“The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow.”
“Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles.”
Surely none of us can fail to be moved by the heart-rending pictures that confront us constantly in the media as we witness thousands fleeing oppression, persecution, war zones and areas affected by natural disaster. Nor can we intelligently read our Bibles without being reminded regularly that our God, whose own son in the face of persecution was forced to seek refuge as an infant in a foreign land, requires us to actively share his concern for the displaced and homeless.
Last autumn we were able to send two large pallets of materials to resource Christians in southern Italy working among refugees from N Africa. We still have quantities of a 500 page 8 translation version of Luke’s gospel in English, French, Turkish, Croatian, Russian, Persian and Arabic which we can make freely available to those working with immigrants. TELit have folders that are specially designed for the homeless and refugees and these can be put into other languages subject to competent translators. We will shortly be meeting up again in Germany with representatives from other European ministries with a concern to reach the immigrant populations in our nations.
John McQuoid’s book “Knowing and Doing” is still our key title and although it is difficult to keep track of print-runs and reprints, we conservatively estimate that there are over half a million in print in its various editions. Chinese, the 34th version, arrived in our warehouse in January. A further 4 languages are underway with others at the discussion stage. A full list of available languages can be found on our website. We receive regular feedback as to the way the Lord is using this book – here is just one example:
“It is a gem and a delight - beautifully biblical and balanced, remarkably succinct and simple, amazingly comprehensive. I particularly enjoyed the insights on heaven and also the resurrection body! I am now considering which of the younger Christians in our fellowship I will pass it on to to help establish them in their faith. The Lord certainly helped you in the writing of it and it is no surprise it has been so widely used.”
Book 5 in the popular children’s series - ‘Blessings Minibus and the Court Case’ – has now been published. “Learning to Lead” is now available in Urdu and work on the manuscripts of further titles in this series continues.
The Bible Society has again asked us to help with Bibles for Zambia and a £70,000 order has just been placed with their Chinese printer for a container load of Bemba and Lozi Bibles plus Good News Bibles for the schools.
After the drop in sales of new Bibles and books in 2015 largely due to volatile exchange rates, distribution last year improved again. We are grateful to Ian and Marilyn Campbell in Zambia who have assumed responsibility for the day to day running of our store in Chingola where a part recovery of the exchange rate has helped to encourage sales. Consignments regularly leave our UK warehouse for varied destinations in Africa and Asia,
We have had some really significant donations of used books which we have been able to freely pass on to Bible Colleges and other ministries where they are hugely appreciated as witnessed by this testimony from South Africa:
“Just the other day we put out a table for a small conference of leaders from surrounding countries (Zimbabwe, Botswana etc). I wish you could have seen their excitement at the prospect of being able to get good books that they could actually afford. It is an experience we see quite often, especially with our African brothers who are often with limited resources”.
Robert and Anne Smith have had another encouraging year. 380,000 English folders were printed in 2016 of which 258,000 were overprinted with local church details. Folders have also been produced for Bulgaria, Angola, Portugal, Ukraine and France. Their 2017 catalogue is now available if you would like to make use of their evangelistic materials for your local activities. It is encouraging to know that we are meeting a ‘felt’ need:
“This morning I received a letter from you and I just wanted to thank you and say how favourably impressed I am by your material. For so long I've been frustrated by the style and language of some Christian tracts and have had thoughts of producing something myself, but have not yet been able to, given other demands. Yours are a breath of fresh air.”
OPAL MINISTRIES INC, USA
Paul and Angela Lewis in our Atlanta office continue to help us with most of our graphics, design and typesetting needs. John Lewis and Geoff Ruston spent time with our American trustees in December and were able to identify a suitable 2,000 sq ft warehouse in Greenville, S Carolina from which to commence distribution operations. A three year lease has now been signed and the premises are currently being fitted out in readiness to receive initial stock.
We are delighted that Neville and Dee Goodhew who are commended by their church in Brisbane Australia and have many years of experience in varied literature ministry in USA are heading up this new venture and would value your prayers as they look to develop OPAL work in the States.
OUT AND ABOUT
Last June, John Lewis and Geoff Ruston spent a profitable time in Zambia. They were able to conduct a strategic review of our Chingola store and implement some changes to increase its effectiveness. They were able also to visit ministry partners in Kitwe, Kabwe, Ndola and Lusaka. In December they visited Everyday Publications and Gospel Folio Publications in Canada and met with Crossway Publishing who have been extremely generous with cheap ESV Bibles for the Majority World.
In July we welcomed Dr Ian Burness, formerly General Director of Echoes of Service as a new UK trustee bringing with him a wealth of experience in world mission. Ian represented us at the All India Workers’ Conference in Chennai in October and was able to identify a number of situations where we can offer significant help and which we are currently following up on.
Looking ahead, there will be further visits to the States and we will be represented at the Pan African Brethren Conference on Mission in Ethiopia in October where we will be providing book packs for the 300 delegates expected from various countries.
As we look back over another year of further progress, thank you for continuing to encourage us and partner with us as we seek to fulfil the vision that the Lord has set before us to resource our fellow Christians in the neediest areas. It’s a privilege to share in His redemptive plan for this lost world of ours. But we don’t do this alone! We praise God for the service agencies who work closely with us, for those who give counsel and advice, for the trusts, fellowships and individual believers who stand with us prayerfully and practically. We are labourers together in his vineyard!
Do please continue to remember us in the days ahead that we might be sensitive to what God is saying to us. Our big challenge is that of succession and identifying those to whom we can hand on the baton. Supremely it is His work and we need to trust Him to provide the right people at the right time to take the work forward.
Warmly in our Lord Jesus
THE OPAL TEAM
“That your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations”