In this video, and in the letter below, Paul Thaxter, a member of our congregation, makes a personal appeal:
Dear all at St James by the Park,
Thank you all for your support to CMS in 2020.
I have decided to take the unusual step of asking if you want to join Helen and I in making a one-off love gift to local partners working for CMS-Africa. Whilst CMS is the main funding partner for CMS-Africa this is not a CMS appeal but a personal appeal borne out of my recent experiences. I am grateful that St James leadership has allowed me to make it.
Over the last 3 months I have been in contact with many people around the world who are facing challenges due to the CV19 pandemic and the actions of government resulting usually in strict lockdown. In many parts of the world and particularly amongst the very poor it is a desperate time summed up in 6 words – “No work. No food. No rent”. On top of this is the lack of health provision for the poor and the difficulty in self-isolating from others as well as rising prices of food.
Within Africa though there are even more challenges – such as locusts in Northern Uganda and South Sudan, floods in many parts of East Africa, the breakout of other diseases and war and domestic tensions. International agencies seem to have less of a presence at this time. I have heard that even refugee camps for the South Sudanese in Northern Uganda are providing reduced rations at this time.
In the midst of these challenges I have been really impressed by the resilience and commitment of the 17 CMS-Africa local partners who, though often in need themselves, have been providing relational relief to many of the poorest in different communities. CMS-Africa have received some grants from organisations in the UK and elsewhere that they have been able to disburse quickly and responsibly through their local partners.
Let me tell you of a few of these 17 people:-
Bisoke Balikenga runs a peace centre in Bunia in DR Congo where there are about 400 displaced people looking to him for leadership. His wife Furaha has large growth behind one of her eyes and yet still runs a school for 100s of children, some of whom who cannot afford any fees. They work in the context of conflict and violence from rebel groups and have recently had to cope with a kidnapping and the murder of a long-term friend and evangelist. Bisoke currently has typhoid and their daughter Grace is ill in hospital. Yet he remains committed to serving others as much as he can. He is also the Provincial Youth Officer for the Anglican Church there.
Jeff Sikabwe is living in Kinshasa DR Congo, one of the largest cities in Africa, and has been an invaluable trainer for CMS-Africa enabling communities and individuals to develop their skills and assets for sustainable futures. Many of his family are in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, an area which has faced floods in April with consequent loss of life and destruction of houses. He is wanting to lend assistance there too.
Rachel Karanja is one of the most amazing people I know who is part of the relational relief effort of CMS-Africa. Over the years she has helped so many create small agricultural or micro -businesses. I heard that the floods in Kenya have swept away her garden and damaged her house yet she is still asking people “kindly pray as we give a meal to one or two families and God will bless you”
Judith Murungi is a dynamic energetic leader in Uganda and has been visiting the vulnerable families in a very poor part of Kampala. She came across one lady who used to collect empty plastic bottles across the city and sell them to a depot for a few Ugandan shillings to feed her children but now in lock down she cannot do it. Judith gave her own money just to help this lady out.
So I thought why not give CMS-Africa a love gift that they can distribute to their 17 local partners just to help them out at this time. The money would be simply to bless them and allow them to use it for their own personal needs. I think it would mean a lot to them at this time and encourage them in their ministry. So let us be inspired by them and also encourage them at this time of great difficulty. As Ephesian 4:32 says “Be kind and compassionate to one another.”
Please do not feel you have to give to this personal appeal I know that some of you are already facing challenging financial circumstances yourselves. I really just wanted to offer you the opportunity to bless some remarkable Christian workers elsewhere in the world at this time.
Please make any donations clear to the church office, so we can reclaim gift aid on them and send the money as a love gift to CMS-Africa. Cash or cheques (payable to “PCC of Shirley”) can be dropped into the church office, clearly marked for “CMS Africa appeal”. Online donations can be made to the church bank account (sort code 55 50 23; account number 69481377). Please indicate in the reference and by a separate email to email@example.com that they are for the CMS Africa appeal. Please make any gifts by Sunday 7th June.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
Paul & Helen Thaxter
This lockdown time gives us all an opportunity to go deeper with God.
For some, that will be by exploring faith in Jesus for the first time in years or first time ever.
For others, who have been praying and trusting Jesus for years, it will mean going deeper than before.
Here are some ideas to help you go deeper with God:
1. To help you get started with prayer: the Trypraying app or booklet (we can post one to you if you’d like one).
2. To help you pray more richly: the Lectio365 app or read Pete Greig’s “How to pray” or Lyndall Bywater’s “Prayer in the making”
3. Join a prayer triplet – praying regularly with 2-3 other people
4. If you’re in a prayer triplet already and trust has built up: ask each other some deeper questions: What are you really struggling with at the moment? How is your personal prayer life at the moment? What is God challenging you on at the moment?
5. Try fasting – like Jesus did in the wilderness – not as a way to force God’s hand, but as a way to show God how serious we are about our prayers and listening to him.
6. Go deeper in repentance: asking God to show you what he wants to amend in your life and heart. Replace the lies you’ve believed with truths from God’s word.
7. To help you get started with reading the Bible: the YouVersion app and search through the various ‘reading plans’ to find one that appeals to you. We suggest using the ‘New International Version’ or ‘Contemporary English Version’.
8. To help you go deeper with reading the Bible: the ‘Bible in one Year’ app or get one of Phil Moore’s “Straight to the heart” series of books on different books of the Bible.
Silence and Solitude
9. Read the relevant chapters from a book on using silence and solitude as a way to draw close to God eg John Mark Comer “The ruthless elimination of hurry”, Peter Scazzero “Emotionally healthy spirituality” or Richard Foster “Celebration of discipline”
10. Do the exercises those books suggest! Or look at https://johnmarkcomer.com/#how-to-unhurry for some videos and downloadable exercises.
What other suggestions would you add? Comment below!
In our online services on 3rd May, Dan shared this book review
In our online services on 26th April, Simon shared this book review:
It is with great sadness that we share the news that our lovely Ugandan friend, Paul Naguyo, died on Saturday 25th April. We rejoice that he is now with our Lord, at peace and out of his pain, but our hearts go out to his family especially his beautiful wife Merabu. He leaves behind Merabu and a large extended family of nine children and many grandchildren, and will be missed by many.
Paul was a loving husband, servant hearted, extrovert, humorous, larger than life, caring, perceptive, creative, kind, appreciative and full of joy. Andy Taylor remembers him as one of the kindest hearted people he has ever met who always had a smile on his face and a joke on his lips!
Paul and Merabu visited St.James by the Park in 2011 and very quickly became part of our church family. They were so delighted to be here and loved every minute of their time with us. Helen Taylor recalls a wonderful trip up to London where Paul enjoyed talking to anyone near him on the bus who would engage in conversation (to the confusion of some Londoners!) He was thrilled to see Tower Bridge and other sights as there is nothing quite like it in Uganda. Everyone who met them was touched in some way and became fond of them. Each time Penny and Katy visited they asked after every person from the parish that they had met by name.
Please pray for Merabu and the family and members of their wider church that Paul supported.
Trustees of Enable Busoga