Reflections on Changing Times

Posted by Roger Cooke on Thu, 22 May 2014 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

It sometimes feels like CMSI is in my blood. I’ve told my story many times, of how I was inspired by stories from Nepal in an Annual Project in the 1980s, how my home church continued to support Nepal as I grew up and how a lady form my Church took me aside and pretty much told me that I had to go on a team to Kenya. So I did.

I was blessed by that trip, and it cemented my connection with CMSI. It was the first time I met Ronnie Briggs, the first time I had ever been in Africa and it gave me some pictures. When I heard stories from others who had gone overseas, I understood better why it changed their life, because it definitely changed by life. But there is also a degree to which it ended there. I haven’t been back to Kajiado (I pray I might some day), or indeed Africa and while the people I met remain in my prayers every day I guess there hasn’t been as much follow up as others experience. Certainly, there were no direct personal contacts that continued when I came home.

So although I could do the speeches about relationships in Mission, and preach the Bible Passages about partnership, it wasn’t until Changing Times that I realised what that truly meant. I went to Lorne the first night that the global delegates were in Belfast. I had met some of them before, maybe only once in some cases. But here I was being greeted as a friend and brother by people from Burundi, South Sudan, Kenya, Nepal. People who clearly cared about personal connections. That was really humbling.

But after the conference in Armagh, we had a series of events in Dundela and one of them included John-Mark and Lois from UDP in Nairobi. St Mark’s Dundela has been supporting UDP financially for 21 years, or to put it another way, since I was in Primary School. Lois has stayed with some ladies in the Parish before and in the 45 minute car journey from Larne to Belfast, she asked after those women. She asked after their husbands. Their children and grandchildren. She asked after my predecessor. Lois knew these people. I don’t mean she’d met them a few times. She knew them like they were old friends, or even family members.

And they knew her back. They took as much pleasure in seeing pictures of her children as they would in seeing their own grandchildren. And that’s when it struck me. I had organised a church meeting, to welcome our guests and to plug a team to Nairobi in 2015. What I didn’t realise was that I had also organised a reunion. People together united not just by a common cause, but by a deep love for each other that came about through partnership in the Gospel. The embraces as the ladies parted at the end of the evening were heartfelt and powerful.

For me something had clicked. I understood partnership in Mission like I’d never understood it before. I planned an evening to excite people in the Parish and it excited me much more, because I realise that what I’d been planning as a new part of our Mission Strategy was actually just the next step in the evolution of a relationship only slightly younger than me. And I craved those relationships. I hope that I can embrace John-Mark and Lois in Nairobi with that same sense of joy they had coming to St Mark’s.

And so, in a fortnight of brilliant experiences, those lovely ladies sharing joy in each other’s company opened my eyes to an aspect of Mission I hadn’t properly understood before. Thank God for what he has done over 200 years with CMSI. Thank God for what he has done in the past few weeks.


Rev. Rettiar G. Momin said Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:50AM
I would like to know more about the CMSI. I am impressed through the reading of your report. Rev. R. G. Momin, NE India.

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