Hello from Shalom Children's Center! Twifo-Hemang, Ghana
We started 2020 with an amazing amount of work getting accomplished. New furniture, a new playground and a new bus. We were looking forward to a year with Christiana Owusu moving from Atlanta back home to her childhood village, Twifo-Hemang. She was ready to help plant and tend to more of her dreams for the children she has been called for decades to care for.
Along with us, our Ghanaian brothers and sisters hunkered down and tucked dreams away for months. Eventually we were able to provide PPE supplies to help the jr. high students and teachers return to class to prepare for exams as the town attempted to safely open.
Zimbabwe Theological Seminary & African Baptist Churches in Zimbabwe
-from virtual visit with Henry and Hermina Mugabe, Nov. 21, 2020, hosted by JourneyPartners, a 2020 ministry partner of the Alliance
The leadership at Zimbabwe Theological Seminary are thankful they are able to continue with theological education despite the challenges in the country!
On Nov. 20th Zimbabwe Theological Seminary [ZTS] graduated 21 students at the seminary. The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches was their guest for graduation in a ceremony that was held at the Anglican Cathedral. Even though they were only able to have 100 people present because of the pandemic, the level of excitement at graduation was high!
This year’s graduates come from many different denominations, and are going to serve in different churches, as well as serving as chaplains. The denominations represented among the student body include various Pentecostal churches, Anglican, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics – and Baptists!
Watch traditional dances from Nicaragua, hear from community leaders and supporters about how AMOS has changed their lives, as well as special words from Drs. David and Laura Parajón, and our new Executive Director, Dr. Gabriella Woo.
Executive director, David Parajon, writes: "First of all, I hope that you and your family are doing ok. I really hope you feel supported by loved ones and friends nearby and that you have been safe in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
I am so thankful for the continued support for AMOS from Alliance of Baptists. Without your partnership, it would not be possible to continue our mission of sharing health and hope with tens of thousands of vulnerable Nicaraguans. Many blessings to you from the AMOS team."
Our Ministry Partner, Seeds of Hope Publishers, has a new issue of Hunger News & Hope!
This special 12-page issue is centered around the relationship between disability and food security. We were alerted to this reality by Craig Gunderson whose research and analysis on food security issues are highly acclaimed and sought out by leaders in the US anti-hunger movement. Dr. Gunderson graciously agreed to write an introduction for the issue.
From Paulo Cesar, past president of the Alianca de Batistas do Brasil
In this time of pandemic, we are giving online classes to the students of the Orchestra. Teachers record videos of classes and activities, send them on Monday morning to students, they study and on Friday students record videos showing their achievement and send it to teachers who evaluate, grade it and they write it down in the project monitoring books. Video conferences between teachers and conductor are also held with students.
Here we are taking care not to get sick, we are still in quarantine.
I am sending some photos. One day we will look at them and remember everything we lived. These photos will tell our story, how we suffered and how we overcame a pandemic. In Brazil, 90,000 people have already died and in the USA I know that 150,000+ people have died, we are together in suffering, in the struggle, and we will be together in victory, despite all the losses.
Updates from Greg Jarrell: "At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shut downs related to it, QC Family Tree adapted our work to look like a mutual aid project. As federal stimulus checks went out, we appealed to friends and supporters to send unneeded funds from wealthier households, and we would redistribute them into the hands of essential workers and high-risk households. We created a short campaign, only a few weeks long, to do this, and aimed to raise about $30,000. By the time we finished, we has more than $52,000, all of which went immediately back out into our community. Most of the households we interact with in Enderly Park regularly experiences financial hardship, and so extra money to get ahead on bills, rents, medications, and other essentials was an enormous benefit. Everything was redistributed with no strings attached, only a statement of solidarity and personal care. We did make one small, informal request, which we knew would reflect the way mutual aid already happens in our neighborhood - that people would take a little bit and share with someone in need."
"Thanks to the hard work of our wonderful volunteers, parents, and staff, Tiny School is up and running! Tiny School supports eleven children from seven families with their remote CMS learning, to provide working parents more flexibility and children with a safe, engaging environment where they can attend remote school."
August 16 Update
As the school year starts, the Stewart Center is working to meet the needs of neighborhood children. They will be holding learning labs (pods) during the school day in which kids will be in small groups while staff facilitate a "classroom" to help these students succeed. After a few weeks into the school year, they also plan to offer afternoon pods geared toward tutoring. Congregational partner Northside Drive Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga., is delivering school supplies (pencils, paper, notebooks, crayons, etc.) to the Center which church members have been donating throughout the year.
A special request from the Center this year is for earbuds and headphones for the students to help them concentrate while they are online with their classes or doing homework. If you would like to help, please use the link below to the Stewart Center’s Amazon Wish List. Once you add to their cart from the wish list and check out, select the option to ship to the Stewart Center.
Ambassador of Israel at the Peace Cathedral
On the 31st of July, 2020, the Peace Cathedral observed a Muslim feast of Eid Al-Adha. The Cathedral choir chanted Muslim prayers and the presiding Bishop recited a sura from the Quran in Arabic.
The prayer service was attended by the Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Ran Gidor. The Ambassador thanked the Peace Cathedral for its peace building ministry and donated 3000 GEL for the Peace Mosque. Read more...
July 17: Karen Thomas Smith (Interfaith Chaplaincy, Al Akhawayn University, Morocco) writes, "On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week, our tiny CEI team in Meknes, a congregation of students that has no building of its own, delivered 307 food baskets to migrants in 7 different neighborhoods, including the "ghetto" where people live in the rough. One of those helped in the ghetto is a family of three with a new baby, born prematurely. That was just one of the many distributions that happened this week -- I am enclosing pictures from Meknes, Fes, and Marrakech.
All of our teams report an increased number of needs among women and children whom they have prioritized to receive both food and medical aid. In Rabat, women living with their small children in close quarters are experiencing a scabies outbreak, complicating things even worse during this time of Covid restrictions. In Fes, we had a newborn die last week, and Freddy is working on burial arrangements with the family. Even though things are tough, children bring joy to the lives of their parents and to our teams and remain a sign of hope for us. And your gifts allow us to bring hope to them.
Please pray for them and their families, that God will protect and keep them and provide a way forward into a blessed future where they will be welcomed. And if you are able to give to the Morocco Corona relief fund, you can do so by clicking here.
Grace and peace,
Karen Thomas Smith
July 17: An update and prayer request from Philip Kakungulu, Crossing Lines Africa Uganda:
With the Covid-19 lockdown slowly easing here in Uganda, Crossing Lines Africa Uganda staff is back in the community with protective health measures in place.
Our Peace ministries are active, but the programs look different: workshops are still partially open, access to the community is kept to essential training staff, and office events are restricted due to limits on gathering sizes.
As we navigate a new normal for the ministry, we are seeking God's guidance in fulfilling our vision of thriving families, transformed communities for Christ. How long do we relieve refugee/ exile communities with basic supplies? How do we support Conflict Transformation, emotional and mental health in the families and communities? In the midst of Covid-19, how do we minister in obedience that brings glory to God?
Crossing Lines Africa Uganda has been in the midst of three weeks of prayer and final planning for the second half of the year which marks our new mission year, which looks radically different from the plans that were set for this year. As we dive into a fresh approach to our 2020/2021 goals, we are pursuing prayer. Please join us in praying for:
1. Humility to listen to the needs of our community and to lovingly share the Gospel of Peace and resources when appropriate and needed.
2. Creativity from the Lord as we strategize to reach the South Sudaneses refugees while observing directives from the government of Uganda.
3. Wisdom for the leaders of Crossing Lines Africa as we review and strategically refresh our objectives for 2020.
Thank you for praying with us through this season!
Crossing Lines Africa - Uganda
COVID-19 Disproportionately Affects Women and Children
Zimbabwe Update: June 9, 2020
Thank you very much for our concern about us in Zimbabwe. We are also concerned about the situation in the U.S. in terms of the Covid-19. We continue to pray that the situation will get better and that a cure will be found soon. Here in Zimbabwe the official numbers are quite low and we are not sure if this is the true reflection of the reality on the ground. Just like in the U.S. the lockdown restrictions have had a huge negative impact on the populace. This is compounded by the fact that before the Covid-19 pandemic our country was facing a myriad of problems politically and economically. Economically before the Covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe had become an economic basket case. Our economy had become—according to reputable statistical data— over 80% informal. Here we are talking of around 90% unemployment rate...
Read more from Davison Mukandatsam, Executive Secretary, African Baptist Churches in Zimbabwe
Seminario Intercultural Mayanese
April 16, Dalia Juárez Fernández, seminary director writes: "Thank God I'm fine, in this last week some indigenous communities have presented fear, two people in the Simojovel area have taken their lives. COVID-13 has reached the communities, people who worked outside their communities have returned, some have arrived sick, which has caused some families to have been infected. We ask God that his protection be throughout the world."
Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba
From Stan Dotson--"Like the rest of the world, Cuba has implemented social distancing and stay-at-home measures, and various neighborhoods in which we are accustomed to visiting have been quarantined due to confirmed cases. Since we live at the Center, we are now its "staff," mainly offering the purified water to the community in the mornings. Meanwhile, Kim stays busy helping Wanda (Center Director) in making "nasobucos", face masks, for the community. Being the artist that she is, Wanda uses colorful material from old clothes, so people can be fashionable in wearing the masks! The demand for her nasobucos went up after she and Kim were featured in a local television spot for their service. In terms of church work, it is more challenging to stay connected with our community here, as people for the most part do not have internet in their homes. Some do have the WhatsApp application that allows for messaging throughout the day." Read more.
"Our clients (the majority of whom have been laid-off or had hours significantly reduced) are currently waiting on unemployment checks. The surge in unemployment applications resulted in a backlog and we are hoping they will begin to experience some relief in the next two weeks. In addition, we are seeing some completely unexpected disruptions to housing. One young woman and her daughter who were set to move seamlessly into their new apartment on April 1 will now be moving to a hotel because the County’s new personnel policies make it impossible for the required inspection to occur in time for her April 1 move-in date." Read more.
"It feels as if we are living in a nightmare. Who could have envisioned such a global shutdown? The world has come to a total standstill. Airplanes are grounded, borders closed, and billions live under quarantine. Now, all we want is to stay alive. We've come to appreciate the little things: a loaf of bread, running water, and yes, toilet paper. It might seem that the coronavirus has the entire world in its grip.
Yet, we wake up each morning. The sun shines. Air fills our lungs. In these moments, we realize that He's got the whole world in His hands. You and me, we're all in his hands." Read more.
From Eugenia Reyes, lay leader at Calvary Baptist Church in our nation’s capital on March 19: "Thanks for reaching out and checking on our Latino Community. Blessings to you! We are fine at this moment. No one is sick—thank God—but very scared.
Our community works so hard and with this situation there are lots of uncertainties of when they will go back to work. We all are connected through WhatsApp messages and checking, praying and giving courage to each other.
Thanks for your concern and please remember us all in your prayers.
Board president and CEO, Mitri Raheb writes on March 19: "Greetings from Bethlehem, in this Age of Coronavirus. We are well, and we thank the Lord for his protection. However, we are under home quarantine for the last 10 days. Just last evening, Bethlehem and the neighboring Christian towns (Beit Jala and Beit Sahour) are under curfew. At this moment, there are 45 infected cases, most of whom were in contact with travelers and those working at a neighboring hotel.
The impact on our ministry, which relies on tourism for 20% of our income, is devastating. We are not sure if we can keep staff, how many, how to pay salaries, etc. We are concerned that tourism will not resume before February next year. We covet your prayers and financial support to keep staff employed and the programs running. Thank you for standing with us, especially in these difficult times.”
Executive director Leah Lonsbury writes: "Like everyone, we’re taking things day by day and have shifted to a delivery-only model for this time of social distancing. We’ve had an amazing response, more than we can really handle, and have filled around 185 delivery orders in just three days of delivering. We’ve had more interest than available slots each time.
Because we have such a small staff, some of whom can only work part-time, (exacerbated by no school!) we can really only stay open until a couple of our staff members are affected. Maybe not even then, depending on who else has been exposed on staff.
We’re worried about what closing completely will mean for our staff members and their families, who are already in a vulnerable position. We’re also worried about how we will be able to afford the sick and family leave law that was just put into effect. While we agree it’s 100% the right thing to do, 11 staff members needing 3 months of paid leave or more could be the end of our non-profit. There just aren’t funds to cover costs like that."
Pastor Ruth Orantes writes: "Dear brothers and sisters, It has been a difficult time as we have been in quarantine since this past Saturday. We are allowed to go out two times per week and live with a great deal of uncertainty. As a Church, we have tried to keep in contact with each other but many of our members are elderly and we are concerned about their health. Many of their relatives live in the United States so they are completely alone. Other members do not have a job or stable income. We ask that you remember us in your prayers, as we will remember you on our own."
Waldemar Murguido, financial secretary of FIBAC, writes: "Every member of the board and all members of every FIBAC church are well here at home. We have suspended worship since the country is taking measures with social isolation to prevent more cases of Coronavirus19...we are worried about the situation that is coming, but we trust God that in Resurrection some change will happen, only that Christ lives.
We already have 67 confirmed cases and two deceased, the situation is worrying. Here we receive news from the USA, about the Pandemic, mainly in the regions of New York and Washington, D.C., where there are more cases. Please take care, and write us, and let us know how you are. Our churches are praying for you and above all in our thinking, with the confidence that we will find in the future to continue praising and giving thanks to God for life. We can call a chain of prayer every day at 10:00 am. We can pray from our homes so together we can ask the Lord to improve our health and take care of Evil. Thanks for your message Jason and especially for your prayers."