Audience with Steve Bell

Steve Bell

Steve Bell

What is your background and how did you become a Christian?

I was Nottingham born from African Caribbean background, which made me naturally bi-cultural. So I grew up with an appreciation of the Bible from a non-western standpoint.

I became a follower of Jesus as a result of a Christian midwife attending my mother for the birth of my younger brother Chris. This lady prayed with patients and left a New Testament. My decision for Christ came after I finally attended a local Christian youth group where half the members had been delivered by the midwife. My early life following Jesus was profoundly impacted by the supernatural and also the Revelation, which presented me with the grand overview of God’s purpose in human history.

I first worked as a graphic artist, before becoming a Secondary School teacher. My school was in the poorest area of Nottingham’s inner-city. Pupils came largely from South Asian and West Indian families and it was the critical time of the race-riots in the late 70s. I was encouraged to be an early black head teacher but God had different leadership plans in mind for me. I won a scholarship to study theology in the Middle East so went to Egypt, where I remained for 10 years teaching English and learning to relate the gospel to Muslim people.

How did you come to join Interserve?

I first knew Interserve people in Egypt. When the Secret Police asked me to leave I naturally came into the Interserve orbit in the UK.

Interserve was started by women in 1852 through a series of tea parties who were concerned by the plight of Asian women who were cut off from education and health-care. Since then the fellowship has grown to 14 national offices and works in 40 countries across Asia and the Arab world. We also have a team of 37 people who serve these peoples in the UK.

In a post-colonial world, the big question is: “What are mission agencies for now?” Interserve answers the question by adding to its role of placing people into cross-cultural ministry in conjunction with sending churches. We also work with local churches as an “apostolic facilitator”, which resources and supports Christians in cross-cultural mission, both in Britain and overseas.

We also train Christians in witness to people of other faiths, as well as being a voice in the national conversation about the ‘grace and truth response’ to people of other faiths. A strategic part of our work is the Kitab resource unit. This is a national supplier of materials for and about people of other faiths. Kitab has an important resource out next year. This is be the follow-on course from the Friendship First DVD course www.friendshipfirst.org The new resource is called Joining the Family  and prepares churches to receive into fellowship, people from Muslim backgrounds. You can connect with Interserve via www.interserve.org.

Why are you partnering with us on the Discovering Jesus through Asian eyes course?

The reason is simple –it’s a unique resource coming, as it does, at a time when we badly need something that is contextual and attractively designed for use by people with a non-western worldview and with an allegiance to another faith –by that I mean Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims.

Alpha, and the like, has shown us that the “small group” experience does work. Discovering Jesus through Asian Eyes is relational and therefore a superb contribution that is already proving an effective tool for communicating the gospel. I am delighted Interserve’s Kitab resource unit www.kitab.org.uk is a national supplier. I also hope it will cross-fertilise with the groups that have already done the Friendship First for Muslims DVD course.