When I was thinking back recently on what Bob and I had been doing and the Vision of Welcome Network, I was excited and challenged!!!
Psalm 133 says how good it is when brothers dwell together in unity. This is where the anointing is and here the Lord commands His blessing
As well as encouraging and supporting local churches in reaching out to all cultures in their community, Bob and I have also been challenged to find ways to bring together the different churches working in a community. In Harold Hill, for example, there are a growing number of small groups (mainly Black and Pentecostal), meeting in community halls and other venues, who are largely unknown to the more traditional Anglicans, Methodists and Baptists. We have begun to build relationship with some of these groups and are helping to link them in with Joint Prayer Meetings and initiatives across the Havering Borough.
- The Goodnews Church, Harold Hill
I believe that joining together in prayer is very powerful in bringing His Presence and Peace amongst us! Ephesians 2: 14 says it so well! “For He, Himself is our Peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…..”
We are ONE BODY!! One “new man”, as Paul writes (Eph. 2:15), “no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens (black and white), with God’s people and members of God’s household” (Eph. 2: 19).
We have been joined together by God in the Body of Christ, like the husband and wife are joined in marriage. (see Gen. 2:24). And in the same way we need to work at being one!! Paul writes “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought…” 1Cor. 1:10
- Jon and Jo Gore in Leadership at Dayspring Church Canterbury.
Just as a good marriage requires both partners to put in some effort at learning to love one another, the same is true across the cultures! Often, in a marriage, the husband and wife are very different personalities. Instead of trying to change your partner to be more like you, love grows when you learn to appreciate, respect and honour one another for who you are, and build on the things you have in common, especially your love for Jesus! More and more Bob and I are seeing the link between our Relationships Teaching and our work in Multicultural Ministry!!
- A wonderful Family Church, Rhema Covenant Ministries.
Honouring one another across the cultures means focussing on the gold in that cultural group. For example as English families we can learn a great deal from our African brothers about respecting the elderly and taking care of the wider family. Whereas we English may be able to teach other cultures the value of perseverance and keeping going (the British Bulldog), and making the most of the time we have in our day (good time keeping).
Our Motto for Welcome Network, “Reaching out and welcoming one another in the Love of God” is taken from Romans 15 verse 7.“Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you in order to bring praise to God.“(NIV)
You may have noticed that there are a lot of “one another” verses quoted here! The acceptance, the serving, the loving needs to be two way. In other words, both cultural groups need to work at at it! In a marriage, if only one partner is trying to make the marriage work it is an uphill struggle. But if both partners are committed to improving their relationship, even if it takes a lot of time and effort, success is much more likely!! As black congregations, white ones, and all other colours, we need to make an effort to accept and embrace one another- e.g Have you thought about inviting a black /white neighbour or workmate home for a meal? A Nigerian family (Mum, Dad and 3 boys) recently came to our house. We were surprised when they told us that it was the first time they had been invited as a family to an English person’s home! They had been living here for at least 6 years!
- Ephesians 2:15,16
In Ephesians 2, Paul talks about how Jesus made peace between Jews and Gentiles, reconciling both of them to God through the Cross.If we are going to cross the cultural barriers we will also have to die! I really identify with Paul when he talks about opening wide his heart to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 6:11-13). We can feel very vulnerable as we begin to share our lives with those from another culture. How will they ever understand us, or us, them? But I know for myself that when I did open up culturally, many years ago in our church in Canterbury, in obedience to God, I found, to my joy, a friendship much deeper than I had expected.
Let’s make a start by crossing our comfort zones to reach out to one another! We can be the bridge; we can be Jesus, and bring peace across the cultures!
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