In turbulent times, God is working out his agenda to add to his church, people from every nation, tribe, ethnicity and language on earth (Rev.7:9). Iranians of a Muslim family background are finding their way to Christ in unprecedented numbers. What’s more, they are also attaching to local churches. It’s vital that existing congregations respond well – here’s why.
Chair: So the next item on the agenda is Christine’s return on home assignment for nine months.
Ron: I expect she is going to have to go round all her supporting churches raising support for her next term and we won’t see much of her.
Chair: Well actually we will have her exclusively with us for five months.
Carole: That is a long holiday!
Bill: I expect she will want to be active in the church for some of the time.
Missionaries are an odd bunch; they talk about exotic places, they swap stories about suffering from strange diseases, they speak foreign languages and they are often rather out of touch with life in the UK. It’s good to have them around, to listen to their encouraging and heartwarming stories, but all too often, what they say is out of touch with the reality of being a Christian in twenty-first century Britain.
OK; that’s a caricature; I know that and you know that, but like all caricatures, it carries a grain of truth.
However, I believe that the skills and experience of cross-cultural missionaries are crucial to the future of the church in the UK, let me explain.
At a day event for the Interserve supporter-network, Paul Hardingham the minister at St. Peter’s church in Halliwell, Bolton, gave a terrific Bible focus from Matthew 9:35-38. Here’s a shortened rendering of that text:
35 Jesus went through towns and villages teaching, proclaiming the good news and healing. 36 …the crowds [provoked] compassion on him, because they were harassed and helpless. 37…he said “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest…to send workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9)
A central role for any sending church is prayer for those they send. J.O. Fraser, missionary to China in the early part of the 20th century*, learnt much about prayer while bringing the gospel to the Lisu people. He came to realize the vital part that the prayers of those back in the UK had to play in seeing fruit in his labours. To his main prayer support team he wrote,
“I am not asking you just to give ‘help’ in prayer as a sort of side line, but I am trying to roll the main responsibility of this prayer warfare on you. I want you to take the burden of these people upon your shoulders. I want you to wrestle with God for them.”
It may seem obvious to say it – but – we only have one life to live and one chance to invest it.
I have been spectacularly bad at discerning how to do this wisely. For instance, as a son of an economic migrant, my first attempt was to invest myself in my identity as a member of an ethnic minority; my second attempt was into becoming a Counter-tenor in an Oxbridge college choir followed by a choral career; when that idea flopped my third attempt was into education and to become one of Britain’s earliest black head teachers; my fourth and final attempt was in the direction of Anglican ordination as one of the earlier non-Caucasian intake.
Britain sustained three home-grown terrorist attacks in 3 months. While the nation reeled the inferno at Grenfell Tower happened; the majority of victims were Muslim. Yet the Bible insists that even in despair God gives ‘treasure in darkness’ as a sign of the Kingdom breaking in. The media marvelled but couldn’t quite explain the impromptu solidarity – here’s some evidence of it.
This is the first of a series of blogs from Phil Prior on the Global Connections event “A Passion for Mission”, which took place on the 8th June 2017 at All Souls, Langham Place.
The theme was “God’s Mission in a Time of Transition. What is the role of the UK in mission today in a world that has changed so much and continues to change?”Read more
Passion for Mission Speaker 2017 Israel Olofinjana writes on the concept of “reverse mission”, which is becoming more and more relevant for the church today.
If you live in an urban part of the UK, you have probably noticed the many African, Latin American, Caribbean and Asian churches and Christians in Britain. Perhaps you’ve wondered why all these people are coming and starting churches in the UK?
One popular phrase used to describe this activity is ‘reverse mission’, but what is reverse mission, and why is it a controversial term?Read more
18 years ago, I began my journey into HR and member care in a mission organisation in Nepal. I thought it would be a walk in the park compared to HR in the NHS. Surely there would be no workplace disputes or team issues?! How wrong I was. However, I’m clearly not the only one who recognises that conflict is alive and causing dysfunction in mission today, given the full house at the recent GC Member Care Forum which looked at ‘Differences and Disagreements’.