Nothing has changed in the outside world. It is only your brain’s awareness that is different. The word has always been there; you just haven’t been noticing.
It’s not so different with people.
Just ask the Grace Brethren Church of Calvert County, Maryland, who recently sent a team to Birmingham, England to work for a few weeks alongside Encompass Global Workers Bill and Beckie Kiddoo. Before the trip, the team read books on cross-cultural ministry and completed Encompass’s Mobilizing the Mobilizers training, but they still felt shock when they arrived in Birmingham.
The city of Birmingham is one of the most diverse communities in England with a host of internationals and refugees and a wide array of active religions. One of the most prominent of these is Islam. The team saw the Muslim community alive in the city. Old cathedrals had been turned into mosques, and billboards displayed Islamic advertisements. During their stay, the team met with many Muslim people and learned from them what it is like to be a foreigner in a Western country.
They met one Muslim woman who came up to them with a big smile on her face. She could tell that they were Christians.
The woman said to them, “I love going to church. It is amazing there.”
The team was surprised because it was evident that the woman was a Muslim. They asked her if she meant mosque instead of church, but the woman replied, “No, I mean Christian Church. I love going there because it is the only place I feel true peace.”
The team asked her why she didn’t become a Christian believer if church was the only place she felt peace. Her response opened their eyes to something they had not considered before.
“Oh, I could never do that to my family,” she said. “It would be very dishonorable for me to become a Christian. I could never bring that kind of shame down on them.”
Before that moment, the team had never fully realized the cost for a Muslim to become Christian.
After several weeks of working with internationals and visiting their places of worship, the team returned to the States with brand new insights and with their eyes set on ministering to the international and refugee communities in their area. They have been amazed to see how many open doors were right there, though they had never seen them before. Lead Pastor Dario Agnolutto, a member of the Birmingham team, says, “We looked at all the opportunities around us when we returned and we knew that our seeing was not accidental.”
The Birmingham experience ignited a passion for the global Church in the hearts of the team members. This passion has caused the GBC of Calvert Community to reshape its participation in missions. For years the church had taken the traditional route of supporting missionaries through financial assistance alone, but now they know they can do more. Not only are they reaching out to internationals where they live, they plan to send more teams to gain global perspective from their partner missionaries, so that they can better serve them and the local communities in the States.
Currently, the GBC of Calvert County is looking for a Pastor of Outreach & Assimilation to help with their new global vision. A person who is passionate about reaching those outside the church with the Gospel—whether it’s across the street or around the globe—would be the perfect fit. In addition, this person would help those new to the church to become a part of the community life, so they can be equipped, empowered, and encouraged to go out and share the Good News with everyone.