“Reach Europe, Reach the World”
This phrase is often used by the mobilizers, missionaries, and storytellers among GEM. A phrase I didn’t quite understand until I began experiencing it firsthand.
I would guess 40% of the congregation of the church I’ve been placed at to serve this summer was born in a different country. They all have different reasons for coming to Sunderland but can all unite in one building on Sunday morning.
The faith of these people is encouraging to me, of course, but my prayer is that they would be an encouragement to their families and friends in their home countries.
I think about the woman who helps lead the youth group who moved here from Nigeria a year ago. She’ll tell stories of family members who have been kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorist groups because of their Christian beliefs.
I think about the student attending the University of Sunderland, who moved from China. She explained to me how her parents and grandparents are all believers and attend the underground church in China.
I think about the student in our youth group who moved from the Caribbean when he was young. He has the strongest faith of any young person I’ve met here.
I think of the woman who led prayer last Sunday and started her sentence with, “Who would’ve thought a woman from Jamaica would be praying over a church in England?”
And of course, me. A girl from America who also never thought she’d be reporting back from a church in England.
Each of these individuals has the chance to go back to their home countries with encouragement for their families and fresh wind for the unbelievers all around the world. But there seems to be so much of the world in Sunderland that the gospel hasn’t yet reached.
I think about the Muslim woman I met at the train station who was visiting from Turkey. We got into a conversation about God and church and prayer and bonded over our love for all of those things even though she was referring to her religion and I was thinking of mine.
Through that conversation, she heard the gospel.
I think about the mother who brings her son to the church's toddler group. Her family moved to Sunderland from Afghanistan a few years ago. She must live near the church because I often see her and her son walking nearby. Although, I’ve never seen her in service on a Sunday morning.
I think about the man from South Africa who works in the coffee shop we visit daily. He asks questions about the Bible, and we’re happy to answer them. He says that if he had a Bible, he would read it.
As the Ten2 Project comes to a close, I’ve experienced and been a part of the reaching of Europe and can now understand how that reaches the world.
Lauren Cook is a Ten2 Storyteller with Greater Europe Mission serving in Sunderland, England.