Diving into Diversity with the Gospel Pt 2

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Reflections from GBC Mission Conference – 2014

Our mission conference week has concluded here at GBC in Pleasant Hill. It was a tightly packed eight days with a focus on “Reaching the Unreached” people groups. Most of the emphasis was upon increasing awareness of the concept of unreached people groups (UPG) and the dynamics of the diversity that exists in the Bay Area alone.

Specifically, we learned there are 13 various UPG’s living in the Bay area,  totaling 730,000 people. Often these groups are more open to the gospel – or at least expect that they will hear about Christianity –  simply because they believe the USA to be a Christian nation. This affords us with many opportunities to enter into discussion with them regarding the good news of Jesus. The map below outlines their distribution throughout the Bay Area (click to see more clearly).

UnReached in the Bay Area - gospel - reformed While the conference was primarily informative by design, the question was asked “What’s next?” That is to say, “What are we as a church going to do to take the gospel to the nations in our backyard?”

What we do as the “church gathered” is under prayerful consideration and will be communicated as initiatives take shape. It was great to see a high interest level among the flock in response to becoming aware of the number of UPG’s in the Bay Area (over 100 in attendance). This will help us as we evaluate the various options before us.

But in the meantime we should all remember that the “church scattered” (that’s you and me living our normal daily lives) is always on mission. The calling to make disciples belongs to each of us. Christ in His sovereign grace fulfills the great commission – we obey it. We have now been made better aware of a potential harvest field and we don’t necessarily need organized outreaches or evangelistic efforts sponsored by the Mission Ministry to respond to the challenge set before us. Here are a couple of steps you can immediately begin to individually consider.

1 – Can the normal routine of your life be shaped to place you in contact with UPG’s? When we had an active college ministry on the UC Berkeley campus I would study half a day per week in one of the campus libraries or public spaces and have lunch locally. My aim was to shape the rhythm of my life to some degree around the students, waiters and other contacts. The fruit of this was several gospel conversations with students as well as a growing understanding of their world-view. Most of the concentrations of UPG’s are not in our immediate vicinity but many of you travel, commute and work throughout the Bay Area. What steps can you take to deliberately routinely intersect with them?

2 – Consider opening your home to an international exchange student. Students from many nations move here to attend Diablo Valley College because it is a stepping stone to UC Berkeley. Consider opening your home to one of these internationals. Several families in our church already do this including one of my own children. As a result a Chinese exchange student has heard the gospel many times and repeatedly experienced the love of a Christian household. He has been a part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings for a couple of years. You can find all the information you need at this website.

3 – Consider serving at the International Christian Fellowship. This ministry was introduced by Tim Williams on Wednesday evening. There are various opportunities there for any who would like to take a first few steps towards interacting with internationals. You can find more info at their website.

Mission Fair Booths a Success

Sunday afternoon, following second hour worship, the fellowship hall was lined with various booths. Each booth offered information on upcoming short-term mission trips or other mission opportunities. Our thanks to our own Tim Hammack and the crew from Bay Area Rescue Mission for providing tasty morsels at each station. I had to leave for a special luncheon with one of the visiting missionaries before stopping at each booth but from what I was told the hall was eventually packed tight and there were 61 different requests for further information or expressions of interest in volunteering.

Hispanic Ministry Hosts Pastor David Robles

Pastor David Robles Second from Left

Pastor David Robles Second from Left

While many of us were in the second hour worship service the Hispanic ministry was meeting across the street in the Teen Center as they routinely do. However, this week they had the special privilege of listening to the word preached by David Robles. David is the preaching pastor of a growing church strategically situated in Leon Spain. He was in California attending a conference and accepted our invitation to speak. His presence provided both a link to our church’s mission focus and a personal connection to another Spanish speaking ministry serving Christ in a difficult foreign country. We hope to hear more about David and his ministry soon.

GBC Hispanic Ministry Gathering

GBC Hispanic Ministry Gathering

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