Fiery trials and powerful priorities

As you may have seen on social media, early September brought an unexpected catastrophe for ZAFES, the IFES national movement in Zambia. Their national office burnt down. However, ZAFES are continuing their ministry despite this setback. And as the English and Portuguese-speaking Africa (EPSA) Regional Secretary Zelalem Abebe confirms, in the last year the movement has made “amazing progress, in many aspects”. In this Prayerline, let’s thank God for how he has blessed ZAFES in 2022, and stand with them in prayer that God would continue to bring beauty, even out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3).

The progress made by ZAFES has been fueled by a clear emphasis on the crucial importance of studying God’s Word. At Kitwe Education College on the Copperbelt Province in the north of Zambia, ZAFES recently pioneered the Bible Exposition Self-Training Program, which prepares students to study the Bible and write study guides. As student Patricia says, “this program has impacted me in so many ways, in helping me find meaning in Scripture.”

For Christians across Zambia, far beyond university campuses, ZAFES may be best known for the Daily Nuggets. They have been producing this Bible reading devotional guide over the last four years, and it has become an essential tool for Christians in Zambia, even beyond ZAFES students, staff, graduates, and associates.

Besides the study of Scripture, establishing fellowship and partnerships with other believers has also been a key ministry priority. Approaching churches to make them aware of ZAFES has prompted 16 churches to pledge various kinds of support for the movement, thus providing new facilities and helping ZAFES become more financially stable. The movement is also mobilizing their graduates, who are responding enthusiastically; as a result, nine new associates’ branches were established across the country in the last year.

Pray for ZAFES and students in Zambia:

  • Thank God for this progress, which has allowed ZAFES to flourish despite the challenges they have faced.
  • Thank God for the blessing and joy of new and renewed partnerships with churches and associates.
  • Please pray for a way forward after the destruction of the office, as well as the offices of five other organizations. “Pray for grace”, asks Barnabas, ZAFES National Director, “that we will continue to look to God and trust him even more. But pray that this setback will not affect campus ministry.” Pray for wisdom and unity, and that through all these things God will continue to call students in Zambia who don’t yet know him.
  • Pray for the staff to be strengthened during this period and for a breakthrough in their stipend which has not been regular for some months.

Thank you for the support you show to ZAFES with your prayers. We’re also thankful for the financial support of those who have given to the movement in response to the fire. If you feel led to help in this way also, you can do so here.

Peacemakers in ethnic civil conflict

‘Bloodshed is nothing new for South Sudan’.

Denis locates current ethnic division within the young country’s past. ‘For 22 years before independence, a brutal civil war raged in Sudan between the government in the predominantly Muslim north and rebels from the south, where people are mostly Christian.’ Now, Isaac says he ‘personally terms ethnic conflict as political wrangling used to divide and conquer, splitting the nation’.

But FOCUS, the IFES national movement in South Sudan, are working to speak into the nation’s problems. Isaac and Denis are ‘peace actors’ in the Acts 4 initiative, FOCUS’s awareness campaign about the impact of hate. An ethnically-based civil war has continued in some form since 2013. As Denis explains, ‘ethnic hate speech is rising among students across the country, and students are significant because they are influential in their communities.’ But the gospel is the foundation for FOCUS to be peacemakers. They held a three-month program of workshops for 45 student leaders, from different campuses and ethnic backgrounds, chosen to be ‘peace actors’. They also distributed anti-hate campaign posters in public places and campuses, and were even invited to speak on the radio. Finally, FOCUS invited 350 students to honest discussions in which many recognised that their hatred towards other ethnic groups originated in family attitudes, learnt at an early age.

Isaac and Denis are both students in Jonglei state, which was the epicenter of violence in 2013. Their studies continue to be severely impacted by violence in the town surrounding their university. Isaac explains that ‘students forget intellectual reasoning and argue that conflict will benefit their own tribe. FOCUS brought us out from this way of thinking and helped us realise what our leaders really need to focus on. I am so fortunate to be able to contribute constructively towards transforming South Sudan. This Act 4 peace initiative has changed my entire life from the perspective of this ethnic conflict and communal violence.’

Denis shares his experience of going to university in such a dangerous place:

‘It was so difficult for my parents to let me go to Jonglei state. It was really a challenge for me to integrate with local communities from a different region, not knowing the local language. While this had a real impact on my faith, it was the first step in my life towards advocating for peace. My parents started to change their attitude toward other ethnic groups after this, too.

‘The Acts 4 initiative encourages me to stand firm in my faith despite the challenges. Before becoming a peace actor, I was negative about other ethnic groups. But I learnt to embrace diversity and inclusiveness. Through this small initiative there was a great impact on our university. I want to thank God for the great work he is doing in different nations across the globe, and particularly in South Sudan for raising people who have the heart to work for his kingdom and for peace.’

It doesn’t stop here. FOCUS South Sudan are beginning a partnership with another IFES movement,  FOCUS Kenya. FOCUS Kenya National Director Simon Kande explains that they are planning to fund a South Sudanese staff member, and, if possible, send FOCUS Kenya staff to South Sudan. They are interested in helping FOCUS South Sudan in their peacebuilding work, too. A group of FOCUS Kenya graduates are working for community development and ethnic conflict resolution in NGOs and agencies in South Sudan. FOCUS Kenya plans to bring them together as an Associate branch – ready to serve the movement in South Sudan, and further the cause of gospel peace in the country.

Pray for Denis, Isaac and FOCUS South Sudan:

  • Denis and Isaac both ask that Prayerline readers continue to pray for peace, healing and reconciliation in South Sudan, that the country’s leaders would embrace diversity, and that God would give them strength as they work for transformation.
  • Isaac asks that we pray for the impact of climate change in South Sudan, which currently ranks in the top ten most vulnerable countries. ‘I really urge you of good faith to continue your support, spiritually, mentally and financially to relieve our beloved country from this critical situation.’
  • Pray for the gospel work of FOCUS, that students would be the Lord’s agents, that God would provide, and his kingdom will come. Pray that the planned partnerships with FOCUS Kenya would go ahead.

If you want to find out more or get in contact with FOCUS South Sudan, you can email them at You can give to the movement here.

That the world may know

Inspiring students to love missions is just the beginning. After that it’s a matter of watching them use their passions and gifts to take charge. Commission, organized by FOCUS Kenya, aims to be that catalyst. It is a missions conference designed to help students, graduates, and churches discover the mission of God and their responsibility in it. This conference has been a formative time for many students: 

“I began missions after my experience at the Commission conference. I have been doing door to door evangelism to my fellow students on campus and the neighboring community. Ten people have so far made commitments to follow Christ.” 

Ilenji, student 

“Commission conference changed my life, and I really thank God. I was able to discover my God-given gift. It’s also during the conference I purposed to support missions financially.”

Brian, student 

“Since Commission, I have been sharing God’s word with my course mates, one of whom joined my Bible study group.” 

Abigail, student 

The eleventh Commission conference will take place this year from 30 October to 14 November. More than 5,000 delegates from Kenya and beyond will gather to discuss lifestyle evangelism, integral missions, and how to support mission work through their prayers and finances. Out of this conference will come robust evangelism initiatives organized by students to target campus communities after the conference. In past conferences God has also called some delegates to pray for, support, or to serve among specific unreached people groups.  

Organizers expect this year will continue a powerful legacy of students experiencing God’s heart for missions. With the event primarily being online this year there is the opportunity for more people from outside of Kenya to participate. Want to join in? Find out more.  

Would you pray with us for this event?  

  • Pray that God would raise many delegates to carry the burden of reaching others with the gospel. 
  • Pray for grace, strength, and wisdom for the planning team. 
  • Pray that the voice of God will be clear to every speaker as they prepare to share in the conference. 
  • Ask God to provide resources, materials, and equipment to make this conference a success.  

Managing talents

How will you make your talent count?  

This is the question that participants are being asked during the most recent training from the IFES Governance Development ministry, called the Matt.25 eForum. The program references the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, where an employer leaves bags of gold with his three employees and asks them to manage his assets while he is away.  

Though IFES board members are not given bags of gold to manage, they have been allocated great responsibility in caring for the organization of their IFES movement. How they handle this responsibility counts greatly. As the parable goes in vs 21, when all is said and done, the hope is that they will hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful… board member.” 

Most recently leaders in EPSA have been challenged by this thinking through the eForum. After more than a year of intense ministry change due to the pandemic, the eForum is helping them strategically re-imagine how they can adapt to challenging times. Participants were asked to consider topics like creating a culture of evaluation, caring for their General Secretary, and revising their vision, mission, and core values to fit the changing needs of their ministry. They were also given elements of refresher governance training like “Ten Top Tips for an Effective Board.”  

The hope is that this eForum will encourage them to press into creating and sustaining healthy governance structures, despite recent challenges.  

This week, let’s pray for leaders in EPSA and around the world who are seeking God’s wisdom in caring for the responsibilities he has entrusted them.  

  • Pray for board members in EPSA who have just completed this eForum. Pray that God would give them the discernment to implement the wisdom they have learned in effective ways.  
  • Pray for board members around the world as they shoulder great responsibility in leading ministry. Pray that God gives them the strength to honor and sustain this weighty responsibility to grow the “assets” they have been given.  
  • Praise God for the organizers involved in Governance Development programs such as the Matt.25 eForum. Ask for more leadership to become involved with these important resources. 

Want to know more about Governance Development programs from IFES? Read here.  

Keeping Bread on the Table

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 
“Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

Movements supporting movements. It is what Christ calls us to do, and it is what IFES is uniquely positioned to coordinate. With COVID-19, many movements have suffered economically. Some have given up their office space because they were unable to pay rent, and others have not been able to pay staff. That is why former Acting General Secretary Jamil Chabouh and the Associate Secretaries implemented the Solidarity Fund in the early autumn of 2020.  

The Fund encouraged donations from movements with more financial resources, so that funds could be given to movements most financially affected by COVID-19. It is a way for IFES staff and national movements to show solidarity to movements, to ensure that they could continue ministry beyond the pandemic. Combined with donations to the COVID-19 global response fund, these gifts have been vital to sustain ministry in multiple countries. For SULTAM Lesotho, a grant from the Solidarity Fund meant that they could reinstate staff workers who had been laid off and keep bread on their tables. It also meant that their daily office expenses for communication and electricity would be covered to keep administration running smoothly. 

With these basic needs met by the Solidarity Fund, SULTAM could focus on ministry.  

“With more hands in place we will be able to cover more campuses at a go. Therefore, ministerial goals will be achieved,” 

says Metsing Waza Moholane, a SULTAM staff worker.  

Thanks to the grant, the movement was also able to put together a marriage seminar and coordinate graduates to conduct community outreach to kids. They also continued mentoring students in the Word of God. 

This week, thank God for a fellowship of movements who work together to support student ministry around the world.  

  • Praise God for providing through the Solidarity Fund. 
  • Pray with us for the many movements who have suffered through financial struggle over the past year and ask God to continue to provide for them. 
  • Pray for SULTAM Lesotho, that God would open doors for finances and give them more financial partnerships. Pray also for their wisdom as they continue ministry during the pandemic. 

Toppling Idols

Aliou* was in trouble. She could see it in her mother’s face as once again she placed the idol back on the shelf. Aliou was insistent.  

“I follow Jesus now. Only Jesus.” 

With a swift movement Aliou knocked the idol down again. With a thud it hit the floor and rolled out of sight. Her mother and grandmother shrieked, scrambling to find it.  

“You are in danger!” her mother screamed. 

For students in Guinea-Bissau who choose to walk away from the traditional spiritual practices of their ethnic group, life is never the same. Aliou says, 

“Being a Christian here is much more difficult than you imagine, not difficult because of political or governmental persecution but because of your own family.” 

Aliou says that this familial persecution often comes from fearing the consequences of not maintaining their routine spiritual ceremonies. People believe that when a person does not follow their traditions, calamity will follow. Yet, Aliou is not afraid. 

“By using the word of the Lord, I show people that God is greater than these things.” 

After the death of her father, Aliou’s community pressured her to practice a traditional religious ceremony to prevent any harm from coming to her. Still, she refused. She says, 

“Jesus assured me that in his hands nothing can happen to me.”   

Though she faces pressure to uphold traditional spiritual practices, Aliou finds encouragement from meeting with other Christian students through her GBU group. Together they open the Bible and pray for those who do not believe. Aliou even had the opportunity to meet Christians from around the world at World Assembly in 2019. She was amazed to see so many people from different countries, races, and languages seeking the same God. She was struck by their desire to transform their cultures.  

“God has shown me important people with their degrees, postgraduate studies, specialties, ages, money, who… seek God. People who use their positions to transform society and to glorify God. This challenges me for my country.” 

This week lets pray for Aliou and for the GBU in Guinea Bissau.  

  • Pray for students who face persecution from their families as they refuse to take part in traditional spiritual practices. 
  • Though growth has been slow since Guinea Bissau joined the Fellowship last year, they are seeing some progress. Pray that their GBU groups would continue to grow amid the social challenges of their country. 
  • Aliou says that their greatest need is financial. Pray for financial provision so that they can bring on a full-time staff worker.  

*name changed 

Equipped to Engage

Joseph could still hear the laughter echoing down the hall as he rushed out of the classroom. The words of his classmates rung in his ears.  

“If God is so powerful, why would he let you fail the module?” 

“Guess you should have just partied with us anyway since you ended up failing the class.” 

“Look who isn’t so perfect after all!” 

Joseph had done his best to respond to their jeers, but he did not know what to say. He loved God and wanted to serve him, but he had never been in a situation like this before. Going to university had changed everything. He had no desire to participate in the heavy drinking culture that was so pervasive on campuses in Zimbabwe. When he did not join in, his classmates responded by constantly challenging his faith.  

The dilemmas he faced on campus led Joseph to sign up for the IFES Engaging the University e-course. Through this course, Joseph became connected with other university students from around the world who wanted to take a more active role engaging with issues on campus and in society. The course encouraged participants to think biblically and critically about their university context. They were also challenged to consider how they could use their discipline of study for the gospel.  As a result, Joseph was equipped to be salt and light when engaging in tough conversations with his classmates. 

Many students like Joseph encounter challenges once they go to university. Not only do they face opposition to their faith, but they must also confront difficult issues on campus and in the wider society. This week let’s pray for university students like Joseph who are starting classes in the next few months. 

  • Pray for students entering university to use challenging circumstances to grow in their faith.  
  • Pray that students will be salt and light as they engage with tough issues on their campuses.  
  • Pray for the new cohort of students taking the Engaging the University e-course, beginning in September.  

Do you want to be equipped to engage the university? There is still time to sign up for the Engaging the University e-course. Send an e-mail to  to sign up or learn more. 

Agriculture in Action

Many children in Zimbabwe feel forgotten. Since the arrival of HIV/AIDS in the ‘80s, the number of orphaned children in the country has increased dramatically. When their parents pass, other family members usually take care of them. Unfortunately, these relatives are often unable to provide for their needs and they end up on the street.  As a result, they fall behind educationally and even socially. Older students as well as very young children turn to sex, drug abuse and alcoholism. This has grave consequences to their health and future. One glimmer of hope is education, but many do not have this opportunity. The cost of tuition is high, and scholarships are few. But for those orphans who do manage to receive financial assistance, education is life-changing.  

Engagement Turns to Action 

Godfree Shuro, a part-time staff member with FOCUS Zimbabwe, wants to make education accessible to orphaned children. He says IFES’s Engaging the University e-course inspired him to look for opportunities to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of his community. For a course assignment, Godfree created an initiative that would provide financial assistance for the education of orphaned children. He drew upon his own rural background to begin the Broiler Project. He and 20 other students began raising and selling broilers (a type of chicken) to raise funds. The money from the project currently covers the tuition of three primary school students for the next 6 years, and the monthly costs of school supplies for 20 secondary school students. On top of this, the group regularly gathers donated items from university students to give to primary and secondary students in rural areas.  

Godfree says that they chose to raise chickens because it is an efficient way to earn money. It takes about six weeks to mature a chicken and the process is fairly low maintenance. The project is practical because there is a high demand for the chickens, and they can easily sell them in markets and to the university kitchens on campus.  

The Broiler Project has also allowed the FOCUS students to put their own education into practice. Those studying agriculture raise the chickens, while the students who study business do the accounting and financial reports. He also notes that many of the students have a special interest in the project because they were orphaned. One such student is Innocent Gwatura, who works as treasurer for the project. He was fortunate to have received money from a trust for his secondary education, and he wants other orphans to have the same chance he did. 

“When you are an orphan, it is more likely that you will be deprived from enjoying certain things in life. Being an uneducated orphan doubles this problem. So, I push to help other orphans to receive education because I want to show them that […] they can still do great things in life.” 

Earning a Platform 

In addition to meeting a physical need, the project gives FOCUS a platform for sharing the gospel. Godfree says, 

“The project gave us the opportunity to talk about God in primary schools. Every time we visit, we get time to share the gospel with all the students. We also encourage them with different topics having to do with healthy life habits.  

Godfree says that by working to alleviate a social need, more people are willing to listen to them. 

The project also gave us the opportunity to share the gospel with all the staff members. They really appreciated the student initiative. I learned that if you do a good thing for a community, people start to give ear to you.” 

Because of the pandemic, FOCUS is unable to visit schools. Fortunately, through social distancing measures they can continue raising the chickens. The group has also used money donated from a partner group to buy food for children who have been financially affected by the virus. Godfree believes that every little bit they can do counts.  

“We are trying to grow. It is still small, and we are starting small, but we are looking forward to growing big to impact the community.” 

The Broiler Project shows how a movement can take small steps to make a big impact. What are ways that you can meet a social need around you? 

Upholding faith, recognizing trauma

“It is just too much to handle.” That is a common sentiment in Nigeria, where the poverty rate is among the highest in the world and many students have dysfunctional families. For this reason, mental health issues are prevalent, yet few recognize them. Many students believe that their feelings of anxiety or depression are caused by a force of evil. They often feel shame when their depression and anxiety do not vanish with prayer, which makes the problem worse. They are unequipped to realize they are dealing with trauma.

NIFES Nigeria is responding to this problem through organizing mental health classes for students, leaders, and graduates. Through the training, participants learn to recognize poor mental health and its contributing factors. While the classes do not devalue the importance of prayer, they show participants that God can bring healing through counseling and therapy. Hankuri Tawus Gaya, the area director who organized the initiative, says that it is vital that people understand the link between faith and mental health.

“If you are a part of mental health therapy, it doesn’t make you less of a believer. Rather it affirms that you are a Christian who believes in what God has provided. There is no separation between our faith and mental health. In fact, if there is anyone who should drive the message of mental health, it is Christians.”

Once they had the tools to recognize and deal with their trauma, some students experienced deep healing. Winnifred, a student who participated said that the course helped her to see mental health differently.

“The mental health course was indeed a transformational journey for me. The class gave me another perspective of viewing life’s problems the way God views them.”

This week, let’s pray for NIFES students, leaders, and graduates.

  • Pray that the participants of these classes would share what they learned with their friends. Pray that future trainings would be used as an effective outreach for nonbelievers.
  • Pray for NIFES students, graduates, and staff who are burdened with financial and relational issues. Pray that they would reach out for help when the burden is too great.
  • Pray for the NIFES National Director, Mr. Rex Onuh, as he provides leadership during the new reality of COVID-19.

Polygamy and poverty

I grew up in a broken, polygamous family in Uganda. My mother left me when I was six months old with my stepmother and my father. My stepmother only cared for her biological children. She didn’t want my father to support my siblings or me in our education.

In my third year of secondary school, my father stopped paying my tuition fees. My siblings and I had to stay at home and work. I started doing odd jobs around the village to earn some money.

I also started praying.

Hope and loss

Eventually my father agreed to let me attend the school where he was a teacher – a Muslim secondary school. I finished secondary school with good grades and was given a loan to study at university. My uncle offered to pay for my transport, accommodation and food. It was a good first semester. But it didn’t last long. My uncle passed away suddenly, and my support stopped.

I felt so helpless. I questioned God. It seemed like he had abandoned me after lifting me up. Without money to pay for transport, I had to walk several kilometres to attend my lectures. I also had to start working part-time to support my upkeep.

But then my own mother heard about my hardships and started working again. The money she gave me allowed me to rent a hostel room near campus, and everything changed.

A new chapter

The day I moved to the hostel, I wanted to thank God for his grace to me. I joined the local IFES Christian Union (CU) and started to serve as chief usher.

Soon after that I was appointed as the general secretary of the CU.

Through the CU, God has taught me forgiveness, courage and love. That’s changed me. I’ve learned how to align myself with the Lord and pray for my academics and family.

I have been hurt in the past by people I loved the most, but that does not stop me from showing them love and kindness. Today I still go back to the village to visit my stepmother and my siblings. I do not get angry with my dad for neglecting me because, through the CU, I’ve learned that the love of God is sufficient for me. I had never experienced so much love like the love I receive in the presence of God.

I want to serve the Lord with all my heart. I would like to be a leader in the Church.