THE TORCH - ISSUE 1 2010

From:-
TORCH TRUST, Torch House, Torch Way, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 9HL, U.K.
Telephone: (01858) 438260, Fax: (01858) 438275, email: info@torchtrust.org
Charity Number 1095904.

Contents

Greetings

Remembering Mum

by Gordon Temple

In the last edition of The Torch magazine we broke the sad news that Stella Heath had passed away on 29th September at the age of 89.

Many readers of The Torch will have known Stella well, as right up until 2006 she contributed a devotional article to just about every edition.

It's now over 50 years since, in 1959, she and her husband Ron first welcomed a blind young person into their "Fridaynighters" youth group. After coming three times Wendy made her decision to follow Jesus. Wendy read braille and the Heaths looked for something that she could read to help her in her Christian life. Finding nothing suitable they learned a little braille and copied out some booklets.

Then they came across a little devotional magazine called The Torch - this magazine! It had been started by the Trench sisters at their home in the north of England back in 1931, after their coachman lost his sight. They started by producing just 60 copies, but by 1959 the readership had grown to around one thousand, with a growing readership in other countries. But last surviving of the sisters, Gertrude Ada Trench, was feeling too elderly to continue. She asked Mr and Mrs Heath if they would take it on. On 8th June 1959 she signed over to them the Trust they had formed to support their ministry with blind people. Ada Trench edited the May 1959 edition and then had passed away before the next edition was due. How amazing is God's perfect timing.

Thus began the Torch Trust that we know today. Stella Heath took on the editing of this magazine, continuing her involvement with preparing it until 1996. The circulation continued to grow and extend internationally. Today around 9,500 copies are produced, almost 5,000 in braille, making it the largest circulation in the world of a braille publication of any kind. Giant print, audio cassette, audio CD and electronic versions have been added over the years. Now the readership stretches across one hundred countries.

Mr and Mrs Heath were a remarkable couple and Stella's life was an extraordinary one. In one of her books Stella explained how the work progressively took over their lives. It filled the family home and then outgrew it. Instead of looking for a rented office they bought a much larger home where others could come and join in. They became known as the Torch Family with Mr and Mrs Heath often referred to as "Mum and Dad".

What made them so special was their straightforward faith in Jesus and complete readiness to follow God's leading. This took them to all parts of the UK, sharing their vision for the work of Torch with churches and groups - and encouraging the growing network of Torch Fellowship Groups.

Later came the call to go to Africa, leading in turn to the foundation of the Torch Trust for the Blind International in Malawi. Work started on the developing of the site in the suburbs of Blantyre. The braille production unit, now having run for some years, produces the Bible in ten African languages.

In 2006 a stroke affected Stella's ability to communicate. Yet as recently as this summer she wrote with remarkable clarity of the ministry of Torch. With minimal editing these are her words:

... So many lovely people are working hard, in the Torch headquarters, Market Harborough, regionally in UK, and in many other countries. I have especially loved the work ... in Malawi and Mozambique - what huge promises, what love, deep love, has been growing.

Now, 50 years after the start of Torch in 1959, what a lot of joy has been growing in the Lord. Dear friends, I do feel so deeply about the wonders that God has done - and is still doing. I am so glad that I had a little part in it all.

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Let the Scriptures speak

Matthew 14:14-21

When Jesus saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."

Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."

"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered.

"Bring them here to me," he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

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Partners

Malak Christian Book Ministry, Tamale, Ghana

by John Cartledge

Malak (Hebrew for Ambassador) Christian Book Centre Ministry was set up to help the people of Northern Ghana to obtain both new and good quality used Christian books/Bibles and fundamental teaching materials. Our aim is to get the books needed to the people at affordable prices and we also operate a donation ministry.

In 2001 whilst working for an American Missionary organisation in Tamale, Ghana, I became aware of the appalling lack of Christian books and Bibles in the north and felt that God was prompting me to provide a Ministry Centre for the people of that area of Ghana. I contacted Bob Hiley, director of Book-Aid in the UK, and the first 20ft container of books and Bibles were sent to us.

After a lot of hard work the Centre was built in Tamale and Christians rejoiced that their prayers of many years had been answered. Before this, Christians had to make a round trip of nearly 1,000 miles to Accra to obtain Christian books.

Early this year I received a phone call from Kim, one of the two missionaries from Florida USA staying at our Ministry Centre in Tamale while I was involved in other ministry in the UK. Kim told me that she had met a blind girl (Euphenia Sala Alhassan) at the First Baptist Church in Tamale and asked if it was possible for me to supply her with any Christian reading materials in braille. After making a phone call to Peter Jackson (blind author and pianist) I was put into contact with Torch Trust in Market Harborough. After listening to my story Torch immediately sent several boxes of Christian books in braille for me to take back to Ghana.

On arriving at Tamale, I went to visit Madam Sala living in her poverty stricken home. The joy on her face as she read the Word of God in braille in perfect English gave me the greatest experience in my eight years of ministry in Ghana. Her face lit up as she beamed, "I have not read anything in braille since leaving blind school seven years ago and now I am not only reading braille but the Word of God in braille as well". She told me she had been brought up in a Muslim home and became a Christian and was baptised when studying at the residential blind school in WA (N/W Ghana). Turning her back on her Muslim family's faith was not without a cost and resulted in her being disowned by the family, so that now she lives with a member of her church. Sala said on a later visit I paid her, "Since receiving the books, all the despair lying on my heart for all those years has been removed; I am now encouraged through the books that I am not alone in my circumstances".

The schools are all ill equipped for the special needs of the blind in Ghana and this makes it difficult for them to reach their full potential and leads to frustration. It is hard enough for a sighted person to get a job in Ghana, let alone a blind person, and employers have a strong prejudice against employing a blind person. All these unpleasant realities have further negative effects for the blind person's economic livelihood, the quality of life and social standing, to the extent of seeing many of them resort to begging on the streets. This in turn, has a negative effect on the image of the blind in general.

Once a blind person like Madam Sala leaves the blind school they are virtually left alone and have no further access to braille reading materials. It is our will at Malak Christian Books to work alongside Torch Trust in the future and to make sure we make Christian reading materials in braille available to the blind in Ghana.

It's an absolute joy to have made contact with Torch Trust for the Blind and we look forward to whatever the Lord has in store for future ministry with them and the blind of Ghana.

[John & Akua Cartledge www.malakchristianbooks.org]

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Penfriends bulletin

Here are some people who would like to correspond with others. You may like to braille a letter to one of them. Introduce yourself by giving your name, your correct postal address, your age, and some information about yourself, your family and your country.

Anybody reading this who would like us to include their name and information in our next bulletin, please send in your full name, postal address, age, and tell us about the things you enjoy doing. The aim of having a penfriend is to develop a friendship and exchange information and ideas.

MATTHEW OMIRIGWE, Plot 1, New Market Square, Abarichi, Utonkon, Benue State, Nigeria, West Africa. Matthew is 33 and would like friends of between ages 16 and 32 from England and Germany. He enjoys reading, listening to commentaries, participating in talk shows, playing the bass guitar and the rhythm guitar, singing, writing and visiting.

SIMON BEAUMONT, Scunthorpe, England. Simon is totally blind, aged 38, and would like to correspond by email only. His interests and hobbies are reading, walking, church fellowship at the Baptist church he attends, travel and emailing friends whether Christians or otherwise. He would like to correspond by email only at: beaumont16@btinternet.com

DUNCAN MOLE KAINGU, PO Box 100 Mtwapa, Mombasa, Kenya. He is a single young manĀ aged 29, a Kenyan by nationality. He is a musician by profession, and his hobbies are: swimming, football, listening to any kind of music, learning different cultures and values, making new friends. He would like to correspond with anyone from any part of the world because he believes that in God we're all equal but with different ideas. Communication should be by email, phone or by post. His mobile number is +254 725 474 556; email address: dkaingu@yahoo.com

PRAVAL PANT, State Bank of India, Admin, Office, Region IV, Bareilly-243001, Uttar Pradesh, India. Praval says: I am 24 years old, and am working in a bank. I have completed my post graduation in political science. I like to listen to informative programmes, news, current affairs programmes, social dramas, and old songs. I am also interested in visiting different places. I am from India, it is a very large country geographically - there are 28 states in my country. I would like to communicate with people who are pursuing their studies or have got a job recently. I would like to receive e-mail. My e-mail is: praval.pant@sbi.co.in.

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My Story

by Keith Jones - Audio Transcriber

I was born more than 60 years ago in the lovely Dorset town of Bridport, just two miles from the sea and cliffs at West Bay.

I was brought up by Christian parents together with my older sister and brother, but I can definitely remember in August 1959 (50 years ago!) reaching my own individual, unpressurised decision to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour.

This took place at a summer residential camp for young people held in the beautiful Quantock Hills in Somerset. The speaker was talking about Sin Land and Salvation Land, with a great gulf fixed between them, such that the only way to cross from the one to the other was by a bridge in the shape of the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ - a powerful and true representation of our faith.

I have always struggled with written exams but after I had eventually obtained two A Levels (as they were known then!) I took a year out by joining the Voluntary Service Overseas organisation which sent me to Ghana in West Africa to teach in a Boys' Secondary School, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Before I went I had already met Lois who is now my wife and we married in 1969. We have just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with a wonderful holiday with our two daughters and their husbands and families; they each have two children.

I worked for nearly 24 years with National Westminster Bank in various branches in and around London but resigned from the bank in July 1993 under, I am certain, the direct guidance of God. It had become increasingly clear to me that the bank and I were set on different and separating pathways so, like Peter in the New Testament, I was called to "get out of the boat" and walk towards Jesus.

Also like Peter, when I looked around I felt I would sink without trace many times. But God - those are two of the shortest but most profound words in all of Scripture - had other ideas.

Sometimes during the time I was "temping" [taking temporary jobs] I did not know definitely whether or where I would have a job the next week, but frequently by 5.00 pm on the Friday it was confirmed I had - praise the Lord!

I was also successful in obtaining permanent employment; but on one occasion I was made redundant one morning completely unexpectedly along with some others. During the lunch time, feeling devastated, I called in to a nearby local church and found that their Bible was open at Matthew 6.

From verses 25 to 34, three times Jesus tells his disciples (you & me) to "not be anxious" as our Heavenly Father knows and cares. The Lord's direct word at that time was so real and relevant.

We moved to Leicester in July 2002 to be nearer our family in Humberstone. Initially it was a very testing time to find a church, full time work, make new friends and settle. But God has proved Himself to be constantly faithful and constantly providing in many, many wonderful ways and will, I know, continue to do so.

One of my favourite texts comes from 2 Corinthians 12:8, 9, the Living Bible paraphrase, where Paul says:

"Three times I asked God to ..." (whatever); "each time He said 'No: but I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.'"

(Paul - and me): "The less I have, the more I depend on Him."

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Here's a thought

by F B Meyer

Unbelief puts our circumstances between us and God. But faith puts God between us and our circumstances.

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Old Testament Characters

by Michael Stafford

1. Job

There is a great deal we can learn from studying Bible characters. They had faults and failings as well as good points; in other words, they were just like us! We are going to look at them in chronological order. So why do we start this series with Job? Surely he comes later in the Old Testament. Yes, but in fact he is thought to have been living around the time of Abraham or even earlier. He is seen as a family priest, which would not have been possible in later times when the priesthood was limited to one tribe - Levi. He was exceedingly rich and well respected:

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil . . . One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them . . . Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and . . . blessed the work of his hands . . . but stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." The Lord said to Satan, "Very well then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." (Job 1:1-11)

In studying Job we are looking at the subject of suffering and why it happens. In chapters one and two we find that Satan wants to test Job, and God lets him do so on condition that Job is not killed. Satan is sometimes known as the accuser, and he wanted to prove that Job was not the godly and righteous man which God claimed he was. Job would surely buckle under the pressure of intense suffering.

Job lost everything except his wife and his life! His children were killed; his house and goods were destroyed; his cattle died; his health failed; he was covered in painful boils; his wife told him to curse God and die. He wished he had never been born. To make matters worse his three "friends" tried to put him straight by saying that his suffering was caused because of some sin which he had been committing. Though he denied this they kept on accusing him of hiding some secret sin. If he was innocent he would not be suffering, they said.

How did Job react to all this suffering?

Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:20-22)

We all have a problem understanding why people suffer. The book of Job leaves the question unanswered, but does make it clear that suffering is not necessarily the result of some personal sin. Jesus Himself made this clear when he spoke about the Galileans who were killed by Pontius Pilate, and those who died when a tower fell on them. These people were not greater sinners than anyone else (Luke 13:1-5). Also, He made it clear to His disciples in John 9 that the blind man was not blind because he or his parents had sinned. Suffering is, however, the result of general sin, following the fall of Adam and Eve. We are all guilty of sin in this general way, as well as of individual acts of wrong-doing.

Although Job lived at a time when there was no Bible and no way to know much at all about God and His plans for mankind, he had a remarkable understanding that there is more to life than merely physical existence. In Chapter 19 we can read his words: "Oh, that my words were recorded ... I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes ..."

In the end God speaks directly to Job out of a great storm and challenges him to consider how he could dare to question God's justice or accuse Him of unrighteousness. God's ways are past finding out and Job is totally ignorant of them. Job acknowledges that God is great beyond anything he could imagine. He is not worthy to question God, and he repents in dust and ashes.

Job's fault was that he claimed to be completely innocent of any wrong-doing. When God appeared to him and showed him his great power he realised that he was a sinner - though this was not why he was made to suffer. We make a mistake if we think that we are without sin. Romans 3:23 says that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". That includes you and me, and we all need the forgiveness that only the Redeemer that Job spoke about can give.

At the very end of the book we find that God in his mercy has restored all that Job had lost, and more. Satan had failed to make Job curse God, and God Himself was vindicated in His assessment of Job's character.

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