Fr Emmanuel Mbeh MHM is a Mill Hill Missionary from the Archdiocese of Bamenda in Cameroon. For the last three years he has been based in Liverpool and involved in Mission Masses and Red Box Appeals for the northern dioceses of England. Here he shares his reflections on his experiences so far in the UK.
Like many, I always begin my Mission appeals with an introduction: where I come from, where I studied and where I am based. I always wish I had time to discuss not just my geographical and external voyage, but also my interior journey of birth, faith, growth, studies, suffering or crosses. Either side of the coin always evokes resonance.
The joy of doing Red Box Appeals, in words or in silence, in prayer or in preaching, comes from that grace to identify and resonate with both the benefactors and the beneficiaries – communion, compassion, collaboration! Every now and then, when I mention Bamenda, Cameroon, Uganda, South Africa or Kenya, someone listening in the Church comes up after Mass to say, ‘I lived in /worked in / know Kroonstad, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Kisumu, Uganda, Douala, Bamenda…’ That resonance always creates a link and touches in some form on the call, the mission, the providence of God and the altruism of one to another.
A shared human experience
There is a further and deeper resonance with the pain we all carry when we share our stories. It comes not so much from the knowledge or eloquence we have acquired, but rather the tears, the wounds we carry or see, or feel, or attempt to heal. What resonates is how, as wounded healers, we are instinctively compassionate, empathetic and benevolent.
A two-way street
The resonance to the third degree is about reciprocity. I hope the parishes I visit pick up on and are inspired by my reverence on Holy Ground, cheerfulness and gratitude in the name of Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries. On my humble part, I always cherish and learn a thing or two from each parish or appeal – be it the music, the Holy Hour silent adoration before Mass, the warmth of faith and welcome, the joyful spirit, the hospitality, the patience, the tolerance and the faith that is shared.
Always more striking is how people wait patiently to sign up or give online, even when it takes longer because of queues or network.
The joy of mission in the UK
Resonating with the places we are sent to – the good missionaries we have known, loved and supported; the pain and tears we all carry and share; the transformation and inspiration we all feel and emanate; the sacrifices we all endure and the light we all radiate – are the causes of my joy in Red Box mission appeals in the UK.
Our mission is to receive and share God’s love wherever we go or are based. And it is lovely to resonate, just as symphony is sweet to the ears and mind, through the joy of the Gospel that compels and propels us.
Join us in mission!
Missio’s mission to ignite God’s love spreads across and unites the global Church. We’d love you to join us on this special journey of faith!
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*Article adapted from original at millhillmissionaries.com