Saturday, 14 December 2013

A letter from Veritas College in Uganda

Daniel Munanura Hama, National College Director of Veritas College, which trains Pastors and church leaders, writes from Uganda:

'I am in a season of my life where God is challenging me about my heart’s motives; why I do what I do.
Why is a very important question; I am increasingly persuaded that we need to stop and ask ourselves why we do the things we do – as often as we can. This is especially the case when it relates to spiritual things.

'What is/are our truest motivation(s)?

'I would like to share why I am doing the ministry work that I do; why I am involved in Veritas College Uganda.

'About six years ago, I made a decision that would influence my life greatly; I was already a Christian but I felt like there was a certain amount of discontentment with my life as it was then; I actually felt that there were many things that God wanted me to do with my life that were yet undone and would remain undone unless I allowed Him to more prominently influence the course of my life. I wanted Him to reveal my calling, and more so, to show me practically how to live it.

'When you really know why you are doing what you are doing, and if that reason is true and noble, it is like a clearer and brighter light to your path. It helps you through the confusing times when the going gets tough or when it gets too easy – because both of those times have the potential to create confusion; they heighten or dull our emotions, blur our minds and challenge us spiritually. It is in those times that we need to check ourselves in the Lord, and it helps if He is our reason why.

'We need to stop and put our focus on Him and remind ourselves of His love for us and remind ourselves to love Him. I have seen this turn situations around.'

Training Coordinator Godfrey Ntale writes:

'I am married to Sarah and we have two boys and one girl Calvin, Nathaniel and Abigail. They all support my involvement with Veritas in Uganda. I work as the Training Coordinator and for me it has been a great experience to serve pastors and other church leaders in Uganda. Statistics show that the population of Uganda is 80% Christian, but this seems very inconsistent with what we experience when you consider what is represented through many media houses, in government, and in other social sectors. One thing that comes across clearly is that there is a lack of proper Bible understanding and application.

'During our training we occasionally receive testimonies from pastors confessing to us the wrong teachings they gave, and some even went ahead repenting to their congregations their wrong doctrines. This happens, not necessarily because of wrong motives on their part, but more often because of lack of proper training. The few Bible Schools in the country are “a drop in a desert" - they cannot reach the great number of churches whose leaders and congregants are in need of training. Worse still, the approach that most theological schools use requires that their students become residential at their institution, which means that the student – often already a leader of a church - needs to be away from his family and ministry, and this also means that the leaders have to be away from their work, be it ministry or tent making.

Veritas’ approach brings the training to where the leaders are. We train them and their congregants within their church setting, and encourage the church to own the training programs through a process known as Integrated Leadership Development, whereby leaders we train are empowered to integrate the same training into his/her own church/ministry by training their own people within their own context.

Pray with us:
 Thank you for the past year and the Lord’s provision in so many ways.
 Thank you for the new leadership and for them taking up their new roles and responsibilities.
 That the current “training season” will go well and that facilitators will be committed to train new leaders and empower them to also facilitate.
 That financial support will continue and grow.

May you and your family have a blessed Christmas time and may 2014 be a year where you will experience God’s grace in abundance!'

Equipping to serve … a new chapter in Uganda

It is an exciting time for the work in Uganda and as Veritas College International (VCI) we believe the new leadership will build on the solid foundation which was laid during the years by Richard van de Ruit and his team. Many leaders and the people they serve have been equipped to serve their churches and communities and we pray that many more will be impacted.

On all levels – administration, finances, training and follow-up – the new team has been working hard to keep the same level of service and even to improve on certain areas. As Daniel (National Director) and Godfrey (Training Coordinator) are not new hands in Veritas the training strategy for example was already improved by them a few years ago and we can see the impact of that now.
December 2013

Veritas College Uganda: PO Box 6016, Kampala, Uganda /
Veritas College International (UK): PO Box 100, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 5EU, UK
Veritas College International (SA): PO Box 3434, Matieland, 7602, South Africa /
For donations please contact

Friday, 8 November 2013

African Community Outreach

My friends Hamish and Terri Rodgers

Would you drive into a South African township to help a hopeless alcoholic living in a cardboard box?

You hear that little children are being abused in an unregistered creche, that others are not getting into school simply because their parents cannot afford to buy a uniform. What can you do?

Could you help tiny children who are going to bed hungry, knowing their elder siblings are beginning to miss school so that they can search rubbish dumps for food? 

Hamish and Terri rolled up their sleeves and started to do what they could. They registered a not-for-profit organisation in South Africa under the name of 'African Community Outreach' and started addressing needs. Hamish kept working as a freelance Safari Guide to keep them on the road, whilst Terri, a trained nurse, was able to help the sick. 

December and early January are their busiest times as children are admitted to school at the start of the year. They try to make sure that every child in their local township of Leseding is able to get a place at school and enter properly equipped. This way they nip any 'Street Kid' problem in the bud - but it is hot work. Do send them a message of encouragement in the comments box below.   

Peanut butter sandwiches and milk distributed at Kids Club in Leseding Township

To read more about Hamish and Terri's projects please click here
They are currently supported by a UK registered charity called Brighter Start. Click here for their page on this website Africa Community Outreach 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

New Wine in Somerset

Sophie Neville volunteer speaker for Bible Society

On 4th August we are off to spend a week at the New Wine Conference near Shepton Mallet in Somerset.

I have volunteered to help at the Film Cafe run by Bible Society where we will be serving coffee, cakes and 'chocolate mountains' whilst showing much-loved feature films. The Festival starts on 27th July but we are going for the second week.

New Wine say ~
The Arena is our brand new venue where everyone can join together for worship, teaching and ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Coming together as a united family allows for powerful encounters with God.

Those looking for ‘something different’ there will be our morning Alternative Acoustic sessions in the Hungry venue. In an atmosphere of presence-led worship, Charlie and Anita Cleverly will teach into a biblical charismatic contemplative encounter with Christ.

Celebrations and Bible reading ~
Our evening celebrations have become a firm favourite with New Wine visitors and this year we are expanding on this with the introduction of a morning celebration. Both will have plenty of opportunity for worship, ministry and teaching.

After the morning celebration, at 11.15 Simon Ponsonby will bring us daily Bible teaching exploring the book of Romans. This will run in parallel with our normal morning seminar programme.

Live worship ~
Back by popular demand is our live worship album. To guarantee your copy you need to pre-order the album on site. This is a great way to rekindle all those New Wine memories and bring back the sound of summer!

Diary Room ~
Also new this year is our Diary Room. This is your opportunity to share with us how God is working in your life. Share your story with us, and you never know, you might see yourself up on the big screens in one of the main venues!

Are you free?  Can you come too?

For information about volunteering at the Bible Society Cafe click here

To find out more about the New Wine Festival please click here

Monday, 1 July 2013

The July issue of iBelieve is out now


My feature in this issue of iBelieve goes into more depth about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. What is amazing is that we still know so little about this debilitating disease.

An extract from 'Funnily Enough' by Sophie Neville

It is rather a good illustration of someone with ME - although a terrifying number of patients can neither sit up or lift a glass. I have been told that the number of people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the UK is nearer 250,000.*

 Please click on the images to enlarge

To order two issues of iBelieve please click here

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

Most Revd & Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu Archbishop of York

On 18th May I attended a confirmation held in Ripon. The Archbishop of York gave out copies of his address afterwards, suggesting we could sell them on eBay.

'I've just been speaking at a high-security gaol,' he went on, amused that of the prisoners called him 'Archie.'
'You seem like a dynamic man, Archie, but aren't the leaders of the church boring geeks?'

'My prayer,' The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu told us, 'is that the people of this county can talk about Jesus the way they talk about the weather. Then something will happen.' He explained that in Uganda, where he comes from they only have climate. 'Whether we know Christ or have only grasped a fragment of him, the best is yet to come.'

He spoke to the ordinands saying, 'Love always involves a responsibility, and it always involves a sacrafice. We don't really love Christ unless we are prepared to face the task he gives and to take up his cross.' 

We now hear that the Archbishop is facing treatment for prostate cancer. He must have known this when he took the service in Ripon, and yet he managed to fill the church with laughter.

As we left the service my husband thanked Dr Sentamu saying, 'Asanti sana,' (Many thanks in Swaheli). He was immediately clasped in a passionate embrace.

Dr John Stentamu in Ripon on 18th Mary 2013

'Let each of us serve Christ where Christ has sent us,' the Archbishop told us. 'As the Risen Christ said to Peter: 'Never mind the task that is given to someone else. John is none of your business. Your job is to follow me and to be faithful to your calling.' 

'That is what Jesus Christ still says to each one of us. Our glory is never in comparison with others; our glory is the service of Christ in whatever capacity he has allotted to us. But all of us are called to worship him and to witness to what he has done, and is doing in our lives as we dwell in him.'

Monday, 3 June 2013

Mary Stephenson speaking on Premier Radio

Mary Stephenson, a former addict, shares her testimony of finding Jesus in a 'Woman to Woman' interview  on London's Premier Christian Radio (listen on demand, recorded in May 2013).

You will need to use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to listen.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Send a Bible, a Bible a Month ~

Author Sophie Neville in China

I learnt about Bible a Month in about 1984, as my flatmate had joined the scheme. I thought, 'That's a nice thing to do.' I wish I'd found out more. I didn't realise how inexpensive it was and went on my own merry way without joining.

In about 1996 I spotted some new Bibles, in the Tswana language, on a shelf in a junk shop where I lived in South Africa, selling for £1 each. I bought the lot to take with me to Botswana. They proved ideal gifts and I was asked to return with more. This was difficult as there were no longer any for sale in my town. I had to persuade a farmer, I knew was a Gideon, to let me have a box of New Testaments. Some were in Tswana. Some were in English –at the front - and Afrikaans at the back. One had a gold cover. 

As I was travelling into the Okavango Delta, on the back of a lorry, an American tourist asked me what was in the heavy box. 

'They are Bibles,' I explained. 

She was horrified, disgusted. But as soon as we arrived all the Botswanans rushed up, asking me, 

'Did you remember the Bibles?' 

The scathing expression on the American woman's face dissolved as she realised how much they had been longed for. Everyone wanted the one with a gold cover. I apologised as I gave the English/Afrikaans versions to those who spoke English. 

'No problem,' one Tswana lady told me. 'I shall use it to learn Afrikaans' and she did. 

Many of those Tswana people have now died of AIDS. I am very glad I took the Bibles to them. I fear the next box I took up was not received by those who really wanted them, and I couldn't keep going.  

Instead I started sending £10 a month to Bible Society, discovering that it was a much easier way to distribute Bibles than going into the Okavango on a lorry. It was only when I reached China that I understood that supporting Bible Society is probably one of the best investments you can make. When I was going around the Amity Printing Company in Nanjing I realised that my meagre gift had been able to subsidize a substantial amount of printing. I stood in front of a great stack of about 300 Bibles thinking, 

'Those are my Bibles!' 

Each one will be read by about five adults. That is a total of 1,500 people, all thirsting for the Word. They estimate that 10,000 a week are converting to Christianity in China, many in the poor rural areas where people only earn about £1.60 a day. It's imperative that they have access to Bibles in their own language. And these Bibles are so treasured, so appreciated, used by many who are learning to read. When we went up-country to help distribute the new Bibles were we heralded with trumpets and fire-crackers, welcomed by crowds of people. I walked up to the village with tears in my eyes, saying to myself, 'All I've done is to give £10 a month.' 

Is a Bible a life changing gift? Yes.

Is giving Bibles a matter of life and death? It can be. Providing Bibles for Prisoners in South Africa will save lives. Giving Bibles to the Military in Zimbabwe will save lives. Subsidising Bibles for the people of China could be more important than we can ever imagine. I believe lives will be saved.  

How do you impact a nation? Give a Bible a Month. It's not just 'a nice thing to do'.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

'Funnily Enough' in the May issue of iBelieve magazine

I had no influence over this portrait of me that's smiling out of the May edition of iBelieve magazine but it made me laugh as it was exactly how I wanted to look when I was little. I must have been strongly influenced by Sindy and Barbie dolls.

I am always packing things up for the post - but never this neatly.

Here is the full page:

This is how I really look:

The magazine cover is much more masculine this month:

I feel hugely honoured to be featured alongside Joyce Meyer, Nicky Gumbel and Sarah de Carvalho.

To subscribe to the magazine, please click here

Friday, 26 April 2013

July's Story

July Letsebe in South Africa

Just eight years ago, July Letsebe was lying on his bed, seriously ill and waiting to die. But thankfully, after discovering he was HIV positive, he was given the right medication, is now healthy, and is helping others to access life saving treatment.
When July first became ill, he refused medical treatment and instead sought the advice of a traditional healer – a common practice in rural parts of South Africa. But after a few months, he was bedridden and barely able to move. He felt desperate.

“I asked my family to help me die, but they refused,” he says.
One day, a team of carers from a local project, the Waterberg Welfare Society, visited July’s tiny shack. When they saw how ill he was, they offered to drive him to the government clinic once a day for medical care. At the clinic, July received life-saving treatment for tuberculosis and also discovered that he was HIV positive. In an incredibly brave step, he decided to reveal his HIV status at a local community event to encourage others to get tested.

“People were shocked,” he says, “I could see the expression of disbelief in their faces.”
As he slowly recovered, July started training to become an HIV counsellor so that he could help other people who are living with the virus.
“AIDS does not actually kill people – lack of knowledge about it does,” says July, who manages Stepping Forward, a Comic Relief-funded HIV project in Vaalwater, South Africa. And, as someone who has lived with HIV for almost ten years, he knows what he’s talking about.
Today, thanks to HIV medication, July is healthy and is making sure that other people in remote rural areas of South Africa have access to life-saving HIV testing and treatment.

For more information please click here

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Gift of Life

'I always say that my life began again in 1988 because that's when Jesus gave me a new heart.'

Ann Hobbs was only forty-six years old when she had not one, but two, heart attacks. Although she wasn't frightened about dying, Ann had four children. The youngest was only eight. She also felt convinced that God had a purpose for her.

The first thing that happened was that Ann received prayer for healing. She was given a verse from Ezekiel: 'A new heart I put within you - and a new spirit.' Four weeks later her Consultant, who was planning to operate, tested her vigorously before deducting that there was nothing wrong with her heart, adding that he wished that his was as strong. 'Something has happened since I last saw you!' he declared.

A year later, fit and restored to full health, Ann found herself driving to Romania in a converted bread-van. It took three days, often travelling on dangerous mountain roads. After facing aggressive border officials, who kept them waiting another day, they finally drove into Romania. It was the start of an adventure that was to last twenty-five years.

'We smelt it from the gates.' Ann and her team made their way past security guards with dogs to visit a state orphanage, a bleak place surrounded by a high iron fence. Having negotiated with the director in an office thick with cigarette smoke they were taken to see the children. It broke her heart. The rooms were dirty and bedding sparse. Little children with shaved heads rocked silently on stinking mattresses. There were 120 living there and yet no toilet was working. 'We returned the next morning to get every child washed. It took all day but we gave each one a set of new clothing with socks and shoes. Their own clothes were so far gone we had to burn them.' Conditions at another orphanage were worse. They found one person looking after 200 babies in one room. None of them wore nappies.

Ann returned to England determined to do all she could for the neglected children. Her Romanian friends had no knowledge of what had been going on. She felt that if they joined forces and went into the orphanages consistently, things would improve. 'Step by Step' became her moto. Before long she had set up a charity shop and started receiving donations. 'We kept the best items to take to Romania and sold the rest to raise funds.' She bought a 6.5 ton lorry and, with a team of volunteers, drove across Europe with everything the children might need from nappies to flat-pack furniture. Soon lives were being transformed.

Over the years Ann started up three different charity shops and a warehouse in the UK, drawing on the retail training she had been given as a girl by Marks & Spencers. She had a team of sixteen volunteers at one stage, and ran a cafe as well as a nearly-new shop. Three times a year she would travel to Romania, re-equipping the orphanages from top to bottom. 'We gained access to all areas, which was a miracle.'

Ann has looked after the children as they have grown up, giving to them as she gives to her own. 'We've put some of the children through university, we've had weddings - it's all been very special. I don't like travelling, I don't like heat and can't stand flies but we have had great fun.' Four Romanian choirs have come back to sing in England and children have come over to take part in youth camps. 'The support from churches in the UK has been amazing.'

Mission to Romania is no longer a UK registered charity but it still helps to support to about 500 children and young people. 'Some have parents in prison, some were dumped as babies. One little boy was dropped from a balcony and was severely injured but he responded to treatment and is as bright as a button.' Ann has kept travelling, taking equipment to four orphanages as well youth remand centres across the country, visiting the churches that support them along the way. She usually travels about 6,000 miles on each visit, often ending up working at a state prison for 15-18 year old boys. 'They could have done anything from rape to murder but they all need loving and the word of God.'

Ann's message is that if God tells you to do something - do it. He'll direct you and show you how. With God all things are possible. 'However, if it's just a good idea of your own - don't go there! You won't have the strength to sustain it.'

Ann loves taking Christmas to Romania. 'We usually take craft projects as it enables us to get close to the children and bring out their creativity. It's a ministry of encouragement,' explained the lady who so very nearly died and yet has brought life to many.

Ann Hobbs ~ Mission Romania, 22 Fir Avenue, New Milton, Hampshire BH25 6EU

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The God of Second Chances

I was recently interviewed on US radio by Dr Diane Dike, a tireless campaigner who raises awareness and support for invisible diseases. She suffers from a rare blood disease herself and is all too familiar with feelings of  brokenness and rejection.

Diane lives by the verse, 'Be strong and courageous' as she strives to help those who have been abandoned by running a number of programmes. To read more please click here

'Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you of forsake you.' Deuteronomy 31:6

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

An extract from Funnily Enough in the April edition of iBelieve magazine

While Gloria Gaynor tells how she kept the faith in tough times'll find a cartoon of me endevouring to do the same. In reality I could not have used ear-phones, watched TV or tolerated cats as I had gone down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Sophie Neville

If you click on the images you should be able to read my story. I hope it will encourage others to be able to sing out, 'I will survive!'

To subscribe to iBelieve magazine please click here

To reach the Funnily Enough web-site please click here

To read a bit more of Funnily Enough please click here

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Be strong and courageous...

April 1991 ~ the time when I was taken out of Egypt.

Like the some of Israelites, I wasn't sure I wanted to go, but I went down with the plague and had little choice in the matter. No choice. I lost my job in London after falling ill with CFS or ME (or CFIDS as it's know in the states.)

Despite a few trials, I managed to cross the Read Sea and rather enjoyed wandering around in the wilderness. For me, this entailed spending twelve years in southern Africa, ever travelling and often camping in the desert. I was tempted to cast idols and make a fool of myself but got to actually study the Ten Commandments and rather enjoyed sleeping out under the stars.

On 1st January 2004 I was given the verse from Joshua 1 v 9, Be strong and courageous,  not knowing that this would lead me into the Promised Land. In June that year I met a widower, a man I thought the Lord might want me to marry. I was praying for confirmation when I noticed a ring on his little finger and asked what was inscribed on it.

'Fortiter et Fideliter,' he declared.

'Strength and Courage'. I crossed the River Jordan.

'Funnily Enough' by Sophie Neville

You can read more 
about how I came out of Egypt here