The Christian Church is a missional organisation. This means that we don’t just exist for the benefit of our current members, but rather we are always looking for new ways to share the Good News and thereby bring new members into the Church.
All Christians are called by God to spread the message of Jesus in and through our daily lives. This does not mean Bible-bashing! It means acknowledging the love and forgiveness that God has shown to us through Jesus Christ, and then seeking to express that love and forgiveness in the way that we ourselves behave towards other people.
The Church also encourages Christians to work together to spread the Good News through both words and actions. Within the parish we have a Mission Team which seeks to bring together and coordinate the various efforts being made to engage with the world.
Our mission is both a local one and an international one: besides our mission work here in Ballymena, we also send mission groups abroad, and particularly to India and Nepal where we have forged strong links.
NEPAL TEAM 2014
The partnership with Nepal was further enhanced with the visit of a team from the parish from 27th October – 13th November. Cheryl Sinclair and Ian Mckay were returning once again, Debbie Chestnutt had been on the previous parish team but it was a new experience for Anne Todd and Nicola Burnett. Canon Lloyd, an old hand, made up the team. It was based at the Goshen Guesthouse near Jawlakhel in Patan which is a city that merges into Kathmandu
For the first week the team worked in a Transit Home for women with mental difficulties and who were homeless. It was run by an organisation called KOSHISH which in Nepali means “making an effort”. There is still a great stigma in Nepali society re mental illness and the government is only beginning to tackle the problem. KOSHISH has been to the fore in terms of advocacy over mental health issues and has placed it firmly on the government’s agenda.
The team undertook a craft project with the women in the Transit Home – helping them to sew designs unto plain linen bags. They each then had their own individual bag which they could use and also hang above their beds. The team was inspired by the initiative and work of KOSHISH and was humbled by the experience of coming alongside these women. The members were grateful for being allowed to work in this context and were grateful for the response they received from the women. The team would hope to continue to support the work in some small way into the future.
It was a 7 hour journey east by twisty roads hanging to the sides of hills to undertake the 2nd project. This was in Jiri, a small town over 6000 feet up but set in a beautiful valley surrounded by massive hills. Jiri used to be the starting place for all expeditions to Everest – until an airport was built at Lukla. The team was to work at Jiri Hospital and discovered on arrival that one of the planned works – building a walkway – had already been completed but thankfully using the £1000 pledged by the team.
Yet there was no shortage of work. Asked to paint some wards 3 were soon transformed with new curtains also donated. The team also had to tackle a long hospital wall – painting the hospital name in large letters and then undertaking a lengthy butterfly mural. It was good that doctors, nurses and others contributed to this mural. The hospital made the team feel very much part of the family, looked after it well and really appreciated its engagement. The team itself had a wonderful experience in a beautiful setting.
Engaging with the Nepali church is also quite an experience. The church is very young free, vibrant and growing. The team was able to attend worship with the Zimmermans in Kathmandu and then to find its was to the Christian church in Jiri. In both places the members of the team were encouraged to the front to sing! Mind you it had practice as devotions for the team each morning included songs.
While in Nepal the team was also able to follow up on other contacts. Canon Lloyd was able to visit the Nepali church with which we had contacts in the past and to see the new building which the parish in a small measure had helped to finance. The team also visited HDCS and caught up with Shreya Thapa who had visited the parish earlier in the year. It also went to the Balkhu Slum where parishioners had worked before and met up with Pastor Daniel. Again some time was spent with the Zimmerman family – partners for many years – and we heard updates on Mark’s work with NSI and Deirdre’s work with NPCS. At least maintaining these contacts encourages us to continue prayer support and may give rise to further mission teams and further projects.