This year, on 28 February 2014, Emmanuel International UK is celebrating
30 years in existence!
If you would like to join us in celebrating this milestone, come to the EIUK Annual Conference. Everyone interested in our work is welcome!
The list of people who have gone out with EIUK or are currently still working with EIUK, is long. Together they each contribute towards the work of Emmanuel International, to help churches serve the poor. But they have also been touched by their experiences and by how God has used them!
We have asked some of our alumni to share what their time with EI has meant to them. Read their stories…
From Roots to shoots to abundant Fruit
(EIUK’s 30th birthday)
The enthusiasm of a Middleton called George,
Was confirmed to us by God’s Holy Spirit.
Then seeing that opportunities were so large.
We trusted our God to bless us without limit.
On the 28th of February nineteen eighty four
Emmanuel International UK was officially born;
Three eager candidates knocked on the door
Two David’s and a Sue had a welcome so warm.
Volunteers worked so hard for more than a year,
Growth was so great that they could not cope,
A “Candidates Secretary” would cost so dear.
Another miracle ! God steps in to give us hope.
A full time secretary on only half pay,
With counselling skills and love of our Lord
With a font room office open all day,
Her name is Joan Drury, whom we applaud.
Her new home became a very special abode,
Where tears were shed and wiped all away,
Where many would come with much to unload,
And inspired to serve God in a very new way.
Seeds of prayer caused the work to take root.
Now we have grown in size beyond recognition
Over the years there has been so much fruit
Join us in prayer and service ! Your decision.
David and Jenny Bendell
A lot can happen in 30 years!
Thirty years ago, Stewart Taylor, John Carroll’s Curate at St. Luke’s, West Norwood, came to Emmanuel Church, Tolworth as our minister and told us about Emmanuel International; this ‘new’ mission.
It led to our eldest daughter, Sarah, going to Jamaica with EI where she lived in a tent among the community along with other volunteers from the USA, the Philippines, the UK and Jamaica nationals. We went to visit her – our first direct contact with abject poverty, and our lives were irrevocably changed. During the ensuing years, with the generous help of friends, we have continued to help disadvantaged families there, raising tens of thousands of pounds for education, housing and other needs.
Little did we then know that we would become as deeply involved with the work of EI, with the subsequent appointment of David as UK Chair. Through the work and vision of its Board and Managers, significant innovations included the launch of ‘BushNet’ and ‘Down to Earth’, the establishment of an office at Chichester with paid personnel, sending Short Term Teams overseas, commissioning many full time missionaries, producing videos of its work, strengthened its support base as churches and individuals were encouraged to get involved, introducing residential conferences and annual garden parties, tapping Trust Funds, and raising over £15,000 for its work from the sale of recycled cards.
Trials and tribulations there were and always will be. Joy and thankfulness run alongside. Not only did Stewart tell us about Emmanuel International, but it was during his ministry that no less than eight members of the Tolworth church family volunteered for overseas service. One of these was David Varcoe, our current Chairman, who served in Uganda with EI. Later Stewart married Sarah – that changed our lives too. A lot can happen in thirty years!
The message hit me between the eyes…
George Middleton came to preach at my church, Christchurch Purley when I was aged 16. The message hit me between the eyes and I signed up there and then to serve with EI once I left school if they would have me! My gap year experience with EI at the age of 18 was a truly life changing experience. My year in Jamaica wasn’t your white sand, turquoise waters Jamaica, this was rural, poverty stricken Jamaica – with no running water or electricity – the first time I saw real poverty. What a privilege it was to work on a team with local families, helping to meet basic needs. All I wanted to do was build toilets for the rest of my life! The following year I worked in Sudan, responding to the call from EI for people to respond to the famine that was gripping East Africa. My time there was pivotal. I had the privilege to sit with refugees and hear their stories. How women had fled Ethiopia with their children, only moving at night, terrified of being bombed. Their stories of courage and adversity were incredibly powerful. Despite the hardship, there was remarkable resilience and grace. From that moment I knew that this was God’s call on my life. After University my wife and I moved to Canada to work for EI in Stouffville. We agreed on two years and ended up staying for ten!
I thank EI for taking a chance on me and many others, allowing us to serve, learn and grow.
Before they call I will answer…
It was 1986, and I had been working as a health teacher for a mobile medical unit in Central Sudan. One day we received a radio call from our HQ in Khartoum. Hundreds of refugees had been seen crossing the border from Ethiopia into Sudan. No-one was quite sure how many people were on the move, but they were heading in our general direction. Our instructions were to try to prepare for their arrival.
We were a small-scale community development outpost, set up with expertise to provide education and immunization. We were definitely not a well-equipped emergency relief centre, with stockpiles of food and medical supplies.
“You are the only agency in the area,” we were told. “Do what you can and we will do our best to get help to you as soon as possible!”
But what were we to do? We were operating in an area that was already struggling to feed its own people. We could not ‘just invent’ food and supplies to provide for these ‘several hundred’ people who were reported to be only two or three day’s walk away? Then I remembered the verse I’d read in my bible reading that morning. It had included some words from the Book of Isaiah: ‘Before they call I will answer. While they are still speaking I will hear’. It occurred to me that all we could really do in this situation was to call the team together to pray.
Our prayer was simple: ‘Lord, you know the plight of these people better than we can. You know the number of people coming our way and the kind of help they need. Please provide us with whatever is required to care for these hurting people, until further help arrives’.
Various tasks were divided across the team, which at the time included Steve, our young Canadian team leader, four nurses (Mia from Sweden, Bukay from the Philippines, Pat from Canada, and me from the UK) and our local team of interpreters. Although I cannot relate here all the events of the following three days, I will never forget how our ‘impossible’ list of emergency needs was met as our prayers were answered, one by one.
To give just one example, we were given permission to check warehouses on the edge of town to see if there was any food left there. We found none but we did find a stash of military tents, enough to house hundreds of people, maybe even a thousand. No one had even known of their existence but we were allowed to take and use them as shelter for our travelling guests, now only three days away. How such a huge collection of tents got there, no one seemed to know.
We had by now been allocated a flat area of the plain just outside of town to set up the camp. The local police commissioner granted us use of this land and also gave us a sum of money to hire lorries to give the refugees a ride for the last two days of their walk – another miracle. But there were still plenty of gaps in the provision and now that we had sent the lorries we knew that we could expect the first wave to arrive in two days maximum.
One huge need that still had to be met was that of a water supply, clearly fundamental to the well-being of so many people, in such temperatures; especially if they are already suffering from disease and dehydration. How were we to provide water for several hundred people who were to be based so far from the river? The answer to this conundrum was equally unexpected.
I received a tip-off about a fire engine which had been retired from active duty. It was guarded by a driver who we were told might be persuaded, for a small ‘consideration’, to take it down to the Nile each day to draw up several hundred gallons of water and bring it to the camp. This, along with a small water butt trailer we managed to obtain, proved to be a workable system over the following weeks.
The next morning, someone came running into the compound with the news that two trucks had arrived full of aid supplies, but they were not sure where they could be used and were about to drive on to the next town in search of someone in need of their cargo. The trucks contained high calorie emergency porridge mix for 600 people for three days with two cooking pots to cook it in and 600 plastic cups to serve it up; several bales of blankets and enough medical supplies to start a small field hospital!
That afternoon Steve arrived in the first of the trucks, bringing their human cargo. They had clearly endured terrible hardships in their flight from prison camps over the border. Some had been so weakened, or wounded, that they had died, even after being picked up and given a lift on the trucks.
It was only as we were heading to the police compound where the trucks had been directed that we realised we had one final major problem to address. How were we going to communicate with these desperate people? Our interpreters spoke English and Arabic, but these people were from completely different ethnic, cultural and national groups. They might speak any one of three Ethiopian languages: Tigrinya, Tigre or Amharic, which no-one amongst us understood.
As we got out of our truck at the police compound, Steve and I were asked to meet the regional Chief of Police in his office. He had in the past week arrested four Ethiopian students who had been found wandering in his region as illegal immigrants. As we had so many other Ethiopians to look after, he was sure we would not notice another four mouths to feed. So we met for the first time Kiflom, Kidani, Tadessa and Gabre Selassie. Each of them was to become a firm friend, and right now they were clearly a ‘larger than life’ answer to our unspoken prayers: Each of them spoke good English, and all three Ethiopian languages, plus Arabic, and Gabre Selassie was even a trained Medical Worker!
Through Kiflom and his friends, we were able to organise with their leaders an orderly and good natured transfer to the site of the refugee camp and set about the urgent task of preparing their first meal in weeks. Then the leaders sent the fittest among them to help our team put up tents to provide shelter from the cold before night set in.
God had wonderfully supplied our needs.
If we needed any further evidence, we were to find it in an extraordinary discovery about the number of people we had been sent. Remember the mystery consignment of food and medical supplies which had appeared on those two trucks, and which had been for approximately 600 people? As we took our register of that first group of refugees, we discovered there were 596 names on that first list, plus Kiflom, Kidani, Tadessa and Gabre Selassie. Food and medical supplies for 600!
An abridged excerpt from Jon Cox’s book “Life to the Max” which was launched on 27 March 2014
Tables of glory…
Photographs taken during the years 1988 to 1998 proliferate. What can be done with them? They represent a host of memories. In 2013 I found a way of keeping them in the public gaze. Well, some of them! There are three glass topped coffee tables in my sitting room. Perfect frames for a selection of photographs. I chose some for each table. They are to me a reminder of happy times and of friends made. They are also a talking point providing me with an opportunity to speak about EI to many who, frankly, are totally ignorant of mission work and are not remotely interested in it! This, as June Morgan once said to me, is ‘darkest Kent!’ These days I enjoy looking at these reminders of precious friends. But they are much more than that. They are photographs of ‘God’s fellow-workers’ (1 Corinthians 3:9) and I praise Him for them and the privilege of being able to serve Him through Emmanuel International. To Him be the glory!
Ruined for life!
I had heard of young people doing short-term service overseas, but doubted anyone would take someone with no qualifications like myself. I kept thinking about Emmanuel International. It suddenly struck me that I might be able to help out for a year at the mission headquarters in Canada.
George wrote back quickly. He wanted me to join a team that was to work in Haiti, and training would start January 1978. Haiti was the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The team was to work with local groups doing relief and rehabilitation projects.
Emmanuel International has a reputation for seeing the potential in young people and helping them to grow. It trained young people that no other mission organisation would take – and I was one of them. Like me, the young people who came often had no college training or degree. We had no particular skills, just a fire in the belly and lots of enthusiasm.
In Haiti, the heat wrapped itself around me like a hot blanket. Dust blew up from the dirt roads. As we passed through villages, small children leapt up onto the vehicle in glee to greet their white visitors. Chickens, hogs and dogs roamed the streets looking for scraps of rubbish to eat. Donkeys were the main mode of transport. Men and women sat by the roadside selling their wares, including watermelons, mangoes, bananas and citrons. After several hours we arrived at our destination in St Marc. The local church and missionaries served us the best tasting iced tea I ever remember drinking. I was so thirsty that it felt as though I was drinking the life back into my body.
The house in St Marc was empty when we arrived. There was no electricity, no running water, no mosquito screens and one outdoor toilet swarming with flies. For days and weeks, all I did was clean the house, trying to make the place habitable. Soon the work on the house was complete, the electricity and running water were hooked up, and we had a decent bathroom – thank God. Our neighbour was a pig breeder of sorts and the smell was horrible; I have never been able to enjoy ham since!
Our first few months in Haiti were frustrating. Much of our work was with a mobile health clinic. The clinic was held up in Haitian customs, as they were waiting for a bribe to get it out. In the meantime, we were busy tapping springs for wells and digging latrines. I spent time with a women’s Bible-study group and ran a summer holiday project for children in the village. One day, when the temperature was well over 100°F, we helped to build a roof on a new school. I fainted in the heat and had to be lifted off the roof in the bulldozer bucket!
Finally our mobile clinic was cleared through customs and we ventured into remote villages with a Haitian doctor and nurse. Sometimes the villages we visited were far up a deserted mountain track, or separated from us by a deep river. Then we loaded the supplies onto donkeys and carry packs and waded across waist-high rivers. The reception when we arrived at the remote village made it all worthwhile. People needed the basics such as vitamins, antiseptic ointments, aspirin, eye drops , and vaccinations. I’d never given an injection before but, after a few lessons using an orange, I took up the job. When it was too late to make the journey home, we would stay the night with families in the village. I remember the first time I had chicken soup, made from the whole chicken. It would have been rude not to eat the chicken heart, so I washed it down with a big swallow of evaporated milk and beetroot juice!
After living with some of the poorest people on earth, I was – to use the phrase coined by the American Jesuit Volunteer Corps – ‘ruined for life’. Something got into my blood as an eighteen-year-old in Haiti that has never gone away. I became sensitised to the plight of people at the bottom of society – those left behind or shut out. My life’s work, particularly as a priest, was set in place because of Haiti.
An abridged excerpt from Joy Carroll’s book “Beneath the Cassock”.
Read more about other alumni stories that we collected at our 26th anniversary in 2010, as published in the BushNet Issue 2 of 2010.