4,956 miles to Dhaka:

introducing the Lynches

On Thursday 26 April, Louise and Peter Lynch fly to Bangladesh with BMS World Mission. Find out why they feel called to mission and what they’ll be up to overseas.

Whether it’s climbing snowy mountains in Scotland or ridiculously long cycle rides, Louise and Peter Lynch are always up for an adventure. And this time round, they’re getting ready for a big one. Having worked as a social worker (Louise) and a pastor (Pete) in the UK for 27 years, they’re leaving this country behind and moving to Dhaka, in Bangladesh. Amidst packing up their belongings and selling their car, they sat down with us to talk about the new venture that they’re embarking on with BMS .

Two people standing behind a green garden backdrop.
Social worker Louise and pastor Peter have two sons, Calum and Jonah.

Alright, we’ll start off with an easy question. How would you describe each other in three words?

Louise: Oh that’s hard! I want to say adventurous, principled, and football-crazy.

Peter: Dynamic, thoughtful, and fun.

Tell us about your decision to move to Bangladesh.

Peter: Since first becoming Christians we’ve always had the sense that God was calling us to work overseas at some point. The last 27 years have been a bit of a surprise in some ways because we’ve been UK-based all of that time. But it came to the point where it felt like change was coming, our family circumstances were changing and it freed us to look at what God might want for the next phase of our lives. So, we began talking with BMS. As the conversation developed there was a growing sense that the skills and experience we have and the needs in Bangladesh were a good fit. We’ve grown into the idea and sensed that this is where God wants us.

Boats in a major river in Dhaka,.
Dhaka is famous for it's rivers, which are vital for the city's transport and trade.

Do you think the skills you’ve gained while working as a social worker and pastor in the UK will be transferable?

Louise: I think so. What’s excited us about Bangladesh is that the role involves the sort of things that we’ve got experience in. It’s going to be difficult because we’re used to working in a UK context, so doing the kind of cultural switch and learning different ways of working will be more challenging. We’re quite heavily reliant on speaking skills, so being able to do that job in Bengali is going to be very challenging.

Peter: What we offer is probably some experience of having been on the road in terms of pastoral ministry, training and community engagement for a number of years, so we’re hoping those skills will transfer and contribute something to a different cultural context.

What exactly will you guys be doing out in Bangladesh?

Peter: The first thing will be to just meet people, to build relationships, to learn the language and try and understand and adapt to the culture. I think in the longer term, the Baptist Sangha – the name of the denomination there – see us having a role in leadership development, helping to train and encourage pastors and community leaders in the different parts of Bangladesh. It’s quite a broad role, but potentially a very exciting and far-reaching one.

Louise: It’s not so directly written into the job scope, but I think very likely some safeguarding training around all the different projects that the churches work with too. We’re trying to really work in partnership so don’t want to predict what we’re going to do too much until we’ve really met the people we’re working with. What we need to do is discuss with the leaders in Bangladesh what they most want and then take it from there.

Map of Bangladesh with an arrow pointing to Dhaka, the capital city.
Louise and Peter will be based in Dhaka, working with Baptist church leaders.

How’s language learning been going so far?

Peter: We’re making a bit of progress. It’s quite enjoyable, but we’ve not really got into the in-depth stuff. So just learning vocab, learning the alphabet, understanding how the script works, those sort of things.

Louise: We can say random words at random times, no sentences yet! We think we’ve learnt the phrase for ‘I don’t understand,’ but we’re not convinced we’ve got the pronunciation right!

Peter: We’ve learnt how to say ‘how are you?’ and ‘what is your name?’, the normal things to begin a conversation.

Louise: Men’s and women’s toilets we’ve got sorted out as well.

What excites you the most when you think about moving to Bangladesh and your role there?

Peter: For me, I think it’s standing alongside Christians there so that all of us can be the people God’s called us to be. We recognise the Church there has challenges and struggles, you need to know their situation, and part of what excites me is just being able to be an encourager and to stand alongside and partner with people so we can be faithful to Jesus in whatever place he puts us. Also, I’m really excited about living in a different culture, learning from the Church in Bangladesh and seeing what following Jesus looks like in a completely different place to what we’re used to.

I’ve been to parts of Asia before and I just loved the colour, the dynamism and the hospitality in those places. I also love all geography and geology stuff, so being in the massive delta and the kind of outwash of the Himalayas, in a bizarre way, quite excites me as well.

I’m really excited about living in a different culture and learning from the Church in Bangladesh.

Woman on a mountain covered in snow, wearing Crampons
Louise loves the outdoors and is always up for a challenge, as you can see from this photo of her up a snowy mountain!

Louise: For me, when I read what the Baptist Sangha writes about their vision for their churches and the schools they run, that they want them to be like beacons and really great places, that excites me. I’d like to be part of something that means when children or adults come to church, meet Christians or go to Christian run schools, that they see something really different about the quality of care and the love they receive. That makes me very excited.

I’m also looking forward to the food, and deep down I’d like to see a tiger. I like exploring so I love new situations – I’m just looking forward to new smells, new sounds, everything.

What are your biggest fears about moving there? What are you most worried about?

Louise: I think in the UK I understand how things work, so I know where to put my energies if things need to change. I think it will be really hard not knowing how things work, and that can leave me feeling really ineffectual and frustrated. So I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge.

Peter: Building good relationships is key to life isn’t it – it’s key to everything we do. I think just doing that cross-culturally, we’re hopeful that that will happen. I think to have good team relationships, to have good relationships with partners and just building good friendships. That’s not a fear or an anxiety, but it’s a recognition of what we need the most to enjoy being there, fulfilled and useful in what we’re doing.

Pray for wisdom and insight about where we settle ourselves.

So what are you going to miss the most about living in the UK? Your two children are at university, aren’t they?

Louise: Yes, thanks for reminding us!

Peter: We’ll miss just being able to see the boys (Calum and Jonah), see Louise’s mum and dad, and we’ll miss good friends that you can just drop in on and share life with. I’m hoping there will be access to various ways of keeping up with sporting events and I’m sure we’ll end up missing food that isn’t spicy, and going for a run. We like exercising and being outside so having some restrictions on what’s appropriate in terms of activity will be a challenge for us.

Man taking a selfie high up in the mountains.
Both Peter and Louise are going to miss the mountains and being outdoors.

Finally, what can people be praying for?

Louise: We would really like to make friends when we arrive in Bangladesh. Being able to meet people and make friends would be really, really important.

Peter: Pray for God’s wisdom in knowing how quickly to do things, or how slowly to do things, and to have the right attitude of being there to serve others and to serve God.

Louise: We’re borrowing a house when we first arrive and then we’ll need to decide where to live. That will be quite an important decision, so we’d like some wisdom. Pray for wisdom and insight about where we settle ourselves.

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Could you be called to mission overseas? We have plenty of opportunities to serve with us.

Posted on: April 25 2018

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