Prayer Update – 20th March 2015

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Greetings from a hot and dusty Jos,
March is pretty much the hottest time of year here. We are blessed to live on a plateau at around 4000 feet above sea level. This means that while most of Nigeria is sweltering in excessive heat we are only slightly hotter than is entirely pleasant. The rains should arrive imminently. We had a teaser of a rain a couple of weeks ago but apart from that, nothing since October. I do love the dry season, I think partly because I can leave laundry on the line and not worry about it raining! However, I am also looking forward to seeing the garden come back to life and smelling that amazing smell of rain on dry ground.

You may not have heard the great news that the missionary, Phyllis Sortor, who was kidnapped near the end of February has been released! Praise God!

Things have been quiet here since I last wrote with no more trouble in Jos, for which we are very grateful. Thank you for praying! The government has ordered all schools to close at the end of this week in preparation for elections on the 28th of March and again on the 11th of April. Hillcrest won’t open again until the 15th April. This means that once again Hillcrest students will be doing ‘School @ Home’. This is always a challenge for teachers preparing for it, parents implementing it and students having to actually do it!

Work has been really busy for Tim over the last few weeks. He is generally coping with it well but please pray that he can still rest in the midst of the busyness and not end up crashing!

We have Nigeria Group’s Spiritual Retreat coming up at the end of next week, starting on Friday the 27th. We will be staying at a retreat centre in Miango, about 30 minutes drive from Jos. We are looking forward to a restful time to get to know each other better and hear from God.

Praise
Retreat coming soon!
Kidnapped missionary released.

Prayer
Good times during School @ Home.
Peaceful and fair elections where God’s will is done
True rest in God over Retreat

27th Feb 2015 – Prayer Update

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Morning all!

One thing that we notice living in Nigeria is the need to be flexible. Plans often seem to change at the last minute. Our most recent experience of this has been the elections that were to be held a couple of weeks ago. The election process for president of Nigeria was then postponed for 6 weeks to Saturday the 28th March.

Please pray that God’s peace will reign in our hearts and minds during this time.

The new date that has been set for the elections clashes with the annual spiritual retreat for our group. This is going to cause issues for our Nigerian members of staff who need to vote in their local areas. We can not change the date of the retreat significantly because the place where it is held is fully booked and we have a speaker travelling here from overseas.
The result is that we will not all be able to arrive at the same time, with those who are able to vote arriving a day late, after they have voted.

On another topic – some of you may have seen the news item about a missionary who was kidnapped in Nigeria. Here is a little more information from our end:

This week an expatriate missionary with the Free Methodist World Missions was abducted in Kogi State, South-Central Nigeria, and she is being held for ransom by an unknown group. The U.S. Embassy has been notified, and the U.S. State Department and the FBI are working with local authorities to find and rescue her. All of our SIL Nigeria staff are safe and continuing to operate as normal with reasonable safety precautions. Please pray for Phyllis’ safety and speedy release, and pray for security and protection for all missionaries and Christian workers in Nigeria.

NB. We are roughly as far from the location that this took place as London is from Dundee. Nigeria is a BIG place!

We are praying for Phyllis that she will have peace and joy even in the midst of this, that she will be able to be a light in the darkness even if the darkness is pitch black. I am also praying for her captors because it occurred to me that however bad her situation – theirs is worse.

Before you decide that I have lost it and clearly need my head seeing to, let me explain my rationale. She is a Christian, she has put her trust in Christ and he has saved her eternally. When you look at her situation with an eternal perspective – she is safely in God’s kingdom and no physical harm can remove her from that place of ultimate safety. Her captors on the other hand, do not know the God who saves, or if they do, they have rejected his plan for their lives. They are at risk of spending eternity in Hell – definitely not a safe position to be in! So, I am praying that God will rescue not just Phyllis, but also her captors.

STOP PRESS STOP PRESS STOP PRESS
We have just heard that there has been another twin bombing in Jos. We are safe but please pray for comfort and provision for all those affected.

Praise
Peace in Jos following the election postponement announcement.
Our speaker for retreat is still willing to come despite the uncertainty of being here over elections.

Prayer
For peace up to and including the new election period.

Prayer update – 6th February 2015

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Greetings from toasty warm Nigeria!
Well, the cold has gone and been replaced by quite considerable heat. Walking home with Dan after school, only about a ten minute walk, is enough to leave us both gasping for a cold drink. We are hoping to make the most of a day off school that Dan has tomorrow to go to a swimming pool (outdoor and definitely not heated!).

IMG_9286Talking of school and Dan, he is now in his final year of Primary school (Elementary). His teacher has been increasing the amount of homework recently so that when his class hits Secondary school (Middle school for any Americans out there), it won’t be quite so much of a shock. It does mean that he is often having to finish his homework after our evening meal which does not leave a lot of playing time for him during the week. Please pray that he will adjust well to this new routine and that we will still be able to find time when he can just be a boy!

I am also experiencing an adjustment related to school. Once again I agreed to teach the Computer Applications course for Grade 9 (Year 10 for any Brits out there!) at Hillcrest. Although I have already taught this course 3 times, this time is completely different! Hillcrest updated their software from Office XP to Office 2013 – a big jump! As a result the old textbooks can’t be used and as buying new textbooks is ridiculously expensive I decided to try and find a new way to teach it. I discovered some brilliant free online tutorials for Word and Excel. Using these in combination with a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Schoology, we are making it work. Best of all, the students are enjoying it far more than the old way of doing it!

A few weeks ago Tim was able to travel to Togo for a great occasion. It was the dedication of the full Bible in Ncham (also sometimes referred to as Bassar), a language spoken in both Togo and Ghana. For more on this – check out Tim’s blog post at HERE/

The elections are now approaching rapidly and there is a certain amount of tension in the air. The presidential elections look likely to be closely contested and may result in a run-off.
To be honest with you, one of the things that I am struggling through processing is the uncertainty of what may happen. Will everything go smoothly, will there be trouble, will we have to leave the area or even the country?
Please pray for peace for Nigeria and mental peace for us, whatever happens.

Praise
Jos has remained calm since the start of the New Year
Tim was able to travel to Togo for the dedication of the Ncham Bible

Prayer
Dan will cope well with the new levels of homework he is receiving
I will be able to balance teaching with the rest of my work and do all of it for God’s glory!
The whole election process will go smoothly and that we will trust God whatever happens

Pray for Nigeria during the election period.

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On the 14th of February 2015 Nigeria will go to the polls to elect a President, a national House of Assembly and a national House of Representatives. On the 28th February they go back to the polls and elect all the State Governors. You may have already noticed in the news that tensions are high and trouble is possible. Pray with us as we enter this period of elections!

IMG_9853Abuja – Nigerian capital and centre of governance -
Pray that God would break all strongholds of self, greed and pride in this city so that God’s Kingdom would reign through effective governance. Declare God’s Names in prayer – Yahweh Tsidkenu (The LORD Our Righteousness), El Elyon (Most High God), God of Justice and Judge of the Earth. Raise up the cross of Christ, which puts to shame every principality and power setting itself up against a knowledge of God – and sets an example of mercy and forgiveness and the true way to our Father. Trust God for righteous leadership to be raised up as God raised up Biblical characters like Esther, Nehemiah and Daniel.

Justice + Righteousness in the Election System + Processes
Pray for the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) for effective fulfilment of their duties in this election season. Pray for an equal opportunity for all to vote and for the uprooting of unrighteous practices in the electoral process. “When justice is done it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers” (Prov. 21:15).

IMG_9927A Right Understanding of Government -
Pray for the Church to have a right understanding of the government’s role and to be faithful in her prayer labors over the government as is commanded (I Tim. 2:1-4). Pray that critical and judgmental spirits would give way to the Spirit of intercession. Pray that the Gospel of Jesus and His mighty Presence would sweep across governmental buildings in this region tearing down every high place setting itself up against knowledge of God.

Strategic Governmental Partnerships to further God’s Purpose -
The history of the modern day Bible translation movement is filled with stories of how God worked in governments in the nations of the earth to fulfill His purpose for the peoples under the authority of those governments. Trust God with us for fresh strategic relationships to be born in this season.

Security Forces-
Pray for justice and righteousness to be established in this area of governmental service and that God would strengthen the hearts and hands of the righteous. Pray for open eyes and wisdom as they execute their duties. Pray also for a greater release of timely angelic help over this region during this election season (Psalm 91).

IMG_9963Election Days!
Stand with us against every evil plan and scheme to promote and spread violence during these election days. Pray that God would honor the faithful fasting + prayers of His watchmen so that massive peace would be enjoyed throughout the land + God’s Name will be honored. Pray for God’s perfect will to be done as people go to vote from the 36 states of the Federation -Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara.

CREDIT: Thanks to Alisha Carr our prayer coordinator for sharing the original material.

Ncham Bible Dedication, Bassar, Togo.

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11-IMG_3629In 1998 I took the plunge and went on my first short-term missions trip. It was a little unusual in the big realm of short term trips, as it was to a Bible translation project in Togo, West Africa, a Francophone country. I didn’t speak a whole lot of French and having grown up in Wycliffe, I was sure I already ‘got’ the need for Bible translation. However, all the circumstances and gifts to make it happen were clearly leading me to go on the trip. I could write a TON more about that trip but I’ll have to save that for another day.

54-IMG_3937On the 14th January 2015, 16.5 years later, I started my journey back to that very same village. Before you think ‘ooo dramatic’, I had been back already, leading multiple other short term teams to the same project. It had, however, been 4.5 years since I last visited.

I left our home in Jos and drove to the capital, Abuja, picking Gareth Mort up in a town along the way. Gareth was my team leader from 1998, and is now my colleague here in Nigeria. The next day we flew direct to Lome where we successfully negotiated the Ebola check and the general health check (but only by God’s grace, due to Gareth’s missing Yellow Fever certificate!). We applied for and were granted visas in the airport in Lome.

The bus getting loaded up.

The bus getting loaded up.

On Friday we were due to catch a nice coach up country, but there were no seats left. So we took ‘public’, aka a mini-bus with 4 people squished onto every three seats and more luggage on top of the bus than capacity inside. I was thankful for Gareth’s thinness! We weren’t so thankful for the bus stopping every 10 miles looking for more passengers. It took nearly 10 hours to get to Sokode, not even the town we were finally destined for. We arrived in Bassar late, in the dark, to a very warm welcome from Samuel’s family. In 1998, Samuel had only just joined the translation team, he was young and unmarried. We were blessed that he spoke English, both then and now!
Samuel and his family

Samuel and his family

Saturday at 07:20 Gareth and I left the house and wandered into town. We were hoping to come across the parades headed to the football stadium where the Dedication was to be held. We saw what we thought was probably one of the 3 parades, but they were headed in the wrong direction, so we carried on to the stadium.

One of the brass band parades

One of the brass band parades

It was fantastic to see banners and greet some people, slightly odd to be ignored by most of the other white faces – it wasn’t like they could miss us!

The dedication itself was marvellous. There were LOADS of people. There were some very high profile folks out there too. The national director of AOG, the chief, the Prefet, the representative of the local government, pastors, preachers, most of the Catholic diocese, the church association committee (ACEB), SIL, Wycliffe, Bible Society, 2 brass bands and people of literally ALL ages came out to join the celebration.

The chairman of ACEB

The chairman of ACEB

Now I do probably suffer from a bit of attention deficit disorder, I doubted I could sit still for 6 hours and listen to speeches in 2 different languages neither of which I spoke. So I tried to find out what people were saying and I took to live tweeting the event. You can go to http://twitter.com/hashtag/nchambible and see the event as it unfolded. You could tell when people appreciated what was said by the enormous cheer that was let out.

The most enormous cheer certainly came when Sheila Crunden was giving her speech.

Sheila giving her speech

Sheila giving her speech

Sheila is a Brit who arrived in Bassar, Togo in 1969 and was very involved in translating the New Testament with a whole string of people including Monica Cox who was also in attendance at the dedication. These two remarkable ladies, now in their mid seventies and eighties, had returned specially for the Dedication but still trekked to church and to visit houses. During one dinner we shared with them, they engaged in a healthy discussion about how to mark tones in translation. Monica, who worked on literacy, and Sheila who worked on the translation entered what seems to me to be an age-old debate about marking them all or only marking some of them. I admit I didn’t follow all the technicalities, but it was fun!

46-IMG_3887After about 3 hours of speeches the Bibles were finally revealed and prayed over and paraded around the stadium and then distribution begun. It started with an offer for the “big” ie important people to buy the very first copy for a lot of money. Then the price reduced bit by bit and eventually swarms of people came to buy. It was funny, even knowing this was going to happen, 39-IMG_3804
the boxes were being held on the edge of the stadium and the seller kept running out at his table! It was wonderful to see so many people desperate to get their hands on the Bible in their own language.

You can see more pictures at my Facebook album, or high res collection here on Flickr.

We attended church with Samuel the next morning and it was brilliant seeing so many people clutching their new Bibles. It was sad that so many people were struggling to actually read it fluently – it reinforced to me the need to be doing literacy as soon as is possible in our projects.44-IMG_3842 There was a couple who were married 3 weeks before and were brought to the front of the church and introduced (it seems that is customary in this church) and when they came they were clutching a copy of the new Bible. The groom, despite not being a native Ncham speaker, received huge applause as he tried to read a couple of verses. People DO love hearing and having God’s word in their own language!

33-IMG_3760 Monday we relaxed, although actually I think Gareth worked on one of his projects from Nigeria. Then on Tuesday we started the long journey home in reverse. We did get to travel in the nice coach this time, though we also had to fly Lome to Lagos to Abuja, the last leg of which was delayed a couple of hours. But we got home safe and glad to have made the trip and been part of the dedication. The people in Bassar and particularly Samuel and his family have been part of my life for nearly 17 years. They will always have a place in my heart, my email inbox and my Whatsapp.

Prayer Update – 9th Jan 2015

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Greetings from a New Year!

We have been thankful for a peaceful start to the New Year here in Jos.

A quick recap on the end of last year . . .
There were twin explosions in a busy market area of Jos in mid-December but all has been peaceful since then. The first round of the elections went off without any violence or disruption in Jos, for which we are thankful!

Moving into the New Year we are praying that the Presidential and State Governor elections in February will go smoothly and that God’s will will be done in the choice of leadership for this country.

We are looking forward to visiting the UK this summer, we hope to be arriving in the UK in late May and returning to Nigeria in early August. I know it may seem early to be thinking about the summer while you are still in the depths of a chilly winter but if you live in the UK and would like to see us while we are there, please do drop us a line in response to this e-mail.

On the subject of chilliness, we have been experiencing rather low temperatures here, dipping down below 10 o C. I know, that is not really worth complaining about! However, as none of the buildings are heated, most of my shoes are sandals and most of my clothes are designed to keep me cool, I am really feeling very cold! In fact, I am having to sit outside on a stump of wood to write this because I could not get warm inside the house! However, I don’t really want your sympathy, what I want are your prayers for those who are living in Jos, many as refugees, with very little shelter or warm clothing. Thanks!

We pray that your Christmas and New Year have been peaceful and blessed. Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support of us this last year. You are a very real part of getting God’s transforming Word to more people in a way that speaks to them.

Please praise and pray with us . . .

Praise
A blessed Christmas with opportunities to bless others
A peaceful start to 2015

Prayer
Peaceful elections in February
Provision for those in need, especially those who have fled from violence in the North-East

Finally, don’t forget to let us know if you will be in the UK this summer and would like to meet up.

New Newsletter

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Our Winter 2014 Newsletter is HERE!

You can download it if you haven’t already seen a copy :-)

Winter 2014 Newsletter

Prayer Update – 5 December 2014

Greetings from chilly (well, it’s all relative!) mornings, clear blue skies and sunny days.
I hope you are all enjoying the weather wherever you are and whatever it is. We certainly are!

So, Mum and Dad Hewer have been here in Nigeria for 3 weeks now. They are staying on site at the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust (NBTT) and have been working with 3 different language translation teams between the two of them. We have enjoyed having them here on the weekends and sharing a bit of our life with them.

The first stages of the elections in Nigeria are due to happen this coming week. There is some concern that this could spark unrest in Jos as our State is considered to be in a key strategic position. Please pray for God’s will to be done in who is elected and for his peace that passes all understanding to reign.

Tim is heading to Nairobi on Sunday with the Nigeria Group Finance Manager Paul. They will be spending time with the finance team there to help them both develop their understanding of how the finance systems work so that they can co-ordinate better with the team in Nairobi. Paul has never left Nigeria before so Tim is looking forward to introducing him to a new country!

Short one today.
Please do take some time if you can, to pray for us as follows:

Praise
Good times with Mum and Dad
Opportunity for Tim and Paul to learn more about the Africa Area finance systems

Prayer
Peaceful and God-directed elections
Safe travel for Tim and Paul to Nairobi
Beneficial time for them spent with the Finance team that will enable them both to do their jobs better

Prayer update – 12th November 2014

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Morning all!
I remember being told once that those who had the time to write a diary never had anything interesting to put in it and those who had interesting things to write about in a diary never had time to write one. Not convinced that is really true but it has kind-of been the case with our e-mail updates recently – too many interesting things happening and no time to write about them!
So a quick whistle-stop tour of the last month or so . . .

IMG_2322On a Monday and Tuesday in early Oct we had a Sallah break (in Nigeria both the Muslim and Christian holidays are national holidays). On the Monday we went on an adventurous hike in the hills near Jos, lots of rock scrambling and an interesting time trying to work out how to get back down the hill! On the Tuesday we went swimming with some new friends (a family with four kids who recently arrived from America to join Nigeria Group).

In mid-October Ali travelled to Ghana for a week to learn more about GILLBT (Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation – an organisation that does similar work to us, but in Ghana – in fact the organisation that my (Ali’s) parents worked for when I was growing up). Before you start to wonder, we are not looking to move to Ghana, but to see how our organisations can work together and learn from each other. I was particularly learning about their digital archiving and digital publishing plans.

The financial year ended at the end of September and as the finance department comes under Tim now in his role as Operations Director he was buried in year end processes for pretty much all of October and on into November. Despite discovering a few new things he did not know about previously, the process really went very well considering it was his first time! He also had the complication of introducing a paradigm shift in the way we deal with project funding for next year. The exciting thing is that Nigeria Group really is leading the way in implementing this, but it does mean that Tim gets to discover the pit falls first!

IMG_2336Near the end of October Dan had his one week mid-semester break, so we headed to Abuja for a few days with another family. The place we normally stay very generously offers missionaries free accomodation in beautiful self-catering apartments. This year they were full but kindly found space for us in some longer-term rental apartments next door. We had one two-bedroom apartment between us and our friends the Barnhoorns (who have 4 kids), it was a little cosy, especially after we added Jono’s brother! Great fun though and good to be somewhere different for a few days.

Then for the 3 days at the end of the week just gone, we had our annual Staff Conference. Everyone in Nigeria Group gathers together for a time of remembering what God has done over the last year and looking forward to what he is going to do in the years to come. Tim and I both ran workshop sessions where we had to run the same 20 minute workshop 5 times in row – I went to sleep at about 7.30 that night! One thing that stuck with me from this year’s conference was a reminder that this is not our mission that we ask God for his help with but that it is God’s mission (Missio Dei) that he generously allows us to be a part of.

Looking forward, my (Ali’s) parents are coming to Nigeria on Friday to stay for about a month! They are coming primarily to work with the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust (one of Nigeria Group’s partners) but we hope to see them on the weekends!

Nigeria is in election season. The president is up for election. This can be a time of unrest, especially as the parties vote for and announce their candidates. This first round (Primaries) were to take place on the 22nd of November but will have been moved. They and various other votes will now take place 6,7,8,10 + 11 December, so please be praying for it to be a peaceful process and that God’s will be done.

Praise
-Ali got to revisit Ghana, her childhood home
-Good times of rest and fun with friends
-Successful financial year-end processing
-Encouraging Staff Conference

Prayer
-Recovery of our energy after the busyness of Staff Conference
-Mum and Dad will travel safely and their time here will go well
-That elections proceed peacefully

Blog about Bananas

It is true to say that right now, there is an abundance of bananas in our town. They are available in all shapes and sizes, most of them are very very tasty. I should warn you though, that if you are ever driving up from Abuja and decide that the little fat ones look REALLY tasty – they are not. They have very thin skin and lots of banana, but it tastes as if the harmattan sand has somehow penetrated that thin layer of skin. Gross.


We buy bananas, we eat bananas, but there is always a few left that don’t quite get eaten before they start to go off. The result – well we make (clearly what we do is ask our glorious house help to make) banana choc chip muffins!

muffin

If you want to try some yourself, here is a
link to a recipe

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