Tim and Tammy Aho came to the UK from the USA in 1994 with Christian Ministry Fellowship International. They lead the Midlands Urban hub. The Hub spoke to them about their latest adventure, Companions for Hope.
Tell us about Companions for Hope
In 2015 we moved to a diverse inner city community of Birmingham. Companions for Hope is the missional community we started with Sam and Rosalee Ewell and Madeleine Tappy.
Close to Birmingham City Centre, our neighbours include a prison, mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples and the largest Gurdwara in the UK.
At the end of the summer we hosted a neighbourhood barbecue. We ended up with seven different nationalities represented: Iranian, Jamaican, Pakistani, Trinidadian, Guyanese, Turkish, Brazilian, American and Irish!
How has CPI helped you in this journey?
We have been embraced and encouraged. Hearing the stories of others, both challenges and celebrations, encourages us. When we started a prayerful discernment process to ask God what he had in mind for us, both Andy Hodson and James Hyde were particularly helpful.
We started the Midlands Urban Hub to encourage church planting and church planters with more of an urban view in mind. It is also a way of being more Kingdom-minded than denominationally-focused.
What has been the low point or the most difficult challenge of the last year?
The original makeup of the Companions team didn’t work out which was quite painful in a variety of ways. Still, it was better to find this out early than for it to be prolonged or pressured to ‘work’.
What has been the most fruitful?
One area continues to be in discipling, coaching, and mentoring young people, university students, and young adults.
What has been the most enjoyable?
We gather with the Eritrean church Rhema every Sunday afternoon, working with the youth, and developing the English language service. These brothers and sisters in Christ are full of life and the Spirit, passionate about sharing the Gospel, and deeply hospitable and generous.
Tell us about your bus-stop cafe?
The Bus Stop Café was an initial experiment to build relationships in the community and look for people of peace.
We simply set up a small table and pump carafes on Thursday mornings each week during the morning school run and asked people if they wanted a coffee or a tea.
In future, when we determine the next place to setup the Bus Stop Café, we will be more intentional in two ways. First, we want to have something to which we can invite people such as the community ‘bring and share’ meal Companions have started. Second, we will be more intentional in looking for people of peace with whom we can suggest joining in a Discovery Group / Discovery Bible Study.
What would you say to anyone who may be feeling the Lord is nudging them to plant a church?
Yes! First, listen to that still small voice. Take time away to discern. Trust a few other people to speak into your life of what they see in you.
Put yourself in the company of other like-minded travellers. Be a part of a learning community where there is peer mentoring.
Put yourself in uncomfortable and ‘risky’ situations where you can build relationships and test your pioneer spirit.
Take part in a missional training initiative such as Forge (formission.org.uk/trainings/forge) where you will be encouraged, trained, equipped, but crucially will also be coached by practitioners.