son took us to the church hall, where we would be working and staying for the week. To our delight it was fully carpeted and toasty warm. There was a large bowl of fruit and plenty of bread, coffee and tea. The beds were all made up for us and everything was clean and comfortable. We soon settled down for a well needed sleep, because we had an early start the next day.
In the morning we took part in the Filadelfia Church service, in the city centre. Philip Deuk preached, while the team performed a song and did cardboard testimonies. Some also helped in the children’s service. Later in the evening we went to a rural church about 40 minutes out of town and repeated the process. But here the little children had no special service and they sat obediently for 2 hours on a rug at the front with little to amuse them except staring at us!
During the rest of the week, we were busy during the daylight with pastoral visits to families in the city and in the rural district. Some rural areas had no plumbed in water mains and used communal wells situated along the roadside. They had no inside toilets, but used holes in the ground in wooden sheds. The homes were mainly just two rooms, doubling up as bedrooms, kitchen, and lounge. They were warmed from the wood burning range used for cooking, which were set into separating walls built with similar bricks that we find in UK night storage heaters. This clever idea meant the walls kept the heat well and so acted as radiators.
The people were very welcoming. Occasionally there were tears from the rural people who were overwhelmed by their troubles and were experiencing real hardships brought on by health problems from a stroke, and a hospital accident which caused severe disabilities. I personally wept alongside them. There was genuine understanding and connection between us all despite the language barriers: God’s provision was working in us. It was a privilege to pray with these people and share the gospel with them.
For four continuous nights we ran a children’s club for up to 31 children aged between 4 and 14. We had Romanian ladies who worked hard translating for us. The children had a wonderful time, told their friends and family, and eagerly returned each night. We were all so blessed by their happy faces. Whatever we gave, we got back tenfold.
On the last day we held ladies’ events – one in the rural area in the morning and one in the city in the evening. Many ladies came forward for prayer. The evening was very emotional, full of joy and worship, but also there were testimonies, tears, confessions, and much healing. It was a time well spent in the presence of our Lord.
Please join with us in remembering the people of Romania through prayer. To find out more about what Holland Road does across the world see hrbc.org.uk/world
Hey I’m Anna, and those of you who know me, will know I’m pretty passionate about Wales.
I’ve been going on missions to Wales for the past 14 years or so, and these trips have truly transformed my life.
Each year the summer mission trip gets better and better, and it was an absolute joy to be a part of the team this year.
Okay, so a normal day on mission…
We start the day with devotions, really needing to feed on His word, as we’re doing mission by His strength, not our own. Then we split off into our lovely teams (schools team, care team, wonderful minibus drivers, connect team, CAT, sound and production team, special ops team, rugby team, clowns team – there’s more but I can’t remember them all). It’s always a blessing to serve in any way that we can, and just the beautiful sense of unity we have throughout the teams. Then, in the evenings, we have brilliant events going on. We have a ladies night, men’s beast feast; we help at youth groups, special rugby nights; and of course, there’s the incredible choir.
This year I was blessed to be on the connect team, and I sang in the choir. I love being on the connect team. It pushes me out of my comfort zone, and takes me to places where God wants me and uses me. We invite people to events, offer prayer, do some door to door work, prayer walk, listen to people’s life stories, and we’re always ready to share a testimony. Connect team used to terrify me, now I can’t get enough of it!
Singing in the choir brings me so much joy. Every night we see lives transformed by Christ. The songs are so passionate and filled with truth, and the soloists just shine as they praise Him. We’ve seen whole families being saved, hearts being comforted, people being healed, and people returning to the Father. There’s real power and anointing over these events.
I know a lot of you have felt like you’ve missed out, because you haven’t been able to make the summer mission. We are trying to do more mini-missions to Wales throughout the year, so please do pray about these trips; and if He’s calling you to go, say yes! You won’t regret it, and you’ll probably get hooked on Wales, I know I am!
God bless, and thank you for reading my Wales story.
I am sure that most of you are aware by now that Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympics. However, what you may not know is that interest has been increasing in “Sports Ministries” in Japan over the last few years. It is not always easy, though, for Japanese pastors to see how their churches can be involved in sports ministry. Last month, at a meeting of a growing network of Sports Ministries, I learned why there has not been a strong interest and resulting movement among the local churches. If someone suggested to a local pastor that the church needed a sports ministry, the Pastor’s first reaction would be,
“Sports?” The matches are always held on Sundays. Why would I need a sports ministry?”
This meeting was very encouraging, as it was hosted in a large Japanese church (Hongo Dai Church) and was attended by several Pastors from Kanto and one even from Osaka. Churches from this group are already targeting Brazil for the World Cup Soccer Games on now, and also an Expo Unity World cup being held in India in December. It was very encouraging to hear all that they were already doing and planning to do. It is my goal that I will have something valuable to share with this group from my trip to the UK to meet with the leader who organised the London Olympics for YWAM.
The meeting went over lunch and continued into the afternoon. There was a lot of interaction over the meal, as well as in the more formal times of sharing. In the dining room I was surprised to meet an old friend from TBC who is now on staff at Hongo Dai Church. I am looking forward to meeting him and others again at our next meeting after I return from Europe.
I am a long-time monolingual home-bird who loves God and my family. Since 2010 I have lived mostly away from England, become sort of bilingual and generally much less useful, but am learning a lot and still love God.
Why no photo?
I live in a part of the world where there is no historical church and where the small numbers of locals are often persecuted for following Jesus. As a family we were called by God and sent out by our church to be salt and light in a very different culture than Brighton and Hove. We are making work for ourselves here, schooling our children, praying, loving our neighbours, sharing good news where we have opportunities, and caring for other workers.
One Friday I was straightening up the frashes (long bench type sofas with lots of cushions – see picture above) in the morning and as I picked up a cushion I saw tens of small white maggots crawling up the wall. The more I looked, the more I found. Hundreds and hundreds of them. They were in the mattresses, in the pillows, on the wood bases, on the wall, behind the bookshelves – they were everywhere and they were making my skin crawl.
There and then my day changed. I took advice from a local friend and her advice was clear – you have to throw ALL of the sheep wool stuffing out because you can never get rid of the bugs by washing or with chemicals. You have to start again.
All day long I had the opportunity to reflect on sin and its consequences. All day long as I took off all the covers, washed every one of them, hung them out in the sun to dry and, one by one, picked off the bugs that had resisted the washing process, emptied the sheep wool from them and took them to the bin outside on the street, treated the bases with insecticide and boiling water, and washed down the walls and floor in the room.
And all day long and into the evening I was thinking of my sin.
My sin is like those maggots. There doesn’t need to be much, and it doesn’t need to be big, but it is so, so ugly. It spreads under the surface and out of sight until everything is infected. What is more, a few weeks before, I had taken a little wool from some over-stuffed pillows in that room and put them in other pillows elsewhere in the house to make some new pillows from what I already had. Now, when I looked, those were infested too. The problem was growing bigger.
Until that morning, when the maggots revealed their presence, my frashes had looked beautiful, clean, and in perfect order. We sat on them and slept on them and no one would have said anything was wrong. The outside looked ok but the inside was rotten.
My life can be like that. On the outside everything looks in order, clean, well dressed, respectable, polite, no major sins obvious, but inside it can be a different story. Even one little sin grows and spreads until it cannot stay under the surface any more but comes out for all to see. First in little ways and then more and more, until everything it touches is infected. No matter how much I clean and treat the problem myself it will never go away. As my friend told me so firmly, I needed to throw it all away and start over again. My effort alone can never ever make it right.
We did throw all the wool away. We did buy new mattresses. We did make a fresh start.
That Friday was Good Friday of last year.
I have never had such a meaningful Good Friday experience.