Birmingham UK is the second largest city in the United Kingdom. Its metro area has a population of 3.7 million people, called Brummies, with 42% of the residents being from non-white British ethnic groups. More than 40% of Brummies are under the age of 25.
Although all children are taught about God in religion classes in school, very few truly understand their need for Christ. God isn’t even on their radar and few know that they need a relationship with Jesus. Of the millions of Brummies, less than 1% are evangelical Christians and 96% of people are unchurched. The fastest growing religion is the “nones”—they see themselves as non-religious. An average of three churches close their doors permanently every week in the UK. Birmingham has the lowest church attendance of any major city.
Please pray for this burgeoning, diverse, youthful city. Pray for the upcoming generation to hear the gospel and turn to Christ. Pray for revival to come to the Brummies. Pray for pastors and teachers to boldly speak the truth about the gospel and to remain faithful to the one true God of the Bible. Pray for children growing up in schools to be curious about God and begin to search for answers.
IMB workers Terry and Sheila Wilbanks serve in Birmingham. With such a young population, they have focused much of their ministry on university students. Terry works on two different campuses through the Christian Union. He leads Bible studies, evangelizes students, and disciples and equips students for ministry throughout the city. He finds that people are open to spiritual conversations, but God is just one of many options.
Pray for Terry and Sheila as they work with university students. Pray for students to be hungry to hear the truth of the gospel and to seek out answers. Pray for revival to sweep across the campuses. Pray for this generation to embrace Jesus.
Terry and Sheila have also helped plant a church in Birmingham called 2nd City Church, which launched in January with the hope of reaching people in the city center and universities nearby. It’s non-traditional and located in a café/tea lounge, next to one of the oldest churches in England.
“We sit around tables with tea, coffee, cakes. We have ice breaker questions that lead to a particular topic for the day. We worship in song, have preaching, and then follow up with some deeper questions with the group around tables,” Terry said.
One third of people coming to the church are under 25. More than 60 were attending before the shut down in March due to the coronavirus. During the past few months in shut-down mode, the church has had live broadcasts on Sundays, daily video devotionals, and online Bible studies. They also hosted a Christianity Explored course for non-Christians.
Pray that 2nd City Church will continue to grow and reach people, whether in person or via media platforms. Pray that those who were interested in coming before COVID-19 will continue to have interest and seek answers. Pray for Terry and Sheila to stay motivated and aware of God at work around them.
In addition to the church plant and the work on university campuses, the Wilbanks partner with local organizations to share the gospel and meet needs in the community. Birmingham City Mission works to help those who are lower income or in need of some sort of social assistance. The Wilbanks are able to talk to about 4,000 students, 6th grade and up, at Christmas and Easter to explain the meanings of these celebrations. The mission also helps with toy distribution, works with needy children, the elderly and the homeless. Their goal is to show God’s love in practical ways. They also work with a pregnancy center that offers alternatives to abortion. And they help in ministries aimed at the many refugees in Birmingham.
Please pray for Terry and Sheila Wilbanks and their ministry partners as they spread the gospel of Christ among the Brummies. Pray for open doors of ministry and for open hearts, willing to receive the good news.