Barbara and Tim Oakley have been part of Church Mission Society for more than 50 years. Here, Barbara writes about one of the ways they are continuing to put their call into action: leaving a gift in their wills. “As part of the CMS family, it’s the most natural thing in the world…”
I was brought up in a Christian family; I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God. Tim’s father, a journalist turned vicar, sadly died when Tim was 16, leaving Tim disappointed and confused that prayer hadn’t prevented his father’s death. Yet while at university studying natural sciences and encouraged by good friends, God through Jesus suddenly became very real to him one night.
My first introduction to Church Mission Society (or more technically to Rwanda Mission – which later merged fully with CMS), was when I was teaching home economics at a government school in Kabale, Uganda, during the early 70s. There I met my first real live missionaries! And there too I met my husband-to-be: Tim was at the same school, teaching biology. His journey with Church Mission Society had started earlier, when he’d enjoyed two years volunteering at a CMS school in Uganda after university. So for him, Kabale was his second time in Uganda; and there, to the delight of our students, we got married!
After returning to the UK, Tim was ordained. His first curacy church strongly supported CMS. But it was a surprise, when a CMS area secretary encouraged us to become mission partners ourselves! After training at Crowther Hall in late 1982 along with James (age 7) and Chris (age 4), we moved to Mombasa diocese on the Kenyan coast, serving with CMS for the next eight years.
My initial role was to home school the boys. I then taught religious education and English at a secondary school. Under the Bishop of Mombasa, Tim started weekly lay training programmes, meeting beautiful local people who were volunteering their time and money to learn about the Scriptures. There was the constant challenge of living with language pressures; we were both sometimes conscious of being a minority in a welcoming country which was still not quite home.
After returning from overseas service, mission stayed on our hearts. I taught RE at secondary level. Tim continued his many diverse tasks of ‘vicaring’, while also praying that both he and his parishes would deepen at every level their vision both of mission and of international fellowship.
We later returned to Kenya for two years. This time it was to the same English medium boarding school where our two lads had been educated several years earlier.
Nowadays, Tim has retired – and we’ve moved. I’m a church warden and I try to help our church think about mission – both globally and locally. I’m also part of a team of people who provide a daily listening service at our local community centre. Tim has some Christian environmental interest here; but his heart still yearns to support those parts of the African Church which we know – but doing it at 4,000 miles distance.
Church Mission Society has been a significant part of our life together for so long that it would be hard not to consider leaving them a gift in our wills. As part of the CMS family, it is the most natural thing in the world. Mission is non-negotiable for Christians and we trust CMS to always keep moving towards that central aim; they surely merit our future investment – however small.
The call in action: Leaving a legacy
Will you join Barbara and Tim and other members of the CMS family and remember us in your will?