Church going global - 26th Mar 2018

What started as a seedling prayer has now grown into a fruitful international ministry, that is seeing First Church Invercargill welcome their first Asian members.

Nyalle Paris, Minister at First Church Invercargill, said St Andrews Invercargill prayed for an international ministry for First Church and now they are reaping from it.

“We baptized our congregation’s first Asian couple, who have joined the choir too!” he said.

“Another Asian family and more migrants are coming and it’s all thanks to ESOUL!”

ESOUL is an English-speaking tutorial group for migrants in Invercargill that First Church host.

“It began when Jen Richardson suggested running the program at First Church, so we gave her our seminar room as a venue,” he said.

“The first year, in 2016, we had 25 migrant students come along. There were Indians, Chinese, Thai and Indonesians.”

At first Jen was volunteering, but after feeling prompted by God to focus on ESOUL and financial assistance from the Synod of Otago & Southland, she began working full-time.

“We saw our class numbers spike from 25 to 60 people,” Nyalle said.

ESOUL became more successful after Margaret, Youth Leader at St Andrews Invercargill, decided to voluntarily run a children’s program for the student’s children.

“It was a miracle because we had no money to pay her! And It worked well because students with kids could now come,” he said.

Student’s interest in Christianity began to occur and an Alpha home study was created.

“We ran this at my house, with 18 students turning up.”

“I decided I needed a new TV for this, so I got one! My wife didn’t agree though,” he laughed.

The Alpha group captured interest and is continuing to change the lives of many migrant students.

One Chinese student named Lulu, with no religious knowledge, attended the group and “soaked the information up like blotting paper.”

“She had an accounting exam coming up, and decided to pray for the first time.”

“She got 100%! Her lecturer told her that he’d never seen a flawless grade before.”

Lulu and her husband Max are now planning to stay in New Zealand, and were baptized late last year.

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