31 October 2022Bukuru churches embrace gender champions
Churches in Bukuru have signed up to our Gender Champions Programme to help reduce gender-based violence in their congregations and local communities.
Fifty-nine leaders from 22 churches in Bukuru, a rural area near Jos, participated in Grace & Light’s day-long workshop hosted by RCC Rnkyeng Community.
During the workshop they studied what the bible says about gender including that God makes all people in his image and experienced some of the practical activities from our Transforming Masculinities programme.
“This helped them see gender equality from the perspective of scripture and to change their own behaviours so they respect themselves and others,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.
Leaders from all 22 churches committed their congregations to Grace & Light’s Transforming Masculinities programme. During October, a woman and man from each church are being trained as gender champions to deliver the programme.
They will each lead a small single-sex group of up to a dozen members through the six week programme. Participants are likely to be victims or perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence.
Please pray for:
- Wisdom as Bukuru pastors introduce gender champions and the Transforming Masculinities programme to their congregations
- Commitment from the gender champions to lead their groups compassionately and with empathy
- Victims and perpetrators will be open to healing and reconciliation.
31 October 2022Raising sensitive issues from the pulpit
Pastors say that inviting Grace & Light into their churches allows them to raise sensitive topics with their congregations and to strengthen their ministries.
Without Grace & Light volunteer team visits they would be stymied against raising issues that are considered outside the remit of Christian leaders, like politics, corruption and violence in the home.
Their gratitude was evident during a workshop for 57 leaders from 24 churches in Jos. They included both pastors and action committee members, as our Jos volunteer team visits each of these churches and has set up Voluntary Savings and Advocacy Groups in them. The action committees oversee these groups.
“We began by reminding the leaders about Grace & Light’s four areas of focus – politics, poverty and wealth, corruption, and sexual and gender-based violence, as well as HIV/AIDS counselling and testing,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.
“We want them to continue to be passionate about social righteousness and to care about their members who are HIV positive.”
Tassie shared insights Grace & Light has learnt from counselling and testing in their churches including the problems congregation members face.
“That surprised them. They said we were sharing truths they didn’t realise and are now aware of. They want to hear from us more often as inviting us into their churches has meant they are able to do and say more; we have made a difference in their ministries over the years.
“They are now confident to talk about politics from their pulpits without feeling they have to support a particular party or politician. We’ve empowered them to talk with their congregations about the scriptural basis for voting.”
Please pray for:
- Pastors as their encourage their congregations to face sensitive family and cultural issues
- Wisdom and integrity for Action Committee members supporting Voluntary Savings and Accountability Group leaders
- Voluntary Savings and Accountability Group leaders remain committed to supporting and encouraging their group members to live lives that honour God.
31 October 2022What makes a Godly leader?
Civic and business leaders are more aware of what social righteousness means in practice for themselves and their organisations following Grace & Light’s annual Leadership Conference.
In late September 76 leaders joined our three day conference in Miango Rest Home outside Jos. They came from across Plateau State and represented churches, charities, government organisations, theology schools, missionary organisations and local companies.
Our guest speaker, Professor Pic Onwuchei, professor of theology at the University of Jos, told the story of Abraham rescuing his nephew Lot from Captivity. He challenged his audience to put others before themselves .
“He emphasised that what is important in leaders’ lives is people not possessions. We should not be thinking of ourselves and what we can get by trampling on people,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “They went away with a renewed commitment to serve other people not themselves.”
Grace & Light chairman, Mark Hopkins, who led devotions each morning and evening also focused on refusing selfish things and dying to self as the hallmarks of Godly leaders.
Professor Onwuchei, along with Nigerian trustee Dr Hadiza Khamofu and Nigerian non-executive director Rev Dr Sylvester Dachomo, expanded on social righteousness during talks throughout each day.
Delegates then broke into small groups and discussed how each talk applied to them in their organisations before feeding back to the whole group.
Feedback at the end of the conference highlighted how practical delegates found the conference and how they had accepted the challenge to both change their own behaviours and introduce social righteousness into their organisations.
They committed to deeper relationships with God, spending more time alone with God, changing their leadership styles and their approaches to preaching.
Please pray for:
- Leaders to persevere in their commitments to change personally and as leaders
- Wisdom as they introduce social righteousness in their organisations, encouraging people to live according to gospel values.
31 October 2022Men’s Fellowships Strengthened
Local churches are expecting to see husbands, fathers and sons returning to church as their men’s outreach work strengthens following a social righteousness workshop near Mangu.
Eighty-seven men’s fellowship leaders in 19 COCIN churches joined Grace & Light’s workshop in mid-July. They left with a deeper understanding of their responsibilities in their churches and a commitment to fulfil them.
Panyam Regional Church Council invited Grace & Light to run the workshop in the hope it would reinvigorate their men’s outreach in this local area. They were excited by the response they saw in attendees.
“We have been delivering our message of social righteousness during Sunday services in many of their churches, so the men already knew and trusted us and were willing to share their challenges, ”said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.
During the day-long workshop, the men discussed sexual and gender based violence, work and corruption, the politics of righteousness, and their roles in their churches.
“Their congregations experience all the sexual and gender issues as they are in a rural area. They promised before God to treat their wives better and to take this message back into their men’s fellowships,” said Tassie.
“With politics, they believed this and church were exclusive; they could be involved in church or politics, but not both.
“After we spoke they could see politics and church can co-exist, as long as both are based on God’s righteousness. They have promised to vote in the next elections based on Christian values rather than payment from politicians.”
Please pray for:
- Leaders of men’s fellowships in Panyam churches, that they will lead with God’s guidance, putting their group members before themselves
- Men’s Fellowship members in the 19 churches, that they will be committed to attending their meetings and grow in fellowship with God
- The Men’s Fellowships will be strong witnesses in their communities showing lives worth living when they are committed to God.
31 October 2022Love overcomes resentment and anger
Church members continue to recommit themselves to Christ in every church Grace & Light visits to share the gospel during Sunday services.
Many say that until our volunteer teams visit, they don’t know why they have been coming to church. They go out of habit, to please family members or show they are good Christians in their communities.
“One of our unreached groups are people who are in church but don’t know God. When they hear our message they rededicate their lives,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “People also ask us to come home with them and speak with their spouses. Two people stand out for Tassie in recent months.
A woman asked volunteers to speak with her husband. He had left the family home and was living with another woman, partly because his wife was quarrelsome and nagged him.
After hearing Grace & Light’s message her attitude changed. When she sees him in the street she is now friendly and greets him. His attitude has also changed. He now visits to see his children and is providing financially so they can afford to eat better.
Another wife was not speaking with her husband and he was angry. After hearing in our message that love is a characteristic of God, she asked the volunteers to come home and speak with them. During the visit the couple repented of their behaviours, cried together and promised to let go of the resentments they were each holding onto.
At another church a husband took our volunteers back home to speak with his wife and they are now also reconciled.
“All these relationships were resolved because a wife or husband heard our message of love and grace,” said Tassie.
Five volunteer teams have been active between July and September. Between them the Jos, Yola, Gombe, Lafia and Mangu teams visited 22 local churches. We are delighted the Lafia and Mangu teams continue to be active in their areas.
In total these teams shared the gospel of social righteousness with 5,651 people and tested 716 for HIV/ AIDS. Of these, three people tested positive and are receiving ongoing support and care.
Out of those who tested 664 people (93%) chose to join voluntary saving and sharing accountabiity groups (VSAGs) in their churches, 690 people rededicated their lives to Christ and another 103 made first commitments. Just 52 people chose to keep their results confidential.
Please pray for:
- People who make a first commitment or rededicate themselves to Christ, that they will remain faithful, seeking his face and doing his will
- More and more church leaders to invite our volunteer teams into their Sunday services to share the gospel of social righteousness, counsel, test for HIV/ AIDS and set up voluntary savings accountability groups
- Volunteer teams to visit at least one local congregation each Sunday
- Deep love within marriages and for couples who are reconciling and forgiving each other.
31 October 2022Financial support to continue learning
Over the summer holidays secondary school students have been dropping into Grace & Light’s offices to share their stories.
They came from different local towns and schools where the Jos volunteers have previously visited. Many were afraid they would have to drop out at the start of the new school year because their families were no longer able to pay the school fees.
“We are delighted to help pay their school fees from our student deprivation fund and grateful to our supporters who keep this fund topped up,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.
During July the Jos volunteer visited two government secondary school. Here they shared the gospel of social righteousness with 220 students. Of these, 156 chose to be tested for HIV/ AIDS, no students tested positive.
One hundred and twenty-six students rededicated their lives to Christ, and another 27 made a first Christian commitment (70% of the total).
Please pray for:
- Students and their families who are suffering financially during the current economic tightening
- Students who made a first commitment or recommit their lives, that they will grow in maturity and relationship with Jesus Christ
- More donations to our student deprivation fund so it remains topped up and we can help students whenever they ask for support.