Reaching Immigrants to Dallas….Quickly!
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to lead a group of Christian educators and college students on a tour of some of what God is doing among new immigrants in Dallas. We called it a "Taste of our Multiethnic Mission Field" because we sampled Mexican pastries, Bhutanese tea and Arabic baklava over the course of the morning!
Christian leaders from five ethnic groups shared with the small busload of people a little about their homeland, their culture now that they are in the States and, most importantly, what the Spirit has been doing among them in order to see new believers and even new churches planted. An Arabic pastor from Iran, a Karen-speaking pastor from Burma, a Spanish-speaking simple church planter from Mexico, a Congolese pastor serving members from several African countries, and a room-full of Bhutanese lay-leaders told of God’s works.
Yesterday I read the comments of NYC missionary Chris Clayman on the unique opportunity God gives us when new immigrants arrive in our cities:
North American Christians need to do better at recognizing waves of immigration of different peoples and deploy people to them immediately. Most people switch religions during a time of dissonance in their lives. Immigration, usually motivated by some traumatic event, whether political, religious, economic, or social, inherently creates a stirring in individuals for something new and different. That is why they move! This window of opportunity is usually very short, maybe one or two years, before an immigrant settles into their new identity in North America.
When Jews from the former Soviet Union migrated to New York in large numbers in the 1980s and 1990s, they were largely blank slates religiously speaking, due to the influence of communism. Many looked forward to becoming more religious in America and were open to suggestions. One pastor in Brooklyn was ready for this, and baptized over 600 Jews in six years. Most everyone else responded to the immigration too late, and the window of opportunity had already passed.
Pray that we would be sensitive enough to the Holy Spirit’s leading that we will be ready and quick to follow as God brings new people to our communities.