Posted by Tim on 16th January 2012
Earlier this month five intrepid young people flew out to Zambia, and found that seven of their bags of luggage and equipment hadn’t arrived. Cue wry smiles all round among the experienced travellers. “Welcome to Africa!”
This is all part of the training for young people on the Soapbox African Quest (SAQ) missions training course. For six months they will learn the art of cross-cultural mission not in a lecture hall in England, but in situ, living and working alongside African people. Experienced Zambian pastors will give lectures, eat meals with them, and work alongside them in their churches and communities, as the students develop and hone the skills they will need to function effectively as mission workers.
The course, which has been running now for 15 years and has dozens of graduates, continues to be a key part of preparing people for the mission field. It is specifically designed to mix academic study, personal discipleship, field experience, and practical training in the skills needed to help them survive – including bricklaying and motor mechanics.
Many of the students have gone on to become full-time mission workers, and most of them have maintained a passion for global mission, made regular short-term visits, and been involved in missions on the home front. Several students have returned over the years to become leaders and pass on to a new generation the experience and understanding of mission that they have had. And for all of them, there is the long-term impact of SAQ on their spiritual lives, as the continue to unpack the significance of their training, experience and learning.
It’s not all about the students, though. SAQ has left a legacy of people who have met Jesus through their ministry, not only in the environs of Ndola but in neighbouring districts and countries as well. Their outreach programmes have touched thousands of lives, whether through the gospel presentations, relationships they’ve forged, or the buildings they’ve constructed. Several church buildings, widows’ homes, schoolrooms and orphanages have been raised through the participation of SAQ. They’re even responsible for introducing clean water supplies to a number of villages.
SAQ is based in a purpose-built accommodation block at Kaniki Bible College in Ndola, where they are able to meet, befriend and work alongside a number of future church leaders from several African nations. The SAQ block includes dormitories for the students and separate accommodation for the leaders, together with a communal lounge, kitchen and study room. Staff and students live and work alongside each other, which adds to the discipleship aspects, as experienced leaders share their lives with the students. Tim & Gemma Mills, who have led the team for the last two years, describe the experience: It is a pretty intense program. Each day we work alongside the volunteers visiting orphans, those suffering from HIV/Aids and doing practical projects together in various communities.
SAQ is run by the well-known mission agency Soapbox, and you can find out more about it at its website http://www.soapboxtrust.com/New/SAQ/Overview.html. We particularly recommend SAQ for people looking to do something productive with their gap year. They will have a great experience, blending personal development with practical service to others. The programme runs from January to June, leaving several months after the end of the academic year to prepare and raise funds. It’s not too early to apply for the 2013 intake though!
Tags: Bible College, local believers, Short Term Mission, Soapbox, training, Zambia
Posted in Africa, cross-cultural, Evangelism, Featured ministry, Mercy ministries, short-term missions | No Comments »
Posted by Tim on 5th September 2011
The entertainment at a children's party
In July we asked you to pray for the Soapbox short-term trip to Brazil which was being led by Tim. Five very full but successful weeks later we’re happy to thank you for your prayers which made a huge contribution to this trip.
Two separate groups totalling 16 people, most of them teenagers, had an excellent mission experience, most of them for the first time, which will have a significant impact on their lives. Discovering genuine poverty for the first time, taking responsibility for activities, and relating responsibly to underprivileged children were some of the positive outcomes.
Building under way
The teams were working in a home for children who have been removed from their families for their own safety or protection, which is run entirely by local Christians with very little outside support. Although the children are housed, fed, clothed and educated, they do not have much else, so were really appreciative of the interest shown in them by others from overseas, who played with them, taught them some English, and took them out on trips. Some of us also formed lasting supportive relationships with the children which will continue now we are back in England.
Also, the teams accomplished an immense amount of practical work:
- Built, plastered (with professional help) and painted a wall to prevent children falling off the patio
- Paid for a builder to complete the final section of the perimeter wall and concrete an area of waste ground so that the children can play on it safely
- Painted the main hall of the building
- Built a set of sturdy steps to give children safe access to the upper play area
- Repaired damaged perimeter walls and cracks in the patio paving
- Replaced the lock on the main door which wouldn’t easily open when shut, or vice versa
- Replaced broken glass in windows
- Fitted locks and handles to many doors and cupboards
- Made numerous repairs to plumbing, furniture and lighting
- Provided new furniture for the bedrooms
- Provided new cups, plates and cutlery for the children
- Bought a new DVD player and some dvds
- Took out an amazing quantity of sports equipment, games, craft materials and clothes
Painters at work
Happily there were no cases of accident, tummy upsets, serious injuries, culture shock or homesickness, so praise God for watching over us!
This was in many respects the highlight of the year for these children who, while being well-cared for, lack people to take an ongoing interest in them, play with them, and help them develop. The shelter at which they stay runs a ‘godparent’ scheme whereby local people are partnered with a child and take them out, give them presents, and potentially work towards adopting them. However many children don’t have godparents to help them, and some are too old (12 or over) to be attractive to potential godparents, who generally seek younger ones. Please pray that more godparents will be found.
We cannot publish any photos of the children, for their own protection.
Please continue to pray for the children, who will miss us as their lives go back to normal routine until next summer when another team will visit, and for us too as we settle back into our UK lifestyles (or not!).
Tags: Brazil, compassion, Soapbox
Posted in Latin America, Missions Report | 2 Comments »
Posted by Tim on 18th July 2011
Brazil is a massive country which takes up half of South America and crosses three time zones. Bustling cities give way to vast expanses of jungle, beautiful beaches, rugged mountains and endless plains.
Brazil is also home to some of the biggest cities in the world – and some of the largest slums. It has a population of nearly 200 million and is one of the worlds biggest economies but it is estimated that there are also 8 million street children in Brazil.
This summer Tim is leading TWO short-term teams organised by SoapBox to Belo Horizonte, the country’s third largest city, to support a local Christian ministry which works with children with a variety of needs who can no longer live with their families.
The teams will be building walls, repairing a leaky ceiling and painting the living areas. They will be staying at the same home as the children so there will be plenty of time to play with, teach, and encourage the children. Please pray for them all as they undertake this expedition to communicate the love of Jesus to some of the world’s poorest and neediest people.
20th July Team 1 leaves England
7th August Team 1 leaves Brazil
12th August Team 2 arrives in Brazil
25th August Team 2 arrives in UK
Team 1 (A youth group from Ashwell, Baldock and Royston in Hertfordshire): Jen (co-leader), Amy, Callum. Kia, Millie, Rosie, Rufus, Tom
Team 2: Helen (co-leader), Jennie, Jono, Marie, Sam, Val
KEY PRAYER POINTS
- the team to know Jesus working in them and through them
- God to work in the lives of the many hurt children they’ll be helping
- health and safety as they do manual work they’re not used to
- protection and safety as they travel
- leaders to be able to do an excellent job and work well together
- team members who are under 18 to be able to cope well away from home
- them all to be able to cope with the culture shock of experiencing a different world
This expedition is organised by SoapBox, a charity which provides opportunities for short-term mission projects throughout the world. It has a childcare programme that operates in the countries where they have practical aid projects. They also work in UK prisons and schools.
Tags: Brazil, compassion, Soapbox, technical
Posted in Latin America, Mercy ministries, short-term missions | No Comments »
Posted by Tim on 27th October 2009
Praying with a school girl at St. Johns Secondary School
On one of our first days in Kampala, the team visited a secondary school and attended the Christian Union meeting. Here we experienced the most vibrant of worship celebrations, led by the children themselves. After this the Soapbox team presented a medley of songs/ drama and testimonies, at the end of which an appeal was made for any who needed prayer. We were privileged to pray for some really needy situations in the lives of these children, many of whom had a relationship with the Lord, but were otherwise destitute. The girl in the photo was facing eviction from school because of not being able to pay the school fees. We could offer prayer and fellowship, but little else in the context where the need is so great. We had to remind ourselves of the ability of our God to meet the needs of all his children, and to trust in his unfailing love. In such a difficult context, the joy and delight in praising the Lord challenged our own worship. With so little, they were able to offer so much heartfelt thanks- how much more should we, in the comparative comfort of our Western lifestyles unreservedly worship the Lord with all that we have!
Coaching children at Shalom Primary School
We worked in association with Nakawa Baptist Church, situated in a slum area just outside Kampala. The Church here has set up a school at which around 150 children from the surrounding areas come to receive education. Most of these children are funded through Compassion and Soapbox Child Sponsorship Schemes, without which they would not have access to any formal education. The team spent several mornings with the children teaching them songs, bible stories and games. Here in this picture Roger is using his training as a football coach to conduct a basic ball skills exercise. The children loved the opportunity to train and to compete in these events. When the team left Nakawa, the coaching kit was donated to the church and several of the young Ugandan Christian men expressed their intention of continuing the activities with the children in an attempt to promote physical fitness and also as a bridge to building relationships with the children, from which foundation the gospel could be explained.
Visit to Mwana Primary School
The Soapbox team visited several different schools during the 2-week trip. Each time we would receive the warmest of welcomes, followed by a selection of activities aimed at sharing the Gospel message in a culturally appropriate way. On this occasion the school assembled all their classes in the covered courtyard area and we performed a series of presentation items based around the story of Noah’s Ark. Along with some moments of hilarity in some of the sketches we performed, on each occasion the Gospel of God’s love was presented and an opportunity to accept Jesus as saviour was given. We were very encouraged by the levels of responses and as well as sowing many seeds, we witnessed several lives changed by the acceptance of Jesus as Lord.
Door-to-door evangelism in Nakawa District
On a couple of occasions the team spent a morning visiting the local area around the church. We found the local residents very welcoming and ready to hear our message. Often we would sit down on the doorstep of the house and explain the message of God’s love from the bible. Sometimes quite a crowd would form, and a surprisingly large number of people came to accept Jesus as Lord. We also held an evangelistic event towards the end of our second week, at which many people came forward for prayer and to accept the free offer of salvation. Nakawa Baptist Church are well organised in terms of follow-up, and many of those who confessed Christ were given a bible at the following Sunday service. Our team had been privileged to sow the seeds, and we left with every confidence that our brothers and sisters in Nakawa would carry out the regular watering. As for the increase, we know that only God himself can save people and we continue to trust Him for that!
Tags: Short Term Mission, Soapbox, Uganda
Posted in Missions Report | 4 Comments »