They bring the Christ we desperately need.

30 09 2013

immigrant prayerI visited a seminary in the L.A. area which trains church leaders from many nations. After the chapel service, I was invited to stay for a simple lunch with the students. I sat around the table with three of the men, and asked them what it has been like coming to America, and what it has been like to enter into the church in the USA. The man from Cameroon hesitated before he admitted, “In Cameroon I oversee a hundred churches, but here in America I have not even been asked to lead in prayer.”  I asked him why he thought this might be the case. He felt that he was viewed with suspicion — that people saw him as someone who needed something, not as someone who could add.

There is increasing interest in mission-minded people in the west about “reaching the diaspora” — meaning, to share the gospel with the internationals who are coming from unevangelized lands. I fully embrace this goal. But we are missing something very important if that is our only focus regarding diaspora ministry. As my colleague Voltaire Cacal writes, many immigrants come with a vibrant faith which, frankly, we need. These migrants bring a deep spirituality. Some have suffered for Christ. They know perseverance. They show us how to live simply, and remind us of the priority of relationships. They remind us that the Kingdom of God is a multicultural one.

There are two major inflows of migrants. Those who desperately need Christ, and those who bring the Christ we desperately need. Next time you have occasion to talk with an immigrant who loves Jesus, take it as a learning opportunity. You may need him as much as he needs you.


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