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25 April 2024Volunteer Teams Strengthened

Zing has a new volunteer team following training in January. Teams have also been strengthened in Hong, Yola, Jalingo, Gembu and Jos.

All the new volunteers have been active with the teams since training, visiting churches during Sunday services and counselling then testing people for HIV/AIDS as well as setting up voluntary savings and accountability groups.

In total 32 people joined our five day training programme in Jalingo between 24-28 January. During the training, they explored in depth the scriptural basis for social righteousness, which underpins all we do.

This includes our response to HIV/AIDS, medical and societal aspects of the disease, counselling, care and support, team work and relationships, how to contact churches, preaching, establishing voluntary savings and accountability groups and action committees that administer Grace & Light activities in each church.

They also learnt how to share Grace & Light’s four key social righteousness focuses – poverty and wealth, work and corruption, sexual and gender-based violence, and the politics of righteousness.

Participants were able to put what they learnt into practice on the final day during vision sharing, counselling and testing in Jalingo churches.

“All are regular church goers, with six giving their lives to Christ during the training. As well as learning new ministry skills they said the course was a time of personal revival for themselves,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

Alongside this training, Tassie and the headquarters team – Pofi Josiah and Alfred Mshelizah – along with Gisum James from the Yola office, led our first training for facilitators and speakers.

Eight people, already active members of volunteer teams, learnt skills for speaking in public in churches and schools, as well as facilitating advocacy visits to leaders of regional church councils. More competent and confident speakers gives Grace & Light more opportunities to speak with the congregations and leaders who invite us in.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • 32 new volunteers joining Zing, Gembu, Jalingo, Hong, Yola and Jos teams, that they will be committed and participate in church visits each month
  • Confidence for the eight facilitators/ speakers as they meet church leaders and speak during services.

25 April 2024More Churches Become Partners

Two more church councils have invited Grace & Light to begin partnerships with their congregations.

During March volunteer teams were invited to visit the offices and meet the leadership teams for COCIN RCC Kabong in Jos North and Christian Association of Nigeria, Adamawa State in Yola.

The teams were able to share our message of social righteousness and how we work with local churches, including focuses on work and corruption, wealth and poverty, sexual and gender-based violence, politics and HIV/AIDS counselling and testing.

Since then our Jos and Yola office teams have been invited to speak to local pastors for both church groups at meetings organised for this purpose.

“Support from these executives has resulted in many of their churches inviting us in to share during Sunday services,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Continued support from executives of COCIN RCC Kabong and the Christian Association of Nigeria in Yola for Grace & Light volunteer teams
  • Supportive pastors from these churches to invite our volunteer teams in to lead Sunday services, counsel and test for HIV/AIDS and set up voluntary savings and accountability groups.

25 April 2024People Are Changing Their Lives

Church congregations continue to embrace voluntary savings and accountability groups that help them live lives honouring God.

Seventeen voluntary savings and accountability groups (VSAG) were established in seven churches during the first three months of 2024; they continue to flourish with committed members who meet together each week.

“This means people are changing their lives,” says international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “They are sharing their working, personal and sexual lives with each other, and holding each other accountable for what they say and do.

“They are also saving money to make their lives better. They are no longer in debt, instead their lives are more comfortable and less stressful.”

VSAGs are the new way of doing life sharing accountability for Grace & Light members who choose to share their HIV results after testing in local churches.

Each group has 25 to 30 members, all of the same sex and similar life situation, who meet each week to encourage each other in their Christian lives. The final quarter hour of each meeting is given to their savings club.

They are able to buy up to five shares; all the shares have the same value that is agreed by the group, so they have financial equality. Group members can then borrow up to three times the value of their shares and pay interest to the group.

Interest is paid back within three months or it doubles – so others can borrow. After 12 months members receive the value of their shares plus interest earned. Then their savings club starts again from scratch.

Each savings club is run by three members who act as the treasurers. When the group meets they record deposits and borrowing in a ledger and individual passbooks then put the money in the group safe, usually in their church, or in a local bank account.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • VSAG members continue to share their burdens and pray for each other
  • Wise use of the money members of each group invest
  • Group treasurers will be faithful and honest in recording monies.

25 April 2024Support Strengthens Volunteer Teams

Grace & Light’s 23 volunteer teams are increasingly feeling valued and cared for as they minister in local churches.

This is as a result of our renewed focus on meeting with each of them at least once a year to check how they are doing.

Monitoring officer Alfred Mshelizah spends a couple of hours with each group talking through their objectives, what they are doing well, areas where they could improve, answering their questions and sharing best practices from other groups.

“The teams are always excited we are in touch with them and that we are interested in what they are doing,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “They can raise issues they are facing and hear about new ways of working.

“They feel valued and cared for and have renewed commitment to regularly visit local congregations and share our message of social righteousness.”

Alfred also aims to visit each voluntary savings and accountability group (VSAG) at least one each year to ensure they are following best practices in managing their finances and also supporting each other. He spends a couple of hours with each group during one of their meetings, observing what they are doing.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Wisdom and good health for Alfred Mshelizah as he meets with and supports volunteer teams and VSAG groups.
  • Volunteer teams feel supported and encouraged and continue to organise visits to Sunday services each month.

25 April 2024Social Righteousness Resonates with Church Leaders

Pastors and their wives, other church leaders, couples and Sunday School teachers are embracing social righteousness during conferences and workshops.

Our international coordinator Tassie Ghata spoke at five events in the first quarter of 2024, sharing our message of social righteousness with 3,414 people. At each event all speakers were from Grace & Light:

  • ERCC Sunday School Teachers Conference, 3-6 January
  • COCIN RCC Kerang Women’s Fellowship Conference, 17 January
  • Pankshin Ministers’ Forum, 1 February
  • Couples Day Out, COCIN LCC Rahwol Kak, 21 February
  • COCIN Mangun RCC Pasters & Wives Workshop, 21 March.

“Many people in churches don’t understand why they are Christians; we are able to open their eyes to understand what God wants of them and how they can make a difference in the communities they live and work in,” said Tassie.

“They share that they believed the wrong things they were involved in didn’t matter because everyone was doing it. They were confusing cultural practices with scriptural standards.

“For example, they believed women are the property of their husbands, who have the final say in decisions. Now they see marriage as a ministry in which they work in together and with God, each giving 100 per cent of themselves.

“Wives and husbands responded gladly, saying this message was timely and that we should be sharing it more widely. We helped them see that they can also be ambassadors by the way they treat each other and their children as well as by sharing the message with other couples they know.”

Would you like Grace & Light to speak at your event or during a Sunday service? Please email tassie.ghata@graceandlight.org if you are in Nigeria and edg@blueyonder.co.uk if you are in the UK or Europe.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Wives and husbands to share openly with each other, support each other and role model Christian marriage
  • More Grace & Light speakers trained so we can speak at all events we are invited to.

25 April 2024Influx of Members Shows Credibility

New members joining Grace & Light highlights we are gaining credibility as a Nigerian charity people want to identify with.

Eight new members were welcomed into Grace & Light during this year’s annual general meeting, the greatest number of new members to join at any one time.

“We are growing in credibility as an organisation and people want to identify with us and support us,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

Sixty members and friends attended the AGM on 23 March at our Jos headquarters. They heard an update on activities since the previous April as well as a look ahead to the next 12 months. They also reviewed our finances, looking at income and where it was spent.

“Our members have a heart for Grace & Light and are supportive, we reciprocate by being open and transparent with our finances and operations,” said Tassie.

Nigerian NGOs and charities are required to hold an AGM each year for their members.

If you would like to find out about becoming a member in Nigeria, please contact Tassie at tassie.ghata@graceandlight.org

 

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • New members will continue to support our activities in Nigeria through prayer and financial giving
  • Our activities make a difference in churches, schools and prisons during 2024

25 April 2024Bookfair Transforms Lives and Funds Ministry

Our March book fair at TCNN was again successful with hundreds of enthusiastic people eager to buy.

Book fairs at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN) each spring are always popular with students, lecturers and local people who come from across Jos to peruse the thousands of books Grace & Light has for sale.

These bookfairs are a ministry for our headquarters team and part of reaching people for the gospel. We provide affordable Christian books for local people who would otherwise not be able to buy them.

“These are often books they can’t find in the TCNN library or book stores. So many people tell us they are excited to find books they have been looking for a long time” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

During the one day book fair at TCNN we sold 1,916 books, raising N1.2m (£1,000) which is being used to fund maintenance of our minibuses, petrol for church and school visits by our volunteer teams, and the building works.

Our next book sale will be during the General Ministry Bookfair in Jos.

We are also able to run book fairs in schools and churches on request. We are grateful to BookAid which provides  container loads of books from the United Kingdom.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • People to read the books they buy and be transformed in their relationships with God
  • Effective publicity for the General Ministry Bookfair book fair so many people come, buy books and speak with Grace & Light counsellors.

25 April 2024Training Centre 70% Finished

Construction of our headquarters training centre is now at the fitting out stage.

This substantial building is now watertight, with roof, windows and external doors all installed. Internal floors are tiled and the walls and ceilings are plastered.

Next tasks are to fit internal doors, bathrooms and the kitchen as well as the septic tanks and external landscaping. Then we will have the final fitout including furniture, curtains, linen for the bedrooms and bathrooms and crockery for meals.

“We have finished 70 per cent of our training centre now, just 30 per cent to go,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata. “We hope to be using the building by December.

“It will make a big difference to our finances as we will no longer need to hire external venues for training and conferences, plus we will earn income by renting the facilities when we are not using them.

“Security is no longer the issue it was when we first bought this land. We are surrounded by houses and no longer on the outskirts of Jos and vulnerable to attack. Now this is a mainly Christian area and Fulani no longer graze their cattle nearby.”

Construction of this particular building commenced in 2020, with the upper floor and first fix electrics completed in August last year.

All construction work is carried out by local skilled workers and labourers, with each stage being built as we have funds – first the foundations, then ground floor, next first floor followed by the roof, then external windows and doors.

Sponsor a Bedroom

When finished the training centre will sleep 54 people in twin bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom.

Would you like to sponsor a bedroom in our training centre and have the room named after yourself or a loved one? You will fund the £4,400 per room fitout cost including bathroom, flooring, beds, mattresses, pillows, linen, towels and curtains.

You are welcome to sponsor as an individual, family, church congregation, or business.

To sponsor a bedroom please email tassie.ghata@graceandlight.org if you are in Nigeria and edg@blueyonder.co.uk if you are in the UK or Europe.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Success for our charity partners fundraising for the remaining costs of our training centre
  • Funds to complete the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen by the end of this year
  • God’s blessing and favour on this building as we use it for his glory in Jos.

25 April 2024Stigmatisation Still an Issue

Stigma attached to HIV status is still an issue in Nigerian churches in both rural and urban areas.

In one particular church the Jos volunteer team visited in recent months seven people had been hiding their status from family and friends because they were afraid of being judged and rejected.

Following Grace & Light’s message that HIV/AIDS is not a punishment from God though a consequence of turning away from Him, they recommitted their lives and found love and support within their congregation.

“We shared that following Christ is not just being born again, it is becoming a new person, dropping old mindsets and behaviours, serving God and each other better,” explained international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

“The congregation understood this included all of them, not just the seven. They shared no longer lying gave them peace. The church leaders have raised an action committee who are taking care of the seven who are already on medication.”

Eight volunteer teams were active during January to March, visiting 26 churches in total, sharing the gospel of righteousness with 7,594 people and testing 752 for HIV/AIDS. Of those who tested, seven were positive.

The majority (96.5%) chose to be open about their status and join life sharing or voluntary savings and accountability groups. Significant numbers rededicated their lives to Christ (1,369 people) or made a first commitment (64 people).

The active teams during January to March were Abuja, Hong, Jalingo, Jos, Lafia, Obudu, Yola and Zing.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Seven people who have opened up about their HIV status, that they will continue to be accepted and supported by family, friends and their congregation
  • Action committees that support life sharing groups and voluntary savings and accountability groups in churches
  • More churches to open their doors to ministry by Grace & Light volunteer teams during Sunday services.

25 April 2024Schools Reopen Following Violence in Mangu

The Jos volunteer team is now able to visit schools recently reopened following violence in the Mangu area.

They are sharing the gospel of love and also providing trauma healing counselling for the many students who have lost their parents and are now living in internally displaced people camps.

Since Christmas more than 100 people have lost their lives in clashes between the local Christian and Fulani communities. Many communities are mixed and prone to inter-communal tensions that often boil over into religious and ethnic violence.

“Many gave us feedback saying thank you for visiting as they had had no counselling or support until we visited,” said international coordinator Tassie Ghata.

“We gave them a safe space to release their emotions, including anger and bitterness. They said they felt free and happy to let go of negativity.”

During January to March the Jos and Jalingo teams visited five secondary schools, sharing the gospel of social righteousness with 1,396 students and testing 331 for HIV/AIDS. No students were positive.

In total, 182 students rededicated their lives to God and another 66 made first commitments to him.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

  • Children and families living in internally displaced people camps, that they will be able to rebuild permanent homes that give safety and security from violence
  • Understanding school teachers who are able to meet students’ emotional and academic needs
  • Schools in Adamawa State will reopen their doors to ministry from the Yola volunteer team.

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