Friday, 19 August 2016

Flame International (Development) mission to Congo


The aims of the trip in June were:
  • To envision Désiré Mukanirwa, our point of contact in Congo, with a visit to a children’s centre for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda (the Stephen Jota Children’s Centre (SJCC) in Kampala) and Stephen’s new secondary school and farm in Sozo, 70km north of Kampala
  • To review progress of the two main Flame International (Development) projects in Keshero and Kalehe in Congo (Project ‘Hope’ and Project ‘Stand Up Women!’)
  • To buy food grinding machines for the children in Project ‘Hope’
  • To deliver funds towards the various projects
I took my brother Jonathan, who co-founded the SJCC in 2000 with Stephen Jota, a Ugandan pastor. Jonathan’s fluency in French, together with years of experience in the teaching profession, was invaluable. 

The visit to SJCC was truly inspiring for all, particularly for Désiré. The buildings were all of high quality. The visit to Sozo included fish ponds as well as a 100-acre farm with pigs, ducks, maize and coffee. We also saw the secondary school under construction. Our hope and prayer is that one day the project in Congo will have something similar to support the needs of the women and children there. We are excited at the possibilities of an emerging partnership between SJCC and Désiré’s projects. 

Jonathan spent time with all the children in Keshero and joined me in two sessions with the teachers. He spoke about the hope and future for the children, encouraging them to call out their dreams, pointing out that some children were in even more dire straits than them, without any educational opportunities. 

Unfortunately we were not able to see the grinding machines in operation but witnessed the finishing touches being applied to the manufacturing of the machines in Goma. 

The Bishop of Bukavu, and his wife Mme Nyota, demonstrated warm hospitality to a Flame mission once again. Another visit to a Mothers’ Union project (one of many run by the Bishop’s wife) with food for rape victims and the children served in my mind to strengthen a possible partnership with this significant organisation. 

The visit to Bukavu was also significant in terms of a meeting with the Bishop’s son, Philippe, who is a qualified doctor now specialising in psychiatry. He shared his detailed vision (including architect’s drawings) for a much needed psychiatric centre for Bukavu which he would like to see built to cope with the many cases of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) resulting from years of war and the pandemic of rape. The vision will we hope be part of the healing process for Congo.

Observing the micro finance process in operation in Kalehe was hugely encouraging. The women’s welcome was overwhelming.

In contrast, our impressions of the school at Keshero were initially negative. The teachers had not been paid since February and they were obviously downbeat and hungry.  We spent some time speaking/teaching/encouraging/praying with them. Delivery of three laptops given by St Peter’s members helped a lot. Things improved further the next day with the resolution of the pay problem and the provision of emergency food. 

We stressed the principle of spiritual ‘seeds’ being planted, and of the importance of understanding the role that both teachers and children had in their country. We left feeling reassured that the future of the school was hopeful but needed significant support and sustained infrastructural development (in particular for buildings, security, access, child sponsorship and teachers’ salaries).

The mission rounded off the development pilot in a wonderful way. The chances to pray for/encourage/minister to both teachers and children in the school were taken and well received. We were able to unravel serious confusion over teachers’ salaries. We have injected funds into much-needed items as well as the microfinance initiative for the agricultural project.

Thank you for your support for this the last Flame International (Development) mission; the trustees have decided to discontinue this initiative. My aim is to explore ways and means of continuing to support these projects. A big 'thank you' to the Mission Committee for their support and also to all who gave money and laptops. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.

Mark Leakey, Chairman, Flame International

August message from David



Dear Friends

As I write, there is a buzz of activity as folk prepare for Holiday and Home and the Holiday Club  -  both great opportunities to put our faith into action. I’m reminded that behind every activity there needs to be a lot of planning and a lot of prayer. This coming term, much of our work on the Vision falls into this planning and praying category, so can I ask you to redouble your prayer effort?

Taking the gospel purposefully to Farnborough
I hope you are still praying for the 5 neighbours/friends. Maybe you had opportunity to invite them to a Queen’s 90th celebration, or one of our Summer activities. As you continue to pray, ask yourself:

  • How can I serve them, showing God’s love in practical ways?
  • How can I get to know them better?
  • Could I invite one or all of them to a church event or service?

Elizabeth Rowlandson will be planning to start a ‘Messy Church’ activity early in 2017, as well as a third weekday Toddler Group. These are great opportunities to reach beyond our immediate fellowship with the Gospel.

Deepening in faith and worship together
With the emphasis on ‘Together’, it’s not too late in the Summer to invite fellow members of the church to a BBQ or picnic and get to know each other better. The 9.30am congregation are heading off to King George V Park after church on 11 Sept for just this purpose - and to show our fellowship to other people visiting the park. 

If you aren’t yet in a Home Group, can I encourage you to contact Matthew and get linked into the Autumn programme. Pray that each one of us will have a deeper desire to meet regularly for worship.

Empowering a younger generation to live for Christ
I’ve been thrilled to see our young people playing more part in leading our worship at 5.30pm, and as ever I will rejoice as I see the youngsters leading at Holiday Club. Katie will be freshening up the 9.30am groups in the Autumn, and Chloe is still in the early days of establishing her leadership of the youth. Pray for Chloe & Katie as they lead. 

In summary: Keep praying!  It’s not too early to put our next prayer week in your diary: 2-4 December.  Look out for more details nearer the time.

David

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.  Colossians 4:2-3

Waterways Chaplaincy Comes to Farnborough



You've probably heard of hospital, prison and army chaplains but what about a chaplain for our waterways system?  

Until last year, Revd Mark Chester was vicar of St Paul’s Camberley, Surrey. He is now a member of St Peter’s and Senior Chaplain Waterways responsible for developing the network across England and Wales. 
 
"The waterways of England are amazing," says Mark. "As industrial archaeology our canal system is extraordinary and to see old forgotten waterways coming back to life is very exciting. But there is a human side to all this as canals and rivers cross all kinds of social and demographic boundaries, and just as the view from them is so often of people’s otherwise hidden back gardens so the same is often true of the people using them. The apparently colourful presentation has a hidden side where challenges can lurk. 

"We have a mobile population of thousands of liveaboard narrowboaters," he says. "Some are on the water because they want to enjoy the buzz of life deep in cities; others want to get as far away as possible from the urban scramble! For some life on the waterways is a luxury because they have a land base as well to which they can return from time to time. For others it’s an economic necessity, perhaps forced on them by a divorce or other crisis and a great many find themselves deprived of their former friend-base as well as those services we all take for granted if we have a fixed address: medical provision, full access to benefits and a lot else.
 
"Also on or around the water we find trail boaters of every kind, canoeists, walkers, anglers, people of disability and people involved in the building and maintenance of boats as well as maintenance of the waterways themselves.  It may all look ideal but in some of the lives we encounter things are anything but peaceful as money problems, relationship issues, medical challenges and so on make an impact. 

"There is already a dedicated nucleus of Waterways Chaplains around the canals and rivers and these people commit themselves to walking a given length of towpath every week. Identified by a distinctive jacket, their role is simply to engage people they meet in conversation and see what happens."

Most in the growing band of volunteer chaplains are not clergy, they’re just people inspired by their Christianity who are very happy to talk to or assist people of all faiths or none at all. Their informal and straightforward approach has brought all kinds of issues to the surface which the chaplain can then help them to address. Chaplains are there on the towpath where their presence can be a potential lifeline. 

A new network of Waterways Chaplains is being established locally to serve the Basingstoke Canal area. If you would like to know more about becoming a Waterways Chaplain, email Mark without obligation at waterways@workplacematters.org.uk