Leading an Immigrant Community at LLUMC

Rev. Ngonidzaishe Mukarakate
Associate Pastor
of Zimbabwe Fellowship

In an article entitled, Crossing the Divide: Foundations of a Theology of Migration and Refugees. Daniel G. Groody (2009) had this to say,

“The best way to define the theology of migration is the incarnation, where, through Jesus, God enters into the broken and sinful territory of the human condition in order to help men and women, lost in their earthly sojourn, find their way back home to God. As noted in the Gospel of John, migration shapes Jesus’ own self-understanding: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. . . . Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into his hands, that he had come from God, and that he was going back to God”

1 (Jn 13:1, 3).

As a pastor leading an immigrant church from Zimbabwe, I discovered that the writer struggled to come up with the basis of this definition considering the magnitude of migration being caused and perpetrated by human evil.

The theology of migration as presented by Michael Rynkiewich (2011) is something that struck me most during my church planting programs. Also as one leading an immigrant church, I was provoked to study this theory further in trying to search several faces that it presents to the mission of God. The writer explained in chapter 11 the context in which God’s mission cannot be divorced from people who migrated at certain times, for certain reasons from one place to the other.

As I look at the Zimbabwean fellowship that I am leading today at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, I have come to terms with God’s intention with his people, which is outlined in Jer. 29:11,

I have a plane, says the Lord, not to harm you but to prosper you.

Within a foreign culture, with working schedules that drain their time, far from their families, Zimbabweans are still able to meet both on conference phone calls, and regularly on Sundays at church to share what God is doing. The fellowship has three small section prayer sessions where we meet in our homes. Attracting the Americans to come and share their stories and us sharing our stories, has created and informed to both cultures, a new understanding of God’s mission.

In one of the sessions, I was so happy to note that both Zimbabweans and Americans studied the Bible from a cultural perspective and people acknowledged the reasons why God is mixing people this way. While we were in that Bible study, we discovered that there is learning of one’s culture for convenience, which is on the surface, and there is deeper learning of each other’s culture that brings a deep knowledge of each other. We also learned that the gospel should be deeply rooted in people’s culture for it too influences human life. The above story defines Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, as One Diverse Community, Passionately engaging the Bible, uplifting Jesus in worship and service, and challenging in love that which divides. In such time as these, when many issues are dividing people, we stand, United in Love, and continue to Love All people into Relationship with Jesus Christ.

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