Crash course in Evangelism


Manuel Brambila is an assistant to the well-known American evangelist Ray Comfort.

Manuel presents a one-day free crash course on evangelism based on Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s programme, The Way of the Master. He spoke to EN about himself and the course.

EN: Tell us about how you became a Christian and…

MB: In a nutshell — I was born and raised Catholic in Mexico City. When I finished university, I moved to Montreal, Canada, just for adventure’s sake. One night, walking through downtown Montreal after work, I saw a tall man with a crowd around him. He was an open-air preacher and was using a sketch board to explain the gospel to those around him, hoping that someone would listen. I did.

Conviction of sin

I suddenly understood the severity of my sin and my rebellion, for more than 20 years, against the God who had given me life and had kept me up until that moment.

The street preacher, whose name is Tony, was drawing the sinking Titanic and said something like: ‘It doesn’t matter if you are a good swimmer, what matters is whether you have a life saver or you don’t’.

I understood the amazing opportunity God was giving to all humanity to be saved. I saw the Father’s amazing love displayed in Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross — for my sins.

But I don’t think I was born again in that very moment, because I went home as if nothing had happened. However, the following night, walking through the Park LaFontaine, everything that I had heard was so heavy on my heart that I couldn’t stand it any more. I literally fell on my knees and cried to God. I repented from my heart and asked God for another chance. I totally surrendered and I appreciated so much the fact that Jesus had taken the punishment for me. I was born again. I believe it was on the August 10 2002.

The next evening, I was standing in that street corner with Tony, trying to tell people what had happened to me: I had found forgiveness of sin and everlasting life.

I joined Tony’s church, got baptised and regularly went with him to share the gospel in the streets and door-to-door during the winter months. I’m still in touch with Tony. I’m very grateful for his faithfulness in sharing the gospel with strangers. And this is also one of the reasons why evangelism is so dear to me.

EN: Where you are living now?

MB: I got married in Canada and shortly afterwards moved to France. We’ve been permanently living in the south of France since 2007. When we first moved, we thought it was because of a job opportunity, but in reality it was for ministry, for the gospel.

Starting
EN: What is the course that you run, and how did it start?

MB: The Crash Course on Evangelism is a free, one-day training course based on what I see as the cream of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s award-winning TV programme, The Way of the Master.

The course is fast moving and exciting. I use clips and interviews from The Way of the Master, making it interactive and fun.

I started promoting this course in April 2011 to churches in France and Europe. The Lord has graciously opened doors and I’ve been able to teach in several cities in France, Germany, the UK, Holland and Italy. This year I also have invitations to teach in Portugal, Hungary, Spain and Croatia. This is very humbling and exciting.

EN: Give us an idea of the course’s content and how British churches could benefit?

MB: It is divided into four sessions of about 45 minutes each, ending with role-playing and an actual outreach in the area.

Lost key

The first session will wake everybody up to evangelism, because it touches our emotions, showing our moral responsibility in reaching the lost. The second and third sessions talk about the ‘lost key in evangelism’. Spurgeon called it ‘our greatest auxiliary’, because it talks to our conscience and not our intellect. Using this key, we won’t just debate with people but rather appeal to their God-given conscience. The last session is very practical and we apply the principles learned in the other sessions.

British churches could benefit from it because Christians in Britain, as well as in any country, are called to seek and save those who are lost. The problem is that many Christians don’t feel equipped to share the gospel or are fearful. This course will equip with the necessary tools to conquer those fears and actively share the gospel.

EN: How does it differ from other courses in evangelism?

MB: Well, first of all, the course is 100% biblical. Second, I teach it free of charge. I just ask for help to cover the cost of getting from my place to your location, but the teaching and materials are free. Then, it goes straight to the point. In only four hours (the complete course), participants will be more than ready to share the gospel with friends and strangers. Participants will learn to share their faith in a biblical and effective way — just as Jesus did.

There is audio/visual support via interviews and clips from The Way of the Master programme. I also give away gospel tracts and other things free of charge, so that participants will be ready to reach out from day one.

EN: Who are the people who have commended the course?

MB: This teaching has been commended by John MacArthur, Charles Stanley, Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, Franklin Graham, Joni Eareckson Tada, and many other church leaders. Some testimonials from pastors and participants in Europe are available at http://www.Dikayo.com

The Great Commission
EN: What is your message to sleepy or complacent Christians?

MB: My message to them would be simply to remind them of the Lord’s message to them: ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’.

That is our great commission. It wasn’t given only to the first 11 disciples or to our pastors. It is a commandment given to all of us and we must be obedient.

Wake up! You hold in your hands something far more valuable than the cure for cancer! You have the everlasting gospel, God has trusted us with it! We must go and share it! People die without it. This course will equip you to be a bold and faithful witness for the Lord.

For more information, contact Manuel Brambila: tel. +33 67 87 65263, mbrambila@me.com, Twitter: @mbrambila or http://www.Dikayo.com

Inspiration for final-year students


FINAL 
By Krish Kandiah
IVP. 160 pages. £6.99
ISBN 978 1 844 744 459

Are you devouring your final year dissertation but have no idea what to do after university? Have you graduated but still can’t find work? Did you leave all your best friends behind at the Christian Union? Do you want to know how God fits in it all?

Then Krish Kandiah’s book, Final, might well be for you. Krish is an increasingly popular conference speaker, CU missioner and culture-vulture blogger who has made the pithy soundbite something of a signature dish. Coming hot on the heels of Fresh, his book for first years, comes Final: bite-sized inspiration for final-year students.

As with FreshFinal is divided into five weeks of teaching, covering the themes of ‘Facing your future’, ‘Identifying your calling’, ‘Navigating your route’, ‘Anticipating the hurdles’ and ‘Leaving uni behind’ (rather tenuously forming the acrostic F-I-N-A-L, reminiscent of my own final year exam mnemonics!).

In terms of content, the themes are well chosen and well covered, each consisting of seven days of biblical reflection considering the various challenges and opportunities of approaching post-uni life. Wisdom is distilled down, without being too dumbed down, and is drawn from both key NT passages and OT characters. Each chapter ends with stimulating questions to work through, along with testimonies of people who’ve ‘been there, done that’. Addressing issues such as debt, CVs, gap years, job interviews, careers advice, and serving God through it all, Final would be great quiet-time material or for discussion in a prayer triplet or small group.

The combination of Krish’s wide range of graduate experiences and his clear biblical convictions makes him a reliable guide to steer students through the often choppy waters of transitioning into graduate life. Certainly one for the wish list of any finalist you may know.

Dave Gobbett, 
associate pastor, Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge

Faith and abortion?


The issue of abortion is seldom far from the headlines in the secular media.

Last year saw the (unsuccessful) amendment vote instigated by Nadine Dorries MP to ensure that women considering an abortion are offered counselling that is independent from abortion providers. Christians are regularly told that opinions and views formed by faith should not influence public policy in the area of abortion.

But what if we can show that everyone has faith — from the parent requesting an abortion, to the doctor performing the abortion, to the policy-maker deciding on matters of legality?1 It seems to me that there are three levels of beliefs which impact the faith position that abortion is acceptable. My aim is to show that everyone brings their own faith to this difficult issue — and therefore that Christians have as much right as anyone else to air their views.

I am aware that this is a most sensitive issue. There may be readers of this article who have themselves been party to an abortion. Abortion is not the unforgivable sin. I am also aware that Christians will hold different views as to certain circumstances in which an abortion could be appropriate. Therefore I want to generalise the discussion: to the underlying societal beliefs which render abortion acceptable, and to the vast majority of abortions which are not initiated because of significant physical health risks to baby or mother.

This is an important discussion for us to have. Abortion has been confined to the prison of ‘private morality’ for too long; and as we saw in a previous issue2 there is no such thing as ‘private morality’ — just as there is no such thing as a ‘neutral public sphere’.

Superficial level: life’s beginning?

Viability: much discussion concerns the appropriate period from conception within which an abortion should be permitted. The current legal limit of 24 weeks is loosely based on an estimate of the point at which the foetus is ‘viable’ — able to exist independently of its mother. This definition of viability is entirely arbitrary. Is a one-year- old baby any more likely to survive without its mother than a 20-week-old foetus?

Personhood: another argument used in favour of abortion is that a foetus is only a ‘potential’ human being. A ‘person’ is defined according to what they are able to do, rather than what they are. But again, by this definition a one-year-old isn’t really a ‘person’ either.

Scientific and biblical evidence: the Bible is clear that life begins at conception.3 What is less well known is that the scientific evidence suggests the same. At conception, a new individual comes into existence with his own genetic code. After 21 days, his heart is beating. After 40 days his brainwaves can be recorded.4

The benefit of the doubt: even if there were any doubt about the beginning of life, the baby should be given the benefit of that doubt. Theologian John Frame uses the analogy of going on a hunting trip with a friend: ‘Imagine we separated at some place in the woods, then I saw a rustling in the bushes, and I raised my gun, thinking that my deer was in the vicinity. But the thought came to me, “What if the movement is not a deer, but my friend?” … On (the pro-choice principle) I would be free to shoot first and ask questions later.’5 The point is clear: if there was any doubt at all, you wouldn’t shoot.

Many encourage shooting anyway. Why? Because of the middle level of faith.

Middle level: women’s rights

I preached on abortion at church not so long ago. I sought to find a balance between truth-telling and pastoral sensitivity. But the church family were glad to hear a coherent case against abortion. In the sermon I referred to the comment by Antonia Senior in The Times: ‘You cannot separate women’s rights from their right to fertility control’.6 I suggested that effectively what is being said is that a woman’s right to an uncontrolled sex life is more important than a baby’s right to life. Harsh perhaps; but is it not fair? And surely no one can deny that this is a faith position?

But what about the man’s role? Space does not permit us to enter into a discussion of the faith commitments which mess up male-female relationships in our society. Suffice to say that for every woman seeking an abortion, there is a man who, at some point down the line, has not taken his responsibility seriously. We men must share the blame for the current tidal wave of abortion.

Deep level — freedom from God

In his excellent The Rage against God, Peter Hitchens makes the following suggestion regarding the motivation of some people in requesting an abortion: ‘I have often thought that the strange popularity of abortion among people who ought to know better has much to do with (the) sensation of lost control, of being pulled downwards into a world of servitude, into becoming our own parents. It is not the doomed baby that the unwilling parents hate… It is the life they might have to live if the baby is born’.7

This is clearly an argument which applies to a particular generation — Hitchens’s own generation — a generation which he blames for many of the nation’s current troubles.

Sadly, generations are now growing up, my own included, which don’t even think twice about an abortion. But the point is clear: our (sinful) imaginations decide what lifestyle we want to live and then, when obstacles arise (such as an unwanted pregnancy or a wife with whom we no longer feel ‘in love’), our intellect gets to work rationalising and justifying whatever we will need to do in order to remove those obstacles.

What greater example can there be of blind faith? For, outside of Christ, men and women are being driven by a false idea of what brings happiness and freedom. As God says through Jeremiah, with regard to apostate Israel: ‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water’.8We seek freedom and happiness. But we look in the wrong place. And what we thought would bring freedom and happiness brings bondage and despair — at a personal level, and at a national level.

Where do we go from here?

In thinking about a way forward, I am drawn to the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.9 Christ refuses to condemn the woman — though he does call on her to repent. Contrast this with Jesus’s attitude to those who have wilfully rejected his teaching.10

Most of us do not have the opportunity to engage with beliefs at a societal level. But each of us rubs shoulders daily with people who have imbibed such beliefs: with women who have had abortions and with men who have been party to them through pressure or neglect. We need to show compassion to those who have sinned and are suffering the consequences. As we love them and care for them, we may find that their conscience has been softened by their experience.

As we analyse our local community to assess its underlying belief system, we will find a complex web of attitudes towards abortion. The challenge is to confront those who are hardened to the teaching of Scripture and science on this issue, while also continuing to provide compassionate care to those affected, through post-abortion counselling or other ministries.

Finally, there will be some readers who do have the opportunity to confront beliefs at the societal level. How encouraging it was to hear of the stand taken by Nadine Dorries MP and others like her in Parliament last year. As churches we must encourage and pray for those in positions of authority like hers, who have a real opportunity to influence faith and policy at a national level. And, as individuals, we can all write to the press and our government leaders. For everyone has faith — and who can say how destructive the accepted national belief system on this issue has been for humanity, and for the cause of the gospel, over the past 50 years?

Steve Wilcox is a vicar who ministers in West Hull.

Footnotes

1. For explanation of the use of ‘faith’ in this way, see my article in the November 2010 issue of Evangelicals Now, page 19.
2. January 2011 issue of Evangelicals Now; page 19.
3. This is perhaps clearest in Psalm 51.5. But see also Psalm 139.13, Luke 1.41, Job 31.15-18, Psalm 22.9.
4. Randy Alcorn, Pro-life answers to pro-choice arguments (Multnomah, 2000), pp.65-66.
5. John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (P&R, 2008), p.725.
6. Antonia Senior, ‘Yes, abortion is killing. But it’s the lesser evil’ (The Times, June 30 2010).
7. Peter Hitchens, The Rage against God (Continuum 2010), p.16.
8. Jeremiah 2.13.
9. John 8.1-11. I am aware that this story may not have been included in John’s original manuscript. However, it appears to me that even if it was not, the principles contained within it are clearly attested to by other parts of Scripture.
10. E.g. see Matthew 21.28-32,33-46; 23.1-39.

Going behind the scenes to see God working – for kids!


TWELVE HIDDEN HEROES 
(Book two: Old Testament & New Testament)
More Bible people who lived behind the scenes
By Rebecca Parkinson
Day One. 102/103 pages. £5.00
ISBN 978 1 846 252 730 (OT)
ISBN 978 1 846 252 747 (NT)

These well-produced paperback books are part of a series, books one OT and NT having already been published. There are stories of between three and six pages about Bible characters who are rarely mentioned, but whose actions were used by God to make a massive difference.

Although written primarily for children, I suspect that there are many adults who either may never have read of these hidden heroes or would be glad to be reminded of them in such an engaging way.

Rebecca Parkinson brings to life such characters as Eliezer, Hur, Barzillai, Jehosheba and Baruch from the OT and Jairus, Philip, Silas and Paul’s nephew from the NT by telling their stories as if from their own experience. This unusual approach obviously calls for imagination, yet she is careful to keep this within the bounds of the biblically recorded facts. Each beautifully constructed story ends with a paragraph or two of comment on how God used the person in his sovereign purpose.

Unlike us, God uses seemingly unnoticed people, and those who work behind the scenes. Also there follow a few thoughtful questions, which could form the basis of further discussion with a child. I warmly recommend these books for use with children of all ages.

Christine Gobbett, 
wife of a retired (but now itinerant!) Grace Baptist pastor, living in Kent

Deacon Manu: Christian in the scrum.


Deacon Manu is a New Zealand-born, Fijian rugby player who captained Fiji during the last World Cup. He is married with three children and plays prop for the Welsh club team Llanelli Scarlets.

He spoke to EN about his life as a professional sportsman and his Christian faith.

EN: Can you tell us about your home and how you got involved in rugby union?

DM: I was born in New Plymouth to a Maori father and a Fijian mother. From the age of five through to 17, I attended Catholic schools and went to Catholic church on Sundays. I felt as if religiously I was ticking all the boxes.

I was first of all interested in golf, but at the age of 16 really got into rugby. Following school I went to the University of Waikato, achieving a BSc and a postgraduate diploma in marine sustainability. I had been involved in rugby at school, but during my college years I played for New Zealand universities and also the New Zealand under-21 team.

EN: How did you become a Christian?

DM: While at university I felt as if I stumbled and lost my way. I got carried away with the lifestyle and was not living the kind of life I should.

After graduating, I immediately signed to be a professional player with Waikato Chiefs and in 1999 made my debut against a Japanese XV. I had a successful career with the Chiefs between 2001-2006. In 2005 I played for the New Zealand Maori in the memorable game when we defeated the touring British and Irish Lions at Hamilton. Soon after this I agreed to a move to Wales and the Magners League playing for the Scarlets.

But, despite on-field success, I found myself searching for real fulfilment in life. I had many questions about my Catholic faith. The more I read, the more questions I had. As I investigated further I realised that a relationship with God required both an emotional response combined with a rational approach. The more I read the Bible, the more I felt that my Catholic upbringing wasn’t the right path. So I prayed for God to show me the way.

With only six months to go on my contract with Llanelli Scarlets, I was ready to move house. It was through my neighbours that I actually came to the Lord. They are a Christian couple in their 70s and their lives of thankfulness and care really impressed my wife and I. They did not force their ideas on us, but just answered our questions and emphasised to me that fulfilment and that special relationship with God I had been longing for could only be found through Jesus Christ and personal faith in him. I realised I needed to place my trust in Jesus and give my life over to him. I didn’t move house and I’m still playing for the Scarlets.

EN: Being a Christian in a rugby environment must present some challenges?

DM: There can be a lot of resistance to what I believe, but when I think of how many Christians are persecuted throughout the world I realise it is insignificant compared to what many suffer. Some are torched to death for their faith.

Often I have written Bible verses on my wrist bands before I play a match. I expect to be challenged. One of my favourite verses is Ephesians 6.10: ‘Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’.

EN: What do other players think of you being a Christian?

DM: A lot of people have opened up and talked about going to Sunday school as a kid. I feel that if they are thinking about it, then that can be a beginning of their spiritual journey. I have noticed a degree of respect. If they are doing something that they don’t think is morally right they won’t talk about that around me.

But the Fijian national team is completely different. It was a great honour and privilege for me to captain Fiji, but also there is a deeply spiritual side to the team. When we are together, most evenings we will have a church service. That is so refreshing.

EN: Rugby is a very physical sport. What is it like during a game?

DM: Contact sports may seem to go against what Christianity stands for. When asked about doing big tackles, the All Black legend Michael Jones put it best: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’!

But I will use any means to get the Lord’s message of salvation out. Although I would like to become a doctor I was given a talent to play rugby and I need to use that to the best of my ability because that was a gift from God. Professional sport means that you are in the limelight and making sure that you remain humble can be hard for young players these days. Pride can become infectious. But realising that everyone will be treated as equals in God’s eyes is important to remember.

EN: What would your answer be to people who say that Christianity is for old ladies and wimps?

DM: I would tell them to go down and spend a day with people on the front line working for Christian organisations locally and around the world, people working in poverty-stricken, disease-ridden territories. Such absolutely humbling places are certainly not suitable for old women and wimps. Failing that, they can come down to my training session and I’ll tackle them!

EN: What do you have in store for the future and how can readers pray for you?

DM: Do pray for me and my family. Professional sport is a fickle environment and changes rapidly. I ask for people like me in professional sport to make a difference for Christ. Pray that I may make an impact in people’s lives as I tell the good news of Christ and that God loves us and wants to bring everyone of us closer to him.

Deacon is willing to speak at evangelistic events and can be contacted through Facebook (deacon manu).


The Music Exchange from Richard Simpkin: Case of choral conscience


You’ve been a member of a choral society for some years. You’re asked to sing about lecherous abbots and fornication. What do you do?

Making your decision isn’t helped by the fact that the words are mostly in Latin, so no one (probably including you) knows what they mean. Furthermore, the piece is Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, one of the most popular works for audiences, and therefore a staple in any choral society’s repertoire. Making a fuss about it is going to make you look like a right prude.

Voicing the vices

In February I looked at possible responses of paid Christian musicians being asked to accompany heresy. But how about if you’re a voluntary member of a choral society, who is singing simply for pleasure.

Carmina Burana is an obvious example — it’s a secular piece, which explores some of the pleasures and perils of lust, drinking and other vices. It’s a guaranteed sell-out (pun unintended but effective).

Christians, as you may have guessed, have differing views. Some simply enjoy singing the piece to celebrate God’s common grace of music without worrying about the words: ‘Why can’t we enjoy art simply for what it is — a work of art?’ Others would have a more tender conscience when it comes to singing lyrics publicly, and decline to be involved.

Carmina Burana may be an easy target, but if we inspected every work (even ‘sacred’) that has lyrics not taken purely from Scripture, we’d find things with which we might be uncomfortable. The Dream of Gerontius is a case in point, with all its invocations to Mary. Requiems include prayers for the dead. There will always be a degree of compromise, especially in ‘secular’ performances. It’s one of the hazards of being involved with a choral society!

Let conscience be your guide

Without encouraging anyone to sing things they deem inappropriate, individual consciences must decide whether they feel they are simply performing a work of art, or whether they are actively communicating truths they believe. However, at the same time, I’d like to challenge all Christians who sing in voluntary choirs to consider carefully the words they are singing. I was totally unaware for years that I’d been praying for the dead in the various requiems that I’d performed, and I’m grateful to a Christian brother for waking me up. Happily, however, now that the pendulum has settled itself, I find myself enjoying the music of most of Mozart’s Requiem, while heartily harrumphing through the bits I think are dodgy.

Helpful response

The kind person who replied to the last article pushed me further as he wondered whether he should feel guilty enjoying Mozart’s Requiem at all. He wondered whether it should only be playing on his music system when he did his admin, and not during sermon prep. He also asked whether he would distinguish between allowing a choral society to perform it in church for a concert (it’s not a service), and using it for an evangelistic event. He made the helpful point that, at least in an evangelistic film night, ‘the film’s questionable message can be a launching point to say that the Bible has different answers to the same questions…’ Lots of things to think about!

If we feel that it is worth making a stand, then it would also be worth thinking carefully when and how this is communicated to those in charge and to other singers. I once directed a children’s choir, which I withdrew from a performance of Carmina Burana. Unfortunately, I didn’t commend the gospel very effectively as I was shirty with the overall music director in the process. And then, to placate him, I ended up singing in the concert myself, which was hypocritical in every way. The lesson I learnt is that it’s a much better idea to speak to the director about concerns at the earliest possible point, gently and clearly, using the God-given opportunity to speak about and model grace.

To conclude, I think we end up in Romans 14, where some have stronger consciences, some weaker, so that each decision has to be made case by case, preferably with the advice of those who oversee our spiritual growth, while modelling gospel godliness and grace.

Richard Simpkin is Director of Music at St. Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate, London.

‘Where are you from?’ – not an easy question to answer as a third culture kid!


I was born in Hong Kong to culturally Mexican and American parents. By the time I was 11, I had lived in four different countries and seven different cities. I have dual British and American citizenship. Even though I have lived in England for 12 years, the British think I’m American. And when I’m in America, they think I might be Canadian or maybe even Scottish. These experiences are not unusual to other people like me. I am a Third Culture Kid and this is my life.

Frequent moves

It is not commonly known that there is a group of internationally minded individuals in our midst referred to as ‘Third Culture Kids’ or ‘TCKs.’ The book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds describes the TCK as ‘a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture’ (Pollock, D. & Van Reken, R., 2010). This often means that a TCK and his/her family have moved several times, as in the case of military or diplomatic families, or perhaps have lived in one foreign country for a long period of time, which is the case with many missionary families. In either situation, TCK families tend to develop a complex identity, having been influenced by a variety of cultures.

Internationals and TCKs

Having done some work with international students through my church, I was curious to make a comparison between international student and Third Culture Kid experiences upon arriving in the UK to study. I found that, in general, since international students have grown up in one place their whole lives and have only come to England for a short period of time to study, their experience of ‘homesickness’ tends to be greater than the TCKs’ experience. TCKs do not usually have an actual place that they miss; rather, they miss their family and friends who understood and shared in their mobile lifestyle. Also, TCKs may not experience ‘culture shock’ as quickly as international students do, since they are used to adapting to new environments. It is important to note that TCKs returning to their passport or ‘home’ country for university often face different challenges than TCKs who attend university in another ‘host country,’ that is, not their country of citizenship.

I needed help

I was torn between staying in the UK for university or going to the States. I am an American citizen and other members of my family live in the States, so my family expected me to choose a college in America. My closest friends were English and in their eyes I was still American, so they expected me to go to America as well. It seemed the thing to do, so I signed up and left to begin my first semester at university in the state of Illinois. I thought going there would be easy since I had lived in Illinois before when I was younger. However, I quickly realised that there was so much I didn’t know about American culture, such as the way you address others, or the sense of humour, and other small things that added up. At first glance, I seemed American and so I wasn’t given the support that the international students received as they adjusted to American culture and learnt their way around. But I needed help and the only comfort I had was in talking with the Lord, hearing from friends back in England and seeking out friendships with other TCKs at the university. In the end, I left that university before I finished my degree and returned to a place where it didn’t seem I belonged, but where I understood the culture much better: England.

Be aware

Therefore, in terms of reaching out to new students in your area, be aware that TCKs with British passports may be considered as home students by universities. British TCKS are not necessarily up-to-date with British cultural norms. They may initially adjust quickly and settle in, but over time they may get frustrated about all the little things they did not know about British culture. They then need to be given the same welcome, and shown the same understanding and love, as the international students.

Sharing the gospel with TCKs is not unlike witnessing to other groups. As Paul demonstrates in Acts 17, Christians must be culturally relevant and opportunities to share the gospel will often arise when one is willing to meet a person in their situation or mindset. With international students, one finds opportunities to build relationships simply by the fact that the students need to practise their English with a native speaker. TCKs usually have no difficulty speaking English, but they do not often find a sympathetic ear when it comes to their backgrounds. Being from multiple places does not suit an introduction of, ‘Hi, what’s your name? Where are you from?’

Therefore, the best way for Christians to reach out to TCKs is by being genuinely interested in their lives, willing to listen and also being prepared to have intelligent conversations with them about the countries in which they lived.

Where do I belong?

One of the most problematic aspects of being a TCK is knowing where one belongs. Moving around so often makes it difficult to feel truly ‘at home’ anywhere in the world and a group of TCK students told me they feel they belong everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It is an extremely vulnerable position to be in and, as such, requires a response of sincere care for the person’s situation. Yet, despite the discomfort of this feeling, it gives Christian TCKs a very real understanding of what it means to be citizens of heaven: ‘And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them’ (Hebrews 11.13-16).

If you meet Christian TCKs, encourage them. Remember that a TCK will not necessarily be familiar with the church culture in Britain. Do not let them feel ostracised by not understanding church practices. Explain things and help them to understand. Accept them and love them, for it is right that they should feel they belong through fellowship with other believers, for ‘now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12.27).

After living in England for 12 years, I still don’t feel like I fit in. And I know that no matter where I go on earth, it will be the same. I will always be plagued with the question, ‘Where are you from?’ and I’m not sure I will ever have an adequate answer. Yet, I can only rejoice, for the Lord is with me wherever I go and he has shown me the way home.

Missy Benton works with Friends International in the city of Bath and is a member of Widcombe Baptist Church.