Called to serve

Called to serve

 

For Deacon Jacqueline Esama-John, following her call and challenge to be a member of the Methodist Diaconal Order equipped her to deepen her spirituality and personal faith in Christ

Rooted in modelling the servant nature of Christ, my calling to ordained diaconal ministry has stretched my comfort zone and experience. It has propelled me to explore what mission and evangelism means globally by speaking out against injustice, and by enabling others to encounter God in Christ and live life to the full (John 10). This is the reality of making the Christian faith visible in a multi- and no-faith world beyond the walls of the Church.

Otherness

The contrast of my colonial roots in Africa and my life as a British citizen, living in Luton in south Bedfordshire, gives me a broad insight into the concept of ‘otherness’. That helps me to proclaim the message of God’s grace and love of Christ to all – not just to those who attend Sunday worship.

During my probation, I worked with six churches and communities across Luton, which involved:

·         welcoming strangers

·         gathering outcasts in two Messy Churches, at youth groups, coffee mornings and lunch clubs

·         supporting the weak in three care homes for the elderly

·         leading worship in churches

·         leading Bible studies

·         visiting the sick, suffering and dying

·         engaging in interfaith dialogue and working alongside ecumenical partners.

 

Bridge-building and befriending 

Leading Messy Church unsurprisingly led to questions about faith and about God in Jesus. Then being available to engage with people as they ask their questions is profoundly humbling. I have been able to build trusting relationships, be the local church’s presence in the community and demonstrate God’s interest in people’s lives without forcing the issue. This has also led to a few baptisms into the universal church of Christ.

Welcoming the other 

Luton is a diverse, densely populated multi-cultural town. God’s love transcends boundaries of geography, race, religion, socio-economic status and even our own convenience. Such love demands giving and relationship.

I live in a neighbourhood that is predominantly Muslim, and it is a blessing to model how faith can be a catalyst for good relationships and welcoming the ‘other.’ I have led a school assembly at an all-Muslim girls’ school, participated in the ladies community iftar ending a day’s Ramadan fast, and attended Ladies Lantern events to celebrate Muslim Women in Britain. Being a Christian is an important part of my identity and how I treat others is an important part of my worship of God. The Bible calls us to “love the Lord your God … and to love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12).

Learning to listen 

The coffee mornings and lunch clubs are places offering friendship and space for sharing. When there, I offer a safe space and a non-judgemental listening ear. Through the house fellowships, I am grateful for being able to offer support whilst also celebrating the good things that make up communities.

Sometimes I find in pastoral care that trying to speak into people’s many difficult and painful situations very challenging. I have learnt to listen more and pray for people in heartbreaking situations rather than give opinions. As deacons we are called to pray!

In modifying liturgies, and revising other materials, I have been able to help people with Alzheimer’s disease ‘to be present in the moment’ even if they don’t know what’s going on around them. Seeing their family members and carers experience a sense of God’s presence and grace is a tremendous gift and “an act of love”, as a staff member in the care home pointed out to me.

I was ordained on 1 July 2018. Part of my ordination retreat was to reflect on ‘being and becoming’, remembering Jesus’ way of witness and service. I have been exploring how I could have a more active focus on ‘being’ and hearing those echoes of God in the ordination declaration:

 

“Support the weak.

Bind up the broken.

Gather in the outcast.

Welcome the stranger.

Seek the lost.”


The Methodist Worship Book
© Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes

 

And so, called to be a deacon, I constantly seek to become more of a disciple of Jesus, joyfully inspired by the Holy Spirit, to encourage people to deepen their faith and trust God for the possibility of changing ‘deserted places’ to ‘harvest fields’.

www.mdo.org.uk

Vocation

Consider how God may be prompting you to rise to the challenge of
transforming “deserted places” into “harvest fields”.


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