Peter, our UK Diaspora Unit Leader, shares his experience from joining one of our short term diaspora teams:
The Diaspora receiving region of AIM has seen activity in Europe grow since it was launched in June 2016. Last year we had four teams doing outreach among African diaspora peoples in Malta and Spain. These teams started off all together in southern Spain for three intense days of training and orientation from where they set off to their respective locations. They gathered again together at the end for a debriefing session.
It was a major highlight on our first day together to join the local church in Jerez in a baptism service in the Mediterranean Sea where 35 new disciples were baptised in a very public witness. There was much singing, joy and tears as one by one, the new followers of Jesus waded into the water and made a public commitment to live for Christ. Many of these had come from difficult backgrounds but Jesus had given them new hope and life.
After the orientation, each team spent ten days doing outreach in their respective locations. This meant finding ‘people of peace’ on the streets and hearing their stories of how they had got to Europe, after which the team members would share their stories and the greatest story of all – the story of Christ. We take the phrase ‘people of peace’ from Luke 10:6 and use it to refers to those people who are open to hearing the gospel story, and to going and sharing what they have heard with their families and friends. In some instances there were language barriers in communicating with people, but on the whole it was amazing to be able to use a couple of apps on our phones to introduce people to the gospel of Christ. These included clips of the Jesus film in most of the world’s languages. Interest varied from those we met but some definitely showed an eagerness to know more and even yield their lives to Christ. There was also ample time to relax and sample the warm waters and attractions of Malta and Spain especially in the afternoons when life stops as people have their siestas.
These short term teams will be sharing their faith in an intentional way, making connections with African people entering Europe, and seeking to introduce them to Christ. Many people the team meets will come from a Muslim background, and they may be the first Christian they meet. Pray for the people on the teams, that God would use them and give them opportunities to speak of Jesus.