It is always a huge blessing and encouragement for Claire Robinson when she receives a parcel from her home church — 5,000 miles away in Northern Ireland.
“It’s normally a shoebox filled with all sorts of little things — from seasonings for chicken; toiletries; notebooks; a new t-shirt and coffee,” says Claire.
The thoughtful gifts are sent by Glenabbey Church in County Antrim, which has been teacher Claire’s prayer partner since she first went to Zambia with Serving In Mission on a short-term placement nearly 10 years ago.
Often, her parcels also include stickers for the pupils at Mukinge Hill Academy, where Claire has been headteacher since 2016, but it is her prayer group’s support that Claire is most grateful for. “It’s invaluable and I can’t work in this ministry without it,” she insists.
Every month, Claire’s prayer group takes it in turns to meet in each other’s homes and call her via WhatsApp to hear her news, before praying together.
As one member reveals: “Chatting to Claire directly allows us to hear how she is, rather than just reading it. It helps us to feel connected with the work in Zambia and to have good fellowship with Claire.”
The same is true for Claire: “I can hear what’s happening at home and pray for my supporters, which keeps the relationship more two-way and makes it easier for me to integrate when I go home after a longer period of time.
“As well as the prayer support, I also really love the northern Irish banter and being able to speak at full speed in my Ballymoney accent and be understood!
“I also love that when I’m in a challenging or difficult situation, I can send a quick WhatsApp and the group gets praying and members text back to encourage me they’re doing so. That helps me to know that I’m not on my own.”
Give thanks for the 20 members of the prayer group who are true partners in Claire’s ministry.
For wisdom for Claire in the day-to-day leading of the school and for vision for the future.
For God to raise up a local person to be mentored in the role of headteacher at Mukinge Hill Academy.