The Chief Executive of the Mothers’ Union, Bev Jullien, reflects on two recent news stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and reflects on how that maxim applies to members of the Mothers’ Union.
At a time when, living in England, we are hearing so much discord – whether it be nationally in the political debate around Brexit, or globally between President Trump and his NATO and European allies, this past week has been brightened by two very different, but real, beacons of light – the rescue, against all the odds, of the Thai Schoolboys and their coach from a cave, and the performance of the English football team at the World Cup.
The cave rescue seemed like a real miracle – it should not have been possible, but as the rescue team leader said, “It only needed one small spark of hope”. Hope, and the determination not to abandon the children (“I would hope any of you would do the same for someone else’s child”), linked with a phenomenal coming together of people with the right skills globally, nationally and locally, to do whatever it took, fuelled by that spark of hope, to complete the rescue, even, for one individual, at the cost of his own life. These are ordinary people coming together to achieve something quite extraordinary.
Equally remarkable and uplifting, albeit on a very different scale, have been both the performance of the English team and the response of people and media to it. For those (like me!) who are not soccer-holics, this was a team for whom the expectations were very low, having to perform against a background of serial under-performance of past teams linked to blistering criticism in the press, with a manager who many believed was not world-class material.
They came across as “ordinary” and modest, but their manager engendered a strong team spirit, encouraging each to draw the best from one another, and an “anchored” approach, progressing one game at a time. We as a people got behind them, and when they lost in the semi-final to Croatia, instead of the usual tirades of critical analysis, the comments were overwhelmingly positive, celebrating how far they had come, what a great approach they had taken, and how they had helped unite a nation behind them and created hope for the future.
For me, these are both great examples of the ability of apparently ordinary people to do quite extraordinary things, united for a common cause. In Mothers’ Union, we are in the middle of a journey of refreshment with the membership right across the world. We are a diverse movement living in over 80 countries, and are asking ourselves, what is our common calling?
What would our founder, a radical in her time, inspired by her deep faith, be expecting us to be and do, if she walked in today? Who should we be reaching out to?
We are already discovering that members everywhere have much in common – their deep faith and a calling to support families, the vulnerable, those who are judged and stigmatised. Members are touching the lives of over three-quarters of a million people each year, quietly doing what is needed, where it is needed, one life at a time.
My hope and my prayer is that, through listening to one another, as a community of over four million, we will be strengthened in our faith and common calling, energised anew to reach out and speak out with a common purpose, remembering that “with God, all things are possible.”