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Mission Possible UK

Spring Newsletter 2023

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Ukraine: Beauty amongst the ashes

Mission Possible's bookkeeper Liliya reports from Odesa:

Top: Liliya and Tatyana working in the Odesa office. Middle: Tatyana at a Bible club. Bottom: Svetlana and her daughter Nika.

Throughout Ukraine, power cuts last for days at a time due to the missile strikes on energy facilities. We layer on more warm clothing and keep on working. (Pictured top right is Liliya, with the head of the Bible Club programme, Tatyana, in the foreground.) There are food and fuel prices to monitor, purchases to be made, aid to be distributed and reports to be sent when the internet works.

Air raid sirens, dark homes, relatives serving on the war front… the circumstances are shared by everyone. By experiencing loss together – of modern conveniences, safety, loved ones and basic needs – people have become more compassionate towards each other. But people do react differently. Some are overcome with fear and depression. Thanks to God, we believers can take refuge in Him and walk through this war without fear. We want to help the hopeless by sharing Jesus. (Pictured centre right is Tatyana at a Bible Club at a village community centre. A missile broke its windows but Mission Possible replaced them.)

Ukrainians have been advised to stock up on fuel, water, food and batteries, but most people have barely enough money to buy food. We visited Svetlana's village home in the Odesa region. Her daughters are thirteen and four. The oldest attends our Bible club. Svetlana's husband, the breadwinner, is away fighting in the war.

'There are no jobs, and I do not know how I will feed the girls each day, let alone buy firewood,' Svetlana sighed. She was overjoyed to hear that we had wood for her this winter.

We talked with Svetlana, encouraged her, shared the gospel of Christ and prayed. She expressed a sincere desire to accept Jesus.

'I'll tell Dad we prayed and that God is watching over him. And from now on, I will always pray with Mum!' four-year-old Nika declared. (Pictured bottom right is Svetlana with Nika.)

Ukraine: It all began one Christmas Eve

Top: Elena's eldest son receiving a Christmas Eve box. Bottom: Elena receiving an emergency aid box.

A few years ago on Christmas Eve, the MP team visited impoverished families in one of the outlying villages of the Odesa region. They brought gifts and children's Bibles and shared the gospel.

The home of Elena and her four children was the most miserable of all. Elena had no job and no ID papers, which meant she could not even receive social support. She drank a good deal. Her children wore ragged clothes, were hungry and dependent on the neighbours for help. As Spring came, the team felt led to start a children's club in the village. Elena's children always looked forward to Bible Club. The team taught the village children what the Bible taught about God, played games and prayed with the children. The team made a point to visit Elena frequently. One day she announced, 'I have read the Bible and believe in God.' She stopped drinking, got her official ID and found a job.

Covid restrictions prevented the Bible Club continuing in the village, but the war opened up the doors again and we brought food boxes to the village. Elena announced: 'I am like you now! I have been baptised. I go to church and serve God!' A Christmas encounter has transformed a whole family. (The top picture is Elena's eldest son receiving the Christmas Eve box some years ago and below is Elena receiving one of this year's emergency aid boxes.)

Ukraine: Buckwheat! Where has his come from?

Vasali receiving an aid box.

Vasali can no longer afford buckwheat to make his favourite porridge on his small pension. Food prices have skyrocketed. So, when a team member arrived at his house with a box that included buckwheat, he looked at the food box with astonishment. He thought he was being bribed for his vote at an election. 'Oh no,' responded the team member. 'That is not our motive. We are ordinary people, but God has sent us to deliver this food that others have purchased. That is why we can bring you this gift today. It is a sign that God remembers you.' (Vasali pictured right.)

Ukraine: Liliya writes again …

We are fulfilling this call in Ukraine together. Some are able to give financially so we can give out food boxes, firewood and clothing, some are praying faithfully, and we know this as we see miracles in people's lives, some are channelling those funds and materials to where they are needed. May the Lord bless all those who have responded to this call to love us Ukrainians. Thank you.

Link to short video sent out just before Christmas: https://youtu.be/wYGa4Lhrm0k

Warning: please do not view this video if you have issues with flash photography or strobe lighting.

Impacting Ishwa Island in Rwanda

Saplings arriving at Ishwa Island on a boat.

Ishwa Island is a small island on Lake Kivu in Rwanda. In 2020, I did a prayer walk around the shores of the island and it only took just over two hours. We have been working there for ten years, including building a church and pastor's house, supporting the nursery school, running hygiene projects with the provision of water filters, new toilets and feminine hygiene kits, and more recently, planting 2600 fruit tree saplings. (Pictured are a few of these saplings arriving on the island.) Boaz, who manages these projects for us, has recently sent us this video. It lasts six minutes and summarises our work on the island well:

Impacting marriages in Burundi

Senior pastors and their wives attending a training course.

Our leadership and marriage manuals are being used in many parts of Africa. Recently REMA, our partners in Burundi, ran a training course on how to use the Kirundi version of the marriage training manual with senior pastors and their spouses in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. (See picture right.) Here is the testimony of one delegate: 'The church has suffered so much from the lack of useful tools for teaching couples and newlyweds. Apart from the teachings in the Bible, we do not have other materials. Frankly speaking, this book has come at the right time and many families will be rescued'. It is hoped that these training days will be rolled out into rural communities in 2023. Below is a link to a delightful, very short video of delegates celebrating this training.

Impacting the Virunga Mountain foothills in Rwanda

Bishop John Rucyahana and beneficiaries of a recent goat project.

We are entering our 9th year of working with these communities – initially working with just the historically marginalised people on these foothills but now with all poor people in these communities. Our work has included supporting agricultural cooperatives, the provision of cows and goats, a project supporting children to go to school, adult literacy classes and a number of crusades. Last year, we added building houses and toilets to this portfolio. Pictured centre right is our partner Bishop John Rucyahana who heads up Transformational Ministries with beneficiaries of a recent goat project. Below is link to a video of children supported:

Other recent activities in Africa

These have included funding more textbooks for the Star School in Kigali, the distribution of new Bibles to Christian leaders in Tanzania and Burundi and supporting the training of future pastors in Rwanda.

Collaboration with Christian Hope International (CHI)

Top: CHI logo. Middle: Carmen and Joff with some of the STart School sponsored children. Bottom: The MPUK and CHI teams.

I first worked with CHI many years ago when they were called Containers of Hope. That was when we were sending pallets of books to Rwanda for the newly established Anglican Bible College. At that time, CHI were working in many countries, but more recently, their ministry has become focused on Rwanda and Uganda, plus, in a much smaller way, on Eastern Europe.

Given that we work in similar places, we felt it was worth meeting up to explore ways in which we might work more closely together. We met early last year and quickly discovered that we had a similar heartbeat when it comes to ministry. When Russia invaded Ukraine, CHI sent us a substantial gift towards our work there.

As it happens, the three staff members of CHI, Carmen, Pauline and Joff, were visiting Rwanda in June and we invited them to visit the Star School. The Star School had expressed a wish that we expanded our child sponsorship programme, and we realised that CHI were better positioned to do this than we were, being a larger charity than us and with a much bigger child sponsorship programme. Pictured above right are Carmen and Joff with some of the Star School sponsored children. They were impressed by everything they saw at the school.

In August, we met again in a garden centre halfway between our base near Cambridge and their base in Romford. We felt God was guiding us to hand over the Star School child sponsorship programme to CHI, and likewise, CHI felt comfortable absorbing this programme into their ministry. Those who sponsor a child at the Star School are already aware that this will happen on April 1st. Pictured left to right are Richard and Ruth of MPUK and Carmen, Joff and Pauline of CHI. We believe that working in collaboration over the past year, we have brought a smile to the face of God and we would ask you to pray for the smooth transition in the weeks ahead.

We will continue with all our other work including supporting the Star School with one-off projects, such as providing more textbooks and a new fruit tree project on the school campus. We are also exploring the possibility of working in a new country in Africa.

And finally

Many thanks for your wonderful support of our work. As Liliya says, we are fulfilling His call together.