Our friend and fellow missionary in Christ, Fr Emmanuel Mbeh MHM, was recently honoured with an award by the African community in Sunderland.
Fr Emmanuel has been ministering in the north of England for the past three years, to promote and share the world of Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries through the Red Box. He is based at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Sunderland from where he has also been helping his local community wherever and however he can.
The beginnings of a missionary life
Originally from Bamenda in Cameroon, Fr Emmanuel has studied and worked in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa, before coming to Sunderland and the northeast. He shares:
‘I come from a village and was as poor as any rural child. The Catholic Church and missionary priests and religious inspired many of us by their prayer and the Sacraments. They built churches, payed school fees and hospital bills, and fed so many poor and underprivileged people in my village, diocese, and country.
‘Where and when I worked in Uganda and South Africa, I tried to do the same. The parable of the Sower talks about the seeds that fell in fertile soil and bore fruits. That is how Christianity transforms many of us to pay it forward – I receive without charge, and I give without charge.’
‘One person at a time’
Fr Emmanuel continues:
‘I pray, listen, and try to help those who are desperate, disadvantaged and victims of circumstances. Mother Teresa always looked out to serve Jesus in the poorest of the poor and gave them her full attention, one person at a time. So too for me, anyone I sense is in need, I treat as my family member, needing help. Jesus commands us to care for others’ wellbeing.’
Fr Emmanuel has continued this mission in England, particularly with people who are newly arrived in the community from overseas, who are in need of spiritual or material help to manage so far from home. Wherever there is a need, Fr Emmanuel works with a team of friends to provide it. He shares:
‘With our newly arrived or struggling to cope African brothers and sisters in the community, I helped transport those needing to move to a new house; I helped with shopping for basic needs; with £5, £10, £20, or more when I could affordfor those needing financial help to buy things; with transportation or rent or exams. With the help of close friends, we provided cooking utensils, a bed and other basic needs to the needy that came my way.’
A recognition of a vital mission
Fr Emmanuel received his award from The African Cultural Festival &Award Ceremony, organised by the Sunderland African Community Association (SACA) in conjunction with Pan African Network, African Women Voices and Matamba. They presented the award for ‘selfless service, achievements and an outstanding contribution towards improving the lives of Africans resident in Sunderland, UK and beyond’.
A message from the committee to Fr Emmanuel said:
‘On behalf of the Sunderland African Community, we want to say a big “congratulations” on this well-deserved recognition! Your hard work and dedication have not gone unnoticed, and we are honoured to present you with this award.’
While he is obviously delighted and grateful for the award, Fr Emmanuel shares:
‘I take no credit for it; “freely you have received, freely give to those in need”. To Jesus who works through us; to God who is able to do so much more to us and through us, in the Church and in the community, to Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’
Warmest congratulations to Fr Emmanuel for this well deserved acknowledgement! May God continue to bless you and guide and inspire your mission.