At the end of 2015, CMMW gathered together 15 pastors and leaders originating from 10 different countries as diverse as South Korea, Puru, Jamaica, Ethiopia and India. All now find themselves living as missionaries in the UK today, some having left their countries of birth with the express purpose of serving God here, while others have found themselves here through various circumstances, including fleeing their countries or coming to study, and it was while they were here that they sensed that God was calling them as missionaries to this place.
The purpose of the CMMW Brunch event was to encourage these pastors and missionaries, providing space to share their stories and discuss together the realities of mission in the UK today.
Girma Bishaw, pastor of the Ethiopian Christian Fellowship in Kings Cross, kindly hosted the event, and opened the event by posing a question to the leaders from the Biblical story of Elijah, a man who asked “why are you here?” That same question can be asked of us today – why are we in Britain? Girma believes it is because of the great agenda of God on our lives, to bless this country. There are people of every nation living in the UK, and the question he encouraged us to ask ourselves is: “Am I making an influence?”
Peter Oyugi, one of the CMMW team, and originally from Kenya, shared the vision of the Centre, which aims to be a hub stimulating networking and partnership. Their main aims are:
1. To encourage and equip those who have come to minister in the UK to continue to live out the gospel here
2. To help the UK, as the host nation, to understand those who are coming (this is needed as we often live out aspects of our Christian faith differently to each other)
3. To provide a forum for publications/writing by those from the majority world who are ministering in the UK, and inspire thinking and a change of attitude in scholarship, as the knowledge and experience of those from the majority world is shared and heard
4. Help equip those coming to minister in the UK to identify good places to do so and to plant churches
Israel Olofinjana, another CMMW team member, from Nigeria, reflected from the book of Esther: we have found ourselves here “for such a time as this”, with God using Christians from the majority world at this time to give birth to a missionary movement of people to the West. Each pastor at the event was given time to share their own story, and describe how God is at work through their ministry in the UK.
The keynote talk, Models of Mission in a Globalised World, was given by Dr Samuel Cueva, and based on his PhD. Samuel is from Peru and pastor of Iglesia Misionera Evangelica, a Spanish-speaking Latin American church in London. He reflected on the various models of mission, describing the new ‘Emergent Model’ which is emerging. This model sees missionaries, often from the global south, coming with little support, and under the influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit rather than coming from a position of power and influence. The model is also often less bureaucratic, more flexible and more relational, with its missionaries having a strong spirituality and confidence in God. However, the individuals often have weak financial support and lack proper training in cross-cultural mission.
Samuel described how God is bringing migrants from the South to the North, mobilising a new mission force. Most are not sent by mission agencies, so when we ask then “who sent you?” they often answer “the Holy Spirit”, and wonder why you are asking such a question!
Sometimes these emergent missionaries come to reach out to people of their own ethnicity in the host nation, and can find problems in reaching out to other groups. Samuel argues that while ministering to those from your own ethnicity is valid, missionaries also need to be open to the culture in which they find themselves, looking out into the wider community rather than being closed or insular. There is also a need to model unity with the Christian community in the host nation.