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Serving the Diaspora Church

By Amy Durrant
  • Church |
  • Community |
  • Medical |
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    I can’t now remember how I first met a South Asian female pastor in my area. It must have been six or seven years ago when we each ran stay-and-play groups in neighbouring parishes. Her group catered almost exclusively for mums who spoke the same mother tongue as her – a refuge from the challenges of making friends and making a way in life in a foreign language. Once, she asked me to use my professional medical background to teach these mums how to respond to a health emergency in their children, after one of their sessions. I was glad to, but it was something of a one-off. 

    Photo by Kamaji Ogino

    In recent years, Interserve GBI has discerned a challenge and call from God to respond to the changing make-up of the UK church, engaging with the perspective of Christians from other cultures forming their own diaspora churches within the UK. I’ve intermittently but intentionally been meeting with my pastor friend at intervals, getting to know her better, seeking to understand her perspective as a diaspora church leader and church planter, and considering how I (and Interserve) can serve churches like hers. Interestingly, her ministry focus has recently moved into a new phase of greater focus on outreach, both locally and through supporting other church planters in her diaspora church network. Due to the diversity in our area, she has found that her own local efforts see her not just connecting with her own people group but with other South Asians too.

    She is currently involved in a large local project aimed at getting people who have high rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity more active. She recently invited me, as a one-off, to her weekly exercise class for ladies over 50, to share a health education message at the end. I was keen to accept. I had seen from our times of conversation over samosa chaat and masala chai that her heart for these ladies, from various South Asian communities, was that they might come to ‘have life, and have it to the full’ through encounter with Jesus Christ. I know she is committed to their wellbeing, inspired by the love of Christ to run this group to see their physical, emotional and spiritual health increase. 

    The session went well, with positive feedback from many ladies. My friend has now asked me if I would commit to a monthly visit throughout 2024 – extending the time together after the exercise class with a brief health message and opportunity for discussion. My friend takes every opportunity she is afforded to share gospel values and truths in the group and 1-2-1 with these ladies. We’ve agreed dates for 2024, and after a decade of primarily relating to young families in my community, I find myself involved with the other end of the age range!

    I believe that this is part of responding to the call we discerned as an Interserve community several years ago, to serve diaspora churches in the UK. I hope I can support and facilitate my passionate & gifted South Asian friend and church planter, with her very much taking the lead. I’m grateful for the opportunity to support her evangelistic efforts, to respond to the circumstances the Lord has put before me with the skills and expertise he has given me, and to partner in the gospel with a new co-worker and friend. 

    Jenny is a practising GP and Interserve Partner serving her local community in a multicultural UK city.

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    Your prayers make a difference! Thank you for praying to see transformation in the lives and communities of Asia & the Arab World.

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