Nine participants from within the CWM community of churches, colleges and ecumenical partners explored migration and human trafficking issues in the 2017 Face to Face Programme held from 5 June to 16 July 2017.

With a shared migrant country context, the theological students from South Africa, Jamaica, Kiribas, Madagascar, Zambia, South Korea, Philippines and India brought with them diverse stories, experiences and perspectives to engage meaningfully, grow spiritually and broaden their knowledge through placements in communities who experience trafficking.

Hosted by CWM Europe Region and the United Reformed Church, the CWM values of “unity in diversity” and “generosity in spirit” emerged from the students as they practiced hospitality and inter-dependence in group settings and later, in pairs mostly when they were sent out for placements.

“Culture is an aspect of human existence that comes with its challenges, which if not properly handled can create division… What beauty it is that a human society can come together in unity but also agree to be diverse. The Face to Face Programme cuts across these many different wonderful participants’ cultures and also creates a platform where each of these culture present are esteemed. Unity that embraces diversity, where each one is able to feel ‘the welcome’, ‘the Wamkelekile’, ‘the Waiseni’, ‘the Wha a gwan’, ‘the Tonga soa’, ‘mabuhay’ and ‘the swagat’.

Face to Face affirms that we can be united and still embrace our own cultures; promoting sameness yet accepting difference in the articulation of one’s faith in facing the realities, issues and theologies around human trafficking and migrant issues,” said Samuel Phiri from Zambia.

Worship and Bible Study

Integral to the Face to Face Programme was worship and bible studies, as residential weeks began and ended each day with worship.  The morning bible studies provided an opportunity to engage with the themes of migration and trafficking, as they drew on stories of migration and trafficking in the Bible as well as resources from contemporary writers and victims who have reflected on their experiences.

Their bible study leaders included staff from Queens Foundation where the residential weeks were held, Dr Eve Parker, Professor Anthony Reddie, Dr Kerry Scarlett, Revd Dr Dobos Agoston, Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, Revd John Proctor, Revd Wayne Hawkins and Dr Rachel Starr.

Participants engaged with CWM’s mission statement, “Mission in the context of the empire”, migration throughout the Bible, contemporary stories of people’s experiences through the Children’s Society, Churches Refugee Network, Salvation Army and various sources.

The programme included presentations on the nature and scope of migration; human trafficking and what to look for; theological reflection and how to bring experience, information and practice together in theological reflection, and workshops to help participants prepare their presentations such as creative writing, interviewing techniques.

“The diversity surely will enrich and expand the programme conversation that hopefully and eventually will translate and bear fruit in each of their ministries, churches and communities,” concluded Joseph San Jose from the Philippines.

This article was put together with the input from Revd Wayne Hawkins and the participants. 

Council for World Mission (CWM) is a partnership of churches in mission, enabling and equipping the church with ideas and resources to engage in mission where they are. CWM has worked with partners from the United Reformed Church and the Protestant Church in the Netherlands to produce “Free to Be Freeing” resources available for local church congregations. Click here for the link: