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  • Olwen Laird

How my parish link with Ibba has had an impact on me

I’m Olwen, a parishioner of St John’s Parish, Moira. In Moira, we’ve had a link with Ibba parish for some time. I was aware of the link and knew that others in the parish had been to Ibba. I also had heard from Bishop Wilson directly when he’d been with us in Moira some time ago. But looking back now, I realise I had a head knowledge not a heart knowledge at that point.

In 2015 a team was planning to travel to South Sudan and parishioners were invited to consider joining the team. I didn’t see that as something for me but became increasingly aware of the announcements and felt prompted to respond – I was relieved to hear another parishioner had stepped forwards – that was me off the hook! But announcements continued – someone had needed to withdraw – so I finally acted on that prompting and became a member of the team.

We travelled to Ibba in early 2016 and it was then that Ibba and its people found a place in my heart. To meet directly with the Bishop and parishioners in Ibba and to talk with them and understand their hopes and joys and their challenges and concerns. To work together with them in a spirit of partnership and to live alongside them having been invited into their homes with open arms has had a lasting impact on me.

Since having the privilege of going to Ibba, I now have a much greater understanding of the value of relationships and the power of those relationship between linked dioceses. Meeting with people in Ibba and understanding their stories directly found a place in my heart. But I was also impacted in more subtle ways – the inequalities of this world in the distribution of resources was something that I’d not thought much about but had passively accepted as normal. I think I’ve become less selfish and more charitable in my general outlook and in charities that I support.

I recently combined a lifelong ambition of climbing Kilimanjaro with fundraising to support the vision of Bishop Wilson in Ibba.

One of the most tangible impacts has been my ongoing links with CMSI. Shortly after I returned, I was invited to serve on the CMSI Board of Trustees and whilst I have since stepped down from that role, I remain a member of the CMSI Audit and Risk Committee.

CMSI doesn’t act like other charities – which raise funds to buy a thing or build a thing – they partner with people and build relationships. It is truly in these relationships that we see God at work.



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