The story of the International Christian Fellowship of Wrexham (ICFW)
In April 2013 Mr Montri, a Christian businessman friend in Thailand, gave me a DVD he had produced entitled ‘Lessons from Movies’. Mr Montri drew lessons for life from four well-known films, which were followed by the wonderful testimonies of four Christian couples. After we had watched the testimony of the third couple, the Lord spoke clearly to my wife, Ulla, and me, telling us that we should reach out to the many internationals living in Wrexham.
Wrexham is one of the towns to which the Home Office sends asylum seekers. This means that, including international students at the college and university as well as migrant workers from the EU, there are literally thousands of people from countries around the world living in our town.
Ulla and I have experienced living in another country for many years as missionaries where we had to learn the local language and culture and get used to a very different climate and food. This helped us to empathise with local internationals.
And so we began
In May 2013 we began meeting on a Sunday afternoon in our home. Two months later we moved to a room at the Manna Christian Bookshop and then, in December, to the lounge of the Regent Street Methodist Church, where we still meet today. Internationals from some thirty different countries have joined us for longer or shorter periods of time since we began to meet.
We have found it to be a transient group as people have to return to their home country because of visa issues or because their time of study at the local college or university has come to an end. Nevertheless, God has blessed us with a great sense of ‘belonging’ and many of those who have had to leave did so with heavy hearts.
The format of our meetings is simple. We sing, share our personal needs, study the Bible and then pray for each other, followed by eating time! We encourage everyone to bring food, which we share; this means we have enjoyed food from countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Iran, British Guyana and Sweden. Once a month we have a ‘Sunday Special’ when one of the group tells us about their home country. We also celebrate people’s birthdays as well as the official birthday of ICFW each May.
We have had a couple of film evenings and been on several outings – to Wittington Castle, Moel Famau, Lake Vyrnwy and we have even climbed Snowdon! We also ran the Christianity Explored course last year.
The world to Wrexham
Over the years Britain has sent thousands of missionaries to all parts of the globe. Now, in our day, the globe has come to us. The challenge we local Christians face is to reach those from other nations with the wonderful gospel of the Lord Jesus.
Most of the leaders of ICFW are now getting long in the tooth and we would love to have younger people with a burden to reach internationals join us. If the Lord lays this work on your heart, please pray for us. We want to see people coming to faith and being discipled. The danger for those who come from countries which have a national religion is simply to add Christianity to their old belief, so that they are ‘Christians’ in the UK, but then revert to whatever the national religion is when they return home.