How can we share God’s love without imposing our beliefs on others?

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(Photo: Getty/iStock)

According to the UN, more than two out of three people worldwide are expected to live in urban areas by 2050. Cities are rapidly increasing in size and number, both in the UK and beyond, providing a unique melting pot of cultures, ages and beliefs. Cities offer us the opportunity to meet the world without ever needing to get on a plane or cross a border.

As the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism put it: “Cities are of crucial importance for the human future and for world mission. ) the most isolated peoples who migrated (iii) the shapers of culture (iv) the poorest of the poor.”

With so many people in such a small area, cities can also bring large amounts of social deprivation. This means a growing need for Christians to show and share God’s love for their people.

The world has changed a lot since 1950, and one of the biggest challenges Christians face today is: how can we share our faith without imposing our beliefs on others?

A changing society

In the past, Christians have enjoyed much common ground with their non-Christian counterparts – including on authority, sexuality, truth, the place and relevance of the Bible, and the right to all be exterior to tell us how to live, to name but a few. But these same foundations are no longer shared today.

In the past, people grew up with a shared knowledge of who was responsible, what the rules were, and an understanding of when they broke them. Today, that has been replaced with “cancel culture”, “fake news”, and “personal truth”.

Today, many in the UK are questioning the accepted basis for an agreed set of national rules – and perhaps even the need for rules – with much fear or rebuke to come out and share their thoughts. It is the culture in which God has called us to share his love.

The growing differences between the groups and the decreasing number of conversations between them created nervousness in our Great Commission. But it is our explicit and exciting mandate to share God’s love with all nations. So how can we tell other people about Jesus without risking being offended?

REACH: the city

Hardly anywhere is this current culture more evident than in Birmingham, in part because it is one of Europe’s youngest and most diverse cities in terms of population, aided by the gracious acceptance of the city of refugees as well as immigrants. This is where REACH: The City (REACH) is based.

REACH is an initiative run by the Christian charity Operation Mobilization that aims to help Christians experience cross-cultural community and ministry. REACH helps equip Christians to share God’s love with their local communities who have not heard it and to establish vibrant communities of followers among nations.

Through REACH, I learned that effective mission and Christian outreach must be long-term, showing the love of Jesus to our friends and those around us through our words and actions over an extended period. Being gracious and loving is unlikely to offend anyone, and for Christians who want to make a real difference in the world and in people’s lives, patience is now more than a virtue. We can plant the seed, but it is God who gives it growth.

Anyone can share their faith

It is thanks to this that anyone can share their faith. We don’t need to have a specific sense of direction, have the best theology, be a specific age, or go to an exotic foreign country. God has given us all the skills and personalities that He can use through us, and REACH is about helping each follower discover their skills and find their place with God, whether in their locality or abroad.

I was terrified of going to Africa for the first time, but I quickly learned the joy of encountering other cultures and learning new languages. When I was in a Bible school in Guinea, working with students in training for cross-cultural ministry in a Muslim-majority country, I was struck by the realization that the gospel needs to be reframed to respond effectively to different cultural norms. . Jesus broke through social and religious norms to spend time with the Samaritan woman, who was considered an enemy by many Jews at the time, and we must follow his example.

My life was changed by my time at REACH, and I developed a thirst to do even more mission, both locally and abroad, and to continue to have more conversations with people about Jesus. . I made new friendships across cultures, was able to safely explore what it means to me to be a follower of Jesus, and received training from experienced missionaries. I have learned to share God’s love for people through my volunteering in a way that has led to positive conversations about Jesus, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with a new generation of students.

If you want to register for REACH: The City, go to https://www.uk.om.org/reach-uk

Arthur Magahy is responsible for the REACH: The City program. He is an ordained Baptist minister with 14 years in local church ministry who, along with his wife Nicky, joined BMS World Mission for 15 years to train pastors in Guinea, Uganda and the UK for overseas service in some of the world’s least evangelized states. Arthur and Nicky – who specialized in understanding Islam and relations with Muslims – then joined OM to lead REACH: The City.

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