Mission Partners at Cliff College
Among the Cliff residential community this term has been a group of mission partners and their families, who have been with us to train as the prepare to go and serve with partner churches across the world. The mission partners themselves have come from a range of countries and backgrounds.
Ray Borg is a presbyter from Preston, Lancashire, who is going to serve L'Eglise protestante unie de France. Ray and his wife Karen are going to live in the Limousin region, where Ray will have pastoral charge of two churches. He will also be ministering among the English speaking ex-patriate community in that region.
Melissa Newell hails from Northern Ireland, where she has worked as a French and Spanish teacher. She is also a local preacher in the Methodist Church in Ireland, and she is preparing to go to serve with the United Evangelical Methodist Church in Ecuador. Her role will be to teach and also to build up a young adult discipleship work as the church in Ecuador grows.
Annekathrin and Matthias Buchold came to Cliff from Leipzig, Germany, with their three children. Their destination is Johannesburg, where they will serve with the Methodist Church in South Africa. Trained as social workers, they will be working with people to build relationships between different groups through a variety of projects, such as music ministry.
The group has also included two recent Cliff graduates, Brad and Rosie Goddon-Smith, along with two seasoned mission partners, Sharon and John Harbottle, who are preparing to return overseas after two years back in the UK. Brad and Rosie will be completing their training in the new year, having taken time out after the arrival of their first child. Both couples are yet to hear where they will go, so we hold them in our prayers as they wait to find out.
The presence of the mission partners at Cliff has been a real blessing to our residential community. They have been involved in many different aspects of our life together, contributing to worship, leading prayers and communion, and helping to establish the Cliff choir. It has been humbling to journey with them as they have followed the strong sense of calling that they have, and to see the heart that each of them has to make Jesus known in their respective contexts.
The testimony that each of them shared at our final celebration service was a powerful reminder of the call to costly discipleship. The call to follow Jesus requires us to seek the kingdom above all else. Matthew 8.19-20 reminds us that it can be easy to say, ‘I will follow you wherever you go,’ but much harder to confront the reality of leaving behind everything we know and hold dear. The words of Jesus in reply to the scribe in Matthew pull us up short: ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ As this group goes out in the power of the Spirit to live and work to God’s praise and glory, we ask our Cliff family to hold each of them in prayer, that they will know his protection and his blessing on them and on their ministries, and that they will run with perseverance the race that is set before them, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
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