St Michael and All Angels, Highworth

Sharing Jesus through faithful worship, care for one another and effective outreach

Alan & Pauline Ashmore - Abergwynfi, South Wales

With UFM Worldwide, Swindon, Wiltshire

Update 29th November 2016 - Recent news coming to us from folk in Burkina Faso is encouraging again.

However we have had some sad news that one of the American missionaries we worked along-side died a few days ago while being medi-evacuated from Burkina. Carolyn had an amazing ministry she will be sadly missed by those she leaves behind.

The English courses, which along with another missionary we helped start some 10years ago, is run by SIM mission and has always been very popular This relies on missionaries and local churches to help and at one stage this year it looked unlikely that it would be able to start in September. However the good news is it is now fully staffed and is currently running with 150 students.

Some missionaries are currently on home assignment while new people have come along in the meantime either on short term or long term assignments.

We often have emails but also have the occasional phone conversation with our friends out there both missionaries and nationals.

Update 28th April 2016 - Recent news coming to us from folk in Burkina Faso is encouraging. Life continues again very much as usual and the missions are working alongside the churches to encourage and support them. We had a phone call from one of our friends, a Burkina national and it was good to hear his voice and receive his news (and speak French again!). We were the first UFM missionaries to start work in Burkina and it was good to see another UFM family come out and have been involved since. Due to education needs they are now returning to the UK and we look for the Lord to lead others to continue the work.

Update 23rd Sept 2015 - News to reach us from folk out in Burkina talks of a high security risk for them at present. There has been a coup / attempted coup just weeks before the presidential elections in October. (Details can be found on the BBC news website by going to the www.bbc.co.uk/news and selecting the "World" tab followed by the "Africa" tab.)

There is great uncertainty there at the moment.

From our time in Côte d'Ivoire we know the horor and misery these uprisings caused to Ivorian families and how devastating it was to the fragile economy.

We pray that for a quick restoration to peace and that the elections will be able to go ahead as planned.  

To compound the problem this comes after destruction caused by recent heavy rains which washed away houses and ruined crops.

Update 27th March 2014 - We continue to be in contact with folk in Burkina and are looking to the Lord to guide us as to the timing of our next visit with the possibility of taking a work team again, perhaps late next year or early 2016.

Update Alan & Pauline,  Burkina Faso Visit - 2nd November 2012 - 18th December 2012

We are so grateful to the Lord that we had the opportunity to return to Burkina Faso for a visit in November. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters both in finance and prayer we were able to catch up with folk that we last saw in 2011 and to undertake ministry there again, all be it for just six weeks.

We were so excited to see how the churches had grown over such a relatively short time.  The church of Somgande (pictured above) is on the outskirts of the Capital, Ouagadougou. We had the privilidge of helping plant that church in 2003 and we are told that it now regularly has over 100 attending on a Sunday morning.

On our stay we were able to visit a number of churches and the story was the same with very active children and young people ministries (and not so young) so that many are not only hearing the Good News of the Gospel on a Sunday morning but ae growing in their knowledge by the teaching of good and faithful pastors through Bible Studies and prayer meetings. We arrived at one church at 8am Sunday morning to a lively Bible Study / discussion on the Bible and Politics. What should the Christian do when laws are introduced that are contrary to God's laws? We were certainly on familiar ground there! Just before 9am there was a time of quiet reflection before the worship and the main service began. Wonderful lively singing from the congregation and the individual choirs. The heat is so intense that there are no glass windows and doors are wide open so the Gospel message spreads wide and far.

 

 

 

Update Alan & Pauline,  29th December 2012

Now back in the UK (arrived 18th December 2012) Watch this space for report on our visit to Burkina Faso - coming soon.

Update (Alan & Pauline, Ouaga 2012 N0.1) 9th November 2012

Well, we arrived safely at Ouagadougou International Airport one week ago.  The journey from the moment we left home in Wales on the Thursday morning to our arrival at tea-time on the Friday went really well.  As we moved towards the luggage carousel we were greeted by one of the men from the church we attended here who now had a luggage handling business and we speedily located our luggage and headed out of the terminal.  We were met by our SIM friends Alan and Alison. It was good to see them again. The first week has been very full but as usual very exciting. We soon got down to ESL prep. and taught our respective classes on Monday and Thursday evenings.  One of the full-time English teachers has had to return to UK suddenly for medical examination and treatment so it is good that we are here to cover. Pauline has stepped in to take his class.  We have met up with a number of our African friends and have been able to pass on the greetings from our UK churches. Tomorrow (Saturday) we have an ESL film night with Q&A but also a short outreach - we are looking at linking the film to the Good News of Jesus.

Update 21st October 2012

Pauline and I (Alan) head out to Burkina Faso on 2nd November 2012, returning a week before Christmas.  We are really looking forward to renewing friendships and catching up on the news.  We have a busy program of teaching ESL as well as other outreaches and pastoral opportunities. One school in Highworth already sponsors a child through the Pan Bila project and a local school here in South Wales has also expressed an interest to do likewise, so we will follow up on that. There are two amazing places where this is done - Pan Bila School and Mahadaga Handicap Centre (see Below). We will send email updates while we are there and update this page with a report of our trip after we return. 

In the meantime we would like to wish you all a very early but sincere, Happy Christmas

Update 5th April 2012

Simon was a student at Vavoua Mission School, Ivory Coast from 1998 - 2002 and from Oct 2002 - 2003 at Bourafaye International School, Senegal.

He returned to the school in Senegal after graduating from Canterbury Christchurch University, to teach at the school and to be a dorm helper.  In the last few months before returning to the UK Simon helped construct a school and a pastor's house in a village in Senegal.

Simon is now living in Highworth and working in Swindon. He worships at St. Michaels.

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Alan & Pauline Ashmore 2010 - We first came to St Michael's Church, Highworth, in the early 1980's and in 1998 we were able to follow God's calling to overseas missionary work with the support of the church and a number of other churches and individuals.  
St Michael's is our "home church" and also our "sending church" and in 2008 some friends formed a work team and came out from St Michael's, along with the head of a local school, to construct and install sports equipment for a junior school and to repaint a very large classroom.

 

From 1998 - 2002 we worked alongside the Ivorian church in Ivory Coast and following disruption in the country we moved to its neighbour Burkina Faso, spending in total another 3 amazing years there. We recently had the opportunity to go out for a 3 month working visit which we describe here.  It was a very special time for us to go back to a country of amazing people.

Burkina Faso, West Africa - April to June 2010
(the really hot season!!!)

We arrived on a hot evening in April, and were touched to be welcomed at the airport by so many of our students from the Bible Institute, and our missionary friends

 

Film Projection and Outreach

SIM mission in Ouagadougou had kindly put into store our film equipment as well as keeping our truck up and running.  This meant that we were able to immediately slip back into ministry, which was good as we had a request to do a projection at one of the churches the first Friday evening we were there.  After a little servicing of the equipment we had a good attendance that evening and the church followed up on this later in our stay with two consecutive nights of projections. 

All of our programmed projections took place as planned, except one, which had to be postponed till the following evening because of an electric storm which was brewing up all around us. As our screen is attached to a large metallic frame in a large open space with hundreds of people around it, did not seem good.  So we returned the following night and had an amazing evening.  All our projections were well received and many people accepted the Lord over the 3-month period.  

 

Niendouga Bible Institute

Within a couple of weeks of arriving we were heading off east to a town close to the Niger border.  The Director, Pastor Albert and his teaching staff had asked us to return to teach a course on Evangelism to the 143 students. There had been a new intake since we ran the course two years previous but a number of the existing students were in their final year.  So we adapted the course to give these students extra material on topics such as radio evangelism, then we motivated the students to head up the week-end outreach to a local village immediately following the course.

One member of staff and two final year students shared the translating of our French into Gourmanche, the local language to that region. They did a great job, and even translated the dialogues of the sketches that we had given the students as exercises to reinforce the topic subject area being taught.  As before it was an amazing time and the Lord really blessed it both during the course and the amazing work the students did in the outreach at the end of the course.

ESL – Teaching English as a second language

We were involved in teaching at two ESL courses.  One was a two-hour weekly class, the other was a one week intensive daytime course.  We had over one hundred students for the evening course and around fifty students for the intensive course.  With six different levels, this worked out well.

The students never cease to amaze us in their enthusiasm and hunger not only for the language but also for understanding God’s Word through a Bible time which is clearly timetabled and of which they are aware of when they sign up.  They were soon keen to participate in both the Bible readings and the discussions.  The theme was how Jesus changes lives, using the accounts of Saul, Zacchaeus and Peter, and supported by two Burkinabé Christians who gave testimonies as to how Jesus had changed their lives. 

 

Mahadaga Handicap Centre

We visited the village of Mahadaga, a centre for handicapped children and adults.  Francoise Pédeau, a SIM missionary, has run the centre for many years.  It started with her wish to help one orphan and now has grown to incorporate a full size school with classes for mixed abilities and classes specifically for blind children, deaf children and workshops for physically disabled adults.  There is also a medical centre, which has to meet the needs of 65,000 people of the surrounding villages in the area.  We cannot begin to explain our emotions as we saw young children being fitted with calipers (made on site), some having physiotherapy and some walking for the first time.  To see the blind children learning and reading Brail, and to see the deaf being educated using only sign language, was humbling and touching.         

We were pleased to be able to project the film "Jesus, for Children"  (the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of children).  We projected this outside the school in the early evening.  Some of the children sang, prompted by their teachers.  We also led some singing and shared with the children about Jesus, until it became dark enough to project the film. Later we heard that a number of adults who had gathered at the back, had also been impacted with gospel.

Alan & Pauline