IMAGE: Local mission: Jean Bosco Tshiswaka in DRC; Michael Green in Ipswich
God’s mission call is sometimes overseas and sometimes over the road. Jean Bosco Tshiswaka lead the Kimbilio street kids project in DR Congo. Michael Green, after working in Jordan for some years, is now a mission partner in Ipswich. Louise Wright, herself a former mission partner in DRC, recently travelled to meet them both.
Some mission partners have so many visitors it is hard for them to get on with their work.
On the other hand, some mission partners never see a visitor, leading their local colleagues to wonder if anyone cares.
This year I have visited two very different mission partners. Our Norwich CMS fellowship realised we had a real live mission partner living just 30 miles away.
High street office
A train trip to Ipswich didn’t cost much and Michael Green had suggested a convenient time for a visit.
His “office” proved to be the Norwich Road, an amazingly multicultural area where we enjoyed a delicious Turkish meal. Everyone seemed to know Michael as he greeted them in different languages.
It was encouraging to find that he was working with a varied group of churches encouraging and helping them in multi cultural outreach. It was wonderful to see him showing practical compassion to asylum seekers and refugees. Even the local MP had sought his advice.
It was only a short visit but it left a lasting impression of what it can mean to be a CMS mission partner in England.
Two weeks in Congo
The other visit was very different. It cost a lot of money for visas, flights and accommodation. It undoubtedly put our link mission partner under a great deal of pressure. Some visitors from England enjoy amazing hospitality when they visit link churches in the majority world, without realising their hosts have run into debt in order to cater for them.
However, this trip was organised by a former CMS mission partner, Ian Harvey, who had thought of every detail, so that the positive outcomes of the visit would outweigh the problems.
For two weeks in July local mission partner Jean Bosco Tshiswaka welcomed a group from the UK to Kimbilio, a project for street children in Lubumbashi in the South of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On this trip we had two whole weeks so could see far more aspects of the work than we could in Ipswich.
Children in transit
We saw the market where children sleep under the stalls and suffer abuse leading to drugs or prostitution.
We saw the day centre in the cathedral where the children could eat, wash and, above all be listened to.
Carers were ready to help them find a way to get off the street, back with their families.
Then we saw transit homes where the children could live and have lessons in a safe environment before returning to families or, failing that, move to the permanent homes, Maisons Kimbilio. This is where we attended the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of Kimbilio. The bishop laid the foundation stone for a Kimbilio primary school to serve the local community.
It was particularly encouraging to see how central the project is to the Anglican Church in Lubumbashi and how glad they are for the support from CMS.
Thank you, Michael and Jean Bosco, for allowing us to see more of what it means to be a CMS mission partner in your own country.