Sent from Thurrock to Burkina Faso
On Sunday 10 January 2016, a service was held at Grays Methodist Church commissioning the former minister there, Rosemary Pritchard (right), before she heads off to the landlocked nation of Burkina Faso in West Africa.
The service was a succession of hymns, presentations and prayers. The auditorium was packed with people from across the borough reflecting Rosemary's ministry at the Methodist churches in Stanford-le-Hope, Horndon on the Hill, Linford and Grays, and with the Stanford Boiler Room. Ladies who lived in community with her in the manse in High View Avenue, Grays, were also present.
Rosemary, who left Thurrock 18 months ago for training at Redcliffe College, Gloucester for Wycliffe Bible Translators, will be working as part of a Bible translation team in Gaoua, which is in the south of the country.
The team will be translating the Old Testament into Birifor, a Gur language spoken in southern Burkina Faso and just over the border in northern Ghana.
Rosemary began by reading a meditation written by the late Rev Julie Hulme called Beyond The Harbour Wall. It reflects upon the action of setting sail spiritually into new experiences prepared by God and fresh faith-steps into unchartered territory.
Rosemary gave a talk outlining the training she has undertaken and her time practising French (the colonial language spoken in Burkina Faso) in southeast France. Her talk was accompanied by slides. She urged the congregated, "Don't be scared for my calling - be scared for your own!"
Then Maggie Gaved from Wycliffe gave an illustrated talk covering what Rosemary is to expect as she embarks on her African odyssey. Maggie and her family have spent some years in Senegal, over 1000 miles to the west on the Atlantic Coast. She said that Rosemary should expect new cultural experiences, new food and ways of cooking, new customs and nuances of communication. All these are equally important aspects of learning and using a new language and relating to a new community.
Maggie also urged those there and across the borough to partner with Rosemary in a variety of ways:
A liturgy of prayer was led by Rev Marion Cole. Prayers were also said by Maggie Watts of Grays Methodist Church; Phil Anderson of the Stanford Boiler Room; and Ashley Lovett, pastor at Socketts Heath Baptist Church, who rejoiced in the ecumenical flavour of Rosemary's send off. Indeed, present were a number of clergy and ministers from a wide variety of fellowships across the borough.
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Maggie Watts shared at the end of the commissioning service that she holds a prayer meeting for Rosemary and the work of the Wycliffe translators every 1st Monday in month at 7pm in her house. For more details, please contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know that Bukina Faso means 'Land of Honest Men'? American missionary and friend of Transformation Thurrock, Steve Parker, who is based in Ouagadougou, the country's capital, says, "The name was given to Burkina by neighbouring tribes who observed a big difference in our people, also translated as 'upright', or people of 'integrity'." Steve confirms this: "I have to say it is true - a night and day difference from other countries we've worked in, and a pleasure to work with." This is certainly reflected in the recent political turmoil in the nation - each time, sense has prevailed, and God has worked miracles in the government. A blessed nation indeed!
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now...