Meet Christoph, our new Outreach Officer
Welcome Christoph Auckland, Senior Outreach Officer, who is leading the outreach work of our Diocesan vision, Where Faith Matters.
If I asked you what your favourite passage of the Bible was, what would you say? I was asked this very question recently and two immediately sprung to mind, two that have stuck with me since school – Matthew 25.31-46 and Luke 4.18-19.
Matthew 25.31-46 in particular has shaped my life in a profound way, not least because we seemed to sing ‘When I Needed a Neighbour’ more at school then any other song.
On reflection, it’s no wonder that my heart for mission has driven me from such a young age.
For the last five years I had the pleasure of leading Bible Society’s programme of community and social engagement, working with and transforming communities across Wales and England, in particular working with marginalised communities and within prisons. I’ve been focused over the last three years on working with churches in urban contexts, particularly in London, to support communities with their mental and spiritual wellbeing, especially those that who have experienced high levels of knife crime and trauma.
This project used the Biblical narrative to explore God’s closeness to those that suffer, unleashed the transformative power of lament, and positioned the scriptures as a compass on a journey toward a place of peace.
Even before that, this sense of mission echoed through my professional life, whether supporting long term unemployed people into sustainable employment and training as a careers advisor, or working with social housing tenants to build a sense of community and empowering them to take pride and ownership of their local area.
That is the conviction I’m excited to bring to the Diocese of Llandaff. Afterall, what is our faith if not this conviction to make lives better?
What is the Bible if not a challenge to bring about the Kingdom here and now, in Llandaff, in Wales?
The image in Matthew 25.37-39 of the righteous throwing their hands in their air and saying “when did you need help and we didn’t give it to you” is surprisingly contemporary, as is Jesus’ timeless response, “just as you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me.” This serves as a constant reminder, and a constant challenge for me personally and for the church. As St. Teresa of Avila famously said –
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours…yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”
Which brings us to Luke 4.18-19, that other verse that’s stuck with me since school. Jesus is quoting the Old Testament here, specifically Isaiah 58 and 61. That’s particularly important because Isaiah 58 isn’t prophesying what God will do, here Isaiah is calling on the Judeans at the time to treat each other justly, to be the difference in the lives of their neighbours.
This is the challenge we’re called to, as a church and as individuals. It’s not easy, life can be messy.
It certainly hasn’t been an easy journey for me, I lost both my parents and my brother before I was 30 and my amazing son, Arthur, has an exceptionally rare genetic condition which comes with a whole host of complications and difficulties. But I find prayer immensely helpful to refocus, recharge and renew my sense of mission within the mess of life.
And often I turn to a prayer of St Cuthbert from the Northumbria Community, a prayer I offer to the Diocese of Llandaff as I join you to change lives and transform communities together here in Wales:
In the true faith may we remain;
in Jesus may we find hope;
against exploration of the poor may we help;
against our faults may we fight,
our bad habits abandon;
the name of our neighbour may we defend;
in the work of mercy may we advance;
those in misery may we help;
every danger of sin may we avoid;
in holy charity may we grow strong;
in the well of grace in confession may we wash;
may we deserve the help of the saints,
the friendship of our brother Cuthbert win.