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Thoughts on Unity from the UK

Feb 23 2024

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Our church’s collective global focus on ethnic and racial unity is beautiful to bear witness to.  Conversation after conversation with different global leadership stirs issues of justice, also testifying of their divine appointment for such a time as this.  In todays and future posts, I would like to highlight some of these leaders.  The first is Rocky Nti, pictured above and below, who is the Worship Pastor for the UK, as well overseeing their unity efforts. 

If someone saw Rocky and I together I think they would be confused.  They might immediately notice our differences and assume we do not have many commonalities.  They would base this on what they can see: our race, our ethnicity, our age, and our gender.  They would not see that I view Rocky as both my brother and friend.  Rocky and I do have different upbringings and were raised in different countries, yet we also have many things in common.  Some of these things are that we both: love the global church, are storytellers, have a strong like for Ghana and Ghanaian food, and we both have a deep passionate heart for unity.

During one of our recent virtual meet ups, I asked Rocky some questions to help give you a little glimpse into the heart God has given him.  The first question had to do with where his passion for unity came from.  This is what Rocky told me:

“I was blessed to be born into a family where many tongues and nations are represented.  My grandma is Dutch, my cousins are Lebanese, my dad is Ghanaian, my cousins grew up in Washington DC, and I was born in North London.  From birth I was forced to see Christ revealed in every skin pigmentation, accent, culture, and nationality.  I have had the honor of witnessing the Kingdom of heaven being reflected in my brothers and my sisters, my family. 

But that reflection is not limited to my family alone. It extends to all of humanity.  I believe that every human God has created is an extension of my own family.  In Colossians 1:16 where it says, all things have been Created for Him and through Him.  My mandate as a Christ follower is to see the Christ in all of God’s creation.  And that means unity in all things.”

Next I asked Rocky to speak to how we as Hillsong Church can steward unity well, to which he answered:

 “Our church is ethnically and racially diverse by design.  What started in Australia, stretches to every corner of the world.  We are a picture of Revelation 7:9 where every tongue and nation sing salvation to God.  But within that is a responsibility to be gracious hosts of God’s dinner table.  It is one thing inviting people to the party, it’s another thing of how they are treated when they enter your home.  And our mandate as a church is to make sure that every tongue and every nation feels a sense of belonging, that moves beyond our lips and into our hearts.  That is my vision for our church.  To honor the gift we have been given.  And the gift is God’s people, and the opportunities to witness heaven on earth.”

As you can easily see my friend and brother is an anointed communicator.  I would suggest reading that again as it is loaded with so many Biblical truths.  I asked Rocky what advice he would give leaders just beginning to step into the work of unity.  This is what Rocky said:

“These concessions only work with a commitment to transparency.  I think from the get-go there needs to be a DNA check, a meeting with the stakeholders within your church community to see where we are at.  “If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go,” says James Baldwin.  Understanding where community has been, where your community is now standing, and what unity looks like for your context is integral to know before you start running.  Otherwise, you run with no wisdom.  You do not know what Biblical reconciliation or healing looks like in your context.

The other thing I would say is that you need to really listen.   If you don’t get people on the mat.  If you’re not united to the commitment from the get-go disunity will bring chaos.  We need to ask if we are ready to decenter ourselves? Unity does not mean that my story does not prioritize your story.  Instead, it becomes our problem.”

Discipleship is our foundational global heart posture.  It is foundational to what Rocky has shared.  More than anything this is what we are going after.  Rocky explained to me his perspective on discipleship.

“I would say that discipleship means to continually position myself as a learner.  And as a student of Christ and His creation, I’m forced to listen to learn and to be changed.  I view it as a daily choice, to sacrificially love like my Savior loved.  And through the lens of racial and ethnic unity that means to behold the Christ that is outside of myself, to champion the Christ that might be marginalized.  To stand with the Christ that is the minority in the space.  And to witness the Christ that may at first seem unfamiliar, but truly realizing that we are all connected and bound together in God.”

The next question was a bit more challenging, as well as laced with complexities.  Regardless, I wanted Rocky’s perspective.  I asked Rocky to evaluate how we are doing, to which he shared the following.

“I would say that within the UK, unity exploded in 2020 with awareness.  But there is a significant difference between becoming aware and actively engaging in something.  And I’m not sure if as a nation we have allowed that awareness to transform how we engage with one another daily.  The call to Christ is to love with not with words alone but through action.   In Matthew 6 it talks about “Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.”  We must act out of a true heart, which requires transformation, which is beyond billboards, social media campaigns, and marketing strategy.  We are in the infancy stages of changing our hearts of loving one another.  But at least we have begun.  I think the same could be said globally.”

The last question I asked Rocky was a bit simpler.  I wanted to know in his own words his vision for our church.  Here are his simple but beautiful concluding thoughts.
“I think my vision would be that my future children from mixed heritages, can walk into any location across the globe, and feel like they truly belong.  Not because of hype, performance, or fear, but because they are truly seen and loved.  And my dream is for everyone to experience that sense of belonging, representation, and unity.”

I echo all the things Rocky so brilliantly shared.  I don’t just agree with them, but they are also my prayer.  My prayer is that we as Hillsong Church would continue to allow God to transform our hearts into a radical authentic love, where every tongue and nation experiences belonging, representation, and unity.  That we would remember that God’s design for our church is for us to be ethnically and racially diverse.  That what God started in Australia, now stretches to every corner of the world, to the glory of God.  We collectively as a church are a beautiful picture of Revelation 7:9 where every tongue and nation sing salvation to God.

In closing, I invite you to pray this with me: 

Help us God as individuals and as a church, to make sure that every tongue and every nation feels a sense of Biblical unity, that is authentic and moves beyond our lips and into our hearts.

Written by:

Hillsong Global Ethnic and Race Diversity and Inclusion Manager  

Maria Hansen-Quine, LASW, MSW


We acknowledge all First Peoples of the beautiful lands on which we live and celebrate their enduring knowledge and connections to Country. We honor the wisdom of and pay respect to Elders past and present.