CMS will be our church mission focus from January to March. Having been actively involved in the Santanas’ former work in Brazil, we thought it time to take a broader look at the organisation.
CMS is a community of people who have been set free to follow God’s call in mission. Thousands of people from all walks of life are part of CMS – praying, learning and acting together in pursuit of that call.
CMS believe that every Christian is called to join in God’s mission and has the potential to bring challenge, change, hope and freedom to the world. For some people, this will mean going overseas, for others it will simply mean crossing the road.
CMS’s story began more than 200 years ago with a group of Christians, including William Wilberforce, John Venn and John Newtown, whose hearts were stirred to put their call into action. Together they worked to abolish the slave trade, they fought for the rights of oppressed people at home, and they launched out on dangerous seas to share Jesus with the world.
Since then, CMS have partnered with men and women from all walks of life who felt God lead them to cross geographical and cultural boundaries to put their call into action. God has worked through them to bring about transformation in individual lives, communities, and creation. It’s not because these people were heroes. As many will tell you, they were ordinary people playing a part in the extraordinary story of God’s mission.
Today, people continue to be one of Church Mission Society’s greatest strengths - working in 40 countries across Africa, Asia, South America, the Middle East, Europe, and the UK. Some have been sent from Britain and Europe, some have been sent by their local church in partnership with CMS, some through sister societies CMS-Africa and Asia CMS. All are committed to working alongside local people, listening, learning, building relationships and becoming a genuine part of the communities where they are living.
Jennifer and Kevin Cable
Jennifer and Kevin Cable are two of CMS’s newer people. Formerly a police officer, Kevin has been an ordained priest in the Church of England for 11 years. Jen has been a nurse for more than 30 years, but in 2021, following mission training with CMS, they will head to Jaffa, in Israel, to re-open the local Anglican church.
St Peter’s Church there has been closed since the Arab–Israeli War of 1948, damaged and disused. Jennifer and Kevin have been invited by the Diocese of Jerusalem to reopen and lead it. Both locals and the expatriate community have been calling for an Anglican presence, a worshipping community in the historic city with rich biblical significance. Jaffa, or Joppa, was the place from where Jonah attempted to sail to Tarshish and where Peter received his vision to go and preach to the Gentiles.
Jen and Kevin believe that their experience to date has prepared them for this step. Their call to ministry in Israel has been developing for a long time. It is an exciting opportunity to strengthen the Christian witness in this part of the Middle East and to reach out beyond the church doors. They say, “We know this vision will be challenging, but we trust that God will provide and we long to see the church in Jaffa, the launching point for Peter’s mission to the Gentiles, once again experience a new beginning.”
A world away from the UK, Israel, or leading a church, CMS local partner Nevedita manages the child protection unit of LEADS, a community development organisation in Sri Lanka. She is responsible for a programme of advocacy, intervention and rehabilitation for children who have been traumatised through experiences of abuse and exploitation.
Nevedita describes her calling to LEADS: “My mission is to show God’s love to children who have been through trauma and abuse. Most children who are referred for assistance to LEADS have been abused, abandoned at a young age and been through various traumatic situations. All through their lives they may never have had a loving, trustworthy adult. Being an ambassador of God’s love for such children is the greatest difference I would like to make in their lives.”
The need is great. It is only in the last two decades, as taboos have begun to disintegrate, that the prevalence of child exploitation in Sri Lanka has come to light. A conservative estimate indicates that approximately 100 children in Sri Lanka are physically exploited or abused in a single day. In the capital city, Colombo, alone, it is estimated that one in every three children lives in a violent and abusive home.
Although the government in Sri Lanka is increasingly aware of the problem, there is still a lack of capacity to provide sufficient safe houses for affected children and families. So, LEADS provides one of very few residential counselling centres in the country. Most of the children referred to Nevedita and her team have been abused by someone they know. Many have been placed in institutions, away from parental custody and are referred for psychological intervention because of behavioural problems due to trauma and separation.
Residential centre for trauma survivors
The centre has space for up to eight girls and eight boys. Survivors live in community, usually for about three months, and during that time they receive the equivalent of home schooling as well as intensive counselling and psychotherapy.
Nevedita’s vision is to have at least one safe home for children and families in each of the nine provinces in the country - all to ensure that sending them to an institution would only be the last resort. The counselling team’s work at the coal-face is demanding and emotionally draining, but Nevedita’s overriding desire, her core mission, is to “be there for a child who is hurting and support them and their family through that painful time.”
For more information on the work of CMS go to: churchmissionsociety.org or be at our services on 21 February when Heather Ramsey will speak more about CMS’ work.