Partnership between Assemblies of God World Missions and North Central creates opportunities for students to locally gain cross-cultural experience
By Elizabeth VanderPloeg and Nathan Wileman
Many people dream of going to far-off places to share the gospel to those who have never heard the good news. Few realize the extent of the unreached in their own backyard.
Minneapolis hosts the most diverse community in the United States, Phillips neighborhood, which is located only a mile south of North Central’s campus. Over 100 people groups live within the Phillips community. Minneapolis is also diverse in religious background. A 2013 Pew Research report estimated that over 20,000 people in the Minneapolis area associate themselves with a non-Christian faith, (including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism).
The Antioch Initiative exists to bring light to the beautifully diverse population of the Twin Cities.
The initiative is a partnership between Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) and North Central to share the gospel message with unreached people — both globally and locally. The partnership focuses on reaching specific groups within the Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist communities.
The Antioch team is lead by Nick Robertson along with Michelle McKinley and Dana Kincaid. All of the team members are associated with AGWM. Much of Antioch’s work is geared toward the American-Somali population, of which Minneapolis is the largest immigration point in the United States. Nearly one third of the American-Somali population resides in Minneapolis.
The Antioch Initiative was founded seven years ago on North Central’s campus by Diane Campbell and was originally named The Antioch Center. The team based out on the North Central University campus is one of many teams affiliated with the Antioch Initiative. Last year, though, was the first time an active team was present on campus. The team has looked to revamp the program in order to incorporate student interaction with the community outreach.
Antioch also provides students with opportunities to work with unreached people groups. “We want to see eternal fruit and we also want to see students trained,” said Nick Robertson, North Central’s Antioch director.
A focus of the program is to advocate and raise awareness for the unreached people groups that currently have no churches. A branch of the initiative, comprised of North Central faculty and students, reaches out to differing demographics in the area by teaching classes, working with local businesses as well as hosting prayer nights most weeks.
The Antioch team seeks to emphasize the work of the Spirit in their community work. Because of cultural barriers, the team realizes that their work could not happen if there was an absence of supernatural power.
When asked about some of the hurdles that the team has had to overcome, Robertson stated that the team must lay a firm foundation on which future generations can build.