The model for many International Churches around the world is the first century church in Antioch (Acts 11 and 14). When Jewish Christians were scattered from Jerusalem by persecution, they ended up in other cities and initially limited outreach to other Jewish expats. When they reached Antioch they also shared the good news with the Gentiles, Greek-speaking people, with the result that many came to faith in Christ. The church was soon a multi-national community of faith from which Paul launched his missionary journeys.
The church in Antioch led the way in:
- Reaching across ethnic lines and building a diverse community of faith
- Sending out missionaries to other parts of the world (Paul and Barnabas)
- Caring for famine relief in Jerusalem – they started the relief fund
Around the world today there is a network of about one thousand “International Churches” that serve as an oasis for the multi-national community and a ‘launching pad’ to reach local people and engage in missionary activity. This is a great strategy in Restricted Access Nations. In the 1960s and early 70s the Community Christian Church of Kabul, Afghanistan was a base for witness to local people groups. They saw and utilized the missional potential in the international community that lived there.
International Churches are part of the strategy of PAOC International Missions. For example, Dan and Mardie MacTavish have worked alongside Pastor Christi Soimaru in Bucharest, Romania in the international church. Mark and Kim Steinfield partner closely in the International Church in Yerevan, Armenia. They have seen many Indian nationals studying at the universities come to faith through their ministry. Sheldon and Anna Armitage are serving as interim pastors in the Bratislava International Church in Slovakia.
Dave and Rhonda Fortune first went to Azerbaijan and led the International Church in Baku and then about two years ago moved to Basel, Switzerland where they pastor Crossroads International Church. This is a post-Christian nation where the seeds of Christianity planted by John Calvin and other reformers have been largely forgotten.
Only 2% of the population of 750 million people in Europe would be considered evangelical believers who profess a personal relationship with Jesus. Not many Europeans today have any interest or understanding of Christianity–only a few retain an active link with a church or the faith of their fathers.
Switzerland has a significant number of foreign residents, in fact the highest percentage of any major European state. Cities like Basel are nearly 50% non-Swiss. Crossroads provide that haven and oasis for these foreigners to find community and many have come to a personal knowledge of the Lord. Like the church in Antioch, this is a church with influence, not only in the city of Basel, but to impact to the nations through its multi-ethnic makeup.
- God will open the minds of many more foreign nationals and “turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.” (Acts 26:18)
- God will make Crossroads a “sending” church that releases people back to their homelands with a message of good news.
- God will give Dave and Rhonda and their family great strength and anointing to lead this growing community of Jesus followers.