With All Nations and Redcliffe coming together (see the press release) and with the current COVID-19 crisis, we asked Martin Hickey, Head of Communications for All Nations Christian College, to reflect on mission training in and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
Like many other colleges and universities, mission colleges have been driven online during the pandemic, with training delivered via digital videoconferencing technology for Christians studying remotely (this can mean VERY remotely, and in a far-distant time zone - this year All Nations has certainly lived up to its name, training students from the UK / Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia…).
There is little doubt that the pandemic will profoundly affect mission in many ways, and – in common with many mission agencies – mission training colleges like All Nations are currently grappling with all that this may mean, both for the near future and for the years to come. For example, there may need to be even greater emphasis within mission training on:
- new styles of intercultural team leadership
- pastoral care and issues of vulnerability and resilience
- online evangelism and discipleship
- diaspora mission and global migration
There has been increased interest in training for mission since the COVID-19 crisis began, with more Christians (some of them furloughed from their jobs) attending online events for enquirers – and signing up for courses.
Over many years there has been a lot of careful research which shows clearly that there can be major problems for people who decide to go into cross-cultural mission work – these are still relevent in the 'new normal'. The big issues include:
- a lack of tested commitment, or inadequate spirituality
- an inability to get along with other people
- inadequate equipping and training
For Christians who really want to be effective in a cross-cultural situation, those issues still need solutions - including:
- a greater awareness of our own personality, and of our own cultural limitations
- a genuine interest in living and learning with other people
- skills for relating to people from other cultures
So, three questions to ask yourself at this time:
- Is God calling you (or calling someone you know) to serve Him overseas?
- Maybe in a country which is suffering particularly badly because of COVID-19?
- Or is He calling you to serve Him here in the UK – but among people from another culture?
If you want not just to survive but to thrive in a cross-cultural setting – whether it’s at home or abroad – and if you want to serve God as effectively as you can, then it’s almost certainly a good idea to get some training for mission before you get going (I speak from personal experience – my wife Catherine and I trained with All Nations before serving in mission in Asia, the Middle East and the UK).
Mission colleges like All Nations offer a range of training to help provide these solutions. The shortest All Nations course can be done in just 20 hours online (or 5 days on site in Hertfordshire - government restrictions permitting…), while the longest course is a 2- or 3-year BA Honours Degree in Biblical and Intercultural Studies, validated by The Open University. There are also other full-time and part-time options, lasting 10 weeks / 13 weeks / 1 year / 2 years…
Whatever the ‘new normal’ may hold in store, let’s make sure that we are ‘equipped for every good work’…
For details of undergraduate / postgraduate / short mission training courses with All Nations, see the web site at allnations.ac.uk