Imaginative action by God’s global church

John V Taylor described mission as “an adventure of the imagination”. Taylor was general secretary of CMS in the 1960s and 70s and later became Bishop of Winchester. Recently some of us at CMS have been delving into his writing to see what else he had to say about this idea of imagination in mission.*

God rarely reveals the full picture to us, but he has given us creative minds that enable us to imagine, with hope, what a world according to his kingdom might look like.

Jesus himself used parables to activate our imaginations so we could begin to see – and act – differently.

This year the need for exercising our imagination has become even more vital when we, as individual believers and church communities, have faced the unknown.

Devastating impact of Covid on communities

Here in the UK the coronavirus crisis has taken its toll on us all – on our daily lives, on our relationships and on our ability to meet together as worshipping communities.

Waiting in line for food packages in Lima, Peru

In some communities across South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East where CMS works, the impact has been even more devastating. Whole communities have lost their access to food or a daily living.

It is in these places that CMS local partners have had their imaginations stretched in new ways as they have sought to respond to practical needs created by the pandemic.

Stepping into the unknown

As ‘normal’ life has been halted, many have seen their regular ministries unable to function, and they have had to adapt quickly to the needs of their local communities. They have courageously stepped into an unknown future, daring to imagine that God will provide a way forward.

As your church also seeks to imagine a new future for your community, be encouraged by the solidarity we can find with our brothers and sisters around the world:

How your church can support CMS local partners this Christmas

Adapting quickly: CMS local partner David Gonzales

People like David Gonzales in Peru.

One of 66 CMS local partners across the globe, David ministers at San Patricio church in a poor community in the north of Lima, the capital city.

Before coronavirus, the church ran Bible studies, a Sunday school for 100 children, pastoral visits, a second-hand clothes market and provided support for children with disabilities.

When coronavirus hit, much of this activity had to stop but the people’s needs increased.

Like Europe, Peru has been badly hit by the pandemic. But imagine how Covid affects a poor, overcrowded community without proper roads and where drinking water is only available for a few hours a day.

The impact of lockdown and job losses has been sudden and catastrophic for many families.

Jeaneth (pictured here with her children), lost her job at the start of lockdown and faced destitution. This is just one of the many families who have had emergency food provided by David and the church.

David and his church quickly realised that it was not going to be business as usual for them and what people needed immediately was food.

So David, with others from the church, set up a soup kitchen and food relief ministry. They are now delivering 30 food parcels a month to families and are providing 160 hot meals every day. David told us, “Without help, they would not have been able to feed themselves.”

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” This verse from the Gospel of Matthew greets the recipients of Covid food aid in Lima.

Thanks to David’s quick thinking, local families are finding physical and spiritual sustenance. And the church has a unique opportunity to show the local community that Jesus is with them and cares for them.

As our CMS local partners continue to imaginatively adapt to the changing needs in their local communities, please share the below link with your congregation and encourage them to partner with CMS at this time.

How your church can support CMS local partners this Christmas

Pray:

  • Pray for local partners like David who have faithfully imagined God’s kingdom and adapted to immediate need.
  • Pray for strength, courage and a renewed hope for the future.

Praise God:

  • That he has given us the gift of faith and imagination when we face the unexpected.
  • That we, as the global church, can stand in solidarity together as we face these unprecedented times.

*If you are interested in reading more of what John V Taylor had to say about imagination, then Jonny Baker and Cathy Ross, in the CMS mission education team, have written a book about it.

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