Lay Missionaries look forward to beginning their ministry in Britain

The Columbans in Britain are very excited to welcome to the region two new lay missionaries from New Zealand. Sophia Ting and Teresa Chuah Hui-Ling will travel to Britain once it is safe to do so, they have their travel visas and travel restrictions have been lifted.

Teresa explains ” Although I’m very excited to come to Britain, I understand that I must be patient and trust in God’s timing as He knows best. I am thankful that I am safe, and I’m able to support Challenge 2000 whilst I wait.”

Challenge 2000 is a professional, innovative, responsive, dynamic and passionate Youth Development, Community and Family Social Work Agency. They are committed to responding to the Gospel by working with people in the search for personal dignity, social responsibility and social justice.

The Challenge 2000 Gap Year offers participants the chance to develop the social, spiritual, intellectual, employment, well-being and physical elements that are required for a positive, successful and balanced life. Ling is enjoying supporting these participants, listening to them and being involved with various activities from art sessions to excursions.

Besides volunteering at Challenge 2000, Teresa, has also been asked to help cook to support the poor and will begin this next week. She also enjoys cleaning her local church from time to time.

“You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near.”

James 5:8

Sophia explains, “New Zealand lockdown kicked in around late March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, just one week after I submitted my visa application to the UK Immigration for my first term assignment in Britain. It has now been three months since my visa application was put on hold and until now there is still no news from the Immigration about my visa status. I would say that the lockdown has taken me through the various stages of emotional turmoil from the initial excitement and anticipation to journey on mission, to complacency in the early stage of lockdown, before I come to terms with doubts and anxiety towards the end of the lockdown. It has been a long wait and a challenge to be patient. Nevertheless, I am grateful that I am given the opportunity to serve my community at home, thanks to Covid-19.”

As soon as lockdown was lifted, I joined Challenge 2000, a ​professional Social Work Agency in Wellington as a volunteer. In my short 3 weeks with Challenge 2000, I have come to meet with people who are in need of help and support and I work with a group of dynamic and passionate people who generously give their best interest to the people and the community.

A Chinese lady who is alone by herself and does not speak English was introduced to Challenge 2000. Sadly, despite losing her job during lockdown, she lost her partner and she needed very much to talk with someone. Ling and I have the privilege to be of service to her. With Challenge 2000, we arranged the funeral for her late partner and assisted in the government funding application to support her mental wellbeing and livelihood. We kept in touch with her to make her feel supported and inclusive in this foreign country. We arranged to do things together with her, for example cleaning and sanitizing the church, hoping that this will give her a sense of belonging to the community, keep her mind occupied and allay her sadness.

Working and buddying up with gap year students is also one of my main tasks. On one of the days during the week, we would work together to create some arts and crafts based on the Sunday gospel theme and decorate the church as part of a welcoming message. I will soon be cooking free lunches with other volunteers to serve anyone who comes to our local church in without questions asked. The project aims to welcome people in our community and have the most vulnerable people involved in the kitchen as a way to help build up their lives with dignity.  I also enjoy helping with running mini tasks, for example, assisting in preparing students for first reconciliation in the parish, opening used boxes for recycling, shopping, visitation, driving someone to a destination, etc.