Posted by bms_editor at 09:45 on 23rd September 2010
MRS CAROLYN MARGARET GREEN (1950 – 2007)
CONGO (1979 – 1991) and TUNISIA (2002 – 2007)
Carolyn Green (nee McCallum) was born 31 October 1950 in Edinburgh, the only child of Donald (later Sir Donald) and Barbara McCallum. Carolyn spent her early years in Edinburgh and was baptised there in 1960. Carolyn met her husband at St Andrew’s University and they were married 14 July 1972 and had three sons, Andrew (1974), Barnabas (1976) and Jonathan (1978) who sadly died at the age of ten weeks.
Carolyn and her husband moved to Leeds in 1975 and joined South Parade Baptist Church. Their individual sense of call to cross-cultural mission crystallised during this time and, with two little boys aged five and three years, they joined the Baptist Missionary Society in 1979, studied French in Brussels, and in 1980 moved to Zaire, now D R Congo.
They were first in Pimu Hospital for 16 months, in the Upper Congo River region, then moved to the Evangelical Medical Institute (IME) in Kimpese in Lower River and the hospital which was to be Carolyn’s place of service for the next ten years. There was little by way of normality in those days with the regular influx of refugees from the war in neighbouring Angola. In 1986 they wrote in the Missionary Herald, “we’ve seen shrapnel wounds and firearm wounds and old women so frightened that they stand dumbstruck when someone offers them clothes or a kilo of beans.”
In addition to other work, Carolyn took over the running of the guest house at Kimpese. There are descriptions by Carolyn of daily gatherings around the big table in the guest house, singing Kikongo hymns, and praying for the day’s work and witness. These were hard days but good days – tears and laughter – time for strangers, time for colleagues and time for the family.
1991 though brought chaos and anarchy to Zaire. Describing an intense five-week period, Carolyn wrote, “I would not wish that time on anyone,” but also said, “During these last five weeks… we experienced many wonderful things. God seemed very close to us and the scriptures jumped into life. In the midst if fear, and it was truly frightening, we experienced a sense of calm.”
But along with many other colleagues, late 1991 meant a homecoming to BMS for the family. Returning from Zaire, Carolyn immersed herself fully in the life and work of South Parade. As elder for mission, the wider world and cultural diversity were high on her agenda, and were promoted as she served day to day, worshipping, praying and leading. She found time to complete a degree in law and was a key member of the team who were to rejuvenate, under God, the Baptist congregation at Cragg Hill, part of the South Parade Baptist Church network. They led, they nurtured and inspired others into a thriving worshipping community, rejoicing in the gifts and spiritual growth of others.
Carolyn joined the ministry team as Buildings Manager in 1999. She confounded the dullness of the job title, making a unique, strategic and visionary contribution which was to change the life of the church. She oversaw the buildings project in the main centre in Headingley, transforming the use of the premises. She oversaw and developed the staff team and the office. In all this, her ultimate purpose was to draw people towards God and into a relationship with him.
During these years Carolyn was to continue also to make an impact through her continuing relationship with BMS World Mission. One of her most prominent roles was to be appointed the first woman President of BMS in 1996. At one of her early Presidential Tour events – At the Cutting Edge – Carolyn talked about mission with a freshness and a passion that led the new BMS General Director Alistair Brown to comment, “I’d never heard anyone talk about mission like that before. ‘Mission is brilliant! To see God changing lives, it’s brilliant!’ said Carolyn. I couldn’t argue, and by the end of the evening, no one else did either.”
No sooner was her year as President over but she was made Chairman of the BMS Board. This wasn’t always an easy time for Carolyn but she knew how to persevere, and within a few years BMS had a new constitution, new corporate identity, a new training centre, many new mission personnel, and a new heart and self-belief fit for the 21st century.
Carolyn and her husband never lost that missionary heart or their love for the wider world, and so it was that a new calling, to the people of Tunisia, was gradually discerned. Rejoining BMS, and with her husband in the role of General Director of a partner organisation, Carolyn shared in the leadership task from their arrival in January 2002.
Carolyn returned to the UK in the summer of 2007 for surgery, tragically and unexpectedly to die a few days later on 26 July 2007. Carolyn was buried in Edinburgh, and a day later, at a thanksgiving service for her life in South Parade Baptist Church, Leeds, many hundreds gathered in a packed church to thank God for the privilege of knowing Carolyn Green.