I am leaving a legacy to CMS because I have confidence that it will be spent to further the call of amazing people throughout the world, writes LOUISE WRIGHT.
“Is God calling you to stay where you are?”
This was the slogan from CMS which hit me in 1985.
Growing up in a home with daily family prayers I knew that God does guide day by day. I had always known that I should obey God’s call or at least seek his guidance. Now here I was, head of department in the local secondary school, on the church PCC, teaching Sunday school. Surely that was where I was meant to be. But was it where I was supposed to stay?
Stay – or go?
I’ll never forget the response to my first tentative enquiries to CMS. I asked whether there were any openings for a 40+ English teacher. “You’re not just an English teacher,” came the reply, so I went ahead.
I was reluctant to do training at Crowther Hall, expecting it to be full of eager young things, sure of their calling. Instead, I found the hall where I lived to be dominated by Zairean (now Congolese) bishops. The sight of the welcome hug they gave to a visiting mission partner made me long to have that kind of relationship myself.
I was destined for Juba, Sudan (now South Sudan). From first sight I was sure this was the right place for me. After about two years, war came close. Many expatriates were ordered home. I was grateful to be with CMS, who leave evacuation decisions to the local church. I was allowed to stay, working directly with the Sudanese church. Eventually the Sudanese archbishop told us we should leave. “You can do more by telling the world what is happening to us. Come back when the rebels have taken Juba.” It felt like a mission rather than a desertion.
Leave to return?
Sadly the call to return never came. With no news coming from my Sudanese friends and no sign of peace, what should I do while waiting?
"At last I felt part of an African community, loved and accepted and able to follow my call."
Apparently the bishop of Bukavu in Eastern Zaire had asked me to come and help him with his English as I had done while we were at Crowther Hall. “I have no call to Zaire,” I remember replying. How better to hear the call than by taking a small step? We agreed I should go for three months and then reconsider. It didn’t take that long. With the help of praying Congolese friends, I became sure I should stay.
That call lasted for the next 20 years. I saw Zaire change to Congo. At times of crisis a resident mission partner can be more of a burden than a help. Several times the local church authorities asked me to leave for a while.
Each return to Congo was filled with joy. At one particularly dangerous time, many expatriates lost everything, but my possessions were hidden away by neighbours. At last, free of European pressures, I felt part of an African community, loved and accepted and able to follow my call.
Returning to stay
I knew I should retire at 65. During 2007 I started to feel, for the first time, nostalgia for England. I heard that Congolese refugees were arriving in Norwich, being helped to settle by volunteers – encouraging news that leaving Congo didn’t mean leaving the Congolese.
Before I finally left CMS I had the privilege of being at the Lambeth conference as a translator for the Congolese bishops’ wives. I even met someone from Sudan there who thanked me for teaching him English.
I referred to leaving CMS, but of course you never leave the CMS community. I coordinate the CMS fellowship in Norwich and try to keep interest going in my own village church where we support a Congolese local mission partner.
I really appreciate the way CMS is moving these days. I am leaving a legacy to CMS because I have confidence that it will be spent to further the call of amazing people throughout the world. I also have a huge debt of gratitude for all the financial and prayer support I have received from CMS.
If you are interested in leaving a gift in your will to CMS, as Louise has done, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org