Ana and Richard Selby have never really thought of themselves as missionaries.
Ana is a former chief executive of an NHS trust, while Richard has taught in a special needs school. As mature Christians, they know a bit about global mission, but had never considered that path themselves.
God, however, had a different plan so they are now about to set up home in Germany and begin gospel work with refugees and migrants.
Ana began her career as a nurse and, since retiring from the NHS, has worked for SIM UK, offering health advice to our mission workers.
She says: “Meeting the missionaries opened my eyes to what might be possible. I saw how God was using people and the gifts he had given them in a really tangible way.
“Then SIM launched the #HowWillTheyHear campaign and it resonated with me. That was partly due to my own family history, because my father was a refugee from the old Yugoslavia in the Second World War and I also have a cousin who was a refugee from the Balkans conflict in the 1980s.
“The television pictures of people walking across Europe to find safety really struck a chord. with me.”
From there, Ana and Richard began their first tentative steps into mission. They discussed it with colleagues at SIM and then went on a fact-finding trip to Germany at the end of 2017.
Ana said: “I’m someone who likes structure and order, which is one of the reasons Germany appealed. We knew whatever was going on would be well-organised.
“We looked at a few ministries, before settling on Heidelberg, where we’ll be working through the Mosaik Church and reaching out to migrants and refugees.”
Mosaik (pastor Murat Yulafci, with his wife Luise, is pictured top right) has been working with migrants since 2015, forming friendships through an international café and building teams to work among specific people groups.
Ana and Richard, who are sent by West Road Church, Bury St Edmunds, will join that work and hope to offer English classes as they try to engage with different people groups.
Ana said: “We are very open to God’s leading about exactly what our ministry will look like. I have medical training and Richard has worked with special needs children so it may be we can use those skills.
“Many refugees are keen to learn English because they know that could help them find work in the future.
“We could also help children with their homework, or run after-school clubs. We will trust God to take care of what we’ll be doing.”
The church’s vision is to build ethnic groups of believers within the German church. There may be worship services with Middle Eastern songs, language and culture but the migrants will very much be part of the whole church.
Ana and Richard (pictured above with a church Bible study group) spoke very little German and have been taking language lessons, although many of their German colleagues and the migrants speak at least some English.
The couple, who are leaving grown-up daughter Kate in the UK, have committed to stay in Germany for two years and are now house-hunting in Heidelberg.
Ana said: “We feel God has led us to this decision so we are quite calm about it. It is wonderful to realise that people of our age and our stage of life can still be used in mission.
“We pray we will be of use to him and that many migrants and refugees will come to know Jesus through what we do.”
For many refugees in Heidelberg to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.
For Ana and Richard to settle in and have clear guidance from God about how best to serve.
That the German church would continue to welcome refugees with open and loving arms.