Loving Our Neighbor

Sharing Lives

By Jonah Jane Enterina

I can still vividly remember the day when we first opened Ladies' Day in Christ Church, Farm Road. Most of us are volunteers, and there is only one Muslim lady who came in. We were hopeful that more women would come and hear about the new initiative we have in the neighborhood.

This project opened in September 2015. A small group of women from church organizations came together and came up with an idea to set up a group for local women to come and share life together. Sparkbrook, where I live nearby, is a multicultural area where there are women coming from different faith backgrounds and ethnicity. Inspired by the Holy Spirit to reach out to our neighbors, especially when the Syrian war broke out, we were eager and willing to contribute to the community bringing peace and unity.

We started with a simple coffee and tea welcome for the ladies. One lady came and was happy to spend time with us chatting and sharing any life concerns. And then, eventually the woman invited her friends, and by word of mouth and through our leaflets and invitations, the group grew! After some months of praying to the Lord to bring women together, we are very happy to share that there are over a 100 women attending! It was indeed a miracle, growing from one lady to more and more women coming! Praise be to God who makes all things possible!

We gather every Thursday. We offer various activities. We start with Zumba exercises with our favorite Latin music to give us a beat to help us boost our confidence as well as to keep us fit. This is followed by a very healthy lunch with more green vegetables and less fatty food served at the table. Gathering together and sharing a meal results in some of our best sessions! We sit and listen to each other as we share our stories. It may be faith sharing, but it does not matter what background and religious views you have. We are all ready to listen and learn from each other.

I feel privileged to share my life story and how I came about working and witnessing by carrying my Christian faith in a very Islamic area. I felt joy as I shared the love of Jesus with them. I was given the opportunity to share about our Columban mission in Birmingham at one of our events. I presented a video and shared the different projects and ministries the Columban missionaries are involved in around the world. Through our life here in Birmingham and my personal journey experience, I was able to share the love and joy of the Gospel. And hopefully the people who saw the presentation will be more aware of what is going on around them and act on the needs of our brothers and sisters who are in need especially asylum seekers and refugees in this country.

I am most grateful for the friendship of my Muslim friend who said, "I am indeed a Muslim in you and you a Christian in me." Together we remain true and faithful to our love for God and neighbor.

Columban lay missionary Jonah Jane Enterina lives and works in Birmingham, England.