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Moving away

by on July 2, 2014

One of the challenging realities of ministry among migrants is that their lives are a bit unstable and unpredictable

For one thing, they move house a lot. We spent last year teaching English to an extended family of muslim people from Burma. We got to be good friends, and started to share the news about Jesus with them. At the end of the year they moved to Lakemba. No car. Good bye!

We got friendly with a family from our kids’ school, they were from Indonesia. They started attending our Sunday gatherings, last year. Then after a few months, they had to move back to Indonesia.

A young man from Brazil was staying with some of our church people the first half of this year. He started coming along to church stuff, he was really engaging with the bible teaching. He said it had changed the way he was thinking about his life. Then he returned to Brazil!

A woman from India, Hilta, was quite involved with us. But her family was back in India, and in the end she decided to go back and live there.

Mya was coming to our English classes. She is very friendly and enthusiastic. Her kids were at school with our kids. After about a year of classes, Mya started applying for jobs. She got one – part time but it clashed with english class. Then her rent went up $60/week, so her family decided to move to a different suburb – cheaper. So they moved house and the kids changed schools. Goodbye Mya!

Also, stuff happens differently in migrant families. One woman, Cam, from Vietnam, was a very keen student at our English classes. She practiced a lot, and was making good progress. We got quite close to Cam. Then an elderly relative who lives with Cam’s family needed more care, and so Cam started staying home. She now feels unable to leave the house for more than an hour at a time, now. Where an anglo family would probably put this relative into a low care facility, in Cam’s culture (and in many others too) she is expected to bear the load. This may go on for years.

And so it goes on… we have many more such stories too.

How should we think about this constant ‘attrition’? It is sad to lose friendships we’ve invested in, and to lose opportunities to minister to these families. No doubt this happens with every ministry. But perhaps more often among migrant families.

On the other hand, we become a centre from which people go out knowing about Jesus. That’s a pretty nice thought.

In the end, we have to entrust these friends into the hands of God. His kingdom is far, far bigger than Canterbury, and Christ will build it. He has people in all places. The gospel will bear fruit wherever it goes…

From → General

6 Comments
  1. ASHTON. permalink

    I’m sure they were all equally sad to be leaving such a warm and accepting community as you have created Jonathan. Hopefully they’ll take that feeling with them to their new destination andthe memories of some great friendships.

    • Thanks Ashton!
      Let’s catch up soon.

  2. christianjanderson permalink

    I remember Peter Lin saying that some of the Fairfield church members who they’d invested in most, managed to improve their economic situation, and then…..moved away to a nicer suburb(!) Or, if a suburb likes Canterbury becomes more gentrified, the opposite can happen, rents go up and families who’d moved there for pragmatic reasons anyway, move out. Maybe the inherent willingness of migrants to move for the sake of their family is one of the big challenges when it comes to building a strong multi-ethnic church community.

  3. Good point Christian.
    Patience required!

  4. J, I’m just reading a bit of your blog in preparation for praying for you guys at church tomorrow. Am at Clovelly and have heard much about this ‘Canterbury Church Plant’, but didn’t put 2 and 2 together until today. What a beautiful, small world! I’m so excited and encouraged to read of the work you are doing – God is doing! – for His kingdom. Sending lots of love to you and E 🙂 Laura G

    • Hi Laura! Great to hear from you. Say hi to your parents for me!

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