From the new Associate Minister

 

I want to thank everyone who came to my licensing service in Clyst St George on Wednesday 20thApril.  It was a wonderful welcome for us as a family.  The Bishop’s message was so inspiring and affirming.

 

I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself.  I grew up in Chorleywood in Hertfordshire and after being a bit of a rebel as a teenager came to believe in Jesus for myself through the local C of E church.  I then went to university and travelled in Asia for a couple of years ending up with a mission group in India distributing Christian literature in remote villages in Bihar.  It was that experience that later led me to work with the tribal people in Sindh in Pakistan.

 

In 1976 my parents moved down to Budleigh Salterton and I became a teacher at a school in Shropshire.  I only stayed 2 years there and then spent a year on a Kibbutz in Israel and studied for one year at All Nations Christian College in Hertfordshire.  A fellow student was Joanna but at that stage we did not even think of starting a relationship.  I thought she was too good for me!

 

I joined a missionary society called BMMF then – now known as Interserve – and went at the end of 1982 overland to Sindh, Pakistan.  It was a wonderful time to be there – safe and we were free to go anywhere and talk to anyone.  One of the favourite topics of conversation wherever I went was faith in God.  I studied the Sindhi language and spent time in the villages with people from a Hindu background who had become Christians and were often ostracised by their relatives.  Their lives were tough enough with the endemic poverty of life as bonded labourers and yet they had a joy and willingness to share which I found overwhelming.

 

Joanna arrived in Pakistan as I was getting to the end of language study and eventually we decided to get married.  In the Pakistani culture there is no opportunity for a couple to get to know each other properly but we came back in England were married in September 1985. 

 

The next June Daniel was born.  For his birth we travelled up to the Bach Mission Hospital a few miles north of Abbottabad (recently in the news!) and when he was 8 days old took the bus from Abbottabad to Murree - a scary all day drive over the mountains with endless hairpin bends.   Each time the horn blared Daniel jerked his little body in shock!

 

Daniel loved growing up in Pakistan – the carefree life with sunshine almost every day.  We spent the next five years developing a Christian village on some church land and installed solar power for the houses and tried farming and building fish ponds as well as ministering in the scattered Christian communities in an area of southern Sindh roughly the size of East Devon.  It was during that time that the local Bishop decided to ordain me into the Church of Pakistan.

 

Then at the end of 1991 I became seriously ill and eventually was diagnosed as having diabetes.  By then we had three sons and decided we needed to come back to Britain and lived initially in Leamington Spa. 

 

It was not easy to know what I should do next but God opened a door for me to study at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford and get my ordination recognised in England.  We were miraculously provided with a house to live in and spent two happy years getting readjusted to life in England and having our daughter Susanna.  Then I did a curacy in St Andrews, Ilford and in 1998 became vicar of St Paul’s Church, Hainault – a church built in 1951 on an estate right on the edge of North East London.

 

It was a demanding yet rewarding time for us in a vibrant and forward-looking church community.  However after 12 years I was beginning to feel the need for a change and so I took the unusual step of resigning my position and moved down to my mother’s house in Budleigh Salterton.

 

It was tough at first as we didn’t have jobs and on top of that I was told by doctor not to drive until I became more aware of when my blood sugar levels were low.  That took nearly 4 months!  Now looking back we can see how God has used these months for good and opened the door to a new ministry among all the churches in the White Cross Mission Community.  I look forward to getting to know you and finding where I can best fit in.

 

Christopher Cant


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