Author: Kat Brealey
Date: 28 April 2016
Revd Canon Phil Rawlings, interfaith adviser for Oldham, has been involved in the development of a newly-launched resource called 'Joining the Family'. Phil writes, "Back in November 2013 I became aware of three incidents over one weekend where Muslims entered churches asking to become Christians. Firstly at Manchester Cathedral a young Pakistani-heritage man walked in and spoke to the duty retired clergy, who chatted and prayed with him. The retired clergy happened to be a former colleague and contacted me asking, ‘What do I do now?’ Secondly I heard of a Saudi Arabian woman walking into a local Church and again asked to become a Christian – subsequently I met her and she is progressing well, being supported positively. Thirdly I heard of a Somali-heritage man, having made friends with a Christian, asked if he could become a Christian. The church he is involved with is well experienced in supporting new Christians. However this made me ask the question, ‘What resources are there which will help Church leaders to understand new Christians from a Muslim heritage?’ The next stage was to find that others were asking the same question and a group of about 12, over half of whom were believers from Muslim background (BMB’s). This group held a consultation of about 30 people and then met together regularly for over two years, drawing in experienced people and considering the issues involved, eventually developing the resources called ‘Joining the Family’."
These resources are written by Tim Green and consist of six-sessions with a facilitator’s guide and participants’ workbook to accompany the videos. There is also a stand-alone book. Topics addressed include being a welcoming church, the needs of the new believers, identity and lifestyle, issues around asylum, and continuing relationships with one's birth community. Joining the Family is one part of a trio of resources being developed by Kitab (Interserve), which include Friendship First, which seeks to help Christians to develop healthy friendships with their Muslim neighbours, and Come Follow Me, which enables new believers to grow in their faith.
Formally launched at All Soul’s Langham Place on 11th April, Phil notes that "Joining the Family is specifically designed to help church leaders to both welcome new believers and to make their churches welcoming places, for those who are coming to Christian faith from a Muslim heritage. The last few years have seen many hundreds of Iranians come for faith, but less well known are the South Asians and Arabs, many of whom face difficult circumstances when they turn to Christ."