‘A Helen-shaped hole’
Helen Cobbald writes about her journey into serving with Wycliffe:
When I was 15, God turned my world upside down by giving me the first part of the puzzle that has led me to where I am now – he told me I’d be going to Africa. My three passions in life are God, music and maths.
As a teenager, I’d decided that God would be my king and friend, music would be my hobby, and that I would be a mathematician, or if that failed, a maths teacher. As God changed my plans, the idea of teaching stuck.
After school, I spent six months teaching in northern Ghana with Serving in Mission (SIM), where I discovered that I was not meant to be a teacher in the traditional sense. It was a great experience, but teaching in a school drained my energy. Instead, it was teaching about God that gave me life.
‘It’s beautiful, that moment when their eyes glisten and they discover something that gives them joy or hope.’
For my second gap year, I worked in what is now my home church, Duke Street in Sutton Coldfield, as a children’s and youth intern. Here I discovered my passion for truth and seeing people come to understand what was previously uncertain or hidden from them. It’s beautiful, that moment when their eyes glisten and something makes sense, or they discover something that gives them joy or hope. Through this internship, God started showing me that he had more in store.
And so God led me to All Nations Christian College, where he taught me so much – both academically and beyond the books. Here, music and God’s truth merged. I started to discover that, through using local art forms and other means to engage with his word, God is revealed and people are reunited with their Father.
‘I long to see people discover who they are in God, and to be free to express that.’
Visiting the South African Wycliffe office in 2016, I found a ‘Helen-shaped hole’, where everything that makes me me can be used to bring God’s word to people, and I heard a resounding ‘Yes’ from God. So now, I’m training. I’m preparing to go back to South Africa, to work with people groups in southern Africa to inspire true engagement with God’s word. I long to see people free to know God and engage with his truth. I long to see people discover who they are in God, and to be free to express that. And finally, I dream that the Bible will be made accessible to all, and, where relevant, that it would be put to music.
Helen’s pastor Joel Woodier writes about what having Helen join Wycliffe means for Duke Street Church:
‘We are her support team, spurring her on, standing on the sidelines praying, watching, encouraging, cheering!’
Helen is a vibrant part of our church and has been for years; she is loved by the young people, connected to students near and far and treasured by everyone else too. We’ve shared together over the years as her heart and excitement has grown, making regular mission trips and attending courses around the world.
We are her support team, spurring her on, standing on the sidelines praying, watching, encouraging, cheering! Like the annual Wimbledon buzz at local tennis courts, the impact for our church is that Helen joining Wycliffe makes us want to get mission-fit too. We’re exercising again, stretching old muscles and getting ready to run alongside her, albeit on different continents.
We want Helen to be our storyteller, a window into other parts of the world, another culture, showing us the need for the gospel in people’s lives and inspiring us how engagement with the Bible is a key solution. Stories that make us pause for thought: we already have the Bible in our language, and so, what are we doing with it?
Follow the link below to read the next part of Helen’s story, or click here to watch the video of her first steps serving God with Wycliffe in South Africa.