Mission Partners’ Fellowship News – July 2019

Hello from Hilary

Dear Friends,

We are now well and truly into summer. The sunshine lifts all our spirits, together with bright blue skies and beautiful flowers. We have so much to thank the Lord for.

He is the same “Yesterday, today and forever – all may change but Jesus never, glory to his Name”.

An especially warm welcome to two couples who recently returned to the UK and are now members of the fellowship:

  • Rev and Mrs David and Sara Longe who worked in Jerusalem
  • Rev and Mrs John and Cathie Rutter who worked in Uganda

God bless you,

Hilary Cope
Mission Partners’ Fellowship Secretary

A Word from Alastair Bateman

Dear MPF members,

As I write to you at the beginning of my time at Church Mission Society, I want to share some reflections on my journey to CMS and the welcome I have received here.

While I was in the midst of the discernment process to sense God’s call on my life in the second half of 2018, a friend suggested to me I should prayerfully imagine my 80th birthday party. Who would be there and what would they be saying? It was a powerful question to ask the Lord – helping me to get a sense of what a “race run with perseverance” might feel and look like at that point in my life, thereby providing a sense of direction now. Imagining friends old and new gathered together in celebration and worship felt like a little piece of heaven.

Watch the Q&A with Alastair from the commissioning service

My commissioning service on Saturday 8 June in Oxford felt a little bit like this party, super-charged through prayer and 35 years too early! I was surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses” – heroes of the faith each with remarkable and diverse stories to tell. There were many friends and family who have already played transformational roles in my Christian walk to date. And so many people I hadn’t met before who gave me such a warm welcome into the CMS family that I felt as if I’d known them for years as well. I know some of you were in the congregation – thank you for that welcome. For those who were not at the service, I look forward to meeting you and hearing more of your stories.

I sat in the second row from the front as the congregation sang worship songs that almost lifted the roof off as the worship band led us so beautifully. The final hymn was an old favourite I’ve not sung for a while: “To God be the Glory, great things He hath done”. As the trumpet rang out across the church, the entire scene created a wonderful image of heaven in advance of Pentecost the following day. “Thy Kingdom Come” indeed!

Every blessing,

Alastair Bateman

New mission partners

During the last term (from May to July 2019), we have been joined by three families on the mission partner training ahead of their departure overseas. Please do pray for them as they take the next step in their call:

Tom and Verity shared with us what it has meant to them to become part of CMS:

“It’s been humbling to hear from people we haven’t met, particularly current or former mission partners with stories, experience and encouragement about going on mission with small children. It’s like we’ve been adopted into their family without realising – and we’re learning more about the history of what we are now a part of, especially in West Nile. It also reminds us of the importance of prayer – and encourages us that the CMS family is supporting us and taking the time to learn about and pray for us.”

Tom and Verity

Fellowship news

Life after “retirement”

Thoughts from Irene and Malcolm Crawford, “long-term short-termers”

When Malcolm retired nearly 12 years ago from a career as an accountant, little did he and his wife, Irene, realise the exciting opportunities it would open up to them. They began to follow an idea they had when first married: to do some voluntary work abroad.

Their church had links with CMS mission partners at Mvumi Hospital, Tanzania. These mission partners had been praying for an accountant to help improve the financial management systems at the hospital. What was initially a six-month assignment was quickly followed by a second six months to complete the work.

The Crawfords decided to ask CMS whether they could assist other projects needing medium term workers. Malcolm focuses on financial and management needs while Irene has helped with a range of activities, including reorganising medical records filing, training at a vocational training centre and supporting the administration of HIV clinics. In total they have spent about five years in Tanzania and Uganda, working at hospitals, a diocesan office and a vocational training centre and workshop for disabled adults (Neema Crafts).

During this time they have had nine grandchildren. This has meant they have had to balance the sacrifices of their voluntary work with the need to support the growing family. Their children have visited East Africa and experienced something of life there – an experience missed when you go as a tourist.

In April Malcolm and Irene returned to Neema Crafts, Iringa, Tanzania for four months while mission partners Ben and Katy Ray, who run the workshop for disabled adults, returned to the UK for the birth of their child.

When asked about the last 12 years, Irene says: “We never imagined the satisfaction and challenges we would have in volunteering to help those working to expand God’s kingdom in East Africa. Through working with CMS we have developed friendships and had experiences that will live with us forever.”

Paul Rennie

Excerpts of my journey as CMS mission partner

I grew up in Grantham, Lincolnshire. At the age of three, after receiving a set of farm animals for Christmas, I decided I wanted to be a farmer! At 16, I left school and started work on a farm. I was a farmer’s boy for five years. Then life took a different direction.

I committed myself to the Christian life, which led to a calling to work overseas. CMS was recruiting agricultural missionaries. I wrote in response to a newspaper item, enquiring if they could use me. They replied encouraging my interest and suggested I get a degree in agriculture.

I joined CMS as a lay member, left my farm job and started at Nottingham University, obtaining my degree after four years. After graduation, CMS suggested I get some overseas experience, so I applied to Voluntary Service Overseas. I was accepted to work on a team of volunteers on a new project in NW Zambia.

My first year in Africa was one of the hardest but happiest of my life, with a great feeling of being where God wanted me to be and doing the work my life had prepared me for. I returned to England in 1971, intending to pursue my career in agricultural development in Africa. While in Zambia I became engaged to Valerie, a VSO nurse, and six months after my return to the UK we were married in my home church in Nottingham. We went on to have our first baby, Sarah.

After two years as a lecturer in agriculture, we applied to CMS for missionary service and were accepted. It was 10 years since my first approach but it seemed all this time was preparation and testing for our vocation. There was a need for both an agriculturalist and nurse/midwife in Sindh, Pakistan, so we flew out to Karachi in October 1975.

In all we spent 12 years in Pakistan. In 1986 we were blessed again as a family with the birth of our fourth child, Lucy Ann Shanti (Hindi for light).

When we left Pakistan in 1987, it was something of a bereavement experience for all of us, and we had to readjust to English life. However, God kept his promises (Genesis 28:15 was a verse he showed to me: “I am with you, and will keep you in all places wherever you go”) and made provisions for us in a new life back in Britain.

You’re invited

Upcoming dates for your diaries:

The CMS stand will be at New Wine, Greenbelt and David’s Tent festivals over the summer, so if you are there, please do come and say hello.

CMS Mission Partners’ Fellowship Conference in York

Our thanks go to Miss Evelyn Wroe and the committee of helpers who have so faithfully organised this conference over many years. May God bless you for your faithfulness.


  • Ms Beth Mills died in 2018. She served in Peru and Paraguay.
  • Rev Richard Drown died in November 18. He served in Uganda.
  • Mrs Joyce Bell died in December 2018. She served in India and Israel.
  • Rev Canon Christopher John Vaughan Drummond died in December 2018. He served in Nigeria.
  • Rev Canon John Goodchild died in December 2018. He served in Nigeria.
  • Miss Olive Hitchcock died in December 2018. He served in Sri Lanka.
  • Rev John Battman died in January 2019. He served in Paraguay.
  • Ms Eileen Murphy died in January 2019. She served in Paraguay.
  • Mrs Joan Plumptre (nee Lloyd) died in January 2019. She served in Uganda.
  • Miss Elizabeth Batson Richards died in March 2019. She served in Paraguay.
  • Rev Stephen Coffin died in March 2019. He served in Burundi.
  • Rev Simon Thomas died in March 2019. He served in Peru and Bolivia.
  • Rev Canon David Williams died in March 2019. He served in Uganda and Fiji.
  • Miss Jean Waddell died in April 2019. She served in Iran and the UK.
  • Miss Elizabeth (Gill) Metcalf died in June 2019. She served in Nigeria.

Enclosed with this letter are tributes to Jean Waddell, Myra Chilvers, Betty Moore, Olive Hitchcock, Elizabeth Batson Richards, Joyce Peel and Richard Drown.

Download tributes PDF

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