September 2019

‘I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now’ (Philippians 1:3-5)

The summer: We have come to the end of a seven-week trip back to the UK. It's been full-on, catching up over cups of tea and coffee, lunch and dinner - sometimes all in the same day. It has been great to see so many of you, and very encouraging to be asked so many questions about The Gambia and our work. Thanks to all of you - family, friends and churches - who have expressed interest and shown hospitality, and apologies that were not able to meet personally with everyone over this time.

Mark and Mands outside Dundonald Church

Special thanks to the churches who hosted us: Welwyn Evangelical, Grace Church Worcester Park, and Dundonald. We were delighted be able to join Dundonald for the 'Farewell to the Factory' service on Sunday 1 September, and look forward to the new purpose-built church building that will replace it. We will be praying that your time out of the building creates many opportunities for positive engagement with the community - just as we are praying for Servants of the Word as we move to our new rural location and community in The Gambia!

The site: While we have been in the UK, work has continued at the college building site, despite the rainy season and muddy roads. The new student dormitory now has a red tin roof and some doors, and a metal tower has been built to hold a large water tank that will be filled from the borehole.

Student dormitory with new roof

Lots of you have contributed generously to the Phase 2 Appeal, which wonderfully raised more than the £84,000 target. There is still a huge amount of work to do and costs of materials have been rising, but we are now well placed to complete the dormitory and some of the necessary site infrastructure. 

If you were following the trials and tribulations of the process to get electricity to the site, you will be as amazed as we are that posts for the power cables are being erected along the track at the moment. It's not clear to us how many more stages there are before we have power at the campus or at the huts, but praise God it has got this far, and please pray for continued progress.

On the farm land nearby, each of the five huts now has a green tin roof. We don’t know if they are ready for us to live in yet, but that will be the first thing for us to explore when we get back on 7 September. 

The students: Applications tend to be quite last minute and we're not sure what the ideal number of students would be for this first year. But we are taking back a volleyball, so two teams to play after lectures would be great! We are hoping for twelve students, but we have accommodation for forty. Please keep praying that the right students apply and that SOW could help train a generation of faithful bible teachers to support and strengthen the church in The Gambia.

'Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.' (1 Timothy 4:16)  

Several have been kind enough to ask about sponsoring a student to study at SOW. It would be brilliant to offer this kind of support and another wonderful way in which your church, small group or individuals may be able to partner with us. We will give you more details as soon as we can.

The SOW staff team also had opportunities last year to support some different churches and organisations with discipleship studies and bible handling training. We would love to build on that in the coming twelve months, and hope that the residential campus will prove a useful facility for conferences and other events. 

Final Prayer Points:

  • Please pray for the right students to enrol for this coming year, that they would be shaped by God's word, and have many opportunities to serve the church.
  • Please pray for us we return on Saturday 7 September, to settle quickly into a new home, community and routine. Pray that we and all at SOW would live consistently loving lives that adorn the gospel.
  • Continue to ask our loving heavenly Father to be at work in the hearts of people in The Gambia so they may ‘grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’.

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