Barnabas Aid assists a wide range of projects in the following categories.
When many Christians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were forced to flee from the violent rebel group M23 in 2012, Barnabas Aid stepped in to provide 652 desperate, starving Christian families with food and hygiene supplies. Our partner wrote that the food support “brought joy into their heart and a big smile on their faces”.
Barnabas Aid is on hand to help feed Christians who are temporarily in need. But sometimes our support is needed long-term. For example, Christians in Pakistan and Egypt are often trapped in grinding poverty because of discrimination. Receiving regular food parcels transforms their lives: when they know where their next meal is coming from, they can use what they would have spent on food to pay for school fees or start a small business, so that they can lift themselves out of poverty and hunger for good.
In Muslim-majority Kyrgyzstan there is only one Kyrgyz-language Christian children’s magazine – and it is made available through support from Barnabas Aid. Filled with pictures, poems, puzzles and stories, the magazine proves very popular, with copies being passed around and distributed in the streets. With our help it is also translated and circulated in Kazakhstan and Bulgaria.
Many persecuted Christians are also deprived of Christian resources that would help them grow in their faith. The production and distribution of suitable materials is often restricted or forbidden. Our literature and resources funds support the provision of Bibles and other Christian literature, DVDs and television and radio programmes.
These resources provide huge encouragement and strength to our suffering brothers and sisters. A young Kachin Christian in Burma (Myanmar) who received a Bible funded by Barnabas said, “I am getting peace from God through reading the Bible and by living a life devoted to God.”
“I am praising God because of his goodness to my family,” said Kakoli’s father. Kakoli is a student at one of five Barnabas-funded Christian schools in Bangladesh. These schools are not only transforming the lives of needy Christian children but are touching other lives too. Remarkably, some of the children are teaching their parents to read and write.
Children from Christian families often cannot go to school at all. Their parents are so poor, because of discrimination, that paying the fees is impossible. When Christian children can attend school, they may be in a small minority in the classroom, where they often experience harassment, pressure to change their faith or even violence. Some are failed in their exams because they are Christians. Barnabas Aid’s support enables impoverished Christian students in ten countries to learn in a loving Christian environment. Here they can both improve their prospects and grow up to be strong men and women of God.
Barnabas Aid’s School-place Sponsorship programme funds places at Christian schools for needy Christian children. The average cost is £18 per child per month.
“We thank God that He used ‘Brother Samir’ to teach us to attend to God in our everyday life.” Two Christian women from a vulnerable congregation in a Central Asian country spoke of how they have grown spiritually thanks to an evangelist supported by Barnabas Aid.
Samir is one of twelve brave pastors and evangelists whom Barnabas supports in the country, where Christians are under great pressure. Full-time ministry would be impossible for some of them without our support. ”Dilfusa“, another evangelist, was facing financial difficulties after she was sacked from her job because of her ministry involvement. Because of help from Barnabas Aid she is now able to focus full-time on discipling 70 believers.
Pastors, evangelists and church-planters working in contexts of persecution risk much to share the Gospel or shepherd their congregations. They may suffer hardship, harassment or even violence. Every year Barnabas Aid contributes to the living costs of hundreds of full-time Christian workers serving in such contexts in their homelands or among their own people group.
“Due to this church being built in our area, many families are coming to know Jesus and worship Him.” After the civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, many Christians returned home to find their church buildings in ruins and with no resources to rebuild them. Barnabas has provided funds for 17 new buildings, and 20 more are planned.
In countries where Christians are poor or face repressive restrictions, they may be prevented from buying, building, repairing or extending their buildings. Those they have may be closed or destroyed, and they may be forbidden by law from meeting elsewhere. The lack of a building makes worship and ministry difficult and can rob a congregation of respect and dignity.
Other recent Barnabas projects include completing a church for Christian refugees from Burma in Thailand, purchasing a church building in Tajikistan, and roofing new churches in Burundi.
When 71 Christian converts from Islam in eastern Uganda were thrown out of their family homes, a local ministry supported by Barnabas provided them with emergency food and medical care and housed them temporarily in Christian homes. The ministry also provided intensive discipling and vocational training for 136 recent converts.
Christian converts, especially those who leave Islam, often face intense pressure from their families and communities to abandon their new faith. They may lose their families, homes and incomes, or suffer threats and violence that force them to flee abroad. In some countries the authorities may even throw them into prison.
Our Convert Fund provides converts with various kinds of practical and spiritual support. Recent grants have enabled 15 families in a Central Asian country to purchase farmland to generate an income for themselves, and helped widows whose husbands were murdered by militant Muslims in Kenya to start small businesses.
In December 2012 Typhoon Bopha triggered devastating floods and landslides across the southern Philippines. Many Christians on the island of Mindanao, who were already vulnerable to hostility from militant Islamists, saw their homes and crops destroyed. Barnabas assisted 705 families with essential supplies.
In areas where Christians are in a minority, and especially where they are persecuted, they may also suffer discrimination in the distribution of aid after natural disasters. Barnabas’s Disaster Relief Fund is used to provide both their immediate needs and support to rebuild their lives in the longer term, so that their suffering is no worse than that of the majority population.
In the past year Barnabas has provided food relief for Christians affected by crop failures and spiralling food prices in Mali, emergency aid for Christians displaced by heavy rains in Chad, new homes for flood victims in Pakistan, and many other needs for disaster victims.
Imagine that you are in a leadership position within a persecuted congregation. Then imagine that you have no access to the training and support you need to help your flock stand firm under pressure. This difficult situation is faced by many impoverished church leaders in India.
But when one Indian church was attacked in 2012, its leaders were able to stand strong in their faith despite the trauma they had experienced. They had just received Barnabas-funded Biblical training on “standing firm in the midst of persecution”. Their new understanding meant that the congregation was blessed greatly by their steadfast leadership.
When church leaders are properly supported, persecuted congregations can go from strength to strength despite the pressure they face. For example, a group of pastors in Kyrgyzstan are now able to teach their congregations about what the Bible says on the place of suffering in the Christian life, thanks to the new understanding they gained at a Barnabas Funded conference. Barnabas supports leadership training at various levels for church leaders and Christian workers to equip them to support the suffering Christians they serve.
A ministry in Lahore, Pakistan, supported by Barnabas Aid is empowering impoverished Christian women through health awareness seminars. Many of the women do not know even the basics of hygiene and sickness prevention, but through the presentations they can learn about common illnesses and how to avoid them. This knowledge helps them to care better for their families. The ministry also organises doctor’s visits to provide the women with free consultations and prescriptions.
Many Christians who struggle to survive because of poverty, oppression or violence cannot afford to see a doctor, buy medicine or have surgery when required, or even to get simple health advice. Barnabas helps to provide affordable medical care for them, both by paying medical expenses and by sponsoring clinics and hospitals that offer their services free or at low cost.
Our recent medical projects include a church-based healthcare programme and mobile clinic in South Sudan and surgery for Christians in Syria, where medical care has been badly disrupted by the civil war.
Many Christians in South Sudan are struggling to feed their families because of forces beyond their control. Their country is still reeling from the effects of the long civil war (1983-2005), when what was then North Sudan tried to impose sharia law on the mainly Christian South.
In 2012, Barnabas Aid’s partner in South Sudan loaned a group of 197 South Sudanese Christian women the money they needed to start their own small businesses to support their families. For example, one of the women, Kila, now runs a thriving market stall selling bread and snacks and can now provide for her children.
In some countries, Christians find themselves barred from all but the lowest-paid jobs or passed over for promotion. It may also be that the only work open to them is dangerous. Barnabas Aid provides the training, start-up costs or resources our brothers and sisters need to become self-sufficient so they do not need to seek employment from those who despise and abuse them.
“We have reached here with the help of God. We shall live well with God’s help in our land.” A Christian woman gave thanks for the Barnabas-funded Exodus project that has so far enabled nearly 5,000 Christians to relocate from Muslim-majority Sudan to mainly Christian South Sudan. Having endured hostility, injustice and violence for years from the Muslim majority and Islamist government in Sudan, they are now free to begin a new life.
Christians in many countries see their property looted or their churches and homes torched; they suffer physical assault and injury; or they may be arrested, imprisoned or even executed. Barnabas supports victims and their families with practical help of various kinds. In the past year we have provided emergency relief for Christians displaced by anti-Christian hostility in Pakistan, a safe house for persecuted believers in Kyrgyzstan and trauma counselling for children who were victims of violence in India.
Christians in Egypt are a despised minority, and many live in desperate poverty without ready access to even basic resources such as water. In a Christian town in Upper Egypt, Barnabas Aid helped to improve some of the inhabitants’ pitiable living conditions by paying for water connections to their homes. Now 70 families have clean, running water, and they no longer have to carry heavy loads several times a day from the nearest source.
The lives of Christian converts from Islam in South and Central Asia are sometimes put at risk when their Muslim neighbours prevent them from drawing water from the communal sources. Having wells dug on their own properties allows them to continue living there. Barnabas is also helping to provide wells on church land for the beleaguered Christians of Aleppo in Syria, whose water supplies have been severely disrupted by recent heavy fighting.