Disciples News Service

Kentucky church offers welcome home for immigrants

When Foster Frimpong immigrated to Lexington, KY from Ghana in 2009, he vowed to start a church in his new community.

He began his ministry by praying with other immigrants in their homes. As he met more people, he discovered that many were looking for a gathering place to continue worship practices from their home countries, like praise dancing and sharing personal testimonies.

In 2013, Frimpong organized a prayer group. As attendance grew, he knew this group had potential to do more. Later that year, they formed a church.

Although many of the church’s members are new immigrants, Frimpong has encouraged everyone to be active evangelists in the community.

“We help people find hope,” he says, “because we do more than meet for one service and then go home – that’s just part of our worship. The bigger part is what we do when we go out into our neighborhood, family, and work. That’s how other people get to know Christ through us.”

For this immigrant population, relationship development is critical. Because most members don’t have friends or relatives nearby, a congregant’s hospital visit or transportation offer helps make their new community a home.

Their new group, Co-Heirs with Christ Missions, is different from some churches they attended in Africa. Too often, Frimpong remembered, leaders preached that joining the church would change their lives immediately – that their belief would guarantee prosperity. This tactic brought people to churches, but it only exacerbated the poverty rate, as people started to believe that they didn’t need to look for work.

Instead, Frimpong wanted to share a more eternal message that “we have an inheritance in Christ, which is not fully realized yet, but that is our hope. Our name will share our hope with others who may feel despair.”

Through this focus on eternal hope, and inclusion of cultural praise practices, Frimpong’s goal has always been global. He hopes to share the Disciples’ message across West Africa, through encouraging other immigrants.

“The aim is to provide ministry to immigrants missing their home experiences, who may have the heart to go back [to their home countries] and share that message someday.”

In the meantime, though, Frimpong needed additional support to sustain his Lexington church. “We have to be part of the full body of Jesus Christ,” he says. “We can’t stand on our own.”

In 2014, Frimpong met with the Kentucky region, which brought Co-Heirs with Christ under care as a church in formation. He also enrolled at Lexington Theological Seminary.

His interest in the Disciples was instant. “When I first encountered a Disciples church, I loved the name,” Frimpong says. “I immediately wanted to be a part of it because it fit with what I grew up believing.” Now, he dedicates worship time every month to share Disciples history.

Since its inception, Co-Heirs with Christ has grown to include members born in America and seven other countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Philippines, Cameroon, and Togo. To celebrate that diversity, flags from each country are displayed in the sanctuary.

This year, Co-Heirs with Christ partnered with nearby University of Kentucky to support international students, who may need the same resources and fellowship.