London trustee Peter King welcomed more than 20 UK supporters to his home for our annual update with founder Mark Hopkins during Mark and Isabelle's visit to Europe.
UK trustees Fola Ogunyide, Jo Ann Sweeney, Ed Greening and Peter had time to chat with supporters over afternoon tea with delicious cakes baked by the King and Hopkins families.
“Many of our faithful supporters we see just once a year at this event,” said UK chair Ed Greening. “It is good to have a chance to hear what is happening in their lives and to thank them for their support.”
Mark began his update on Grace & Light’s work in Africa by giving some background on how the gospel and culture relate, taking the silence around femal genital mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria as an example. Then he spoke about successes in our work since his last visit to the UK.
“Our human instinct, no matter where we are in the world, is for self-preservation, avoiding risks and self-gratification; giving ourselves all we need for a smooth life.
“Jesus upsets this whole scheme. He didn’t come to look after himself but to lay down his life. The gospel is counter-intuitive, it’s about losing life for a purpose.
“In Grace & Light we apply this ethos to the whole of our lives and our work through social righteousness. Anything connected with life in the public domain – work, politics, finances, church – is where we can model gospel-centred living.
“FGM is not talked about in Nigeria but it happens. Studies at a teaching hospital in Jos show that 31 per cent of new mothers have been the victims of FGM, just in Jos.
“Even more shocking for me, 15 per cent said they would perform FGM on their daughters. The data was checked and there was no correlation to religion. The correlation was to tribe; our local tribes don’t practice FGM but we have tribes from all over the country here in Jos and others do.
“Nothing is being said against FGM in the churches at the moment. Grace & Light will begin speaking out against FGM during our vision sharing. We believe it is part of our role to tackle FGM.
“Let me share the testimony of Hannah Silas, a 20 year old who has just finished secondary school. Our Jos team visited her church two years ago and I counselled her before testing.
“She came to faith in Christ that day and has been witnessing and bringing converts into Bible study and prayer since. Already she has gathered 50 people into the Kingdom and is an encouragement for the Jos team.
“Our volunteer teams continue week by week to visit churches, share the gospel, counsel, test and pray with people. Our biggest challenge is that we are understaffed in our Jos headquarters and so Tassie Ghata, our international coordinator, is overworked. It would be better if she had more ministry help.
“Money is the main thing that holds us back. We would like to train more volunteers for existing and new teams and also recruit a ministry development officer and a life sharing groups coordinator. These will free Tassie to focus on establishing ministry in other African countries.
“But there is progress. We have been able to run volunteer refresher training for the first time, with over 40 people travelling to Jos for the three-day programme.
“Tassie was able to visit Zambia for the third time to support our staff member and volunteers there. We have a team of ten people who have been faithful for the six years Grace & Light has been in Zambia. Together they made some progress on tackling the problems the team is facing there.
“Soon after I get back we are hoping to visit Ebonyi State in the east of Nigeria to establish new volunteer teams. This will be our first work in Iboland, one of the main Christian areas in Nigeria.
“Finally, Tassie will be the UK late September to early October. If you would like her to visit your church please contact Ed Greening. As well as spending time with our supporters we would very much like her to meet new people so we can widen our support network.”
Contact Ed at email@example.com