Mildenhall Anglican Church

Who wants to be a Pioneer

I am yet again endeavouring to learn Welsh. You may well ask, ’why?’ as it is hardly a mainstream language.  I suppose really, it is my second home. It is spoken in two countries, Wales, of course, and Patagonia in southern Argentina, in addition to other enclaves in the world.

The story of the welsh pioneers that ventured to this wild and, then, desolate country in the 1860’s, is like so many, one of determination and courage. It was far from the fertile land they were promised, being very dry and non-productive. Famine was always a threat and it was through the kindness of the tribes there and supplies from home that they survived. However,  It was the river running through the Chubut valley that they eventually managed to build irrigation channels that changed their fortunes. So successful were they that others started to settle in this more fertile land. Still, welsh is the first language in the home and chapel.

Well, there we are then, a potted history, there is a lot more. But, it is the reason they went that still speaks to us today. Many felt that the welsh language and culture was being swallowed up by the ingress of the English language and culture into the country, coming with the industrial Revolution in the coal fields of South Wales. 200 people set off from Liverpool on the ‘Mimosa’ bound for Argentina.

They were pioneers – believing in what was important to them, their culture, their language, held together by their faith, finding a place to create anew what they believed was being lost. Leaving behind what was familiar for an exciting, daunting and uncertain future.

Those involved in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Jerusalem, knew up to that point that they were followers of a remarkable man, whom they had come to realise was the Messiah, God had promised, Jesus Christ. At Pentecost they became pioneers pushing out into unknown territory, not knowing the future, but upholding the message of the one who sends them. The church has been setting sail ever since, so welcome aboard!

The Revd David Male has written a book on his experience as National Adviser for Pioneering called’ How to Pioneer (Even if you haven’t a Clue)’. Just as the reason for the welsh pioneers to leave was the encroaching of another culture, so we find ourselves in a similar situation, where the church culture ceases to be part of everyday lives.

Now I hope that you are not reading this and saying, ’Ah that is for the vicar to sort out’! Sorry to disappoint you but the book is aimed at you and me, the church fellowship –lay leaders and the ground troops. This will stop us in our tracks and start thinking where do we go from here, after all we have made many attempts and still do. Well, the sub title of the book is ’Even if you haven’t a Clue’. God does, so let’s set sail.

David Male says there are three ingredients for pioneering, love, relate, and create.

Love is our motivation, that is our answer. We respond to the love of God to us. There are no preconditions to God’s love. He will love us if our efforts succeed however small and even when they do not work quite as we hoped for, he still loves us

Relate. This love is not an inward emotion, but one that sends out to relate to others. Those around us are also loved by God too. So whatever reaction we may get to our efforts, we still go on loving.

Create. Well, where do we start. Small preferably seeing what might work with the people we know and how we might meet them.

Well that is enough, for now, there is more, but I don’t want you to suffer from information overload.

As the on-line tutor of the Welsh course says- ‘make mistakes, don’t press the pause button and don’t keep going back.’ I am beginning to feel like a pioneer!