In the Bible we see how God cares for everyone in the world, and our response as Christians is to reflect this care, and support others doing likewise. This is what we call mission. Mission takes on many forms. It starts with our neighbours and spans the world. It is practical and spiritual, showing care for the whole person.
At St. John's we have always believed that as a church – a body of people – we should make special efforts to help the weak and vulnerable in the world. We are engaged in Mission Action Planning, finding ways to serve our local community, as well as continuing our support those Christians working in key areas and in difficult circumstances overseas.
In terms of Overseas Mission we provide regular support, in terms of prayer and finance, to
North India: Adults and children alike are vulnerable to human trafficking. Our mission partners work with local churches to raise awareness of potential trafficking. These include the dangers of accepting offers of good jobs which frequently lead to enslavement, and of children simply running away from rural homes to the urban bright lights. Awareness leads to prevention but where people slip through the net our mission partners work with police and churches to bring them home. Enforced child labour is another issue which they address, as is domestic abuse.
Uganda: We have historic ties with St Peter’s Happiness Nursery School, the link being forged by a missionary in Sudan who translated the Bible into local languages and who helped to educate the husband of the school’s Head. On retirement to Cambridge she and her sister, who had been a missionary in Rwanda, attended St John’s. After years of unrest in the Sudan/Uganda border area the school was set up in Arua to give refugee children basic pre-education as a means of avoiding illiteracy where there was very little schooling. The school currently has 44 pupils from Uganda, Congo and South Sudan together with five teaching and three support staff. Many of the pupils are from refugee families who are unable to pay the fees leaving a deficit between income and expenditure which we are happy to help to fill, being the only source of external funding.
Burundi: From its early days almost 10 years ago we have supported the Bethesda Project which was set up under the auspices of the Kepplewray Project in Cumbria. A young Irish couple started this imaginative enterprise from scratch with few facilities, no knowledge of the local language but with enthusiasm and determination. The initial object was to provide sporting opportunities for young people with disabilities (who are frequently shut away at home), bringing disabled and able-bodied people together as equal partners and changing the general mind-set to acceptance of those with disabilities. Archery, canoeing sitting volleyball and other sports activities are very popular and teams enjoy travelling to play in competitions. The project has expanded to supporting people with epilepsy and preventing some of the disability conditions from worsening and negatively impacting the lives of families. However, sports activities are still of the utmost importance particularly as they allow people to gain confidence, experience success and be part of something that values them as human beings.
South Africa: Our links with the church in Lentegeur began in 1998 when our Priest-in-Charge, then our Curate, requested that he spend time before his ordination in a poor area of Cape Town. Although the church he was introduced to was built in a middle-earning area, it is surrounded by several ‘informal settlements’ and it is in these areas where church members are able to assist. With the help of donations from our Toddle Along group and some members of the congregation, they offer bursaries to help with all aspects of education, they provide soup kitchens and organise holiday clubs which include meals as well as activities and feed the homeless during the cold winter months.