Juliet and David Fletcher write: Greetings from Aston, with new leaders and a new type of community!
David: For the last 22 years, we have been working with the Church Mission Society (CMS): first for fifteen years in Peshawar, Pakistan, where I was principal of a boys’ secondary school, then from 1998 at Crowther Hall in Birmingham, CMS’s training college.
Juliet: I trained as a nurse in New Zealand, and went with NZCMS to Pakistan, where David and I met. When we moved to Crowther Hall, it took me quite a long time to adjust and to find a new sense of direction in my life. Gradually, various opportunities opened up and in 2002 I began teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) in an Asian area of Birmingham. Recently I completed my Diploma in Pastoral Counselling, and work as a volunteer counsellor at St. Martin’s in the Bullring.
David: We moved across the city to Aston last September. We needed accommodation, as 121 is not large enough for the five of us as well as Sandra and Karen; so we moved into 215 Albert Road, which is available till June. It’s a large house, and close to 121; a good base from which to get started, and to look for another suitable house to rent (your prayers would be appreciated).
Juliet: Our children got used to the different environment remarkably quickly. Stephanie (19) is now in Malawi for three months as part of her gap year, Chris (17) is studying hard for A Levels, and Catherine (13), who has special needs, is taken by taxi every day to her school, leaving at 7.25am!
David: When we started, I was offered a part-time job with Aston parish church, as Community Ministries Development Worker ― not the snappiest title! This has helped me to find out more about Aston, and about the work which is being done in the community by different churches, as I seek funding for a variety of projects and activities.
Juliet: We have felt warmly welcomed by Lee Abbey supporters, by Sandra and Karen, and by people in this neighbourhood, and are very happy here. For a long time I have felt drawn to the idea of living in community as an authentic way of living out Christian discipleship, though I know it is not the ‘soft option’! I regard each experience of life as an opportunity to meet and know God in a new place, and Aston is indeed such a place.
We are working together to develop living as a community of two households. This has meant changes for Sandra and Karen as well as ourselves, and we are glad for their willingness to engage in this process. We have established a regular pattern of sharing worship and meals, and are looking at different ways of deepening our relationships with God, each other and ourselves. Please pray for us as we continue to do this.