Building a Mission Community
I have been given on behalf of the Church Family the PCC and the MAP (Mission Action Partners) team the privilege of bringing together the reports from some of those we support in mission across the World and in the United Kingdom for 2016 again this year. I would like to give thanks for the support and encouragement given by D. and the PCC during this time. I would also like to give thanks for the time commitment and gifts given to the MAP team by the various members. Also, thanks to them for all the mission they engage in as individuals outside the walls of St Mary's. We are blessed to share fellowship with them. We are also richly blessed to support and link with the Mission partners we support in prayer, share in their servant-hearted mission outreach and stories which enrich our own worship and lives. We were also blessed in 2016 to share with those of our own church family who step up both in local mission and short-term mission overseas. H. shared with us her experiences as part of a Mission Direct serving as part of Pastoral visiting in India to those unwell in the local community. J. & S. visited Paraguay for the 7th yearly mission outreach. The visit of P. this year sharing his journey and servant heart in Christ in Mongolia was enjoyable for those who were able to attend. The Local mission outreach to serve the local community for the Queen’s Birthday celebrations, both in Old Harlow and Churchgate Street, was a privilege and opportunity to serve the local community and share Christ's love and build relationships. As I pray and write this and listen to the Lord, I give thanks that we are all individually the Lord's instruments in mission; this is part of who we should be with Christ at the centre of our hearts and minds. The Mission to which we are called is there for all to read and reflect on in the gospel of Matthew 28:19, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." This is the mission to which we are individually called.
I pray that as we read the individual reports written by our Mission Partners and the words of the New Testament, we may listen to the Lord speaking to us as he did to His disciples.
Samaritan’s Purse (SP/Operation Christmas Child) & The
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA)
Another busy, and at times challenging, year for both ministries. Samaritan’s Purse has been operating on the front line with the refugee crisis in Europe and Northern Iraq, recently opening an emergency field hospital just 12 miles from the front lines of Mosul, where doctors and nurses are performing life-saving operations at great personal risk. Operation Christmas Child collected over 11 million gift-filled shoe boxes worldwide for needy children overseas. St Mary’s contributed an amazing 104 boxes – up again on the last few years' totals. The BGEA has followed up with its third testimonial film ‘The Worth of a Soul', with a third of the churches in the UK requesting copies. The ministry’s Rapid Response Team of trained chaplains responded to the events in Brussels, Nice, Paris and Munich – providing spiritual support to traumatised communities. The sister ministry of UK Disaster Response run by Samaritan’s Purse, supporting UK communities in crisis, has also expanded its network of UK Lighthouse Churches, who partner with Samaritan’s Purse to respond to local natural disasters and to share the love of Jesus Christ with those in need of practical, emotional and spiritual support. I personally have been very grateful for all the support given from St Mary’s.
With grateful thanks.
2016 was a challenging year, as our attention shifted slightly from economic capacity training to disaster response in several areas of Mongolia. Together with our friends in the Mongolian EA, we were able to put emergency aid into the hands of herding families who bore the brunt of the winter disaster in 2016; Kazakh families hit by flooding in the far west of the country; and help for the reindeer people in the north. ‘Spreading the Blessing’: our credit union in the Gobi, made progress towards financial independence, and plans for another credit union in the north began to take shape.
It was a quieter year on the Radstock front, but the Mongolian network development team, made of local church leaders, is moving forward. Mongolian team members participated in Radstock round-table conferences in Washington, DC, and Kiev, Ukraine.
Mongolia International University
After 5 years teaching English, I have now moved to teaching organisational leadership in the business school there. This work is carried out under the contract between the university and Seedtime. This comes, as always, with grateful thanks for your love and support over the year.
International Red Cross /Somali Red Crescent Society
The family has been in a year of transition during 2016. J. preparing to move on to University in February/March 2017). J. moved to study at a boarding School in Edinburgh in September 2016. W's. job role with International Red Cross changed during 2016, and he is now working in Somalia, leading and managing the country programme team and responsible for supporting the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) in developing effective partnerships and resourcing development. This is a key role in an area of north-east Africa where there are exacerbated drought conditions leading to reduce pasture land, water shortages and death of livestock. As a result of which, there are insecure people with acute food shortages, with 38% of Somalia’s population at risk and 304,700 children under the age of 5 malnourished. During 2017 this humanitarian crisis is anticipated to increase. In this role W. has been spending more time in Kenya and Somalia away from the family. S. & W. are planning to move from Switzerland to be based in Nairobi in 2017.
Please continue to pray for J. & J. at school and university. Please pray for: the work done by the International Red Cross across the World in North Africa and Somalia; for W. & S., as they reach out to those people in their vulnerability; and for the people in desperate need. In Jesus' Name.
B. continues to serve the health needs of the communities in the Paraguayan Chaco, an area about 300 km to the North West of the city of Asuncion. Her ministry takes her over rough terrain and into the lonely villages where there are many health problems, particularly TB. She is helped by a few health promoters who she is training. This year started as did last year, with considerable flooding in the Chaco and on the land either side of the River Paraguay. Many had to leave their homes and this exacerbated many health problems. However, the Lord has been good and answered many prayers for healing, safe births, successful treatments of various ailments and more. B. often has opportunities to give spiritual support to her patients and some have come to Faith through her ministry. She also leads and preaches at the Rio Verde church close to her clinic every two weeks or so and has a role with the children there. Several times a year B. makes the trip to the city to stock up on medicines and/or bring a patient to the city hospital for treatment, or provide tests in confirmation of a diagnosis. It is only when in the city that B. can use the internet and ‘top up’ her own spiritual resources, as she worships at the little Anglican chapel there. B.’s ministry is, in reality, a faith mission and she is so grateful to the Lord for sustaining her, for the prayers offered and the funding supplied by many individuals and some churches. Please continue to pray for her ministry and her physical strength to enable her to continue what would be an exhausting existence for someone half her age.
S. & P. (Church Mission Society)
Our call: To serve the Anglican Church throughout Paraguay, developing local leaders and bringing kingdom life to new situations Our role: P. is the diocesan bishop, pastor of the pastors, ordaining ministers and opening new paths for the kingdom to advance. S. serves the church through teaching and discipling, encouraging others to enter God’s kingdom and develop their leadership skills. The Diocese is spread over an area about 5 times that of the UK, some villages of which are only accessible by 4x4 vehicles over unmade roads often no more than a track. Yet the church is growing steadily, and with BP P. stepping up his visits to the Chaco in 2016, new pastors have been ordained and with the new Bible translation into the local language, Enxet, the depth of faith is also growing. S. has enjoyed her various discipleship groups. It has been a privilege and an honour to accompany these ladies in their challenges and joys. Poignant and humbling moments have been shared and we have all grown in hope in the Lord. The Esperanza Children’s Home had a varied year with some staffing issues, challenging behaviour from some of the children. On a good note, staff training has gone well and Aunty V., a new member of staff, has a valuable role with the older girls. We were thrilled that the two youngest children – two little brothers – were adopted in December.
We give thanks for:
· Those who have been recently ordained
· God’s faithful providing of resources for ministry. Please pray for;
· Good health and safe travels
· Wisdom, discernment and the ability to encourage others as they develop in leadership
· Us, as we get back into the swing of ministry in this year and for the establishment of fruitful priorities
· The board and staff of the Mission Esperanza and for the four little girls needing legal resolutions for their futures
· R., G. & E., as they start theological training
· D. and C., as they wait for a kidney transplant for Donald
Trans World Radio
2016, as the Technical Team of TWR-Europe*, we have designed and built low-cost studios, installed satellite links, provided training, consulted about high-power radio transmitters, developed Apps and innovative Internet ministry tools, and supported programme production in more than 60 languages. We have helped those communicating over the Internet or airwaves to make their programmes in the best technical quality and to reliably deliver them to listeners, every day of the year. In addition to the technical role, I have regional and some global management responsibilities too. My work is very much relationship-based and demands much God-given love and patience. Despite the reduced financial resources and the increasing complexity of working in Christian mass-media in this region, we continue to rejoice in what God is doing in the lives of so many ordinary people!
M. continues to reach out each week to refugees entering the largest refugee centre in Austria by helping some of them learn basic German. This is such a valuable and important ministry, demonstrating Christ’s love to those who often feel so unwanted and unloved.
Thank you so much for your faithfulness in uplifting us all in prayer regularly, and for making it possible financially for us to serve the Body of Christ in this way!
With much love
*Includes Europe, N. Africa, Middle-East, Central Asia, and the former Soviet Union countries.
I. & D. (Independent)
• Training teachers to teach biblical studies to Muslim Background Believers, Bangladesh, and March
• The launch of my 'Thinking Biblically about Islam' book, Oxford, April
• Teaching an 'Integrated Study Week' on Judaism and Islam to ordains at Wycliffe Hall - especially the morning that included 5 dynamic young Muslim women speakers, Oxford, December
• Conference for writers, editors and publishers (from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya, South Africa, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Holland) of the planned Langham series of Bible commentaries for Islamic contexts, Beirut, January
• funding for and finding the right person to facilitate an international partnership to develop centres for Muslim-Christian Studies in Africa and Asia, Oxford, starting this week
• increasing hostility to Muslims faced by D. as he promotes the work and tries to find funds for it
• Which means that D. and I are on different continents more than we are together
• Forging ahead with the Bible commentaries (especially the pilot on Genesis 1-11) and international vision
• Bangladesh trip in March/April
• Trying to get longer-term financial viability for the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies
• Should I take writing sabbatical in the USA for part of the next academic so that (a) D. and I can be there together and (b) we can discern how we can serve folk there in the current tense climate re Christian-Muslim relations?
New Book: 'Thinking Biblically about Islam'. See http://goo.gl/Chna6U
C. (Outreach Worker for the Amber Valley Methodist Circuit)
Until the end of August 2016, C. was working on the Denby/Kilburn Methodist Circuit. Her role was to “help the church to share the Good News of Jesus in word and deed within the local community, bringing about social change and an enriched quality of life.” As a result of her work, there are about 20 new people of all ages who are now engaging in faith-based activities. Her initiatives included a toddler group, Chatterbox Community Café, Kilburn Community Choir and Messy Church, as well as behind the scenes work liaising with social services, the police and other agencies to support the wellbeing of families in the community. By all this, she was able to raise the profile of the church and demonstrate a Christian interest in community welfare.
In September however, C. started a new part-time role as a Family and Young People’s Worker in Ilkeston - another church in the circuit, hoping to build on what she learnt at Denby. She is also considering the option of formal study. She therefore now feels it is a wise time to move on from having a formal connection to St Mary’s, but would like to express her appreciation of the support the church has given her.
R.: Love beyond (Independent)
Over the last year, we have continued to review, rewrite and develop parts of the show. We have been pursuing some very exciting opportunities and are very excited about the show's future and direction. Please continue to hold us in your prayers.
T. & M. (Independent)
2016 has been a hectic year… completing my studies at All Nations College, overhauling our house prior to renting it out, packing-up and moving out. Back in January, we were invited to apply for a place on CPx. This is a training course in cross-cultural church-planting in Cape Town, South Africa. We were duly selected and set about raising the necessary financial support. However, by about August fund-raising - despite a small number of generous pledges - was not progressing as we had hoped. After seeking wise-counsel we were advised to change our tack to one of 'raising partnerships' - a much more reciprocal relationship between the sent and the sender. Despite feeling much more comfortable with this approach we were still well short of our target by November. Neither had we managed to secure school places in Cape Town for our boys. In view of this and in consultation with our prayer-partners we resolved to delay our training for a further year but to set out for South Africa, nevertheless; to seek partnerships with churches in the Southern hemisphere also. Having found school places in another city we packed up our house in Harlow and ended up in Bloemfontein, Free State where we hoped to acclimatise to the temperature, culture, and way of life and churchmanship of this ethnically diverse society. We hope to find jobs for the year ahead before we endeavour to set off for Cape Town in January 2018, albeit a year later than planned.
Christian Hope International
Two church members are involved in this charity and would welcome knitted contributions from others to take to their warehouse at Harold Wood. Items for babies, older children and teenagers are sent to Eastern Europe, for example, orphanages in Moldova, and other countries such as Jordan and Syria.
Any contribution big or small is appreciated, even 6"
(15 cm) squares which can be sewn up to make a blanket. Crocheted items,
donations of wool and even money to support the cause are also very
welcome. Patterns are available for hats, jumpers, cardigans etc. on the
Christian Hope International website.
Mission Direct enables everyday people to make a practical and lasting difference to some of the world's most vulnerable people. They do this by making long-term commitments to their carefully chosen partners to join them for a two-week overseas trip to build homes, schools/classrooms, hospitals and rescue centres etc. The impact of the volunteers has and how much that time means to the local people, will change both forever!
Currently Mission Direct sends teams to 11 countries worldwide: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Moldova and the UK.
In 2016 team is made up of 364 and 64 volunteers on 45 trips, including 13 teachers working with local schools and 29 medical professionals helping improve care, resulted in 312 children provided with classrooms for an education, 180 people provided with shelter or new homes and 400 people helped by new care facilities – and much more!
If you would like to know more – either about being a volunteer or information to pray for the teams and projects, please look at the information at the back of the church or see the website.
"Following Jesus where the need is greatest"
Tearfund is passionate about ending poverty, knowing the Gospel has the power to transform lives and heal communities. They work through local churches around the world to unlock people’s potential and helping them to discover that the answer to poverty is within themselves. When disaster strikes, they respond quickly. They aim to transform lives by tackling global issues (such as HIV, injustice and climate change) and are focusing on life's essentials (Livelihoods, food, healthcare, clean water and toilets).
St Mary's support Tearfund and groups such as Coffee Shop send regular donations. Many church members also support Tearfund individually. We regularly make information available on the Mission Noticeboard at the back of the church, including information on how to donate to their specific appeals during the course of the year.
As Christians, we believe we called to "act justly and love Mercy" (Micah 6:8), and as a Fairtrade church, we are committed to using fair trade products where possible and making merchandise available to church members by holding a stall after services from time to time and at special events such as the church Garden Party. Our stalls include such items as tea, coffee, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, cereals, jewellery, gifts and cards. From time to time we support the town fair trade initiatives, for example, at the Heart 4 Harlow (H4H) Festival in the Water Gardens, and have worked with the town Fairtrade group to ensure Harlow maintains its Fairtrade status.
Please continue to support Fairtrade by buying from our stall and where possible buying fair trade items in the supermarket, helping producers receive a better deal, thus enabling them to control their future and lead more dignified lives.
Compassion (Releasing children from poverty in Jesus' Name)
Statistics from the United Nations tell us that the world has taken huge steps in the last 25 years to eliminate extreme poverty. E.g. 15,000 fewer children are dying every day.
Compassion now serves 1.7 million children in 26 countries including J. the child I sponsor in Uganda. Her father who deserted his family would have earned no more than £12 per month as a labourer. My £30 per month and the support of Compassion's local organisation has transformed not just her life but those of her mother and younger sister as well.
My experiences in Africa have shown me that so many women and children are effectively widows and orphans through the death of, or desertion by, their menfolk.
Here in Britain, we are so materially prosperous that it is almost impossible to convey the reality of extreme poverty but because it is far away we should not ignore it.
The apostle James writes (chap 1 verse 27): "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is to look after widows and orphans in their distress".
Are you doing enough to share your wealth?
A. (Compassion Child Sponsored by St Mary's PCC/ Je?us youth group)
The youth group and leaders are regularly praying and communicating by letter with Ali. The PCC is financing this sponsorship. Ali is living in Africa; through their Church scheme he is educated, clothed, given medical support and encouraged and built up in the love of Christ.
As Christians, we believe we are called to “act justly and love mercy” (Micah 6:8), and as a Fairtrade church, we are committed to using Fairtrade products where possible and making merchandise available to church members.
Due to circumstances, we held the Fairtrade stall on fewer occasions in 2016, but the most notable of these was at the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations. Our stall under a gazebo in the churchyard did not sell as many items as hoped, but it did give us many opportunities to talk to visitors about Fairtrade (what it is and why it is important) and show them the large range of Fairtrade products available. We have also not had so many opportunities to work with the Town Fairtrade group, although we are still in contact with them.
Hopefully, you will see our stall more frequently in 2017, starting in March with a Fairtrade coffee and cake morning after the Sunday services to mark Fairtrade Fortnight.
Thanks again to all of you who have continued to support
Fairtrade by buying from our stall, helping producers a better deal, thus
enabling them to control their future and lead more dignified lives. In addition, as always, our profits are
donated back to St Mary’s.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Three-quarters of the world’s population live in countries with severe restrictions on their religious freedom – in fact, it’s one of the most widely violated human rights in the world. Even the secular media regularly report on atrocities such as the torture and murder of Christians by ISIS and similar organisations. CSW works to help those who are suffering for their faith and to campaign against torture, imprisonment and other forms of discrimination against Christians and other prisoners of conscience. At Christmas, some of the Fellowship Groups, as well as a number of individuals, used the addresses supplied by CSW to send cards to prisoners or others suffering persecution because of their faith. Those who have received cards say that they have kept them going in times of trial. It has also helped to protect them by showing their persecutors that they are not forgotten!
Mission Paraguay (July- August 2016)
This year we stayed in one place, Zeballos Cue. The church was very welcoming, as the minister lived on site we got to know him and church members who ran a pre-school.
We visited many places with glasses, including local Assemblies of God churches making new friends. We sold nearly one thousand pairs with some going to the Chaco.
With sewing at churches, we concentrated on making requested items plus some stock items like bags to sell. Many of the ladies had sewn before so the workshops were more advanced and tailored.
At Zeballos Cue, we built a child’s sandpit and made repairs.
We repaired equipment for the nursery at Roque Alonso.
Four builders joined us. They put up a roof and concrete floor in a nearby, part-finished house. Mission Paraguay paid for a local builder to complete it.
After this, the builders travelled north and built a new church/community centre.
We helped with Toy Libraries and Saturday Children’s Club. We gave puppet shows, telling Bible stories.
We gave out donated soft toys.
There were always children at many sessions and around the church.
There was a visit to a foster home where we helped.
S & J.
Short-Term Mission: India (Mission Direct)
In March last year, I was a member of a team of 8 based at the Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital (run by the Emmanuel Hospital Association) in Lalitpur, in a poor part of rural India. Our main task was to clean and paint the newly rebuilt out-patient unit to make it fit for use. We were free to visit the wards (mainly maternity, general and ophthalmic) and speak to the staff and patients.
In addition, we spent time with the Palliative Care Unit, including going out on visits to their patients in nearby villages or social housing in the town. We also paid interesting visits with the Community Support Team to several projects (mainly funded by Tearfund UK): an infant feeding programme; enabling teenage girls to achieve more through education; well building; irrigation and farming techniques and a Fairtrade basketwork initiative.
Another part of our role was to support the hospital staff – most fun was a craft evening, film evening and a buffet meal, and it was a privilege to attend their church and visit their school. Indeed, everywhere we were welcomed (often with curiosity by people who are not used to seeing non-Indians) – a smile and sign language went a long way, as many spoke no English.
A very worthwhile trip – fun, challenging at times with a lasting impact all round!
As we serve the world, mission is first and foremost God’s mission of the world and Jesus' message of the ‘Kingdom of God’. The church does not have a mission of its own. Rather, the primary emphasis is on what God is doing for the redemption of the world. We are all mission partners right where we are.
As we study the Gospels and reflect on the Word, we see Jesus’ acceptance of all individuals, recognising their uniqueness, offering forgiveness, not domineering, but empowering and bringing freedom. It is important that we reflect, to bring this to the cutting edge of mission in today’s society, both locally and across the world. The heart of Jesus at the centre of all that we are and all that we do in his service. As Jesus said, “The words I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life". John 6: 63.
Our Mission as Christians is to follow Christ’s call: sharing the Gospel with the lost world through God’s wisdom and strength in obedience to Him. He commands us to make disciples of all nations. In this, He was referring to people groups, those cultures without a Gospel witness. This Great Commission applies to us all at St Mary's today and each new day. We should all work in Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfil our mission as part of our overwhelming love for our Lord. Mission is not limited to the overseas ministry we read about here. We should all faithfully support those who go to the unreached, all Christians have the call to mission to share Christ in our homes with family, friends, co-workers, and the local community. In our individual calling we should all share the Gospel humbly, boldly, and passionately. We read in Luke 4 of Jesus returned from the wilderness to Nazareth where he stood in the Synagogue and read from the Scroll verse 4:18: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind to see the oppressed free.” If the Lord works through us all, to rescue the lost, what greater calling and mission can we all answer? May we daily lift all that we are and all that we do as we serve the Lord in prayer and Action? We all need to move out of the building into the world, look for new opportunities to share the Jesus' life, and be fruitful.
Let us all pray that the Lord's Heart of Love will flow like an irresistible stream from the heart of the church family at St Mary's. We will all speak with hearts of compassion through words and action, to share the Good News with a passion and desire to witness. In this calling, we should all hold Christ at the centre in our hearts to transform our communities, our workplaces and individual lives and to reflect the Kingdom of God in our humble service of love to all we meet. Amen.