Garry Ion - Britain

After 25 years of mission and development work in East Africa and South Sudan, I have come full circle, returning in 2020 to my home county of Cumbria and city of birth, Carlisle, to work in the community with the local church.

Call

Holistic mission using practical skills to come alongside people and share the gospel.

Role

I am seconded to Restore Cumbria, a pioneering, church-founded community project seeking to support those on the margins struggling with life.

More about Garry Ion

After training to be a carpenter, I studied construction management and first went out to Uganda and Kiwoko Hospital in 1995, supported by Tearfund. I became a CMS mission partner in 1998 and continued for eight years to help develop the small rural medical centre into a district teaching hospital. In 2001 I moved over the northern Ugandan border to live in Kajo-Keji, southern Sudan, for two years, to support the war-torn diocese prior to South Sudan’s independence. Relocating to the Ugandan capital, Kampala, in 2005, I became a consultant building engineer, working on numerous building projects for the church in East Africa and South Sudan. I have helped to design and build over 100 schools in the region, and was privileged to be awarded an honorary doctorate in 2011 by my former university in Bolton.

In 2020 I moved back home to Cumbria to support my ageing parents in Penrith, and to take on the new challenge of working with the Diocese of Carlisle and their newly-formed charity Restore Cumbria, part of their vision for innovative mission that is bearing fruit. The Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that we are facing a pandemic of isolation and loneliness. My focus is therefore to come alongside people in the community, including refugees, and especially men. I use practical skills and life experience to run “Men in Sheds” groups. While being creative, recycling, upcycling and making things, we enjoy each other’s fellowship. It is a duty and joy to share about God’s loving presence in this broken world.

Church Mission Society is a people-oriented, pioneering, evangelical mission made up of a network of ordinary people. They have given me support and encouragement to allow me to develop my own Christ-centred mission, first in Africa and now in Cumbria.

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