Many people don’t understand why some missionaries chose to stay in their home country to work for the kingdom of God. The common thought is often: “Mission work is done OUTSIDE of the United States.” I understand that thought process. I used to believe it myself.
I thought that if I wanted to do anything significant for the kingdom, I had to get my Bible degree and a pilot’s license, move to Africa, and fly food, water, and Bibles to the rural tribes in need. That was my plan. Until God challenged me to “be faithful with those around me.” To be honest, I thought this challenge was more of a stepping stone. I thought the challenge was Jesus saying: “Show me you can be faithful here before I send you overseas.” Little did I know, he was actually preparing me for a role that I had never thought of – working with immigrants and refugees in the U.S.
God is showing me that some of us don’t have to leave home in order to be missionaries to someone of a different culture and/or religion. He is bringing millions of people from all over the world to live in the U.S. as doctors, farmers, cashiers, ministers, and as our neighbors. Foreign missions is still extremely important, but God is increasing the opportunity for us to literally do missions in our own backyard.
In my experience, I have built friendships and shared Jesus with people from India who are of the Sikh religion. My team and I have helped 200+ Chin people, from Myanmar, learn English while using the Bible as a part of their English class. I’ve helped four churches and several ministry leaders find ways they can minister to immigrants in their areas. We have also been asked to help send immigrant missionaries back to their home country so that they can share the Gospel. All of this took place within five miles of our home.
My wife has accomplished even more than I as she serves at the OMS World Headquarters as a homeland missionary. She works with all of the OMS missionaries to make sure their donor information is up-to-date, and ensures that all of our constituent’s addresses are well maintained. It may not sound like much, but every day she empowers missionaries in more than 70 countries to do the work they are called to do. She assists missionaries (both here and abroad) to raise millions of dollars so that they can continue their work. She does it all with a servant's heart.
What we do is not glamorous to the world. No one is going to write a book about us. We don’t have amazing stories of winning an unreached people group to Christ. But it’s the quiet, behind-the-scenes work we are called to do. We will happily and obediently assist others in their work as we faithfully serve the Lord in the homeland.
Jason Ferkel, Coordinator of Immigrant Outreach