Church Ministry - Outside the Church
By Jill Briscoe
I am writing this in my homeland – England. It has been a stretching time. Coming in to land at Heathrow Airport in early August, runway after runway was full of awkwardly parked planes all over the place. Nothing was moving.
We were told to collect all of our belongings and be ready to get off the plane. After standing for 20 minutes, the door opened and a British official said, “There’s a security matter. Please take your seats.” So, we put our luggage back and waited.
An hour later the official came back and said, “You will need to walk down the runway into the terminal.” I had a distinct feeling of Deja vue all over again. A reminder of 9/11 when, high above the Atlantic on United flight 929, we were told there would be an emergency landing in Gander, Newfoundland because there had been a terrorist attack in New York City.
This time the terrorist plot was thwarted, thank the Lord! My plane was the last to land before the airport was brought to a complete stop for the day and the rest of the incoming planes were turned back. How is it I’m always up in the air when these things happen!
Waiting anxiously at the terminal were five beautiful African women. I had come to Britain to speak at a conference for the women of 40 African churches in London. The women gathered round me and praised the Lord for my safe arrival. “We were up praying most of the night,” they told me. Only our plane got luggage!
So began three weeks of ministry in England. An England that, in many ways, is unrecognizable. We left England almost 36 years ago. Then London was full of English people. I was told that London is now the most cosmopolitan capital in the world.
To be with African immigrant women as well as African-born women in the UK added color and fascination to an already eventful trip. I couldn’t get used to beautiful Africans, Nigerians, Zambians, and others who spoke with a cockney accent! Islamic dress also dominated the British streets.
The papers told about the meeting with the government and Islamic leaders who were trying to see what could be done in their communities to influence the children away from extremism. But, the Islamic leaders turned the tables on the government minister by demanding that Sharia law for marriage and family be administered by Islamic leaders. “This way we can monitor our families and influence them,” they said. “We also demand Islamic national holidays like the Christian holidays!” I couldn’t believe the minister said she would take these matters to Parliament! This is the new Britain!
Against this background, I was challenged by the amount of prayer that went on for these issues at the conference. I also had the opportunity to do two live radio programs about the situation on the plane, etc. I spoke to the whole of Britain for an hour! That wouldn’t have happened on an ordinary day!
But there are no ordinary days in our new normal world situation today. The church now finds itself with a world within. It’s become easy to reach outside of the doors of the church every hour! The world has come to London, England as the world has come to us in a smaller fashion in the U.S. We just need eyes to see.
Jenny, my spiritual mom, said, “Jill the mission field is between your own two feet.” How true! Once again, I have been reminded to see the need within reach of my voice, hands, and feet.
With so much happening in the world of momentous importance, it’s very easy to speak to everyone we meet daily. The Church isn’t somewhere you go—as my husband loves to say ? it’s something you are!
My British friends are doing a great job with this. They are thinking of innovative ways to reach people ? the youth are on the move, and people in the pew are mobilized to love the world to Jesus. What a privilege to be back lending a little encouragement.
May you be inspired to discover new ways to reach outside the church walls in your own part of the world!