As SOMA International approaches the midpoint of its fifth decade the world has changed enormously since Michael Harper and friends started roving the world under the SOMA banner to encourage Anglican bishops and clergy, bring renewal ministry, and initiate and inspire evangelism, wherever they could.

‘Sharing of Ministry Abroad’ had a clear, prophetic calling emanating from the 1978, Lambeth conference, where a pre-meeting saw a breakout of Holy Spirit, revival power among senior Anglican clerics. Their mission, above all, was to tend to the nervous system of the body of Christ. They were go to places that were hurting, places that were forgotten, and key places like Singapore that could connect others areas together, and make sure the body of Christ was functioning properly, empowered by the spirit and grounded in biblical truth and evangelistic fervour.

In 2022 several national directors converged on Singapore to see for themselves how wonderfully complete that impact had been.

Singapore is a missionary diocese who has drunk deeply of the well of Spirit-filled, word based mission and now has deaneries which are whole nations near to it such as Nepal and Cambodia. Many of these are ready or nearly ready to become missionary dioceses of their own and it was a delight to see the role that SOMA International can play in continuing to support these provinces towards a similar spirit filled, word based DNA. I met an American missionary here in Kigali who first got filled with the spirit in Singapore when Michael Harper prayed for him there. He has since welcomed Soma teams to nations he has served all over Africa. Others tell me what an impact Michael Green had on them in Southeast Asia bringing similar ministry. Singapore has got to the point where they have become a far stronger province than the ‘mother church’ that ‘Shared Our Michael’s Abroad’ in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

What has been clear here is that there are many other provinces with increasing strength and vitality, carrying ministries and anointing which already are and will continue to be a blessing to other parts of the world, including, praise God, the West.

In the 1980s when some of the provinces were still less than 100 years old, it was easy for both them and those from the older provinces to think of them as children of the mother church. But children grow up. And tragically also, sometimes the aging grow doddery.

Those who were once thought of as children have come of age, and as happens in many families these vibrant adults find themselves in a position to make decisions about their aging relatives. Fortunately, in African cultures, they are much more honouring of the elderly than we tend to be in the west. They want to pay their respects T those from the mother church you gave their lives proclaiming that Jesus died and rose and who planted seeds of the gospel that have now led to more than 500 million Christians living on the continent of Africa. They still long to receive ministry from abroad and be connected to their Anglican family worldwide. They are beginning to discover that sharing will be increasingly necessary to flow both ways.

And so we sit with Archbishop Justin Badi Arama for five hours as an international board yesterday and look forward to five more hours today. We’re inspired by him, equipped by him, envisioned by him. We’re sitting at his feet now.

Much is emerging from our discussions both as a board of national directors and then with Justin Badi as well about how we can work together as SOMA International going forward – to release renewal ministry and evangelism around the global south, and in the west as well that works in the 2020s and beyond, in the age of the internet, and an age where the mother churches needs their grown up children more than ever. I’ll write a second blog on that later today before we head off on a long-awaited mission to Shyogwe diocese where many SOMA teams (including SOMA Canada) have been before.

Our Shyogwe team has members with an age range of over 70 years!
At the conference leading us to the right people at the right time. Here we meet with Archbishop Justin at just the right time to set up instructions for our board meeting.
The SOMA USA national director Kyle waiting on the Lord’s direction.
Bishop Bill – a huge privilege to meet this giant of a man who told me he is only a bishop now because of SOMA.
Former SOMA Chair Rt Revd Ben Kwashi brought a SOMA vibe to the entire conference, but took time to encourage as well.
New friends from Uganda, who are meeting with our Soma UK patron Rt Revd David Williams today, who is on his way to DRC Congo for the consecration of Bishop Martin the new Bishop of Goma. Bishop Cranmer requested we bring a young team to their diocese in South West Uganda, which would be a natural link up for one of the discipleship year teams.
Bishop Data of South Sudan meets SOMA National Directors. We got to talk to Archbishop Samuel Peni and Archbishop, Justin Badi about how SOMA South Sudan might form and we’re hoping Bishop Data might be a key part of that along with his friend Bishop Joseph Aba.
Meeting Deepak providentially. It seems there are an abundance of opportunities in India that SOMA may be able to help with informally building on our contact with a new Bishop Abraham Elavatta who we met last year in England.
Fr Richard Rolles, who was filled with the spirit when Michael Harper prayed for him in Singapore, meets some of our SOMA Uganda friends. He meets with Bishop Nason who is due to receive a SOMA discipleship year team in 2024, and is also inviting Henry from SOMA to join him on a mission in November where they will try and reach 1.2 million people.