The person I want to thank
Friends and family of Reform tell us about one person they give thanks for
‘I thank my God every time I think of you,’ says St Paul to the Philippians; and to the Corinthians: ‘I am always thanking God for you.’ There was a man who knew gratitude for the people in his life, and how to express it. How important, and healthy, it is give thanks! So we asked Reform contributors to tell us about one person they would like to say thank you for, or to.
‘Friends change and enrich us’
I thank God for Jim. He was my closest friend at theological college, and we supported and encouraged each other often in the early years of pastoral ministry. I remember his firm and tested faith, sharp mind and penetrating questions, candour and directness of speech, generosity of heart and hand, and his willingness not to let difference of opinion get in the way of a good friendship. I think of his decades of capable and committed ministry, his gifts in helping congregations through patches of difficulty and change, his ability to strike a healthy work/life balance, and his courage in facing a long terminal illness. Friends change and enrich us. This friendship did a lot for me.
John Proctor is General Secretary of the United Reformed Church
‘He became the hard stick for doing the right thing’
A special thank you, posthumously, to my grandfather. Following the death of my father in 1971, my grandfather became the pillar upon which my mother and her daughters leaned on. He was part of our lives in every way that helped to define who we have become. He was there when we needed resources and, a man of few words, he became the hard stick for doing the right thing. When you arrived in his village, you would immediately see evidence of hard work, order as well as vibrancy. There were always people coming to have meals, particularly those who had less and others who came for support with farming equipment. He was generous and wise. He believed that girls were as important as boys and so he sent his daughters to school when most kept theirs at home. I am grateful to God that this man was my grandfather, that he was a part of my life and in all his actions, he lived and shared his values with me.
Amanda Khozi Mukwashi is Chief Executive of Christian Aid
‘Bert expressed welcome’
I give thanks for Bert Bissell. He was a Methodist local preacher and Leader of the Vicar Street Young Men’s Bible Class in Dudley, West Midlands. I met him a few days after arriving in this country in 1964. In the 1960s, Bert made it his business to visit newly arrived immigrants. I remember many locals shouting at people like me with words such as: ‘Go back to your country,’ or ‘England for the English.’ Bert Bissell expressed welcome. Many years after I first met him, I quizzed Bert over what motivated him to visit newcomers. In his own simple words he talked about the importance of showing love, the need to ‘love God and your neighbour as yourself’. This example has been an inspiration to me. What does the Christian faith have to say in the atmosphere of hatred and hostility towards those who are different or newly arrived among us? The way of Jesus Christ calls for love in the form of welcome and hospitality and sanctuary. Do this and hold up the way of Christ.
Inderjit Bhogal is President of City of Sanctuary
These are extracts from an article that was published in the September 2019 edition of Reform
How about you?
Who would you like to say thank you to? Share your story with Reform by emailing email@example.com or write to Reform, 86 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9RT. We would be grateful to hear from you.