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<<First Name>>, if you are anything at all like me, you are not finding this lockdown easy to live with. I am an activist raised on Bible verses such as  "be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22).

Through this time of confinement, the Lord is teaching me to depend on him in new ways, knowing "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." (Ecclesiastes 3:1). What is God teaching you through this time of isolation? I would love to hear from you.

Having to put on hold projects we had planned with partners in Ireland, East Africa and the Middle East, as well as locally in Southampton supporting asylum seekers, has been very frustrating. More so, since the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated already unbearable levels of suffering and injustices in many of the world's trouble spots.

In the absence of face-to-face contact, we have tried to promote the good work of partners more widely through greater use of Facebook and the Peacemaker website. I hope you find the 'Daily Quarantine Questions' below as useful as I do. Thank you for your continued prayers and support, Stephen

Daily Quarantine Questions

Welcoming Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Before the lockdown, we were working with about 80 asylum seekers and dependents in Southampton and Winchester. On a weekly basis teaching English lessons one-to-one, providing pastoral support and welcoming new refugees, directing them to local agencies best placed to help them with legal advice, accommodation and English lessons.

Due to the spread of the Covid-19, all events, as well as face to face meetings with clients, has had to cease. Instead we have maintained contact by phone and email. We have also been able to deliver food and funding to some of those most in need.

The Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group (SWVG) are a group of volunteers who befriend and support asylum seekers and refugees in the Southampton area

Book Aid Delivers Hope

In early March, I made one last delivery of 12 boxes of Christian books to the storage facility in Portsmouth for onward delivery to the Book Aid Centre in London. Book Aid has sent the following short news update:

“We believe God has provided us with resources to last through a season.   We plan to use the time to work through as many boxes as possible currently in our warehouses and to keep packing containers as far as we are able although many of our volunteers will need to stand down for a while.

We shipped a container to Nigeria on Thursday 12 March and another went out to Kenya today, 17 March.  We are starting on 2 more containers now – one to Ghana from London and another, a first, to Ethiopia from Ranskill.  We are thrilled at what God is doing to reach the nations through books and Bibles and we love that you share this ministry with us."

To volunteer, collect, donate or support Book Aid please visit their website.

Christianity Explored Courses Online

For a limited time (until 30 June) Christianity Explored have made available all of their course films on their YouTube channel for free to make them easier to share during times of social distancing :

There is also an online version of Christianity Explored. This was created in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and online coaches are available to take your friends through the course.

People and Planet 2.0 - Can the Covid-19 Tragedy be a Historic Reset?  

Amid global crisis and suffering, we want to think about some of the ways to find hope for humanity and the planet. How do we immediately need to start communicating and acting to make “People and Planet 2.0” a healthier, more stable new normal after COVID-19?

In this webinar hosted by the World Evangelical Alliance’s Sustainability Center, Dave Bookless offered five suggestions worth repeating. Dave’s presentation slides may be viewed here

Do also visit A'Roche for more news on Creation Care.

Deferred Projects

Rostrevor Declaration: 25 March
Tommy & Catherine Sands invited me to contribute to the next Rostrevor Declaration gathering of faith leaders in late March. “With continuing uncertainties in the context of Brexit, borders and commemorations, we will explore how Religious leaders can create confidence building measures within and between communities.” This has now sadly had to be postponed.

Kagera Christian Theological College, Tanzania: 17-24 May 
Absalom Vyankende, the Principal of Kagera Christian Theological College, had invited me to return to Kagera in Northern Tanzania in May to teach another course on 'Christ and the Old Testament' at their Diocesan college. This has now been deferred.

Christ at the Checkpoint 6, Bethlehem: 5-9 June
I had planned to attend the Christ at the Checkpoint international conference in Bethlehem in June. This has now been postponed until June 2021.

Cyangugu Theological School, Rwanda: 12-18 July 
Rik Mager, the director of Cyangugu Anglican Theological School, had invited me to return for a third year in July to teach the curriculum course on 'Judaism and Christianity'. This will almost inevitably be deferred also.

Christianity Explored East Africa: 5-20 September
There is some doubt as to whether travel restrictions within East Africa will have been removed by September but it is hoped that this annual training project can still go ahead as planned.

God-willing, and with your help, these projects will now take place in the Autumn or early next Spring.

 News in Brief

From Balfour to Banksy
Miranda Pinch is pleased to release, for free viewing, the final cut of her film 'From Balfour to Banksy: Divisions and Visions in Palestine’ (2020). This film looks at a wide range of views from occupied Palestine today, ranging from anger to attempts at envisioning a future. https://www.balfourtobanksy.com 

Living Stones Yearbooks
The Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust Yearbooks are now available to download for free. The Yearbooks present a range of important articles providing a platform for informed debate and scholarship concerning the life and times, historical and current, of the Christian communities in and around the Middle East. https://www.livingstonesonline.org.uk/yearbook

Iranian Islamic Consultative Assembly
I was recently asked to write an article on the history of antisemitism in Europe for the quarterly journal of the Iranian Parliament, to encourage further study and help eradicate this pernicious form of racism.

 Peacemaker Finances

We are very thankful that more than 80% of this year’s budget is already pledged or funded. However, we need to raise a further £5,000 ($6,500) to assist with peacemaking projects in the Middle East and East Africa as well as among asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.

Please stand with us this by making a one-off gift or regular monthly donation. If you wish to give regularly, you may download a standing order form and return to your bank. You may also donate by making a cash or cheque deposit or transfer directly into our Peacemaker Trust Metro Bank account using our bank account number 19949718 and sort code 23-05-80.

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