I started writing this update to you, our friends and supporters, on Good Friday – four weeks ago today. Needless to say, the last four weeks have ‘flashed before our eyes’. Our apologies for being so overdue in getting this organized and sent out.
(Culture alert! The following mandatory “weather conversation” must be held as we are on British soil. Put on the kettle, have a cuppa and indulge in a biscuit to round out the experience…cheers!) The winters in England tend toward wet, dark and cold days. Everyone loves the coming of Spring with the return of longer, brighter days, wildflowers in the gardens, and a livelier pace of life in the University and Oxford itself. We celebrated Easter weekend with glorious weather and once again I was privileged to carry a large wooden cross in an outdoor procession through our local community as the churches in North Oxford publically remembered the events of Good Friday.
The world was shocked once again with the airport bombings in Brussels, Belgium on the morning of March 22nd. Shortly after these tragic events, I wrote a letter to one of our supporters who was asking if we were safe. He was also inquiring about the sentiments of people in the UK regarding these acts of random terrorism. Here is an except of my response:
England and especially cities like London and Oxford are international crossroads. Great Britain is multicultural, there are over 130 languages spoken in the city of London. Oxford and London are multinational cities, where dozens of nationalities and cultures coexist side by side. Oxford attracts students, professors, business people from around the world. At the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (where we work) we now have 127 part-time PhD students representing 50+ countries. On a walk into central Oxford from our building, one is likely to encounter people from around the world. We have friends from Indonesia, Nigeria, Syria, UAE, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, India, and Cyprus. England which was once the epicenter of the British Empire or the Commonwealth, has today become home to those citizens of the former ‘colonies’ who have legally moved to the UK. Multiculturalism means we are blessed to experience a rich mix of world religions – Christians (of all kinds), Muslims, Hindus, Secularists, Sikhs, Taoists, Buddhists and others.
In my travels to the USA, I note that some Americans are not well informed on the realities of life in England or Europe. There are strange assumptions in some circles about Europe being overrun by people from other nations. While the Syrian refugee crisis is a very present reality (over 1 million refugees have crossed into Europe in 2015see this link on the BBC), this does not mean that we live in fear or worry. Jesus Christ is the Lord of both heaven and earth and He is the Lord of all people. Please pray for the peace of Christ to be at work in the multiculturalism of the today’s Europe and England. Of course, we know there are cities where young, angry, marginalized men and women are being radicalized, but this is not the case for every community in England or Europe. Pray that our work in Oxford with Christian leaders from the Global South will lead to lasting change in how we as Christians can live beside and minister to our cultural neighbors.
Since writing those words in early April, we have experienced many answers to our prayer that God would bless our work in Oxford. OCMS received 12 new students into our bi-annual Research Induction School and this is an exceptional group of leaders representing Japan, Uganda, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, India, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong and the USA. As a professor and tutor, my responsibilities include daily meetings with individual students, lectures, and the very rewarding one-on-one work with each of these candidates in helping them shape their PhD research. I also was honored to serve as the internal examiner for a Swiss scholar who has spent several years working in the Congo. I have known Sabine for almost five years now and it is such a joy to see her working to complete the long journey towards earning her PhD. Another close friend and student is a Palestinian Christian who lives and works in Nazareth, Israel. Rula Mansour is working with conflict and peace studies in the Middle East. We are incredibly blessed to be a part of this community when we are not traveling.
Next week, Ky and I will be in Madrid, Spain for a conference with 50+ AG missionaries working throughout Europe and Eurasia to combat human trafficking. We will present a session for the group on ‘Soul Care in the midst of response to sexual exploitation’. We will also be praying for each of our missionaries–that is real privilege! Ky wrote a wonderful reflection on ‘soul care’ and I am posting it on our recently renovated website. Please see this link ‘Prevette Blog’ if you are interested in reading her thoughts. We plan to be posting blogs here whenever possible and we hope you will visit our site often.
The coming months promise to be busy with work here in Oxford as well as with travel. We will be in the USA from June 10 – July 20 traveling throughout North Carolina, Colorado, Utah, Montana and California. We will be contacting some of you during these travels in hopes that we can share a cup of coffee or a meal together. Please contact us via email if you would welcome a visit.
In ongoing appreciation for your prayers, support and friendship,
Bill and Ky Prevette