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25 January 2017

Family Ties – Partnership in the Gospel

Ali surveyed the sweet counter wondering what to send for Jonathan’s birthday. 13 year old Ed suggested, ‘How about Maltesers? They’re light and should travel to Cambodia ok.’

Opening the package Jonathan was amazed. Maltesers were a huge family favourite! Ali and Ed had no idea!

Jonathan and Zoe Norgate were in the process of applying to join the OMF team in Cambodia and had begun inviting folks to become prayer partners. Ali Sayers-Flood knew the Norgates a little but wanted to know more precisely why they were leaving Sheffield, what they would be doing in East Asia and what they expected of prayer partners. So she approached Zoe for more information. A few days later, over lunch in Zoe’s home, Ali’s questions were answered. She came away sensing this family was in for the long haul of ministry. Should she and Andy commit to being prayer partners for the long haul too?

In April 2011, Jonathan and Zoe, along with Max (5), Poppy (3), and Eli (1) were at the week-long training course for candidates, preparing them for moving to Cambodia. During one of the sessions, the team challenged them to pray for a link person or couple in their sending church. When asked who they might approach, Jonathan and Zoe looked at each other and Zoe ventured, ‘Do you think the Sayers-Floods might?’

The Sayers-Floods were surprised to be asked, but the more they prayed the more they sensed God wanted them to say yes. What’s more their teenage sons, Max’s heroes, were also up for it! The Sayers-Floods were keen to make sure this new missionary family would not be ‘out of sight, out of mind’ in their church.

Andy and Ali have incorporated a once every half-term prayer meeting for the Norgates into Christ Church, Fulwood’s busy programme. It starts with coffee and cake, a short devotion and an introduction to the evening’s theme by Andy, including specific prayer for each member of the family. Ali then leads a section covering themes pertinent to mission or Cambodia. These have included marriage in the mission field, home schooling and the plight of trafficked women in Cambodia. Ali trawls the internet and books and together she and Andy distil news into manageable chunks for the group.

They’ve invited speakers along to enrich meetings, including a Cambodian believer living in Sheffield who shared valuable historical background, grandparents bringing first hand news after a holiday, past missionaries explaining particular prayer needs and an OMF Area Mobiliser providing the bigger picture of what God is doing in East Asia.

Ali and Andy are eager to learn about Cambodia and missionary life. Several books have been lent around the group, they also distribute copies of the bi-monthly OMF Cambodia prayer letter and pick up ideas for prayer points from BBC news. Meeting by meeting they share the facts: the group’s knowledge increases, and their compassion for Cambodia grows.

Andy emails notes to the Norgates’ other sending church in Aberdeen and to folks like me around the UK. It is no small time commitment, but through their ministry, they are able to promote informed, regular prayer.

When Poppy had a serious accident the Sayers-Floods alerted the already established email group. 60 church members away on a weekend lifted Poppy to the Lord in prayer. The impromptu prayer meeting the following day gathered over 100 people. Many people prayed fervently and Poppy’s life was spared.

Prayerfully and faithfully Ali and Andy encourage prayer and care for the Norgate family. They count
it a privilege and say their lives have been richly blessed through this partnership. Could you be doing something similar for one of your missionaries?

Janet Chapman
Janet serves as OMF UK TCK Advisor

Originally published as ‘Family Ties’ in OMF UK Billions Magazine Jan – Apr 2014

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