A Sense of Calling

Earlier this year Helen Cain took part in a visit to the Holy Land organised as part of the work of Global Relationships and the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem.  Her encounters there have sparked a sense of calling, which she writes about below:

In November 2022, an email popped into my inbox asking for interest in a study tour to Israel and Palestine. I was just hovering over the delete button with the familiar words forming in my head “too costly, can’t justify the expense….” when I saw “Financial help available in certain circumstances”. I stopped in my tracks and read further. Why not enquire?

Two months later, with the help of the Global relationship team I found myself setting off for a tour of the Holy Land. This journey was to open a door that I believed had been firmly closed shut several years earlier.

The trip was a 12-day study tour; following in the footsteps of Jesus and encountering people who were struggling amidst the difficult political situation. Jesus was alive there in the places we went, in the struggles and stories we encountered.

Every day we would travel together in the minibus, often a few hours at a time. This gave opportunities for discussions on what we had seen and heard, comparing notes, and sharing bits and pieces from our own lives. We were a mixed bunch; some like me, were lay members of the church and others called to ordained ministry through the diaconal order and presbytery. This added richness to our conversations and through this I felt a part of their lives. I noted that I was fascinated by the conversations around Methodism and the daily lives of those working within the church. I think even then, I sensed a growing keenness to be a part of the work of the church in a more committed way.

On returning home I received an email from one of the party; a presbyter who I had got along with. We had shared stories of our faith and the joys and sorrows we had experienced on the tour. In the email she asked me if I had considered ordained ministry. Although touched by her consideration of me, I dismissed this with a hearty, “oh I’m too old for that”. I thought I had well and truly shut her down however she came back to me and wrote “God needs you” and that I should “at least seriously consider being a Local preacher”.

I had never considered myself a “preacher”, in fact I disliked the term. However, by May I found myself (against my own views) a Local Preacher “on note”. The door had been nudged open and now I was more than curious to venture on. In fact, I was being propelled into new and exciting territory.

 This all happened some months ago and tonight, I meet with my accompanist as I take the first steps towards discerning my call to lay or ordained ministry. The springboard to all this, was certainly my trip to the Holy Land with the Global Relationship section of the Methodist Church of Britain. God had spoken to me through one of his own and through her words had challenged my own resistance and understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3 v.5-6

Helen Cain                                                                                                                    31st August 2023