Tag Archives: immigrant

The stalled car

Recently a friend shared this story with me. He emigrated to the USA from Norway as a young man. One day he was driving along a busy road in the Seattle area and his car broke down.

This occurred on a Sunday morning. He stood by his car, not knowing what else to do, and watched as car after car whizzed past him.  He could tell that many of those passing him by were on their way to church.

Finally, a car slowed down and pulled over. The driver got out. He was dressed in shirt and tie. His wife and three children, were also dressed for church.

That family spent several hours helping my needy friend. They missed church that day.

They WERE the church that day.

My friend and the family are still good friends after many years.

Love that is worthy of Christ is often inconvenient.

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The tired traveler and the taxi man

I heard a cool story today and want to pass it along to you.

A man flew in from a country in Asia. He was a Muslim. He had flown many long hours and was exhausted when he arrived. He was supposed to be picked up at the airport by someone, but when he landed there was no one looking for him. He waited for a long time, wondering what to do in this strange new land.

A member of the Ethiopian church in Seattle was driving taxi that night. He saw the stranded traveler. Approaching him, the Ethiopian asked the immigrant if he could help, even offering to give him a ride and let him stay overnight at home.  The traveler gladly accepted, spending not just one night but two. The next day, the Christian helped the visitor contact his friends, who came for him.

Some while later, that visitor decided to visit a church in Seattle. When he entered, he looked up on the platform and who was preaching that day but the very taxi driver who gave him transport and lodging! He soon declared that whatever that taxi driving preacher believed is what he wanted to believe also. And he placed his trust in Christ.

Let’s keep our eyes open for ways we can welcome the stranger. Our loving actions, even when small, send a clear message!


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Who will push “Play” no matter the cost?

Read what has come before here.

You can’t take this journey vicariously. It won’t happen by reading a book or watching a documentary. Doesn’t happen by listening to a sermon. A church won’t become inclusive by saying, “Anyone is welcome here.” Because what that means is they can come as long as they are willing to do things our way. But ask us to adapt what we do to accommodate them, no way! Ask us to change? Hey, this is our church.

Do you want to know what it ffriendseels like for someone from another culture, another country, another religion to come into your church?  The same way you (a committed Christian) would feel by going to worship at a Buddhist temple. The same way you would feel when entering a mosque on Friday afternoon. Don’t be so ethnocentric as to think they would like it in your church.

Friend, the onus is on us, to invite them into our homes, and to go to theirs; to take difficult steps in a risky direction.

 Which leads to the third part of the adventure. Peter must have cringed when he heard where Cornelius lived: the town of Caesarea; hear it? “Caesar—ea” This was Rome central. Regiments of Italians probably marched nearby as Peter rode into town. Herod himself had a retreat here. The smell of pasta and fettuccine filled the air. The aroma of grilled pork, a stench to Jews, wafted across the streets.

Cornelius had called together all his relatives. As Peter approached, the Centurion ran to greet him, kneeling in respect. Peter entered the home and said, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28)peter vision

Cornelius describes the visitation of the angel, with instructions to call for Peter. They are ready to listen. And Peter lifts up the hood to unveil the theological engine of the mission of God. “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34-35)

Peter shares the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and granting of eternal life. The stamp of approval on this colossal new development comes with a thud — the Holy Spirit falls on them all. Peter concludes this is the same Spirit that had come upon the Jews not many months earlier, and baptizes them all in water.

What is the lesson here? To align the calling of our church with God’s mission, we must break the rules that protect our comfortable enclave. AND, we must be willing to be criticized by the powerful people who haven’t seen the vision.

That brings up back to where we began: on Pause.

The early church is scattering and on the move, but at a standstill in the mission of God—Jews speaking only to Jews. Word arrives that Peter, our senior pastor!, has gone to the home of a Roman centurion! And the Holy Spirit has been given to the Gentiles. The remaining elders in Jerusalem, when they hear this, drew silent, and glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (Acts 11:18).

So a few folks from Cyprus—islanders, that’s what you’d expect from them– and a few brothers from Cyrene – Africans, that explains it—they came into Greeksville and spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.

And the church got off Pause…

and Played.

You know what is fascinating? God has brought Romans and Hellenists right into your town! Many of them have never heard an explanation of who Jesus is. Many have never gotten to know a Jesus-follower. Many international students, many foreign-born engineers, medical practitioners, have never been invited into the home of an American. They’re cautious… but curious. And many of them have been called by God into His forever family.

Who will invite them home for a cup of tea?
Who will explain an English word, or show how a chocolate chip cookie is made?
Who will ask them how they are doing?
Who will take them to a ball game or a bowling alley, or a museum?
Who will offer to take them to their appointment or pick them up at the airport?

Those who see a new vision.
Those who take difficult steps in a risky direction
And those who break the rules that protect a comfortable enclave.
Those who push play, no matter the cost.

photocredit:  myocn.net



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Invite Muslims to pray to Jesus for answers

Here is a recent encounter by one of our U.S. workers:

 womanLast Wednesday, I just happened to meet Aisha*, my Muslim friend, in the parking lot of the apartments when I was out walking with our grandson.  I invited her to join me on my walk, but she responded that she was very hungry and needed to eat something.  I said, “You could come over and eat at our house. I have some chicken macaroni soup that I could warm up for you.” She immediately said yes that she would like that and we walked together to our apartment.  Over the soup, we discussed her feelings of depression because someone had argued his atheistic views with her and shaken her already feeble faith.  She has been a Muslim all her life, but is now against all religions.  She does, however still believe in God.

After eating she asked me if we could take our walk.  During our walk she turned to me and said, “I remember one time seven or eight years ago, I was walking and looking down when a woman approached me.  She said, “If you want your prayers answered ask Jesus and He will answer your prayers.”  Aisha responded to her, “Why should I pray to Jesus when I can pray to Muhammad?”  She responded with a smile, “All the prophets are good, but if you want your prayers answered ask Jesus.”’  Aisha looked at me and said, “I still remember her face.  She wasn’t like a normal human.  No matter what I said she smiled and spoke gently to me.  I think she might not have been human.”  I told Aisha, “God does send His angels and she could have been an angel, but remember this.  God was reaching out to you even eight years ago and there are probably other times He has tried.”  (She had told me that God had never reached out to her in her fifteen years of searching for Him).

Later she said, “Can you see how sad I am?  I need hope.”  I shared how Jesus wants to fill her with His hope, joy and peace and that all she needs to do is to call out to Him.  She said, “Yes, I think I need to do that.”  We had a good talk and she told me she wanted to join me at church on Sunday.

Aisha came to the church service.  She had me promise to secrecy.   As Aisha and I walked into the church, she said, “I tried to go to church in my country, but I could not.”  “Was that because you were a Muslim?” I asked.  She said that it was.  Since her home country is an Islamic State everyone that is born there is automatically a Muslim. Of course, that does not include those born to Christians.  However, if you are born into a Muslim family, you have no choice.  You are Muslim.  Aisha is on a journey and longs for a relationship with God.

Tweet This  Invite Muslims to pray to Jesus if they want answers. #NearFrontiersTREK

*name has been changed
(Photo credit: dailystar.co.uk)


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Standing room only to learn about refugee resettlement

refugee mtgNews of the #Parisattacks and Syria refugee crisis has raised awareness of the plight of refugees today, as well as concerns about the safety of citizens everywhere.



Tweet This  Generally immigrants look ahead to establishing a new life, while refugees look back wishing they could return home.

I was invited by a neighbor to attend a seminar on welcoming refugees. It was not a religious event, even though it was presented by a Christian organization called World Relief.

To be honest, I thought there might be 50 people in attendance. I was pleasantly surprised to show up to a full parking lot and approximately 250-300 people inside. It was an informative evening with a lot of interest and interaction. I believe many indicated their interest in:

  • opening their home for a refugee family for 4 to 14 days when they first arrive and need rest and some basic orientation
  • coming alongside a refugee as a “Cultural Companion” for 6 months to help them learn how things work
  • serving as an English language helper in a classroom setting.

The “near frontiers” are embracing most Americans it seems. I have never witnessed so much conversation about immigrants and refugees.

Here is some information about World Relief, and here is We Welcome Refugees website they recommended we use.


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Mission strategy hidden in plain sight

Jesus-followers in America can engage the Near Frontiers right in our own cities when we share the ministry vision of an immigrant. This is a strategic mission opportunity which is hidden in plain sight.

girma sharesI met Girma Desalegn several years ago in Seattle. We both showed up at a local conference attended by people of different ethnicities. In such settings, I gravitate toward those who are of different background than myself (I am caucasian).

Girma and I talked for a couple of years about different ways we could partner together. Early in the process he began sharing his vision to bring practical Biblical training to church leaders in his homeland. His concept was  a “mobile Bible school” that would take the training to leaders who could not afford one of the in-country Bible schools. He would bring mature believers from the States once a year to cities in different regions, closer to where the pastors, elders, and women’s leaders lived. There would be no charge for the training, but high demands for faithfulness were required for graduation from the two year program which Girma designed. The vision captured me.

But it wasn’t just the vision. I had been able to get to know Girma as a man of integrity and passion for Ethiopia. And he had a network of friends and leaders in Ethiopia ready to partner with him.  In God’s planning, the diaspora which exists today makes possible this convergence of invaluable factors: Vision, Integrity, Passion.

Tweet This The diaspora which exists today makes possible the convergence of Vision, Integrity, Passion.#nearfrontiersTREK

ethiopian gatheringRecently we had a fund-raising dinner to bring together friends of Ethiopia to celebrate what God has done over the last five years of training. Hundreds have graduated from the program. We made the financial need known, and many people shared of their resources.

One of the most important aspects of what Girma has called the Vision Leadership Institute is that every Saturday local, trusted Ethiopian leaders with more training meet with all the trainees and take the subjects deeper. They require assignments, score results, and keep attendance.

Ethiopia 2014 150 At the end of the two years there is a graduation that is a high point in their ministries.

This is yet another way in which God is making mission available to more believers today. God gives vision and brings resource to fulfill it. May I encourage you to pray that God would bring such visionaries into your sphere of influence that you might partner with them!

Tweet This  Share strategic mission by coming alongside a visionary immigrant leader. #NearFrontiersTREK #Ethiopia

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Iranian women, longing hearts

arab mealHere is a report and prayer request from one of my female colleagues here in a U.S. city:

Monday evening outreach for international students was drawing to a close when I saw a Middle-eastern couple. Walking over to them, I introduced myself asking in the process where they were from. S. and her husband were from Iran and they had only been in the states for a month and a half.

The next statement was obvious, “S., you need a friend and I can be your friend.” She didn’t object to my statement and two days later we went on a walk.
As we walked and talked, I asked her if she was Muslim. Quickly words spilled out. She is Muslim. After she shared for a good long time, I asked her how her heart was since she was having such a conflict of religious belief. She held her fist up in front of her body and twisted it. “My heart is twisted like this.” she said with deep sadness.

Will you pray with me for the heart of my new friend?

She also writes:

Two weeks ago M. came over and cooked an Iranian meal for us as a way to express her gratitude for a bed we delivered to her apartment. We had a deep conversation and she too has a great spiritual struggle. She is from Iran. Today we went for a walk and talked about God, Jesus, and faith. She says she is afraid to die and she thinks about this at least ten times a day. She said, “If Jesus is God, why did He never prove it to me?
I have been searching for years and He never came to me.” I answered, “Maybe it wasn’t time or you weren’t ready. Maybe that is why He brought me to you now.“

Pray Jesus will reveal Himself to her.

She borrowed our book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.” Please pray that the Lord will draw her.

Tweet This  She says she is afraid to die and she thinks about this at least ten times a day.

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Your airport as front line ministry

One of the “near frontiers” in your area is the international airport. Every day, people from foreign lands enter the U.S. on what is likely the greatest adventure of their lives.

Many come as students to get their university degree. They are excited and hopeful.

Others come as immigrants to begin a new life, or to join family members already here.

Still others are refugees who have been forced to flee the country they love. This may be their first time in an airplane ever.

One very practical ministry is to provide transportation from the airport to that first apartment. This can lead to finding used furniture or learning local bus routes.

One of our workers regularly makes airport pick ups, and has made many friends doing so. Recently he brought an international friend to the airport to pick up his wife and 7 month old daughter. What a happy reunion!

Write us if you would like to learn more about this practical ministry.  doorbell@nearfrontiers.org

Tweet This  One of the “near frontiers” in your area is the international airport.


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