Look across the global landscape and it is clear that God is working mightily through global migration in multiple directions. And above all the other countries, the United States runs at the front of the pack as a recipient of migration. Estimates are that there are over 42 million immigrants and over 1 million international students and scholars living in the US. Many of them from countries with virtually no access to the gospel. Regardless of your stance on immigration policy or what you think about refugee resettlement, scripture clearly tells us that God’s sovereign hand is the one behind the movements of humanity and we need to realize that He is at work (Acts 17:24-27). God is placing the nations at our doorstep. Jesus instructs us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) and with immigrants, refugees, and international students that reside and continue to come to the U.S., we can easily get involved in His mission to the nations at home.
Hard questions must be asked and difficult realities faced within our churches. As evangelical and churches in the south age and lose their cultural influence, could it be that the renewal and revival that we have prayed for will partially be found in the immigrants, refugees, and international students that God is allowing to come to our nation and our region? How will the church respond to the global refugee crisis, as it is an unprecedented missional opportunity God is giving us?
These questions for evangelical churches are vital: Will we embrace this opportunity as a blessing that the Gospel demands we engage in or will we tip-toe around it because it is too messy and complex a burden for us. Our response must be the former. The need to engage in “welcoming” ministries to refugees and immigrants has never been this great, but the need to evangelize and plant disciple-making churches among migrating people groups arriving to the U.S. is even greater. The harvest indeed is plentiful and the laborers in this area are far too few, will we answer the call from the Lord of the harvest(Matthew 9:35-38)? How will we respond? Do we long to declare God’s glory to the nations together (Psalm 96:3)? He is worthy.
Historically, evangelicals have led in these Great Commission initiatives. Will we continue that faithful leadership in the area of U.S. immigrant/refugee ministry? In a culture where the attitude of fear of immigrants and refugees has become prevalent across the US this same attitude seems to have taken a seat in many of our church pews. Let us faithfully, lovingly, and boldly rally against this. A new initiative and bold approach needs to happen. While there may be individual initiatives underway to engage in immigrant and refugee ministries across our denominational entities, the time is now to focus to pray and collaborate to develop and launch coordinated strategies.
We are desperately praying and humbly believe the launching of the Acts 17 Initiative could be an answer to our prayers. Will you join us? The Acts 17 Initiative is a missions ministry of Clarkston International Bible Church located in northeast Atlanta in what has been been called the most "ethnically diverse square mile in the U.S." Learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch below as J.D. Payne shares about partnering with us.
Let us collaborate and embrace how we can effectively minister the Gospel to the nations that are our neighbors and glorify our magnificent God together!