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Exciting, Tough & Transforming: Spending a year in community

Community Member Cathrine Ngangira looks back at a year of transformation

CathrineWhen I left home to be a residential member of the Community of St Anselm at Lambeth Palace, saying goodbye was hard not because I was going far away from home, but, I didn’t know how to explain what I was getting myself into. Committing to prayer, study and service to poor communities was not a problem especially coming from a Christian family, but, being a monk (though part time) with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience was not a cool thing to do.


When I signed up to join the community, I had preconceived ideas of what spending a year in God’s time might look like: spending hours fasting and praying, reading and studying the bible. Looking back now, we’ve done all that and have got even more than what I signed up for.

I began the year with a desire to know God’s will for my life.  I expected it to be easy going, but it turned out to be exciting, tough and transforming.

The first step was to trust God fully, which he taught me to do through sharing about myself expecting no reply or comment in return and listening to the stories of others and not commenting (maybe at a later date if necessary). This vulnerability with each other built trust that created friendships. It was a point of realising how God sometimes deals with us: listen as we speak, and comment where necessary and how we ought to listen – seeking not to reply but to understand.

Reconciliation became the order of the day renewed each morning with a choice to love and expressed through honest conversations, confessions, writing, accompanied with tears, hugs and smiles after experiencing forgiveness and mercy. The pain of reconciling with the past is nothing compared to the peace and joy of the healing made.

This year’s experience is better compared to the refining process that gold goes through under fire, the impurities are removed and best quality gold remains. We’ve been under fire, we’ve been refined and made ready for God’s purpose, with great value to God’s kingdom and his creation.

“Life isn’t easier. It’s better though.”

NonResident Member Graham, who works in local government finance, reflects on a year in the Community in this member guest blog post. 

A year ago I applied to be a part time monk. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

What is important to you in life? I knew God was important to me, but in the busyness of life, priorities ebb and flow, situations change.

So I applied, went through the questions, the writing, the interview. I was offered a place, and then had to decide: do I want this?

A ‘part time monk’ is an interesting commitment. Pray every day. Read the bible every day.
Meet up in Lambeth once a week. Give up three weeks of annual leave. Serve the poor. Give some of your money away.
Spend your time serving others.
Don’t work so much; give up on your career a little to spend some time with God.

So in September I found myself nervously nibbling canapés in a palace talking to bishops and wondering why on earth I was there.
In October my preconceptions of Christian traditions were confounded.
In November friendships were forged and deepened; bonds formed.
In December I realised giving up my phone for an hour a day could help me connect with God.
In January I experienced a week of silence. In the silence God spoke, not audibly, but clearly.
In February we prayed for unity across the church.
In March we reflected on our working lives and asked “what does God want to do through my life?”
In April we celebrated Easter.
In May we heard sad news. We prayed. We mourned.

Now it’s June and we fear the goodbyes we might have to say.
I don’t want it to end.
I keep telling myself it’s not the end, it’s a new beginning.

Life isn’t easier. It is better though.
I’ve spent “a year in God’s time” and next year will look different. But…
God is still the same.
The global church is bigger and better than I ever realised.
I acknowledge the power of sitting on my own in a quiet room and just praying.
And the fun of singing and shouting and dancing (and praying!) with friends.
And to the nervous man who 10 months ago nibbled on canapés I whisper: “don’t worry, it’s gonna be great”.

Applications for NonResident Membership 2017  – for people who live and work around London and the South East – are open until the end of July. Apply now

Blogpost picture for Graham's post

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