April 4 2017
incredible 13 percent of the population living in the United State are immigrants
born in another nation. That’s 41,347,945 (read MILLION) people in total!
Within this group includes great ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity.
Immigration can enrich a nation’s culture, and simultaneously, challenge it to
the core. For the church of Jesus, it provides us with obstacles that when
placed in the hands of Christ become God-given opportunities for the Great Commission
to be accelerated in a supernatural way across the globe.
people arrive in a new country to live for the first time, they are often
disorientated. Initially, everything that is new is often seen as different but
interesting. But soon after arrival, it often changes to being uncomfortable
and difficult to manage. Often, new immigrants search for people of their
culture or language and live in close proximity to familiar food stores,
cultural centers, and place of worship, which remind them of home and make the
transition to living in the new country easier. For many places in America, the
cultural landscape has transformed within the last few decades. Pastors that
were trained to reach a white American culture now find themselves in
neighborhoods with a significant percentage of people who see the world differently.
There is not only a need to share the Gospel, but also to contextualize it so
that it can be understood and accepted. The wonderful news is that a
significant portion of immigrants are more open to new ideas, including religious
beliefs, than their counterparts who stay in their nation of origin. Moving
from one country to another often requires that a person is open to change. Immigrants
are often open to the Gospel, so if we can communicate its glorious truth in a
way that their cultural filters can understand, many can be reached.
in the U.S., there are immigrant populations from some of the hardest places on
earth to reach with the Gospel. People in these nations are traditionally closed
to Christianity, and the governments in these nations actually prevent evangelism.
As these people see the church living their faith in Jesus through loving them,
and as they understand their need for Christ, they often give their lives to him.
As they are discipled and grow, they become great missionaries to their own
people group. Those that live around them can hear in their own language, with
informed cultural sensitivity.
as these new believers grow, God will call some back to their land of origin.
They will not need a visa or language study.
forced or voluntary, is nothing new. Jesus in many senses was an immigrant, and
the church of Acts grew extensively through forced migration. Today, we hear of
the 10/40 window and the barriers to the Gospel. The people living in this window
(area where the least reached live) and from other places around the world have
come to us. As they are loved and engaged with the Gospel, Jesus saves,
restores, and commissions. Individuals, families, and communities will be
changed, transforming family trees for generations. Some will then return to
that area, and these new believers will be used to break the window.
Jonathan Morton, One Mission Society missionary, director of Nueva Vida
Editor note: This is the first in a series of blogs on OMS' immigrant or diaspora ministries. In the month of April 2017, we will post new stories weekly.
September 15 2015
We drove through cornfields and Hungarian countryside for barely a kilometer before we started seeing the clusters of people walking toward bus stops and train stations. They were recognizable by their dirty, disheveled appearances, their small packs and their weary faces. We passed them and continued on toward the place from which they had eagerly departed. The poorly paved road suddenly was congested with buses and cars, news media vans, and police vehicles. And then we were there … the make-shift campsite where thousands of refugees were waiting to be processed by Hungarian officials and granted asylum.
I stepped out of my vehicle and stood a moment just taking it all in. Everywhere my eyes looked, there were tents, and trash, and people. All sorts of people: men, women-old and young, children, and infants-able-bodied and disabled. Everywhere I looked, there were people. I tried hard to get a sense of my surroundings and wondered where the best place to start was when I was startled by a man’s voice. So deep in thought, I did not see the middle-aged man that had walked up beside me. He spoke broken English, but the urgency in his voice was unmistakable.
“Shoes?” I quickly turned to face him, drawn back from my overwhelming thoughts to the reality in front of me. “I’m sorry?” I mumbled. He saw the confusion in my face and attempted again, “Do you have any shoes for me? I need shoes.” I quickly glanced down at his feet. Soiled feet in torn and flimsy sandals stood before my clean and nicely tied tennis shoes. “I’m sorry...” I managed to reply, “I don’t have any shoes today.” The man nodded and said, “Thank you,” and quickly disappeared back into the crowd of people.
The rest of the team had already begun cleaning and picking up trash as I reached for the box of M&M’s I had brought to pass out to some of the children. They were happy and full of smiles as I started to hand out the small bags of candy. In spite of their pleased faces, I couldn’t stop thinking about the man’s desperate plea for shoes. His was the first request I heard, but unfortunately it wasn’t the last. And a picture was quickly painted for me of the amount of desperation these people were feeling.
Yes, desperate for shoes, or clothes, or food, or blankets ... but also desperate to be able to stop running. Desperate for information or help or safety. Desperate for freedom and desperate for hope.
I realized as I returned home that night and gave our daughter a bath in a nice tub of warm, soapy water, and as I helped our boys finish their homework and pack their lunches for school the next day, that I don’t know the kind of desperate that these people do. I’ve never had to pack up my family because our street was blown apart by bombs or war. I’ve never left all my earthly possessions behind and lived out of a backpack for weeks with small children. I’ve never had to walk 18 hours a day, for more than 50 days straight, across foreign countries because I feared the border would be closed before my family reached freedom. But I am reassured by the One who knows this kind of desperate. Jesus helped desperate people. He healed. He fed. He gave hope. He calls us to show his love and his mercy to the least of these. He calls simply for us to offer what he himself would give. He calls us to be his hands and his feet and his mouth, showing his love to all people, bringing light to the darkness and hope for the desperate.
By Corinne Long, OMS Hungary missionary