Supporting persecuted Christians in Afghanistan through Open Doors
How many Christians are there in Afghanistan?
It’s very hard to know precisely how many Christians there are in Afghanistan, because they must keep their faith completely secret – but only a small number from a population of about 39 million.
How are Christians persecuted in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is number one on the Open Doors World Watch List for the first time – persecution has increased since the Taliban took control in August 2021. Even before this year, it was impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts face dire and violent consequences if their new faith is discovered. Either they have to flee the country or they will be killed. This was true before the Taliban takeover of the country: the situation has become even more dangerous for believers this year. The Taliban will make sure that Islamic rules and customs are implemented and kept. Christian converts do not have any option but to obey them.
If a Christian's new faith is discovered their family, clan or tribe has to save its ‘honour’ by disowning the believer, or even killing them. This is widely considered to be a just reaction. Alternatively, since leaving Islam is considered a sign of insanity, a Christian who has converted from Islam may be forcibly sectioned in a psychiatric hospital.
If a woman converts from Islam to Christianity, and her family do not, she is likely to face house arrest, sexual abuse and rape, violence, forced marriage to a Muslim or even an 'honour' killing. There is very little chance of legal justice for any woman, and women in Afghanistan have very little social or financial autonomy. Since the Taliban takeover in 2021 the position of women has become even more dangerous, and any progress that has been made in women's freedoms has been swiftly undone.
Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Afghanistan?
It was already almost impossible to be a Christian in Afghanistan – and somehow it has got even worse. Many Afghans fled the country after the Taliban took over and there was wide expectation that freedoms in the country would be swiftly curtailed. For Christians, though, there were basically no freedoms to lose: Afghanistan had been number two on the Open Doors World Watch List for several years, and Christian persecution remains extreme in all spheres of public and private life. The risk of discovery has now further increased since the Taliban now controls every aspect of government. This extends to owning documentation – including paperwork from international troops – that may help identify Christians.
How can I help?
Every £37 could provide emergency food, medicine and shelter for a month to a family of Christian refugees fleeing extreme persecution.
Any excess funds will be used to help strengthen persecuted Christians in other countries where there is urgent need.
The Trustees of JHMT are pleased to advise the Church Family, that for our Christmas Appeal, £4473.75 was raised for Off The Fence and £3573.75 was raised for the City Mission. We praise God for this. Thank you for your generous gifts.
As we look towards Christmas the James Hannington Memorial Trust highlight projects that we would like to invite the church family to support.
If you wanted to make a donation please contact the church office or see BH news for more details. This year we have 2 projects & they are:
Christmas Appeal Project 1 Off the Fence
Thank you for being prepared to support Off The Fence once more as your Christmas charity for 2021.
We would like to raise money for sorely needed all-weather sleeping bags for the rough sleepers who will re-appear increasingly as the winter takes hold.
The Council is eking out the funds it has received from Central Government to keep as many as possible in temporary accommodation, but this funding is likely to run out soon. We are allocating resources in order to be able to stockpile as many sleeping bags as we can. This will enable our Antifreeze team to identify individuals most in need. In some cases, this could be a life-saving intervention as 12-15 people still die on the streets of our City every winter from exposure and ill health. We expect there to be in the region of 300-400 rough sleepers in Brighton & Hove this Christmas. The average life expectancy for a rough sleeper is 47 for men and 49 for women.
We normally go for Vango Atlas heavyweight 350 sleeping bags which usually cost at least £17 each as we are offered them at a special end of season price.
We would like to try and buy at least 100.
Project 2 Brighton and Hove City Mission
Our Care Homes team at Brighton and Hove City Mission minister to residents in care homes across our city, many of which suffer from Dementia. Once a person moves into a care home, they tend to have much less access to church. This means that the residents are no longer able to participate in corporate sung worship; something we can all relate to because of the pandemic. The residents feel cut off from their Christian family, they don’t have someone to pray with, take communion with, and they miss out on hearing someone talk about God’s word. These are all things that remind us of who God is and who we are in Him; things that
bring us hope and strength. Our team is not only aware of those who already know Jesus, but also of those who do not yet know Him. It is a matter of urgency to give those residents the opportunity to know God. Our Care Homes team create services specifically for those who have been cut off from church and have varying degrees of Dementia. Our team has found that singing hymns brings peace and memories resurface for a moment. Our team visits as many homes as possible, often with volunteers from local churches. However, for those homes that the team are unable to get into or for individuals who are unable to come and
join the service in the communal lounge, our team produces DVDs. Many care homes face a barrier of getting this vital short presentation in front of the residents as they don’t have the equipment to make something so simple possible.
Bev, our Care Homes team leader shares why what our team does is so vital: One resident, we had not met before, had tears running down their face today. They said they rememberedgoing to Sunday school as a child and enjoyed it, but stopped going when they were older. They allowed me to pray for them. We thanked God that He never forgets us even if we forget Him and that the resident would be aware of His love today. This was possibly the first positive Christian experience they had since Sunday school. We have seen a growth in homes we are able to serve despite the pandemic.
We would like to raise money to provide 35 homes with a portable DVD player so residents can listen to the services in their own rooms and bluetooth speakers to aid live worship in the homes. This will cost around £6,000. We understand this is a substantial sum of money but we know what an amazing impact it will have on those care home residents in our city and how gratefully it will be received by the staff in those homes too
The Trustees of JHMT are pleased to advise the Church Family, that £3,512.50 (incl. Gift Aid) has been raised for the Harvest Appeal. We praise God for this. Thank you for your generous gifts.
Please click on link below for a thank you & update from Pete, Festive's director.
October is our BH World Mission Awareness Month
Sunday 3rd October
Our good friend Richard Brunton will be preaching at the 10.00 service and sharing something of what God is doing around the world.
Sunday 10th October
James Poole from Wycliffe Bible Translators will preach at 10 & 6.30
and after the 10am service we’ll have a short seminar, ending at 12.15.
Sunday 24th October
Tom Heaton a mission partner from SE Aisa will be preaching at 10
and after the service we'll grab coffee and he’ll say more about
the work in SE Asia back in the church building.
Sunday 31st October
Chris Wright from the Langham Partnership is preaching at 10 and 6.30
Before the evening service do come to the church centre for tea from 4.30, and then from 5-6 before the evening service he’ll broaden our horizons on world mission.
Seminars are open to everyone, no need to book, refreshments available.
All our prayer meetings in October will include a mission focus
& some of our Mission partners will join us too.
Wednesday 6th, 20th & 27th 7-7.30 p.m. on Zoom
Wednesday 13th -The main event 7.30-8.30 p.m. in church & on Zoom.
Let’s be praying
As we celebrate God's goodness to us this Harvest the JHMT are inviting the church family to support one of our Mission Partners .
Festive exists to equip and inspire gospel work in the often-overlooked area of Further Education and Sixth Form (16-18 year olds).
We support individual students and Christian unions around the country offering mentoring, encouragement, prayer and free resources.
Here are a couple of upcoming projects we would love your support with:
1. New version of Beyond beans on Toast (BBOT).
BBOT is an evangelistic ‘university survival manual’ that was first written 7 years ago by Claire Povey (a former BH congregant). Alongside student-friendly recipes and top tips, the book also features several testimonies of students who found Jesus during their time at university. The vision of the book has always primarily been for it to get into the hands of non-Christian students heading to university. Since its first publication, over 25k copies have been given away and UCCF now also include it as part of a fresher’s pack that they produce! We really want to see the impact of this book grow and for many more non-Christian students to hear its message. However, a lot changes in 7 years and it is now very out of date and in need of a full reworking with updated advice, stories and a re-design! Some of the funding from the harvest appeal will therefore go directly into the costs of us re-writing and producing this evangelistic book, resulting in thousands more non-Christian students receiving it in the years to come and reading stories of a God who changes lives!
2. Launching a new FE staff network
An exciting new area that we are exploring is how we can work more with Christians employed in the FE/Sixth form sector. Working with the Association of Christian Teachers, we are hoping to develop a new Christian FE staff network this term. Our aim is to firstly, help support Christian staff to live out and share their faith in what is often a very secular and difficult working environment. And secondly, we want to encourage and connect with Christian staff as we are increasingly recognising the important role they can play in supporting Christian Unions and Christian students in colleges. Staff can help CUs keep running in lean years and offer advice and support to CU leaders. They are often key allies when booking venues or when students are seeking to run mission activities. Funding from the harvest appeal will pay towards the costs around developing this project and help us to promote and connect with Christian staff around the country in colleges and sixth forms.
If the appeal for the project chosen exceeds the project cost then the JHMT will donate the remainder to the appeal beneficiary to use for another aspect of their ongoing ministry as appropriate.
If you would like to support the BH Harvest Appeal then please contact the BH church office for further details .
On Sunday 4th July there were baptisms celebrated at both BH (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYBL0JIl4-4)
and the church plant that The Webbs are involved in out in Spain.
They write" We were very excited to baptise M on Sunday 4 July, and then participate in her wedding with J on Tuesday 6 July! We teamed up with some other missionary friends who also had a woman who wanted to be baptised. It was a great day. Here is our little church group in Zalla."
The Trustees of the James Hannington Memorial Trust (JHMT) are pleased to advise that £19,876.50 has been raised from the Lent Appeal towards the 2 chosen projects~Ayla Mission Training School, Bolivia and New Growth Ministries, Zimbabwe.
We praise and thank God for the generosity of the Church Family. The Appeal is now closed.
As we look towards Easter the James Hannington Memorial Trust highlight projects we would like to invite the church family to support. This year, they are:
PROJECT 1: GRAHAM & DEBBIE FRITH, AYLA MISSION TRAINING SCHOOL, BOLIVIA.
‘AYLA’ means ‘Light of the Moon’ in Hebrew, and the name of this new venture was chosen because it represents that we do not shine with our own light, but we seek to reflect God’s light through our lives.
AYLA is a brand new project, the first missions training school of its kind in Bolivia, and is being established in partnership with the El Alfarero ministry in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. (www.alfarero.org)
El Alfarero is a partner ministry of Latin Link UK. AYLA will be a 6-month, intensive, residential, integrated missions training school, with a view to preparing Latino missionaries for the mission field.
Currently, 40% of unreached people groups are located in Asia, many in countries that are difficult to access for traditional western missionaries. But there is a huge growth in the missions movement from Africa and especially Latin America, with a view to sending missionaries to places that are still accessible to missionaries from those continents. However, whilst the missions movement in Latin America is growing, many missionaries are sent out unprepared, and return home broken and burnt out.
AYLA seeks to be a part of the growing missions movement, but with a view to preparing Latino missionaries in deeper and more integrated ways.
The Lent Appeal at BH will go towards equipping the AYLA accommodation area, particularly with a view to buying enough beds & bedding for the potential students (approx. £2747).
The accommodation construction has been recently finished and is an extension to the existing El Alfarero building in Santa Cruz.
PROJECT 2: NEW GROWTH MINISTRIES, ZIMBABWE
A message from Mark Mackenzie:
Thank you so much for partnering with us so amazingly over the years. God is now leading New Growth Ministries into a new and exciting period building on the incredible legacy of Rob and Hilary and I’d like to briefly share something of that with you.
A new board in Zimbabwe has been set up to oversee the ministry on the ground and Mark Mackenzie (Rob and Hilary’s son) is chairing that new board. Also on the board are 2 of the early orphans that NGM looked after. Ben, who is now an accountant and Nura who is a Neurosurgeon. Also on the new board is Willard who was in one of the first groups of pastors who graduated from the All Africa School of Theology that Rob and Hilary ran, and now runs a church of 200 people. It’s so exciting to see how God is using these young men, whose lives have been so impacted by NGM over the years, now taking on these leadership roles within the ministry.
The vision that God has given us for NGM going forward is threefold:
Stabilisation – of education, mentorship and nutrition of the boys, with regular visits from Nura and Willard who will be providing medical, emotional and spiritual help and support for the boys.
Revival – reviving some of the areas that generated local income like cattle, chickens and eggs. This way there is local money available as well as support from the UK.
New Growth – this is where the ministry of NGM grows into areas that God leads us into as he has done in the past.
We’ll be appointing an Operations Co-Ordinator, called Dave Martin. He’ll be unpaid, except travel expenses. He’ll be responsible for building a team of volunteers who will become involved in the day to day running and support of the ministry.
The specific areas that we are needing funds for at the moment are:
For more information please see our video by clicking on the link below
Thank you again for your encouragement, your prayers and your support.
If you would like to give to either of these projects then please either see the details in the BH news or contact the church office for more details.
Bishop Hannington Church supports mission all over the world. Through the charitable trust, the James Hannington Memorial Trust, the church gives money and other resources to support gospel work in many different nations.