Friends in the West: In short
- Friends in the West was founded by Ray Barnett in the 1960’s to support Christians who had been imprisoned for their faith in the former Soviet Union. As well as direct contact with the underground church, prayer bracelets were distributed around the world bearing the names of imprisoned pastors such as Georgi Vins, a Russian Baptist pastor imprisoned for eight years by the Soviet authorities for his involvement in a network of independent Baptist churches.
- The work spread to Africa in the 1980’s in the aftermath of the Idi Amin regime which left thousands of children orphaned. In 1984, Ray brought the very first children’s choir from Uganda to Canada and the US, to highlight their struggle for survival. This was the birth of the African Children’s Choir which is still going strong more than thirty years later and has helped provide an education to more than 52,000 vulnerable African children and a pathway out of poverty for thousands more.
- Today’s focus is on Christians and others around the world who are suffering because of their faith. We want to use media to highlight what’s happening in these often unreported incidents of persecution and violence, encouraging Christians to pray and support in any way they can. Many Christians have been displaced and have lost homes, belongings, livelihoods, and in some cases family members. We encourage Christians in Western nations to pray for and practically support their brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering and whose live need to be rebuilt.
Ray’s message to Christians in the West.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are ‘called’ to be his agent of love and light in a world of darkness and despair. You are called to be part of His answer to the suffering and the problems that are in this world.
As we learn of the atrocities that are happening and the resultant suffering in the world today, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the difficulties. Just remember, God hasn’t called you to solve all the problems of the world by yourself, but he has a special work for you to do.
Ephesians 2:10, says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them. ” He’s had a plan and purpose for your life before you were born. He has prepared good works specifically for you to do. Satan has distracted many Christians from their calling by convincing them that their contribution wouldn’t make a difference – that they’re too insignificant and the problems are too great. That’s just not true. You have been given everything you need to fulfil your specific calling. God just asks for your willingness and obedience.
Friends In The West, also, cannot solve all the problems that exist in the world. But we have a calling to play our part in being God’s answer to help those who are suffering and to encourage them and other Christians around the world. The need is greater than ever before and God has given me the vision to expand our work to help more people. This in turn will mean connecting with more Christians who will in turn pray and help us fulfil our vision and calling.
We invite you to join with us to help in any way you can. That could be as simple as sharing some of our stories with your social media connections. Above all, you can pray and maybe you can give. We currently have two books that we’re sending to anyone who gives a donation.
Pastors, would you and your church consider partnering with us even for one project? Individual Christians, will you pray and be open to your calling to serve the body of Christ that is suffering around the world? You may already be working in some way to help and if so that’s great – we may be able to share what you’re doing. Let me know that you’re fighting the same battle with us. Why not get in touch with me today at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you share the burden to help others who are suffering. I look forward to hearing from you.
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