As we begin a new year, our desire is for it to be peaceful and prosperous. We wish people of goodwill from across the world, a Happy New Year. However, our eyes are not closed to the reality that in today’s world things are not as we would like them to be. Yesterday’s post from Release International suggests that persecution of Christians will increase in 2017. There is much work to be done, therefore, even if we just spend our time picking up the pieces from the aftermath of a very violent year in 2016.

If we call ourselves ‘Christian’, then we’re already enlisted as agents of God’s love and peace. We don’t need to wait to be called to get involved in helping the needy and suffering, we have already been called to do that; we just need to pray for guidance with regard to ‘how’ we can best fulfil our calling, and ‘who’ we should partner with to be most effective.

Our organisation, Friends In The West, has a real desire to be part of God’s answer to the suffering in the world in 2017. We think especially of Christians who have been displaced and have lost their possessions and livelihoods. Many have lost family members and loved ones. In recent years, too many innocent people have lost their lives in conflict which was not of their making. Our desire is to come alongside people who have gone through horrendous suffering and now need to rebuild their lives. We can’t make the important decisions for them but we can stand with them in prayer and in practical ways, demonstrating that their God hasn’t forgotten them and still loves them in spite of what they’ve been through.

2017 is going to be a very ‘different’ year for me. My dear wife and companion of more than 50 years, passed into the presence of the Lord on 2nd September 2016, just a few weeks before my eightieth birthday. This has brought about unwanted change, as well as a grieving process which I’m still going through. However, I firmly believe that when we put God and His Kingdom first, all the other things fall into place.

God burdened my heart in the past when I founded Friends In The West and also The African Children’s Choir. I’m experiencing that same sense of calling to expand the work of Friends In The West in 2017 so that we can be instruments to bring God’s love to a world that’s in great need. To fulfil the vision I’m praying that God will send me people who can underpin the work in prayer and also those who are in a position to provide practical support. It would be a great encouragement to know that people share my concern for Christians who are suffering.

I can’t share everything publicly in relation to our vision and plans, but if you’ll drop me an email I can give more information to those who are interested. I’d love to know your story and maybe we can share it on our websites or interview you for a podcast or radio programme. Or if you have a question I’ll try my best to get back with a meaningful answer. I’d also love to send you my book “Where The Brave Dare Not Go”. Just request it and we’ll send a copy free of charge for just the cost of postage and packaging. You can contact me, Ray Barnett, through the contact form on this website or by email at ray@friendsinthewest.com. I look forward to hearing from you and in the meantime – A very happy New year.