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A lifetime of mission

CMS missionaries Alan & Helen Wood have spent a lifetime in mission. Here they share how God has continued to lead them to minister the gospel in different places.

Our journey into mission was a gradual process but clearly led by God. Alan became a Christian just before his 20th birthday and only a few months before our wedding. Helen had come from a Christian family and from an early age was experienced as a Sunday school teacher.

Led to Nigeria

God initially led us to Nigeria in 1981 with two small daughters aged four and six years old, even though neither of us had ever been on a plane. This was a major step for us and the beginning of a very different and varied ministry for God.

We spent 12 years serving in Nigeria, coming home only so that our daughters could go to university. But even after another 14 years in Australia, our hearts were still in Nigeria. God sent a Nigerian friend to ask when we were returning.

Returning with CMS

We offered to go back to Nigeria through CMS. We saw and still see that CMS has a rigorous application process—but more importantly, once a candidate is accepted, they are cared for in a way that is like no other mission organisation. CMS will not send anyone as a missionary who they feel may not be ready. They also support with regular pastoral visits to the missionary on location, to assess how they are coping. With their long-term experience, they see and know what helps sustain missionaries.

After further training at St Andrew’s Hall, we went back to Nigeria in 2007. We were still fluent in Hausa (the local language) and saw the great need in the north. So we offered to serve at a theological College in Wusasa, Zaria, expecting that we might stay until retirement.

CMS will not send anyone as a missionary who they feel may not be ready.

God had other plans

These were difficult years in Nigeria, as we saw the steady increase of persecution of Christians in the north and then the systemic terrorism by Boko Haram and others. However, we did not feel our lives were in danger at any time. We were encouraged by the many Nigerian Christians who were not intimidated by the bombings and attacks by insurgents. We were part of the growing swell of advocates for prayer as a weapon against terrorism. We were blessed to see the steady growth of the college and our small part in its development.

For medical reasons, we returned to Australia in 2013. But just as we were considering taking early retirement in 2014, our dear friend Bishop Ken Short, only a couple of weeks before his death, suggested we could help in Jakarta, “just for a few months”.

Alan travelled to Jakarta with two suitcases. This began almost six years of service to All Saints Jakarta! In March 2020, we were again repatriated to Australia, this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have now retired from CMS.

So, our 40 years full-time service for God—25 of those years being on overseas mission fields—have been extremely eventful. God has taught us so much. We have been reminded time and again of the verse, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him until that day.” (2 Timothy 2:12) Yes, there have been many hard and difficult periods, but we have been in the hollow of God’s hand all the time knowing that we are his precious children.

CARE

God’s care for his workers is often expressed through long-term support from others in CMS. Send a message of support to a missionary, perhaps one you have known for many years, reminding them of God’s grace.