Mission Partners

Diaspora mission (Intermission – Issue 35)

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“Dad, can I show you a simpler way of doing that?” my teenage daughter remarked. I like to problem solve issues with my electronic gadgets but as I get older, I’m realising that I’m not as tech savvy as I was when I was younger. My digitally native teenage daughters have become my tech consultants. The roles have reversed.

When I (and my family) first arrived in Christchurch nine years ago, I had an interesting conversation with my neighbour when he asked what I did. I said I was a missionary from Kenya. After the initial shock, our discussion centred on what a contemporary missionary looks like. It was all new to him.

My friend, Mark Oxbrow, tells the story of African missionaries who are using the JESUS film and Arabic New Testaments to take the Gospel into hundreds of Arab homes in the Middle East. There they are able to share the film with children and read the Bible with their mothers. Sadly, these maids will never appear in any statistics of foreign missionaries. They will probably attract little prayer or financial support from Western churches so concerned about reaching the unreached. Mark calls this “mission from below” or “Majority world mission”. Those who were traditionally recipients of missionary work are now carriers of the Gospel.

Missionary migration  

The twenty-first century is shaping up as a century of immigration. Globally, the number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly in recent years, reaching 258 million in 2017. Some of these migrants are missionaries.

The idea of God using migration to reach the nations with the Gospel is not new. God called Abraham to leave his homeland and go to a foreign land. God promised not only to bless Abraham but to bless the nations through him. In Acts we see the believers scattering due to persecution which led to the Gospel arriving in Africa! God has used “people on the move” as carriers of His Gospel to the corners of the earth and that includes Aotearoa. I personally have been recently meeting a number of people who told me God called them to come to New Zealand to share the gospel.

At NZCMS we’ve noticed what God is doing and have become more intentional in equipping churches in New Zealand to receive a diaspora missionary from the Majority World.

This idea of missionaries coming from places that previously were considered mission fields is what we are calling “diaspora mission”. I know the term is not necessarily the best one, but we use it because we want to help change the current narrative or paradigm that a missionary is one who comes from the ‘West to the Rest’, ‘The Powerful to the Less powerful’, ‘Wealthy to the Poor’ or any other sayings that are around!

You see, we need to radically revise our paradigm of who a missionary is in the contemporary, globalised world. A careful reading of mission history shows that the midwives of the Gospel over the decades have often been people in the margins rather than those at the centre of ecclesiastical power.

So why diaspora mission?

It’s about reciprocity and mutuality. As a product of the Western missionary movement, I am so grateful for those Kiwis who have served overseas, including in my country Kenya. But I think for far too long, mission has been a one-way street. It’s time to complete the circle. A reading of I Cor 12:21-22 from a global perspective affirms this idea and challenges us to consider how we can receive the gifts of the global Church.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.”  

If the Lord is sending these “diaspora missionaries” here, are we willing to welcome them?

It could be like Joseph and Daniel of old where our ongoing prosperity as a nation spiritually, depends on how we welcome the strangers among us. As Jesus says, ‘And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward Matt 10:42

We need their help

New Zealand has become a largely secular nation despite its deep Christian roots. Kiwis need to hear the Good News in fresh and relevant ways, and sometimes ‘outsiders’ can do this more effectively than those immersed in their own culture. Missional Christians from other cultures can also play an important role in encouraging Kiwi churches to get involved in mission, both locally and beyond our borders, and can help them become better skilled and more effective in cross-cultural ministry. Diaspora missionaries who come from multi-ethnic contexts can also help us develop strategies towards becoming an intercultural church.

Like Paul, many Christians from places like Africa and Asia have heard a ‘Macedonian call from the West’ (Acts 16:9), “Please come to help us.” The Gospel need in our own land is driving them to come as missionaries to our shores. But, is the Kiwi Church ready to recognise our own struggles, faults and failures, and are we open to being challenged and changed by new ideas, outside voices and fresh approaches?

A strategy towards embracing intercultural missions 

So if your Church would like to call a diaspora missionary, where do you start?

I see one of NZCMS’s main contributions as facilitating contact between diaspora missionaries and host churches – a bit like a dating agency really! We’ll receive requests from New Zealand churches and use our global networks to connect these churches with overseas people who have the skills, abilities and experience needed. We’ll also provide cross-cultural orientation for diaspora missionaries, pastoral care back-up, advice in crisis situations and prayer support, as well as help host churches with cultural issues to help them receive their diaspora missionaries. 

I’ll close with a quote from Kenneth Bailey. “The gospel is not safe in any culture without a witness within that culture from beyond itself ”.

Diaspora missionaries are not only workers who provide capacity for the Church to reach more people, but they also help identify some of the cultural and spiritual blind spots we may have.

Questions to consider

What do you notice about the faith of those from other cultures around you?

What do you notice about the blind spots in your culture that ‘strangers’ might be able to point out?

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles and contexts, the Intermission publication will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. 

Each Intermission article will be uploaded periodically and can be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission. Alternatively, to receive the physical copy, feel free to email us at office@nzcms.org.nz or call us on 03 377 2222. 

The stories of those who come to us (Intermission – Issue 35)

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There is a need literally three metres outside the doors of our church. Every day hundreds of students walk past. So many have come so far to be here but they don’t seem to have anyone who cares about them. They fall into a world where there is only a lecture theatre, a shoebox apartment and the internet.

I’ve always admired how international students can take the risk (and expense) of leaving their home, family, friends and everything they know. They are young and come to better themselves in a place where everything is new and different – people, culture, food and even simply trying to communicate are all things they need to get used to and learn.

Sometimes the pressure can be intense. Tim, a successful Chinese honours student we know, was the only one from his village who had ever gone to university. Tim’s study cost so much and was so important that his father back home decided not to tell him he was dying of cancer. By the end of the year, it was too late and Tim’s father was gone.  The same thing happened for a dying brother of a young Iranian postgraduate student. I know an Indian student whose parents sold their house to get him here.

You get the idea of the sacrifices many make to be here in New Zealand. And you can begin to understand that there are cultures that think and do things differently to the way Kiwis do. In that difference, we can find the joy of intercultural engagement in Christ. I don’t believe Jesus is interested in us either conforming others to our image or living in our own separate worlds like marbles in a bag – in the same place but completely disconnected. I believe scripture affirms that while we are made distinctively within our own cultures, those worlds are made to overlap to the glory of God and the benefit of all.

The results of engagement

St Paul’s is a central city Auckland church, situated between two universities on one side and student accommodation blocks on the other. We tried not to overthink what we saw. We prayed and decided to find a day to open the doors of the church, invite people in and do a simple meal of soup and cheese toasties.

Our small volunteer leader’s group talked to others and the team grew. Six years after opening the doors, we have a leadership team of around 25 people from at least 8 different Auckland churches. On a normal Wednesday lunch, around 120 people come through the doors. People from China, Iran, India, Japan, Colombia, Chile, Indonesia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Russia gather to eat and meet informally. 

We always pray that we can make known the love of Jesus, whether it’s by making a sandwich, sharing a smile or letting someone know the good news. Over time, many have come into contact with a group who think Jesus is real and can be trusted in real life. Intercultural connection in Christ is not rarefied air for specialists. It is basic human kindness for those who are guests in our country. We help with CV’s, give people lifts, teach English and piano, go tramping and skiing. We make good friends. Sometimes it’s hard on the heart as most eventually return home. But some take a new faith in Jesus back with them!

Needless to say, we’ve had some pretty significant disappointments and failures along the way. But we kept going. Now, in addition to the meals we provide, around 25 people regularly come to a weekly pizza and Bible study night we run. We let people look at the Bible for themselves and ask them open questions to enable them to engage. We pray. A core group of people have put their faith in Jesus and want to grow. We are currently planning our first discipleship weekend. They will be the leaders in future.

Here are some comments I’d like to finish with. As well as love for Jesus and neighbour, I think there are some key ideas underlying what we do.

Key ideas to consider

Dignity:

The person God puts in front of me is a human being with his or her own story, loves, dreams, fears and challenges. Faltering English doesn’t change that. Let’s not treat people like children and pat them on the head simply because New Zealand is new to them.

Understanding:

I need to be patient and listen and learn to see the world through other eyes. Interaction with different cultures brings strange worlds of ideas, behaviours and foods that may initially make no sense or even repel me. It might make me impatient. But without that understanding of the other world, I will introduce someone to the saviour of only my world and culture. The real world of the one I am sharing with will remain largely untouched. If I persevere in listening to the person God has put in front of me I might be able to see past the strange symbols and concepts and come to appreciate what they understand a person to be, and how they are related to both their family and the unseen world. Finally, they may begin to let me into the dark places of their world – things that make them ashamed, anxious or despairing.

Enriching:

When I am patient and listening and understanding, I will begin to see the Lord and Saviour of the other person’s world. I will see Jesus in a new way I’d never seen before as He meets the needs and aspirations of that person. I will begin to worship and proclaim Jesus in a new and fuller way in terms I’m only just beginning to understand. The Lord will have led me into a fuller and deeper worship of Him through an intercultural engagement with someone who has become my brother or sister. That is why we need intercultural engagement. 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles and contexts, the Intermission publication will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. 

Each Intermission article will be uploaded periodically and can be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission. Alternatively, to receive the physical copy, feel free to email us at office@nzcms.org.nz or call us on 03 377 2222. 

Chelsea’s stories

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Last month we had the pleasure of hearing Chelsea speak of her time in Uganda as part of her Missions Internship with NZCMS in 2017-2018. Below is a summary of some of the stories and reflections she shared. 

An Introduction with Lucy

Chelsea’s best friend in Uganda was Lucy. Lucy has a disease which usually takes a person’s life by the age of 7. She is now 33 years old and is almost a walking miracle. However, her life isn’t exactly simple and she isn’t able to work due to her illness. Lucy was just one of many people Chelsea met in Uganda and, by the end of this story, you’ll know how powerful an impact she has had on Chelsea’s life and faith. But before we continue Lucy’s story, let’s journey through some other adventures Chelsea had through her Internship. 

Getting through the checkpoint

Chelsea sat on her ‘boda’ (motorbike taxi) as they flew down the dusty roads, flying past the endless farmlands and beautiful clouds of butterflies. Nervous energy crackled in the air as Chelsea and Nick drove towards a checkpoint. They needed to get to a village called Apaa but there was a high chance that they would be turned away at the checkpoint.

With them was a fantastic young nurse who, with a box full of medical supplies, was travelling with them to get the abandoned health clinic back up and running. The last staff member had been forced to flee because of the local conflict. The impact of this conflict has been slowly displacing thousands of the locals, most of whom are very poor and cannot afford to leave the only home they had ever known. It was very important that the nurse and supplies made it to Apaa otherwise the healthcare ramifications for the locals could be tragic.

Finally, they arrived at the checkpoint. The drivers slowed down to be checked, holding their breath and waiting for the guards to call out. However, incredibly, they noticed that the guards at the roadside were asleep! Without any challenges, the team’s boda drivers drove straight through as fast as they could.

When they arrived at the village, a woman immediately came to them, ecstatic that they were there. She had two sick children. Any other clinic was either too far away or too expensive for her to reach. As they began cleaning up the clinic talking to the locals, it was evident that the land conflict was extremely tough yet there was absolutely no way that the locals would leave unless, in their words, “They were dead”.

When the team left Apaa, they couldn’t help departing with a sense of worry for the people there, unsettled by the news they’d heard and what would become of the people in that area.

As part of here Internship, Chelsea stayed with NZCMS Mission Partners, Nick and Tessa, in their local community for two months. She said that the time she lived there was just a taster of what a Missionary’s life looked like. But it was two months of life-changing moments that consistently stretched and grew her faith. She would often find herself asking “Where is God in this situation?” or on a different day “God is so present here!”

Breaking into a refugee camp

“The worst they could do is get you arrested, and we’ll sort that out later if that happens.”

Quoting Nick’s words brought a laugh from the CMS Support Group that Chelsea was speaking at. During her time in Uganda, she wanted to visit a refugee camp, however, Nick was busy that day. Of course, he had no qualms at all about letting Chelsea loose to find her own way there!

She was warned to keep a low profile when entering the camp and to stay away from the camp authorities who might not be happy to see her there. If she was found, of course, he said she’d either be kicked out or arrested. This didn’t seem to be a big issue for him although Tessa was a bit more concerned. In the end, however, Chelsea decided she would go on her own. 

Through bodas, taxis, and hitchhiking, she eventually arrived at the camp, headed round to the back and entered (Hitchhiking is a way many Ugandans make their living and very different to hitchhiking in New Zealand).

The roads were worse than the Christchurch roads in 2011 post-earthquake. In this one refugee camp, 30,000 people were crammed into a space of dusty paths, huts and barren land, interspersed with the occasional small tree. Chelsea made friends with a young man named Richard who walked around translating for her. 

 

She learned that he was trying to save money to support his family, as his father was injured and couldn’t work. After building a farm in South Sudan, the war tore over his region and they were forced to flee and start again. He was hoping to return to South Sudan later that week because he needed to get some papers to be able to work. Chelsea never found out whether he was successful or not.

For three hours Chelsea walked around the refugee camp, meeting many people and hearing their stories. By the end of the day, when she arrived home, the impact of what she’d just seen hit her. The following is a quote from a journal entry she’d written the night she got home from the camp.

“It’s honestly been a very, very heavy day here. I’m always struggling to find hope in such a hopeless place. Tonight I just curled into a ball, and I cried. A camp of 30,000 people, sort of forgotten by the rest of the world. Why could all of this be happening? Why do some people, so full of the need for power or greed …hurt so, so many people? And what do I do…?”

That night, Chelsea returned home full of questions and wondered where hope was. Hope, however, was found in the life of her best friend, Lucy.

A Conversation with Lucy

One afternoon Lucy told Chelsea her story. At a young age, her mum died, and her dad was murdered. She then cared for and raised her two younger siblings who now did not want a relationship with her. Lucy’s story was full of grief and Chelsea specifically remembered the two of them sitting down for an entire afternoon and crying together as they talked.

However, despite all of this, Chelsea remembered hearing Lucy sweeping the compound around their huts every morning. And every morning while she worked, Lucy sang praises to God. And throughout the day, she laughed at a joke or story. Lucy’s singing helped Chelsea have hope that God could help her through anything. And her laugh proved that he was present in every situation, no matter how hopeless it seemed. 

Through Lucy, Chelsea was reminded that God was not the brokenness. And he was not the pain or grief or loneliness either. God was with those in their brokenness. And, through Lucy, Chelsea saw that God could make something beautiful out of something that was broken. That is Lucy’s story. And this is Chelsea’s. They’re both only in the beginning chapters of their lives. And sometimes their lives are not easy. But they both hold onto God because they have faith that he is the hope for all people.

Hebrews11:1

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

If you would like to know more about the Internship opportunities that NZCMS provides, we would love to hear from you. visit our Internship page at http://www.nzcms.org.nz/haerenga/ or contact us at internship@nzcms.org.nz

 

 

Vocational Recruitment Coordinator

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Are you a strong motivator who is looking for opportunities to put your skills to work? Have you ever wanted to have a role within a mission organisation? This job opportunity is a unique opening that allows you to combine your heart to see people find their God-given vocations, with your passion for the big picture of what God is doing around the globe! We are looking for someone who is competent in influencing skills and who has the ability to effectively recruit global mission workers.

The New Zealand Church Missionary Society (NZCMS) is a mission community aiming to mobilise the Church of New Zealand for God’s mission. We are a team that has a big vision and big ideas who is seeking someone to help move us from ideation to implementation. This person will be able to identify strategic opportunities where we can place people overseas as well as find the right people to fill these roles. To this end, the Vocational Recruitment Coordinator will work with the NZCMS team to recruit and place a growing number of workers into the Asia/Pacific region.

This role is well suited for someone who:

Has the ability to motivate others Is able to self-manage and multi-task Has cross-cultural experience, including experience living and working overseas Understands recruitment practices Relates well to people from a wide range of backgrounds Is passionate about what God is doing around the world Has great communication skills

This is a full-time position, preferably based in Christchurch. You will only be contacted if you make the shortlist. For more details please download the job description here.

Please send your applications to steve@nzcms.org.nz. Applications close 2 July 2018.

 

Memory + Geography = Mission? – An update feature

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During lent our family was engaged in an unusual devotion. Not a devotional, but an act of devotion. Christ and his mission was certainly at the heart of it all, but rather than giving something up we took something on. And it ended up being much bigger than we ever imagined. This lent we were devoted to learning the flags of the world.

It all started when our six-year-old son William, decided to support the NZCMS Valentine’s appeal. Rather than taking the easy way out and washing the car so he could buy a $10 Bible for the Philippines, William was dead set on raising $200 for a sewing machine to help women in South Asia. $200 is a lot of money for a six-year-old boy to find. Even I was a little daunted!  

In our dining room, next to the NZCMS Mission Partner profiles, is a huge map of the world bordered by National flags. William was able to recognise about ten, so we decided that would form the basis of his fundraising efforts. He would then raise the money he needed by asking people to sponsor him for every flag he correctly identified on a Facebook live feed to be run on Easter Sunday. And so William’s ‘Flag-a-thon’ was born. This was a journey William drove himself. He asked us daily to practice flags with him and would also spend his own time going over the flags again and again. We started with an initial batch of around 50 flags and gradually began to add more and more in. Our final number of flags – some National, some Territories, some Protectorates – was a total of 216.

During the six weeks, we spent learning the flags William and I had some amazing conversations about the impact a sewing machine would have on the life of a woman and her family. I’m not sure it’s normal to talk about the intergenerational impact of empowering women, female social status in Islam, or the radical Christian idea that men and women are created to be complementary and equal with a boy still in his first years at primary school, but these are some of the places this journey took us.

Why this interest in mission from a boy who is usually talking non-stop about Pokémon, Beyblades and Fantastic Mr Fox? Well, we’re a family who keeps Mission Partners at the forefront of our prayer time. We aren’t as diligent as we’d like, but NZCMS Prayer Fuel is an important feature of our daily prayer. We summarise the prayer requests for our children, William and Amelia (4). They both know the names of our Mission Partners and where they’re serving. We’ve been fortunate to have some of them over for meals, to hear their stories and learn more about what God is doing through them overseas. So the driver for William’s fundraising was that constant awareness of who our Mission Partners were and how they were sharing the Good News of Jesus.

On the big day, Easter Sunday, William correctly identified 214 of 216 flags, raising a total of $2701.02. That’s not a typo. Two thousand, seven hundred and one dollar and two cents!

So what have we learned on this journey? Firstly, God is gracious and works through surprising people. People from all parts of our lives were inspired and encouraged by William’s heart for the women he wanted to help. Even people who don’t know Jesus got right behind his fundraising efforts. Secondly, God blesses those who labor for him. William worked hard and saw an amazing result (Proverbs 14:23). We’re thankful for the way God has used William to teach us to trust Him more and to show how He abundantly blesses and inspires others for the work of the Gospel.

 

William and his family came into the NZCMS office to hand us the money he had raised in cash. Have a look at some of the photos of this visit below. 

 

 

Staff journals: Mike & Ruth in Cambodia

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Personnel Managers Mike & Ruth recently took off on a long awaited journey to Cambodia. They have been busy travelling around the capital city Phnom Penh and the smaller town of Battambang. Along the way they have caught up with their son and daughter-in-law who live there and have also spent some valuable time with our Mission Partner’s Anne and Anthony McCormick. The NZCMS office has received some great photos and videos from them! To give you the chance to follow along on their mini adventure, we’ve decided to post up some photos and videos on our Social Media accounts. Feel free to follow NZCMS’ Facebook and Instagram accounts where we will be posting new content every day.      

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/nzcms.org.nz/

Instagram: 

https://www.instagram.com/nz_cms/

Sportsfest Filipino style

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Motorcades, athletics, chess, lip syncs, basketball tournaments, flag ceremonies. What do all these have in common? Not much. Unless of course, you are attending Sportsfest.

NZCMS’ Mission Partner, Dianne Bayley, has been involved in serving with Children’s Bible Ministries (CBMPI) in the Philippines for 40 years as the National Director. And every year she has the pleasure of directing her staff and scores of volunteers in an annual sports celebration called Sportsfest which caters for students roughly aged between 4 and 16 years old. Through the supervision of Dianne and her faculty, the students help to organise and prepare for the event, meeting every afternoon for two weeks or so to practise for the various performances and sporting activities available.

The mammoth event is run through the Hebron Christian College which is an amalgamation of four different faculties: the children’s homes, Bible College and the School and Disabled Ministry. As well as celebrating the school’s anniversary, the festival provides the opportunity for students to take part in multiple outdoor and indoor activities. When Dianne was asked what the core purpose of the festival was she answered:

“To give the students a chance to try out and experience different events; to develop their skills and to see where their talents lie. It also trains them in teamwork and how to accept winning and losing! See my photo: ‘Losing is not failure. Giving up is.’” 

Sportsfest runs over three days that’s jam packed with fun, enthusiasm and competition. The opening day is organised by the PTA officers in each class, with each bringing long tables, chairs and lots of food! The families of the students also attend, able to watch the pre-school show that involves calisthenics and a marching program. It is a relaxed, friendly environment and Dianne stated that the kids love to have their parents attend.

On the second day, the Festival begins,  with a motorcade that drives through the town handing out lollies and school advertisements, each truck filled with a single class that have worked hard to decorate it. At 10:00am the Festival formally begins with a flag and torch lighting ceremony.  Basketball tournaments, chess, lip sync, table tennis, running races and all manner of activities are entered into enthusiastically. There is even a Mr & Ms Sportsfest 2018 competition!  

An estimated 500 people, made up of school students, staff, family and former students who are now in University, attend the Festival each day. 

      

 

Memory + Geography = Mission?

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What does memorising flags have to do with mission? I’m glad you asked. 

Two weeks ago NZCMS released a pamphlet on Valentine’s Day that aimed to bless those our Mission Partners were serving across the world. There were various options. One was that you could donate $10 to support children’s Bible clubs in the Philippines. Another was to buy books for those waiting in a Cambodian hospital. Or you could help buy sewing machines for women in South Asia. Enter William, a six year old boy who noticed this last option and began to think about how he could help.  

After throwing around a few ideas of how he might raise the money with his Dad Zane, they settled on combining William’s love of mission with his passion for world geography. Now, William is currently working on memorising as many country’s flags as he can and is receiving a sponsorship from friends and family for each flag that he memorises. A number of people have also made one off donations towards his efforts and he has already raised enough for a sewing machine which costs a total of $200! William is now pursuing another $200 and seems to be well on his way as he is yet to receive any money for his ‘per-flag pledges’. The fruit of his dedication will be revealed on a live feed video on Easter Sunday in which he will recite the name behind as many flags as he can. William was very clear when asked why he wanted to begin this fundraising effort.

“Because the ladies in Pakistan might not have many clothes, so they can sew some and maybe they can even donate them to other people. They might want to join NZCMS too.”

William’s Dad, Zane, hopes and prays that his son will be an encouragement for other young families to see that we can all make talking and praying for Mission Partners a part of daily life. Though Valentine’s Day is over, the love God calls us to display to others is a daily commission. You can donate to the Valentine’s Day project still. Contact the NZCMS office and we will assist you in ways you can do this. 

A Focus on Fey’s Ministries

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“What time is your flight tomorrow?” This is a regular question from me to Féy at this time of year as she has a number of commitments with the leadership team of European Christian Mission (ECM). As you all know, NZCMS has seconded Féy and I to ECM International who work across Europe. Féy has been drafted into ECM’s leadership team, and with over 200 missionaries who work from Spain across to Ukraine, and from Ireland down to Greece she has a significant role. She has three main foci in this work (apart from what she is doing in Albania):

Féy leads a team of five people who approve and oversee ECM’s projects. At present there are around 30 projects ranging from €1000 to €150,00. 

Field Ministries Executive team – this team of three people works with country leaders to oversee the ‘on the ground’ work of ECM’s missionaries. Féy monitors Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Austria, Kosovo and Albania, and lately Greece has also become part of her portfolio. A missionary recently emailed Féy after she visited Romania to say, “Thank you so much!!  And thanks to you for your role and wisdom for our team in Romania… God bless you and Murray!  

Féy is also a member of the International Leadership Team (ILT,) which oversees ECM globally. This team meets twice a year, and last month they had their meetings in Athens, and while there they assessed some of the needs in Greece by seeing some of the Greek Evangelical Church’s ministries and their need for help. To hold the meeting in Athens was Féy’s initiative, which meant she also organised all the ministry visits. 

Leadership roles such as those Féy does are essential for the ‘coalface’ work. We cannot deny or avoid this need and good administration enhances the ‘on the ground’ work the rest of us missionaries do.

Team

Our team here in Tirana is set to grow again in the New Year. Miranda Glasbergen is Dutch and is also trained as a social worker. She will be joining our team for a two year period and has a desire to work with people on the fringe of society. She will also work with children, youth and young adults in both our church and another fellowship in our church network after doing some language study. 

After years of preparation, praying and planning, Josh and Alison (Ali) Reeve are set to join us in January/February 2018. Josh is Australian and is trained as a social worker with a special interest in working with people with special needs as well as church planting. He is in the process of finishing his PHD which will be a great blessing to the growing theological community here in Albania. Ali is from Northern Ireland and is a GP (family doctor). They plan to join our team long-term with their three small children.

Update on Church

There have been three main foci for which we have concentrated on in our work with ‘The Church of God’ where we have been for two years now; disciple making, church leadership team and mentoring. 

Disciple making is spreading to the people we are coaching into this role with the idea that they establish it as part of their church culture, and it is going well. The people we are focusing on are discipling others, and also becoming the leaders in the church, which leads into the second focus we have of helping the pastor develop a leadership team. We have had three leadership team meetings this year which have been a bit tough going but seem to be heading in the right direction. We are beginning to see a group forming who are willing to speak what they think, which is quite difficult from an ex-communist perspective where everyone  feels they should agree with the ‘leader’. 

Mentoring is going well with a couple of people because we have plenty of time with them, but not so good with the ones we do not meet with so often.

Cairo visit

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I am nearing the end of my studies at Trinity School for Ministry! Originally I wanted to get this degree finished as soon as possible, and then get back involved in things. However, in the first year it became clear that this time of study was much more than just head knowledge, but healing and growing in God. I have two more courses to complete this semester, my thesis is due in April, and (God willing) I will graduate in May 2018.

This year, I’ve been studying courses in Romans, Hebrew language, systematic theology, church history and pastoral care. I’m finally writing my thesis, which will focus on how a theology of the Kingdom of God speaks into the theory and practice of international development.

In July/August, I spent three weeks in Egypt leading a trip with six other students and staff from Trinity. This was a great opportunity to return to one of the places that I call home, and to bring a group of seminarians along for the ride. Some high-lights:

Organising services, music, and preaching at the English speaking congregation of All Saints Cathedral (pictured above), filling in gaps while the priest was away. Visiting ministries of the Diocese. It was great to see projects that I had been involved with funding come to fruition, such as a school for Sudanese refugee children and a medical ICU unit. After many delays, the construction of the new outpatient clinic for Harpur Memorial Hospital in Menouf began this week. The joy of seeing my “Egypt world” and “seminary world” collide. One of our group preached at an Arabic congregation on our first Sunday.  Organising a workshop on the topic of how does theology speak into community development work. This was attended by former colleagues working in refugee ministries, community centres in slum areas, hospitals, seminarians, and a priest. This happened at the invite of the Diocese Director of Development, and modelled on a format of human rights workshops in Norway that a friend had been involved with. The discussion was really good, people gave positive feedback, and it helped me to think through some aspects of what I want to write about in my thesis. One thing that felt very different was the heightened security at churches; a result of the several attacks on churches in Egypt in recent months. A Coptic priest took us around St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, where in December 2016 a bomb killed 29 people. There was still residue from the explosion on the columns of the church, chips out of the murals of saints on the walls, and a bloodstain on the wall of the courtyard where one of the injured had leaned.

Before visiting Egypt, I visited my seminary roommate Grace and her husband in Kenya. She is an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Kirinyaga, a rural area in the foothills of Mount Kenya. She was a wonderful host and the each day was full of surprises: a 7 hour prayer meeting, speaking to orphans on the importance of education, being interviewed on the Diocese TV station, touring a tea factory… We also did a pilgrimage at the “Safari ya Biblia,”a ministry that Grace was leading before seminary. As it is not a culture where people read a lot, the idea is that groups come to visit and the guide takes them around the bible by walking around the site. It was a great visit of learning more about the Anglican Church worldwide, and understand more of Grace’s context.