Intercultural Australian Baptists
Baptist Mission Australia
God’s mission in the world
A world that God so loves!
Greetings from the Baptist Mission Australia team. We are so grateful for the partnership of Tasmanian Baptist churches as we share in God’s love for the world together.
As a state leader and missiologist for Baptist Mission Australia, I am keenly aware of cultural diversity throughout the world. What I am learning about, however, is the significance of our rising intercultural Baptist family right here in Australia. We believe this presents us with a significant opportunity to join with God in mission across cultural difference here and abroad.
Here’s the wonderful news. Our gospel does not need to be understood in English to be authentic. Sounds obvious, but how often we really contemplate the multicultural genesis of our faith? Unlike many other faiths and some religious traditions, we have no holy language reserved for our spiritual message. The Good News for us as Christians is the fact of the incarnation – God meeting us in our own places, cultures and languages.
This world altering Christmas event has profound implications for our mission.
Jesus arrives in a diverse context, layered with different languages, world views and mythologies. Jump forward in the story and Pentecost is a breakthrough in human religious experience.
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:4 (NIV)
Imagine the scene when, in this multicultural setting,
…each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Acts 2:6-12 (NIV)
We are Intercultural Australian Baptists
What does this mean for us in Australia as we pursue mission near and far? Just last month the leaders of the Baptist State Intercultural Communities met together. They confirmed that the growth and vitality of these communities is part of the transformation of Australian Baptist demographics.
Here are some numbers to illustrate the percentage of Intercultural Communities in state Baptist churches:
NSW & ACT: 21%
SA & NT: 26%
More research needs to be carried out across our Baptist communities, but these numbers should pique our interest about what God is up to in our movement.
We may well echo the question asked by those present at Pentecost – What does this mean? I’m coming to the belief that it means we have an opportunity to learn from our non-English background brothers and sisters about how to meaningfully engage their kin here in Australia and in their countries of origin. It means we have an opportunity to trust new pathways of mission partnership that increase sustainability and impact. It means we can all better anticipate – and perhaps even experience a foretaste of – the magnificent future described in Revelation:
I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing…and heartily singing: Salvation to our God on his Throne! Salvation to the Lamb! Revelation 7:9-10 (Message)
We celebrate the fact that God has given us family across diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. We look forward to learning together about what all this means for God’s mission in the world – a world that God so loves!
Geoff Maddock is the State Leader for Baptist Mission Australia in Tasmania and Victoria
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