April 2020 - Baker Bulletin and Update
LOCKDOWN, APRIL 2020
This is going to be an emotional prayer letter to write as it may be our last as AIM workers. In our last letter we said that these months of Home Assignment were about resting, finishing my studies and planning our next step in ministry and life. Quite early in our Home Assignment it became obvious that our ministry in Mayotte had sadly come to an end before we would’ve wanted and as things stood we wouldn’t be going back any time soon. This is not what we had planned back in 2016 when we went to Paris to learn French and then back to Mayotte. We wanted to be in Mayotte for a number of years, and up until last summer we were still planning along those lines. However, with the situation at the International Church in Mayotte, and then with my subsequent struggles with burnout we have decided not to go back to Mayotte or indeed Africa for the next part of our lives. Soon, then, our time as AIM employees and mission partners with you all will come to an end. As things stand we do not yet have a 100% definite end date, but it is likely to be the end of May.
TO OUR FINANCIAL SUPPORTERS: We understand that at this difficult time some may need to stop their giving to us. We would ask the rest of you, if you are able, to not cancel any financial support until our finish date is confirmed and you receive further communication from ourselves or from AIM directly. There is a chance that our start date at our new job will be delayed in the present climate. So, if you can, please wait until we contact you again. We are so incredibly grateful for your gracious support over these last months in particular.
The good news from us is that we have a new ministry to move on to. I have accepted a job, official title: Associate Minister (Youth and Families) at St Peters Harold Wood in Essex. Like I said above, I hope to be able to start in June, but we are waiting on a DBS to come through. For a couple of months we will continue to live here in Felixstowe until hopefully moving down to Harold Wood in July or August. The provision of this church has been an incredible answer to prayer and is a job and a church we are very excited about. The current pandemic will obviously affect how we are able to join the church and how I am able to work, but in whatever form it takes we are excited to start this new challenge.
It is now over 10 years since we first went to Mayotte. Young and energetic and excited about sharing the good news of Jesus with a people walking in shadow - with almost no local gospel light. We spent 5 years in total in Mayotte, 1 in Paris and another 1 in between times - meaning we have spent around 7 of the last 10 years as AIM missionaries. Some of you reading this have prayed for us during those 10 years, some during the last 4 or 5. Those years on Mayotte have been difficult. But we have no regrets. Mayotte I think will always be with us. It’s people, the colours, and sounds, and smells of the place. The beaches!! The smell of Ylang Ylang in the evenings with fruit bats flying over head whilst the call to prayer is blaring out - is amazing. To have lived somewhere so exotic and yet so broken has obviously affected us deeply. We have made lifelong friendships there; learnt languages; learnt about a different culture; and learnt about ourselves through successes and struggles.
Above all we have had the incredible privilege of partnering with you all to bring the gospel of Jesus to some Mahorais people. God is good. He keeps all his promises. He said from the beginning that all peoples of the Earth would be blessed in Christ, and we have been a very small part of Him blessing the Mahorais. Mayotte remains a dark place for the gospel. There is still no local expression of church in the local language and culture, even after decades of work by AIM and others. But in His grace, our Dad allowed us to witness to some about his Son and to even see a few repent and put their trust in Him.
Please remember Mayotte in your prayers from time to time. Please continue to look out for the excellent work of AIM and consider supporting them or another AIM worker. And please join us in thanking God for our years of gospel partnership.
We will aim to write one last letter once we are in Harold Wood to let you all know that we have indeed moved on from AIM into our new role. For now please wait for further communication about finances before acting on that, we will be in touch soon.
John, Alma, Anya & Micah -x-
Click the link below to download the Baker Bulletin
March 2019 - Baker Bulletin
I realise it's been a while since we sent out an update, but let's get down to business, I'm going to keep things simple this month and just share a number of prayer
requests, please email back if you'd like more info and if you'd like to chat we can arrange a skype call.
1. Please pray for our team mates...
The photo shows how the team here has grown recently. We now have a Brazilian couple living near us in Mamoudzou, an American couple living a short drive away on the west coast and a Canadian short-termer who's with Chris and Sarah. The Americans have set up a gym and are making a great number of contacts. Please pray for them as they need people to come and work with them ASAP.
Maybe you would like to come to Mayotte for a while and do ministry with them (and us)? Or maybe you know a friend who would want to?
Pray about it and get back in touch! (French language required!)
It is really encouraging to have gospel partners arriving on Mayotte. I've actually just had lunch with a Malagasy/French man who has come to Mayotte as an evangelist and is working with Campus for Christ. We were sharing resources and project ideas. It's great that Christians in France seem to be considering moving to Mayotte - although not yet enough!
Sadly, however, we'll soon be saying goodbye to Chris and Sarah (and their kids) as they are moving on to a new role within AIM in the summer. Pray for them to as they move on and for us as we take over responsibility for some of the things they have been doing.
Please pray for us a team that we would continue to get on well and support each other in a difficult ministry location. They really are a great bunch - and photogenic as well!
2. Please pray for our continued witness and church planting efforts
Mayotte continues to be a hard place to do evangelism and discipleship. Pray for us to always be ready to speak about Christ and to make the most of every opportunity. Pray for the young believers we've mentioned in previous emails and pray for us as workers here as we plan for how best to disciple and gather the few local Christians into groups.
3. Please pray for the church and our future ministry here
This prayer request doesn't go with the picture, sorry.
Our aim in coming to Mayotte was to do church planting among the Mahorais in partnership with the international church. Unfortunately it seems like we are going to have to step away from the role with the church. This is a great source of sadness to us, but it is clear that at present we cannot work with the leadership of the church as gospel partners.
Please pray for our Dad to intervene and change hearts. And please pray for us to love Christians and to know what to say to each one. Pray too for certain members of our home-group who seem to be grasping the gospel for the first time as they study the Bible with us (including a Hindu Nepalese woman - I know! That's not why we came to Mayotte!). Pray that we would be able to find a way for them to continue to get Bible input and be in community with other believers.
Home Assignment this summer
Just a quick note to say that we are currently figuring out Home Assignment plans for this year and we'll let you know soon our planned movements over the summer months.
As always thanks for your prayers, financial support, and precious partnership in gospel ministry.
NOV 2018: Baker Bulletin
It's cruise ship season in Mayotte! Not many, but a few ships have started arriving the past few years and they are always full of the English! The other day we were relaxing on our day off at the beach and just next to us a Mancunian grandma was skyping her kids and grandkids, "Yeah we're in Meyotti now...yeah best holiday ever...it's like paradise here!" I nearly spat out my freshly squeezed topical fruit juice on to the soft white sand! Paradise?!? Try living here love! Just a few days later we watched the images on TV of Paradise in California literally burn to the ground! We can't find or build paradise here on Earth hey?
It's interesting though how a comment like that makes you lift your head and try and see Mayotte through that woman's eyes. The beach we were at is absolutely beautiful. Mayotte is a naturally spectacular place. It's as pretty as anywhere I've ever been. But of course it's only on holiday that we describe somewhere as being like paradise because we are not there long enough to see the ways the Fall and human sin affect everything. That woman on her cruise needs to hear the gospel message as much as the people here do!
Mayotte at the moment is not Paradise but it is largely calm. It seems like the new Prefect is quietly getting things done. The weather is heating up and the humidity is extreme and very tiring.
Ministry for us continues to be slow and our role with the church hard work. However God has graciously used us over the past couple of months, please read on for some prayer requests related to what has been going on in our lives...
Praise God for this photo!
During the study (on Jesus saying "My God why have you forsaken me?" on the Cross) I suddenly took a mental and literal step back and looked at that scene and thought, wow this is pretty cool!
Pray for the Christians in this group who don't yet have a really solid grasp of the gospel.
Pray too for a Nepalese woman who one of the church members has started to bring along. She is a Hindu and very open to the gospel. Amazing that we get to witness to a Hindu Nepalese woman!
Pray too for the two young men from the island next door to ours. One is a professing Christian the other is his friend who is very open. Both are from Muslim backgrounds and a decision for Christ will cost them a lot.
- Please continue to pray for the ex-pat church we are serving. We are still looking for a pastor. One is coming for a trial period soon, so pray for discernment. Pray too for our various activities (preaching regularly; leading a home group; both Alma and I are doing Sunday school; and our monthly Evangelism training group). Pray that we will be able to preach the gospel whenever we get a chance.
- Please pray for Alma at her work. She is working part-time teaching English. This has been a great boost to her French language learning and has led to her meeting lots of people from different backgrounds. It is also pretty tiring sometimes. Pray for her witness.
- You can pray too for our wider team: the Powers in Chiconi; Andrew a short-termer with the Powers; the Brazilians (Breno, Raphaela and little Manu) in Mamoudzou; and the Americans in Tsigoni who are not with AIM but who share a similar vision. It's great to have a group who think very similarly about gospel ministry but who have such different backgrounds and such different skill sets and interests. Pray for us as we seek to care for one other and encourage one another.
Thanks for your prayers, John, Alma and Anya Baker
MAY 2018: Baker Bulletin
|These last couple of months have been difficult ones. There has been a general strike which paralysed the island for a month, and we have suffered various sicknesses and disappointments (evangelism and community involvement in particular remain difficult). But there have been encouragements too:|
1. Alma recently accepted a job working for an adult education centre based in our village. This is great and a real answer to prayer. She's starting on the 1st of June part time. She will be teaching English to adults. Pray she will do a good job and God will put local people in her path who are ready to learn about Christ as well as learn English!
2. Our role with the church is developing. I am now on the council of the church and have attended a few meetings - getting my feet under the table! This weekend the church put on an event where clothes were distributed to those in need. Pray for those who received this practical act of Christian love and for those who heard the gospel. Last weekend the church hosted a church planting training event and yesterday we had a group of 10 people at our house to discuss the training and what to do next. There were some very exciting ideas shared and we hope to start training people soon using a church planting manual which we as a team have been writing this past year.
3. Although our Sunday group has stopped meeting and certain members seem to have wandered away from Christ, Adam and Sharif are doing well and growing in their faith. Adam was at the meeting mentioned above, pray for him as we look for how to use his teaching gifts and his knowledge of I$1am to bless the church and bring the gospel to his community.
4. You'll be excited to hear I've restarted my football career! More of veterans team these days. Pray for gospel opportunities as I play and train.
|Dates for the Summer:|
We will be on a short home assignment in England and Ireland in July and August.
Sunday 8th June: At Christ Church Leyton
Sunday 15th June: We will be speaking at Christ Church Leyton, having a BBQ afterwards and then watching the World Cup final somewhere!
For our friends in England this is the date to put in the diary - this will be the main time we will be giving an update. If you can, put it in your diary and get down to lovely Leyton:
Christchurch Leyton, 10:30 AM, 73 Francis Road, E10 6PL - we'd love to see you there!
Monday 16th to Thursday 19th July: AIM Home Assignment Conference, Swannick.
Thursday 19th July: Visiting Bedford Prayer Group, Bedford
Sunday 22nd July: At Christ Church Leyton
We will be in Ireland from the 2nd to the 16th of August, so you will find us at Donegal Town Presbyterian Church on the Sundays of the 5th and the 12th August. We will also be helping out with some of the Holiday Bible Club.
Looking forward to it already! Thanks for reading and praying.
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, Ephesians 6:19
AUGUST 2017: John and Alma Baker: Prayer Letter
Ok, we're back in Mayotte after a great Summer back home. Got a lot of things about to start, and a few things that have already happened...
Yesterday we baptised Moses*. We shared with you about his story last year. He comes from Madagascar and grew up in a Muslim family, so to be baptised is a big step. It was a great day. Praise God for him and pray for him, we are aware that the time after baptism is often difficult spiritually.
Like I said, we had a great Summer away from Mayotte. We spent 2 weeks in Kenya doing Church Planting training, then a couple of weeks in both Ireland and England catching up with a lot of you, followed by a holiday camping in Norfolk with family. Anya especially had a great summer, and misses her Irish and English cousins back here in Mayotte. A big thank you to everyone who met with us, helped us and encouraged us during the summer.
So, if you pray for us, praise God for all of that, pray for Anya as she settles back in here, and pray that we will know how to put the training we received over the Summer into practice.
Now we are back, everyone is talking about 'La Rentrée' - the time of year when people get back from their holidays and get back to work or school.
Here are a few things that are starting or re-starting for us:
- Anya is starting school this week. She will be starting the equivalent of Nursery School and will go from 7-12 Monday to Friday.
Alma has got a short term contract teaching some English at the University. This is a bit of an unknown at the moment but could be a great foot-in-the-door into the student world here.
- We will be starting up our little group on Sunday afternoons.
- We are going to put into practice what we learned during our training over the summer and so will be focusing a lot on accountability and on evangelism.
- We are launching a Men's Group at the church in September. I will be leading it alongside a deacon at the church and am very, very excited to get it started.
- This might be a bit of a surprise but I (John) have been accepted onto a post-graduate 'Bachelor of Theology Honours' degree (IN FRENCH!!!) with South Africa Theological Seminary. This means that probably two mornings a week I will be studying theology. The aim is to get further training in order to be of more use to the church both now and in the future, and also to improve my French. There is a cost involved, just under £1000 per year for three years.
- Especially pray for us as we attempt to be bolder and more regular in getting out and sharing the gospel with those around us - both those we know and those we don't yet know.
It seems like a long time since we wrote a Prayer Letter and a lot has happened in the meantime. Here is our news and prayer requests.
1. Two Baby Christians, Adam and Sharif
In November I was able to sit with two men, explain the gospel to them, call them to commit to follow Jesus and then lead them into a new life with Christ as they confessed sin and said they wanted to follow Jesus from then on. You can read below a bit more about these two guys.
What they both have in common is that they have had years of Christian influence in different countries, and I was the one who was here at the end of all the good build up play by previous Christians to score the tap in - stick the ball in the back of the net (sorry for the football metaphor - it's a struggle to not use more of them). This is obviously a massive answer to prayer and this is why we are here, so please praise God for what he did in those two young men's lives.
2. Getting Settled into Church
Opposite you can see a picture of me preaching my first sermon at the church here. It was actually the first time I have ever preached a full length sermon in French and the preparation time was immense, but it went well and was great to be given that opportunity by Pastor Faly.
Alma is getting involved in the women's group here; we are starting to attend home group and we are thinking about how we can best serve the church over the coming years.
Praise God for good relationship with Pastor Faly and a good start to getting to know the church.
3. Language Learning
The third big focus of our work here (in this first year on Mayotte) is language learning. We are continuing to work on our French daily (it remains hard work). We have been able to speak a bit of ShiBushi with old friends in Chiconi and we are planning on getting going with basic SiMaore this year. Alma has already been going to a Shimaore class and enjoying it. We straddle a few worlds here at the moment (as shown in the pictures below) and in a ideal world we would be fluent in multiple languages (French, Malagasy, ShiBushi, ShiMaore and more). Obviously that isn't really possible, so please pray for motivation, energy and wisdom in working out where and how to focus our efforts in language learning in 2017.
4. Sickness and Settling In
From around about the time that Adam gave his life to Christ I have been hit by a few illnesses and feel like maybe only now I am recovering. Alma is as strong as an Ox (she's not an overly pampered suburban cry-baby like me) but she too has been tired at times over the past few weeks. What this means is that the past month and a half we have had to slow right down and take a lot of time off.
Please pray that we will fully recover and have better levels of health and energy in the coming weeks.