OPAL TRUST NEWS – OCTOBER 2020

 

We are grateful to God to have opportunity to share news with you of OPAL Trust's work serving churches and Christian leaders in the Majority World with affordable Bibles and biblically faithful Christian literature. Despite the challenging times in which we live, it is good to report positive progress across the range of OPAL Trust’s ministries.

 

Leadership Transition

Ian Shaw took up his role as CEO in May 2020. We are very grateful for Geoff Ruston and John Lewis being willing to continue in a transitional role up until May 2021. After June 2021 they will continue to support the work as OPAL Ambassadors.  Janet Ruston continues to provide invaluable help in administration and finance. She plans to retire from her administrative role in early 2021.

OPAL is prayerfully seeking Janet’s successor. Please contact us if you know someone who might be a suitable replacement and we can send further details.

 

Commissioning Service for CEO

Despite postponing the service from May to October because of the coronavirus restrictions, it was still not possible to proceed with holding the service with participants physically present at Strathaven Evangelical Church.  A recorded version of the commissioning service went live on 3rd October, and is being hosted through the Strathaven Evangelical Church YouTube channel. Links will remain available on the OPAL website, Facebook page, and Twitter for several weeks if you have not had chance to view it yet. The online version has enabled a greater range of people to participate, and we hope a larger number will be able to access the service than would have been possible if it had been held in person. If you are interested in receiving a CD or DVD copy of the service, please let us know.

 

Covid-19 Impact

There has been an inevitable impact on OPAL Trust's work because of the coronavirus pandemic. The warehouses in the UK had to be closed between March and July, and only limited work was possible in the USA warehouse, and ports and airports in the Majority World have been closed. Shipments were sent to Angola and Zambia before the lockdown started, and these have safely reached their destinations. Since early July we have been able to reopen the warehouses, and a number of shipments have been sent, with large consignments due to follow in the coming weeks.

  

 Bible Distribution Ministry

We are grateful for a recent donation of 2000 new Bibles which will be shipped to Zambia and India in October, and made available to people who are hungry for God’s Word.

 

With the help of a retired missionary OPAL Trust was able to supply national workers in Ethiopia with Bibles which they are able to sell on at affordable prices to local Christians. 1,000 Amharic and 1,500 Oromo Bibles for Ethiopia were purchased with the help of the Ethiopian Bible Society. So far, 300 Bibles have been sold in this way, and most of them are in the Oromo language.  

 

New Christian Book Distribution

We have recently received into the warehouse printed copies of the translations of Knowing and Doing into the African languages Kiluba and Congolese Swahili, and Shona is due soon. It is so important to have good literature in these 'mother tongue' languages for local church leaders and elders. These will be shipped to Africa in the next weeks.

  

Chingola Bible Centre, Zambia

During 2019 the Chingola Bible Centre reported strong sales figures, and are making excellent progress. The centre continued to operate through the coronavirus crisis, although operations are at a lower level. Ian and Marilyn Campbell have finally been able to return to Zambia after their home assignment in early 2020 was extended due to the Covid-19 lockdown. They are nurturing a local team of Zambians to take on the work, and they are starting a new centre in Lusaka, the site for which has already been purchased.

 

A major consignment of resources for local training programmes, churches and Christian bookshops has safely reached Angola. OPAL partnered with David Childs of Strathaven Evangelical Church in sending this. It is largely made up of copies in Portuguese of Knowing and DoingChristianity Explored, and Discipleship Explored, and a number of tracts.

 

 

 

We rejoice to hear of the places the literature we send to the Majority World reaches, through the work of our partners. In Zambia, Gideon Nkandu has many openings in which he is able to use our material, including into a local correctional institution. Here many prisoners are able to work through Bible study materials on correspondence courses. We pray that these materials are specially used in these places of great spiritual need.

 

 

 Used book distribution ministry

With the ending of lockdown, large numbers of donations of used books have been received into the Lochmaben warehouse. The used book database is regularly updated by Geoff, and represents a hugely impressive range of around 5000 evangelical theological resources available to send to support church leaders and ministries where resources are most limited. These can be requested by leaders from Majority World for their ministries, and often go to Bible Schools, and local training programmes where they are desperately short of resources for the students.

 

Consignments of used books have recently been shipped to Berean Ministries in Mauritius, where Hinduism is very strong. Other shipments have gone to Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. A large collection of missiological materials was sent in September to a mission training school in Romania.

 

 

 

OPAL Publishing

OPAL Trust has taken the strategic decision to increase its publishing work, because of the huge need for good quality, Bible-based, Christian literature for the Majority World. We have been undertaking an extensive consultation with leaders in the Majority World as to what is needed. They have been asking us to produce material which is accessible for local church leaders in terms of level and price, similar to Knowing and Doing, which is our basic introduction to Christian thought and practice. This is now available in 50 languages, and the number of copies now printed is over 500,000. Other translations are currently in preparation. Please pray for us as we develop this part of our work.

 

 

OPAL has partnered in the Learning to… series. "Learning to Share the Good News," which came out in December 2019 was followed in the summer of 2020 by "Learning to Preach," written by Jeremy and Stephen McQuoid. The books were published by Partnership, and OPAL shared in the print run. OPAL will be sending an initial 200 copies church leaders in the Majority World.

 

 

The needs of children are supported by the Blessings children's books written by Jonathan Newell, which retell Biblical stories and parables in African context. The last four in the series are currently being illustrated in South Africa. Consideration is being given to combining the books into an affordable magazine-type publication.

OPAL Ministries – USA

 The OPAL warehouse in Greer, near Greenville in South Carolina, continues to be operated by Neville and Dee Goodhew. Stocks of Bibles and books donated or purchased at discount in the USA are stored there, before shipment to the Majority World. We are praying that we can make more extensive use of this facility. Paul and Angela Lewis continue to do vital work for us in the design and typesetting of books from OPAL publishing, including translations of titles like Knowing and Doing

 

TELit

After an extensive review of the different aspects of OPAL activities over the past months by the trustees, it has been decided that our TELit division should, from 5 October 2020, begin the formal process of becoming an independent charity separate from OPAL. This is to enable the leaders of TELit to focus on supporting their current customer base which is largely in the UK. OPAL Trust will continue to focus its work on requests for literature support from the Majority World. During the review, this option was the expressed wish of the leaders of the TELit ministry, and this is fully supported by the OPAL trustees. A further announcement will be made when the new TELit charity has been formally established. The trustees have valued having TELit as part of OPAL over the past five years and wish Robert and Anne Smith every blessing and encouragement as they take the TELit work forward.

  

Warehousing

With the retirement of Geoff Ruston, there will be a need to relocate the Bible and Book distribution warehouse from Lochmaben. Various options are under consideration, ideally in the Glasgow / South Lanarkshire area. Here we have a number of supporting churches, and we think there may be a larger pool of volunteers. We are much in prayer that the Lord leads us to the right opportunity at the right time. Please contact us if you know of a suitable premises, or can help us in any ways with this.

  

OPAL Publicity

OPAL Trust's website and publicity is undergoing a bit of a facelift after a number of years, as we seek to reflect more effectively the exciting and important work of OPAL in ensuring those in most need get the Bibles and Christian literature they most need. We hope you will enjoy viewing the news and resources that you will find when the redesigned website goes live in a few weeks. We are now making full use of social media, and there is now a weekly OPAL news story or update on Opal Trust's Facebook and Twitter pages you might want to check out.

 

Partnering With Others

We are delighted to continue the work of OPAL Trust in partnership with friends and other ministries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. We also work closely with other ministries engaged in cross-cultural ministry, such as Echoes International, Bible Educational Services, and Medical Missionary News.

 

Project Development

OPAL Trust is currently working on a number of projects which require specific funding. We have attached a copy of the one for Bemba Bibles and Books, designed to get Bibles and key literature to people in Africa who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

 

Thank you again for your prayers and fellowship. They are so precious to us.

 

 

October 2020

Dr Ian Shaw

CEO, OPAL Trust

 

 

'Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.' [Psalm 105: 1]

                  

 

Telephone / Fax +44 (0) 1576 203670 - info@opaltrust.org