It might have begun as a small group and grown into a multisite, disciple-making, church-planting parish, but one thing has never changed about Multicultural Bible Ministry – the desire to see lives transformed through Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
From March 1991 in a Blacktown loungeroom until now, in a purpose-built church at Rooty Hill, MBM has been led by the Rev Ray Galea and his wife Sandy. But almost 31 years to the day after they started the (then) Maltese Bible Ministry, the Galeas will leave the church they began, with people they love, and head to the United Arab Emirates – where Mr Galea will become lead pastor of independent evangelical church Fellowship Dubai at the end of April.
“There are very good reasons to stay at MBM, and there are very good reasons to go to Dubai,” Mr Galea says.
“Three months ago, I got a phone call from the chairman of the elders [in Dubai] Andrew Doust, and he asked me to suggest some names to go forward for this process – at the end of which he said, ‘Every time I’ve been praying about this your name comes up... would you consider putting your name forward?’.
“Normally I just say thank you but no thank you to leaving MBM, but I just felt a conviction to at least pray about this one.”
Mr Galea committed to prayer about the role each day for a fortnight, then went for a run with friend and fellow rector the Rev Dr Raj Gupta – who, to his surprise, said he should seriously consider the move. When he went home and spoke to Mrs Galea, her response was the same. So, they prayed a number of times a day over the following two weeks, and then agreed to allow his name to go forward.
Four very thorough group interviews later, with the role now his, Mr Galea laughs about his expectations of future ministry compared to God’s plans.
“I was definitely not looking to leave MBM at all,” he says. “We had our 10-year plan right through to 2025, I expected a few months’ long service leave... That’s how I thought the story was going to continue, and I got sideswiped by the providence of God!”
Although the two churches are on opposite sides of the planet, MBM Rooty Hill and Fellowship Dubai share a number of similarities: both are multi-campus churches with congregations from many countries (90 for Dubai, 70 for MBM).
In addition, adds Mr Galea, “They’ve both got healthy, strong staff teams and they’ve got a big, welcoming heart for Jesus. So, my privilege will be to lead the team along with the elders of that church”.
Mrs Galea will continue her Kidswise ministry in Dubai, continuing the online training and masterclasses that she has developed, as well as actively serving in whatever role is helpful for the congregation.
Mr Galea asks for prayer for him, Mrs Galea, the wider family and MBM over the next few months as they say their goodbyes, as he takes up the new role in Dubai, and for the parish nominators as they seek a replacement rector for MBM.
As he said on social media when making the announcement: “I’m so looking forward to the return of our Lord and the new creation when there will be no more goodbyes. In the meantime, let’s find our greatest joy in God`s glory.”