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29 January 2020Stretching targets for 2020

Grace & Light has set itself stretching targets for our work in Nigeria during 2020.

We want to increase our work and impact in churches and schools across Nigeria, with our volunteer teams energised to visit more regularly, sharing the gospel of social righteousness and testing people for HIV/AIDS.

Our targets include:

  • Testing 12,000 people in churches over the 12 months (32.6% increase)
  • Each of the 12 teams visiting at least one church per month, with Yola and Jos visiting at least one church per week (80% increase)
  • The Jos, Yola and Jalingo teams visiting 30 secondary schools (43% increase)
  • Training secondary teachers so they are able to support life sharing groups in their schools
  • Teachers conference in Jos in March
  • Schools conference for 600 secondary students in May
  • Increasing work place and prison visits
  • Three training programmes for new volunteers in February, June and October
  • One refresher training programme for existing volunteers in March.

These are testing targets for our staff and volunteer teams, especially as we are currently recruiting for a manager to lead the office team in Yola.

Our volunteer teams outside Jos and Yola really need annual refresher training for the motivation that will see them visiting churches every month.

Currently we are approaching grant making trust for funding for:

  • One more new volunteer training programme
  • Three more refresher volunteer training programmes
  • The teachers conference in Jos and a second in Jalingo later in the year
  • Secondary school students conference.

Please pray our funding appeals will be successful and we will raise the costs to run these events.

Team leaders meet up

We were pleased that leaders from 11 of our 12 volunteer teams were ableto come to Jos in January for our first team leaders meeting in seven years. Only Mitchika’s leader could not join us because insurgency in the area made travel impossible.

The team leaders were able to discuss, with Tassie Ghata and the office team, our ministry plans for 2020 and input their suggestions. They also participated in a refresher on their roles and what is expected of them. We hope to be able to hold this meeting at the beginning of the year from now on.

Please pray for all the leaders as they return to their teams and put into practice they challenges they agreed to in the meeting.

Prayer & Giving Request for 2020

We have one final prayer and giving request for 2020 – it concerns regular giving. Last year regular and ad hoc giving for salaries was £8,000 short. If you are not already doing so, please pray about supporting our staff with a monthly standing order.

Without our staff teams in Jos and Yola we would not be able to give our volunteer teams the support they need as they visit churches, schools, prisons and work places, and they certainly won’t be able to meet the stretching targets we have set for 2020.

Please contact Ed Greening at ed.greening@graceandlight.org for information on setting up a standing order or direct debit.

You may prefer to give online at https://my.give.net/graceandlight/ or send a cheque to Grace & Light, 8 Kingswood Drive, Upper Norwood, London SE19 1UR.

However you give, please include a reference so we know how you would like us to allocate your gift. And thank you in advance for your generosity.

2020 Dates

Tassie Ghata will be visiting the UK from 18 March to 2 April and spending time in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Worthing.

Please let Jo Ann Eastgate know if you are nearby and would like to join one of the open events joann.eastgate@graceandlight.org

Also do let Jo Ann know if you would like Tassie to visit your church or small group – she has a couple of days free at the moment.

Friday, 1 May is our annual supporters event in Jos, Nigeria. More information from tassie.ghata@graceandlight.org

Saturday, 30 May is our annual UK fundraising walk. This year we are walking around Chichester Harbour. Please contact Jo Ann Eastgate if you would like to join us.

25-26 July fundraising fashion show at Chatsworth Baptist Church, West Norwood, London. More details from UK trustee Fola Ogunyide via info@graceandlight.org

Saturday, 1 August is our UK annual supporters afternoon tea in Upper Norwood, London. More details from Jo Ann Eastgate.

Finally, thank you for all the support you have given us to date. With your continued support we are looking forward to achieving our stretching targets during 2020.

29 January 2020Church visits during 2019

Nigerians are open to living Christ-centred lives once they hear Grace & Light’s message of social righteousness.

During 2019 our 12 active volunteer teams visited 128 churches, sharing the gospel of social righteousness with 28,427 people and testing 9,046 for HIV/AIDS.

Of those who tested, 8,517 chose to join a life sharing group and be open with their results. Thirty-one people tested positive, 4,784 rededicated their lives to Christ and 1,024 made a first commitment.

The Jos volunteer team (46 churches visited) and Yola team (31 visits) were most active, followed by Biu (13 visits), Potiskum (6 visits), Mangu (6) and Jalingo (5).

Our teams were more active in 2019 compared to 2018 when nine teams visited 114 churches, sharing the gospel with 23,831 people and testing 7,382. Then 34 people were positive and 6,803 joined life sharing groups in their church.

“Church members are amazed we talk about things they consider old time religion. They think social righteousness is strange,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

“Corruption is so high in Nigeria that it has become normal. People do whatever they can to survive Monday to Saturday, and then on Sunday are good girls and boys.

“We are surprised they listen to our social righteousness message and are willing to change and live as Christ calls us to. Many do rededicate themselves at each church we visit.”

Please pray for our volunteer teams who all have day jobs and give their free time to serving their local communities with Grace & Light:

  • Time and energy to arrange visits to churches
  • God’s love for the people they counsel and test during each visit
  • Churches able to provide the support life sharing groups need to care for their members and continue over the longer term
  • Churches able to encourage their members who make first commitments and rededicate their lives to Christ.

29 January 2020Secondary school visits during 2019

During 2019 the Jalingo, Yola and Jos teams visited 21 secondary schools, sharing the gospel with 5,975 students and testing 3,280 (55%).

Of these, 886 (12%) rededicated their lives to Christ and 520 (10%) made a first commitment. Six students tested positive for HIV and are receiving ongoing support.

Visits are significantly less than in 2018, when the five volunteer teams visited 30 schools, sharing the gospel with 9,761 students and testing 4,075 (42%).

However, in 2018 15 students tested positive for HIV, while 1,630 (16.7%) rededicated their lives to Christ and 618 (6%) made a first commitment.

The volunteer teams visiting schools in 2018 were Jalingo, Lafia, Gombe, Jos and Yola.

During 2020 our aim is to again visit 30 secondary schools and test 10,000 pupils. Please pray for the leaders of our volunteer teams as they make contact with head teachers and organise visits for their teams.

This year our headquarters team will be supporting all 12 volunteer teams as they begin or continue ministry in secondary schools. Please pray for the teams:

  • Yola, Jos and Jalingo currently visiting schools
  • Lafia and Gombe restarting school visits
  • Bauchi, Mangu, Michika, Hong, Biu, Damturu and Potiskum visiting schools for the first time.

29 January 2020HCT Testing during 2019

Ministry in prisons and work places increases during 2019.

As well as visiting churches and schools, the Jos volunteer team shared the gospel and tested people in their work places and prisons; while staff in Jos and Yola also tested individuals who visited their offices.

Often this is church members bringing their partner for testing after they have heard our message on a Sunday morning.

In total the Jos and Yola teams shared the gospel with 2,480 people and tested 669 outside schools and churches. Of these 192 rededicated their lives to Christ and 59 made first commitments. Two people tested positive for HIV.

Please pray for continued openness in businesses and prisons for our teams to visit, share the gospel, counsel and test.

29 January 2020North Eastern teams strengthened following training

The Hong, Jalingo and Yola teams have additional members following training for new volunteers in Yola during December.

Tellingly, at the end of the training 15 of the 17 participants rededicated themselves to Christ and committed to living according to gospel values.

“Like others in the many churches we visit, these volunteers saw the way they lived as the norm for Christians. As we talked about social righteousness they came to understand what Christ expects of his followers,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

Tassie travelled from Jos to Yola to deliver the training alongside Yola office manager Tony Sudan. Over five days participants heard an overview of Grace & Light’s distinctly Christian approach, the effect of HIV/AIDS on churches, transmission, prevention and treatment, counselling and testing, care and support for those living with the disease, establishing life sharing groups in churches and maintaining trust and respect within their teams.

Four of the participants joined the Jalingo team taking its cohort to 12. This means the team will be able to visit more churches on a Sunday. During 2019 they were faithful in visiting secondary schools, but struggled to visit churches.

Another four joined the Hong team taking its membership to six people. Hong is close to Mitchika and the town has been impacted by Boko Haram. Previously the two members needed support from Yola to visit churches; now they will be able to organise their own visits.

The other nine new volunteers joined the Yola team and will be visiting churches, schools, work places and prisons in the city and its surroundings.

Tony Sudan has since left Grace & Light; please pray for Tassie as she recruits a new office manager for Yola. We are looking for someone with pastoral and admin skills who is able to motivate and care for each of the team members.

Please also pray for the new members in the Jalingo and Hong teams as well as for the team leaders and other volunteers as they increase their visits during 2020.

29 January 2020Testing during World Aids Day

Yola and Jos teams support World Aids Day to remind Nigerians that HIV/AIDS is still a real threat to congregations, communities and individuals.

World Aids Day, on 1 December, is a chance to remind Nigerians that HIV/AIDS is still virulent and if they don’t take precautions, changing their lifestyles, they too could become infected.

Many in the younger generation in Nigeria believe that HIV/AIDS is something that affected their parents in the past and is no longer an issue for themselves. Grace & Light volunteer teams frequently come across this attitude in secondary schools and churches.

In Yola the office and volunteer teams joined a rally with other local organisations and tested 138 people who came to watch the spectacle.

The Jos teams visited two local churches, as World Aids Day fell on a Sunday. They visited ECWA Bomo2 in a rural area sharing the gospel of social righteousness with 215 people and testing 80. They also visited COCIN Nyango in Jos, sharing the gospel with 613 people and testing 88.

"In total we tested 306 people who now know their status and will take care not to become infected in the future," said Tassie Ghata.

03 December 2019Fundraising dinner attracts new supporters

Our fundraising dinner in Jos on 26 November attracted 35 guests, the majority of whom had not heard of Grace & Light event through they attended local churches.

They were invited by friends who are existing supporters. All said that they were pleased to learn about our work and three committed to supporting us financially with monthly standing orders.

“These standing orders are encouraging as the Nigerian economy is suffering at the moment,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “The essentials of life are becoming more expensive and people are struggling financially.”

Additionally, guests gave donations, including ten people who weren’t able to attend, raising 100,000 naira towards the cost of building our training centre.

Please pray for our regular donors in Nigeria, that they will continue to be employed so they can meet their costs of living and support our work.

03 December 2019Book fair attracts hundreds of Jos residents

Our annual book fair, held in our Jos headquarters charity shop mid-November, has generated funds and also raised awareness of our work.

Many hundreds of people came from all corners of the city, spending an average of 2,000 naira on books.

“People did come out to browse our books, despite the economic downturn impacting Jos and other parts of Nigeria,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “Not only did they buy books, many heard about our work for the first time.

“Some were overjoyed to find books they have been looking for many years. We don’t have a reading culture in Nigeria; our book fairs are helping to change this in Jos.”

We have now sold half the books in the container from Book Aid that arrived in March. When people spent 2,000 naira they were able to choose five free books from an earlier Book Aid delivery.

The book fair has raised 920,000 naira (£2,000) towards construction of our training centre, test kits and salaries

03 December 2019Lives that glow in the darkness

During 2020 our focus will be equipping volunteer team leaders and Jos staff to step out as salt and light in their communities.

All 13 Jos headquarters staff members attended the annual development and retreat from 8-10 October. The three days began with reports and evaluations from each team – ministry, operations and finance, along with identifying strengths and areas to develop.

Then they looked forward into 2020, agreeing targets for school visits, church visits, HIV/ AIDS testing, new volunteer and refresher training and advocacy visits.

“This year there was less contention,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “It was noticeable that we have grown together since our last retreat. People were willing to listen to and understand each other, and reach consensus about our goals.”

In the run-up to Tassie announcing Grace & Light’s theme for 2020, everyone watched a Christian movie about being salt and light in the world.

The main character, a car salesman, initially made money by cheating his customers. Once he heard the gospel and committed his life to Christ he changed his behaviours.

“It was good for us to see that being salt and light is not easy, but it is possible,” said Tassie.

She then introduced our 2020 theme – light rising in the darkness – from Isaiah 58:10:

If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins
If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. (The Message)

During 2020 Tassie and the headquarters team will be organising a development meeting in Jos to recognise and encourage the leaders of each of our volunteer teams.

Please pray for time, energy and funds as the team organise this meeting, and that each of the volunteer team leaders will be able to attend and will be inspired to inspire their own team members.

03 December 2019Jalingo volunteers remain enthusiastic

All members of the Jalingo volunteer team have recommitted themselves to Grace & Light for another two years.

In early October international coordinator Tassie Ghata, Yola office manager Tony Sudan and admin officer Solomon Ibrahim spent three days with the 12 members of the Jalingo volunteer team.

Their first day together began with a whole team review of 2019, talking through successes, issues and challenges, understanding their strengths and then asking what they should work on improving.

“We are encouraged,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “This team is just two years old and still very committed. They keep going week in, week out visiting churches and schools to share the gospel and test for HIV/ AIDS. All of them were ready to recommit themselves for another two years.”

Tassie added that the team has an inspirational leader in Hero Girgir and good support from the Yola team.

One of the challenges for the team is that they now have only one person confident to share the gospel in churches and schools. Of the 16 original volunteers, four were equipped for public speaking, but three have subsequently moved away from the town.

The second day, team members along with Tassie, Tony and Solomon, made advocacy visits to The Right Reverend Joshua Jen, LCCN Bishop in North Eastern Taraba, Godlove Ngiryir, lead pastor of Mambilla Baptist Convention, and leaders of the United Methodist church of Nigeria (UMCN).

Bishop Jen, Lutheran Church of Christ Nigeria, committed to writing to all churches in his diocese giving them permission to invite the Jalingo team into Sunday services. Pastor Ngiryir agreed to invite team members to present at one of the regular Baptist leaders’ meeting where church pastors come together.

At UMCN national headquarters the Grace & Light team met the administration manager as the President, Dr Samuel Uche, was in America at the time. He will recommended Grace & Light to the leadership team when they returned to Nigeria.

Please pray for more team members able and willing to share the gospel during visits to schools and churches; and for new members to replace those who have moved away.

Also pray for our ministry into churches in the LCCN, UMCN and Baptist denominations in Taraba State.

03 December 2019Changing lives is hard

Further confirmation Grace & Light’s message of social righteousness is seeping into hearts came during November.

An elder came  forward for testing in one of the churches the Jos team visited. He had known for many years that he is HIV positive, but had never told anyone.

“He quietly retested after hearing our message and chose to be open, sharing his status with family and the other open members in the congregation,” explained international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “We are encouraged people are willing to be open and change their lifestyles, including when they are in positions of authority in their communities.”

Another Jos church, near the university and polytech, has many student members. They are typical of the young people our volunteer teams meet, believing they are Christians but not realising this means more than attending church on Sundays.

“They are committed to their church and take part in activities. But their hearts are full of immorality, gambling, taking drugs, exam cheating. These things are taking over our youth,” said Tassie.

“They rededicate themselves and make first commitments, but then need regular follow-up and encouragement to remain committed. They are ready to change their lives and do things right, but it is difficult for them.”

Eight volunteer teams - from Jos, Yola, Gombe, Mangu, Michika, Biu, Damaturu and Potiskum - visited 20 churches during October and November. They shared the gospel with 4,482 people of whom 1,674 chose to be tested and know their HIV status. Four people tested positive.

Most of those who tested – 1,582 - chose to be open with their status and joined life sharing support groups in churches that are able to host these groups.

Significant numbers made a Christian commitment; 155 were new converts while 885 rededicated their lives to Christ and promised to live according to gospel values.

Please pray for the Jos volunteers and staff team; there are few of them and many students to stay in touch with and encourage in their relationships with God.

03 December 2019Multiple schools open doors to social righteousness

Thank you for your prayers for our schools ministry – your prayers are being answered!

Secondary schools are opening wide their doors in Jalingo, Yola and Jos, inviting our volunteer teams in to share the gospel and test all students who choose for HIV/ AIDS.

During October and November, the Jalingo, Yola and Jos teams visited 12 secondary schools, sharing the gospel with 3,384 students and testing 2,014 (59.5%). Of these, 396 (12%) rededicated their lives to Christ and 337 (10%) made a first commitment. Five students tested positive.

“Our visits are good news for these children. They are able to have one-to-one counselling. Many have never had an adult sit down and listen to them before,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

“They are able to talk about the issues they struggle with. Sadly, these include sexual activity as well as stealing, lying and exam cheating. When we listen they make up their minds to receive Christ and behave differently. They set themselves expectations of making something of their lives and futures.”

Many of the children who test HIV positive look sick and uncared for. When the volunteers investigate they discover these children have no mother and father and are being cared for by relatives, who may or may not know they have the virus.

Through our vulnerable person fund we are able to provide the financial support they need for school uniforms, shoes, books and other living essentials.

Please continue praying for schools to open their doors to Grace & Light volunteers from January onwards, for students to be open to the gospel message, wanting to know God and serve him.

Please also pray that schools will be able to support life sharing advocacy groups for the students who chose to be tested. No schools were able to do this during 2019.

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