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One of our missionary families has recently moved from Mayotte on the Indian Ocean islands to Cardiff. Here they explain why.
Why Cardiff? We have been asked this question frequently – by supporters, friends and family, as well as people in Cardiff itself. We usually answer that the nations Jesus spoke of in Matthew 28:19 are not geopolitical nations, but ethnic people groups (ethne) and Cardiff is home to a significant community from the Horn of Africa, as well as smaller communities from countries like Sudan. We were concerned about our girls’ education overseas and about parents’ declining health back in Europe. Coming to Cardiff has allowed us to address both of those concerns and to continue with our ministry passion – to see unreached African people groups reached with the good news of Jesus.
The word ‘diaspora’ means the dispersion, or spread, of any people from their original homeland. The causes for this are varied. The majority are asylum seekers and refugees, fleeing war, famine and religious persecution. According to the facts and figures on the British Red Cross website, the UK received 38,500 asylum applications in 2016 (compared to 587,346 in Germany). Estimates say there are 22 million refugees worldwide, over half of whom have fled Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. There are an estimated 119,000 refugees in the UK, plus undocumented immigrants.
Economic migrants, students and professionals have also moved to improve their financial and/or educational status. The diaspora includes people long settled in their adopted countries. The UK is blessed with large communities from around the world, including Africa, most notably from the Horn of Africa.
Whatever the reason for diaspora people coming to the UK, the Bible tells us that God “determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him,” (Acts 17:26-27). What an opportunity diaspora work represents – to tell the good news to people whom God has brought to our doorstep, often from hard to reach nations.
Many people have observed that it must be ‘nice’ to be back home. Cardiff is not home though – at least not yet. We are not from Cardiff and didn’t know anybody here when we arrived! The UK is a different place to the UK Simon left twenty years ago. At times it has been slightly bewildering. How to find somewhere to live? How to find the most appropriate school for the girls, all three of whom have never been taught in English before? We have been immensely blessed though to plug straight into a church here, a church with strong historic AIM connections and where we have been so warmly received.
What is the ministry vision for Cardiff? We will be involved in outreach to diaspora communities here, focusing on those communities originating from Africa. The task is so great, though, that outreach cannot be the exclusive domain of the ‘ministry professional.’ AIM would like to see the local church mobilised for outreach through the formation of church based teams. These teams will follow a training curriculum designed specifically for this kind of ministry. We long to see heads, hands and hearts better prepared so we can serve our unreached diaspora neighbours.