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11 June 2021Chichester Harbour fundraising successful

Thanks to the 22 people who joined our fundraising walk on the south coast to raise funds for volunteer training in Nigeria; and for everyone who supported them financially.

Between us we raised over £2,500 for the three day refresher training programme planned for volunteers in the second half of 2021.

We started our walk at the top of Chichester Harbour beside a tranquil mill pond complete with swan sitting on its nest. The early part of our walk was through open common land before we reached the water’s edge.

The tide was out so we had views of mud flats and yachts in the distance as we walked along a well-worn path and through wooded glades to the shipyard at Dell Quay.

Here we walked down onto the shingle beach before climbing back onto the path and alternating between woods, open fields, houses and the many boats in Chichester Marina.

Then through a more workmanlike shipyard and along the coast to Itchenor where we stopped for lunch in a pub garden.

After lunch we caught the ferry – it held just 12 people and took three trips to get us all to the other side as we weren’t the only ones queuing.

Then along Bosham channel to Bosham village before turning right through farmers’ fields and back to the other side of Fishbourne channel. The last part of our walk took us through reed beds at the head of the channel and back into Fishbourne village.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Refresher volunteer training planned for the second half of 2021; violence won’t prevent people attending

11 June 2021Smaller AGM due to unrest and Covid

Grace & Light members have recommitted to supporting our work in Nigeria

Covid has had a significant impact on our work in Nigeria over the last 18 months including on our annual general meeting at the end of May.

Fifty people had registered for the meeting in Jos, but Covid restrictions along with local insurgency meant just 24 people could be accommodated in a much scaled down review of the past 12 months.

“Many of our members were not able to travel, not only because of Covid but also due to escalating violence including in the area around our headquarters,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

“There was a time in mid-May when we worked from home because of attacks on the local community around our offices. Things had quietened down by our AGM but can easily flare up again.

“Smaller numbers of people meant we could have conversations with each person and strengthen friendships, as well as fruitful discussions about how to grow our organisation.”

Members made lots of suggestions for inviting people to become Grace & Light members, encouraging members to commit to monthly financial support and volunteering their time.

“They were impressed by the fundraising walk taking place in the UK on the same day, by the attitude of giving back to society the walkers had,” said Tassie. “They also committed to organising fundraising activities in their communities.”

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Ending of clashes between Fulani herders and home owners living around our Jos headquarters
  • Grace & Light members fundraising activities will both publicise our work and raise funds for our activities in Nigeria
  • New members in Nigeria who commit to actively supporting our work.

11 June 2021Nasarawa churches open their doors to G&L

Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ opens its doors in Nasarawa to Grace & Light volunteer teams.

More than 500 pastors attending the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ’s annual national conference in Nasarawa State listened to our messages about social righteousness and sexual and gender-based violence.

“We had asked for an advocacy visit to speak with leaders of their regional church council. Instead we had the generous invitation to speak for 90 minutes at the national conference and reach a far wider audience,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

Tassie talked in detail about the role of church pastors in role modelling Christ-centred behaviours and encouraging their congregations to live righteously according to scriptural values.

They were challenged to talk about sexual and gender-based violence issues with their congregations and to invite Grace & Light volunteer teams to minister during Sunday services.

“The pastors were open and very interested in our message, they asked lots of questions and agreed to open their churches to our volunteer teams. They also donated 100,000N (£200) to our work on the day.”

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • ERCC regional leaders and pastors in Nasarawa State as they speak about social righteousness with their congregations and encourage people to change their behaviours in families and at work
  • Grace & Light teams visiting ERCC churches to share the gospel, counsel and test for HIV/ AIDS; the first was on 6 June.

11 June 2021Villagers embrace the challenge to change behaviours

Local people overwhelmed the sexual and gender-based violence workshop Grace & Light held in their Plateau State village at the end of April.

The five day workshop was planned for different audiences each day with a maximum of 30 people per day and were fully booked in advance.

However, the men who attended the second day went home and told their wives they should attend also. The next day we increased places by 50 per cent and still turned wives away.

“There is such a need for this teaching in local communities,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “We wish we had been able to accommodate all the women who wanted to join us, at least their husbands heard our message.”

The first day was dedicated to community leaders who were reminded of their responsibilities for encouraging and role modelling virtuous behaviours as well as identifying the root causes of immorality in their communities and helping  people to resolve issues.

Second day was dedicated to the men of the village. They talked through the gender boxes society puts them into, pushing them to behave in non-scriptural ways, their responsibilities in caring for their wives and families and how they can change their behaviours to those honouring God.

On the third day wives explored different women in scripture who suffered abuse, how God intervened to bring reconciliation and what this means for their own lives, the responsibilities they have and their relationships with God.

Fourth day was for youth of the village. They heard how much God loves them, that they are made in his image and precious to him. They were challenged to discuss and agree what this means for how they treat each other and show respect.

Final day was for primary school children. They now understand what can happen to them, what they should do to prevent being abused, how to run away, ask for help and get counselling if they are already being abused.

This workshop was hosted by the charity Eden Creation Care and was funded by a German grant making trust.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • People who attended the workshops – leaders, men, women, youths, children – that they have the confidence and courage to maintain their commitments to change their lives
  • That their new behaviours will encourage others in the village to also change their lives
  • More openness in the village to surface and resolve sexual and physical abuse.

11 June 2021Teenage girls learn to resist sexual predators

Thousands of teenage girls have better understanding of how to deal with sexual predators following talks at Girls Brigade camps over Easter.

Grace & Light’s Jos volunteer team spoke at three different Girls Brigade camps, each with 1,000 girls, giving an interactive presentation followed by counselling for anyone who was being sexually abused.

“We talked about how to recognise sexual and gender-based violence and the tricks men use to take advantage of girls when they are vulnerable,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

“We also shared lots of ideas about how to conduct their lives so men see them as strong and confident, rather than as easy targets who can be manipulated.”

Many girls came forward for counselling at each of the three camps, sharing their experiences of incest with uncles, brothers, neighbours and family friends.

Many also repented of their own behaviours that encouraged the men such as going out with older men for the gifts they would receive.

Others felt trapped. One girl, who was having sex with her uncle, didn’t know how to stop this without upsetting her mother. The mother was aware of what was happening but didn’t want the uncle to be reported to the police, or stigma damaging the family name.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Nigerian girls vulnerable to sexual predators who are often close to their families
  • Parents to protect their daughters and sons from sexual and physical abuse
  • More opportunities for Grace & Light volunteer teams to share how to resist abuse with vulnerable teens.

11 June 2021COCIN congregations confront sex and gender-based violence issues

COCIN churches in Plateau State are opening their doors to Grace & Light’s sexual and gender-based violence workshop that challenges congregations to live God-centred lives.

Ninety-six people attended the first of these workshops in Zagun, a town in Bassa local government area, between 19-21 March.

The first day participants explored issues of sexual and gender-based violence in their communities, the second day they looked at work and corruption issues and the third day was focused on how to put their new understanding and commitments into practice.

This is the first of many sexual and gender-based violence workshops planned for COCIN churches following our seminar for COCIN leaders in Plateau State churches that we held back in February.

“People were open to changing their lifestyles. We were pleased to hear them saying they were willing to take responsibility for how they behave at work, to stop being lazy and work hard,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

One example is a father who said he was sorry for all that was happening in his family with his seven children. He recognised that he was not taking good care of them, not holding them to account for their behaviours and where they were going. He vowed to be more responsible for them.

We are currently fundraising so we can deliver all of the workshop requests we receive and also set up gender champions in the churches. Please support this work if you are able.

You can give a donation at https://www.graceandlight.org/feedback.asp Please mark your gift ‘COCIN SGBV workshops’

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • People who attended the Zagun workshop to remain committed to the promises they made themselves and God during the workshop
  • Funding to run all workshops COCIN churches have requested, and to support gender champions in each of the churches
  • Safety for the Jos volunteer team as they travel to churches to deliver this workshop.

11 June 2021First school visit in six months

A glimmer of hope as the first school opens its doors to social righteousness ministry for students.

School visits have been rare since Covid struck Nigeria in early 2020. Last year our Jos, Yola and Jalingo volunteer teams visited just eight schools with six of the visits between January and March. Then two visits in November and nothing again until March this year.

In March the Jos team visited Exalted Kiddies Academy near our offices, sharing the gospel with 165 students and testing 62 for HIV/ AIDS. None was positive. Thirty of the students rededicated their lives to Christ and two made first commitments.

“As well as talking about social righteousness we covered sexual and gender-based violence issues and how to deal with them,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “We encouraged the students to work hard for their exams and avoid cults, drugs and gambling.

“During counselling many revealed they were sexually active, said they were sorry and want to change their lives.”

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Students who want to change their lives remain committed to behaving in ways that honour God
  • More schools to open their doors to Grace & Light volunteer teams.

11 June 2021Learning to live lives that honour God

Across Nigeria whole families are in church each Sunday for cultural reasons, it is expected of them. They worship joyfully, listen to sermons about how God loves them, then return to lives that do not reflect what they have sung and heard.

“During our Sunday visits we hear again and again people saying they do not know why they are in church, especially young people,” said Grace & Light international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “They are Christian in name only, they have no idea about how to live lives that honour God, or even that they are supposed to.”

In many churches leaders do not speak about how to deal with challenges such as drunkenness, infidelity, polygamy, sexual and gender-based violence, greed, corruption, cheating, et cetera. Grace & Light brings a different message.

“When we visit churches we highlight these issues. Many people are shocked to hear our message. They are convicted; we hear so many confessions and desires to change their lives when they come for counselling.

“There are often a small number of angry people who don’t want to face the corruption in their lives and who do not want to change. We support them also.”

One example is a husband who hid extramarital sex from his wife and hadn’t realised he was HIV positive until they both tested during a Sunday service.

Though the wife was deeply hurt and wanted to leave him, they both agreed to have counselling at our Jos office. In this particular church the pastors were not skilled counsellors and the husband would have been disciplined for his sin rather than helped to change his life.

Five volunteer teams have been active during March, April and May. Between them the Jos, Yola, Gombe, Jalingo and Biu teams visited 24 local churches. We are delighted the teams in Gombe and Biu have been able to restart church visits after quite a few months of inactivity due to the insurgency.

In total these five teams shared the gospel of social righteousness with 7,487 people and tested 1,006 for HIV/ AIDS. Three people tested positive and are receiving ongoing support and care.

Of those who tested 946 people (94%) chose to join life sharing accountancy groups in their churches. In total 899 people rededicated their lives to Christ and another 11 made first commitments. Just 60 people chose to keep their results confidential.

Workplaces and prisons

The Jos and Yola teams also visit workplaces and prisons as well as testing people who visit our offices. During March to May they shared the gospel with 2,060 people at these places and tested 220 of whom one tested positive.

During these visits 137 people gave their lives to Christ and 15 made a first commitment.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Leaders of life sharing accountability groups as they host weekly meetings and encourage their group members to live Godly lifestyles
  • Members of these life sharing groups that they will remain committed to attending weekly sessions and encouraging other members of their groups
  • The four people who tested positive, that they will receive the support they need to live healthy God-centred lives
  • Volunteer teams struggling to visit churches: Gombe, Lafia, Biu, Damaturu, Potiskum, Bauchi, Mangu, Michika, Hong.

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