|Date||20 May, 2016|
CultureConnect was established by Interserve Australia in 2007 to partner with local churches in mobilising Australian Christians to reach out with love and the good news of Jesus to their neighbours from Asia and the Arab world. No longer is cross-cultural mission exclusively the domain of theologically trained workers with overseas ministry aspirations. It is accessible to ordinary Christians doing everyday life with those around them. As we extend the hand of friendship to these neighbours, our prayer is that they will encounter the Lord Jesus and grow as His disciples.
So what does a CultureConnect team member look like?
Our paths are many and varied. I began this journey after years of working among migrants in factories in Sydney and seeing how open many of them were to discussing spiritual matters. I was born in Australia. I speak only English. I know nothing of lives endured in countries I’ve never even visited, and yet God opened my eyes to how he could use me to share Jesus with these people whom He loves. I joined CultureConnect in 2011 as a self-supported team member and began reaching out to migrants in south-west Sydney through church-based English as a Second Language (ESL) ministry.
Vivien* was born in South East Asia. She came to Australia for education and trained in health sciences. She first became involved with Interserve as an On Tracker and worked in Nepal for three months. In 2013 she joined CultureConnect and reached out to Hindus in Melbourne. As she still works full-time as physiotherapist, Vivien focuses her involvement on one Indian family that she regularly visits.
Evelyn* worked as a school teacher in NSW before first going to East Asia over 20 years ago. A long-term Interserve partner who is fluent in the local language, Evelyn moved back to Australia in 2015 and is studying Tibetan Buddhism. She is involved in training local Christians and making contacts in her home city’s Buddhist community.
All of us want to see the local church envisioned and equipped to reach out to our Asian and Arab neighbours. All of us want to see these neighbours’ lives transformed through an encounter with Jesus Christ. How might God use these people as their lives are forever changed by him?
My Nepali friends Larry and Simone* and their two children were baptised in Sydney in 2013; the baptismal service was skyped into villages of Nepal. The local church then decided to send a mission team to Nepal. They prayed. They raised money for smokeless stoves. And then they sent Larry and his family back to Nepal where he preached the gospel in his own language, in the villages he and his wife came from. People heard the good news of the Lord Jesus for the very first time, repented and believed.
This is global mission and, as followers of our Lord Jesus, this is what we are called to.
The life of faith is a life of living out our calling – the calling to follow Christ. How will I serve Christ? Who is he calling me to serve? These are questions for every believer.
“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” Ephesians 4:1
Lisa Bateup is the new CultureConnect Director
*Names have been changed.