Rev Tim Hall, CEO of Through Faith Missions, reflects on the need for, and reality of, modern UK mission
A family of missionaries
If there is one thing I have learnt over this past extraordinary year it is about the power of and the need for human relationships. We are not meant to live alone …
All of us belong to different families – not just the family of those we are related to, but also the family of God, the family of our church, the family of people we work with and so on…
I count myself enormously privileged to have joined a family back in 1994 that I now recognize as being very similar to the early church.
A great church is a local place – set in its community and reaching out to the particular needs and triumphs of the area. It is a place of prayer, of worship and of living faith, where people see Jesus in action and are drawn to Him.
The family I am talking about – Through Faith Missions – are men and women who are based in those great churches but who also take part in all that Through Faith Missions is doing. So they will give up a week, join a mission team and travel to a different part of the country – there they encourage the local church, bring new enthusiasm, joy and hope, there they assist to reach out to all who do not yet know Jesus. And then they go home, taking with them their stories, their enthusiasm, their joy to encourage their own local church.
That sounds like the early church – but there is a closer link still. For Through Faith Missions uses as its road map the pattern of Jesus in sending the 12 and the 72. All mission team members are asked to come to the mission carrying very little – no money, no credit cards, no phones-and expecting, indeed willing, to do whatever is set before them, happy to receive any food offered and sleep on a floor, if that’s required.
Not enough men
Through Faith Missions began with an observation made in the 1980’s by Daniel Cozens – an evangelist working as the Reiss missioner in Cambridge – he noted that a) there were very few men worshipping in churches and b) that men were inherently lazy when it came to faith matters.
Daniel recruited his friend, Peter Adams (also a C of E clergyman) and together they formed Through Faith Missions. One of their first actions was to resolve to tackle both of the ‘men’ problems at once, calling men to come with them down the Pennine Way – walking and talking Jesus. It was a phenomenal physical challenge – which men responded to – and a great step of faith – which transformed the lives of those who took part. This model of evangelism, called ‘The Walk of 1000 Men’, proved to be doubly blessed – the places visited received the Gospel and with it the corresponding fruit, those who took part went home as different men, ready and willing to serve anew.
From these early beginnings the work steadily grew, firstly by encompassing men and women equally, secondly by taking on missions large and small right across the country. Huge areas of the UK have been included in large area missions, as well as many small individual church outreach events. Everywhere from the Isle of Wight to Offa’s Dyke; from the Isle of Man to the county of Kent; from Ulster to the county of Cornwall (twice), the only place not fully visited yet is Scotland! Overseas, too – some work in Africa, Tenerife, Ireland and Jersey.
A flourishing family
Daniel and Peter retired, but they left a family well able to flourish, develop and adapt – indeed this last year saw the first ‘virtual’ mission and some new literature and methods to cope with working ‘under restrictions’. Through Faith Missions is as busy today as it ever was, with a full diary of work for this year and more requests for help with missions coming in regularly.
And all this with a charity that still employs just a handful of staff, with everyone else being a volunteer, part of the ever growing, ever changing Through Faith Missions family.
Every family that you belong to shapes who you are, the way you think and the way you behave and Through Faith Missions is no exception. I am enormously grateful for all that this family teaches me, in particular, the importance of holiness, a place to work, the value of risk, the size of God and how much better evangelism is when done together.
Starting with holiness …
Each Through Faith Mission training day begins with holiness – a reminder that each one of us does need to strive to stay close to God and not let the world intrude.
Jesus Himself remarked how difficult it can be to speak to your own town, your own people. And that doesn’t seem to have changed much – which is why the outreach organised by Through Faith Missions is so important. For these missions provide a place to use your spiritual gifts, to hone and develop those gifts and to find the talents you never knew you had. On mission, God loves to bless both those receiving the message and those giving it – which is why team members so often go home rejoicing and ready to use all they have learnt.
If you want to build your faith, then get out of the boat and start walking on the water towards Jesus! In the same way, resolving to leave your family for a week, taking no money and going to join a team of strangers simply because you want to obey Jesus, you want to share Him with others – this builds faith. This faith is then strengthened as the week progresses and you realise that God can and does and will use you to reach people. And its further strengthened in the absolute terror as you are asked to do something, say something that you believe you can’t – and yet you can and you do successfully.
And each mission attended, each report from the mission field read, tells you more about the size of God –all that He is doing in the incredibly diverse communities. Every member of the family, their amazing variety, story, their life, tells you of the immense kindness of father God, bringing these individuals to Him.
One of the rules of mission is that the teams work in pairs. So every event attended, every door knocked – whatever is going on, there is someone standing with you – praying, supporting, encouraging, helping. It is such a joy to operate in this way! The strangers that you begin a week with become friends and you become one of the Through Faith Missions family.
Walk the Way 2021
This year the Through Faith Missions family are facing their biggest challenge yet. A vision that started well Before Covid comes into reality in June – a walk right across the UK, following a path called the Via Beata which runs from St Davids to Lowestoft. The vision is to go to the rural areas – the places where the church is under the greatest pressure with chapels closing, churches amalgamating, too little money, too few people. The vision is to go simply – not requiring any organization of the already overburdened churches. So these mission teams go out trusting God to provide food and accommodation. All the team knows is the start point, and the place they will end up in a weeks time – the distance won’t be far, so each day has the space and time to follow all the Holy Spirit asks of each team.
And in a completely new development, this mission will have teams made up of those ‘on the ground’ and some operating from home – Team members and Prayer Warriors. In this way the talents of all the family are used, whether they are fit and able to walk or not.
This is Walk the Way – a mission that aims to support all those Christians living in the countryside, that will bring Jesus’ salvation, light, hope and peace right across the middle of the UK.
There are many reasons why we are part of any particular family – my hope and prayer is that you may want to become part of the Through Faith Missions family; that you will join us on a training day, that you will come with us on mission, that you will join with our prayer partners. All the information you require is one our website – or just call us by phone.
Prayer pointers please …
?For more people to join the Through Faith Missions family
?For Walk the Way mission – for all taking part, for all those we will meet;
?For the new Through Faith Missions Centre and staff.
Walk the Way Countdown Service: on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/526568807?ref=em-share