BY JOHN ORCHARD, CHURCH RELATIONS ADVISER
From the earliest days of missionaries setting sail across the globe, their success was determined by the faithful prayer and support of churches back home.
Although the world has changed dramatically since then, one thing remains the same – the importance of churches prayerfully partnering in mission.
One church that has been finding out more about its history with Church Mission Society is Holy Trinity Huddersfield, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. They currently support mission partner Catherine Lee, based in Taiwan, but they have been partnering with CMS since the church was founded in 1819.
Andy Barber, churchwarden, writes: “Benjamin Haigh Allen, the founder of Holy Trinity, was also a founder member of the Huddersfield CMS branch in 1813, aged just 20. William Wilberforce (CMS founding member) visited Allen several times.
“In 1899, through CMS, Holy Trinity joined the ‘Our-Own Missionary’ scheme and £184 was given to support the work of Annie Graham in Hangzhou, China, where she worked until 1918.”
Over the years the church has linked with many CMS mission partners serving across the world, and through these links they have glimpsed the breadth of God’s global mission.
Andy continues: “Our mission partners remind us all that we are all called to serve God in our lives – indeed our church strapline is ‘Loving God, Loving Huddersfield’ which reflects this.”
In terms of their link with Catherine Lee, Andy says that Holy Trinity’s own local mission work mirrors what Catherine is doing in Taiwan through outreach to schools and students. “It reminds us that we are all part of one global church. When Catherine visits us she feels like part of our family.”
Of course, relationships between churches and mission partners are a two-way thing, benefiting us all as we grow in our understanding of and participation in God’s mission.
Mark and Rosalie Balfour, mission partners in Guatemala, reflect:
“We very much see our relationship with churches as a partnership which includes mutual learning. We see our visits to churches to be as much about serving that church as them supporting and encouraging us. It is good when the church is able to articulate how we can serve them in both our visit and our ongoing relationship. It is also good to receive prayer requests from our partner churches so that we can be praying for one another. The idea of visiting a church simply to ‘raise support’ seems to us to miss out on the biblical understanding of mission partnership.”
St Mary’s Speldhurst has been linked with Mark and Rosalie since 2016. Janet Crisp, the CMS advocate for St Mary’s, reflects on how the congregation was challenged by the realities of mission in Guatemala during their recent visit: “I am amazed and maybe somewhat in awe of those with such a powerful calling that they will quite literally sell up everything and follow him.
“The idea of being in an environment where it is not safe for a woman to walk alone outside of the apartment I personally would struggle with. One young mother I was talking to after the service was particularly struck by the extraordinarily young age that the girls are drawn into prostitution and pregnancy. From our cosy middle-class Kentish village, it is hard not to be struck by the difference.”
This mutual support doesn’t just happen when mission partners visit – it can also take place over thousands of miles. St Helen’s Burton Joyce partner with Anna Sims in her calling to Lima, Peru. St Helen’s MADE Group (Make a Difference Everyone) have organised a number of fundraising events and have also sent baby blankets to Anna for distribution at the women’s prison where she works. In return, Anna sent the group some alpaca wool from Peru. They wove it into a garland for the church Christmas tree as a visual reminder of their connection with Peru, reflecting how a relationship of mutual support has developed through a shared love of creativity and crafts.
Those who step out in mission never do so alone. Even the Apostle Paul refers to churches that partnered with him in prayer (Philippians 1:19) and finances (2 Corinthians 11:9). We all need people to partner with us, whatever our mission call, which is why the pattern of linking churches with mission partners has endured for so long.
The world has changed and will continue to do so, but some things stay the same. And we’re pretty sure that God’s call to his church to partner in his mission is one of those things.
The Call in Action: Connect
If your church would like to find about more about linking with a CMS mission partner you can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01865 787400.