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Missionaries to Leicester

It’s always exciting to read about new churches starting. Phil Topham’s been finding out about North Church Leicester – a recognised church plant which has been started by The Crowded House Loughborough.

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A Christian missionary who is called to serve abroad knows that they’ll have to move house. Often to a very different culture with a very different outlook.

But increasingly, Christians in Britain are taking this same approach, moving house to reach diverse communities closer to home where there’s little or no gospel witness.

Pete and Anna Petra along with Roddy and Laura Jonas are missionaries, but they’ve not gone abroad. They’re seeking to reach an area of Britain where there is very little gospel witness. Both families have moved into an area of north-west Leicester to start a new church.

The Petras and the Jonases

Home to 48,000 people, there are very few churches that preach the gospel in this suburb of the city. Pete is an Acts 29 church planter and is the pastor of North Church Leicester. He said:

“We refer to ourselves as missionaries because of our theological conviction that all Christians have been called and chosen by God to declare his excellencies to the world – to join him in the mission of making Christ known (1 Peter 2:9-12). In other words, to be a Christian is to be a missionary but that just looks different depending on the people you want to reach.

We want to reach the Mowmacre Hill area of Leicester – primarily through sharing the gospel with people in the normal rub of life. Our prayer is that unbelievers would be saved and that many would be added to our number so we can reach out with the gospel here.”

Understanding the Culture

The area of Leicester that the church has been planted into is divided into a number of estates including Mowmacre Hill. Many of these estates are owned by the council and are home to young families and adults from working class backgrounds.

Historically, the area has had a strong Catholic influence which means for Pete, a lot of people are referring to him as a Priest or a Father. He said:

“That’s been one of the things we’ve had to get used to about the local culture. We’ve now decided to call me a ‘minister’ because when we tried to explain what a ‘pastor’ is, people just misunderstood it. In fact, at one point someone thought I’d said I was a ‘plasterer’!”

Both the Petras and the Jonases are getting to know their neighbours and starting to see friendships develop between them and others in their community.

Pete and Roddy have joined the rugby club, getting alongside some of the men who play every week, as well as spending time getting to know people in the local pub. Anna and Laura are getting to know lots of local mums through the local school and playgroups.

They have recently started weekly Sunday services at the local community centre, working through Mark’s gospel, and a handful of local folks are joining them on a regular basis.

Roddy added:

“We’ve been amazed by God’s grace in the way we’ve been able to get to know people so quickly and the opportunities for the gospel we’ve already had. Please pray for relationships to deepen and for the gospel to bear fruit here.”

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Phil Topham - FIEC Head of Communication

Phil looks after FIEC's internal and external communication. He is married to Kath and they live near Market Harborough and attend Christ Church in the town.