My journey as Partner in Mission (PIM) started in April 2003. It was such an exciting time for me to take this new big step. I worked in Madagascar for eight years at Akany Avoko Ambohidratrimo. Owned by the Federation of Protestant Churches, Akany Avoko is a centre for girls, and where children and young teenagers who are orphans and some with court cases are cared for. It was such a blessing to be able to take part in raising the most vulnerable girls. Despite the many challenges, we have witnessed some girls coming from a very difficult background but are now achieving so much success in their lives.
I also worked in the AIDS project run by the Church of Jesus Christ Madagascar (FJKM). I was and still am impressed by the church for taking the lead to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS far in advance before the problem breaks in Madagascar. I think this is the reason why the percentage of the HIV/AIDS rate is so low compared to the other countries in Africa. Having worked with and counselling the people affected by HIV/AIDS in Mizoram, I enjoyed working in this FJKM project. I also had a wonderful experience being accepted in a group with People living with HIV/AIDS supported by the Malagasy government.
I got married to Miara, who is from Madagascar, in 2007. Our first daughter Hannah was born in 2008. In 2011, the three of us moved to work at Llanfair Uniting Church, Penrhys in Wales. Miara serves as a full time volunteer and works with me and the team at Llanfair. Llanfair Church is the heart of the community and it serves the community in various ways. Then Seren, our second daughter, was born in Wales in 2014. The girls play an important role connecting us with other parents, children and the community.
During our time here at Llanfair, we received so much love and care. This often reminded us of Jesus who asks us to love one another. The Church sets an excellent example for others on how to reach out to the community without being judgemental and to stay inclusive always. It is wonderful that everyone in the community accepts Llanfair as his/her church, including the children.
As Partner in Mission, it is important to understand the mission of where we serve and be a partner in fulfilling their mission. Often we have our own way of doing our mission and stick to our own mindset forgetting that we are there to support, empower and inspire the receiving church in their local mission. It is important to be open and flexible.
My time as PIM has taught me so many things. The way a Church functions may be different but it was wonderful to help each other and support each other as God’s family. Bringing my experience and culture from Mizoram and India to Madagascar and Wales, learning about other churches, the people and culture and way of life was a tremendous experience. At the same time, we share what we experience with our sending church during our home leave or in a newsletter which is very important too. This can open up new ideas too. I believe PIM is the living link, connecting and strengthening the relationship of at least two churches within the CWM member churches. Recently,nine people from Llanfair’s Bible study group visited Madagascar with us after hearing about Madagascar many times during the sessions. It was an eye opener for them to see FJKM’s projects, other charities and meeting Malagasy people. As a family, we were invited many times to churches, schools and informal groups to talk about Madagascar. Here in Wales, people are impressed and encouraged to hear the first Missionaries who came to Mizoram and Madagascar are from Wales. We often reminded them that we are the fruits of their hard work and prayers, and that it is our turn to come to them to give back what they gave us many years ago.
I do hope that CWM is still planning to continue the PIM Programme. This is the most direct way we learn from each other, promoting an integration of God’s big family and growing together. Here in Penrhys, there is always great excitement when someone is coming to help in the church.
Lastly, I thank God for giving me and my family an opportunity to serve God and to be able to take part in the mission for the fullness in life through Christ for all creation. I also would like to thank CWM, my sending Church Presbyterian Church of India, Mizoram Synod and FJKM for their assistance and prayers over the years. And also to Llanfair Church and the Presbyterian Church of Wales for their endless encouragement and support. May God continue to bless each and every one of us as we continue to serve God.
Article by Rebecca Lalbiaksangi, Llanfair Uniting Church, Penrhys