New Day Calls for New Missions Strategies

Post a Comment » Written on March 27th, 2007     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (March 27) – Evangelical Covenant Church short-term missionary Johnna Hayward has moved to Belgium so she can minister to people from the Congo. Brian Turnbow has traveled to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to work in the Scots International Church. Aaron Thompson has moved to Sweden, birthplace of the Evangelical Covenant Church, to do mission work.

The three 2006 graduates of North Park Theological Seminary (NPTS) didn’t take wrong turns on their way to the mission field. Nor do they struggle with geography. They say their work is indicative of a world in which countries are increasingly multi-cultural and a Europe that has become almost totally secular.

Hayward’s new position as pastor of outreach and youth at a Congolese church is filled with ironies. The congregation hopes Hayward will help their youth bridge native and European cultures, even though she has been familiar with neither culture. “This is what makes the position so intriguing, and at the same time, so challenging,” she says. “They wanted a ‘person of color,’” jokes the native of Decatur, Iowa, who has blond hair and blue eyes.

“The fact that I am a Westerner gives me some commonalities with the Europeans, which the Congolese church thinks will be helpful in working with their youth as well as reaching out to local Belgians,” Hayward says.

She adds, “Many of the youth in the church have not been exposed to Christianity outside their Congolese culture. They are hiring me to put a western face on Christianity. That tends to counter all our assumptions of Christianity being a ‘white religion.’ ”

Thompson is serving as pastor of student and university ministries at Fisher’s Creek International Fellowship in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Fisher’s Creek is a fellowship within a local Swedish Covenant congregation.  With more than 60,000 students, Gothenburg has the largest university student population in all of Scandinavia. About 150 youth attend the youth groups at the church and within the fellowship.

More than the university attracts foreigners. Corporations such as automotive manufacturers Saab and Volvo and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca employ people from across the globe who come to Gothenburg, Thompson adds. “Most of these people are from Muslim countries,” he notes.

Thompson says he frequently is asked why he would be a missionary to Sweden, especially since the Covenant began in that country. “As true as that may be, the reality is that only about three to five percent of Swedes would consider themselves evangelical Christians,” he explains.

Turnbow is spearheading Christian education and formation work at the church in Rotterdam. He is giving special focus to the large number of refugees and international students coming to the church. Roughly 50 percent of Rotterdam is from another country, he says. “It’s a global mission field contained within one city.”

Turnbow also is one of several students in recent years who are using their mission service to help satisfy their field education requirement on their way to earning their Master’s of Divinity degree.

NPTS and Covenant World Mission have been working more closely to help students get experience, says Tim Johnson, associate professor of ministry and director of field education. Even if the students don’t continue in foreign countries, the experience will benefit them for ministry in the United States, where the Covenant also is increasingly multi-cultural, he adds.

To support short-term or project missionaries, email Sally Carlson or call her at 773-907-3322.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog