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    Treehaven, South Africa: International Retreat and Training Centre
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    Ray Barnett, founder, Friends In The West
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    Prayers and practical help for those suffering through violence and war.

Category: Friends In The West

African Children’s Choir Founder Calls for Prayers for Hope and Healing

A recent photo of African Children’s Choir Founder Ray Barnett at one of their Music For Life schools.

By Peter Wooding

As the world continues to deal with the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus outbreak, African Children’s Choir Founder Ray Barnett says it’s vital that believers come together in united prayer for a solution to this crisis.

“We need all Christians to pray for wisdom for doctors and nurses and for government officials. Pray for those who are scientists who are working for an antidote to the virus,” explains Ray.

He added: “This is critical and could lead to those who are in the medical field getting wisdom and knowledge in what to do.”

Ray, aged 83, who was raised in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, founded the African Children’s Choir in 1984. After hearing a radio broadcast discussing the 150,000 children starving to death in Northern Uganda, he felt compelled to help, and headed out to the affected area to see how he could make a difference.

36 years later, as the current choir has postponed all tours, he believes they can minister to those effected by this pandemic through live online concerts:

“We will be announcing details very soon for plans to do live broadcasting to the churches or people who are forced to be in their homes because they have the virus; and we can stream hope and healing concerts relating to this whole pandemic that’s going around the world.”

Ray concluded: “As in the title of my biography ‘Don’t Tell Me It Can’t Be Done,’ through prayer God can do anything. He can heal, and he can reach out and bring reassurance. So, to me that would also be a ministry of healing and encouragement for people. Everyone who believes probably knows somebody who’s affected by this virus, and they can be praying specifically for them and for the people in countries that are difficult to reach. We need to pray for a major miracle for this pandemic to end.”

You can listen to an audio interview with Ray Barnett at the end of this post.

For media interview requests with Ray Barnett or a copy of the audio file of this interview email Peter Wooding: peter@gna.news

Peter Wooding

Peter Wooding is an award-winning radio, TV, and print journalist. Peter has worked as news editor at UCB Radio in the UK, and has reported from countries around the world such as Russia, Serbia, South Sudan, Ukraine and Mozambique. He is a media missionary for ASSIST News and Mercy Projects UK and is London Bureau Chief for Global News Alliance. Peter lives in North Wales, UK, with his wife, Sharon, and their three daughters, Sarah, Anna and Abigail.

Source: Assist News


‘They ran him over with 5 motorcycles’: New report reveals at least 40 attacks against Christians in India this year

by Tola Mbakwe

The latest annual report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) has detailed the extent of Christian persecution in the country. 

The EFI has found that in the first two months of 2020, there were more than 40 attacks against Christians. It also lists 366 incidents where Christians were targeted in 2019.
The report states: “Most incidents are physical violence, threats, harassment and the disruption of church services by religious radicals or the police. 
“Disruption of prayer meetings and Sunday worship is now a trend across many states. Many Christians have been falsely accused and detained on charges of forced conversion.”

Anti-Christian violence has increased by more than 12.5 per cent from 2018 to 2019, according to the report. 

Andrew Boyd from persecution watchdog Release International said the growing animosity toward Christians stems from the political party in charge. 

“It is this growing sense of ultra-nationalism, a very right wing extremist movement there and it’s actually intolerant of anything other than Hinduism within the country,” he told Premier Christian News. 

“The BJP, which is a nationalist party in power, was re-elected with an increased mandate, and that reflects the mood within the country, but it’s also given the ultra-nationalists the kind of credence that they would like to be able to continue what they’re doing.” 

“And I often say that if you’ve seen the film Slumdog Millionaire then you’ll see what happens when the Hindu ultra-nationalists attack Muslim minority in that in that film, it is the same thing that’s going on.”

The most recent violent attack was on 3rd March against a church leader.

Pastor Isaac Paulose was stopped 300 yards from his home in Madhya Pradesh. Ten men accused him of converting Indians to Christianity and threatened to kill him. 

Release International said They beat him with bamboo rods and a thick metal chain, before running him over with five motorcycles.

According to Morning Star News, the 48-year-old pastor of Grace Fellowship Church, suffered a broken rib and head and hand injuries. 

He told a fellow Christian leader he was not scared, but was glad to suffer for the name of Jesus.

Release International has called for the Indian government to repeal its anti-conversion laws and acknowledge the atrocities taking place. 

The charity is training pastors, providing medical support for Christians who are attacked and giving financial support for Christians engaged in legal battles over freedom of faith.


Almighty God, we know that your love reaches to all corners of the earth. We ask you to stretch your hand of protection over the life of every person in India who is experiencing intimidation, harassment or threats from extremists on account of their religion or belief. 

We ask for India’s lawmakers’ hearts to be changed and for controversial laws like the anti-conversion laws and the Citizenship Amendment Act to be repealed, so that all India’s citizens can live out their beliefs in peace 

We thank you for the countless courageous human rights defenders who put themselves at risk to speak up for justice. Please protect them today, exposing those who would seek to do them harm. 

Source: Premier



Pioneering Christian journalist and advocate for the Suffering Church, passes to his reward

Today, we want to bring this tribute from writer and founder of ‘God Reports’, Mark Ellis, honouring the life and work of the well known advocate for the suffering church, Dan Wooding.

Dan was a long time friend of Friends In The West and African Children’s Choir founder, Ray Barnett.  More than three decades ago Dan travelled  with Ray to war-torn Uganda, on a Friends In The West fact-finding trip, in the aftermath of the reign of terror by dictator, Idi Amin. That trip sowed the seeds that led to the formation of The African Children’s Choir and the first publication of the book, ‘Uganda Holocaust’ which Dan Wooding co-authored.

Dan was the founder of ASSIST News, which became an international outlet and voice for the worldwide suffering church. It continues today under the  capable management of Dan’s son, Peter Wooding. Please pray for Peter as he takes on the task of running ASSIST without the input of his father.

Dan is survived by his wife of 56 years, Norma, his two sons Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren. Please pray for the whole family circle at this difficult time.

Dan Wooding and Ray Barnett had a reunion in November 2019 when Dan interviewed Ray about times past and especially the life-changing trip to Uganda and the book publication. 

By Mark Ellis –

Dan & Norma Wooding

Dan Wooding, the former British tabloid writer who became a groundbreaking missionary journalist and advocate for the suffering church, passed to his reward on March 18th. He was 79.

The founder of ASSIST News Service graduated to heaven following a two-year battle with cancer. A back injury in the last several months left him bedridden and in a state of decline that hastened his homecoming with the Lord.

Dan Wooding with Chuck Smith (center) and Warren Duffy

Once a correspondent for the National Enquirer and a staffer on two of Britain’s most sensational tabloids, a powerful encounter with God caused him to devote his writing skills to reporting about the plight of persecuted Christians in restricted countries.

Dan gave me a start as a Christian journalist in 1999 and I will always be grateful for his encouragements. We also recorded a radio program together for many years, “Window on the World,” broadcast over Calvary Chapel’s radio network and through Dan’s personal network of broadcasters in countries around the world.

Wooding with this writer, Mark Ellis

We met for the first time at his modest office in Garden Grove, California, which he shared with his devoted and saintly wife, Norma, who handled their books. I could immediately tell there was nothing improper going on financially with their ministry because of their humble lifestyles. Dan probably found the least expensive office in the county and Norma counted every penny to make sure their support was handled properly.

I also visited their home in Lake Forest, a doublewide trailer that was furnished unassumingly — with Norma’s genteel touch.

Dan Wooding with Rich and Dianne Buhler

Born to missionary parents in Plateau State, Nigeria, in 1940, Dan liked to joke that he was African-American. His bubbly, effervescent personality and ever-present, infectious humor was endearing to so many who were privileged to call him a friend. Also a gifted raconteur, he could regale his listeners with stories behind the headlines, which often could not be shared publicly.

His parents, Alfred and Anne, met at the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) language school, fell in love, and were married at the SIM church in the walled city of Kano.

They began to serve as missionaries in a small mud-hut village called Izom.

Dan Wooding and Pat Boone

When Dan was born, the local chiefs gave him the Hausa name of Dan Juma (Son of Friday), even though he was born on a Thursday. “The problem was the news of my birth hadn’t arrived in the village until the following day, and my father had decided not to tell the chiefs that they had the wrong day,” Dan recounted later.

After Dan’s father got sick with malaria, the family was forced to return to England, where Dan was raised.

Dan Wooding with Joni and her husband Ken Tada with Peter Wooding (standing behind)

He launched his journalistic career in 1968 in London with The Christian, Britain’s oldest evangelical newspaper, owned by Billy Graham. At the paper, Dan interviewed Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the legendary black Gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson.

Writing for the Middlesex County Times in Ealing, London, he wrote some of the earliest stories about Monty Python and was captivated by their humor.

Later he became a senior reporter with the Sunday People in London,

Dan Wooding with Mother Teresa

interviewing Mother Teresa, Johnny Mathis, Burt Lancaster, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

Dan was also a London-based correspondent for the National Enquirer, America’s largest circulation tabloid and later as a senior reporter with London’s Sunday Mirror.

While covering a story about a gangster, Dan’s life was threatened at the notorious Fleet Street pub called The Stab in the Back. The dramatic experience caused him to rededicate his life to Christ. A subsequent reporting trip to Uganda, where he witnessed the horrors of Idi Amin’s regime, caused him to leave the tabloids behind and begin to specialize in eyewitness coverage about persecuted Christians.

He traveled the world, filing stories from Albania, Burma, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Grenada, Lebanon, North Korea, Romania, Uganda and Vietnam, among other tense locales.

Dan in China

His weekly commentary about persecuted Christians was broadcast for 10 years on the UPI Radio Network.

He worked as a writer and broadcaster with Billy Graham in Russia, Germany and Puerto Rico. He wrote a cover story about Billy and Ruth Graham for the Saturday Evening Post in 1996.

Dan Wooding with Billy and Ruth Graham

He and Norma founded ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) Ministries and ASSIST News Service, which transmitted stories to 2,600 media around the world.

Dan Wooding with Brother Andrew

Dan wrote 41 books. One of his books, Blind Faith, which he co-authored with his 93-year-old mother, tells the moving story of her work as a pioneer missionary to the blind in Nigeria. Queen Elizabeth honored the book.

Dan is survived by his wife of 56 years, Norma, his two sons Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren. Dan and Norma lived in the U.S. for 36 years and returned home in 2018 to be close to their family.

Dan’s sons request prayer for Norma as she grieves the loss of her beloved husband.

Source: God Reports

Please click on the image below to access the podcast

Eritrea: 150 Christians arrested on account of their faith

150 Christians were arrested because of their faith in Eritrea. The first 70 were arrested in Keren on June 23, 2019.

Almost 2 months later, on August 18, 80 more were arrested in Godayef, and taken to a nearby police station before disappearing.

In an underground tunnel

The 70 prisoners arrested in June are being held in prison in Ashufera. The term “prison” refers to a number of underground tunnels that the prisoners are forced to extend, by digging, whenever more people are brought in, according to the Italian online publication Tempi.

Those arrested are all members of the Faith Mission Church of Christ, the last church to have been left open in the city of Keren. The 60 year old congregation had asked for official registration in 2002, though they never received any response from Eritrea’s government. After the arrest of 70 of its worshipers, the church’s school was also closed down.

“Renounce Christ”

On top of the 150 arrested for their faith, many more have been asked, before a judge, to renounce their faith, more specifically, to “renounce Christ.”

On August 16 2019, 6 Christian government employees were taken to court and asked to give up their faith. After replying that they were not willing, they were set free as they await a verdict.

Twenty-one Catholic-run hospitals have been closed down, the last on July , 2019. Each of them offered free healthcare to over 170 thousand people a yea. It took a month to confiscate and close down every single one of the clinics, most in rural areas.

The government

A law dating back to 1995 says that only the government can provide social assistance, and therefore run healthcare facilities.

But the government appears unable to do so as they continuously postpone their promised democratic reforms.

written by Francesca Merlo  source

UN Decries Lack of Reforms and Widespread Abuse in Eritrea

A U.N. investigator is condemning an Eritrean crackdown on fundamental freedoms and religious practice in a new report, as well as the country’s harsh, indefinite military service and widespread abuse.

Hopes that Eritrea, which has been accused of human-rights abuses, would institute reforms after it signed a historic peace agreement with Ethiopia in 2018 have not materialized.  If anything, a U.N. report on its human rights situation has found widespread human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearances, sexual violence and torture.

Source: Voice of the Persecuted