News from Kadugli
What takes our missionary links forward is the way we develop the relationships with those we seek to support. Bishop Hassan’s visit to us two years ago, had a profound affect and we felt we had a friend in Sudan.
It was therefore very important that Christopher, Ann and I made the trip to Khartoum to share with them in the celebrations of the creation of the new Anglican province of Sudan. The service lasted four and a half hours in a blistering 43 degrees heat. As I put my robes on, there was no doubt in my mind that an extra layer was not going to be helpful…!
There were fans in the ceiling of the cathedral, and it was uncomfortable but just about bearable, that was until the electricity failed and the fans stopped turning. Then with all the people in the building we sweltered. Thankfully they cut out the last hymns and even the communion or the service would have lasted 6 hours! Anyway, it was great to be there and our friend Archbishop Ezekiel is now the head of this brand new province and the Archbishop of Canterbury was present to install Ezekiel in his new role.
Service for the creation of the 39th Province of the Anglican Church
Kadugli is situate in a part of the country to which entry is normally denied for foreign visitors. However, since ++ Justin Welby was allowed to visit Kadugli on an official visit, I was given the opportunity to fly down to Kadugli with him as part of his official party which included the acting head of DFID and the British Ambassador to Sudan. We were escorted round by the governor of South Kordofan state. Everything had been smartened up for our visit, which sadly meant I didn’t get to see the grinding station which is in an area of town which was not deemed fit for us to see. Our grinding station in Delling has been open several months and is making income for the Diocese and feeding the poorest. The Kadugli one has only just opened.
One of the televised sessions with ++Justin, the governor and +Hassan
Andrew, ++Justin and +Hassan in Kadugli
I did however see the Archbishop of Canterbury in action at press conferences and televised meetings and he was absolutely brilliant at thinking on his feet and saying exactly the right thing. He was very gracious to the governor, but at the same time challenging him to treat Christians equally with Muslims, and to work for peace. + Hassan says the government has not bombed the people of the Nuba mountains for 9 months, so there is hope of peace. Please pray for it.
The Archbishop re-opened the Diocesan Office in Kadugli and we enjoyed a joyous service in the Cathedral.
Christopher and Ann’s Golden Wedding party in Khartoum
Please read on for details of this wonderful occasion . . .
Our time in Khartoum started with this service among some refugees and here are some pictures of the building they borrow as a church and the people who attended and finished with a visit to Hassan’s home and family.
The building where the church met
Some of the lovely people at the service
And where they live
At Hassan’s house. Hassan’s new wife in the check next to Andrew & Ann
Lots more fantastic things to share about this trip as time allows!
A Golden Wedding with a Difference
I suppose the date of our Golden Wedding was fixed the day we got married; that is, as long as the marriage lasted that long! It presented us with something of a problem, therefore, when we received an invitation to attend the celebrations of the Inauguration of the 39th Province of the Anglican Communion in Khartoum on 30 July, the day after our date. How could we refuse, particularly when Bishop Hassan of Kadugli, who has stayed with us in Broughton Gifford, said that he would organise a party for us?
In the event, he could not be in Khartoum on that day, but someone else would take on the responsibility for all the organisation. We were told that it would take place on the Saturday evening, from 20:00 – 22:00, at the Kanon Hotel, and how much it would cost us. (Rather more that I had expected!) We had no idea, however, what format it would take or who would be invited. To be completely fair, this is not totally true. The Sudanese love ‘programmes’ and we were sent one which included a number of speeches and concluded, somewhat cryptically, with ‘gifts’.
On the morning itself, we were told that a car would come to collect us from our hotel at 19:00. However, TIA This is Africa, no-one had arrived by a quarter to eight, so we found someone else to take us to the hotel. When we arrived there, we were told that the party was on the seventh floor and, indeed, there were tables laid for 35 people, but no people.
In due course they arrived and they included two archbishops, Khartoum and Canterbury, and about twenty others. We cut an enormous cake and sat down to a most enjoyable meal. The ‘gifts’ appeared as commemorative mugs, for all present, bearing on one side the message: Happy Wedding of 50 Years of Mr. Christopher and Mrs. Ann. 2017.7.29 and on the other Episcopal Church of Sudan, Diocese of Kadugli. We are certain that, in time, these will become collectors’ pieces, more valuable than Coronation Mugs.
This was a Golden Wedding to be remembered. We feel honoured that it was graced by two Graces!
Christopher and Ann Fielden
Services have moved back to St. Katharine’s!
Our services have moved back to the church now that the work in St. Katharine’s has been completed.
Please join us at one of our Sunday services at St. Katharine’s to worship with us and experience the beautifully bright and updated surroundings of the church.
Holt continues to be a special community, and the parish church of St Katharine’s continues to thrive in this rich soil. St Katharine’s has seen steady growth for the last 10 years and it continues to grow and see more people wanting to follow Christ. Sometimes growth causes you to have to rethink your buildings and how you use them.
Therefore between 18th March and 30th April, the Bishop of Salisbury has agreed that St Katharine’s Church will be closed for services, and Sunday services will take place in the Primary School Hall. During this period the first stage of the long awaited internal re-ordering of St Katharine’s will take place. The walls will be decorated, and the wooden floors restored and re-sealed and the North aisle floor carpeted. A dais will be constructed extending the height of the chancel floor out into part of the nave to improve sight lines for those seated in the congregation. The font will be moved to a new location in the area on the left as you enter the South door, which will provide a better setting for baptisms. Certain pews are being retained and repositioned along the walls of the interior, but the majority are being replaced by stackable oak chairs on metal frames. The chairs will provide for flexibility for the use of the church for services and other events. Anybody wanting to purchase any of the pews that will not be retained should contact Vaughn in the church office on 782717.
The further stages of the re-ordering, which will take place at a later date, will see the installation of new lighting, improved kitchen and toilet facilities, cupboards, and a new AV system.
The re-ordering of the church together with the redevelopment of the Coach House as a suite of church rooms will see St Katharine’s better equipped to meet to needs of the growing number of villagers who are part of the St Katharine’s family, attending services and other events. The St Katharine’s family is very wide and includes all who want to be a part of it. The week by week worshiping community is growing. But there are many others who feel a part of our Anglican village church and who want to come and worship at major festivals, and to celebrate their weddings and mark the passing of their loved ones. We are all part of the St Katharine’s family, and it is my hope that the changes in our buildings will bless us all.
With Every Blessing
GK Chesterton wrote, ‘We become taller when we bow’. Humbling ourselves is not very fashionable, but it was one of the key ideas Jesus taught and modelled. The following story involving the Amish community explains it in one of the most powerful ways I have ever heard.
In October 2006, a gunman entered a schoolhouse on Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and opened fire on ten little girls aged between 6 and 13, before turning the gun on himself. The girls were part of the Amish community which combines Christian faith with a lifestyle that has changed little since the 16th Century.
Terri Roberts who lived nearby heard the helicopters overhead, but thought no more of it until, her husband Chuck, a retired police officer called her and told her to go immediately to their son Charlie’s house. On arrival, she learnt about the shooting and the devastating news that it was their son Charlie who had committed the crime. Five of the girls died, four recovered and one, Rosanna, was left disabled with serious brain injuries.
Chuck and Terri had to come to terms with how their son, who had enjoyes a happy stable childhood, had somehow become this monster who had turned a gun on innocent children. One of their first visitors was their neighbour Henry Stoltzhoos, who came in his Amish black visiting attire to tell them, ‘Roberts, we love you. This was not your doing. You must not blame yourself.’
This was the first instance of a startling experience of forgiveness by the very people who Chuck and Terri believed had most reason to hate them. The next hurdle was Charlie’s funeral and the police had assured the family that they would provide a cordon of officers around the cemetery. On the funeral day they were faced with aggressive news crews and spectators. At that point a group of 30 or so Amish stepped forward and formed a solid wall of black around the family, shielding them from onlookers. The group included some of the parents of the girls who had died in the attack.
Terri says, ‘This will be forever a picture in my mind. I see those faces – the purity of their love and compassion. There are not words to describe it.’ Surely this is the epitome of GK Chesterton’s words – we become taller when we bow.
One by one the Amish came forward from the black line to express their condolences and to tell Chuck and Terri that they were so sorry for their loss. Forgiveness ultimately is a choice and the Amish community were very bold and brave in the way they chose to make their response.
The journey of healing and forgiveness continued. Chuck and Terri began to visit families in the Amish community and vice versa. Friendships grew, and Terri started to help relieve the family of Rosanna in the round-the-clock care her post shooting condition now required, by looking after her one evening a week. At first, it proved distressing and difficult but in time it became second nature to her. We become taller when we bow.
How is God calling us to bow? I suspect that in the end this is the only way we really make ourselves taller.
Many of us are familiar with the story of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, four children evacuated from London in the 2nd World War, who are given lodging in an old house in the country belonging to an eccentric professor. On a rainy day, confined to the house, they set about exploring the corridors and rooms of this country mansion. Finally they stumble into a room that is quite empty except for one big wardrobe. Lucy, on entering the wardrobe, finds herself in a cold and snowy land in which it is “always winter and never Christmas”.
In her encounters with the inhabitants of Narnia, Lucy learns the story of this fascinating land. The true king of Narnia is a great lion named Aslan, who has been absent for many years now, but who is now “on the move again”. Edmund also enters Narnia but he learns a very different story about this land. He hears the story from the White Witch, who presents herself as the true and lawful ruler of the land. Who is to be believed? The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a tale about how these characters are tested just as their stories are also put to the test.
In order to make right judgments, the children need to learn to trust the true over-arching story of Aslan, and in time they need to meet Him and to learn to trust His love and wisdom for their lives. As they do this they find that in this strange world into which they have stumbled, like it or not, they are destined to play a significant role.
Lewis’ imaginary world of Narnia is a world of supposition. In effect, Lewis is asking us to imagine what it would be like if the Son of God were to enter a world like Narnia. As He became a man in our world, He becomes a lion in the world of Narnia; now imagine how the story would unfold… As we read the Chronicles of Narnia, we are called to reflect on how C.S. Lewis’ imaginary world helps us to understand our own.
As the impact of the Church has declined in our country, the over-arching story of the love of God shown to us in Jesus Christ is more in the background than it has been in previous decades. If Aslan is the answer to the problem of it being “always winter and never Christmas”, I wonder whether we might see our world in similar terms? Just as the Beavers of Narnia kept the faith, and kept telling the story of Aslan, so there are churches today that are still confident of Jesus’ ability to bring a thaw in the conditions. As our Church grows, and new people respond to the love of God, we have seen a lot of the snow already melted. Just
as the creatures of Narnia began to understand that Aslan was on the move again, so in our world we sense that Jesus is bringing a fresh move of His Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus is on the move again!
Just as Lucy and Edmund were tested, so this life tests our character, and all of us are found wanting at some time or other. And what of the stories that Lucy and Edmund want to tell about Narnia? Edmund has been bewitched into thinking that Aslan is not the answer to Narnia’s woes, and he has to be won back from the clutches of the White Witch, something that can only be accomplished by Aslan’s death on the stone table.
Edmund has a threshold to pass through, and in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ‘thresholds that take us into another world’ is a central theme in the book. Pushing through the fur coats to the back of the wardrobe can transport us to Narnia, but Aslan himself becomes another kind of threshold. Nothing but Aslan’s death, it transpires, can take Edmund from legally being bound to the White Witch to being a child of the King of Narnia. Edmund reaches the point when he sees the White Witch’s story as a pack of lies, and he is desperate to change his allegiance over to Aslan, but what it costs Aslan to enable him to cross over, comes as a surprise to him.
I think it comes as a surprise to us too, to find that it takes Jesus’ death for us to cross over into His Kingdom. When we put our faith in Jesus’ death and pledge ourselves to follow Him alone, we find this step of faith truly takes us to another world where we can see much more clearly the Aslan/White Witch divide, and can more keenly sense that Aslan(Jesus) is on the move.
Just as C.S. Lewis’ Narnia has the capacity to re-enchant a dis-enchanted world, entering over the threshold of faith makes each of us a new creation and opens our eyes to the wonderful plans Jesus has for the part we are to play in this world. Would you like to take that step? A prayer that asks forgiveness for the past, pledges your life to follow Jesus and make him your lord, and asks him to come and live in you by His Holy Spirit, is what it takes. Then join a lively church and tell the church leader you’ve just prayed that prayer.
Just as the children in the story find that they have a special role to play in Narnia – once a King or Queen in Narnia, always a King or Queen in Narnia – so Jesus calls us to a significant role in how the story of His world unfolds…
The Chronicles of Narnia are wonderful. They resonate strongly with our basic human intuition – telling us that our own story is part of something grander.
When Jesus started his preaching ministry, his primary message was ‘The Kingdom of God has come close to you’. What on earth did he mean by that? What would it mean to you if someone spoke those very words to you? Jesus conducted a ministry of compassion, healing and deliverance from evil, and when you were on the receiving end of his ministry, strange though his message was, you were beginning to get a handle on what he meant with his odd turn of phrase, ‘The Kingdom of God has come close to you’. We might imagine the excitement of those first followers of Jesus as they said to themselves, ‘If this is the Kingdom of God, then count me in!’ For those who were responding in this way, Jesus went on to ask them to ‘repent and to believe’, that is to turn from a way of life that was not helping them and to put their full trust in God. Many did just that, and Jesus sent out groups of them to copy his ministry. First he sent out the original group of 12 and then a larger group of 72. To the first group he told them to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who had leprosy, and to drive out evil. ‘Freely you have received’, he told them, ‘Freely give’. They were to preach the same simple message, ‘The Kingdom of God has come close to you’! What, you may be asking, were the results of this? In Luke 10 we have a report of the 72 coming back in high excitement at the results, and of Jesus breaking into spontaneous praise with these words: ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’. The experience of the Kingdom of God is at the heart of Christianity. That makes the response of faith something that is heart-warming and relevant. Looking at it another way, the Kingdom of God is very much about the Holy Spirit. When Jesus started his ministry he was filled with the Holy Spirit at his baptism. Before Jesus sent out the 12 and the 72 he sent them off with the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. That’s how they were able to perform the miracles they did, and when people responded to this Kingdom activity with faith, this is what happened. They experienced a spiritual birth into the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom grew. The Kingdom of God came when the Holy Spirit came and people responded to his coming and are still responding in the same way today.