Locations of visitors to this page

Exiles – Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture

Michael Frost – Hendrickson Publishers

exiles

click to buy

“This book is written for those Christians who find themselves falling into the cracks between contemporary secular Western culture and a quaint, old-fashioned church culture of respectability and conservatism.”

Our situation is much like that of the Jewish exiles in Babylon.

Just as Jerusalem was finally razed in 587BC so Frost says

“Christendom is over and we need to get over it”

We are conscious of the humiliation of God’s people in the eyes of the society amongst whom we now
live. a society where “Christianity is believed by many to have been tried and failed.”

We now find ourselves caught between the temptation to sink roots deep into the foreign
soil of the ‘host empire’ and the desire to retreat into the comfort of a Christian ghetto and spend our energies lamenting or trying to restore the temporal cultural supports of Christendom.

The book is an exhortation to resist the inclinations to assimilation or fruitless
lament for past glories and to embrace a robust, confident Christ-
centred faith and lifestyle, lived boldly
together right under the nose of our host culture. Frost divides the book into four sections

Firstly we are called to rediscover DANGEROUS MEMORIES.

Jesus’ example is brought sharply into focus as we see how Christians have often been so intent
on demonstrating Jesus’ divinity that we have stripped him of his real humanity. Thus we end up placing him so far out of our own context and
experience that he no longer presents an achievable model of Christlikeness.

We must follow Jesus example by taking our faith outside of the boundaries of closed religious contexts into the public spaces of our
society and seek to practice his presence in our daily living (c.f. Brother Lawrence).

In the second section Frost calls us to make DANGEROUS PROMISES. To seek authenticity in our relationships within and beyond the community of believers; modeling the transforming power of the gospel in grace, mercy, forgiveness and service.

The sociological idea of communitas is explained in some detail. In simple terms this is the bond
created when groups share in action towards a common purpose. Frost argues that mission is the central and most powerful expression of worship. Christian communitas is created as bands of believers discover and actively pursue God’s grand missional purpose.

Frost gives examples from Sudan & China of how small Christian communities have reproduced
themselves dramatically without buildings, formal organizational structures or trained leadership. Although he does
not believe that formal structures are inherently wrong, he suggests that reliance on them is limiting growth: “We are not fully realizing our
calling to be the church of Jesus Christ as long as we rely on money, buildings and paid experts”

Other dangerous promises we should make include committing ourselves to generosity and hospitality as well as hard work in the host culture particularly in the God inspired realms of creativity/building, naming/renaming, truth-telling and healing.

Thirdly we are invited to engage in DANGEROUS CRITICISM of the ‘host empire’. Daniel remained resolute in his faithfulness to God and yet he thrived in the foreign ungodly society of Babylon. When called to interpret the writing on the wall, he faithfully declared God’s message of judgment on King Belshazzar. Frost calls believers to cry out in exposing the injustices around them. He writes at length about how international corporations and institutions often maintain ich nations’ power and wealth at the expense of poorer countries. Whether one accepts his political analysis or not it makes for very challenging reading.
The next area where exiles are called to speak up is against the damage being caused to the created environment. Once again what he says is challenging and controversial. The final dangerous criticism we must engage in is drawing attention to failure of the ‘host empire’ to recognize Jesus Christ as Lord of all and speaking out about the rights of persecuted believers. The accounts of persecution and abuse of our brothers and sisters is moving though I was somewhat surprised that he focuses on Darfur for one of his case studies since my information is that very few
Christians live in that particular part of Sudan.

Finally in a section entitled DANGEROUS SONGS we are led to think carefully about what constitutes genuine worship. This includes time we spend together as the church but also everything else we do. Frost has his own go at stating man’s purpose: “The chief end of man is to please God.” He has quite a bit to say about what we should and shouldn’t sing and is particularly scathing of ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ type songs and spirituality.

It is very hard to do justice to the scope of this book in a short review. It is certainly a very provocative book. Its calls for radical Christian living and reinvention of the way we do church. I came away from it with a sense of need to respond its challenges and wondering just how our largely acculturated and inward looking churches can be made to sit up and face the challenges of living as exiles.

Shaddick Shocker

Time for an update on what has been going on in our lives. The first bit of news is BIG!

Our sovereign God caught us all by surprise when
we learned in July that his good plans for us include a fifth child! We
thought that four children were more than enough, but no we
really are expecting yet another, probably in March. Having broken the
news to the rest of the family and thought things through, we realise
that we need to find a house with a bit more space. We have put our
house on the market this week, so please pray with us for a buyer. We
can’t afford to pay much more for a different house, especially
considering that the total costs of moving now amount to around £15000
– half of which is tax. We don’t have any significant savings, so our
mortgage will need to increase substantially. Apart from moving, we
will also need to change our car before the baby is born since we
currently only have a six seater. We really would appreciate your
continued prayers particularly for Margo in the pregnancy, but also for
the whole family as we go through lots of change again.

{mosimage}Other things may not be big news by comparison, but we are grateful for your having kept us in your prayers over the summer.

  • Paul’s trip to the US in June was
    helpful for his IT work and Margo survived without losing her sanity.
    AIM’s new online personnel placement system which we have been talking
    about for so long is finally close to being launched. AIM’s
    reorganization into regions is going well, but we would appreciate
    prayer for the upcoming International Council meetings.
  • Christopher
    took his French GCSE a year early and achieved an excellent A* grade.
    He is now beginning year 11 and will take about a dozen more GCSEs next
    summer. He and Emma really enjoyed attending a Christian event called
    Creation Fest in Devon with their cousins. Emma begins year 10, her
    first year of GCSE courses.
  • At
    the other end of his school years, four year old Luke was very excited
    to begin at Holy Trinity Primary School last Tuesday. He was very tired
    by the end of the week but is very happy to go each morning.
  • Eliana,
    our little two year old whirlwind continues to keep us all laughing and
    on our toes as she rushes around the house organising and disorganising
    everyone and everything. Keeping things in a state ready for
    prospective buyers to view the house is a big challenge!
  • We
    took our car through the channel tunnel and drove down through France
    for a relaxing family holiday in Spain with Margo’s parents and her
    sister’s family. While we were there Margo reached the big four-o
    milestone!
    … (continued)

We continue to get encouraging news from Côte
d’Ivoire, both on the national level and concerning the language work
which we used to be so closely involved with:

  •  
    The country is slowly beginning to get
    back on its feet politically and economically after the years of being
    divided, but there is still considerable tension as things move towards
    a presidential election. Pray with us for continued stability and a
    willingness to set aside the selfish and divisive attitudes which led
    to the original conflict.
  •  
    Carlos
    has continued working on translating Mark’s gospel. Pray for good
    progress on this work and for Carlos and his family as they struggle to
    live on a very limited income.
  • The
    UEESO church (originally started by UFM) has created its own
    translation department and is particularly focusing on several
    languages of the Kru language family including Bhete of Gagnoa. SIL is
    working closely with this “Kru Initiative” providing technical and
    financial help. If you want to help meet Carlos’s needs and other work
    on Bhete translation and literacy, you can give through Wycliffe (http://www.wycliffe.org.uk) designating your gift as being for the “SIL Côte d’Ivoire Kru Initiative”.
  • Eliezer
    organized a camp for more than 100 young people with the objective of
    helping them see the importance and value of their mother tongues.
    Schooling in Côte d’Ivoire is almost exclusively in French and many
    young people grow up thinking that local languages have little or no
    value. Many participants in the camp went away with a new passion for
    their own languages and a desire to learn to read and write them.

We continue to give thanks to God for all of you
who pray for us and provide for us through generous giving. May the
Lord bless you too even if his blessings come as a surprise.

Real Missionaries?

We used to live in Africa and were known to lots of people as 'missionaries' though our contacts there were almost all Christians. We now live in the Bristol suburbs a long way from what many think of as the 'mission field', yet Bradley Stoke is probably more pagan than Abidjan. I work in an office staffed entirely by Christians. My work is focussed on mission in Africa, but my role in IT often seems quite far removed from reaching people with the good news of Jesus Christ. Although we now live in the UK, we are grateful to the Lord for those who have continued to give financially and pray for us. But the nagging question is still there – are we 'real missionaries'? Sadly I can go days or even weeks without really talking in any depth to someone who isn't yet a Christian. Margo at least gets to meet lots of not-yet-Christian mums every week at toddler group. How can we be real missionaries here in Bristol? Being real missionaries probably shouldn't mean spending more time at church or even more time at work. I preach evangelistic sermons sometimes, but mostly to the converted. Perhaps you who pray for us and give to our support are the real missionaries and we should be spending more time praying for you! We'd love it if you could update us on your situation and the not-yet-Christians you rub shoulders with every day in your mission field.

Penal Substitutionary Death

Last night I listened to a talk by Steve Wilmshurst on the current atonement controversy. I appreciated Steve's clear explanation of the debate which has particularly erupted following Steve Chalke's repeated denial of penal substitution. Steve W. noted in passing that Affinity is in the process of clarifying its doctrinal basis by stating its belief in Jesus' penal substitutionary death. Whilst I do believe the Bible teaches the doctrine, I find the phrase penal substitutionary death grammatically awkward and therefore unclear. The main audience for the statement is probably those with significant theological education, but I'm sure that it will be read by others, if only when it gets posted on church noticeboards. Steve said that this was already the third draft and wonderered if I
had a better suggestion. So far the best I can do is his death bearing the punishment for sin in the place of sinners. My purpose here isn't to debate penal substitution itself but please do comment if you can suggest clearer
ways of phrasing this belief.

Kenya, BA and Bhete

Thanks to all who prayed for my recent trip to Kenya. By and large
I achieved what I went for and had quite a few other opportunities to
help individual missionaries with their IT needs. My overall impression
was that we in AIM have a long way to go in providing better IT support
for ordinary missionaries who don't work in our office locations. Would
you fancy a job travelling around Africa helping missionaries overcome
their computer problems? Let me know if you are interested.


Continued…
 

Thanks to all who prayed for my recent trip to Kenya. By and large
I achieved what I went for and had quite a few other opportunities to
help individual missionaries with their IT needs. My overall impression
was that we in AIM have a long way to go in providing better IT support
for ordinary missionaries who don't work in our office locations. Would
you fancy a job travelling around Africa helping missionaries overcome
their computer problems? Let me know if you are interested.

It turned out that Luke's sickness before I left was due to a urine
infection. Margo had a real struggle getting him to take some
unpleasant tasting medicine, but he seems fine now anyway.

I arrived back last Wednesday morning having actually managed to
sleep for about 5 hours on a night flight! This may have been because
BA's fancy new 70 channel video-on-demand in-flight entertainment
system crashed about five times before they finally switched it off –
(it did appear to be running under MS Windows). However my good sleep
probably had more to do with another recent innovation: someone should
award a Nobel prize to whoever invented those little cushioned wings
which fold down from the headrest on modern airline seats – not only do
they help you sleep, they stop you drooling over the person in the next
seat. One video BA did manage to show before the system crashed was a
ten minute presentation of the beds in Clubworld class – another way
of winding up passengers like me who will never afford that kind of
comfort.

Thanks to the Brigada
missions newsletter I just had a look at Gospel recordings website. If
you are interested in what the Bhete of Gagnoa language actually sounds
like then go to this page
and listen to one of the audio files listed at the bottom. The songs
aren't the best example of Bhete singing, but will give you an idea of
what it was like to be in a Bhete church. The site also has a good
article by a Wycliffe member called Evangelism for Computer Nerds which gives some insight into the world of mission IT.

Sermons online

Paul has the privilege of preaching reasonably often in our home church. Since the church now records messages digitally and makes these available via the BSEC website, you can listen to some of them. Recently he has preached on:

Unfortunately you will need to work out when to advance the PowerPoint slides yourself, but it may help keep you awake Smile and should help you to follow the message. You can get a free PowerPoint Viewer from here if you don't have the program on your machine.

The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren

I have been reading this book together with others in our church as we have followed the "40 Days of Purpose" programme which is based on it. Before we began I read a lot of reviews which were full of praise or full of scorn. You may have already made up your mind, but here is my perspective as one who came to it with a degree of scepticism.

The book is a bestseller, probably due to its centrality to the whole
Purpose Driven approach to church life developed by Saddleback church.
The marketing of their approach and materials has been phenomenally successful with
many other churches purchasing and using them. Their approach does seem
to have had a significant impact in churches who have used it in full
or in part, but it has also been heavily criticised as man-centred and
market driven rather than God-centred. This book certainly does follow
somewhat the self help guide formula, but I think the way in which it
has been criticised has not always been fully justified.

The book is divided into forty chapters and the reader is encouraged to read just one chapter a day.
Warren says in his introduction that 'whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purposes he took 40 days'. He also states that by reading the book the reader will know
God's purpose for his life. Then 'this perspective will reduce your
stress, simplify your decisions, increase your satisfaction, and, most
important, prepare you for eternity.' These exemplify the way in which
he sometimes makes bold statements in inappropriately absolute terms.

Each chapter begins with a couple of quotes, mostly scriptural, but occasionally from another Christian or secular writer or philosopher. The main text of each chapter averages six pages in length and is completed by a point to ponder, a memory verse and question to consider. There are six sections beginning with What on Earth am I here for? and continuing with five purposes – Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry and Mission.The book implies that these are God's purposes for everyone and the first week's studies lead to a challenge to believe that God has a purpose for you and then receive Jesus forgiveness and the Holy Spirit's empowering for fulfilling that purpose. Repentance is not mentioned. Neither is due consideration given to bible passages indicating that God's purposes are also accomplished in punishing some for their own sin. The heading of chapter 7 quotes Proverbs 16:4 "The LORD has made everything for its own purpose" from the New Living Translation, but the whole verse actually says "The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for punishment." This is but one worrying example of an alarming hermeneutic approach. The text contains nearly 1000 scripture quotations, but sometimes the way they are quoted gives a sense other than the sense they have in their biblical context. Warren also uses 15 different versions. In an appendix he defends his use of so many versions. His statement that using unfamiliar versions can restore their full impact has merit, but such a widely eclectic approach might be very confusing without understanding of the differences between translation philosophies. Also very revealing is his justification for quoting phrases out of context: he says that Jesus and the apostles quoted the Old Testament in this way without even noting the difference between his writing and inspired scripture. Too ensure good interpretation of Scripture, an understanding of its context is vital. In this way Warren is setting a bad example to the reader.

Despite the weaknesses mentioned, the content is not heretical. I have found the presentation of God's purposes for believers and suggestions of how to go about living our lives for those purposes both challenging and helpful. There is nothing profoundly radical in what is recommended to the reader, but the focus on intentional living is at least potentially life-changing. My sense is that the book's success is mainly down to the synergy produced by the forty days programme, which involves the whole congregation and all church activities in seeking to understand and follow God's purposes. God has graciously used it to bless us in our church and many who have read it before us, so I would recommend it and the "40 Days of Purpose" programme to others with certain reservations and advice to weigh what is taught in the light of God's Word carefully interpreted. I would love to see whole church programmes developed around better books such as John Piper's Future Grace.

AIM and us – Video

Watch a 7 minute video showing where we fit in to God's work through AIM.

{mosimage}

{mosmodule video=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=8609493838961862222&hl=en-GB&autoplay=true}

If you would like a full quality copy of this video on DVD, perhaps to show in your church, then please let us know and we would be glad to  send you one.

Scribblings Online – Mar 2006

Six!

This is very old news to most of you now, but just in case you didn’t hear yet, Eliana Joy was born on 22nd July2005 — our 16th wedding anniversary. Fortunately she sleeps better than most of her siblings ever did at her age. Eliana is a Hebrew name though not found in the Bible as a name. It could mean either God has answered or possibly the LORD is God. We understand that Eliana is a popular name in Portugal and in modern day Israel, it has been increasing in popularity in the US, though it seems almost unknown in Britain. We can certainly confirm that our Lord is God and he really does answer prayer. We hope that you will know that as your experience too.

Six!

This is very old news to most of you now, but just in case you
didn’t hear yet, Eliana Joy was born on 22nd July2005 — our 16th
wedding anniversary. Fortunately she sleeps better than most of her
siblings ever did at her age. Eliana is a Hebrew name though not found
in the Bible as a name. It could mean either God has answered or
possibly the LORD is God. We understand that Eliana is a popular name
in Portugal and in modern day Israel, it has been increasing in
popularity in the US, though it seems almost unknown in Britain. We can
certainly confirm that our Lord is God and he really does answer
prayer. We hope that you will know that as your experience too.

{mosimage}

Luke will be three in May. He is a typical unruly two year old, but keeps us all amused – at least when we are not clearing up the latest spilled drink He has been slower to talk than Christopher and Emma were, but he makes himself understood and is beginning to say more. Emma will be 13 in August. She loves to chat. She has lots of friends and seems to spend much of her time chatting to them either on the phone or most often typing incomprehensible txt spk into MSN messenger or her mobile phone. Quite a few of her friends go with her to our church youth group. Pray with us that they will trust in Jesus as she has. It was a real joy for us all and a special privilege for Paul as he baptised both Emma and Christopher last year.

Both Christopher and Emma continue to get excellent reports and results in school. Our years spent in Africa have certainly done them no harm academically. Christopher will be 15 in September. Now in year nine, he is just choosing some of the subjects he will be taking at GCSE. Like Emma he enjoys using the computer a lot, but in his case he most enjoys playing online games. He is a keen supporter of Liverpool football club, so it was a special thrill to travel to Anfield to watch them beat West Ham earlier in the season. As you can imagine Margo has a busy life looking after the rest of us. She does find time to sing in a local Christian choir and also helps to run our church parent & toddler group. Paul also enjoys online computer games, but usually after the rest of the family are in bed. To try to maintain a measure of fitness he tries to get to the swimming pool once a week.

The challenges of IT in Africa

Paul continues to enjoy his role as Africa Inland Mission's International IT Officer. Information Technology is now driven by the Internet, but whilst we have information superhighways' in developed countries, most parts of Africa struggle to move data over what might be described as 'information dirt tracks'. It's a real challenge to maintain perspective when building Internet based systems ensuring that they won't end up being unusable by our members in Africa. They often have nothing but slow and unreliable dial-up connections that struggle even to transfer e-mail. But the wind of change is currently blowing strongly within AIM – our country units in Africa are being grouped together under the direction of regional offices. Hopefully, those offices at least can be provided with reliable Internet connections.

Working in French

AIM works in several French speakingafrican countries and also has a sending office' in France. Following some staff changes Paul discovered that he is now the only French speaking person working full time in the office. So, as well as dealing with IT he now sometimes finds himself translating email messages relating to franco phonework or relaying messages on the phone with the AIM France director who doesn't speak English. It's good to keep these skills from going rusty. Both already fluent French speakers, Christopher and Emma go to an afterschool lesson once a week which should help them get top grades when they take an early French GCSE.

{mosimage}Don’t judge by appearances

Being a family of six is great, but it did rather force us to buy a bigger car. We swallowed our aesthetic pride and went for a Fiat Multipla just like this one. However unusual it looks, it is amazingly versatile. It has three individual seats in the front and three removable seats in the back with plenty of boot space to boot! We hope we can fit everything in for our holiday to France in August. We took Margo’s very rusty old G registered MG Metro to get an MOT certificate recently and they issued it with a death certificate instead! Since we could no longer drive it, we wondered how much we would end up paying to have it towed away, but we put it up for sale on eBay and a dealer came from 150 miles away and gave us £125! He wanted the 1275cc engine to put in a Mini.

{mosimage}Unfortunately the news on the internet is rarely good. So many promises have been made and broken but we keep on praying for peace & reconciliation.

On the Bete Bible Translation front the work needs your prayers. Carlos is discouraged by the struggles of supporting his family on the very limited income he receives. Sending more support from outside might sound like the answer, but that would do nothing to help the local church recognise their responsibility and could devalue the end results. The Bete language association -A “Zo “De seems still to be struggling greatly from poor communication and a lack of coordination. Please pray for Carlos and the association.

{mosimage}Eliezer married a young lady by the name of Angèle in April and they now have a baby whom they have called Margo! Please continue to pray for him as he tries to scrape together enough for them to live on. He is no longer working for -A “Zo “De, but still wants to do whatever he can to help bring God’s Word to his people in their own language.We might attribute most of these problems to the war, but of course the battle for the Bete Scriptures is a spiritual one. So let’s ask the Lord to defeat these enemy attacks and bring honour to his name.

Paul was privileged to attend a conference in February last year for AIM members involved in reaching Muslims. For the safety of Muslim background believers, details of this work are not normally written or even spoken about in public. It was moving to hear of the great cost to some of following Christ, but thrilling to hear how God is powerfully at work bringing Muslims into his kingdom.

Travels and Visitors

In June, Paul again attended the ICCM conference in Indiana – a great chance to learn and share experiences with others involved in missions IT. He then chaired a gathering of AIMs IT personnel at our US office near New York city. This was a very useful and strategic meeting. Another trip to the US in November began the process of unifying AIM’s different public websites. You can watch developments by pointing your web browser at www.aimint.org from time to time. Earlier this month we enjoyed having our website designer from the AIM US office staying in our home for a week together with his wife. He and Paul are working closely together on the development of AIMs web-based personnel placement system. Our hope is that it will really help the whole organisation to get the right people to the right places where they can be most effective in serving God within AIM.

Family on the Move

Margo’s parents moved from Swansea to Bradley Stoke in January. This is the first time in our married lives that we have lived near either of our parents. We are delighted to have them close by — and that’s not only because of all the help they bring in babysitting, giving lifts to the children etc.!

The other news is that Paul’s brother Iain is moving from Street Baptist Church to become the pastor of Battisford Free Church near Stowmarket in Suffolk. We pray for God's blessing on the family as they move there in April.

{mosimage}We thank the Lord for making our family part of the family at BSEC. Paul has been an elder now for about a year. It is a privilege to serve the Lord in this way but also a great responsibility. Since we do not have a pastor at present Paul has been preaching more frequently. Although study and preparation often takes a lot of time it has been great to sense the Holy Spirit at work through the Word, challenging both preacher and hearers. As elders we are particularly engaged now in looking for a man to join us as a full time pastor. We are very conscious of our need for great wisdom as we talk to prospective pastors and seek the Lord’s direction.Thank you again

We must conclude again with our very sincere thanks to all who continue to pray for us and for the Lord’s work in which we are involved. We reckon some of you have now been praying faithfully for almost twenty years! It's been almost as long since we have had any personal contact with some of you. We would love to reconnect with folks we rarely see so why not pick up the phone now and give us a call or send us your phone number and we'll call you? We send our particular thanks also to those who have continued to bless us through generous gifts which allow us to continue in the work he God given us.Our prayer for you is that God will bless you by deepening your knowledge of him and making your lifespiritually fruitful for his greater glory and honour.

Paul, Margo, Christopher,Emma, Luke & Eliana

 

Scribblings Online – Dec 2004

13 Blackthorn Drive

{mosimage}At the end of April, we finally moved into our own house in Bradley
Stoke. After more than twelve years of living in rented properties,
it is good to feel a little more settled and that we will gain the benefit
of effort put into decorating.

We want to say a huge thank-you to friends and family who made our move
possible and helped us get moved in. Thanks also to whoever it was who
advised us to buy our original house in Bridgend before we went to Africa.
Entering the housing market for the first time in 2004 would have been
very difficult.

We were able to purchase this house at a 'good' price, but it did need
quite a lot of work. I wondered why Margo watched Changing Rooms and
House Doctor so much. Now I know why!
So far we have redecorated six rooms, laid a new floor and a lawn. Handy
Andy has nothing on me and we've made more trips to B&Q and Ikea
than Ann Maurice!

Bradley Stoke is a new town just to the north of Bristol in South Gloucestershire.
We live within five minutes of the M4/M5 intersection so it's a very
convenient place for you to stop off for a cup of tea or a bed for the
night. We really want to use the home the Lord has given us for hospitality
so don’t hesitate to let us know when you would like to come and
spend some time with us.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Apart from working on the house, life seems to be full to overflowing
with activity in so many areas!

BSEC

We are all busily involved in Bradley Stoke Evangelical Church. Paul
is part of the current leadership group and has been busy with ministry
in various areas including running the 7s-11s group and preaching about
once a month. Margo helps to lead the church toddler group Busy Bees
which draws in 70 children plus their mums or carers every week.

Work for AIM

{mosimage}During the past year Paul's work has been very varied. In February
he spent some time in Nairobi talking about IT to a gathering of field
unit leaders and conducting an audit of a computer support department
which serves missionaries throughout the region.

In
June he was in Indiana attending a conference of missions IT professionals
and chairing a forum of AIM's IT specialists from various offices around
the world.

The rest of the time, he has been in the Bristol International Office
doing everything from putting together a new intranet system for the mission to buying and configuring laptops for
missionaries on their way to Africa.

This February he will attend a gathering of those working in countries where mission work is not officially accepted

Holiday

In August we did get a break from the usual rush. We went to Spain
with some good SIL friends whom we had lived and worked with in Côte d'Ivoire. We drove there and back
through France and enjoyed staying a night in each direction with two
former SIL Côte d'Ivoire families in Paris and Valence.
Christopher and Emma ended up spending the first night with three of
their old friends in a two man tent, eventually getting to sleep at
about 4.30 in the morning!

Finances

We remain convinced that this is exactly where God wants us now, but
we and AIM are still very concerned about the level of financial support
they have been receiving for us.

{mosimage}Luke: Do you like my Father
Christmas outfit? So do I, but I don't much like this funny hood
on my head.

Emma: I now go to the same school as
Christopher – Patchway Community College. Our new headmaster changed the
name from Patchway High School, but at least we didn't end up having
to wear blazers and ties.

Chris: I spend most of my time outside
of school on the computer like my dad, but unlike him I also love football
both playing and watching – especially Liverpool.

News from Côte d'Ivoire

Sadly, this year has seen the continued failure of both sides to honour
the terms of the May 2003 ceasefire agreement. Eventually in November,
Government forces began air raids on the rebel held north.

One air strike, just yards from the SIL training centre in Bouaké,
killed nine French peacekeepers. The immediate French response was to
destroy almost all aircraft of the small government air-force. This
was viewed by many Ivorians as a disproportionate response and mobs
set about a ferocious attack on French and other Western interests in
government controlled towns and cities. Some also took advantage of
the situation for general rioting and looting.

As a consequence of the violence, as many as 9,000 Westerners have
left the country including almost all remaining missionaries. The consequences
for the economy and future investment are catastrophic.

In Gagnoa – the president’s home town – there were violent demonstrations
and confrontations between local southerners and northern ‘immigrants’
(who had often actually been living in the area for several generations).

Eliezer

The events in Gagnoa had a direct effect on Eliezer although he was
not involved in the rioting. He writes “in this situation I too
was a victim. I’ve just lost my computer, my printer and my scanner.
All the equipment was stolen by the protestors. That day was a black
day for me. The equipment helped me meet my personal needs, but alas
through these events it is all gone. ” He had been given money
to buy the computer by some German friends and we gave him the printer
and scanner when Paul returned to Côte d’Ivoire last year
to sort out our stuff. He was getting some income by allowing them to
be used by a friend who ran a little shop providing word processing
and printing services.

Despite this big setback this has been a real year of spiritual growth
for Eliezer. Earlier in the year he spent several months on a residential
training course run by one of the few indigenous African missionary
organisations. It was a very tough programme, requiring students to
work each day in the fields to make a living as well as attending lectures
and practical ministry training. What we have heard from Eliezer since
that time encourages us that the Lord has really been working, giving
him a real desire to live a holy life and a deep concern for those whom
the gospel has not yet reached.

Eliezer’s Plans

Eliezer is planning on getting married next summer, but before that,
he wants to go to Mali to work for a few months among unreached Muslim
people with a friend whom he met on the training course. We encouraged
him to consider the difficulties of this trip, but he still seemed to
have a burning passion and faith that the Lord would meet his needs
and bless him through it.

In the end we said we would only help him financially to undertake
this trip if the local churches would fund a quarter of his expected
expenses. We knew this would be a real challenge because often the African
church has been slow to see its role in mission. However he has just
sent us a list of 56 people who have already given or promised a total
of almost £170 towards his trip. This is tremendous especially
given the current economic problems for Ivorians.

Carlos

Carlos has spent this last year working on completing the PhD studies
in Linguistics which he had started before he began training as a Bible
Translator. In this he has been supported by SIL as part of its desire
to see Africans trained to higher levels which will allow them to train
others. Having submitted his thesis his real desire now is to begin
translation work as soon as possible. He now has others willing to work
with him, but the major problem is finance.

Unfortunately, the recent events have made it even harder for SIL to
provide support for Carlos and difficulties in maintaining communication
and accountability have meant that they are not currently providing
any financial help to the work.

Consequently, for the last couple of months Carlos has had virtually
no income to enable himself and his family to live. Officially he is
an employee of the Bhete language association, but they are no longer
receiving support from SIL and cannot even afford the rent for their
office in Gagnoa. We have been doing what we can to help, but the situation
is now really critical.

{mosimage}Gifts towards our support can be sent to the AIM UK Office:

AIM UK, Halifax Place, Nottingham NG1 1QN
Tel: 0115 9838120

Please indicate who your gift is for. Note that, if you are
a UK taxpayer, a simple gift aid declaration can greatly increase its
value to us.

 

Pray with us…

Sunday …that the Lord would bring an end to the downward spiral of violence in Côte d'Ivoire. This is vital to the ongoing work of Bible Translation.
Monday …that a way would be found of supporting Carlos and his work on translating Bhete Scriptures in spite of the difficulties SIL has in working in Côte d'Ivoire. Pray also for Eliezer and Angele.
Tuesday …for Christopher and Emma that the Lord would enable them to grow in faith and to stand for him in a world which denies God and his standards for living.
Wednesday …thanking the Lord for his provision of our home. Pray that we would use it for his honour and that it would not consume resources which could be better used elsewhere.
Thursday …for Margo to know real joy in the Lord as she cares for Luke and seeks to be a witness and a support to other mums in the church and to those who come to the mums & toddlers group.
Friday …for Paul to maintain the right balance between responsibilities in the home, at work and in the church, and that his work would effectively contribute to the work of God’s kingdom in Africa.
Saturday That regular gifts to AIM for our support would increase so that we cease to be a heavy drain on mission finances.