SANCTUARY FOR BRITISH ASIANS + family and friends
Sanctuary a safe place for British Asians or anyone interested in exploring eastern and western spiritualities in Christ. It is a place of space, peace, meditation, food, and friendship. Everyone is accepted as they are, just as God loves and accepts them, and Sanctuary is a place where they can experience that love and grace in community.
The Sanctuary Story
A team was formed in 2000, headed up by Pall Singh who was already Director of East + West Trust, which along running a safe house for Asian women, Asian awareness training, organised the events. The team proceeded to draw out the values and the ethos of Sanctuary from the prophecy. Hence, the focus of Sanctuary is unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness to people of other or no faith. In order to help people feel safe and secure, lighting is low and there is space for private meditation and prayer. Sanctuary meets in St Martin's Arts Cafe in Birmingham City Centre, outside the main Asian areas in order to be safe for people to come without being seen by their community. The team works hard in 'creation' of the atmosphere, yet keep the 'service' simple and un-cluttered with plenty of space to connect with God.
One guest recently commented, "On entering the hall I was immediately captivated by the peaceful atmosphere of the room with its beautiful eastern decor, haunting Indian music, and the diversity of the people there, many in ethnic costume. The walls and ceiling were draped with Sari material, which was complemented by a candle lit glow that enabled my imagination to meditate on the idea that Yeshu the Light was in our darkness. I had a strong sense that there was a real effort made by the Sanctuary team to address the needs of the British Asians."
Symbols are very powerful, for example at one event; the eating of Asian sweets during prayer was a significant way of explaining how Jesus brings joy into times of sorrow and pain.
During the last five years a unique safe place has emerged as a grace and faith community for east and west to discover Christ without losing their cultural identity. It has provided the necessity to allow people space to belong before they believe and realise that Christianity is more than just a 'white man's faith'. Those who have discovered this incredible Yeshu for all cultures through Sanctuary, enrich the gathering by their presence in prayer, worship, music, fashion, colour, and food from heaven! Some Christians have a fear of other faiths; which is due to the lack of understanding and awareness of Asians. It's important to see that everyone is created in the image of God and have a certain revelation of the 'Divine'. Sanctuary is about sharing Christ, not merely a religion full of rules and regulations. It is based on the realisation that often people from an Asian background are already on a journey toward God, and spiritually further down the road than their western contemporaries.
Sanctuary has also attracted those disillusioned and embittered by their experience of Church and seeks to point the 'prodigals' back towards a loving Father God. Sanctuary maybe small in numbers but depth of character and experience of God have shown themselves and that baptism is a huge commitment for those from another faith background. The main achievement is that numbers are not merely made up of Church transfers but those who have no involvement with Churches or Christians before. Creating a safe place for people from all backgrounds is a massive challenge, as often acceptance of people despite their lifestyle can be misinterpreted as condoning behaviour; yet it is still the aspect of God's gracious character that is emphasised at Sanctuary.
Sanctuary at St Martin's Church
Bullring Birmingham B5 5BB
First Sunday of every month 4.00pm
Sanctuary at Christ Church
Sparkbrook Birmingham B11 1LS
Second Sunday of every month 4.00pm
Sanctuary in the City
St. Martin Church
Bull Ring Birmingham
First Wednesday of each month 1:00 pm-1:30pm
To read the Sanctuary Diwali Reflection click here
To read the the Contemporary Revelation of Birmingham click here
Sanctuary has such a special place in my eart, whatever other trials are going on in my life with family, friends or work, Sanctuary for me is the place where I find peace and connect with God. I have been coming along to sanctuary since 2001. I was baptized in September 2002.
I originally come from a Sikh background and it felt safer to walk into Sanctuary than a traditional church setting. I have always been a spiritual person, but always searching for something! When I first came to Sanctuary I was not a believer and infact was not 'on speaking terms with God!' My family had become involved with worship that seemed legalistic and spiritually unsafe and it took a long time to feel comfortable at Sanctuary. I spent most of my first months there in tears!. Despite this I felt a real calling to be at Sanctuary on Sundays. In this place I learned that I didn't need to go through a priest to connect with God or make sacrificial offerings or that God would punish me greatly if I forgot to pray that morning. I learnt that God was for me! I learnt that when I pray, he listens, and that he wants to protect me and see me safe.This is the beauty of Sanctuary; you are welcome and accepted whoever you are and wherever you are on the journey. You are not pressurized to participate in all of the worship.
Song playing in the background is titled "Bhaj Paawantam" performed by Aradhna
Song playing on home page is titled "Gaao Re" performed by Aradhna