Being Christ to others
For many, the word mission will bring to mind images of people in poverty somewhere overseas. In my experience mission starts much closer to home.
As a child in a Methodist church I used to collect for J.M.A (Junior Mission for All); it taught me about people who gave to help others and those who received that help and passed it on.
In my youth I was part of an extraordinary organisation called Endeavour Training; our motto was “people matter most” and as individuals we were encouraged to give our time and skills to other people and learn that we grew and developed ourselves as we invested in the lives of others.
Life moved on, I married, had two sons, rediscovered faith along with my husband but then…divorce. I was completely broken and felt such a failure. I gave up wearing my cross as I believed I was a terrible witness. One day, walking alone, I met a lady, Sarah, who gave me a prophecy. She said: “I see you surrounded by African ladies, you are all dancing and smiling and you are happy.” I accepted this word and hid it in my heart; it was lovely but I had no idea how this might happen.
In November 2013 I heard Janet and Les Clarke talk about work their work in The Gambia. I listened and it was as if God was speaking into my heart. I chatted with Janet afterwards and it seems I was an answer to her prayer for help; so I became involved with G.A.T.E (Gambian Aid Through Education).
At first it was mainly helping with the fundraising events but eventually, in January 2015, I made my first mission trip to The Gambia. Much of our work is in receiving donations of money, clothing, seeds and sponsorship from people in the UK and channelling that help to the people in The Gambia who need it most.
It’s physically very hard work when we are in The Gambia, but the rewards of the joy brought to the people we help far outweighs anything we go through. The people we work among are predominantly Muslim but they are people first and I learned many years ago from a French nun, in a rubbish dump in Egypt, you have to earn their trust by showing practical love over long periods before you share your faith.
God’s love becomes real when through me it touches another because, as St Theresa of Avila says:
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
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Articles in this issue...
Who is my Neighbour? Supporting refugees and asylum seekers in our Diocese
The Diocese has been making short films that celebrate what churches across the Diocese are doing to promote the gospel and show God's love. Tim Rogers describes the experience of making his first film of this kind.More
One Day with Pat Atkinson
Known as "Patamma" (Pat Mother) to those she works with in the Dhalit communities of southern India, Pat remembers one significant day of of the many over the more than 50 vistis she has made while establishing The Vidiyal Trust.More
Changing a nation one person at a time
Stoke Holy Cross Church is a small rural church in South Norfolk. When our vicar, Rob Baker, initially introduced the idea of twinning with a rural church in Uganda, through the New Wine and Tearfund Change a Nation initiative, we felt it gave us a fantastic opportunity to be directly connected to a Ugandan village and help to change peoples’ lives.More
Lulea twins: Thetford and Holmsund
Have you ever thought about twinning your parish with a similar parish in Sweden?More
East Harling & Ave – sharing life lessons
The Revd Lynn Fry and her husband Tony spent eight months in Papua New Guinea as guests of the Anglican Church and returned there last Autumn to continue their work in the theological college in Popendetta.More
Burkina Faso and Norwich: a community partnership
Three years ago, under the umbrella of the Norwich Christian Aid group, different churches joined together to form a 'community partnership' with local communities in the north of Burkina Faso.More
Many people in the Diocese will be aware of out long-standing links with Lulea in Sweden and Papua New Guinea. What may come as a surprise is the extent of further links recently uncovered. The Revd Canon Christopher Davies explains.More
From China to Cawston – lessons in Mandarin
In September 2016 Cawston Church of England Primary Academy started an international project using a weekly Skype link with a language school in China.More
Rethinking mission for the twenty-first century
We share an inter-connected world. Everything we do in our local community potentially affects the whole world, and everything that happens far away can have an impact on our neighbourhood. The commonly expressed truths that we love on 'a rapidly shrinking planet' and in 'a global village' make ideas like 'local mission versus global mission' irrelevant: the local is the global and vice versa. The Revd Dr Evie Vernon, Theological Adviser to the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) asks where this leaves us.More
How big is your world?
British Gas adverts over the past few years have suggested that the world we need to look after extends only as far as the walls of our own home. But is that true?More