Beckie and Dave Ward
have spent the last four year in Brazil
with their two sons Gideon
aged 15 and Josiah
17, working for Christian development charity Youth With A Mission
(YWAM) in thef avela – or slum – of Belo Horizonte
Beckie studied art and worked as a teaching assistant in Norfolk before working in Brazil so she used these skills in a local community centre where she worked with children and visited local families. She taught them Bible stories, organised sports and events.
Dave's work focused around adults in the slum, particularly working with drug addicts and alcoholics. His work involved practical tasks such as taking people to hospital and praying with them.
The work in Brazil was exhausting said Beckie and they were at times overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done. During their time away, the family faced language barriers, local riots and continuous requests from people in dire poverty. "So much had been so different for us," she said.
"But in all the fun, difficulties, frustrations, successes, failures, hard work, relaxation, enjoyment and impossibilities, God never changes. He is always good, always faithful, perfect in every way, beyond our understanding and ever present with us through everything."
Now back in Norfolk, living in Dereham
and attending Dereham Baptist Church
, the couple continue working in Christian ministries. Beckie manages the coffee shop at St Stephen's Church
and Dave works for the Congregational Federation
in the Eastern region.
Beckie has been managing the coffee shop since January this year. The majority of the customers are regulars which creates a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. But Beckie is keen to welcome new customers and build up the community. "It's a place that welcomes all people in. People find friends here as well as a cup of coffee," she says.
Beckie says she would like to build stronger links with the community: "The policy of the cafe is eat, drink, pay what you think, which means everybody is welcome, whatever they can afford."
New developments planned include include setting up a craft group where people can bring along a project they are working on or learn a new craft skill from others. Beckie said: "It's about friendship and creativity."
Dave is now the area worker for the Congregational Federation in the East, which comprises 26 independent free churches in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire
Dave responds to whatever needs the churches have, which includes organising events, fundraising and preaching. Dave helps them reach out into their local communities. Before his stint in Brazil, from 2008 - 2012, Dave worked for Youth For Christ
and has a missional outlook on the work he does with a desire to love people and show them Jesus.
Beckie describes coming back to Norfolk as a chance to have a rest and reconnect with friends and family before refocusing to take on new challenges.
Pictured above are Beckie and Dave Ward back in Norfolk.