26 May 2019Monitoring visit to support Yola workers
Persecution is an increasing challenge for Christians in north eastern Nigeria, with Grace & Light teaching how Christians should respond in ways that honour God.
Local congregations and their leaders in Yola appreciate support from our Yola team workers Tony Sudan and Tari Bitrus, plus volunteer team members. They in turn need encouragement from our Jos headquarters.
Thus, in April International coordinator Tassie Ghata, lifesharing coordinator Ibrahim Bitrus and security guard Salomon Ibrahim spent five days in Yola. Some of their time was spent auditing activities, planning work, sharing new initiatives and praying.
They also visited COCIN Regional Church Council offices in Yola, meeting with chairman Barnabas Kpasham who studied at TCNN and was a Grace & Life life sharing member while a student in Jos.
“The council secretary and two committee members joined Barnabas for our meeting,” said Tassie. “We were able to share what we do and what Grace & Light is all about. They were excited to welcome us and will open doors into COCIN churches for the Yola team.”
Two days later Tassie and Tony led a day workshop for pastors and church leaders who are already Grace & Light members in Yola. Forty-five people attended and discussed issues of social righteousness, persecution, corruption and sexual and gender-based violence in their communities.
Additionally, Tassie, Ibrahim and Salomon took boxes of books from BookAid to sell to local people with the income helping to fund ministry in Yola.
26 May 2019Widows encouraged to stand up to abuse
Widows living in the rural Mangun area are encouraged to care for themselves and their children and to support each other with the cultural challenges they face.
International coordinator Tassie Ghata led a workshop for 362 widows in the area, which is 80km south of Jos, in early May. She shared Grace & Light’s message of social righteousness and encouraged the widows to support themselves and their families through work, both employment and entrepreneurship.
During the day they also looked at the societal challenges of being a widow in Nigeria. “They were able to share their own experiences. Many talked about how their husbands’ families took everything when he died including sons, so they and their daughters were left with little to live on.
“Sexual and gender-based violence is a particular issue for them, as without a man to protect them, they and their daughters are vulnerable. We encouraged them to stand together and not to keep quiet when they are abused, instead to ask for help from their pastors and congregations.”
This workshop is one of the outputs from Tassie’s advocacy visit to COCIN’s Mangun Regional Church Council pastors’ meeting in April.
26 May 2019Faithful volunteer teams
New volunteer teams in the North East continue to visit congregations to share the gospel and test for HIV/ AIDS. Between them Potiskam, Biu and Damaturu teams have faithfully visited seven churches since February.
“Congregations and families are happy we are visiting and providing testing as the government is fully focused on defeating Boko Haram in the area,” said Tassie Ghata. “The government has its hand full dealing with problems in the internally displaced people camps and can’t manage HIV issues as well.
“Grace & Light is able to fill the gap, helping people know their status, providing access to drugs for those who are positive, encouraging through life sharing groups.
“Church leaders are also happy as we do not just talk about HIV/ AIDS, but also focus on social righteousness and how to live as Christ wants us to.”
Jos volunteer team revisited Kurmin B ECWA church on Easter Sunday, with Tassie sharing her message on The Way of the Cross. She said “Multiple people said afterwards that they were encouraged to continue following Jesus example.
“Many are government workers and said they were on the verge of giving up on trying to live according to social righteousness principles because it wasn’t working for them.
“What they meant was that at work they were being criticised for their good behaviour instead of being celebrated or rewarded and this had been demotivating them. Now, after our visit, they will continue to follow social righteousness.”
The Gombe team visited Gombe University during April and shared with students in its Chapel of Joy. Tassie said “Usually university students don't want to test for HIV/ AIDS so we were delighted so many came to hear us speak and then to test 241 who were all willing to be open with each other.”
Seven volunteer teams - from Jos, Yola, Gombe, Bauchi, Jalingo, Biu and Potiskum - visited 11 churches during April. They shared the gospel with 2,830 people of whom 726 chose to be tested and know their HIV status. Two people tested positive.
Most of those who tested – 718 - chose to be open with their status and joined life sharing support groups based in their churches.
Significant numbers made a Christian commitment; 91 were new converts while 318 rededicated their lives to Christ and promised to live according to gospel values.
29 April 2019Walk to support HIV testing in schools and churches
Our June sponsored walk is raising funds for test kits for the remainder of 2019.
Between July and December our volunteer teams will test 5,000 people for HIV/AIDS in schools, churches, prisons and in our Jos headquarters. The test is quick and accurate, giving people a reliable indicator of whether they have the infection.
Each test kit is used just once, costs £1, and includes a needle for the thumb prick to release a blood sample, chromatographic test strip, cotton wool swab and disinfectant.
Last year we tested 11,228 people and expect to test a similar number again in 2019. Already in the first three months of the year we have tested 2.640 people.
Great views of London
Please do join us for our circular walk around Box Hill on Saturday, 1 June. Our circular 12-mile (20km) walk takes us along the beautiful Mole Valley and up and over Box Hill with its spectacular views of south London and the North Downs.
We will be crossing the Mole River via the iconic Stepping Stones, passing Box Hill Fort, Salomon’s Memorial and Labillierie’s Grave. Lunch is in the delightfully quaint village of Mickleham.
For full details on the walk including registration and sponsor forms, email email@example.com
If you are not able to walk please do support our walkers who include all our UK trustees as well as Isabelle and Mark Hopkins. Full details are on our fundraising page at …
29 April 2019Borno volunteer teams active
Biu and Damaturu, our new teams in Borno, visited their first churches to share the gospel of social righteousness and test for HIV/AIDS during March.
Five volunteer teams - from Jos, Yola, Jalingo, Biu and Damaturu - visited 15 churches during March. They shared the gospel with 1,546 people of whom 674 chose to be tested and know their HIV status. Nobody tested positive.
Most of those who tested – 658 - chose to be open with their status and joined life sharing support groups based in their churches.
Significant numbers made a Christian commitment; 87 were new converts while 337 rededicated their lives to Christ and promised to live according to gospel values.
15 April 2019New members commit to sharing Grace & Light’s story
Ten people have committed to playing an active role in Grace & Light by publicising what we do in their congregations, hosting volunteer teams during visits, raising new local supporters and sharing ideas for improving our ministry.
They made their commitment public at our Nigerian annual general meeting on 16 March when they were welcomed into membership. They are Dr Emeka Ekwonu, Samuel Harry, Cindy John, Rev Dung Rwang, Juliana Ashom, Pastor Stephen Agbu, Pastory Larry Pam, Andrew Dung, Prince Maxwell, Suleiman Ahmed and Friday Bitrus.
“We are pleased to have so many people committing to be actively involved in supporting our work in Nigeria,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “They will make a big difference to understanding about Grace & Light in their areas.”
Forty-five people attended the annual general meeting including trustees, directors and Jos volunteer team members. They began with a time of prayer and worship, followed by an overview of achievements in 2018 and the auditor’s financial report.
Then founder Mark Hopkins shared our vision for 2019 to help the Christian church to tap into righteousness as an ever-flowing stream, using Amos 5 and 2 Corinthians 5 to explain what we mean.
He said: “Our heart’s desire in Grace & Light this year is to put before the eyes of church and nation the righteousness of God. Not just glimpses here and there, but an every-flowing stream. Let us press on toward this without any compromises.”
15 April 2019Teachers commit to being Christian examples to their students
Teachers rediscover a passion for guiding students and being Christian role models at their secondary schools during a Grace & Light teachers’ conference.
Twenty-four teachers from nine Jos secondary schools spent a day at our headquarters discussing responses to corruption in education. They shared issues they and their students face including bullying, intimidation, sexual exploitation, cheating, lying and stealing.
They also looked at trauma healing for students, understanding what teenagers go through and how to respond in a caring and supportive way; plus sexual and gender-based violence issues from the perspective of students.
“Many admitted they were in their roles for the salary and not because they have a passion for teaching or helping young people progress in life,” said Tassie. “We looked at their profession from God’s perspective, explaining how much he loves children and wants them to blossom.
“We helped the teachers see that they are where God wants them to be; that he has called them to be teachers. He can give them a passion for their roles and the impact they can make in young peoples’ lives.”
Each of the teachers recommitted their lives to Christ; and rededicated themselves to caring for their students. They want to be Christian examples in their schools and to treat pupils and other teachers differently.
15 April 2019Social righteous message has lasting impact
Jos volunteers revisiting Jebu Miango were delighted to find secondary school students continue to live by the gospel values they heard about on our first visit.
The Jos team first visited the school in 2016. Three year on they saw a marked difference in attitudes of 14 to 18-year olds who heard their original message and younger pupils who have begun their secondary education since.
“The older students, and their teachers, said their lives were changed by our message of social righteousness. They were doing well academically, no longer lying, stealing, cheating at exams and sleeping around,” said Tassie Ghata, international coordinator.
“We shared our message again, and tested for HIV/AIDS, for the younger ones who have started at the school since we last visited. They also took our message to heart and committed to changing their lives.”
The Jos volunteer team visited three secondary schools during March. In total 699 pupils heard Grace & Light’s message of social righteousness. Of these, 324 chose to be tested for HIV/AIDS with one testing positive. Two hundred and thirty rededicated their lives to Christ and another 78 made a first commitment.
15 April 2019Remote rural churches welcome visits
Grace & Light volunteers are now visiting congregations in a rural area 80km south of Jos after Tassie Ghata spoke at the monthly meeting for COCIN pastors in the Mangun Regional Church Council.
Tassie spoke at the pastors’ meeting in early April, sharing about our HIV/AIDS ministry in churches and schools, our sexual and gender-based violence ministry and focus on social righteousness every day of the week, not just Sundays.
Sixty-two pastors listened to Tassie’s in-depth talk, asked many questions and embraced her message. “They opened their eyes to what is happening in their own congregations; no one said that is not true,” Tassie said. “They are open to working with Grace & Light to tackle these issues.”
Already the pastors are giving dates for our Jos and Mangu volunteer teams to visit their churches, share the gospel of social righteousness and counsel then test for HIV/AIDS.
These are rural churches and not all are accessible during the rainy season from late April to the end of October. The two volunteer teams will focus initially on those with good road access and visit more remote churches from November onwards.
Please pray for safe travel and for the funding shortfall for a second minibus that will make it easier for the Jos team to travel to Mangu.
15 April 2019Tassie enjoys meeting UK supporters
Many new people committed to supporting Grace & Light in prayer as international coordinator Tassie Ghata toured the UK visiting churches, charities and long-standing friends.
“We have expanded our horizons with many new people hearing about our work in Nigeria, asking lots of questions and signing up to receive information about what we are doing,” said Tassie.
“I was particularly happy to meet with Christine Pulsford, the new leader of Book Aid and to hear she has picked up her father Bob Hiley’s vision. That includes us and we will continue to work together in the future.”
Our first visit was to Zion Baptist Church in Cambridge. This was followed by a UK trustees meeting in Upper Norwood, Sunday service at Perry Rise Baptist Church in Forest Hill, African evening hosted jointly by Elim and River of Life churches in Worthing, prayer meeting and Sunday service with Holme-on-Spalding Moor Christian Fellowship, meeting and lunch at St Augustine’s, Hedon near Hull, Elim Filippino church in York, Holme-on-Spalding Moor Primary School assembly, and two prayer groups in Sheffield.
We also met with Christine Pulsford at Book Aid in Sydenham, George Verwer of OM Special Projects, and Femi Ladega, Julaine Hedman and Les Issacs at Ascension Trust in Morden. Les is guest speaker at our leaders’ conference in September.
UK fundraising trustee, Jo Ann Eastgate, accompanied Tassie on her visits. Jo Ann said “Every day was busy travelling and meeting new people. So, one of my memories is a day off in which Sandra and Chris Lemming took us to a National Trust property near York. I loved walking round the walled vegetable garden talking with Tassie about the plants we were passing, getting ideas for both our vege gardens.”
International coordinator Tassie Ghata spent two and a half weeks in the UK from 20 March to 5 April.
- Sandra and Chris Lemming's Prayer Group
- Tassie Ghata with Pastor Gale Richards at Zion Baptist Church
- Pastor Margaret Gibbs and Tassie Ghata at Perry Rise Baptist Church
- Tassie Ghata and Christine Pulford at Book Aid
- Tassie Ghata with Les Issacs
- Tassie Ghata with George and Drena Verwer.