Three months have passed since our last email update. The seasons have changed, at least for us here in Northern Europe, and cooler days have brought out fall colour and what Ky refers to as ‘sideways light’. Since my recovery in July, following two months of illness, God has also given us a fresh awareness of His grace and several new expressions of ministry. We will highlight these for you in this update.
Partly because our move to the UK was interrupted by illness and a longer period of transition, Ky found this relocation more difficult than expected. It was during this time that she was blessed by three women who were well established in Oxford. This befriending reminded her again of the importance of “belonging in relationship” and she launched a weekly gathering for all women associated with OCMS. Grace, the wife of an Ethiopian scholar, made this comment after the first meeting, ‘for the first time since I came to the UK, I felt like I was the old me’. Ky also takes part in the broader OCMS community by leading the prayer time during the Wednesday Chapel and Community Day each week.
September was taken up with the bi-annual Research Induction School at OCMS. Nine new scholars joined our community to begin their PhD studies. I led a number of sessions on practitioner research and designing field-based study. Faculty at OCMS are assigned as ‘house tutors’ to these scholars as they design proposals that will guide their next 5-6 years of study. I am currently working with Jebaraj Devasagayam from Calcutta, India who will evaluate the impact of child sponsorship among a group of tribal people in Bihar and Jules Compaore from Burkina Faso who will investigate the implications of spiritual power in Pentecostal churches in Burkina. I also sat as the ‘internal examiner’ for a colleague’s PhD verbal defence in September, a ‘rite of passage’ into British academia I felt honored to undertake.
In early October, we were invited to participate in an international conference on human trafficking in Chisinau, Moldova. This meeting brought together 150 grass roots practitioners from 30 countries in Eastern and Western Europe. We offered a workshop as a couple and I presented a plenary paper concerning holistic mission to women and youth who have suffered violence and abuse. Listening to the stories of pain and recovery told at this conference brought to mind these words from Dietrich Bonheoffer:
We have learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled, in short from the perspective of those who suffer. Mere waiting and looking is not Christian behaviour. Christians are called to compassion and action (After Ten Years: Letters to Family 1942).
After Moldova, we spent a week visiting our ‘old home’ in Romania. Ky commented, ‘our recent ministry visit to Bucharest was a wonderful reminder of the life I have been privileged to live—so many people to love, so many memories to share, so many lives touching mine! Even after three years away, it felt so normal and right to be there again.’ We led a seminar for a group of emerging leaders at Bucharest International Church where he had served as co-pastors, did a workshop for Alege Viata (who work with the over 100,000 university students of the city), offered a lecture at the Institute of Pentecostal Studies, spoke with the ministry staff of Touched Romania, and reconnected with our good friends at Teen Challenge of Romania. These and other contacts resulted in planning at least two more trips to Romania in 2011 with the hope that we will continue to see growth in research, training and ministry there.
As we compose these periodic updates, we are aware that some of our friends and supporters are facing difficulties and challenges in their own lives or ministry. We send this letter as an expression of thanks for your prayers and friendship, and in the hope that our partnership will be an encouragement and reminder of the grace and goodness of God in all of our lives.
In Christ’s love,
Bill and Ky