World Mission: 2015 has been difficult for many of our partners

Visitors from Nigeria
More than 20 visitors from Nigeria came to celebrate the life and work of Mary Slessor who died 100 years ago.

As World Mission Council reflects on 2015, for many of our partners it has been a difficult one.

"I am the parish minister of the Presbyterian Church in Aleppo, probably one of the most dangerous places to live in our world today" said Rev Ibrahim Nassir as he spoke at the 2015 General Assembly. He continues to live and minister to the people of that city. It is unlikely that he will have a 'Silent Night' this Christmas but through his words, World Mission's 'Place at the Table' and the work of our partner church, the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, we have been able to provide food, shelter and warmth for many of the refugees and displaced people from Syria.

So when we look back on 2015 we see that: flooding and then drought has caused severe food shortages in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique; the movement of refugees across the Mediterranean and throughout Europe has been at the forefront of the news agenda for much of the year; peace continues to evade the world's newest country, South Sudan; Nepal, having been struck by a major and numerous minor earthquakes, now faces severe restrictions on imports of food, fuel and medicines because of border disputes with India; tensions continue as Christians seek the reunification of the Korean peninsula.

Even in Bethlehem this Christmas, festivities are scaled down because of security risks, a factor of continuing and escalating unrest between Israeli and Palestinian.

The Council works with and through partner churches dealing at first hand with some of the most difficult issues in our world today, seeking peace with justice, demanding action on climate justice, seeking to reduce poverty, tackling gender based violence, highlighting human trafficking and supporting those infected and affected with HIV.

In January, we celebrated with the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria as we remember the life and legacy of Mary Slessor. The Moderator's visit to Calabar - Mary's 'homeland' for much of her life - and the great crowd of witnessing Nigerians who came to her birth country of Scotland helped to cement relationships between our churches.

Other joyful events were the opportunities to join with the Reformed Church in Hungary to mark 150 of Hungarian Scholars studying in Scotland, and with the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the martyrdom of Jan Hus, and then again for the installation of their new governing board, the Synodal Council, for the coming six years. In both of these, and many other occasions, it is the continuing relationship, the listening, learning, sharing, supporting and acting, that is the most important aspect of our work.

Again at the General Assembly, Rev Ram Kumar Budhathoki, the Principal of the Nepal Ebenezer Bible College shared with us how 45 seconds of earthquake was all it took to cause enormous devastation to infrastructure, livelihoods and lives in Nepal. Through our partner, the United Mission to Nepal (UMN), and from the generosity of Scottish congregations as they take up the challenge of 'Let us build a house', we look forward in 2016 to seeing communities flourish again.

Working together with CCAP Blantyre Synod in Malawi, 2015 saw the beginning of a new tripartite relationship with the Evangelical Church of Christ in Mozambique (IECM) and so we leave the last word to Rev Orlando Fazenda, the General Secretary of IECM: "In 2015 we thanked God for the provision of partnership in the gospel with you. Your pastoral visit to Nampula Synod was a great encouragement and inspiration to the church in Northern Mozambique. New Year is a time for reflecting on the past and working towards the future."