“Mining the riches” – interview with Hayley Humphries

Hayley Humphries
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I talked to Hayley Humphreys, first year MA student, about her spiritual influences and how studying with CMS is impacting her life and work.

HELEN HARWOOD: Hayley, what first drew you to CMS and study with us?

HAYLEY HUMPHREYS: Whilst I’m personally involved in mission in my local area I also work with other churches and help them think through mission and community engagement too. The pioneer slant and fresh approach to mission that the CMS course offered caught my eye and I love how we are encouraged to get our practice and the theology talking.

Can you tell me a bit about how you became a pioneer? I know you became a Christian in a church that was very missional and community-minded, and you seem to have taken the great commission very seriously – being willing to go and willing to stay put! Please tell me more.

I was influenced by friends who took the gospel seriously. People who prayed, “Wherever you will send me, God, I will go.” One of those friends was a nurse working in a township in South Africa with HIV orphans. I went to visit her and that hugely impacted my faith and desire to live wholehearted and to pray that prayer myself.

I was an IT engineer and doing some occasional church youth work and I felt God calling me to do some formal theological and youth work training. After that, I went to work with young people in the youth justice service and felt called to carrying on some community mission engagement through our local churches after Soul in the City.

I was an IT engineer working at Buckingham palace in a previous life. I joke how I used to work for the Queen; now I work for the King!

You told me: “…the course so far has been like an unravelling process.” I believe it is helping you “…unlearn what I thought I knew about being a leader and doing mission.” You also said, “I love being on the learning journey and sharing it with other pioneers.” You’re going to need to unpack that for me, please!

You think you know a little bit about leadership and mission but truth is you don’t (or I don’t!). The thing I’m wanting to commit to more and more is being a lifelong learner. Everything is up for grabs and there are new and fresh models and approaches to leadership and mission all the time. It’s about mining the riches and considering about how these new ways of thinking can impact our mission and community involvement and ways of being church.

Can you tell me a bit about what you were doing in the community before lockdown?

Before lockdown, I was working as a debt centre manager attached to a church, visiting clients in their home. With a great team of volunteers, we would host various seeker friendly events as a bridge for those we were connecting with and their families in order to get to know them better and in order to share Jesus’ love with them.

And how are you coping with lockdown spiritually and how is study on the MA informing your work?

Initially, in lockdown, I headed off on a sprint, we set up pedal pastors (visiting by bicycle) and did gate visits, visiting the vulnerable and isolated. We’re doing food and medical drops, church online videos and facilitating zoom bereavement groups. I had to learn the hard way: this time has been a marathon, not a sprint and, as runners will know, you need to pace yourself!

I’m still doing debt help online – we’ve moved to phone appointments – plus the MA course and home-schooling young ones. So, a bit of juggling but I’ve slowed down (a bit). I have been enjoying some Celtic prayer and have loved the Lectio365 app developed by 24/7 prayer. I love how it starts “As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-centre my scattered senses upon the presence of God.” It enables me to refuel and it refreshes me, then I can go about the rest of my day/life.

My spiritual director is great. She helps me reflect, asks good questions and pulls out any common threads of themes from what we talk about. It’s not the same on zoom but I will take what I can get!

During COVID our team have been supporting many who have experienced loss. In order to understand bereavement and grief a bit more, during my MA studies in anthropology, I spent some time observing how people use the space at the cemetery, noticing any patterns of behaviour and rituals and thinking about implications for mission.

Lastly, Hayley, how can we pray for you?

That we can best support those who we are journeying with, some are vulnerable and have complex needs compounded by the COVID pandemic.

Also, that I would be able to juggle things in this season.

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ANVIL journal of theology and mission

Volume 37 issue 2 is out now. The theme is mission and shame, with articles by Sally Nash, Carlton Turner, Judith Rossall, Linda Fletcher, Trevor Withers and Catherine Matlock.

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