Bearing fruitColossians 1:6Sefton MarshallFarewellStuart BayOnekawa Bible ChurchGod's willCalendarGlentunnel ChapelNick GoodwinKoinoniaGratitudeFellowship1 Corinthians 10:16 DunedinNew buildingCornerstone International Bible ChurchDoctrinePastoral Theologians FellowshipExamine ourselves1 Corinthians 11:28Children and FamiliesKaitaia Bible ChapelNextGen Summit1 Corinthians 11:27CommunionBethany TrustDoug BennFamily FiestaFinlay ParkNarrows ParkTotara SpringsRaleigh Street Christian CentreLight PartyRedemption ChurchMark DramaFenton Park Bible ChurchOctober 7IsraelHeretaunga Christian CentreLazarusLifeJohn 11:43Peter AllenGovernanceIan Elliott ScholarshipWhite SundayBaptismsWeepingJohn 11:33Holiday ProgrammeChurch-centric campingAuckland Leaders DinnerThe Street ChurchPathway Christian CentreBroderick Road ChapelVivian Street Gospel HallInternational ServiceChurch on IngestreGriefJohn 11:35Joel BirkinHolidays ProgrammeSouth IslandComfortedConfrontedJohn 12:5Growing leadersServing the communityInvercargillCelebrationThanksgivingFranklin Bible ChurchKing JesusHosanna!John 12:13Prayer breakfastWorking beeCrossGod's powerColossians 2:15North Beach Christian FellowshipTe Awamutu Bible ChapelCity to CityMoirs Point Christian CentreMangonui Bible ChapelCoopers Beach Christian Youth CampKaitaia Bible ChapeTōtara North Bible ChapelRaumati Crescent ChapelFar NorthJesus is LordCaptivated by ChristColossians 2:6Tim HodgeCCCNZ Board75th AnniversaryMissionaryMovement of the WordKaipaki Bible ChurchAlpha CourseDave FirthLast WordsHopeDavidPsalm 139:23Jesus knows usPathways CollegeLichfield LandsScholarshipsLiz HodgeSuffering ChristiansElisabeth ElliotRevelation 6:10CampsitesEl RanchoRoss BayMiCamp TaupōExodus 29:42Church-Camp PartnershipHousing ProjectOrwell Street ChurchEden Community ChurchPakuranga Christian FellowshipAnniversaryRukumoana MaraeKids programmeKelston Community ChurchPapakuraLive the gospelEmergency housingKarakarikiWhitioraNew ZealandActs 17:24FearIdolsActs 17:16Gospel MinistryChurch Camp PartnershipMararikiJob 9:9Ruth 1:20God's purposesMaraNaomiRuthHorsemenLambRevelation 6:1Rally NZTauwhare MaraeAGMRevelation 1:12-13HM RageJesus' salvationJohn 18:10Community connectionsYouth groupServing SundaysInvercargill Combined Bible SchoolFurnaceMatthew 26:46Matthew 26:42Police chaplainsHumilityPhilippians 2:7Known unto GodJohn 15:13Willow Park Christian CampKids CampLifeSwitchChurch @ CedarwoodKingston Community ChurchRomans 1:14-15Ambassador's WrapRomans 1:18God's wrathLakeland Park CampNorm and Liz SilcockRegional summitNorthgate Community Church1 Corinthians 1:18Sarah ChalmersStewardsDoors openColossians 4:4Genesis 1:12-13Ian RoweThird-Day GardensMatthew 5:16Natural disastersFamily campLighthouse ChurchChurches working togetherOrdinary peopleJohn 1:43John 1:29The LionThe LambWho are you?Who is He?John 1:21-221 Peter 1:13Psalm 13:11 Peter 1:1-2God's realitySober-mindedFrustrationPastorCampsCycloneCampsiteHowick Community ChurchHaggai 1:3-4Psalm 46:1God is our refuge and strengthLuke 2:10Good NewsIn the beginningJohn 1:1-5Luke 1:27Titus 1:9MarkLuke 1:28Psalm 31:1-5Romans 12:15Matthew 1:1Road to EmmausLuke 24:29John 20:16Mark 10:45Queen Elizabeth IIHorizon of HopeThe Mark DramaLamentationsGraceSecond windSwedish Method1-2-1 Bible ReadingPreach the WordRiccarton Community ChurchInternshipsPsalmsCreativityHoliday CampRiverbend Bible ChurchPaengaroa Bible ChapelPalmerston NorthChurch on VogelThe House Next DoorSchoolLaunchpadLifewalkAmos 5:8MatarikiBad GuysTitus 3:1-2Auckland Bible ChurchDarrell BockLeanne BrownCrossroads ChurchKaipara Bible ChapelDargaville Gospel ChurchMarsden Bay Christian Camp2 Timothy 2:21 Corinthians 1:18-31James 1:2-42 Timothy 2The Orchard Church Te PukeEvangelismChurchesSupport MinistriesEasterThe cross-shaped life2 Corinthians 1:8-9IsolationLast SupperWestChurchGeoff StarkUkraineRobert MitchellTasman ChurchChurch LeadersRevelation 2-4Psalm 31Ezra 31 Timothy 6:11-21Galatians 2:10The gospelThessaloniansAotearoa, NZEphesians 2Waitangi Day 2022Working TogetherCCCNZ AucklandAmatakiloa Bible ChurchTongan TsunamiLeslie ScottRebekah ReeveConnectionsSummitTop of the SouthEaster CampRegional ConnectionsCCCNZ Children and Family MinistriesRutland Street ChurchManawaru Bible ChapelYouth Reachout RoadtripWord of LifeConnectionPartnershipRichard DavisLawson ScottRegionalChristchurchEphesians 12 Timothy 2:1-131 Peter 12 Peter 1HarvestActs 8Psalm 24:1-2Acts 27:23–26Resurrection1 Corinthians 15:14Ezra-NehemiahPsalm 231 Corinthians 15:8-111 Corinthians 15:3-81 Corinthians 15:3-5CCCNZ PrayerHillcrest ChapelPeaceConflictWearyEldershipCOVID-19 Protection FrameworkWoven TogetherAnnual Report 2020-21FaithfulnessAPARichard FountainIndianChristian radioJeewan DhaaraPsalm 146Ambassador's BlogHeavy ladenEmily TylerBaptismWhitiora Bible ChurchLifeChurch ManurewaQSMNational CCCNZ Youth TeamRob MortonWhat Comes Next?BoardAbortion Legislation BillPandemicMark GraceResponsePhilippiansChurch response to COVID-19Church response to coronavirusCoronavirusCOVID-19Worship EnablerYvonne HengNorthcross ChurchGC3AppealBushfiresSophia McCrindleCCCAustAustralian BushfiresPacific CommunityAne PonifasioLui PonifasioQueen's Service MedalNew Year's HonoursPasifikaTāmaki Community ChurchThe Riverside ClubIdeasIntergenerational ministryMassey Community ChurchBirkenhead Community ChurchBitternessThe Greatest SaviourPrayer GatheringCCNZChristian Camping NZTeapot Valley Christian CampNancy Jean Forbes Training CentreWoodend Christian CampCanterburyChurch PlantingJackie MillarPrayingDanielle DiproseAdministrationFinance60 yearsCamp ministryChristian CampingLakeland Park Christian CampPreparationChristchurch Mosque AttacksHealingTraumaWhat's Next?Julie McKinnonUnityHospitalityCultural diversityOrosiusImmigrationTeenagersGiftsYoung leadersSummer SchoolChildrenParentsChildren and Family Ministries75 JubileeGirlsBoysNZ RallyRestCCCNZ PastorLinkGrowthOrewa Community Church2019God StoriesChapel Hill Community ChurchEncouragementFriendshipEldersSuccessionGod's faithfulnessGospelFireHope Community ChurchNelsonTogether Works BetterFIRST TrainingYouth SummitCampingCommunity MinistryChildren's MinistryRallyAuthenticityMillenialsMinistryYoung AdultsLeaving HomeStudentsCampusStudent ministry at OtagoUniversity of OtagoO WeekJesus ChristStudent LifeTSCFStudent ministryTreaty of WaitangiPākehāMāoriTreatySpiritChristianityWaitangi Day 2019ColombiaRosedale Bible ChapelSouthlandInternational StudentsTimaruChurch Street ChapelIan ElliottTeensCalledTauwhare Gospel ChapelCompassionWaikatoRefugee MinistryCambell ForlongCity Bible ChurchInternationalLiving GodGlobalisationDr Merv CoatesEngagingRongopaiMulticultural ministryHaggaiPlanningPrayerJeremy SuistedInconvenienceJosephMaryLoveSaviourO Holy Night LyricsLyricsChristmas CarolO Holy NightDiscipleshipClark Road ChapelVolunteerEducationCitizens Advice BureauTe Ao NgākauCommunity CentreJames 1:26-27OutreachMaungarei Christian Community TrustMt Wellington Community ChurchMurray BrownChrist-centredHealthy youth ministryYouth leadershipHukanui Bible ChurchBible readingFreshLearningDevotionsFamilyCommitmentBible in a yearCarolsLightsOnslow Community ChurchMusicTheologyPathwaysWorship leadingWorshipPathways School of Worship LeadingSOWLChristmas messageJesusEventsAucklandGlow in the ParkAdventChristmasSupportRespiteCareRetreatLeadersPastorsPastorLinkKerry RickardSpiritual formationCross-culturalChristianGap YearHeadspaceKiwi24-7 YouthWorkCommunityFaithYouthTrainingCCCNZ YouthYoung peopleChurchChristYouth ministryCCCNZScriptureLeadershipChristian CoachingCoachingBiblePaulFaithfulOrdinary ChristianExtraordinary GodComfort ZoneGodHadfieldMissionNZWellingtonRegional Enablers

How cultivating a heart of compassion sparked a multicultural church community

Some of the guys from Campbell Forlong's running group.
Some of the guys from Campbell Forlong's running group.

‘What did Christ value?’

This was the key question the people of City Bible Church (CBC) in Hamilton asked when they began developing their church’s values and vision. Their desire was for these values to become identifying markers of their church community.

One of the six values they landed on was this: We value compassion for the needy. Senior Pastor Campbell Forlong says that at the time this was one area where they needed to develop: “We felt like out of all the values we had identified, this was our weakest—that this was a muscle we needed to exercise and grow.”

So, the whole church spent three months delving into what it means to have compassion for the needy—reading the Bible together, hearing testimonies, and getting involved practically in their community. Their prayer was that they would have eyes open to see where God was leading them.

One of the results of this time of praying, seeking and listening was the development of the Agora Community Trust. CBC had just purchased 13B Kent Street in Frankton which provided the opportunity to express their love for their local community in the form of an event centre and café.

And as their desire to practically love their community grew, so did the opportunities.

The profits from the café are given away to charities, many of them based in the local community, through the ‘50 cents a cup’ initiative—where Agora has pledged to donate 50c from every hot drink sold to the designated charity of the month. Over the past 9 years more than $130,000 has been given way to meet local need.

One of the first charities the café ever supported was Refugee Services (now Red Cross). At that time Campbell was invited along to a pōwhiri welcoming a group of Colombian refugees to their new home in Waikato. “God, if there’s someone here from another country who you want me to befriend, let me know.” He prayed. “I was open to where God was leading and what he had in front of me”.

And that’s where Campbell met Abelardo, Doralba and their family who were fleeing violence and civil unrest caused by a 50-year civil war between the Colombian government’s armed forces and guerrilla soldiers, paramilitaries and drug cartels. After striking up a conversation, Campbell and Abelardo began meeting regularly for coffee to help Abelardo develop English conversation skills.

Through Abelardo and his family the wider Colombian community became a part of the CBC family—people started coming along to church, joining life groups and making friends. Along with CBC, some of the Colombian Christians organised and hosted a Fiesta, a celebration for their wider neighbourhood.

As needs developed CBC was able to employ a Community Worker, Victoria Forero, to help facilitate and support the church’s outreach, and Campbell says that CBC’s partnership with the Colombian community opened up the door to the wider former refugee and migrant communities: “Many Latino families have connected with our community and now once a month on a Sunday evening we gather upstairs at Agora for Spanish Worship. Every Sunday morning our regular worship is also translated live into Spanish by Victoria.”  

The church now runs ‘Converse’ a conversational class for ESOL students: “What began as an informal English class several years ago has developed into a multicultural community of migrants, former refugees and Kiwis who gather each Wednesday for English lessons, as well as regularly connecting through seasonal events and experiences.” But it’s not just formal events or meetings, say Campbell: “We’ve really tried to focus on the importance of relationship, and encourage people in our church to connect with one another. These friendships have built community and encourage us to practically love one another.”

More recently, some people in the church have been deepening friendships with those in the local Muslim community—particularly with refugees. Abul is a young man who fled bombing in his home of Kabul, Afghanistan, after his father went missing. Abul’s mother managed to get him and his six brothers and sisters to relative safety in Pakistan, and then after two years to New Zealand.

Campbell met Abul and his family at Converse two and a half years ago. They’ve been friends ever since, and Abul and his younger twin brothers are part of Campbell’s trail running group. Through contacts at CBC Abul and one of twins are now employed full-time, learning the trade of building: “We were running recently and Abul pointed up to the hill with pride and told me, ‘I’m building that house’. It had been a dream of his to build houses since he was a child in Kabul.”  

As the years have gone on, and the church family has become more and more multi-cultural. “It’s taking us a while to fully embrace the rich diversity that is developing,” says Campbell. But in the past few years people from the church have started to engage in seeking to contribute to growing a multicultural community. They have seen this in a number of ways: “From offering knitting classes to baking supper, teaching card-making or woodwork, helping teach English or offering transport.”

Coming together as a variety of cultures is not always an easy process; there are different ways of doing things, language barriers, and—in the case of many refugees—often complicated emotional and physical health needs. “Stories have been a helpful way of grounding why we should show compassion, why we should care,” says Campbell, “for us, telling the stories of refugees and former refugees has been powerful in helping Kiwis realise what people have been through.”

It’s personal for Campbell—he’s become good mates with Abelardo and their families are close friends. Abelardo is now a fully-trained arborist working in Waikato, and his wife Doralba serves on CBC’s leadership team representing her Latino community.

City Bible Church’s vision to become a growing multi-cultural community grew out of their desire to live like Christ, and as they followed that desire God led them to opportunities. As a leader, Campbell encouraged people to ask: ‘Who is my neighbour and how am I loving them?’ “We aim to help people see what’s practical and in reach, but to contemplate the next step out of their comfort zone. We’re in the process of reviewing our church mission again—looking at how we can reinvigorate and revive a church-wide passion for what Christ values.”

Story by Sophia Sinclair.


This product has been added to your cart