CBF Offering for Global Missions: Because presence matters. Week of Prayer – Oct. 17-22.
The following reports come from two Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel supported by Wilshire in addition to our annual contribution to the Offering for Global Missions. Both have deep ties to our congregation. Christine grew up at Wilshire, and Lesley-Ann is married to Blake Tommey, who also grew up at Wilshire.
Lesley-Ann Tommey – CBF Field Personnel, New York City
Greetings from New York City! My name is Lesley-Ann, and I serve as field personnel with CBF. My closest local partner is Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries. Together we run 12 social service ministries throughout the year, and all of our programs fall under the categories of food justice, youth programming and homelessness support.
I oversee our homelessness support programs, including a life skills empowerment program called Living Well. Living Well is a trauma-informed support group for women who have experienced both domestic violence and homelessness. Together we work through the empowerment curriculum — learning about trauma, how to cope with flashbacks and triggers, healthy communication strategies and setting smart boundaries. We encourage truth-telling because it is a significant part of the healing journey.
Each spring and fall we graduate a group of women from the program and celebrate the transformation they have nurtured in themselves. So we have a decent alumni network. Because the healing journey is not constantly up and up and because we continue to need each other, we keep checking in on our alumni, offering continuing education groups, sharing resources, and refusing to let them go alone — kind of how God refuses to let any of us go.
Last year, when COVID was at its worst and I struggled to care well for all of our Living Well women, we began a leadership team. This team is made up of five graduates who serve as community advocates and provide peer support. And we just hired one of our graduates to serve part time as our alumni coordinator. Right now, we are offering a virtual weekly support group, weekly yarn circle, bi-weekly fitness classes, and a bi-weekly application and technology studio for our alumni. As positions have opened up at RMM, we have been able to hire two graduates to provide front desk hospitality. It’s always a dream to hand leadership back to those the programs serve, so I’m excited to see these possibilities coming to life.
Thank you for being in this life-transforming work with me.
Christine – CBF Field Personnel, Africa/Middle East
In June 2020, I was commissioned as CBF’s newest field personnel, assigned to serve alongside our Africa and Middle East team. As it has for all of us, COVID has made this transition anything but normal. After spending an unexpected three months in Northern Africa, where I began language study, I finally arrived to my new home in the Middle East on June 6, 2021.
As with all new CBF field personnel, I’m spending significant time during my initial season engaging in Arabic language study and cultural acquisition as I seek to lay a solid foundation for future ministry.
Appointed to social work ministry, trauma therapy and capacity building within refugee and migrant populations, I’m grateful for the value CBF places on the ministry of long term presence. The way we’re able to bear witness to God’s love for us and for the world changes when we spend years in relationship with people and communities. When we walk the ups and downs of life together, we change and learn and grow together as God journeys alongside us all. We encounter God in the reciprocity of giving and receiving.
As my language foundation has strengthened, I’ve had increasing opportunities to visit with and learn from local leaders in the area who are doing incredible work and have so much insight and experience to share as I learn more about the challenging and complex situation around me.
No one is untouched by hardship or suffering here, but refugees and migrants have been affected particularly hard. Thank you, Wilshire, for your investment in this ministry that enables us to live out love of neighbor in real and tangible ways, to embody the presence of Christ, of God with us, especially in the midst of difficult days.
Read Christine’s recent blog post at: cbfblog.com/2021/10/08/you-must-become-like-little-children