Linda Abwa Working With Church Mission Society
A report from Kells native Linda Abwa working with Church Mission Society (CMS Ireland). She is currently their Partnership Coordinator for Link Parishes in Ireland and Global Partners in South Sudan, the Diocese of Egypt and DR Congo. This involves working alongside Parishes to increase their knowledge of the place they are linked with, but more importantly to facilitate the relationship between folks here in Ireland and our global church family in other places.
In these relationships both parties learn about mission. The relationships are based in mutual concern, sharing in prayer, visits to each-others Parishes and support for priority projects.
Linda’s role also involves travelling, often with link Parish teams to visit CMS Ireland partners. She has been in post just nine months now, and has already been able to visit some of her organisation’s global partners in South Sudan and others in DR Congo.
Both these nations are experiencing the consequences of ongoing conflict. The impact that the church can have in empowering communities devastated by violence is huge.
Linda explains: “In South Sudan two of the Bishops I met have been directly involved in local conflict resolution, often taking considerable personal risk and always requiring significant wisdom. CMS Ireland is able to pray for and often financially support their efforts. Even after years of living with folks in very challenging situations in Nigeria, I was overwhelmed by the stories of the women who had suffered traumatising sexual violence at the hands of rebels during my visit to DR Congo. Those who I met had found their recovery within the church community. It had brought together women of similar experiences, developed trauma support groups and empowered them to start over.”
“Intentional partnership with the global church, it appears to me, is a vital encouragement to the body of Christ worldwide. Service of each other not only teaches us to love in the way of Christ, but also to be more honest and vulnerable about our challenges with those who also face many challenges across the globe. In our vulnerability we can be genuinely encouraged and directly helped by those who have another perspective, yet a similar depth of concern for the church”, she adds.
Linda Abwa working with Church Mission Society (CMS Ireland) trained as a nurse and midwife before going to the mission field.
The job with CMS is ideal for Linda, who trained as a nurse and midwife before going to serve with Mission Africa in Nigeria.
Initially, she worked in a hospital programme for people living with HIV and was based in Jos, working mostly with a home care team. This was before HIV drugs were widely available in Nigeria, also the stigma of having HIV was very serious at that time. Basic palliative care at home was a vital service for people who were coming to the end of their lives with very little medical and sometimes little family support.
Linda met her husband, Billy, in Jos where he was also working in the HIV ministry. After they married, the couple were missionaries with Mission Africa and moved to Abuja, the capital city, to work with Mission Africa’s partner church to develop their HIV ministry. This ministry became known as ADVANCE, and comprised of HIV prevention education and testing, counselling and HIV care, support of orphans and vulnerable children, and micro-finance for vulnerable women.
Linda remembers: “We travelled around Nigeria to help churches set up local HIV services and spent considerable time in one particularly affected area setting up a counselling centre with the support of our sending church 2nd Donegore Presbyterian.”
Although Linda, Billy and their two young boys have moved across the world back to Northern Ireland for a time, she says is a privilege to continue to work in mission, and especially to participate in mutually enriching global partnerships.
Linda remarks: “Because of my most recent experiences overseas with CMS Ireland this year I would encourage folks to take to heart the deep suffering in places like South Sudan and DR Congo due to war. The present refugee crisis has been a challenge to us all to take more care in reaching out in prayer for peace in areas of conflict. CMSI focuses on prayer and support for the global church in order that we might mitigate the very painful results of unrest which culminate in displacement of communities and individuals.”
“CMS Ireland welcomes those who would wish to get to know more about the unique way we are involved in mission to join in with our events, become part of a partnership link, volunteer, become a prayer partner, and serve with one of our partners either short or long term. One of the best ways to get to know us is at our annual conference at which we will have specific seminars on each of our global partners, and main speakers from the church in Ireland and from one of our global partners in Uganda”, she adds.
People can be involved with CMS Ireland through their local Parish link, or as an individual supporter/member. Find information on our website here or telephone 02890775020. You can also email: email@example.com CMS Ireland are also on Facebook here.