The Nations Are Coming Here
A few months back, I had a unique experience. I was attending an event at my youngest daughter’s school, and after it was over, I began chatting with the parents next to me. Their son was in my daughter’s class and they expressed appreciation for my daughter’s kindness to their son. They began to explain that they were from Kuwait and had come to America because their youngest child had serious health problems. They were still learning English but they were grateful to be here.
That evening, we went back to school for an event for my middle child. As we were celebrating her achievements, I got to meet the parents of one of her friends. This friend was also new, but through the course of the year, she and my daughter had become friends. As I met her dad, he explained that his family was from the Congo. They too had recently come for various reasons. He had found a job earning a low wage, and they were adjusting to life in America. Again, he was very appreciative of meeting me and being welcomed here.
The following Wednesday night at our church, we sent out vans to two neighborhoods to pick up children who wanted to come to our children’s Bible classes and evening meal. Our fellowship hall filled with many different kinds of children. One family of kids was from the country of Kenya. They had been in America for a couple of years, and they were seeking a church to learn of God. They were invited by a neighbor to come to Southside, so they came and continue to keep coming.
One Sunday this summer, we had a row of guests—one from Uganda, one from Congo, one from another African country. They spoke multiple languages. Some were still learning English. They had experienced trauma in their home countries and were trying to make a new home in America. They were looking for a church because, as I found out, they knew they need to reconnect with God in light of all that they had been through.
Kuwait, Congo, Kenya, Uganda … I could tell you about more members and guests of our church who are from Mexico, Ecuador, India, Iran, Mongolia, U.K., or other places.
The Lord declared in Matt. 28:19, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Normally we have interpreted that verse to mean, “Go across the seas to the foreign nations to proclaim the gospel.” While that need remains, maybe the church in America should also interpret this phrase as, “Welcome and make disciples of all nations.” Because if we look around in the urban neighborhoods around us, the nations are coming here. Sometimes their roles are hidden from the mainstream as taxi drivers, laundry workers, translators, resettled refugees, or hospital patients. Yet in some cases, they are the child right next to your child in school, or the person sitting right down the pew at church.
As churches become more missional, our churches will attract more ethnicities. And we will start to see the nations around us that God has brought to our doorstep. May we have the courage and boldness to welcome those from other nations and make disciples of them!