Hello from Hilary
We are all experiencing a new way of life due to COVID-19. It has not been easy for so many people, but especially those who have lost their loved ones. Some within our Mission Partners’ Fellowship have experienced that deep pain and we need to hold them before the Lord.
How good it is to know that God is there to fold us in his loving arms. May you experience his love and comfort.
In my January letter, I told you about the latest mission partners in training. Because of the pandemic, none of those heading overseas have been able to travel as planned – please pray for Bev Richardson (Paraguay), Neil and Sue Browning (Uganda) and a mission partner family due to head to North Africa as they work out their plans. Pray also for their fellow trainee Ultan, who has been able to start work supporting the persecuted church across the Middle East from Oxford.
I’ve heard recently from John Orchard in the church relations team about the recruitment of some new volunteers. They will help increase CMS’s capacity for speaking engagements in churches and support the recruitment team at mission fairs. The new volunteers are: Peter Ashford, Irene Crawford, Jane Fulford, Margaret Mockford, Ann Moore and Andrew Pearse. Please do pray for these new volunteers – particularly as their planned roles are limited by current restrictions.
I’d also like to welcome our newest member, Mrs Mary Grimes-Boyum. Mary served in Nepal.
I also need to let you know of the deaths of some members of our fellowship.
God bless you all,
Mission Partners’ Fellowship Secretary
Messages from the senior leadership team
From CEO Alastair Bateman:
The present crisis is allowing us to use technology in ways we never have before, such as the weekly video updates from the international mission team and others that you may have seen in Prayerspace or on the website. I’ve been able to join prayer calls with people in mission, to hear first-hand how they are and to stand with them in prayer.
Recently, I was able to catch up with Moses Bushendich, international director of CMS-Africa. African local partners are responding as best they can to people’s needs. He commented particularly about Rev Bisoke Balikenga, a local partner in DR Congo working to secure food, clothing, mattresses, soap and water for many extra families now seeking refuge from conflict. Many of you have being praying for Bisoke and his daughter, who has been unwell. It was good to hear that his daughter is now recovering. Moses describes Bisoke as the most resilient person he’s ever met! Do continue to pray for him and all our people in mission across the world.
From Debbie James, deputy CEO and director of mission transformation:
CMS has a rich history of innovating in different places and cultures. You have been part of that history, and probably have many experiences of adapting and trying out new things. In the midst of the challenges this pandemic presents, I’ve been amazed at the remarkable ways in which I’ve seen our people in mission adapt and innovate as they live out the good news of the gospel around the world.
I enjoyed joining an online prayer meeting of CMS local group leaders from around the country – the first meeting of its kind. CMS adapted to offer our pioneer training online this term and we have virtual conferences coming up too.
Alastair has been continuing to lead us in a strategic review as we discern God’s call for this generation. We take that work forward, attentive to how the Spirit is calling us to adapt and innovate for the future. I’m sure you and your churches have been adapting too – and I hope that in the midst of all that is happening you’ve been encouraged by the ways that God continues to be at work in the world.
Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support for CMS at this time. So many of our people and partners are serving God in the midst of challenging circumstances and it’s wonderful to hold them in prayer together.
From Jim Barker, director of fundraising:
We’re hugely grateful to all those in the CMS family who gave generously in response to an appeal we sent out in May because of the financial pressures of the coronavirus pandemic. We continue to monitor the situation closely, particularly giving from churches, and thank you for your support through prayer and giving.
Arriving in Uganda
Just before lockdown, Tom and Verity Clare were able to move to Arua, Uganda. They share this short update:
Having waited patiently to start our work with CMS in Uganda, we are so glad that God brought us to Arua in early March, just before the country began lockdown. As a family of six, with four young boys, our first few months have been a real challenge but also full of joy and blessing.
The older two boys, Ezra and Eli, both struggled in the first couple of months. They really enjoyed school in the UK and have had to adjust not only to leaving their friends and family, but also to a life in lockdown. They’re now settling in well and it’s lovely to see the boys all playing together as friends. Due to coronavirus, Tom was unable to work for our first two months, but this turned out to be very helpful in settling in together.
In spite of the challenges, we have been mightily blessed by God during the lockdown here, as we get to know Noble, our watchman and gardener, and Milly who comes to help us with cooking and washing on weekdays. We have also been blessed by Mauri and Zilipa, a mother and daughter who run the small shop next door and we’re enjoying getting to know more of our neighbours on our daily walks. From the dramatic storms and sheet lightning of the rainy season to the explosion of butterflies in the garden, we are experiencing new glories of God’s creation. As Tom is now settling in to work as a doctor in the diocesan health department we’re now all adjusting to a new routine and look forward to the wonders and new challenges God has in store.
News from the fellowship
Dr Corrie Verduyn returned from Uganda last year and shares her reflections:
I arrived at Manchester airport with my whole life in three suitcases, one filled with leaving gifts. The end of seven years working in Kiwoko Hospital. Also, the end of my medical career. The phrase “starting a new life” applied to my situation from all angles, yet I had peace knowing that God has not finished with me yet.
My first task was to find somewhere to live. After staying with friends, I found a fully furnished flat. I have given myself two years to get my new life reasonably established. I have a general idea of wanting to do something “in the church”, not knowing in what form that might be. I first had to join a new church, which I managed to do fairly quickly. I also realised that I do not have much “church” training, having always been in the medical world. This brought me to join the CMS pioneer training in September. We are now in the fifth module, which we are doing online due to coronavirus. It became clear to me that doing the assessments was one step too much for me, especially with all the life changes. So, I am doing the course just for myself and enjoy the learning without the added stress of assessments. I think this an important lesson for returned mission partners. The changes in your life take a lot of energy from you, so you can easily get overloaded.
My two-year strategy has of course come to a halt as coronavirus kicked in. Somehow, I think that coping with lockdown has been made easier by living in rural Uganda. There also, you cannot go to cafes and restaurants. There also I would sit at home by myself many an evening.
I started by saying “God has not finished with me yet”. I still don’t know what that is going to look like in five years’ time, but I trust God to lead me. For now, I take comfort from the fact that the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples as they sat in a locked room. Jesus was there with them and just said “Peace be with you.” That was enough for them in that moment, so let it be enough for us as well.
You may have seen that former mission partner and staff member Canon John Harwood undertook a fundraising challenge to support CMS. John walked to his church and back 94 times, once for each of his 94 years. Walking a total of 47 miles, John has raised £15,000 for the work of CMS. Canon Judith Trickett also raised money as she was sponsored to climb the equivalent of Ben Nevis (the stairs to her flat 17 times!) during May. Thank you so much!
Fellowship members Pat and Jim Richardson have written a book, Bearing Each Other’s Burdens. It is a history of St John’s Community Centre, established in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1956. Pat Richardson (nee Rose), a social worker, was visited by John Taylor when he was Africa Secretary of CMS in 1955. He asked if she would consider going to Africa to become warden of a community centre, to be started by the Society. Pat was warden and her husband Jim committee chairman – both playing key roles for the first 20 years of the centre’s life. The book includes their account and careful research from the Centre’s minutes, strategic plans and third-party reports.
The early part of the book incorporates the writers’ memoirs and their considerable involvement in the establishment and progress of the centre, including starting and expanding Maridadi Fabrics, screen-printing fabric by hand to provide work for unemployed women anxious to avoid sex work.
The book relates the centre’s important role in dealing with the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the relief of orphans and vulnerable children, who became child-headed households. From the very beginning, the centre provided education for children, including street children and parking boys, who had been denied schooling. This moved into vocational training; the book shares individual case studies and photographs.
A major theme of the book is the need for the Church to exercise compassion in a community largely consisting of Muslim believers living in deplorable physical conditions and to empower that community to identify how it could lift itself out of poverty.
The book may be available now via print on demand through any bookseller. Pat and Jim welcome feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Details: Bearing Each Other’s Burdens by Pat and Jim Richardson. Paperback, 366 pages, 76 photographs, black and white, £9.99, ISBN 978-1-911412-94-6. Possibly available as colour hardback, ISBN 978-1-911412-83-0
Adelante online: 25–26 September
The Africa conference will take place, either at The Hayes, Swanwick, 6–8 November or, if government advice and restrictions mean we cannot safely meet, then online for the evening Friday 6 and Saturday 7 November. Booking will open in September.
I need to let you know of the deaths of some members of our fellowship:
- Rev Elwyn David Evans (India)
- Mrs Rosemary Hickey (CMS Ireland Nigeria and Uganda)
- Mrs Ann Jacklin (SAMS Chile)
- Mrs Mary Woolman (nee Plummer) (Kenya/Uganda)
- Mrs Irene Simmons (India)
- Rev Josceline Drummond (Nigeria)
- Rev Canon Ian Leakey (Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and MAM Council)
- Miss Elizabeth Allen (Sudan and Uganda)
- Mr Paul Bell (Rwanda)
- Mrs June Fluck (Afghanistan)
- Rev Michael Hobbs (SAMS Paraguay)
- Mrs Judith Rowe (Nigeria)
- Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward (Nigeria and General Secretary)
- Mrs Diane Julie Belmour (nee Crowley) (SAMS Chile)
- Rev Canon Patrick Coghlan (SAMS Brazil and chair of trustees)
- Dr Sam Gibbs (Tanzania)
- Mrs Pat Moorse (Uganda)
- Mrs Margaret Oliver (Rwanda and Uganda)
- Mrs Sheila Sandford-Smith (Pakistan)
- Bishop Peter Vaughan (Sri Lanka and Principal of Crowther Hall)
- Miss Ann Cutler (Uganda)
- Miss Liz Seal (Kenya)
- Mr Geoffrey Alan Hill (Nigeria)
- Mr Charles Sutherland (Kenya)
- Mrs Elizabeth Blanchard (Pakistan)
Tributes to Rev Ian Leakey, Rev Paul Bell, Mrs Sheila Sandford-Smith, Rt Rev Simon Barrington-Ward, Miss Liz Seal and Miss Ann Cutler can be found on the pdf below.
Download the tributes pdf