Our mission partners’ ministry is ours too!

Neil Barber

We asked Neil Barber – vicar of St Giles’ Church, Derby – some questions about how his church is playing a part in global mission without stepping out of Derby.

How do you manage to keep global mission on the radar?

There are so many things screaming for our attention but the certainty of the world to come has to be central. Our convictions mean that we are committed to mission everywhere: locally and globally, pandemic or no pandemic! Putting it into practice takes effort and we can never be content. Some of the concrete things we try to do: 

  • Always pray for mission, privately and publicly. Those who lead the intercessions in church know to include local and international mission, even if it’s repetitive.  
  • Put our money where our mouth is and give generously not only to our mission partners' personal budget but also to Crosslinks – the society who practically and pastorally support them day-to-day.
  • Support a limited number of mission partners and do it well. A number of years back we realised that spreading our financial giving too thinly meant its impact was limited. We felt obliged to connect with many different partners and weren’t doing a very good job with it. Whittling down the number of mission partners means that we can feel proper connections and support them much better.
  • Show personal interest in our mission partners and their families. We’ve listed them as members in our church family prayer diary and, where possible, have regular two-way contact with them.  
  • Send short-term teams to visit our mission partners. These trips have added to the sense of connection between the congregation and them.  
  • Pay them attention when they visit us – giving our mission partners the opportunity to know us personally and get to know the congregation as people. 
  • Stay in touch with them, while trying not to be a burden. We Skype our mission partners in church services twice a year and, since the first lockdown, they have ‘Zoomed’ in to our morning service every Sunday! 

What would you say mission looks like for St Giles’? 

Our mission partners’ ministry is ours too and we’re playing our part in global mission by doing the things mentioned above. When our mission partners ask us to pray for specific things and then tell us how our prayers have or haven’t been answered, that is a real faith-building thing for our church family. We see parallels between our work here in the UK and their work in a completely different culture. We try to rejoice with them when they rejoice but we also try to mourn with them when they hit challenges and discouragements. We love the differences that international links bring while knowing the work of the gospel is the same.    

Why Crosslinks?

We’re very grateful to God for the effective channel Crosslinks has been in enabling a part of our mission that is impossible for us to deliver ourselves (because it’s so far away!). If there were no Crosslinks, our church life would be more monochrome and our mission outlook would suffer.  

We love knowing exactly where we stand with Crosslinks and that they have stood firm on Scripture when others haven’t. We love having a speaker from Crosslinks come and preach for us every few years, to encourage us from God’s word and tell us how the gospel is bearing fruit all over the world. 

We feel supported by Crosslinks UK staff and we know their support for our mission partners is indispensable. Who was it quietly advising our mission partners when they were about to get trapped in their African base as everywhere locked down? Who was the first to consider their physical safety when they were under very real threat from local unrest? Who ensures that they’re properly provided for, supported and encouraged even when life is challenging? Who enthused us in partnership with our mission partners and advised us about how best to support them? Crosslinks. 

Get your church more involved in mission

To start a church partnership with a Crosslinks mission partner, get in touch with Helen. Check out our resources for churches or ask us to come and speak at your church service or prayer meeting (in person or online!).

Request a Crosslinks speaker for your church

Neil Barber

Neil Barber is vicar of St Giles’ Church, in a multi-cultural, inner-city suburb of Derby. The church has been partnered with Chris and Ros Howles since they went to Uganda in 2011.