Prescott Prayer Letter: We Have Good News!

good-news

Breaking News: YWAM visa licence reinstated
Breaking news—and it’s good news! YWAM’s visa licence has been restored! Thankyou to everybody who prayed with us—this is a genuinely miraculous turn-around.

Since the UK Visa Authority’s inspection in September (which highlighted some areas in which YWAM record-keeping was not up to the new standards), we have been aware that there were three possibilities: at worst, we could completely lose our visa sponsorship licence (meaning everyone on YWAM visas would have to leave the country, and no more could be granted); or, we could be down-graded and have our licence suspended (meaning those already in the country could remain, but no new visas could be granted for six months); or at best (but this seemed almost too much to hope for!), we might be forgiven and our Grade-A status maintained.

A month ago we were told that it was going to be the worst-case scenario. Now, after an appeal and much united prayer, that decision has been completely reversed – and we can rejoice in the best possible result! This is fantastic news for the whole of YWAM England, and especially for our pioneering YWAM Cambridge team. It means that we can go ahead with the April DTS that some of our team are hoping to run after our current DTS leaves Cambridge to go on outreach; it means that we can continue renting the properties which are our little foothold in the city; it means that the current DTS trainees who have felt led to stay longer-term in full-time mission as part of our team will indeed be able to do so.

Hallelujah! And thankyou again for your prayers. It’s 2 Corinthians 1:11 in action.

Outreach locations decided
Meanwhile it has been decided that for the international outreach phase of the DTS (ie. April & May), our team will be going to Albania and Macedonia. The wonderful people at Prayercast have put together some fantastic videos to help you begin praying for these places (here’s Albania and here’s Macedonia). Having a little baby means myself and Taryn won’t be leading the team on outreach — we’re entrusting that task to our four of our fantastic staff team.

Just a few decades ago Albania was run by a totalitarian atheistic communist regime — those with the courage to be counted as Christians were actually sealed in barrels and rolled into the sea! One of our speakers on last year’s DTS, Reona Jolie, shared with us some of her story of entering the country during that closed period — if you’re interested you can read her book, Tomorrow You Die. But now we have the opportunity to freely visit and reach out to the Albanian people (who are mostly Muslim), as well as serving and encouraging the young and growing church. Pray for us as we communicate back and forth with the YWAM Albania team to work out the best way to use our time there.

25% of the population of Macedonia is actually made up of Albanian Muslims, so connecting with them will likely be a focus of the time in Macedonia. In thinking of Macedonia, I’ve been encouraged by the story in Acts 16 of Paul & Silas’ first missionary journey to Macedonia — even when they were imprisoned, their worship released the power of God in such a way that the jailer was compelled to ask ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Pray that our team would have opportunities to answer that same question–and to boldly respond that all you need do is to ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!’

Seeking Sons of Peace
Just as the decision was finalized to send our team to bless Muslims in Albania and Macedonia, the Paris shootings have provoked another crisis in relations between the Muslim world and the Western world. While much of the Western world seemed to be declaring #IamCharlie, what I found most inspiring was the slightly less loudly trumpeted tribute to Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim police officer who was killed by the terrorists.

jesuisahmed

I have said before that I am a little skeptical about an absolute right to free speech. I have in the past justified the teasing of atheists, but in a world where technology means that all the world is within earshot of each other, it is a dangerous thing to prioritise liberté over fraternité.

Pray for our team as they go to Albania and Macedonia, that they would find people of peace with whom they can communicate the truth and love of Jesus across whatever cultural and religious obstacles they might encounter. Pray for us likewise here in Cambridge that our conversation would always be full of grace, seasoned with salt. And praise God that regardless of whether specific prayers (whether for visas or whatever) are quickly answered, we always have good news to share: the message that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!

Jesus said to them, “The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few.
Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send out laborers into his harvest.
Go your ways. Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves…
Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’
If a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on him…

(From Luke 10)

Your partners in the harvest,
Peter, Taryn & Isaac

Urgent Prayer Request:
Visa Crisis means YWAM England will lose half our Staff

urgent

YWAM England’s official statement:
In September 2014, following procedures introduced by the UK government to reduce immigration numbers, YWAM England and Wales was inspected by the UK Visas & Immigration office to review our status as a visa sponsor. The inspection concluded we were compliant in 5 of the 7 areas audited and found some clerical issues in the remaining two.

We immediately formed a team to rectify these issues and submitted an Action Plan. However, we were warned that we faced the possibility of being downgraded, limiting our sponsorship ability for a few months, or that we would have our license revoked entirely.

We were told we would have a decision from the UKVI office within 4 weeks, but it was only on 23rd December that we were notified that our license has been suspended for 20 working days. During this time we can make a response to what have largely turned out to be fresh issues not raised in the initial inspection. If unsuccessful in our response, the UKVI will pursue revoking our license, as it has already done to several other faith-based organisations this year.

If our visa sponsorship license is revoked over 350 YWAM missionaries and their families will have 60 days to leave the UK. That is about half of our current workforce, all of whom are volunteers with YWAM who support themselves through personal fundraising, according to YWAM’s values as a charitable organisation. This would inevitably mean shutting down some of our training and service opportunities in this nation.

Whilst we recognise and support the UKVI’s legitimate right to concern over compliance to the rules, we do not feel that the issues raised in the letter from the UKVI justify such a draconian outcome as losing our licence would produce. We are cautiously hopeful that through dialogue and by demonstrating our determination to follow the regulations as carefully as possible they will allow us to continue our operations in the UK as part of a global charitable faith-based movement.

We recognise that YWAM has never been the type of organisation which fits neatly into boxes. Nonetheless, we are doing everything we can to comply with the law and ensure that our missionaries remain a blessing to the UK and, through our YWAM England and Wales teams, to the rest of the world that YWAM seeks to share the love of Christ with.

Please pray with us for a favourable resolution to this inquiry. If you would like to write your MP in our support, here is a draft to help you – we need to write urgently, as we only have until January 20th before a decision is made.

Thank you for supporting YWAM England and Wales!

____________________

And there is an article from Christianity Today, which helpfully puts this situation in the broader context of British government immigration policy, and a shorter Evangelical Alliance article

For me and Taryn personally this won’t affect our right to stay in the UK, and the current DTS that we’re involved with will be able to continue and finish regardless. But whether YWAM Cambridge will be able to continue to run the DTS in the near future after that is now a big question.

Anyway, this isn’t the first time we’ve been forced to pray regarding visas — in the past we’ve had both positive breakthroughs and very difficult challenges. And we have learnt both that God is sovereign but also that we have real power in prayer.

So please join us in praying about this situation–the whole of YWAM England will be joining together in prayer today (7th January) regarding this issue.

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask,
it will be done for them by my Father in heaven”
Matthew 18:19
(Matthew 7:7-11 , Mt. 18:19 , John 14:13-14 , Jn. 15:7 , Mark 11:23-24 , 2 Cor. 1:20 ; Mark 10: 27 ; 2 Corinthians 1:11 ; Mark 10:9 )