Simon Knightly goes to our Summer School in Urban Mission every year, and thinks you should too!
I attended my first LCM Summer School in Urban Mission back in 2014. I was really impacted by it, and was left reflecting on what an amazing organisation I’d been introduced to over the course of five days. How wonderful it would be, I thought, to have the opportunity to work for such an organisation one day... Three years later, God in his perfect timing opened the door for me to join London City Mission as a Missionary/Team Leader for Croydon!
I still look forward to attending Summer School every year. It provides an opportunity to down tools from my busy schedule in ‘the field’, to learn from other experienced missionaries and practitioners, to be inspired and envisioned for ministry once again, and to consider fresh opportunities and approaches to ministry. I think doing this is very important for missionaries, and anyone else involved in ministry, which is why I make it a priority to attend as much of Summer School as I can every year.
I’m putting my closing words of encouragement here, in case you don’t make it to the end: go to LCM’s Summer School this year! (Summer School 2020 runs Mon 13 – Fri 17 July: click here for more information.) It’s worth giving your time to go. You will be encouraged, challenged and inspired to consider mission to people in different and new ways, and it will contribute to reigniting a sense of passion too! And of course, no matter how long we’ve been in mission, there is always more we can learn from others.
2019: Reaching Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Let me tell you a bit about last year’s Summer School. The theme of the week was reaching refugees and asylum seekers. There were many highlights, and speaking to other attendees it was clear that each of us was inspired and envisioned by many of the different elements of the week.
The morning Bible readings from Habakkuk helped us to reflect and engage biblically with the theme of injustice and God’s sovereignty in the face of it, and our response to it as we see it in our world.
Helen Thorne’s biblical introduction to working with refugees and asylum seekers was a helpful reminder that God’s people have often been refugees and asylum seekers, familiar with the accompanying cultural challenges and hardships, not least through biblical history (Abraham; Jacob; Moses; the people of Israel; Jesus). Helen also reminded us that in both Old and New Testaments God’s people are commanded to welcome and love people from other lands, and to seek justice for them. Helen closed with a challenge for the church today, and looked at how the church should be a church that calls for justice, that calls for people’s needs to be met, that welcomes and calls others to follow Jesus, and that holds to true gospel boundaries.
I was struck hearing a story about a local church that was running free English classes. This particularly benefitted the local refugees and asylum seekers, as it helped them to work on their CVs and then to find work. This church then also used the classes to provide furniture for people who had just moved into the area. I was inspired by such a great idea and started wondering what we could also do in my local church’s community to intentionally reach out to refugees and asylum seekers.
Steve Smith of Serving In Mission (SIM) led an insightful seminar on understanding refugees as people groups, which was helpful in educating us to the reality of refugees’ experience today. I found it particularly powerful when Steve talked about the identity of a refugee, and about the importance of looking beyond the stigma often created by Western society, and instead seeing that each individual refugee has a face, a value, a family, a heritage, a language and a story.
I enjoyed hearing from Welcome Churches, a national organisation with a vision to see every refugee welcomed by a local church, and working to mobilise churches to that effect. I was inspired by their Welcome Boxes initiative, which involves volunteers delivering a welcome box, filled with small gifts, to the homes of people who have recently arrived in the area; the volunteers also provide information about local groups and services, and support asylum seekers to find a place to belong within community.
As we learned about the challenges, hardships and uncertainties that refugees face, I felt both acutely aware of my own privilege and a greater sense of compassion towards those who lives are marked by uncertainty, danger, injustice and a sense of being misunderstood.
LCM’s Summer School 2020 runs Mon 13 – Fri 17 July: click here for more information.