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‘Just Walk’ for mission

Walkers Thomas, Joanna and Gareth enjoy their moment of triumph after completing the 30km challenge

Hannah Caroe reports on one of the most picturesque ways to raise funds for Church Mission Society – and finds out what made people pull on their walking boots for this year’s Just Walk fundraiser

Walkers on the South Downs hills
Staff and supporters joined forces to raise funds by walking the beautiful South Downs

On Saturday 13 May, 12 members of the CMS family: nine staff members and three others, met under sunny cloud-crossed skies at Goodwood racecourse in the beautiful South Downs to walk between 10 and 30km.

They set off in their distinctive ‘Call in Action’ t-shirts among hundreds of other walkers in the annual Just Walk fundraising challenge. Their efforts were aimed at raising vital funds to help people to be set free to follow their call to God’s mission.

I interviewed the walkers before they set off: first asking the Rev David Green, a former CMS mission partner in Kenya, what made him decide to do the walk. He replied, “To say thank you to the Lord for the good health I still enjoy and the many ways in which serving as a mission partner overseas has been so rewarding to me ­­­– I hope it was of some use to those I helped. Life has been good so I want to say thank you for it!”

Walkers seen from behind in a country lane
"Just putting one foot in front of the other" - walking was a reflection of the call in action for Paul Read, heading for the hills alongside colleague Danni Parker.

Asked “What will you be thinking while walking to motivate you to keep going?” staff member Gareth Esau said, “I’ll be imagining the finish line and admiring the beautiful countryside.”

Mary Shepherd, walking to support her church’s link mission partner Heather Johnstone in Tanzania, said, “I’ll be thinking of Heather and the people she works with, and all the work of Church Mission Society in Tanzania and elsewhere.”

The reply of staff member Paul Read, walking 10km, was “When can I eat my sandwich?” More seriously, he added: “It’s also about just putting one foot in front of the other. That’s a reflection of the work we do across Church Mission Society: faith in action. It’s good to reach a goal – 10k – that’s a reflection of what we’re trying to do by faith – to meet the needs of those we’re working with.”

I next asked the walkers, “What does CMS mean to you?” Staff member Thomas Mitchell replied, “It’s great to be part of a community.” Paul said, “I’m happy to get up every morning doing what I love doing.” For Paul’s wife, Su, “it’s a way of keeping Jesus out there in the world, where people who haven’t heard about the love of God have an opportunity to do so.” Danni Parker, of the CMS fundraising for mission team, replied, “It’s a different way of doing mission: more about relationships,” while for church relations team manager Heather Ramsey, “Our work at CMS means supporting a lot of people who are very committed to what they do, which means building the kingdom of God.”

Finally I asked the walkers, “What does Jesus mean to you?” For Mary, “He means more to me as I get older.” Thomas said, “He’s my best friend”, while for Paul and Su, “Jesus is the centre of our lives.” For David, Jesus is “everything”. He added, “And he’s exceedingly patient with me.”

Final words go to staff member Joanna McCree, for whom Jesus is, appropriately, “an adventure”.

Everyone said they enjoyed the walk, and many were keen to walk again next year. If you would like to join them, contact Hannah on 01865 787521 or at challenges@churchmissionsociety.org.