The Internationals Ministry mainly consists of the Internationals Pastorate, which meets on Thursdays at 7 pm in the Catacombs, and Free English Classes, which happen on Mondays at 7:30pm in the Parish Centre. We also work closely with Commonwealth House in serving the international community both in Oxford and St. Aldates, by co-organizing various events, such as the Christmas Banquet, the Easter Party and Summer Fete. This year, Maria Tena, the Internationals Pastor, has been blessed by the assistance of Internationals intern Naomi Smith.
This group is made up of people from a wide range of nations, including India, Korea, China, Sri Lanka, Italy, Singapore, Slovakia, Thailand, Poland, Nigeria, Portugal, Macedonia, Australia, England, Canada, S. Africa and the U.S. The gatherings include a time of food and fun fellowship, followed by worship, prayer time and a study of a topic/book in the Bible. In the fall we looked into Old Testament characters like Deborah, Barak, Moses, or Joshua, while in the spring we studied key figures in the New Testament, such as Jesus, Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene and Philip. Once a month we have had a social gathering, which has typically included watching movies together, a scavenger hunt around the city or potluck-style dinners.
It has been incredibly encouraging and exciting to see the lives of pastorate members touched by the Word of God, and also to see God’s answers to prayer requests shared within the group, such as protection, provision and healing.
Free English Classes
The free English classes take place on Monday evenings, and are regularly attended by internationals who desire to improve their knowledge of English grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. The lessons and exercises are tailored for beginners and intermediate learners. These classes have served both as a first point of contact for internationals with the church, and also as a stepping stone into the Alpha course or the Internationals Pastorate.
Internationals Evangelistic Outreach Events - Christmas Banquet, Easter Party and Summer Fete
In early December the Internationals group, in conjunction with Commonwealth House, hosted a formal traditional Christmas Banquet, which included dinner, a Christmas message from Rev. Simon Ponsonby, a fun Christmas quiz and dancing. The event, open to all internationals visiting or living in Oxford, was attended by people from over ten different nations, and it was a wonderful evening and an opportunity for guests to hear the Christmas message and get plugged into the church.
In March the Internationals group and Commonwealth House hosted an Easter Party which included a delicious dinner, a cupcake decorating contest, a fun Easter egg hunt, and a talk on what Easter represents and the reason why Christians celebrate Easter. I was greatly encouraged by the various conversations with non-Christian attendees after the talk, the fun games and the connections made with new internationals.
In July the Internationals group, together with Commonwealth House, will be hosting a summer fete to celebrate the end of term and the arrival of summer. The theme will be ‘Summer Garden Party’, and the event will include tasty summer foods, fun games and a talk on God’s faithfulness. This will serve as the perfect opportunity for new internationals to be introduced to the Internationals Ministry and to Commonwealth House, and also for the Internationals group to meet as such until the end of summer.
Internationals Weekend Away
In June the Internationals group will enjoy a weekend away in the beautiful Cotswolds. The theme of the weekend will be ‘Return and Rebuild, and, in addition to hearing from a few guest speakers, we will also have the opportunity to rest, go for walks and, most importantly, spend more time with the Lord through worship, prayer and learning more about His will for our lives.
In looking back at what has transpired within the Internationals Ministry thus far, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness, His timing, His ever present grace and the many blessings He has poured (and will continue to do so) over this group. And, of course, I become excited, hopeful and expectant of what is yet to come. Amen!