|TIMO down my street|
|Written by ACE Co-ordinator|
‘What kinds of housing should we build for your team?’ Asked the TIMO logistics man on a visit to the planned location of our team. I glanced out of the window at the closely huddled red-brick Victorian terraces climbing the hills of our English townscape.
A different house
Typical TIMO houses - with corrugated tin roofs, concrete floors and insect screens for windows – would hardly blend in here. Affording the rent for one of those terraced houses might be a more immediate issue. This TIMO team (the 25th) would certainly be different.
The first TIMO team outside Africa, we worked in Britain among an immigrant community from a Creative-Access Nation.
TIMO teams traditionally seek the approval of local leaders for them to spend two years in their community. They would be the objects of much local interest. By contrast, our seven newcomers would barely be noticed in a city of half a million - until they began to greet people of ‘our’ community in their own language. But being known as missionaries would not go down well either with those we had come to serve or with ‘politically correct’ locals. The team had to be truthful, but careful, in explaining why they had come.
Gateway to nations
One great advantage of working among ‘diaspora’ people in a Western country is that while we enjoy religious freedom, they can be gateways to their whole nations. But the only two Christians among them, whom we knew, lived as secret believers for fear of severe persecution. English tutoring was always acceptable, but many people were cautious about being seen with us too much. Since ‘our people’ lived down the road and had access to the internet, we had to be discreet in sharing information for prayer.
The highlights? Kids saying ‘We were told Christians were bad people, but you are good people.’ Teenagers at our homework club absorbing some biblical attitudes. Parents not interested in the gospel, but wanting to join our team. Neighbours trusting us with their secrets, as well as with their children. Showing members of a community known for keeping aloof that being united in God’s family was more important than our team’s different cultures and colours. Team members working hard to build unity when they had started with little in common. Regular encouragement and advice by TIMO leadership, which told us we were part of a larger team that pulled together: God’s team.
TIMO is outreach, but the two years came and went, yet no church planted: no new conversions. So what was it all about? Loving people unconditionally, telling them when we could and leaving the outcomes to God. Changing attitudes towards Christians and Christianity. Hearing later that two young people had become Christians.
TIMO is training: most of our team are now working elsewhere, but with the same people-group.
TIMO is taking the Church to the people. Teams that move into tough multi-cultural neighbourhoods, work part-time and stay long-term are the way.
TIMO is reaching the unreached, down your street.