There’s a place for everyone at the table of God’s family

4th September 2019

There’s nothing quite like coming home to a loving family. Having a place where you are known, loved and encouraged to fulfil your purpose. At Mill Park Baptist Church (MPBC), our members and our community are experiencing exactly that

Nestled in a multi-cultural suburb, north of Melbourne, MPBC welcomes people of all ages, races and socio-economic backgrounds to the family of God. Through the personal testimonies of many, we are seeing the fruit of our church embracing multi-ethnicity where over 30 different ethnic groups of people come together to worship and serve every week.

Mariam, one of our dedicated members, is a great example of this. Mariam migrated to Australia from Egypt and felt lost in a new country. She began attending MPBC with her family and soon found a sense of belonging and value within our community. Mariam knew that she was not alone and dreamt of people from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds feeling welcomed, loved, and accepted for who they are, and being empowered as tomorrow’s leaders in a multi-ethnic context.

We encouraged her to take up a leadership role and supported her team to launch an “International Expo” event, celebrating ethnic diversity.  Using her own experience and story, Mariam offered all she had to the Lord. And faithfully, He has used it mightily! Through a showcase of diverse food and cultural performances, the International Expo, now in its 5thyear, is an event that our community looks forward to participating in and celebrating. It is a beautiful demonstration of Revelation 7:9,

‘After this I looked and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.’

And then, there’s SHAK! Whispering in the hearts of Siew-Peng and two sisters, Joanna and Sonya, God united their vision to Share His Almighty Kingdom through a community kitchen. The SHAK was birthed in 2015 to share God’s love through a hot meal and warm conversations. Today, this incredible ministry feeds 20-25 people each week, impacting many who are lonely and struggling with issues such as mental health.

Theresa, was one of the many individuals, captivated by this ministry. Having been diagnosed with Cancer and sitting with questions of faith, Theresa saw how the SHAK was a reconciling community of Christ where all can belong. She was deeply moved and started volunteering at the SHAK. On her last birthday before passing, she asked that all her gifts be a contribution to the SHAK and provided new equipment for the kitchen. We are thankful that Theresa left a legacy that continues to transform lives within our community.

There are also stories from people whose lives have been changed through the process of counselling. Mill Park Community Care, our professional counselling service, was established back in 2013 through two church members with counselling training and experience. This more publicly accessible form of counselling is quite different to traditional pastoral care and has helped many outside the church four walls, to work through issues and deal with emotions. One of our clients shared with us her story below:

 “If you were to tell me six months ago that I would be currently living addiction free and full of purpose – I would have literally thought you were downright crazy. It was three words that changed my life forever… “By His grace.” It was the grace of God that met me from the very first counselling session at Mill Park (Community Care) with my counsellor or “Doc” as I refer to her at times. I knew in that room, on that very first session, that God was in that place. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t easy by any means and I had to go to some dark places but… (it) was so easy to talk… and I could literally share everything… I have by no means arrived, but I do know that generational curses, habits and addictions are forever broken off my life – wrong ways of thinking have also completely been rectified (this is a continual process) and I have gained a greater clarity of the “big picture” of my life and how I best fit in that by God’s strength, through His will and by the power of His Holy Spirit. Let me finish by saying that even if you’re not spiritual or religious in any way – the counselling team is still right for you to gain good quality, world-class counselling in my humble opinion.”

We also have ministries across every generation, that share the love of Jesus and good news of the gospel to the community – from kids to youth to young adults and beyond. Thanks to volunteers like Kat Stokes, our church provides playgroup twice weekly as a wonderful way to connect with parents and their young children. The ZONE is another outreach program available to primary school children. Through fun activities once a month, children in the community have the opportunity to make friends with believing children their age and establish connections with faith-filled mentors to help them grow.

At MPBC, we believe there’s a place for everyone at His table and it’s something we find engrained throughout the DNA of all our ministries. With so many unique gifts and callings working together as one family in Christ, 1 Corinthians 12:7 and 11 so perfectly sum up what we are seeing at MPBC:

‘To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.’