Can you guess where this is?
Here’s a clue… it isn’t a photo I took in Africa.
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The Old Testament records the fall of the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BC to the Babylonians. Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar forced the Jewish people to live in exile, leaving their homeland. They became a displaced and scattered people known as the first Jewish diaspora.
Today, the term diaspora has come to refer to more than just the scattered Jewish community, but to any community that lives outside their homeland. The displacement sometimes happens by choice – perhaps because of employment, family or the desire to try something new. Other times difficulties in some people’s home areas force them to find refuge in other countries. No matter the reason, diaspora communities can often represent opportunities for God to work because ultimately, He is the one who moves people where He wants them to be.
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OK, back to that photo…
It’s a photo from one of the five church services held every Sunday at New Life Fellowship in…
This is a true international community representing more than 40 nations with services in five different languages! It is a place where God has brought different diaspora communities together. Some come from communities where they developed strong Christian faith.
Others come from countries where Christian faith may not have been permitted, and this community offers them their first chance to hear about Jesus. Together, God has positioned them to be a beacon of hope to a city in Germany.
The founding pastor of New Life has recognized this, and recently said in reference to German missionaries, „Ihr habt der Welt geistlich viel gegeben. Jetzt kommt die Welt hierher“ (“You have given the world a lot spiritually. Now the world comes here “). He said they he sees their church community playing a part in awakening the faith of the country of the Reformation, and encourages people in the church to pray daily for German people they know.
Because people from diaspora communities are already away from home and living cross-culturally, missions can be a natural connecting point. And New Life also encourage church members to remember their home communities. They support workers and projects in some of the countries where church members are from. Through their involvement in global missions they also bring hope to communities all over the world.
I visited New Life with a Wycliffe colleague from a West African country and one from Germany.
Both were presenting Wycliffe Germany and sharing about Bible translation ministry during some of the services. I was along just to experience what this church they had told me about was like.
We attended the English service, the French service and the German/English service. We only missed the Spanish and Farsi services.
The French service had a large group of Congolese, so the song in this video (sung in Lingala – a trade language in Congo) was one that I could tell that the group enjoyed singing even more than the French songs!
During the main service all of us had a chance to share, including me. Many people inquired about how they could become involved in some way in Bible translation ministry. Wycliffe Germany is hoping to develop relationships with more diaspora churches like this one in Germany. The unique experience of diaspora communities give them a special part to play in God’s global mission.