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Fiona Baxter

The Shack – Filmnight 19th March 7.30pm

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After suffering a family tragedy, Mack Phillips spirals into a deep depression that causes him to question his innermost beliefs. Facing a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter urging him to an abandoned shack in the Oregon wilderness. Despite his doubts, Mack journeys to the shack and encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa. Through this meeting, Mack finds important truths that will transform his understanding of his tragedy and change his life forever.

Alpha Logo

Alpha

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Alpha Logo

Everyone has questions
We believe that everyone should have the chance to explore the Christian faith, ask questions and share their point of view; wherever they are in the world.

What is Alpha?

Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha is run all around the globe, and everyone’s welcome. It runs in cafés, churches, universities, homes—you name it. No two Alphas look the same, but generally they have three key things in common: food, a talk and good conversation.

First up there’s
Food

Whether it’s a group of friends gathered around a kitchen table, or a quick catch up over coffee and cake, food has a way of bringing people together. It’s no different at Alpha. Most sessions start with food because it’s a great way to build community and get to know each other.

Then a
Talk

The talks are designed to engage and inspire conversation. Usually around thirty minutes long and delivered over about eleven weeks, they can be given as a live talk or played as a video. They explore the big issues around faith and unpack the basics of Christianity, addressing questions from Who is Jesus? and How can we have faith? to Why and how do I pray? and How does God guide us?

Watch a Talk
Followed by
Discussion

Probably the most important part of any Alpha: the chance to share thoughts and ideas on the topic, and simply discuss it in a small group. There’s no obligation to say anything and there’s nothing you can’t say (seriously). It’s an opportunity to hear from others and contribute your own perspective in an honest, friendly and open environment.

We are starting our Alpha Course on Wednesday 17th January at 7.00pm, the course will run for 11 weeks and anyone coming to the initial meeting is under no obligation to come again, but we hope that you will enjoy the evening and find the talk and discussion stimulating.

Transforming lives in the Ukraine

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UKRAINE:
WINTER IS COMING

It’s getting cold in Ukraine. Because of the ongoing conflict, thousands of people have fled from their homes. With winter on its way, BMS World Mission is working to provide heating for families displaced by the fighting.

The temperature’s starting to drop. Soon, frost will cover the ground. The heating will be switched on. But for people in eastern Ukraine, ways of keeping warm have been taken away.
Along the boundary lines of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine, tension between pro-Russian separatists and pro-Ukrainian groups has caused violent unrest for the past three years, and there are no signs of it stopping. Parts of these regions are now controlled by the separatists, with the Ukrainian government suspending support to the area. As a result, people are without hot water. The central heating no longer works. Coal, gas and electricity are becoming increasingly more expensive, with many people unable to pay their energy bills. And with extreme winter conditions on the way, being able to stay warm is vital for families in Ukraine to survive the next few months.

Last year, Sergey, an elderly man living amidst the fighting, had the wall of his home heavily damaged. Not only did this let in the freezing cold, but it caused his heating system to break. BMS helped to fix the wall, and a ceramic heating panel was installed in his house, replacing the broken system. Because of your support, Sergey was able to live through the winter.
Along with local partners, last year BMS also helped another family with three young children, who had their central heating stop because energy to the building had been cut off. They weren’t able to leave the area because they were looking after their elderly parents. A ceramic heater was installed at their house, meaning they could keep looking after their parents and stay warm during the winter too. This year, thanks to your giving, we are able to help again.

Two million people are estimated to be living close to the boundary line of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with a further two million people estimated to be living in the non-government controlled area. In a crisis of this scale, we’re committed to helping Ukrainians keep warm this winter.

Working with local partners, BMS is helping one thousand people affected by this terrible conflict. We’re providing water heaters, which will give families and internally displaced people access to hot water. Ceramic heaters, coal and firewood are being given as ways for families to heat their homes. And we’re helping children receive thermal underwear, meaning they can stay warm while they sleep.

To read more about the work of BMS or donate

Feeding of the 400

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FRANCE:

FEEDING OF THE 400

In secular France it’s hard to be a Christian. BMS World Mission is bringing young people together, helping them find community and spiritual nourishment. But the country still needs our prayers.

Around 400 young Christians descended upon the city of Poitiers, 150 miles north of Bordeaux, this weekend, ready to worship God at an event called Connexion 2017. For many, this was the largest gathering of Christians they had ever been a part of. Young people from all over France were here to praise God and grow in their faith. One girl came completely on her own, and many others came in groups of only five. There was laughter. There were tears. But most of all, there was a sense of family. A sense of belonging.

Lead speaker teaching at Connexion 2017

It’s lonely to be a Christian in France. In one of the most secular countries in the world, it’s difficult for people to find others who share their faith. “Young people are often the only ones in the classroom who are Christians,” says Benjamin, a 20-something French man. “With an event like this, we know we are not alone and we can worship the Lord together.” Connexion creates a safe place for Christians to express their love for Christ, without fear of mockery, and gain spiritual sustenance for when they return home.

Sue Wilson, a BMS worker in Paris, has run Connexion since 2015 with a small group of volunteers as part of her work with the French Baptist Federation. It’s really important, she says, that young people meet up with each other. “Often churches have small youth groups, so an event like this lets Christians connect with one another and worship God.” Through your support for BMS, this weekend you helped to show young French Christians that they are not alone.

From Witch Doctor to Church Planter

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The gospel is bearing fruit in India. BMS World Mission church planting projects are seeing men and women from all kinds of backgrounds, ages and places coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Including witch doctors.

There aren’t words strong enough to describe the impact the gospel is having in India. Its reach, depth and power is incredible. It’s even more impressive in the face of the real, dangerous and sometimes violent persecution and opposition Christians there are facing.

 

Selim* had wanted to be a witch doctor since childhood. He was fascinated. He was committed. He studied under a master and honed his witchcraft. He practised where he lives in West Bengal, making his livelihood selling potions and charms to heal the sick.

Selim’s sister Maya* is a BMS-supported church planter. She always tried to convince her brother to come along to church with her. They would fight, and He would refuse. He had always been resistant to hearing the gospel.

 

Here is the story of how Selim and Maya’s lives have been transformed by Christ. Here’s what knowing Jesus has meant for them, for their relationship and for their communities. Here is their story, in their own words:

My life has been completely changed.

“My sister, the church planter. The local fellowship she leads meet faithfully. I can hear people singing and praising God.”

“One member had been severely ill for a long time. He was dying. His family members had bought him to me many times for healing, but I had not been able to help him.”

“Unable to walk, the people of the village carried him to the fellowship one day and the members of the church started to pray for him. They prayed without ceasing. After three days of prayer he was completely healed and started walking and eating and doing everything that he had before.”

“I thought I was healing people by myself, with black magic and witchcraft, but I knew I had witnessed something amazing; this was a miracle. I understood my sister’s faith in this Jesus. My eyes were opened to the truth and I started to ask questions of my own.”

“With Maya’s encouragement, I started going to church. I heard the word of God, and wanted to know more. My sister gave me a Bible to read. The words transformed my heart, and I understood that there is no power greater than the power of the Lord Jesus.”

“I decided to abandon the wicked ways I knew and give my heart over to the one and only true God. I was baptised. I even changed my name.”

“My life has been completely changed. I am now running my own fellowships, as well as supporting my sister, sharing the gospel. We are part of a wider team, proclaiming the good news and worshiping our Lord together.”

“I am thankful to the Lord for leading me to my new work as a church-planter.”

Selim and Maya’s story is just one of many of God’s power changing hearts and minds in India.

BMS is excited to be a part of God’s plan for this great nation. Lives are being transformed thanks to church planting ministries your giving to BMS is supporting. We are seeing incredible things happening.

Keep praising God for these wonderful works. Keep praying for safety. Keep praying for growth. Keep supporting this ministry.

 

Building bridges, community and faith in Albania

By | Archive

A men’s group supported by BMS World Mission in Albania is bringing people from different cultural backgrounds together to talk about God, their lives and (naturally) a bit of football.

It seems like a simple concept – five men sitting around a table having a BBQ each Tuesday. They chat about life, spirituality, football and everything in-between. It may even seem common for a men’s church group in the UK, but it isn’t in a country like Albania. Especially not for men. 
In Tirana, Albania, this unique men’s group is connecting people in a remarkable way. “It’s grown beyond our expectations,” says Mat Gregory, a BMS mission worker who leads the ‘Eat, talk, pray’ men’s group. In the space of only one year members have increased from five to 20 men.
It’s really rare to get a group of men in Albania to meet in a structured way like this outside of working hours, particularly to chat about spirituality. Most of the men who meet together have never been to church, but they have been very open to discussing faith. Mat believes it all comes down to the consistent attendance. As relationships have strengthened, it’s created an open and respectful environment where the men feel comfortable enough to share more personal feelings. “For men here, this is quite hard,” says Mat. “They’re less open and a little more suspicious of one another. It’s taken longer, but the group has reached a deeper level. And to reach that level where they talk about issues that don’t come naturally for men is really great.”
It’s also not natural to get such a diverse group of men together. They range in ages from 15 to late 60s and they come from different cultural backgrounds. Men from Egyptian, Roma and Albanian backgrounds sit together around the same table. “It’s exciting,” says Mat. “Usually these communities don’t connect very well together. Bridges are being built between neighbours that previously wouldn’t have wanted to.”
The success of the men’s group sparked a women’s ‘Eat, talk, pray’ group to start too. “It immediately touched on something that was really important for the women in this area,” says Mat. “A sense of community.”
Naturally, women get together more often with their neighbours in Albania, but this group is enhancing their connections with each other and enriching their spiritual understanding. “As they talk about their joys and struggles, they’re doing it in this new context where it’s framed in a way that says ‘there is a heavenly Father who cares for you in all of this too,’” says Mat.
There’s also hope that a new group will form. “There’s been individuals from both groups who want to go on a more in-depth spiritual journey,” says Mat. “So we’re hoping to create a group that will follow a more structured discipleship programme.”
These informal church groups are simple – gathering around a table to share food, life and faith. But, they are also extraordinary. Beyond the table, they are helping people connect with each other, despite differences, and to see God in a whole new light.
Who knew? All you need is a BBQ, chats about football and a bit of structure to get people talking about faith and looking past differences.

This week’s Prayer request from BMS World Mission

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  • Praise God – despite the bleak religious landscape in Europe, Evangelicals are growing in strength and confidence. Pray for BMS World Mission as we support them.
  • Disillusionment with the emptiness of secularism often leads to an interest in spirituality. Pray for BMS workers and European believers as they make Jesus known.
  • Economic, political and social upheaval and uncertainty may cause Europeans to ask questions about morals and meaning. Pray BMS workers will be able to respond.
  • Pray that BMS will help dynamic Christians who have moved to Europe from the Global South to be integrated and active in the Church.
  • Pray for BMS workers Ann and David MacFarlane, retiring after 24 years of continuous service in Italy. Pray too for the church they are leaving.
  • Give thanks for Tony Peck and Helle Liht, leading the BMS-supported European Baptist Federation (EBF), offering leadership, counsel and encouragement.
  • Pray for wisdom and strength for EBF indigenous missionaries, supported by BMS, who are sharing the gospel in their countries.

Nepal Earthquake

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Nepal earthquake anniversary: helping a man called Krishna

Two years on from the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal, BMS World Mission writer Hailey went to Gorkha, one of the areas worst-hit by the devastation. When she got there, a man named Krishna was waiting for her.

Krishna sits cross-legged in front of us, ready to tell us his story. His mother, Pahilee, sits down right behind him. I can see in the lines spread across her face that things have not been easy for her and her son. Neighbours begin to flood the room. The small house fills up with men, women and children. It seems like they’re here partly because of curiosity and partly because of their love for Krishna. 
Two years ago, almost to this day, Krishna’s small, one-roomed house was completely destroyed when a massive earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, rocked his country. The roof and walls that protect me as I listen to his story are only here because of the gifts UK Christians gave to BMS’ Nepal earthquake appeal.
Hardship began for Krishna long before the earthquakes. He went blind when he was just four years old. He is now 44. “I don’t know what the world looks like,” says Krishna, tilting his head towards the floor. “I don’t remember.”
Growing up, he and his mother never had much money and barely had sufficient food to survive. “We do farming to make a living,” says Krishna. “But we never have enough for the entire year. We only make enough to last us three months.”
Krishna explains how the earthquakes made their lives even more precarious.
“Life was really hard after the earthquakes,” he says. “We had to live in the cow shed and temporary housing and it just caused more problems for us. It was really hard because my mother is getting older too.”
BMS has been helping Krishna. We’ve been working with a trusted partner on the ground in Gorkha to help the most vulnerable people in the district recover after the earthquake. Thanks to you, we are helping to rebuild homes for over a hundred people with disabilities in the area.
“Our new house is very good,” says Krishna. I’m told how it was built according to new government regulations to ensure that it is earthquake-proof. The hope is that this house will withstand any future disasters.
“We are so thankful,” says Krishna. “It feels good to live here now and we feel safe.”
Krishna lives a steep climb up a mountain in Gorkha. I’m a runner and even I find the incline leaves me straining. Out of breath. The greeting of “Namaste” and a smile are a relief when I arrive.
Krishna’s home is small and simple. It’s dark inside and there are two bed frames with no mattresses and a straw mat on the floor. That’s about it. He and his mother insist that our group sit on the bed frames while they sit on the floor. A woman comes in and places pink home-made flower necklaces and yellow scarves around each of our necks. Their kindness is humbling.
This little home, which many back in the UK or where I’m from in America wouldn’t think much of, means the world to Krishna and his mother. I can see it in the way he clutches his chest when he says, “we are very happy you helped us.”
As our Land Rover begins its descent from Krishna’s home up high in the mountains, it begins to rain. It’s like the tears welling up for Krishna and his mother. For all of the people I’ve met and spoken with today. Heaviness swells inside me and I feel like I can’t breathe.
Nilisha, my guide for the day, interrupts my thoughts from the back seat. “Hailey, look out of the window, that’s where we’re going next.” I look outside, and there it is – a beautiful rainbow cascading over our mountain to the next, right over Gorkha. I always think of God and his promises when I see rainbows, and all of a sudden I have this reassurance. Even though life is hard for these people – and it is still so hard – God is taking care of them. BMS and Christians around the world are playing our part. There is more to do. But we are still helping.
I breathe again.

BMS has given over £700,000 towards earthquake recovery in Nepal, responding to the needs of some of the worst-affected people in the aftermath of the disasters, and continuing to help the most vulnerable two years on.

This has only been possible because of your gifts and your prayers.

Thank you.

News From Philip Halliday

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Developments in Kosovo

It is almost six years ago now that BMS changed the direction of its work in Kosovo by having a team move into an ethnic minority enclave. The goal of their ministry was and is three-fold: to empower children (and girls especially), to foster community cohesion(in what is a post-conflict society), and to share and nurture faith (in what is a nominal Orthodox context).

Research undertaken by our team revealed that one of the most significant ways they could make a positive impact on the community was by providing educational activities for pre-school children and by creating a community play area for families. Accordingly, programmes were designed to enhance and develop the children’s learning skills, as well as increasing their knowledge of English, and a much needed recreational area was built in the garden of a rented Centre.

Six years on, the community speaks highly of our team and perceives them to be consistent and reliable in what is a rather unstable context. Our team has built good relationships with the different sections of society and has developed to become the only NGO in Kosovo (to our knowledge) that works across the different ethnicities.

The mix of children and young people attending our team’s programmes is likely to increase further as
we begin working more closely with a local Kosovan NGO that is focused on the Roma. It should be
noted that unemployment among the Roma currently stands at 92% and that the social benefits paid by the government only amount to €75 per family per month.

The plan is to move our whole operation to the administrative headquarters of the local Kosovan NGO. It is close to our present Centre and next to a Roma settlement. Beyond the offer of physical space, there
is real potential to develop a measure of collaboration in the areas of Early Years education and English Language teaching (across a wider age range).

Once again, the BMS Action Team is playing an integral role in assuring the success of the project in Kosovo. Their contribution goes beyond the help they provide in our Centre and playground. In a community that functions like a large village (despite there being a population of 30,000), the Action Team-ers stand out and are quickly known.

Do pray for Robert and Rose (both teachers) who joined our Kosovo team in January and for Holly and Toby who (after ve years) will be nishing and returning to the UK in June.

French Baptist church-planters

As is our custom, we gathered together the French Baptist church-planters in early February (around 35 of us) for two days’ sharing, teaching, encouraging and planning.

We invited a spiritual ‘father’, a Swedish church- planter who has served in France for almost 50 years, to tell us about some of his experiences (positive and negative) and to draw lessons from them. What an encouragement!

We invited everyone to work on defining and articulating their vision, in each location. We spent time in worship. We shared news and prayed for one another. In the evening, we also shared culinary specialities that we had brought from our various corners of France.

The work in France is slow and unspectacular but the number of Evangelicals has nonetheless multiplied
by nine over the past 60 years. In addition, there would seem to be a fresh impetus for church-planting currently and a greater desire among the various Evangelical denominations to work together. Do pray for us.

Changing roles

After 16 years’ travelling, we are going to be stepping down from our BMS regional leadership role in September and will return to being fully seconded to the French Baptist Federation once more.

What the French Baptists are requesting is that we build on our current leadership of their ‘Home Mission’ team, with a view to further developing the church- plants and, in addition, trying to strengthen some of the more fragile congregations through visiting, training, coaching, and so on.

Part of our time will continue to be devoted to a wider BMS role, however, in that we will still carry some delegated responsibility for BMS’ partnerships with the French Baptist Federation and with the International Baptist Theological Study Centre in The Netherlands. That means that, happily, we will still have the opportunity to support our BMS colleagues around France and in Amsterdam.

These past 16 years in the regional role have seen us travel to 34 different countries. We have taken close to 500 flights and 200 InterCity trains and made 230 road trips, sleeping in nearly 500 different beds!

We will be sad to conclude what has been such an enriching and fulfilling regional role but, that said, we are a pastoral couple at heart and are looking forward to returning to more local church ministry. There is an advert for Philip’s successor on the BMS website currently and he/she will hopefully be appointed on Thursday 13 April. Please do pray on that day (and beforehand) that God’s will may be clearly discerned.

With warm wishes and
our thanks for your support, Philip and Rosemary

If you would like to support Philip and Rosemary by prayer and committed regular giving, visit bmsworldmission.org/partners or call 01235 517617 for a 24:7 Partners lea et.

BMS

24:7 partners Turning compassion into action

PO Box 49 129 Broadway Didcot Oxfordshire OX11 8XA Tel: 01235 517700 mail@bmsworldmission.org bmsworldmission.org

Baptist Missionary Society: registered as a charity in England and Wales (number 233782) and in Scotland (number SC037767)

A visit from Kathryn Smith – Mission Worker

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Kathryn visited us recently and told us about the work she is about to be involved in in Thailand – read below her talk.

Hi, I’m Kathryn and I am currently training for mission with BMS at their training centre in Birmingham. Before moving to Birmingham, I lived in Wantage, South Oxfordshire and I am a children’s nurse working in a children’s hospice in Oxford.

I have grown up in a Christian family and mission has been within my family, my grandparents were missionaries in the 1960’s with SIM and worked in Nigeria, then in their head office in London. Also, my dad has worked for BMS at Baptist House in Didcot.

I was in my late teens while at a Soul Survivor youth camp, when I felt God first call me into mission. I felt He wanted me to go and reach out to the lost, show people His love and mercy.

As I started to explore what this calling might involve, I was doing a child care course at college and believed God tell me to train as a paediatric nurse.

So I went and filled out my uni applications. Because of the child care course, I thought I would be a strong candidate for a paediatric nurse and I would easily get a place. However, I did not get in anywhere! Feeling very disheartened and confused, wondering what God was doing, I decided to take a gap year and reapply for the following September.

But I’m so glad I got that gap year. I had the opportunity to do some travelling and I got a job as a carer at Douglas House Hospice for young adults in Oxford. Throughout that year I gained confidence and lots of valuable experience, which, really helped me with my nursing training and this is when God gave me a heart for palliative care.

During that year I reapplied to do my nursing training. I got into Southampton Uni and started the course in September 2007. Over those 3 years I devised a plan where, once I was qualified I was going to work for a couple of years and then go aboard into mission, however, this was not God’s plan and it was 5 years later when I felt God saying it was the right time to go into mission. knowing myself back then I don’t think I would have lasted very long on the mission field and it would have ended up being a short trip.

Since that first calling into mission, I’ve taken some opportunities to do some short-term mission trips. For the summers between 2005-2007 I went to Jerusalem, to help run a summer camp for Palestinian children who had disabilities and carry out maintenance work in a children’s medical centre . For my nursing elective in 2010 I went to Thailand with BMS and worked in Hope Home, which carers for children with disabilities. And in 2011, I went to Durban in South Africa to work in a centre for children on the streets. These trips, gave me a glimpse into life on the mission field and thankfully confirmed my calling into mission. These trips, alongside my work as a nurse has developed a passion to work with marginalized people and help them reach their full potential despite their situation in life.

After my trip to South Africa in 2011, things went a bit quiet. I had assumed after my nursing training it wouldn’t be long until I would be on the mission field but I had yet felt God telling me to go. During this time, I really started to question my calling. I enjoy being a nurse, and after working on the neonatal unit for 2 years in Oxford I went back in palliative care, working in children’s hospices, developing my career and skills. I have, also, got very involved in the life of my church.

I was beginning to wonder if I had misinterpreted what God was saying to me, were the short term mission trips enough? Or had I made it up in my head as a young person. However, something within me never let up and I knew it would never sit right with me until I had fulfilled that calling. Thankfully at the start of 2015 I felt God tell me to go. I applied to BMS and after several interviews I was accepted in November 2015 to go to Thailand.

In September 2016, I started my training at BMS, International Mission Centre (IMC) in Birmingham. My training will finish on the 7th of April and then I will have around 5 weeks to get ready for flying to Thailand on the 12th May.

When I first arrive in Thailand, I will be doing language learning in Bangkok. Once I’ve completed my language training I will move up north to Chang Mai to start working on 2 projects that BMS are involved with. Hope Home and Church of Christ in Thailand AIDS Ministry (CAM)

Hope Home specializes in foster care for children with disabilities. In Thailand people living with disabilities are stigmatized against, and many families are too poor to afford specialized treatment. Children may face prejudice in their day-to-day lives outside the home. Knowing that society is hard on the disabled, families can become over-protective and may commonly prevent the child from venturing outside the home.

Hope Home provides ongoing care for children, medical and nutritional support, giving physiotherapy and lots of fun activities as well and is a support for those in the community with disabilities. I hope to be getting involved with the care of the children and to do some training for the carers.

CAM is a BMS partnership and is Christian organization which work in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and cares for people living with disease.

In Thailand there are 44,000 people living with HIV in a population of about 67 million. After sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific is the region with the largest number of people living with HIV and AIDS.

CAM runs 4 different projects:

-Home based care-CAM workers will visit families affected by HIV/AIDS once a month to assess their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

 

-Education Pro- CAM mostly goes into schools, universities, church youth groups and provide education programmes on prevention and protection of HIV/AIDS. Will also raise awareness in the public through events like world AIDS day.

 

-Agape Home-Set up in Chang Mai in 1996 and is a home for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Also, housing and care for mothers and babies affected and provide home assistance for children HIV/AIDS in nearby villages.

 

-Baan Sabaay- ban means home and Sabaay means pleasant or peaceful. It is a hospice and rehabilitation centre for people with HIV/AIDS. I hope to be involved with developing palliative care service at Baan Sabaay.