We found love in a helping place
No, we don’t advertise ‘falling in love’ as part of Action Teams, the BMS World Mission Christian gap year, but sometimes it happens
“Love is patient, love is kind…” I would keep going, but I think most of us know that Bible verse, right? You know, the lovely words from 1 Corinthians that tell us all about love. It’s the popular passage that you’ve probably heard at a friend’s wedding or maybe even have had read at your own. It’s that one quote that seems to stick in your head, the one many use as the ultimate definition of love.… And that’s a lot of pressure on one passage.
Might we add a few more words to describe love?
Sometimes love makes you laugh. Never in Hannah James’ wildest dreams did she expect to fall in love with the boy who drove her crazy (and not in a good way) during her Action Team year in Kolkata in 2013/14.
Nick Drury was (and is) his name. Early on, Hannah discovered just how different they were. Hannah was loud, extroverted and organised, while Nick was quiet, introverted and not a planner.
“We really got on each other’s nerves,” says Hannah. “We would have heated debates all the time!”
Their clashing personalities caused some frustrations as they worked together, but there were also moments that brought them closer.
One particular instance was when Nick got very ill in Kolkata. When he finally went to the hospital, the doctors said that he wasn’t allowed to go home unless there was someone who could take care of him.
“I don’t know why, but I volunteered to look after him,” says Hannah. “There was something in me that really wanted to care for him.”
That helped their relationship grow, but they never became a couple in Kolkata – which is good, because that’s totally against BMS rules. It was coincidence that finally brought them together three months after their Action Team year when they met up at the Christian festival Momentum.
Shortly after seeing each other at the festival, Nick decided to call Hannah to tell her that he had feelings for her.
“It was so weird, but it felt really right,” says Hannah. “All I could see was Nick’s godliness and the things I really loved about him. I try to understand it, but the only thing I can think is that it was God.”
Thanks to their Action Team-inspired romance, Hannah and Nick will be getting married in October 2017.
Sometimes love takes you by surprise. Josh and Rosie Benn have found this to be true as their Action Team love story has unfolded.
In fact, Josh and Rosie weren’t on the same Action Team or even the same Action Team year! They first met at Josh’s home church when Rosie was on a tour of UK churches with her Trinidad Action Team in 2004/5.
“Josh was so keen when I first met him,” says Rosie. “And I didn’t fancy him because he had this big, terrible curly hair.”
Even though there was no romance at the beginning, their initial encounter did lead Josh to do an Action Team with BMS in Ecuador in 2006/7.
Josh and Rosie had little contact while he was away, but Josh randomly decided to reach out to Rosie when he got back from Ecuador. They found out that they would be studying at the same university in the coming year.
Both were relieved to know a familiar face going into a big year, but there was still no romance.
“We became firm friends within our first couple days at uni,” says Josh. “One thing that I think helped was that we both kind of knew where the other was at spiritually because we’d both done an Action Team.”
Their similar sense of humour and interests led them to become best friends during their first year studying. “People used to joke that we were going to get married someday,” says Rosie. “But we didn’t see it at all, there’s no way we thought that would ever happen.”
But God apparently had other plans. The relationship developed into something much more than friendship and by the end of their second year at uni they got engaged.
Sometimes love begins as a secret. Although Ben and Lydia had feelings for each other early on during their Action Team year in Trinidad in 2005, they decided not to tell anyone.
Only a couple weeks into the year, Ben felt there could be something between them. “I was having feelings for Lydia,” says Ben. “The problem was that I didn’t know what to do with them.”
But, Ben had an idea: he would contact his ‘BMS Action Team angel’. The angels were set up for all of the Action Teamers prior to the start of their year so that each team member would have an anonymous person to encourage them and provide them support during their time overseas.
Ben decided that this was his best option, so he sent an email to his angel confessing his feelings for Lydia. Little did Ben know, his angel was closer than he thought.
One day while sitting in an internet café with Lydia, Ben watched as she flew backwards off her chair as she was reading something on her screen.
You guessed it! Lydia was Ben’s angel and it turns out Ben had unwittingly told her exactly how he felt.
Fortunately for Ben, those feelings were mutual. Although they were excited, they decided it was best to wait to pursue a relationship until their Action Team was over.
It was a challenge, but they made it through the year as friends. They held tight to their promise and began dating the day after their Action Team tour was over. Three years later they were married, and Ben became Short-Term Programmes Co-ordinator in charge of our Action Team programme. The rest is history.
“Doing an Action Team has definitely had an impact on us as a couple,” says Ben. “We’re very conscious of the idea of trying to use our lives together to honour God and for his kingdom.”
The passage in 1 Corinthians may not say that love is funny, unexpected and quiet, but it seems to be the way that God has used love in the stories of these former Action Teamers.
God works in mysterious ways, and when it comes to love that seems to be especially true.
Words: Hailey Brenden
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.