ATLANTA – In spite of Prague’s omnipresent religious iconography, its population has one of the lowest rates of religious practice in Europe.
And yet for the Rev. Kirk Sims, the city is filled with inescapable signs of God’s prevenient grace – a grace that is hard at work within the hearts and minds of men and women, preparing them to receive the gospel and to respond in faith as they work, play and step up to welcome refugees and others on the margins.
We live today at a “catalytic” crossroads, Kirk believes, in the life of the church and in the history of the Czech Republic, in which Prague serves as a nexus of native-born Czechs and growing numbers of immigrants drawn by choice and forced displacement alike.
Having previously served as missionaries in Ghana, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, Kirk and his wife the Rev. Nicole Haack Sims bring to their assignment in the heart of Europe a seasoned faith, cross-cultural savvy and deep love for people from diverse backgrounds.
“We love meeting new people and hearing their stories,” says Nicole, pastor of the English-speaking United Methodist Church of Prague, whose congregants hail from the United States, India, and parts of Africa and Europe, including Prague.
“I find international fellowship to be a picture of the coming Kingdom of God in which people from every nation, tribe and tongue stand before the throne of the Lamb,” she says (Revelation 7:9).
Like Nicole, Kirk is ordained in The United Methodist Church. He also holds a Ph.D. in religious/mission studies and serves as a consultant and theological educator in the Czech Republic Annual Conference. He is committed to helping the global church meet the challenges – and reap the unexpected blessings – of the world’s most significant migratory movement since World War II.
“I want to lean into God’s incredibly lavish heart for all the peoples of the earth,” says Kirk. “When we experience the church outside our established cultural context, we give our faith and our love for people the opportunity to grow.”
“From a theological perspective, building bridges between differences is fundamental to our faith,” he adds. “There is so much that is dividing our church and communities right now. But in Christ, those barriers can come down.”
The Sims have found that immigrants – whether they leave home by choice or by force – often display a remarkable tenacity of faith and radical acceptance of others that uniquely equip them to reinvigorate and expand the reach of the gospel and the church today.
This remarkable husband-wife missionary team help minister within the changing landscape of the global church, build bridges across cultural divides and support the challenges of the greatest migratory movement Europe has seen since World War II.
Kirk and Nicole Sims are compelled by God’s grace in this important work, bearing witness each day to God’s “incredibly lavish heart” for all people.
Global Ministries missionaries are a tangible connection between The United Methodist Church and mission. Through denominational or ecumenical ministries, missionaries bear witness to God’s presence all around the world. They are called by God and sent out to serve by the church, usually placed in a new cultural context beyond their country of origin. Missionaries engage in ministry that is defined by mutuality and partnership, seeking to expand the mission of God already present and active in people and places.
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