The Brethren in Christ Church in the United Kingdom (BICC U.K.) spans nine congregations in city centers around England. Primarily serving Zimbabwean emigrants, the Church was founded in 1980 by Elias Moyo, now the national overseer. Elias shares some of the BICC U.K.’s story with us.
Q: What is the story of the inception of the Brethren in Christ Church in the U.K.?
Led to pray and fast, the North American board for World Missions sought God’s guidance in 1976 to extend their outreach. Following discussion and prayer, they conducted a three-month feasibility study of potential fields.
In 1978, the North American General Conference sought authorization for the board for World Missions to open a new ministry in London.
It is important to highlight that even before the initial vision by World Missions, some BIC London residents had felt God had called us to start a Church in the U.K.: “Time is up that they (North American and African Churches) fly over England on the way to Africa or the United States of America. Now is the time they stop and plant the Church here because the United Kingdom needs God’s Kingdom.”
Thus, in 1980, we the Elias Moyo family, by then living in Zimbabwe, were sent to pioneer the ministry in the U.K.
Q: How do you see God at work in the Brethren in Christ Church in the U.K.?
The first 23 years of ministry were the hardest for us as a couple, as we managed to plant only one congregation — Forest Gate.
After Forest Gate, congregations were started but later closed when most of our U.S. missionaries decided to leave the U.K. World Missions, who was the sole sponsor by 1995, asked me to return to Zimbabwe and teach at Theological College of Zimbabwe, since they had no more resources.
I asked for permission to remain in the U.K. as a BIC self-supporting church planter. That request was granted. Thank God for revealing to us that is was possible to sponsor ourselves for his work.
Today we are delighted that eight more strong and healthy BIC congregations exist because of the decision we made. Though a challenging decision for our family, I thank them for understanding our call to the mission in the U.K.
We are also working on planting other congregations in the U.K.
Q: How did you feel personally called to ministry?
My father was one of the first teachers in the school at Mtshabezi Mission, located in Zimbabwe and founded by the Brethren in Christ. His influence and that of my godly mother made me know God. When I became a Christian in 1956, my vision was to win souls for Christ. I did not know how. Thank God I was told BIC had a Bible institute in Zimbabwe (the Ekuphileni Bible Institute). I then decided to apply to prepare myself for my mission’s task.
In my heart of hearts, I had always admired those who left their country to serve God. I did not just want to be their fan but to engage myself in missions. One night during my devotions I asked God to send me to another country for missionary service.
That very day it dawned on me that BIC Zimbabwe had never sent missionaries overseas: Oh, what a blow it was for me.
Worse still, we were taught the Great Commission was the calling for supervisory white missionaries alone. We were more attuned to receiving missionaries from outside our country than being sent to be missionaries ourselves. But some of these missionaries’ humility became the beacon of my call.
I can vividly remember one devotion I had in 1971. And as I prayed, the Lord spoke to me: “You will be my missionary beyond Zimbabwe.”
To my surprise, I found myself fearful, crying bitterly, “Not me, Lord.”
The Lord’s response was Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you I knew you. …”
After my wife and I married, Luke Keefer Sr. looked us both in the eye and said, “In ten years, the African Church will be different. It will begin to send missionaries, and you two may be one of them.”
Because God had prepared us for our calling, we were ready to be sent to the U.K. when the need arose for missionaries there. Thus, we have been in the U.K. since 1980.
Q: What are the challenges facing the Brethren in Christ Church in the U.K.?
Historically, the U.K. is a Christian country; however, it is very alarming to say 60 percent of the U.K. community has no clue about the Word of God.
Less than 8 percent of the population of 62 million attends church on Sundays, and in London, the percentage is usually much lower.
The Church cannot wait and expect the community to come to them. We need to take the gospel to the community. It is with this purpose that BICC U.K. finds itself obliged to want to Church plant in different regions in the next few years.
A couple of challenges are before us: lack of resources and personnel. Our pastors are employed outside the Church — all of us are volunteers.
Q: How can we be praying for you and the Brethren in Christ Church in the U.K.?
Pray for the Brexit negotiations, that they go smoothly and a deal can be struck benefiting all U.K. citizens. Terrorism is on the rise; pray for peace. Pray for resources for leadership development — that God will give us missionary teachers at the college and church planters for missions.
BICC U.K. is in a strategic position — Germany needs the message of the gospel, so does the Netherlands, or better still, Europe. Pray that we will be visionary in missions. BIC members in diaspora from other countries are calling us to come to them: Pray for us. Pray that Brethren in Christ U.S. World Missions will send missionaries to this country. May God relaunch the same vision that he gave the 1976 task force on missions to the U.K. Pray for the youth who are being pulled away from the Church but are the future of our Church.
BIC Church in the U.K. Statistics:
- Members: 470
- Attendees: 560
- Organized congregations: 9
- Year founded: 1980
About Elias Moyo
A graduate of Azusa Pacific University (U.S.), Fuller Theological Seminary (U.S.), and Greenwich University (U.K.), Elias has been a missionary to the United Kingdom from the Zimbabwe Brethren in Christ Church since 1980 and is founder of the Brethren in Christ Church in the United Kingdom.