With 140 countries represented and over 700 languages spoken, Atlanta serves as an ideal classroom for intercultural ministry preparation. In this diverse environment, the Encompass’ Engage 5 training was born.
At Engage 5, small groups of people who are preparing to serve cross-culturally come to Atlanta for five weeks to work through an intensive training course focused on the skills that are essential for effective intercultural ministry. The training is led by a team with years of ministry experience in a wide range of religious, ethnic, and socio-economic contexts. These leaders include Kent and Becky Good, Ted and Kaylin Offutt, and Gary and Linda McCaman.
In Atlanta, trainees can not only learn the theory of missions, but also put the principles into practice. Because the unique location offers access to wide variety of people groups, a person can be placed among the very people he or she will be serving overseas. Before ever leaving America, trainees can get a tangible taste of what they will experience in another country. This sharpens cultural understanding and helps trainees develop valuable relational skills.
Engage 5 is named, not for its five-week duration, but for the five topics that are engaged throughout the course: being discipled, making disciples, cross-cultural acumen, team dynamics, and the importance of language. During training, the team lives together in the Engage 5 house, participates in hands-on activities, and works alongside existing cross-cultural ministries.
In the evenings, the Engage 5 team visits the Mercer University campus or the nearby suburb of Clarkston for practical experience. Clarkston has been called the most ethnically diverse square mile in the U.S. and is a primary relocation site for refugees. Mercer University is host to many students from around the world. Both provide an excellent opportunity for the trainees to engage different cultures.
Since the move to Atlanta, 54 people have gone through Engage 5 training and are now serving all around the globe. The Engage 5 leadership team hopes that the course will continue to grow stronger, partnering with more ministries to diversify the practical experience and reaching out to more venues that will provide more cross-cultural encounters.
Praise God with us for this exciting way to prepare his people for his mission, and pray for the Engage 5 team as they continue to develop the course to maximum effectiveness.