THE JOY OF MISSION APPEALS:
Resonance with South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Bamenda…..
Like many, I always begin my Mission appeals with self introduction of where I come from, where I studied and where I am based. I always wish I had time to say not just my geographical and external voyage which unintentionally may evoke jealousy or admiration; but also my interior journey of birth, faith, growth, studies, suffering or crosses. Either side of the coin always evokes resonance and hardly repulse or discord.
The joy of being and doing Mission Appeals both in words or in silence, in prayer or in preaching comes from that grace to identity or resonate with both the benefactors and the beneficiaries – communion, compassion, collaboration! Every now and then when I mention Bamenda, Cameroon, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya or Liverpool, someone listening in the Church after Mass comes up to say, “I lived/worked/know Kroonstad, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Kisumu, Uganda, Douala, Bamenda…” That resonance always creates the link and touches in some form on the call, the mission, the providence of God and the altruism of one or another.
I bet there will be further and deeper resonance with the pain we all carry, when shared; not so much the knowledge, rhetoric or eloquence we have acquired, but the tears, the sadness, the wounds we carry or see or feel or attempt to heal. Not the regrettable unhealed wounds that cannot but stink but how as wounded healers we are instinctively compassionate, empathetic and benevolent.
The resonance to the third degree is about reciprocity. The parishes I visit, pick up and are inspired by my presence, demeanor, difference, charisma, caution, reverence on Holy Ground, cheerfulness and gratitude in the name of Missio and Mill Hill Missionaries. On my humble part, I always savour, relish, cherish and learn a thing or two from each parish or appeal – be it the music, the Holy Hour silent adoration before Mass, the warmth of faith and welcome, the joyful spirit, the hospitality, the patience, the tolerance and the faith that is only caught not taught. Always more striking is how one or two people wait patiently to sign up or give online by contactless even when it takes longer because of queues or network.
Resonating with the places we have been providentially sent to, or the good missionaries we have known and loved and supported, or the pain and tears we all carry and share, or the transformation and inspiration we all feel and emanate, or the sacrifices we all endure, or the light we all radiate, are the causes of my joy in mission appeals in the UK, in the North East, in the Midlands. It is lovely to resonate, just as symphony not cacophony is sweet to the ears and mind. It is the joy of the Gospel that compels and propels us. Our mission is to receive and share God’s love wherever we go or are based – though easy to say than do or be!
Emmanuel Mbeh, August 2022.