Are we the only ones?
Planting International Churches is not common. While most mission agencies focus on specific geographical areas, people groups, needs, etc., the international church plant sees the transient experience as fertile soil for the Gospel to take root and flourish into a transformed community. Where the discouragement of isolation and the realities of sin brought only struggle and chaos to the immigrant, instead, they find hope, peace and community in a church that cared to share with them the transforming power of the Gospel.
Jeff Christopherson has been teaching me about church planting through his book, Kingdom First. Although written for church planting in North America, the idea of God's Kingdom reigning over every place and people remains true. Deep into the book, I was profoundly encouraged to come across this paragraph where Jeff is recognizing the needs of multiple nationalities living in neighborhoods that are no longer homogenous.
The world is coming to the cities of North America at an unprecedented rate. Communities that have been historically homogenous are now a mosaic of cultures and nationalities. But coming with this immigration is often a deep and overwhelming sense of disappointment. The dream of a new life is often replaced with the cold reality of repeating a similar life to the one they left, but this time they are living it all alone. Transplanted into a new context, often with out any familial ties or cultural skill, immigrants are forced to navigate a plan of survival alone and unaided. Disappointed and lonely, hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing tremendous loss associated with relocating and would be extremely receptive to a relationship with you and your new church. By ministering to internationals, you fulfill a biblical mandate, you have the joy of meeting a great need, you discover an audience often ready for the gospel, you plant a church that reflects the multicultural reality of heaven, and you position your new church in a way that is attractive to other Kingdom seekers. Jeff Christopherson, Kingdom First, p. 172.
Thank you Jeff for articulating it so well! This is the heart-beat of our calling. Although we are called to cities abroad that are facing massive movements of peoples through their city limits, we recognize the desperate need for North American churches to WAKE UP to the realities of their neighborhoods and begin thinking about how to engage the world just outside of their church walls. If we can be a resource of encouragement to the pastor or layman, we want to urge you to carry the Gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation across your street. One day, that neighbor from a different corner of the earth may stand next to you before the throne in eternal worship of our great God.