Prayer letter – November 2019

Warm greetings to all of our friends. It’s time to share our news again, and we do want to thank you for your prayers and support over the last few months.

Imagine

Imagine living in a place where….

…earth tremors are commonplace, and you may often need to wear a mask to protect yourself from pollution………your daughter may be at risk from bride kidnap………the mountains are beautiful but your apartment is infested with cockroaches………your activities are under surveillance constantly and bureaucracy is an ongoing challenge.

Imagine living there not just for a week or a month, but long term, through all seasons, coping with sickness, ethnic uprisings and the ongoing stress of being a foreigner.

Recently we had the privilege of hosting a family who live in just such a situation. It was so good to have the opportunity to spend time with them doing some training, eating together, sharing and praying. It is crucial to pray for those who live and work in difficult places – it is costly to see areas like this reached with the Gospel.

Training and travel

Our MK Staff Training group

The last few months – as with the earlier part of the year – have been characterised by training and travel. At the end of July we ran the MK (Missionary Kids) Staff Training course at our church in Corsham. There were 8 participants from 8 different countries (well, two from Germany but one person from two cultures!). Most of them went to BCS in Senegal but one lady from a Swedish mission agency has gone to Ethiopia to
teach children at home in a remote area of the country. In addition we did one day of training with a local primary teacher, at the end of June – she is now serving in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In August we arranged for alternative training for a couple who applied very late to go to BCS. Thanks to some of our WEC colleagues, we were able to ensure that they got the input that they needed, as well as spending a day ourselves talking with them over Skype.

In September, both of us travelled to the USA to attend two conferences at a mission centre in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The first conference was a small gathering of people from all over the world, involved in supporting missionary families. Those who attended came from Korea, Brazil, Spain and India as well as the UK, USA and Australia. The vision for this gathering was to establish ways of working together globally to ensure that care for missionary kids is genuinely international. There are now many new sending countries, especially in parts of Africa and Asia that have traditionally received missionaries in the past. This is an exciting development, but there is a need for all of us to continue to work together to improve care for our families. The second conference was much bigger and provided good opportunities for networking with others.

An ingenious cucumber-shaped water pump at the Amish farm

While there we were able to take a day off to visit the Amish Farm Museum in Lancaster County. It was fascinating to learn more about their way of life, and we especially enjoyed chatting to the teacher at their one room school house.

Almost straight after the visit to the USA, Steve went to Spain to attend Eurocon, a WEC regional conference for all of our teams in Europe. As a result of his presentation on safeguarding, he has now been asked to do some safeguarding training for leaders in Europe, probably in the Netherlands in the spring.

Holiday time

At the end of September we were able to go away to Norfolk for a two week break, which was a wonderfully restful time. We enjoyed visiting nature reserves, windmills and beautiful deserted beaches with more seals than people. In November Gill was able to make a brief visit to Liverpool with her sister, to meet her cousin (not seen since our wedding day in 1982!) and see the area where her mum grew up. It has changed a lot!

Family news

Peter and Miriam continue to live in Nottingham and have just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. They managed a week’s holiday in Scotland with only half a day of rain. David has recently passed his driving test and is looking forward to having a car – this will make things a lot easier for him as he currently cycles many miles to work in all weathers. Michael and Bethany are busy at the ELWA hospital where they have recently introduced a nutrition programme for children under 5. Please pray for the success of this programme, as it is hard to get the supplies to the places where they need to be.

Praise and prayer

As it is only a few weeks till December 25th, we want to wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas season and God’s blessing and peace for the New Year. We look forward to hearing your news too.

Love from Steve and Gill

Forty-two percent of what?

So what is it? 42% of the world’s people groups are classified by the Joshua Project as unreached. This is a disturbing statistic. It means that in these groups, there is little or no history of Christianity and there are millions who do not know who Jesus is. There may be a handful of evangelical Christians but they make up less than 2% of the population. Many of the groups have no known Christians at all.

One unreached group in Bangladesh has more than twice as many people as the UK. Japan with so few Christians has almost twice our population. Some colleagues who recently returned to the UK from Japan commented that Britain seemed to be full of Christians, compared to the situation they had come from.

So what can we do? It’s too big for each one of us and despairing about it won’t help. Neither will dismissing it and finding a distraction. It is one which should challenge us deeply and drive us to our knees, and there is something we can do……we can ask God to give us a burden for one, single unreached group, and make them part of our daily time with God. Or we can pray for a different group each day using an app from the Joshua Project at https://joshuaproject.net/

It may only take 2 minutes of our day, and let’s face it, we are on our phones anyway. You can even see how many others are praying alongside you, so you are not alone.

Phew! That’s OK then. Sorted. But be prepared! As you ask God to open your eyes and give you a burden for unreached peoples, there may be more……..

Steve and Gill Bryant’s Prayer News December 2018 Happy New Year for 2019!

This letter comes with our love and greetings. For a change, we are starting with family news. We had a wonderful joy-filled day on 10th November, when our youngest son, Peter, married Miriam at Cornerstone Church in Nottingham.

Peter and Miriam, Nov 2018

Bethany and Michael will be going to Liberia at the end of January to serve at the ELWA hospital run by Serving in Mission (SIM). This hospital just outside Monrovia hosted two of the largest Ebola Treatment Units during the epidemic that swept through Liberia in 2014-2016.

We have just enjoyed a lovely Christmas spending time with all of the family over the holiday period.

David lives locally and continues with his gardening business. He still has plenty of winter work as the weather is so mild at the moment.

Gill turned 60 in August and to celebrate we had a special holiday in September, staying in a cottage on the Norfolk coast. One of the highlights was seeing seals playing in the sea along a beautiful deserted golden beach.

60 years young

This photo was taken in front of a seventeen arch bridge near the home of some friends that we visited on our way back from Norfolk. We like this picture because of the ideas represented by the bridge. More of this below….

We joined WEC in 1989 and went to serve at Bourofaye Christian School (BCS) in Senegal, to help provide education and support for the children of missionaries. The parents’ goal is to use all possible means of sharing the Good News of Jesus, the One who is the bridge to God. Since returning to the UK in 2001 we have served as WEC’s International Missionary Kids (MK) Consultants, seeking to help our MKs and their families as they cross the many bridges of transition in their lives, caused by living in more than one culture, changing schools frequently and facing lots of goodbyes. In October Steve helped to organise a day conference on family debriefing, a training day designed to help missions to support their families as they go through changes. Some transitions are planned or gradual, whereas others are traumatic and sudden, perhaps involving deportation or evacuation. Our goal in WEC is to support our families as much as we can, conveying Christ’s love to all of our workers and helping them towards maximum effectiveness. A summary of the training from the conference will be published in the January edition of our Educare magazine, which Gill has been working on.

MK Staff Training

In our last letter we asked for prayer for our summer training course for new MK workers. Thank you to those who prayed! We had 12 adults and one little girl on the course this year, heading for BCS and two other locations. Once again our church, Corsham Baptist, did a wonderful job in hosting our participants, catering and providing all kinds of support from child care to transport to tea and cakes. We are so grateful for the efforts of our wonderful church members and leaders, without whom it would be really difficult to run the course at an affordable cost. For 2019, it is scheduled once more to take place at Corsham Baptist Church from 21st July to 1st August, so we would appreciate your prayers again.

Travel in 2019

There are several overseas visits scheduled for 2019. Steve is still finalising a major trip, and it is likely that he will travel to East Asia for a couple of weeks in March. In May Steve will be attending the Child Safety and Protection Network conference and refresher training in the US, to upgrade his own safeguarding knowledge in the international context. This is essential for him in his role as WEC’s International Safeguarding Officer. Both of us will go to Eurotck in Germany in May – an excellent opportunity for networking and mutual learning for agencies based in Europe. Steve has been invited to give some safeguarding training at two WEC conferences later in the year, Eurocon in Spain in September (regional conference for European team leaders), and the WEC France conference in October.

Once again we want to thank you for your support, prayers and interest in our work. We look forward to hearing your news too, especially at this time of the year when so many of us enjoy catching up.

Love and blessings from Steve and Gill

Follow up on July 2018 training

Mission Training at CBC July/August 2018

“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.”

Romans 15v20

As Paul wrote to the church in Rome, ‘preaching the gospel where Christ was not known’ remains at the heart of the vision of many missions. Sending workers to preach that gospel among people groups in West and North Africa, the Middle East and beyond who do not know Christ demands commitment and determination, both from those who go and the organisations and churches that send them out. Good sending involves adequate training, which is where our course fits in.

Who came?

We had 12 adults and one little girl representing 7 nationalities – Germany, Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, South Korea, Brazil and South Africa. Someone from another mission also attended part-time.

Where were they going?

The biggest group went to Bourofaye Christian School (BCS) in Senegal, and two others went to North Africa and the Middle East. Allof the destination countries have very few believers, which means that long-term cross-cultural mission is essential to reach the people there with the gospel. Without practical support such as teaching and caring for the missionaries’ children, many long-term workers find it almost impossible to stay. Our group members are an essential element in church planting teams. Ten of the staff are now in place, and the Belgian family are engaged in pre-departure training.

How was CBC involved?

CBC kindly agreed to host the course in 2017, following the sale of the WEC property in 2016. Given how well it went, we repeated it this year.

Paul wrote to the Romans:

“I plan to do so [visit the Christians in Rome] when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.”

Romans 15v24

Just as the church members there were encouraged to assist him on his journey to the unreached, so CBC assisted our group members on their journeys with the same purpose.

We had over 50 people directly involved, some giving many hours, in hosting, child care, catering, transport, devotional messages and more. The support and engagement was brilliant and so much appreciated. Without the enthusiastic and committed involvement of so many CBC members the course would not be possible. Thanks too to those who were involved in prayer and encouragement for us and the group.

Our group also contributed to each Sunday morning service and in Junior Church, as well as running a mid-week session where they spoke about their journey into mission and were prayed for.

What was the course about?

The course at CBC has a specialised focus on working with missionaries’ children to help equip teachers, family tutors,administrators, and dorm staff for their roles. It covers safeguarding (including health and safety), looking after boarding children, emotional well-being, teaching skills, the missionary kids’ experience, cross-cultural transition, specific country information and Christian education. There was also input from several visiting speakers.

How are they doing?

The new staff members at BCS have settled in well. Angela sent us this photo, which also includes Philip who attended last year and several others who were unable to come.

Angela talks about her class:

Teaching the youngest year group has many joys. There’s never a dull moment as curiosity is a common trait throughout the day. They love learning new things and my heart is filled every time I see them grasp new concepts. The children don’t usually hold grudges, so each day is afresh start. You can get to know them quickly because all of them are very open and enjoy sharing their opinions. They can be selfless,thinking about other people, and they often choose to pray for others and their pets. Watching them progress and grow as individuals, as well as a collective group, reveals how much God loves the little children and how important it is to see the world with a loving,child-like vision.

The two ladies who went to other places are also doing well. Keep praying for their adaptation and integration into the culture.

Next Year?

Yes! The course will again be hosted by CBC, and the dates are 21st July –1st August. The 21st-27th July are for all participants, and the extra few days will focus on additional skills needed for teaching assistants and dorm staff.

Steve and Gill Bryant December 2018