When we first started our ministry, we were focused on reaching out to Chinese scholars and their wives who were studying at a local university. At the same time, we were mentoring a group of young couples at church who wanted to go to Middle Eastern countries as missionaries. So we started praying for these couples, that they would learn to love, serve, and share truth with refugees and people from other religious groups.
God answered our prayer in an unexpected way. Almost immediately, we received a call from a friend who had met an Arab woman who was seeking a safe place to live for a couple of weeks. Although initially taken aback by the request, we both realized that God was answering our prayer to learn how to reach out to other people groups.
We accepted this woman and her husband into our home, and they ended up living with us for the next three and a half months. Through this couple, the entire group of missionaries-in-training at our church connected to other Arabs and vital relationships began to form through shared meals and relational time.
Most Arabs in our town come to study English, and often, within six to nine months, they leave to attend college elsewhere. Because this prevented long-term relationships, our ministry group decided to focus on refugees who were settling in the area indefinitely.
Five couples who work with this ministry moved into an apartment building that is full of refugees. There is also a North African family assisting in the ministry. They are helping our group learn how to share the Gospel with these refugees. We are gaining skills in sharing stories of Jesus and His teachings, and learning to ask questions to draw our friends into a study of the Scriptures.
The opportunities for ministry to refugees are both practical and relational. Currently, we are tutoring a fifth grade boy, as his parents work long hours and are unable to help him with the vocabulary in his assignments. We also help newly arriving refugees obtain furniture for their apartments. A man in a wheelchair who was paralyzed after being caught in a crossfire meets regularly with us to learn Bible stories. In addition, we are helping a man whose son was recently arrested, by taking the father to the attorney and to the jail.
Refugees continue to stream into American cities. There more than 41 million first generation immigrants living in the United States. Many of these immigrants are from people groups that are largely unreached by the Gospel. *
This is a strategic mission opportunity that is often unrecognized by Christians or local churches. Look around your own neighborhood to see who God has brought near to you, as you consider how to love your neighbor. Pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers into this field of harvest!
* American Community Survey, US Census, 2013.