I think the idea of going to All Nations All Nations alumnus in west Londonwas more frightening to me than moving with my young family to Pakistan. After all, I’d been in the world of work for ten years, and the idea of being back at school, in lectures, doing essays, it all freaked me out a little. But I also knew that I was unprepared to live and minister in a cross-cultural context where Islam was the dominant faith. So to All Nations we went.

And then to Pakistan, for five years of chaos until the government of Pakistan suggested rather forcefully that we should leave, and then another five years trying to share Jesus in a Pakistani, Indian and Somali community in west London. And now for the last few years I’ve also been on the international leadership team of our mission organisation, Interserve.

Over ten years of life and ministry immersed in another culture, where my own faith is a minority, where every day seems like a cross-cultural lesson. And now leading others in the same position, encouraging and supporting people living right across the Middle East and Asia seeking to share Jesus across cultures and religions. I’m still learning, and still making mistakes as my wife will attest.

There was much from my time at All Nations that I still draw on, but two things stand out.

One is the cross-cultural community that it was, and still is. My mission colleagues are from China, India, Korea, the USA and more. As we grapple with what the Bible has to say about modern missions, about issues like the explosion of intercontinental migration, about the growth of missions movements in and from unlikely places, not only are the issues cross-cultural, but the group of us wrestling with those issues is also cross-cultural. All Nations was the first place where I experienced that, and learned approaches and values about how to do that with love and grace. I learned to appreciate the diversity of understanding and culture that our missions community represents during my time at All Nations.

The second was the joy of wrestling with some of these issues with like-minded people who were going to do the same sorts of things that I was. Many are still dear friends today, and we still wrestle with missions challenges together. I learned that we were not alone in our anxieties and fears, not alone in the things that confused us, not alone in the things that excited us and inspired us (even if our home church didn’t quite always understand!).

I couldn’t have learned these things from a textbook, or from distance learning, but only through immersion in the Biblical and cross-cultural community that is All Nations. For that, I will always be thankful. I do wonder about returning for further studies to re-immerse myself in the experience of the place but, if I’m honest, the idea of doing another essay does freak me out a little!

For security reasons David's full name is not given in this article

 

 

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