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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.

30 March 2021Volunteer teams strengthened

Jos, Jalingo and Gombe now have full strength teams equipped for vision sharing, counselling and testing following new volunteer training.

In total, 24 people participated in the five-day training in early February in Jos that was designed to strengthen existing teams and also equip the members of the new Bogoro team.

Participants 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 in churches.

At the end of the programme participants were invited to commit to volunteering with Grace & Light for two years; all did. On the Sunday they experienced their first church visit, as they joined Jos team for outreach in a couple of local churches.

“At the beginning some of the volunteers were motivated by the allowances they hoped to receive,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

“By the end they had rededicated their lives to Christ and were inspired to serve their local churches. In their feedback they said they had got something much bigger – stronger relationships with Christ, ministry skills and confidence to serve.”

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • New volunteers will continue to grow in their relationships with God and commitment to serving him as Grace & Light volunteers
  • Churches continue to open their doors to Grace & Light teams, receive our message of social righteousness and change their lives to honour God.

30 March 2021Fruitful Day in Bauchi

Churches in Bauchi open their doors to Grace & Light volunteers.

Mid-January Pofi Josiah and Alfred Mshelizah spent a day in Bauchi State 150 kilometres from Jos. In the morning they met 15 potential volunteers attending churches in COCIN Bogoro regional church council area.

This was a time for the participants to hear more about Grace & Light as well as the roles and responsibilities of volunteers. Five people have now formed a new Bogoro team. We are delighted to welcome then into Grace & Light.

Then in the afternoon Pofi and Alfred met leaders of COCIN Tafawa Balewa regional church council to restart their relationship with Grace & Light.

“We explained what Grace & Light is all about, and reminded them they’d had a volunteer team but it has been quiet four years now,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

“These leaders were supportive and promised to gather local pastors and wives for a workshop.”

This happened on 11 February when 137 people came together for a full day workshop on social righteousness from the biblical perspective.

The pastors and their wives split into four groups and each group explored one of the topics – corruption, wealth and poverty, the gospel and HIV, and sexual and gender-based violence.

“They recognised that in the gospels Jesus and openness defeat these issues. Before the workshop many of the leaders did not know much about HIV and issues of stigma and discrimination,” said Tassie.

“Now they are inviting our Jos and Bogoro teams into their Sunday services to share these issues with their congregations and test for HIV/ AIDS.”

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • New volunteer team in Bogoro as they organise Sunday visits to local churches to share the gospel of social righteousness and test people for HIV/ AIDS
  • Congregations in Tafawa Balewa will be open to the gospel message and call to live lives that honour God at work, in their homes, with their money and relationships with others.

30 March 2021COCIN Vwang churches tackle sexual and gender-based violence

Churches in the COCIN Vwang regional church council area are inviting the Jos volunteer team to deliver our sexual and gender-based violence workshop for their congregations.

This follows a half day seminar for church leaders on 13 February at which international coordinator Tassie Ghata introduced Grace & Light and gave a taster of our full day sexual and gender-based violence workshop.

One hundred and seventy people attended, representing all the congregations in Cocin Vwang.

As a result Grace & Light is being invited to deliver the workshop in numerous churches. We are now fundraising so we are able to both deliver the workshop and establish the gender champions programme in these churches.

Vwang is south of Jos in Plateau State, and not an area where Grace & Light has been active until now.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Jos volunteers as they deliver the training in churches
  • Jos headquarters team as they manage the gender champions programme in multiple churches
  • Church leaders as they encourage their congregations to attend the training and volunteer to become gender champions
  • Gender champions as they mentor victims of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as the perpetrators.

30 March 2021Honouring God at work and home

Christians in a rural community commit to living lives that honour God at work and in their homes.

Two hundred and fifty people joined our three day workshop in mid-January at Cocin Chemet, a church in a rural area outside Jos. We looked at what social righteousness means in practice for them.

The community has a number of issues including multiple rape cases. Many of the young people are unemployed even though the village has a lot of agricultural land that is not being used.

“In talking about work and corruption we compared them to the Muslim village nearby where people work hard at farming and explained that what God gives them they need to use,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

“We said nobody should be lying down thinking they are poor, waiting for others to fix their problems. Instead we encouraged them to support each other, share what they have and not suffer alone. We will follow up to see how they do.”

The volunteers also shared that women and men are created equal and both are made in God’s image. They honour God when they treat each other with respect, support each other and work together better.

This includes men being willing to help in the home and women being willing to let them help.

“People had been keeping quiet when they see things that are wrong. Instead we challenged them to speak out and do something about the rapes and other gender-based violence.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Young people will be inspired to work hard and support themselves
  • Healing for people who have been raped, and for the perpetrators who live in the same community
  • Strong, supportive loving relationships between wives and husbands
  • Wisdom for parents as they bring up children to know and fear the Lord
  • Funding so we can deliver this three-day workshop covering work and corruption, wealth and poverty and sexual and gender-based violence in more Nigerian churches.

30 March 2021Tough message changes hearts

Church congregations continue to accept Grace & Light’s tough social righteousness message and commit to changing their lives.

“Nigeria is in turmoil at the moment. Our volunteers are helping congregations see that they are part of the problem and need to be part of the solution,” explains international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “They are recognising that Christians need to take responsibility rather than blaming others, especially state and federal leaders.

In church after church, when Grace & Light volunteers speak about changing to lives lived according to gospel values, people are transformed. They begin to talk about how they are going to change their lives. This is particularly encouraging for our volunteers as people are taking our message to heart.

“They say they will arrive on time at work and leave on time. They’ll no longer cheat in business, They will be calling corruption ‘corruption’ rather than ‘business’” adds Tassie.

Jos volunteers held a rededication service at a church near the University of Jos for Valentine’s Day. Using I Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 5 they called on men to show practical love to their wives and girlfriends, parents to show love without spoiling their children.

“It is a church full of students and many did not know sex and love are different. Parents thought spoiling their children was showing love. Now they have a clearer understanding of how to love the way Christ loves them,” said Tassie.

Three volunteer teams have been active in the first two months of 2021. Jos, Yola, and Jalingo team between them visited nine local churches in January and February.

In total they shared the gospel of social righteousness with 1,936 people and tested 440 for HIV/ AIDS. No one tested positive.

Of these 413 people chose to join life sharing accountancy groups in their churches, 379 people rededicated their lives to Christ and another 52 made first commitments.

 

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • life sharing groups: members remain committed to meeting regularly, trust each other to share openly, listen to each other and show understanding and support, hold each other accountable for behaviours and growing relationship with God
  • New converts and those who rededicated their lives: they will live out their commitment to behaving in ways that honour God at work, at home with family and with friends
  • Volunteer teams struggling to visit churches: Gombe, Lafia, Biu, Damaturu, Potiskum, Bauchi, Mangu, Michika, Hong.

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