Chosen & Called
There were two long anticipated dates in July coincidently only 24 hours apart. Monday 19 July when the most prohibitive restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted in England and Tuesday 20 July which was the Admitting & Commissioning of seven of our evangelists-in-training in the chapel at the Wilson Carlile Centre. Both were significant milestones and causes for celebration; the 19 July represented reaching another stage in a journey back to some kind of normality, and the 20 July marked the end of one phase of learning, and being sent back out into their mission context to continue to grow, flourish and bear fruit. You can rewatch the Admitting & Commissioning Service from the 19 July 2021 by clicking below.
John 15 verse 16 is significant for me because it was the verse given to me as a 16 year-old, at my baptism. As a young Christian, growing up in a pastor’s family I hoped this meant something exciting, preferably abroad, and imagined myself as a cross between Jackie Pullinger and Amy Carmichael! Instead, after finishing my degree and completing a gap year, I found myself employed as a residential social worker in an adolescent assessment centre and living in Barnsley. Not exactly the glamourous and fruitful life I’d envisaged being called to as a teenager.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16 (ESV)
As I look back over the nearly 40 years since my baptism, it has been that sense of being chosen and called by God to bear fruit for His kingdom that has characterised my choices and decisions along the way, including the recent one to uproot my husband and I and return to Sheffield after ten years in the East Midlands to join Church Army as the Leadership Development Officer back in January 2020.
Some things I’ve learned about fruitfulness amidst the challenges of ministering to some very disadvantaged and marginalised communities, is that fruit can be found in some unexpected places and people, including the ex-young offender from the adolescent assessment centre, that I used to take along to the local YMCA youth club, and found faith through the prison chaplaincy service (as I discovered years later). All it needs is for us to be obedient in responding to that initial call, keep offering ourselves to God and to trust him to bring forth the fruit of our service. I hope like me you are encouraged by the stories of our evangelists around the UK and Ireland; the transformation they’ve seen in individuals’ lives and the hope they have brought to their local communities throughout the pandemic.
Please also join us in praying for our newly commissioned evangelists as they seek to bear fruit in this next season.