Emmanuel was planted by WEC missionaries in the 1970s, with a vision to reach Asians from the Indian sub-continent with little or no English language. In 1997 it developed into an independent evangelical church and called its first full-time pastor, Juge Ram.
For many years, the small congregation rented a church hall belonging to a Wesleyan Holiness church. The Wesleyan congregation dwindled and decided to close and sell its building.
The trustees asked Juge how much Emmanuel had in its savings. He explained – just £10,000. A few days later, a trustee phoned Juge to say Emmanuel could have the church for £10,000! This was a real answer to prayer.
The building needed extensive renovation and structural work was carried out by builders. The rest was done by the church members. The congregation moved into it in 2001 and a thanksgiving service was held on 20 October 2001, when Roger Carswell gave the address.
Every year an evangelistic mission takes place, and conversions have resulted. There is regular street evangelism, using evangelistic leaflets in English and other languages. Evangelistic youth clubs take place every Friday. Some young boys who attend are on the verge of drug abuse, even gun crime. Some have ended up in prison, but the church prays that the seed sown will come to fruition.
There are regular evangelistic meetings at Easter and Christmas, where there is an abundance of food (usually curries). The preaching on these occasions is evangelistic. There are also English classes twice a week, which are a means of low-key evangelism. These are mainly attended by Muslim and Punjabi women, who would otherwise never enter the church premises.
However, the most successful way individuals have been reached is through personal evangelism. Pastor Ram and his wife Geetha are always eager to visit new contacts so that they can start one-to-one Bible studies. Asian homes are generally quite open, because hospitality is extremely important to them. Juge believes that one-to-one interaction is also essential for the teaching and personal growth of young believers.
Over the last few years the Lord has also added non-Asian families. Emmanuel now has West Indian as well as white British families worshipping with it. A local multicultural congregation worshipping together is a powerful testimony to a community divided by caste and race.
The building is small, but warm and welcoming. Sometimes on a Sunday morning there are 80-90 people present, and for special meetings it can be overflowing. So the need for larger premises has become pressing.
The church plans to extend the current building to hold 150-200 people. Planning approval is being sought, and then the money will need to be raised. The church is trusting the Lord to do another miracle and provide for this as he has provided in the past.
Handsworth is a needy area physically, morally and spiritually, and it is hoped that by God’s grace a new building will serve as a light to the community and guide people from many nations to the Lord Jesus Christ.