01 December 2017Two new teams, Three strengthened!
Jalingo and Michika now have full strength teams equipped for vision sharing and counselling and testing following new volunteer training.
The Michika team now has 16 members and they no longer need Yola volunteers to join them on church visits. The Jalingo team has 14 members; their city is the capital of Taraba State. Remaining participants joined the existing Lafia, Yola and Jos teams.
In total, 44 new volunteers participated in the five-day training in late October in Yola. They learnt techniques for clearly communicating the gospel of grace, openness and love, as well as the biblical perspective on social righteousness.
There were lots of practical sessions about how to build relationships with local church leaders, organise vision sharing, counselling and testing, and establish life sharing support groups.
At the end of the programme participants were invited to commit to volunteering with Grace & Light for two years; all did. Finally, they joined together for outreach in a couple of local churches.
International coordinator Tassie Ghata said that what stood out for her was the change in attitudes towards people with HIV/AIDS. “Many participants come from the north and north-east of Nigeria where people don’t have much understanding of HIV and there is higher prevalence compared to the rest of the country. After training we saw a remarkable improvement in knowledge. It makes the training so worthwhile!’
25 November 2017Catholic Diocese of Jos supports Grace & Light
Rev Msgr Benedict Obidiegwu, administrator of the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos, and Cecilia Pinta, health coordinator, open doors for Grace & Light within Roman Catholic parishes.
Grace & Light’s Jos volunteers expect to begin visiting Catholic congregations for vision sharing and testing, following an advocacy visit with Rev Obidiegwu - assistant to the Most Reverend Dr Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, who is also President of the Nigerian Bishops and President of the Episcopal Conference of West African Catholic Bishops - and Mrs Cecilia Pinta who is health coordinator for the Jos diocese.
“During our meeting, we were able to explain Grace & Light’s focus on social righteousness and our activities counselling, testing and establishing life sharing groups,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.
“Rev Obidiegwu and Mrs Pinta were open to partnering with Grace & Light and committed to supporting us by writing to their local congregations and encouraging them to welcome our volunteers in to Sunday services. We are delighted!”
There are more than 400 catholic churches in the Jos diocese. The Jos volunteer team will begin contacting local priests in January.
25 November 2017Refresher training energises volunteer teams
Volunteers say they feel re-energised and ready to share the gospel with more local congregations following refresher training in Jos.
Fifty-five volunteers from 11 teams took part in the three-day training programme in early November. It is designed to encourage them as well as update their counselling, testing, vision sharing and team working skills.
Content is very practical and relevant to what volunteers experience when visiting local churches. Over the three days international coordinator Tassie Ghata shared new ways of doing counselling, testing and disclosure, care and support.
She explained how to live a life that models social righteousness – some of the volunteers heard about social righteousness for the first time - and gave participants plenty of time to ask questions and discuss issues they were facing.
At the end of the programme volunteers were asked to recommit themselves to serving in their teams for another two years. They each also developed a work plan with practical actions to take back and use in their team.
“We are so pleased all the volunteers recommitted themselves. We hope each of their teams will be active throughout 2018 and able to visit at least one church a month for vision sharing and testing,” said Tassie.
The volunteers came from Jos, Yola, Gombe, Bauchi, Lafia, Mangu, Fufore, Tafawa Balewa, Biu, Minna and Langtang. Four of the teams, which have not been active during 2017, now have sufficient committed members to begin regularly visiting churches in their areas to share the gospel and test for HIV/ AIDS.
This training was part-funded by a grant from the Barnabas Trust.
25 November 2017Book fairs celebrate ministry and raise funds
Hundreds of local Christians have new books and bibles following recent book fairs in Jos.
We held the book fairs at TCNN (Theological College of Northern Nigeria) and Gindiri Theological Seminary, as well and our Jos charity shop during October and November.
With dry weather we were able to display large numbers of books by laying them out on the ground and on tables. Hundreds of Christians came to browse and buy our affordable books, some of which are brand new and others are used but in good condition.
Books sold were part of our third container-load from UK Christian charity Book Aid that arrived in Nigeria back in January.
Grace & Light held the book fairs to celebrate its book ministry among Christians and raise awareness of our ministry in churches.
Over 60 per cent of books have now been sold; the remainder are for sale in our charity shop. Anyone visiting Jos is welcome to visit during office hours to see if there are any books they would like.
Money raised so far is going towards the cost to purchase a Certificate of Occupancy from the Nigerian government. It is a one-time payment that grants us ownership of the land our headquarters compound sits on.
25 November 2017Prisoners embrace social righteousness
Male and female prisoners convert and rededicate their lives during Grace & Light’s first visit to a Nigerian prison.
Just over 250 prisoners crowded into the Pankshin Prison’s chapel to hear international coordinator Tassie Ghata share the gospel message of social righteousness.
She shared the story of the Prodigal Son and how all of us can be forgiven no matter what we have done, provided we repent and turn back to God.
“One prisoner, a Christian said he had been framed and that he had vowed never to forgive. When he had done his time, he was planning on taking revenge on the person who had framed him.
“On hearing our words, he decided to forgive the person and vowed instead to live for Christ when he is released.”
The Mangu and Jos volunteer teams were invited into Pankshin, a local government prison in Plateau State, by the governor to provide HIV/ AIDS counselling and testing to all prisoners who wished to know their status.
“We spoke about resisting drugs and homosexuality [the majority of prisoners are men], shared God’s love for them and his grace, called them to repentance and to changing their lifestyles and mindsets.”
Sixty-five prisoners gave their lives to Christ for the first time during the visit, another 67 rededicated their lives to God and 175 chose to be tested. Just three were HIV positive and are now receiving medication.
25 November 2017School visits resume as students return to classes
Volunteers have recommenced schools’ ministry as students returned to their classes in October.
International coordinator Tassie Ghata is delighted that a third volunteer team is now equipped to minister in schools. Mangu team members shadowned the more experienced Jos team when they joined together for a visit to Kogan High School in Mangu during November.
Tassie said “With three teams trained in our schools’ ministry we will now be able to visit many more schools each month and meet our 2018 target.”
Our schools’ ministry target is to visit 30 schools in 2018 with each being visited once a term. This averages out at nine school visits each month excluding holiday times.
Highlight of the most recent visits for Tassie was seeing students are open to changing their lives when they hear our social righteousness message.
“Many of these students were already imitating the adults in their lives and moving into corruption. They see so many lies, people with HIV and corruption that they consider these normal. We are able to present an alternative lifestyle for the students to choose instead.”
The Jos, Mangu and Yola teams visited two schools during October and November, sharing the gospel and social righteousness with 416 students and testing 243. Of these, 52 rededicated their lives to Christ and 48 made first commitments.
25 November 2017Social righteousness changes people’s hearts
When congregations and their leaders hear the message of social righteousness, they turn back to God and commit to changing their lives.
Time and again our volunteer teams see how societal norms are eroding Christian values, causing people to behave as others around them do rather than conforming to God’s standards for living.
But when we share the gospel of social righteousness they are confronted with their complacency and turn back to God. We see again and again church members and their leaders rededicating themselves to God.
International coordinator Tassie Ghata sums up our volunteers’ experiences: “Sin is seen as normal life in Nigeria. But once congregations hear gospel truth they come asking God to forgive them and help them change their lives.”
Tassie shares the stories of two people who are changing their lives, as illustrations of the many renewed lives she witnesses.
“After hearing us preach a woman rededicated her life to God. She confessed to not starting work on time even though she is in charge of employees’ attendance. Instead, she would start work at 8am, the time everyone is supposed to begin.
“She said she was touched by Grace & Light. She didn’t know it was a sin to start late as it is what everyone does. She said from that day she was going to change and was very sorry that she was a liar. She was also going to help employees so they no longer joined in the lying.
At another church, a Sunday School teacher and parent confessed his life was not in accordance with right living sexually. He committed to changing his life and Grace & Light is giving him personal support because of his role in his church.
During October and November, the volunteer teams visited 15 churches, sharing the gospel with 4,650 people. Of these, 1,381 chose to be tested for HIV/ AIDS and seven were positive.
Seventy-six per cent joined life sharing groups in their churches; 705 rededicated their lives to Christ and 212 made a first commitment.
Five teams were active during the two months, they were Michika, Mangu, Gombe, Yola and Jos.