What's New?

New Health Centre Sierra Leone

During their November visit to Sierra Leone, Janet O’Shea with Bethany and Esther Green were introduced to a church service congregation, where they noticed a young boy. Sitting next to his mother, he was in pain, whimpering quietly to himself, and it soon became obvious that there was something seriously wrong. His mother explained that two weeks earlier her son had been playing football when he fell and broke his leg - in two places. She could not afford medical help and could not raise the money for transport to reach a clinic where he could be treated.

At Mabang, the team met a young man with his two small children. He had just buried his wife because she had not been able to reach the hospital quickly enough.

In addition, at Brama School during a two-week visit in the summer, at least six children were taken ill with malaria, while at Bethesda two children needed treatment for malaria and one for typhoid.  

 

Help was given to those mentioned, but it left no doubt of a great need for improved health care facilities. 

Magnus Bendu expressed his great concern for the necessity of cheap, available medical support, and raised the consideration for funding to build and equip a local Health Centre. 

Prayer

Prayer followed these visits and Magnus’ request, and in June last year, Zion Community Church prayed as a whole community for confirmation that this was a project that the church should support. 

God provided their answer with speed. That very evening a generous cheque was received (from a donor outside of the church community) for £5,000, which enabled the purchase of land, and this was followed in December by a donation from a Connexion church member for £30,000 to cover the costs of the build. Confirmation indeed!

Since that time, a plot of land has been purchased and the area has been cleared in preparation for building. 

We are now delighted to be able to share the first picture, sent by Magnus, of the Health Centre walls being erected!

We look forward to charting the progress of this new build, which has the potential to transform the lives of our communities in Sierra Leone. 

Together we thank God for His amazing answer to prayer!

 

Virtual Church at Wormley

During this period of the Coronavirus crisis with church communities unable to meet up in-person, Wormley Free Church has set up a new Virtual Church page on their website, where they plan to post videos and useful resources. 

Their first broadcast streams a virtual service from Sunday 22 March, Praying Right Now. This is followed by a Church Get-together on 24 March and a Covid-19 video by Spoken Truth.

On 25 March, there is also something for the younger members, with a virtual Paul Kerensa Event, giving a live reading of his children’s books.

Ben Quant, Minister, said: ‘Wormley is delighted to share Virtual Church with the whole Connexion Community. Our first broadcast did contain a few glitches, but we are endeavouring to become be more polished as we progress!’

Please click on the following link to access the Virtual Church section: https://wormleyfreechurch.org.uk/category/virtual-church/

It's well worth a visit!

Coronavirus

We are all now well aware of the public advice about avoiding social or other gatherings so as to limit as far as possible the spread of coronavirus. It is known to be very contagious. It is also known that its effects on older people can be much more serious or life threatening. 

The Trustees have been monitoring this situation closely and recommend strongly the cancellation of all church meetings, services, life groups, bible studies and other activities for the foreseeable future until such time as the public advice from government changes. This recommendation will have a direct impact on meetings on Sundays and at other times during the week. 

After taking soundings from a number of Connexion churches, and in line with the advice now given by other denominations, the Trustees advise that all meetings held on Connexion premises should cease with immediate effect and until further notice. 

As Sunday services should not now take place, the Trustees are exploring the development of online worship streaming across The Connexion with our ministers, so that as a family of churches we can continue to support each other and the people of God who worship regularly with us.

There is no doubt that we are facing difficult times demanding extraordinary responses, but while we should take every care and precaution and be very deliberate about the decisions we must now take, we do place our trust and hope in our risen Lord with the assurance of the words in Psalm 91:

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. Psalm 91:4-6 

On behalf of the Trustees

The Connexion

 

Shine Day in Ely

The Countess Free Church in Ely will be running a key annual event, Shine Day, on Saturday 28 March 2020.

The event is run in partnership with The Lighthouse Church in Ely and designed specifically for girls in school Years 7 to 11. 

Now in its 10th year, this year’s schedule for the day includes 4D Street Dance, a Vocal Workshop, Pamperzone, a Creative Workshop, and more... 

The central focus ‘Be Loved!’ presents an ideal opportunity for girls to spend the day in good company, and get involved with activities that help to build confidence, courage, and character - all against the backdrop of the Christian faith.

Update: Prayer for Containers

Please continue to pray for two containers that are bound for Bethesda.

Back in November, the containers left St Ives to be shipped to Sierra Leone.

They arrived in Freetown Port on 5 December, and that is where they have remained. The hold-up is due to issues with bureaucracy - a situation that could likely run up additional costs for port rental.

The issue

This week, Magnus contacted St Ives with an update. The issue appears to relate to the categorisation of the contents. Officials are stating that Duty Free for organisations, such as Bethesda, is only applicable to ‘purely religious items’ for example, bibles.

To qualify for Duty Free, Bethesda would need to have NGO status, rather than community-based NGO, which is the Bethesda category. The bottom line seems to be that customs are requesting a duty payment in order to release the containers.

Magnus is understandably frustrated and asks for our continued prayer: that God will support his battle and bring about a fair decision to enable the containers to reach the children in Bethesda, without additional cost.

Inside the containers, is a whole range of eagerly awaiting items:

  • Shoe bags from Zion Community Church, St.Ives, Cradley Chapel, Ebley Chapel and Woodmancote Church
  • Sleeping bags, blankets, sheets, towels, curtains 
  • Table cloths, crockery and cutlery
  • Clothes and shoes for adults and children
  • At least 60 boxes of new school uniforms
  • 100s of school text books - children's story books, adult Christian books, and some new books that have been donated for the Evangelical library
  • Assorted toys, as well as balls for football and netting for goals
  • Furniture, bunk beds, cots, settees, and desks for Magnus and Daniel
  • Sewing machines and manual typewriter for blind folk

The delivery cost for the containers to reach Bethesda has already been paid. 

This hold up is the last hurdle.

We would welcome your prayers for the issue to be resolved swiftly, and at minimum cost (or none!) and that the containers will safely reach Bethesda without further delay. 

We look forward to receiving photographs and celebrations from Magnus of the containers’ arrival!

Dirty washing?

Click on Short Thought to hear Simon Allaby's new 60-second message.

Simon's recordings are always inspiring and entertaining. This week he considers a washing line of clothes and the issue of how we sometimes see things, and the judgements we make based on what we believe we see.

The key message is to look at the plank in your own eye before seeking to remove the speck in eye of somebody else.

To listen to Simon's recordings just go to the SHORT THOUGHT button, which appears at the top of every website page.

Enjoy!

PA Systems for Sierra Leone Schools

It has been a busy time for Magnus Bendu in Sierra Leone. Following the bustle of Women's Day and the Conference in early February, he has taken to the roads to visit pupils and staff at Allen Town and Jui Secondary Schools; also speaking at their chapel services.

Magnus, the teachers and the pupils are hugely appreciative of the generous donation made by Shoreham Free Church in West Sussex, which has enabled the purchase of two built-in mini PA systems. 

Everybody sends their thanks for the provision of this equipment, which will add so much value for both speakers and the school children. Thanks are also given for the additional donation that has covered the cost of creating and printing 700 hymn booklets. These will be shared among the schools - and they look great!

 hymn booklets

Donate

If you would like to contribute towards the important work of The Connexion both in the UK and in Sierra Leone, please click on Donate

All donations, no matter how small, are of huge value to enable us to continue the legacy of the Countess of Huntingdon.

 

20/20 Vision from St Ives

The 20/20 vision of our local Peninsula Gospel Partnership is to see a Christ-centered, Bible-teaching, people-loving church available to every community in Devon & Cornwall. At Zion Community Church in St Ives, this is our vision too.

Turning the Tide

Turning the Tide (TTT) is an initiative launched in the Spring of last year with the goal of seeing our church established in the next 3 years. That means we are looking to the Lord to be a church of 30 people in 3 years time, self-sufficient financially and further able to make an impact with the gospel in St. Ives and West Cornwall. So far we have been hugely encouraged by the support we have received and with encouragements from the Lord.

Please pray Psalm 90:17 with us: May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands

Gospel Outreach

Wyatt Gwin heads up Emmanuel & Associates based out of Atlanta and through a mutual friend he got in touch to see if they could bring a mission team to us, once a year, for the next three years. Obviously we would be delighted to host and receive such a team and so we are in the planning stages now trying to arrange the first team for this summer.

Please pray that the Lord would be making disciples of local people in St. Ives through this partnership in the gospel.

Jonathan Steeds

For quite a while now we have been praying for the Lord to send workers to join us (Matt. 9:38). In the Spring last year Jonathan Steeds, who has many historical links with the town and church, committed to joining us for a year. He has been and is a huge help in preaching, leading, visiting, helping out with the young people's activities and being part of the church family. We are very grateful to the Lord for him.

Please join us in thanking God for sending us a worker to join us here for this year, and for all the help Jonathan gives us.

Building Upgrades

The Lord has also provided financially for us such that we have been able to install a new audio-visual system, to replace the last one installed over 20 years ago. We hope this we enable to gospel to be heard much more clearly, and also engage our younger people in actively taking part in the services and having more visual content.

Please join us in thanking God for his provision for various upgrades to the church.

Church Family

The church family are good heart and health, and very aware of the Lord sustaining us. Sadly Steve Traylor has decided to leave the church, and so we wish him well. Our young people are full of energy and enthusiasm and continue to be an encouragement to us.

Please pray for us to be faithful gospel witnesses in St. Ives and that the Lord might use us to be a lasting witness both in St. Ives and West Cornwall.

Regional Instability

We feel our need to be in the town more than ever. The current movements within Methodism nationally are creating a real storm for faithful methodists here in West Cornwall, in addition to the normal challenges some local churches are facing. We long to be a lasting, faithful, vibrant witness to the gospel here. (Map Data © 2020 Google).

Please pray for the gospel to bear fruit and grow in St. Ives and West Cornwall.

Visiting St Ives

If you are going to be in St Ives in 2020, we'd love to see you, please do drop into the bookshop, or to our main morning service at 10:45 on Sundays.

With our love

Tim Dennick and the members of Zion

Sierra Leone Conference and Women's Day

Women's Day

Women from The Connexion church communities in Sierra Leone traditionally come together for friendship, prayer and worship at a special day of their own during the week before the start of the main Conference.

womens day group

Invited Speaker

This year Women’s Day took place on 31 January at St Mark’s Cathedral in Waterloo, and featured invited speaker Ebun Dekam, who is the General Secretary of the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone.

ebun dekam

The Council of Churches is a communion of 24 Protestant churches in Sierra Leone and eight affiliate churches and organisations. In recent years, they have played a significant role in areas of advocacy, peace mediation, disaster relief and election monitoring.

 Conference 2020

The main three-day Annual Conference for 2020, which is open to the entire Connexion church ministers and members, took place at St Mark’s Cathedral from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 February. The theme for this year was Psalm 23 ‘The Lord is our Shepherd’ and the conference concluded with a special Thanksgiving Service on Sunday.

sl conference2020 group

Many thanks to Magnus Bendu for sending over the photographs and keeping us in touch with people and events in Sierra Leone. Pictured below are ministers and clergy members entering St Mark's Cathedral. 

sl conference ministers

Bread and Prayer: Mile 91

Visiting the school at Mile 91 – so named because it is exactly 91 miles from Freetown – Magnus brought the children a treat of fresh bread to eat after the chapel service. 

It is lovely, but also quite humbling to see the expressions of delight on the children’s faces as they eat the bread, and a reminder of how in the West so many of us can take this food, and very much more, for granted. 

Your prayers are always welcomed for the Connexion schools, orphanage, churches and local communities in Sierra Leone, and the following prayer points are particularly requested for February. 

Sierra Leone Connexion Conference

Please pray for those in leadership positions in as they make final preparations for this year’s Conference at St Mark’s Cathedral, Waterloo, Sierra Leone.

Please also pray for speakers and receptive listeners, for wisdom in any decisions that need to be made, and for unity and God’s presence throughout the event from 7 to 9 February.

Sierra Leone Leaders

Magnus has requested prayer for the National Leaders in Sierra Leone, as currently there is much animosity between the two main political parties.

Containers from UK

Two containers arrived in Sierra Leone from the UK on 5 December, but they are still awaiting one signature from a Government Official before they can be released to complete the remainder of their journey. Please pray that this will happen quickly and that the cost of ‘port rental’ will be minimal.

Donate

If you would like to contribute towards the important work of The Connexion both in the UK and in Sierra Leone, please click on Donate. All donations, no matter how small, are of huge value to enable us to continue the legacy of the Countess of Huntingdon.

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