Written by Edinburgh base apprentice, Elijah Brook.
We talk an awful lot about understanding and adjusting cultures, and with good reason. The places we grow up and live in condition us more than we realize and so do the new worlds where we plant our roots. To change our whole setting allows us to challenge our presuppositions, see that the world is different that we thought it was, and in our case to witness the work that God is doing here in the UK.
Anyone who has made the transatlantic move will tell you of the joys that come with being a part of AT3 while at the same time testifying to the inherent struggles involved. They help us learn and grow not only in practical ministry skills, but also in reliance on our Heavenly Father. Patience, self-control, faithfulness, and the rest of the Spirit’s fruits are cultivated in us as we look to the Lord in our time of need.
Speaking of overcoming hurdles, this last year has introduced some unforeseen ones. It has been a disorientating year for everyone, but for most of us (AT3 apprentices) we have either spent about half of the two years in lockdown or entering into cross-cultural ministry in the midst of it. Shops closed, social and cultural events canceled, and churches either unable to meet at all or in best case in limited fashion – that has been recent life and ministry in the UK.
There is no reason to pout however, there is still a lot of work to be done. Pandemic and lockdown have provided unique opportunities for the Church as we have been forced to continue preaching the good news of Jesus to our world. Churches have found creative ways to build community, do evangelism, and disciple each other. The streaming of services has proven to be an effective outreach tool as there have been more streams than expected. It is truly remarkable to see how the Church has adapted in this difficult time. God is at work here.
As apprentices, we have been forced to use the extra time allotted to seriously reflect on life and ministry. That is the point of the apprenticeship anyway, but just as the challenges of our current world are unique so are the lessons learned. There is nothing futile about God’s plans for us and just because things are not what we would call ‘normal’ does not mean God is not faithfully raising up leaders who want to love Him and serve His Church. If anything the fruits of love, joy, peace, kindness, and the rest are growing vibrantly.
It might not look the way we thought it would, but we are still here in a particular place at a particular time receiving contextual training we could not get anywhere else. The culture is still different, churches here are facing different challenges, and different opportunities for development are available. More importantly God is still sovereign, Christ still upholds His Church, and people still need to hear the Gospel.