It seems a long time since I returned from my sabbatical, a lot has happened since then. Thank you for allowing me to take this time. It has been very beneficial to me. I have three weeks that I didn’t take this year that I intend to fit in next year, hopefully with a visit to Rwanda.
At our Church Meeting last week we took the decision to take a bold step to grow the relationship that we have had for some time with the church there. The tithe that we set aside from the legacy that we received from our dear sister Eileen Taylor has been available for work wherever we saw fit but our concern has always been to help our brothers and sisters at L’Eglise Vivante – The Living Church. Through the work of Tearfund we now have the opportunity to provide the resources for a project that has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of people. As we heard and saw via a video taken last month, the church are keen to get on with the work. Tearfund’s title for this kind of work is church-Led community transformation. Our resources will go to mobilising people in the church and 8 other local churches working together. Training will be available to enable people to make the best use of the resources that they have at hand. Income generation will be a major part of what happens but this is a holistic project and so addressing social issues and spiritual renewal will be integral to what happens.
Some of you will know that we have been praying about how to use this legacy for some time and seeking a way to enable us to fulfil what many of us have felt is a command from the Lord – to help build his church in Rwanda. Let me say right now that agreeing to do this and sending money is not the end of this for us. True partnerships involve both parties giving and receiving from each other. This strengthens our links with Eglise Vivante. My prayer is that there will be opportunities for us to visit and to learn from them as much as we give to them.
This idea of church-led community transformation is not just for Rwanda or East Africa (where, incidentally, it has been used to great effect by Tearfund). The heart of what I was looking at on sabbatical was a way to pull together the various strands of thought that we have had about mission over recent years. Church-led community transformation is a pretty good way to sum that up as well. Our vision for Phase Two of the development here has been about the least, the last and the lost; about bringing hope to those who have no reason to hope. But this is really a new expression of the same concern that we have always had. Our vision is to become a community of believers living according to the Bible’s teaching so that Christ’s redemptive purposes can be accomplished in the world. Jesus wants to bring transformation to this town and district and to every other throughout the world. Our mission to enable people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, is expressed anew in our need to develop discipleship that takes mission more seriously.
What Phase Two will do is to enable us to provide a place where people can connect. Like Rwanda there may be skills that we offer and courses that we run, but the heart of this will be to create a space where we can meet people and have a context for a conversation with them. We want to understand people’s stories; share our own; and share the story of Jesus in our lives. This will be a new expression of the community that we enjoy and an invitation to become part of the community that God is creating in his kingdom.
Revelation 3:20 says, ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.’ We seek to provide a place where people will hear Jesus’ knock and answer His call.
Yours in Christ,