Connecting Churches for Effective Evangelism
Our SuperConnector award for April goes to Pastor Khamis Artema of South Sudanese Church of Fridley, MN, serving together with Grace Evangelical Free Church of Fridley. Pastor Khamis has done an excellent job of leading his congregation to serve alongside an American congregation in ways that make both churches stronger.
Like the rest of his congregation, Pastor Khamis fled the ongoing war in Sudan on foot. He lived in a refugee camp in another African country before emigrating to the United States. He works as an over-the-road trucker, delivering goods across several states Monday through Friday, raising his family and pastoring his church on the weekends. Because there are not solid educational opportunities available in war-torn countries or refugee camps, the majority of Khamis’ congregation hold entry-level jobs. They strive for their children to have greater opportunities for education and employment.
During the pandemic, South Sudanese Church met in a variety of places including a basement, an office and a public library. Last fall Church Connectors Ministry introduced the leadership teams of South Sudanese Church and Grace Evangelical Free Church. They began to discuss and pray about the possibility of serving together. The result was not merely that South Sudanese Church now had a facility available for regular worship, but that there was a strong overlap of relationships and ministries.
When a luncheon was held on the Sunday the relationship was announced, the South Sudanese deliberately divided among several small tables to engage in conversation with their new American friends. Melissa, a young woman from Grace who has previously worked with refugees, agreed to serve as Connector (lead point person) with the South Sudanese church. The South Sudanese have begun to serve together with the Americans during their Wednesday evening programming, preparing a shared meal before children’s ministries and small groups.
One of the most notable ways that this connection has blessed both churches is in evangelism. Grace has had a long-term interest in serving refugee families. Over the years they have sponsored 4 different families, providing food, household goods and practical suggestions on daily living in the United States. The current refugees they sponsor are an Arabic-speaking Sudanese Muslim family. Prior to their relationship with South Sudanese Church, the people of Grace lovingly provided material needs and as much emotional support as they could across the language barrier. Now Grace has Arabic-speaking Christian friends who understand best ways to share Christ with Muslims. Within weeks, significant relationships formed between Christians and Muslims because of their mutual experiences as refugees in America.
Most American churches desire to share Christ with neighbors who are like them, and send missionaries to the ends of the earth to reach culturally different peoples. But few American churches are able to reach immigrants around them with their existing preaching and worship. The cultural differences are simply too great. By building connections with churches like South Sudanese, American congregations can greatly expand their local Kingdom impact.
This month we honor Pastor Khamis for his love for the gospel, the lost and Christ’s global Church. Well done, good and faithful servant!