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At the end of July, 10 parishioners from St. Columba’s Parish Church, Knock, Belfast are heading out to Northern Diocese in Zambia for a 2-week Mission Experience Team Abroad. This blog will be home to all sorts of info and photos from the team.

Below is an interview which appeared recently in our parish magazine explaining something about the trip.

The Editor Interviews … The Curate about the Zambia 2012 Trip

Much has been written in The Columban in recent editions about the forthcoming trip to
Zambia. In this Edition, the Editor interviews Team Leader Robert Ferris about the Mission
Team and what it is hoping to achieve, what the team will be doing and how preparations
are going.

Ed: Robert, take us back to the beginning and tell us how the idea of a team to Zambia

RF: The idea of a team was first mooted in the Rector’s Easter Vestry address in 2011 and a sub-group of Vestry formed which met and looked at lots of locations, projects and partner organisations. A report was formed and a vestry decision was made to look further into the prospect of Zambia. We then contacted Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI)who were extremely supportive of the idea of an all-age team from our parish. I was very keen to renew links with Zambia which is a location which as of late has not hosted teams from Ireland since my last team in 2007.

Ed: So the decision to go ahead was made – what was the process from then to now?

RF: Right from the beginning we contacted the Bishop of Northern Zambia, Archbishop
Albert Chama – who originally gave me an invitation to come back any time – and he was delighted to issue an invition to St. Columba’s parishioners to come along … we have been on a creative journey – in the Autumn we publicised an open meeting to which we invited parishioners, CMSI and myself presented the idea of the team, handed out application forms and arranged interviews. Since then the team which was selected by CMSI has been on trainning regime which includes topics such as – Cultural Awareness, Songs, Dramas, talks, language, health issues, child protection, games, learning about the geography of Zambia, the church in Africa and loads of other things.

Ed: How is the team coming together?

RF: We have an absolutely fabulous teams – with great complimentary skills and gifts … I am looking forward to seeing what this team will accomplish in the two weeks we are out in Zambia but also what they will accomplish when we get home.

Ed: What will the team be doing when you get to Zambia?

RF: This team is very much about developing the foundations of a relationship with
the Diocese of Northen Zambia. Whilst in Zambia we will be very busy – we will be
meeting people in churches, helping out at the Educational Facility which the Archbishop is developing which includes Primary, secondary and adult education. We will be in classrooms, out visiting homes in townships around Kitwe, we will be visiting development projects, hopefully assisting in some manual work as we see how people live in Zambia and how the community are lifting themselves out of poverty. We will be experiencing first hand the issues of living in one of the poorest nations in the world.

Ed: A lot is planned on the trip … what do you hope this trip will achieve?

RF: I have big dreams for this trip – I would hope that this will be a spark for something really exciting – Firstly for the Zambian’s we meet – I hope that our team will bring with them enthusiasm and be able to share what we have (in terms of our gifts, talents, finance… any anything else we have) with our partners in Zambia. I also hope that this enthusiasm will be sustained when we get home and share our story and that this relationship will develop long into the future. I am hoping in the next month to develop a team at home who will be able to help sustain this Zambian partnership for years to come.

I have big dreams for team members as well – I hope that as we experience all that we
will experience in Zambia that the issues we meet will be discussed and that all will get a sense of the global problems and have a positive experience as to how we can make a difference to people on the other side of the world as well as the idea that how we use our resources can impact on individuals lives. I also hope that this experience of the global church will have impact in all of our lives.

Ed: Finally, What else needs to be done before the team get on to the plane?

RF: Ian, there is so much… We have visas to get, forms to fill in, more trainning to complete, tee-shirts and hoodies to design, prayer news to write, songs to practice, games to learn, lessons to plan in the midst of this we are still fundraising – but all of this is very much on target – if anyone would like to help in any way please do not hesitate to contact me at the curatage or any of the team and I am sure we all would be very appreciative of the support.

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