We spoke to a friend of UFM Worldwide, Julie-Anne, at our recent ‘Called to Serve’ conference about her journey so far in crosscultural mission and her continued passion to serve.
Tell us about yourself and your church …
I come from Northern Ireland, but moved to England for university. I currently teach French and Spanish at a secondary school in London and God has blessed me with a wonderful local church. Recently I’ve joined the mission support team, which has given me a great opportunity to learn about what God is doing through UFM mission partners overseas.
How has your interest in the Muslim world developed?
It was during my time at university that I began to develop an interest in the Muslim worldview. I had quite a few Muslim friends and I started to read up about the differences between Christianity and Islam. Over time, I felt God increasingly lay that burden on my heart. Opportunities came for outreach, such as teaching English to Syrian refugees in Belfast one summer and, back at university, a group of us started a world mission prayer group with a focus on the Muslim world.
Last summer, you undertook a short-term mission trip to work alongside one of our long-term mission partners in a Muslim majority country. What was that experience like?
I’m so grateful that I could be D’s shadow for two weeks! We spent the first week in a major city. I helped at an English-teaching club, which has proven to be a really fruitful way of gently sowing seeds with individuals who might otherwise not have the opportunity to hear the gospel.
I spent a few days in the office of the Bible Correspondence Course, seeing how the team responds to enquiries for Bible literature from across Eurasia. We also had the opportunity to get alongside a creative street outreach by visiting teams from South America. In what is quite a closed country, it was amazing to see how they drew people into gospel conversations through telling stories and playing music on the streets.
The highlight for me was a trip to the eastern part of the country. D is partnering with a local church in a Kurdish-majority area as part of a long-term vision to encourage believers and raise up new churches there. I helped at a three day English-teaching camp. It was so encouraging to have the opportunity to share the gospel quite openly with young people in this setting.
How have you kept in touch with D and her work in that country?
D really modelled what it is like to invest long-term in cross-cultural mission work. She gave me a realistic portrait of both the highlights and the challenges, and I am thankful for our ongoing friendship. She joined the mission group prayer meeting at our church recently. It was great for my church to build that connection with her following their faithful prayers for me last summer. I pray we can continue to build links.
What are your next steps and how can we pray for you?
Please pray that God would help me to be a faithful witness where he has placed me at the present time. My time in Eurasia challenged me to make the most of the relative freedom we have in the UK to witness openly. But please also pray that God would help me to be obedient to whatever plan he has for me in the future, wherever that may be.
If Julie-Anne’s story has sparked your interest, please talk to your church leaders and get in touch with us. Or perhaps you are a church leader and you can think of someone showing an interest in cross-cultural mission in your congregation. We’d love to support you and your church in exploring gifts for cross-cultural mission, either partnering alongside our long-term mission partners, or facilitating a flexible placement.