First Wesleyan Church in Nashville, Tennessee, is multicultural and multigenerational and full of energy and creativity. The church is actively involved in outreach opportunities throughout Nashville.
Reaching the nations
The Wesleyan Church has a long history rooted in its outreach to the nations. Although I am used to being in a multicultural setting (I grew up in New York City), I just recently began to absorb God’s heart for the nations. Once I developed an awareness of the needs of people from nations outside of America, I asked myself, “How do I reach the nations?”
In 2015, I heard a presentation from World Relief. Out of curiosity, I scheduled an appointment to visit its Nashville office. From the moment I walked through the doors, I saw people of many nationalities who came to Nashville as refugees looking for a new start. It hit me! God has brought the nations within reach. We just need to care.
Our church began to partner with the youth program and spent the next year volunteering at the high school after school program, driving students home–which gave great opportunity for conversation and ministry–and adopting a family to mentor. One of those kids has grown into a strong Christian girl and is a leader in our church: teaching in kids church, serving as a counselor at our district kids camp and heavily involved in our student ministry. Her brother has taken music lessons from our church’s music instructors and has invited several friends and neighbors to church to hear the gospel.
Our church has also considered becoming an Immigrant Connection site for the Greater Middle Tennessee area.
John has been part of the church for over eight years, way before my wife, Vonetta, and I arrived. He was drawn to the church because of its outreach to the homeless under the leadership of the previous pastors. While a tremendously talented Nashville musician and seasoned songwriter, John has a heart for evangelism and reaching the lost. He would often be found on the streets of downtown Nashville, either with a microphone and a speaker, with his guitar and most recently with his sketch board as a tool for sharing the gospel.
I encouraged John to use his gift further and to allow the church to come alongside him. As a church family, we’ve stepped outside our comfort zone and joined John in street evangelism. The church goes out as a team, joining him in singing songs of worship, handing out tracts (yes, good ol’ gospel tracts), sharing the message of hope and praying for passersby. This has been a tremendous exercise of our evangelistic muscle, pushing the participants outside of their comfort zone, helping us focus on interacting with the general public and reaching the lost with Jesus’ saving message.
I am an introverted person. However, I was convicted that I need to create as many opportunities to share God’s message with others as possible. The Lord led me to set up a prayer table in the middle of the public housing development near the church and simply engage each person who passes by. We are set up at least three mornings every week and have prayed for people, shared the gospel, distributed Bibles and devotional items and invited people to church. We have interacted with people whom we may have missed by staying inside our church building.
FWC-Nashville looks forward to finding newer and unique ways to get out of the norm of church life and to keep evangelism as a focus of our ministry. We believe God is sending more people who are like-minded and take evangelism and discipleship seriously and that it will ultimately grow the church. But more importantly, as God waters the seeds sown, it will grow the kingdom of God! Please keep us in prayer.