When God decides to reach a nation, He first finds a person.
- When God wanted to reach every nation on Earth, he found Abraham.
- When God wanted to reach the Gentiles, he found Cornelius.
- When God wanted to reach Europe, he found Lydia.
- When God wanted to reach the province of Asia, he found Epaenetus (Rom. 16:5).
It is interesting to note that each of the people listed above was an immigrant or a foreigner.
- Abraham left his home in Ur.
- Cornelius was an Italian soldier serving the Roman occupation in Israel.
- Lydia was a businesswoman from the province of Asia living and working in Macedonia.
- Epaenetus was from Rome but was converted to Christ while living in Asia.
“Foreigners” and “immigrants”: These are politically and emotionally charged words today. Yet, I wonder if God will use these people to speak to us and act as channels through whom we reach nations.
Immigrants, international students and refugees present amazing opportunities to participate in the mission of God in our own cities, towns, neighborhoods and homes. Here are two examples:
Eby lives in Hallsberg, Sweden. He leads a missional community reaching out to immigrants. I visited their Tuesday night meeting and was amazed. People from Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Tunisia were among those gathered; we heard Swedish, English, Arabic and French spoken. Some coffee and a few cookies helped create a welcoming environment for a group of people from different nations, languages and religions.
Paul and Fran pastor the Foursquare church in Guildford, U.K., an area just outside London that is home to several major universities. Every Sunday, students from several dozen nations gather with Paul and Fran for home-cooked food.
The Sunday I visited them, I met people from China, Afghanistan and a few Middle Eastern nations. Paul and Fran are like Mom and Dad to these students. The students will graduate one day, and most will return home to their own nations, touched by the grace of God while being welcomed to the table in someone’s home.
June 20, 2014, is World Refugee Day. Our world has more than 43 million refugees and displaced persons. Each minute, eight people around the world are forced to leave their homes due to war and persecution. These millions of desperate people need places of welcome.
The nations are on God’s heart, and He has brought them to our doorsteps. Immigrants, international students and refugees may very well be the keys to unlocking nations. Let’s make room for them and welcome them. We will be amazed when we see what God does.
“Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!” (Psalm 82:8, ESV).
By: Jeff Roper, area missionary to Europe with Foursquare Missions International