Earlier this week I wrote a blog post talking about the Great Commission. There I explained how God calls all followers of Jesus to be disciples who make disciples, wherever you are or wherever God sends you. As a follow up to that post I would like you to read the following article called “The Need Among Us,” written by my sending organization, SEND International. It speaks about an often unrecognized opportunity for world missions right here in the United States: immigrants and temporary residents.
After talking about the opportunity we have for affecting world missions by reaching out to these groups the article gives seven suggestions about what actions you can take to make the most of the opportunity.
I pray that this article stirs your heart and prepares your mind for action. If you would like to know more about my families call to make disciples in Spain you can read this. If you would like to partner with God in the work he is doing there, by supporting us through prayer and financial support, visit our ministry page.
The Need Among Us
In addition to the SEND International teams we have all over the world who are reaching out to engage and share with those who don’t know Jesus, we also have SEND teams doing that same thing in several cities here in North America. In Atlanta, Detroit, Winnipeg, and New York City, these teams are trying to live out their faith among Muslim communities in practical and spiritual ways as well. There are amazing stories coming out of these ministries as most people respond well to being loved! However, we want to challenge you to consider ways that you too can be involved in reaching out to your neighbors that have newly come to this country and your neighborhood. We are talking about immigrants who need the gospel.
Now talk about immigration is everywhere these days. You hear it discussed on the radio, network/cable TV, as well as in newspapers, magazines and on internet websites. Yes, immigration is a big issue and opinions for one side or another are batted back and forth with vigor. While solutions are needed and the issue must be discussed – in the heat of the moment, we Christians risk missing a crucial opportunity. Regardless of our views concerning new immigrants, there are millions of legal immigrants already living among us who need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of these immigrants are from countries that would be very difficult for you and me to visit, let alone to gain permanent residence to live and do ministry there.
I have heard it said that most international students, after four years of attending university here in the USA, return to their home country without ever having been invited inside an American home! This is terrible and it causes me also to wonder about the statistics for legal immigrants who are living here permanently. How many of them have been invited inside an American home? And more importantly, how many have had the Gospel of Jesus Christ shared with them in a way that they can understand?
Each generation is responsible to share Christ with their own generation, and with each passing year, as our neighborhoods become more multicultural and diversified, this is becoming more and more challenging. Gone are the days when you could assume that everyone knew the basics of the Gospel and as you shared the Gospel they could easily follow along. Now we live in cities with neighborhoods that are increasingly unchurched and with it, Biblical literacy is fading fast.
If you feel the Lord nudging your heart at this point, we want to challenge you to consider some ways that you can step up and reach out of your comfort zone to help meet some of these needs.
First of all pray. Pray for wisdom, grace, and courage to reach out to those neighbors who speak a different language and who dress a bit differently than you.
Second, invite them over for a cup of coffee or tea, or bake a cake or prepare a basket of fruit and take it to them.
Third, find points of interest to talk about and ask for ways that you could be praying for them.
Fourth, find out what country they are from and ask them to tell you about it. What made it special? What do they miss? I am pretty sure people love to talk about their families and their home countries.
Fifth, volunteer to help with one of their needs – help with shopping, getting a driver’s license, getting to a medical appointment etc.
Sixth, do a little internet research about their country, so the next time you talk to them you have a bit of an idea about the geography of the land, and locate their town or area.
Make a follow-up visit a few days or a week later and ask about the person or situation that you prayed for previously.
People will find ways to manage through life, with or without you, but oh what a joy to be able to cultivate friendships and help them so the learning curve is less steep. Love them genuinely and they will respond, it can’t be helped, because that is how God made us; he made us to love him first, and then to love one another. When they ask about why you are helping, don’t go into deep theological treatises; just let them know that you are trying to live out your faith as you live out the basics of the Gospel, “Love God with all your heart, and love thy neighbor as thyself”.
We continue to pray with others in the 10/10 prayer initiative, that 10% of the Muslim world would come to Christ in the next 10 years. You are welcome to join us in this prayer initiative as the SEND International community has committed to pray and fast as an organization on the first Friday of each month. You are also welcome and encouraged to pray at other times if that is more convenient for you.