Transforming lives on four continents

My Week at IMC

Posted by Dave and Michele Mahon at 21:02 on 22nd November 2016

IMC is a place where Mission Trainees are prepared for our service abroad. We live and study here at in Selly Oak in Birmingham. Here is a summary of one of our training weeks.


Phil Grasham, Mission Trainer, took us through some ideas about how to understand another culture; looking at cultural norms and important celebrations, diet, family structure and other aspects, emphasising the importance of using the familiar to introduce gospel concepts.

Then Clare Ord, IMC Co Director asked for feedback on the first half of the term, to inform their planning for next term. We gave her some good pointers including our preference for no assignments (except for one person who would like one) and we requested some more guidance on our reading.

Then we went through the topic of women in mission, finding out that about 75% of BMS missionaries are single women, who also make up a large percentage of the church. We studied the work of the Zenana Mission in India, to high caste Hindu women who were secluded, reached by BMS female mission workers beginning in 1854. We ended the lecture with a call for a modern day equivalent of the project.
In the afternoon Arthur Magahy, Mission Trainer, led a session on Spiritual Warfare, looking at different worldviews. We considered film depictions of Jesus’ encounter with the man from the Gadarenes. We discussed the concept of Dukkha, which is a word that tries to capture all that is wrong with the world; sin and it’s effects in every realm of life. We considered how God comes against this with His power and how we are called to partner with God in this battle. Mission is the act of going into the enemy’s territory to proclaim God’s kingdom has come.

In the morning we started with devotions led by Jenny who is here with her husband Andy, as they prepare to return to Nepal in the new year. We considered Joseph and his reconciliation with his family, from the standpoint of a film or play. We then spent some time in prayer for each other.
Our first lecture was led by Phil, who taught us on cultures and Worldview, considering the practicalities of his work with a family within the Fulbe tribe in Mali. They are a Muslim, Animist nomadic tribe whose lifestyle revolves around their cattle. Phil and Marian’s strategy to work with them was centred on families, similar to Acts 16:33. One of their strategies was to provide the people with solar powered mp3 players loaded with Fulfulde messages about Christ. The people asked many questions and few became Christians, which meant ostracism from their community; a heavy price to pay. A display of Christ’s power over sickness also had the potential to be a powerful witness.
Claire then led a session on Hospitality, looking at its significance in overseas mission, in comparison with our culture’s aversion to strangers. We looked at biblical examples of hospitality, exploring the word Xenos which is the Greek word for guest or stranger. We must learn to be good hosts and good guests.

We considered some case studies from Mission Personnel abroad who have taken in immigrants and others in need, alongside their other mission work, and talked about the benefits and risks of hospitality in different cultures. Risks include energy levels, time and money available, and sustainability. Hospitality is an important part of our Christian tradition, with Kosike Kayana, a Japanese missionary, describing mission as ‘extending hospitality to strangers’.
Later, in the Missional reading of the Bible module, Phil took us through the book of Amos, using the following guidelines
Who are we?
Where are we?
What’s gone wrong?
What’s the solution?
What time it is
The book of Amos is a vision. It is a pictorial account of God’s impending judgement upon Israel who had forsaken their covenant in favour of other idols, and also engaged extensively in oppressing the poor and cheating others. In some places, Amos interceded on their behalf and God relented. Prophets like him were people in close relationship with God who are called upon to comment on the ‘state of the nation’, and sometimes on individual lives. Not all prophets wrote, but much of the material recorded in the prophetic books are written reports of what was originally spoken messages. In this book there is a call for social justice and equity.

Amos’s prophetic utterances were sermons given in the right place at the right times, in a variety of styles – visions, symbolic actions, parables or illustrations, laments and hymns, and prayers. The first two chapters criticise the surrounding nations and then focuses on the sin of Israel. Chapters 3-6 are judgement speeches against Israel, and chapters 7-9 are vision reports. The storyline is about

Divine sovereignty and judgement
Idolatry and social injustice
The covenant and the remnant
The Day of the Lord
God’s word

We ended the lecture with a few minutes’ reflection on what God was saying to us through this book.
In the afternoon we visited Green Lane Baptist, Walsall, who run a community outreach project called MendIt, engaging with their neighbours through serving Tea and Toast, sewing and card making. We learned a lot from the project leader and her enthusiasm for their mission was amazing. We shared tea and prayed together.

We had pastoral small group meetings to start the day, and were supposed to have a Security Briefing with Dawn Weston and Graham but this was postponed. We spent  some time considering Disability in a session led by Martin Hobgen, considering perceptions, definitions and models of disability. Models consider the topic either from an individual perspective, focusing on impairment or handicap that prevents people from engaging in normal activities, versus social models which looks at common characteristic that differentiate some particular group form others in society and thus leads to discrimination, shifting the voice from the non-disabled person to the disabled person themselves, coming up with a definition and thus parameters with which to engage with the issues. On the whole, work needs to be done on accessibility with our buildings, our language, and our attitudes towards disabled people, especially getting rid of the idea that God cannot use people the way they are.


Our morning devotions were led by Mark Ord, focussing on Gen 44:18-35. In this passage Judah negotiates with Joseph on behalf of his family. We then spent some time praying for families.
The whole morning was dedicated to Geoff Colmer from Central Baptist Association, who helped us to consider the Spirituality of Ignatius and meditation. They form a Retreat Guide, focusing on Spiritual exercises aimed at helping people grow in Spiritual freedom in order to respond to the call of Christ. A central question to this spirituality is ‘What do you Desire?’

Imaginative contemplation is also a key part of it, looking at Bible passages and placing yourself into the story, particularly listening for the voice of God. We took part in several meditation exercises throughout the session.


South Korean dish

Thursday night was placement night at Harborne Baptist Church. They run an evangelistic international friendship café for overseas students. I brought a friend along with me this time, Pastor Ronald, a Bangladeshi regional minister who is here form three months studying with us. He thoroughly enjoyed the evening, which focused on Christians in professional occupations and the impact of their faith in Jesus on their work.


This day is usually dedicated to Placements, although we had a group reflection in the afternoon followed by prayer.

As you can see it’s been a busy week! The above took place alongside school runs, homework, play time, family devotions, rest and wonderful meals provided by the awesome staff at IMC! We had two birthdays this week which were fun to be a part of. Thankfully we had some babysitting help from a lovely couple who are training with us, which enabled us to have a date night. Bliss! We had fun playing Ludo in the reception area.

Also, we had others in the building using the facilities for conferences, meetings, training and socialising. It’s a wonderful place to live, and we count ourselves really blessed and privileged to be here at this time.

God has taught us patience, having left a fast paced life behind to prioritise our preparation for mission, taught us ways to rest and reflect on how He has been speaking to us in the midst of all we are engaged in, and servant-heartedness, as we live in loving community with other Mission Trainees who are journeying with us.

My biggest lesson of the week lay in re appreciating my value as a woman in ministry; I really enjoyed getting a fresh perspective of our individual and collective value in God’s eyes. He really really loves us!


Date Night in Birmingham’s China Town



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