Help fulfil Jo’s dying MP prayer card vision
Norwich church-goer Colin Grey is appealing to Christians across Norfolk to help him fulfil the dying vision of his wife Joanne, to produce hand-stitched prayer cards for every single MP and member of the House of Lords. Keith Morris reports.
Jo Grey, a developmental studies graduate from UEA, died in January, aged 37, from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 15 months after undergoing a successful kidney transplant from her mother Janice at Addenbrooke's Hospital near Cambridge.
Last August, Jo suffered from leg and back pain and, as a result of poor kidney function, was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for treatment and non-Hodgkin lymphoma was diagnosed following an MRI scan. After treatment, Jo was able to return home briefly for Christmas Day but died in hospital on January 17.
The couple attended New Hope Christian Centre in Lakenham, Norwich, where Jo's memorial service was held on February 9.
Five years ago, Jo was reading David Stern's Complete Jewish Bible and came across a verse in Proverbs 10:9 which reads: "He who walks purely walks securely, but he who walks in crooked ways will be found out."
It was about the time of the MPs' expenses scandal and Jo felt God give her a vision to send prayer cards with the first part of the verse - He who walks purely walks securely - on them to every single MP and member of the House of Lords. There are currently around 650 MPs and 790 Lords.
In 2009, Jo wrote down her vision. She wrote: "It was the first part of the verse that caught my attention, and as I read it, the Lord dropped into my Spirit a very simple cross stitch design with the idea to turn it into cards to be sent to every member of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It struck me that this phrase was a fantastic sound bite that could strike a chord with those who would receive it, as modern politics seems to be full of slogans and clever words. The wording for the inside of the cards will read 'May True Wisdom guide you in all that you do'.
"From the time I first received this vision it has been clear that I am to include as many people as possible in it, and therefore am looking for people who will catch this vision, and have the skills and time to get involved in this with me."
Colin, who works as an IT tutor in Norwich, said: "The cards are not meant as a criticism but really are saying to MPs that people are supporting you and praying for you."
Jo was a huge cross-stitch enthusiast and over the last five years she spent literally hundreds of hours carefully stitching 731 cards. For her they were a work of art and of prayer. She was even stitching in hospital just two days before she died.
"Jo felt very strongly that this was a task that God has given her to do and was her way of expressing support for our nation and Parliament and that prayer was vital in this," said Colin.
"The idea is that people pray for the MPs and lords, Parliament and our nation while they are stitching."
And now Colin is appealing for support from anyone who can help complete Jo's legacy and see her vision fulfilled.
"Hundreds of hours of labour and prayer have already gone into them and Jo's greatest wish was that she could complete them herself and it really inspired her," said Colin.
"Her dying wish was that they are all completed and delivered. It would be wonderful if her death could mobilize and inspire a network of people to do something practical and prayerful for our country."
It takes two to three hours to complete each cross-stitch which is then inserted into a pre-printed card holder. One or two of Jo's friends have already taken up the mantle and Call to Prayer in Norwich is supporting the project.
Hilda Gordon, from Call to Prayer, who also helps to run an all-party Parliamentary prayer group in the House of Commons, has offered to help get the cards distributed once they are complete.
"I will write a letter to accompany the cards saying who Jo was, how she battled with her illnesses and the purpose of the cards," said Colin.
I don't know how I could have coped and supported Jo without my Christian faith," he said. "I think I may have just given up. My faith and the support of my friends from church and Christian groups has been a real strength to me.
"Jo's faith and belief helped her in her physical battles and motivated her to continue stitching the prayer cards right up until she died."
If you want to support Colin and get involved with the effort to finish the cards and see them delivered then you can find out more at call2prayer.co.uk/ppcards/ or email Colin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured top, Colin and Jo Grey and, above, one of the cross-stitched prayer cards.