An interview with Gordon Darragh, associate pastor of Windsor Baptist Church, Belfast, about his experience using Discovering Jesus through Asian eyes, a course produced by the Evangelical Alliance’s South Asian Forum (SAF).
What motivated you to start the Discovering Jesus through Asian eyes course?
The course came to my attention through the Good Book Company and immediately seemed relevant to our situation. We have used Christianity Explored (and will continue to do so), but were looking for something that Asians could relate to.
How did you go about inviting participants?
We already had church members from various Asian countries. Our Christianity Explored co-ordinator is from India and he, along with others, have been great at bringing along others they have met in work and social contexts. We have strong links with the local university, which attracts thousands of international students, particularly through Friends International. We help to run a hospitality scheme and support other such events for international visitors.
How was leading the sessions?
We had a total of between 25 and 35 most nights, split into three or four table groups. We enjoyed the relaxed style of the course and felt free to veer off in new directions as other questions emerged. The quality of the booklets helped present it as something that had credibility. I used several of the video interviews, which also set the tone.
The concept of the West as hedonistic yet somehow being representative of Christianity was not an issue for most of our participants. They have had experience in home countries and in the West that helped them distinguish between true Christianity and western values.
Everyone felt free to engage and the context of beginning with food and enjoying tea/coffee. Cake half way through helped!
We supplemented the material with a broad introduction to how the Bible works, plus some related videos and testimonies at the end of each evening.
What was the response from the participants?
Entirely positive. The participants who were not Christians seemed happy to learn about the Christian faith and engage in some honest and personal discussion. We believe this will have been a stepping stone for some to come to put their faith in Jesus. This may take time, but it seemed to deal with their thoughts and questions.
What advice and encouragement would you give a church, Christian group or ministry leader who is wanting to start a course?
- Prayer is essential
- Some training is important
- Unashamed approach of setting out the claims of the gospel and inviting people to check out the Bible for themselves is good
- Follow-up is important but we only asked for email and phone contacts at the end to avoid appearing to hound them
- Food is always welcome – especially good Asian dishes!
- We learned more by doing the course – and will repeat it.
We ended with a Q&A session followed by the last six minutes of a DVD My Hope 2015, which is quite direct in its invitation to trust Jesus, but the relationships seemed strong enough to cope with this approach.
Find out more
For further information about Discovering Jesus through Asian eyes go to www.discovering-jesus.com.
Churches can learn how to use the course by booking on a free half-day training event. The next event is in Manchester on 5 September 2015. To register your place visit: https://djtaetrainingmanchester2015.eventbrite.co.uk.