March 25, 2021
One of the fastest ways the Christian Reformed Church in North America is growing, both in numbers and in diversity, is through ethnic minority church plants. Resonate Global Mission partners with more than 15 ethnic minority church plants and more than 10 multiethnic church plants in the United States and Canada.
Ethnic minority church plants are uniquely equipped to provide meaningful faith communities for people to worship and learn about God in their own culture and language.
“The most important thing is a sense of belonging,” said Eric Sarwar, pastor of Artesia City Church in Artesia, California. “When you are an immigrant, you don’t know the language. You don’t know the system. You don’t know who is going to help you or not.”
Artesia City Church is a faith community of first and second generation immigrants from India and Pakistan. Moving to a new country can be isolating, and India and Pakistan both have cultures that are more community-focused than the individualistic cultures in Canada and the United States. Sarwar planted the church after moving to the United States from Pakistan and struggling to find a church where he could worship in his language and culture.
Artesia City Church has grown rapidly. Sarwar and a few people originally started meeting in a home for worship. Within three months, the room was crowded and Trinity CRC offered space in their building where the church plant could meet and welcome more people.
One member is a young man who moved alone from India. He didn’t know anyone in his new community and was, among other challenges, struggling with the immigration process. But then he learned about Artesia City Church. Not only was this man able to worship God in his own language and culture, but he found a spiritual family.
“Living in a foreign land, when you are away from your biological or blood relatives, you find your spiritual bonding with the church,” said Eric. “You find a family who speak your language, share in your culture, know the challenges you face.”
Artesia City Church is just one example. In Wyoming, Michigan, another church plant is providing a faith community for the growing population of Spanish-speaking people from throughout Latin America. Comunidad Cristiana Internacional (International Christian Community) was planted by Robert Garcia with support from Resonate, Classis Grand Rapids South, and Community Christian Reformed Church.
“We are working together in a single vision to reach the Hispanic community,” said Robert, who is from Venezuela. The church plant has welcomed individuals and families from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Argentina, Mexico, and other countries. Many people who connect with Comunidad Cristiana Internacional are not originally Christians, but through the church plant, they’re able to learn about God in their own language. Several people have accepted Christ and are continuing to grow in their faith.
Planting and supporting church plants for communities of all cultures and ethnicities in Canada and the United States requires support from across the denomination. Thank you for the role you play! Your gifts to Resonate help support church plants like Artesia City Church and Comunidad Cristiana Internacional.
A longer version of this article was first published by The Banner.