Community in different languages
God has been busy in Chester Hill. Since 2016, the congregation has grown and the gospel message is bearing fruit. Rector the Rev Paul Webb believes this is God’s kindness and the “heart for multicultural ministry” of church members, which fuels their evangelism.
Under God, this was always the vision
“We always had the vision of growing something here and then, under God, trying to figure out how to reach different cultures,” Mr Webb says.
Chester Hill is meeting its local community’s needs, creating strong ties between church and neighbours through initiatives such as homework clubs, playgroups, and helping new migrants and refugees learn to drive.
“Family is a real felt need,” Mr Webb says. “There are lots of broken families and social problems. People are not sure how to help kids at school and how to entertain their kids. Homework club has been really great for that. Parents send their kids to homework club and we help them, have a Bible time and build relationships.
"Family is a real felt need"
“In playgroup, we see mums with young kids who have nowhere to go but they want company. Now we are seeing relationships build to the point where we can ask people to read the Bible.”
God has used these initiatives
God has used these initiatives to see the church grow to almost 100 people in the past 2½ years. However, due to the diversity now present, miscommunication can be a real challenge.
“It’s easy for this to occur when trying to preach the gospel to both Christians and non-Christians alike, who have a different cultural background and English as a second language,” Mr Webb says. “We drastically underestimate how much we’re shaped by our own language and culture.”
To help overcome this hurdle, they hope to create “monocultural disciple-making communities” within their multicultural gathering. While operating as one church made up of many nations is crucial, Mr Webb recognises that learning in your native language can really help deepen understanding of the gospel. He says the Arab-speaking community will comprehend the gospel more clearly from someone who can “understand [and communicate] the word of God best in their language, and be equipped to take it to their community.”
Despite challenges, Mr Webb is encouraged constantly by the dedication and sacrifice of his church.
“One family bought a house just to minister here, people are willing to come to a church and hang out with people they don’t understand, and a couple of people have given up work to spend time serving here, taking massive pay cuts to do it,” he says.
“These are just examples of how much people want to see the gospel go out into the suburb. They love Jesus, see the need and are willing to count the cost in ways I’ve never seen before.”