This month, Helen Harwood interviews new CMS intern, and sometime student, Isaac Frisby.
Isaac, you are our (relatively) new intern for one year at CMS. Can you tell us something about the position you have taken at CMS and why you chose to come and work with us?
I chose to work for CMS to gain an insight into the mechanics of mission. By that I mean I want to understand the process, the sort of people involved, and the variation in approach taken by different organisations. Why CMS? Completely by Chance (as I sometimes call God), having never heard of CMS and not being an Anglican by background. The underlying reason to all this is that I myself feel called to mission, and how better to get involved than to work for an organisation whose lifeblood is missionary activity? As for my position, I am but the humble intern (processing applications, handling paperwork, organising databases and interviews, and ensuring everything is up-do-date and kept moving).
Could you give us a bit of a picture of where you have come from, study and work before joining CMS?
Before CMS I’ve been in full-time education since I was four years old. Having completed my undergraduate degree at Lampeter, I moved onto an MA in Biblical Studies (a shedload of Greek and Hebrew) at King’s College, London. Indeed I was still putting the finishing touches on my dissertation when I began this internship. In addition to education I have had a number of part-time jobs, including one at Tesco, another as a hall warden at my first university, which was great fun as it involved testing the fire alarms at 6am and persuading students that archery with steel arrowheads wasn’t appropriate on university property.
We are very much a community here but of course we usually all belong to our communities of faith. Can you tell us something about your church life?
My church life is an interesting and eclectic picture (if I do say so myself). My mother is (or at least was raised) Roman Catholic, and my father belongs to the Church of Christ, a Restorationist denomination. As a child and early teen I attended my father’s church, an experience that sent me dashing gleefully into atheism aged 16 through doing A-Level Philosophy. After my first year as an undergraduate I became a Christian, having reflected and eventually prayed and through prayer having gained understanding. I asked my father to baptise me on the Friday that I decided to become a Christian and on the Sunday we went down to the river, my mother witnessing, and I was baptised. Since then my church attendance has been a mixed bag of St Peter’s Anglican Church Lampeter, Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral, and the Elim Church in my home town. To make things even more interesting I share much of my personal theology (developed independently through reading the Bible) with Eastern Orthodoxy, unlike many of my contemporaries who are more Reformed. I do not say I’m ‘non-denominational’ as that isn’t quite right; I’m ‘inter-denominational’ in that I am comfortable in almost any theological setting, it completely depends on the community and whether the Spirit is there.
You are able to join students for various modules, would you tell us what you have engaged with and learnt so far from your time of joining the CMS modules?
I’m currently doing the MA version of the Mission and Ecclesiology module led by Cathy Ross. I chose this one because ecclesiology has been distinctly lacking in my theological development, especially in a missional context. As it is part of the Pioneer programme it is a good introduction to the world of Pioneering, which I had never even heard of until I started working for CMS. I’m also doing some of the training modules (separate from Pioneer) run specifically for CMS mission partners. The first was ‘Reading the Bible in a Global Perspective’ in which we learned to appreciate the differing interpretations that are presented by alternative cultural voices. The second is ‘Bible and Mission’ which centres around the landmark book The Mission of God by Christopher JH Wright. Going beyond Heilsgeschichte (Salvation-History) Wright seeks to interpret the Bible from a ‘missional perspective’. So far I’m convinced, but we shall see.
What do you hope to learn from pioneering and incorporate into your own walk?
I hope to see mission from a less traditional perspective, the traditional understanding having never sat well with me. Reaching out to people is a struggle for me as I never know what to say, how to say it, or how not to be Christianese, without losing authenticity. From pioneering I seek to understand how God comes alive everywhere, not just within the believer and the traditional vocabulary.
Do you know what the future holds?
The two things that God is drawing me to is mission and further study. I hope to go on to do a PhD, although I think another MA may be between me and that. As for Mission, India has always been in my mind. I do not want to go to India, as the stories from my parents who travelled there were horrific, including all the classics such as the smell, ‘Delhi belly’, and the shockingly hot food. Despite this, India has continued to nag at my mind, especially the incredible poverty and the mistreatment of those seemingly inferior, which I wish to engage with. I won’t change the world, but I may make some lives better.
How can we pray for you?
Pray for wisdom for me, for me to see the right path, and to always submit my own will to God’s.