Photo: Your Church in Coffs Harbour
By Naomi Giles,
Sometimes a simple phone call can be God’s way of directing His people to new and unexpected missional opportunities.
Such was the case when Your Church in Coffs Harbour were contacted early in 2020 by support worker Cing from the Myanmar community, who was looking for a church where their community could worship.
Senior Pastor Mark Deutschmann arranged to meet with Cing to discuss their needs and show them around the Your Church facilities.
“Our Elders all agreed we should open our doors to this community. They began meeting in our kids church building the following Sunday,” he said.
When the members of Your Church met the small group of Myanmar Christians for the first time, they decided they would drop any charges for renting the building. It seemed like the right thing to do.
“We got that one wrong!” says Mark, “The Myanmar community wanted to contribute, so they suggested instead of rent they would give a tithe.”
Since then Mark explains they have been growing in their cultural understandings together, with lots of interchange between the two worshipping communities. Although only 3 of the Myanmar group understand English, they have begun to bridge the gap through sharing meals, worship and joining in with each other’s gatherings by using an interpreter (Cing).
“Once Covid restrictions began to ease mid-year Cing asked for help mainly to lead communion or speak in their services, and we even had the joy of helping with a baby dedication,” says Mark.
Christmas was another opportunity for blessing to be shared between the churches. Your Church decorated the building and left gifts for the children, hampers, and gift cards under the tree to be received by the Myanmar community who used the church building for the whole day of celebration.
This year Your Church has also reshaped its children’s outdoor and indoor play spaces in response to the need for the kids of the Myanmar community. Cing shared with Mark that the mothers of their community had struggled to find a safe space for their kids to play due to cultural and language barriers.
A Fresh Hope grant gave them the chance to refresh their equipment and the new playgroup is set to begin next month.
“This has also been noticed by the wider community, with others now enquiring whether they can come and use the space too,” said Mark “It’s another way we can serve our local community and love those that live in our neighbourhood.”
Your Church hope that both worshipping communities will continue to grow together in understanding and partnership, embracing the call the unity in the Spirit. Their
long term aim is to move towards integrating both communities into one.
“I don’t believe that we see the Myanmar people as a mission opportunity to support, they are becoming part of the family,” says Mark.
Read more stories of Fresh Hope HERE.