OM UK’s Global Editor, Kris Johnstone, speaks to Andrew Berry, OM UK’s newly appointed Director of Outreach, about the opportunities that exist among least-reached communities across the British Isles.
Kris: Tell us something about your testimony.
Andrew: Like many baby boomers of my generation, growing up in the ’70s and the ’80s, Christianity was not very relevant to me personally. Even though I attended church on a regular basis, it was through meeting people who are passionate about Jesus and making Him known that I made a commitment.
After two years with OM in Belgium, where I met my wife, Marcia, I was ordained as a pastor. I ministered in the US for 17 years prior to returning to Europe as the pastor of an international church in France in the early 2000s, which also involved planting a local church.
Kris: What is your role within OM United Kingdom, and what does that entail?
Andrew: Last year, as OM United Kingdom and OM Lifehope merged into one ministry, OM’s UK Director, Matthew Skirton, invited me to steer forward evangelism ministries across the country. This coincided with OM developing a new international mission statement: “We want to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers and among the least-reached,” which allowed us an opportunity to refine the focus of OM’s ministry here in the UK. Practically, that means I give oversight, direction and support to teams working amongst ethnic minorities such as Somalis, Turks, Pakistanis, Syrians and Chinese.
Kris: What does ministry in the UK look like?
Andrew: OM ministry in the UK is not a new thing, and, actually, has already been focused on reaching these people groups over the past 60 years.
The difference is that we are now more focused on seeing these peoples not just finding Christ but becoming part of a local church, which can reproduce and continue the work of evangelism, discipleship and leadership training amongst second and third generations. What is really encouraging is that amongst multicultural churches and ethnic churches there is a desire to reach not just their culture but also those who live around them whatever their background.
Kris: Many missions wouldn’t recognise Europe, and certainly not the UK, as being least-reached. Is this the same for OM?
Andrew: We are living in a wonderful period in UK history. Even with the great number of churches who are engaged, there are still communities of people who do not have a vibrant fellowship amongst them that relevantly proclaim the good news.
That could be because they are isolated by language (i.e., The gospel is not being presented to a community in their mother tongue.) or they could be isolated culturally, ethnically and, perhaps in some instances, geographically. OM brings a wealth of experience in cross-cultural missions, and this is the area in which OM can uniquely equip the British church in expanding its reach.
Kris: What do you envision UK ministry to look like in five years?
Andrew: In five years’ time, I could imagine that we would have individuals and teams in the UK’s major urban cities—where the least-reached are living—who are partnering with others to evangelise, disciple and train leaders so that we can see believers who can reproduce disciples, workers, missionaries and even churches.
Kris: What will it take for us [the Church] to get there?
Andrew: It will take individuals who are called, willing to be trained, sent out and have a passion to reach across cultures and languages to effectively present the gospel. Right now, we have teams in London and Birmingham. I think we could soon see teams grow in Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester.
Those who have abilities in the arts, music and sports as well as children’s workers can all play a significant part in helping us. The ability to evangelise, disciple and train leaders is a unique gifting—no matter the approach we take.
Kris: What can the Church do to get involved?
Andrew: I believe we need to continue listening and explore partnership ideas with the local church, with individuals and with the other organisations already doing great work. Local churches can partner with us by sending people to learn, grow and serve through our UK Missions Discipleship Training programme.
Probably the hardest challenge is that traditionally for OM in the UK, other nations have sent us workers. Now, we need the British church to be begin responding to the mission field that has come to the UK. If we can reach them, I believe they will, in turn, send out a new generation to the rest of the world.
Pray for the new opportunities the church has to partner with OM ministries around the UK.