God on the phone

I wonder how often God has phoned you up?Outside St. Peter's Mfula, Easter Cape SA

Back in 2001/2 as our son started school my husband and I started praying about how my time would be appropriately filled in the coming years in such a way that I would be able to continue available to his needs, and to those of my secondary school teacher husband. Returning to the leisure industry where I had been prior to motherhood seemed inappropriate since the busy times in that sector are during school holidays!

Nothing much happened for about six months, despite pushing a few doors including an inquiry about a paid post as my local Mothers’ Union Diocesan Secretary, which came to nothing, not surprising since I knew very little about the organisation.

Then on the Feast of the Epiphany 2002 (I remember the exact day due to the installation service of our new Associate Vicar) I received a phone call from the Diocesan President of Mothers’ Union who had received my name as someone who might have the skills appropriate to developing a Diocesan newsletter.

I had an immediate sense that whatever my lack of knowledge of the organisation I should investigate this further, and agreed to meet some Trustees and a mutual contact who professionally edited the newspaper of a neighboring Anglican diocese. When I came off the phone, house guests asked who it was, and my reply was this:

“I’m not sure, but I think it was God on the phone.” Completely blind to the consequences I was absolutely certain this was the answer to prayer I had been looking for. They rest, as they say, was history!

Within weeks I was editing my first ‘Archway’ for Mothers’ Union in the Diocese of Winchester, and convinced of the organisations’ value in mission and ministry among families all over the world, and in how it’s aims fitted with the importance my husband and I place on family and our Christian faith. Within months I was first a member, then a Diocesan Commissioned Speaker and seeking to overcome some of the organisations rather poor historical stereotypes. In 2004 I became a General Trustee for the Diocese.

My journey with God and the Mothers’ Union has taken me to two prisons, one in Winchester (where I occassionally speak on behalf of Mothers’ Union in a small chapel) and one in Kampala, Uganda. It has taken me to appreciate the fantastic work of the MU ‘Family Holiday’ scheme in our own Diocese and across the UK, and the MU Family Life Programme which I was also able to visit in Uganda. I’ve met all sorts of people from all over the world who are a fantastic witness to how God can change lives radically, and I’ve even driven with my family across washed out bedrock roads in the hills of the Eastern Cape (South Africa) to visit a tiny community called Mfula and it’s Mothers’ Union members.

All these Mothers’ Union activities played a large part in developing what I understood to be a calling to preach and teach, and led to me training for and being licensed as a Reader in 2009. Thing is I was a round peg in a square hole, and it turns out that actually God had called me to the priesthood! Sadly this meant that to a large extent I lay down my Mothers’ Union commitments in 2012 to enable further training, but both my husband and I remain members and promote Mothers’ Union wherever we have an opportunity.


  1. Dear Rachel (Is it?)
    My name is Pamela Armstrong and I am a member of the Mothers’ Union and the Church of St. Nicholas and St Mary in Wilton, near Salisbury.
    As an ex- South African, I read your page with interest, especially as our branch of the MU has South Africa as their ‘country’ of choice and study this year. I was in the Cape visiting my daughter in Gordons’ Bay earlier this month and had had good intentions of making contact with a group there and seeing which projects they were involved in. However, it did not come to anything. So it is with excitement that I saw you had been out to Mfuli in the Eastern Cape and am very keen to hear more about that as and when you can fill in, please.
    As a group, we are most keen to find out more about the work of the MU in S.A. ( Especially some first-hand encounters)
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Kindest regards, Pam


    • Pam,
      That’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years, and not quite got round to it. Thanks for spuring me on… I might even have time to do it in the very near future! I love Wilton and visit Salisbury regularly to see my spiritual director, so I might even be able to work out a visit sometime!


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