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Category Archives: Mission

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What type of church is worth the glory of God, worth having His blood shed for, worth breathing the Holy Spirit into, worth being His bride, and worth coming back for?

I dream of a multi-cultural, multi-generational church.  I dream of a church that is radically generous, one that proactively identifies need and then unleashes a flash mob of people willingly releasing their financial resources.

I dream of a church frightened by incrementalism.  I dream of a church thrilled by risk and will do anything short of sin to leave the 99 and find the missing one.

I dream of a church that reflects the Digital Age, one that openly embraces social media and creates two-way conversations with the audience, both in the service and during the week.  I dream of a church that speaks to and reaches the next generation.  I dream of a sustainable ministry.

I dream of facilities that are utilized by the public 365 days per year.  I dream of youth leaders having offices in the local schools.

I dream of a congregation being made up of businessmen and women, people with tattoos, divorcees, homosexuals, Bible scholars, elderly people not caring about anything but seeing the next generation accept Christ, drunks, alcoholics, drug addicts, people with anxiety, people who are scared, the poor, the under-resourced, the devalued, bikers, bouncers, athletes, celebrities, people of all colors, shapes, ages, and varying maturing levels in their Christian life.  I dream they will all sit side-by-side with one common goal – knowing Jesus more intimately today than they did yesterday.

I dream of a church of big ideas.  I dream of being in a room with other pioneers who say, “If caution was absolutely thrown to the wind, what could we do for the glory of God?”  I dream of the college ministry being the most influential group in the church.

I dream of adult baptisms weekly.  I dream of elderly conversions.  I dream of no one ever having to walk alone.  I dream of hundreds of high-capacity leaders being able to serve with their minds, not just their bodies.  I dream of highly influential women serving in leadership.

I dream of having hundreds of local government officials and school teachers attending services weekly.  I dream of Sunday experiences that are talked about Monday through Saturday.  I dream of long lines waiting to get into services.

I dream of sin being confessed and families being reconciled.  I dream of leadership meetings that exceed Fortune 500 companies for preparation, energy, creativity, accountability, and implementation.

I dream of stories of human life so compelling churches are on television every week because it is the best reality show there is.

I dream of this type of pulsating church because I feel that is the type of church worthy of Jesus giving His life for.

Brian Dodd

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The local church is the front line of ministry. In the battle against the spiritual forces of evil, the church is the trench. Christ’s bride is dug in, charged up, and ready to die for the freedom of souls. I relish the trench. It’s messy, at times gruesome, and the noise makes it difficult to sleep.

But I love it.

While there is no beauty in warfare (spiritual or otherwise), the battling bride is a gorgeous organism. Despite the muck, despite the damage, and despite the fight, she remains pure, white, and righteous. She belongs to Christ. She combats for Christ. She never stops engaging in the mission of reclaiming captives of darkness. The fighting white bride shines in the gray of spiritual war.

As a pastor, I realize the gravity of decisions I make. Vision isn’t just a compelling statement of future growth. Programs aren’t just tools for assimilating more people. Church events are far more than ways to make the community come to the campus.

When you invite someone to church, you’re calling them down into the trench. When you talk to someone about joining the mission, you’re asking them to suit up and grab a gospel grenade. The church is currently fighting a battle which will lead to ultimate victory. We win. Satan loses. And Jesus reigns. But we still must fight. The beautiful bride is a battling warrior.

Let’s stop pretending our churches are polished platforms of sanitized morality, speaking sentimentality apart from Truth. Let’s burn the preferences of wooden traditionalism. Let’s quit the silly game of worship experience one-upmanship. Let’s elevate spiritual grit above smooth and seamless operations. We’re in the middle of a serious war. Let’s get real about what we believe and who we’re really following.

When King Jesus returns, will he find the faithful in the trenches or in comfortable country clubs?

So we dig in. War is not won when soldiers retreat. Victory does not come to indifferent combatants. I’ve been guilty of placing myself on a pedestal. I’ve tried to climb into the ivory tower. I’ve ridden a few high horses. And I’ve found I’m at my best when I’m covered in mud in the trench of the local church. I’m fighting most fiercely when I’m not worried about my personal brand. I’m fighting well when I’m more concerned about the local pregnancy clinic than who retweets one of my pithy—but ultimately useless—140-character oddments.

So I fight.

I fight for people in the womb.

I fight for diversity in the local church.

I fight to help the poor.

I fight against injustice, and I fight for the widow.

I fight for every tongue, tribe, and nation.

I fight so sinners can clearly hear the deafening and all-consuming gospel.

The trench is the front line. I never want to leave until the battle is done. I want to die here: old, leathered, scarred, and exhausted. I can’t imagine approaching the throne of God unless I’m ready to collapse into the arms of Jesus.

I won’t stop until King Jesus returns, offering the victory promised. God, please don’t ever take me out of the trench. I want to die fighting.

Sam Rainer

This “teaser” hooked me. I may not read the book, but I could not agree more. Our churches are too safe!

‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.’ — Acts 17:6 That was the startled cry, circa 50 AD, from a hastily assembled mob in Thessalonica. Paul and Silas had been arrested for preaching the gospel. They were viewed as revolutionaries, dangerous men who were upsetting the status quo and inciting riots. But they were just two ordinary men, walking in the power of God, sharing a simple message of his love and grace. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the likes of this.

If you ever find church boring or you believe something is missing from our churches today, you aren’t alone. Mark Buchanan believes there is a visible gap between the life Jesus offered to us and the life we’re living, between the church Jesus envisioned and the church we see today.

When Jesus announced that the Kingdom was at hand, this can’t be what he meant. Instead of counting everything loss to be found in Christ, we’ve made it our priority to be safe instead of dangerous, nice instead of holy. Author and pastor Mark Buchanan believes that we need to recover a simple idea: that God meant his church to be both good news and bad news, an aroma and a stench — a disruptive force to whoever or whatever opposes the Kingdom of God and a healing, liberating power to those who seek it.

Christians – and Non-Christians around the world are awakening to the horror and evil of human trafficking.
Consider…
  • After drug dealing, human trafficking (both sex trafficking and trafficking for forced labor) is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today, and it is the fastest growing. (U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services)
  • Worldwide, there are nearly two million children in the commercial sex trade. (UNICEF)
  • There are an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 children, women and men trafficked across international borders annually. (U.S. Department of State)
  • Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors. (U.S. Department of State)
  • The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion. (U.N.)
  • Sex trafficking is an engine of the global AIDS epidemic. (U.S. Department of State)

What can you do?

http://www.dts.edu/read/human-trafficking-20-things-you-can-do-today-to-stop-it-tomczak-linda/

One of the lessons I rediscovered this year is the importance of reflection. “Consider your ways… pay attention to yourself and your doctrine…don’t you remember?…think about this and the Lord will show you… Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”

Here is a series of questions I will be using over the next few days to reflect on what God taught me this last year – and what I am trusting Him for in the new year. It’s a long list of questions – maybe one/week for a month? The questions come from Don Whitney

  1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
  2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
  3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
  4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
  5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
  6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
  7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
  8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
  9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
  10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?
  11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?
  12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?
  13. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?
  14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
  15. Who do you most want to encourage this year?
  16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?
  17. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?
  18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
  19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
  20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
  21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?
  22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
  23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?
  24. What’s the most important trip you want to take this year?
  25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?
  26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?
  27. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?
  28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?
  29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?
  30. What’s the most important new item you want to buy this year?
  31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

The lighted area is South Korea. The dark area is North Korea.

Jim Dennison’s blog this morning is worth repeating:

 

America’s military presence in Iraq has officially ended.  U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has told the troops, “Your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to cast tyranny aside and to offer hope for prosperity and peace to this country’s future generations.”

While we’re scaling down operations in Iraq, we are apparently escalating them in IranMilitary officials are now saying that the RQ-170 Sentinel drone that crashed in Iran was ours, and that it was surveying suspected nuclear sites in the country.  We have good reason for such an investigation.  Dennis Ross, who just retired as President Obama‘s top Iran policy official, warned on Tuesday: “If Iran has nuclear weapons, the potential for nuclear war in the Middle East goes up dramatically.”

These are just the latest headlines from this volatile region of the world.  What makes these issues relevant nine days before Christmas?

Jesus was “the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).  That means he was a direct descendant of an Iraqi.  Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:31), the site of modern Tel el-Muqayyar in southern Iraq’s Dhi Qar Governate.  God called him to “leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1), and the rest is history.

The Magi who brought gifts to the infant Christ were from ancient Persia.  Second-century Christian art in Roman catacombs depicts them in Persian garments, as did a golden mosaic over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  In other words, Jesus’ first Gentile worshipers were Iranians.

Two principles follow.  One: God loves Iraqis and Iranians, and is at work in their ancient lands.  More Muslims are coming to Christ than ever before, many after seeing visions and dreams of Jesus.  By some reports, there are as many as two million secret Christians in Iran.

Two: we should join him.  I pray every day for 100 million Muslims to come to Christ over the next year, and ask God to lead Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Khamenei to salvation.  If he could bring Saul of Tarsus to himself, can’t he win anyone to his Kingdom?  What impact would such conversions make around the world?

The Child who chose an Iraqi for his ancestor and Iranians for his worshipers now chooses you and me to advance his Kingdom.  The Magi brought him their best gifts.  What will you give him today?

worldview1

I love the simplicity and depth of Kevin DeYoung’s formulation:

One God. We worship one, personal, knowable, holy God. There are not two gods or ten gods or ten million gods, only one. He has always been and will always be. He is not a product of our mind or imagination. He really exists and we can know him because he has spoken to us in his word.

Two kinds of being. We are not gods. God is not found in the trees or the wind or in us. He created the universe and cares for all that he has made, but he is distinct from his creation. The story of the world is not about being released from the illusion of our existence or discovering the god within. The story is about God, the people he made, and how the creatures can learn to delight in, trust in, and obey their Creator.

Three persons. The one God exists eternally in three persons. The Father is God. The Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is God. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, is also God. And yet these three—equal in glory, rank, and power—are three persons. The doctrine of the Trinity helps explain how there can be true unity and diversity in our world. It also shows that our God is a relational God.

For us. Something happened in history that changed the world. The Son of God came into the world as a man, perfectly obeyed his Father, fulfilled Israel’s purpose, succeeded where Adam failed, and began the process of reversing the curse. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. He rose again from the dead on the third day. By faith in him our sins can be forgiven and we can be assured of living forever with God and one day being raised from the dead like Christ.

Obviously, this doesn’t say everything that needs to be said about the Bible or Christianity. But I find it to be a helpful way to get a handle on some of the most important distinctives of a Christian worldview. Feel free to steal it and use it for yourself. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4.

James Emery White is a pastor-scholar who understands the culture and sees what to do (think “sons of Issachar”). He writes…

The reports, studies and news stories seemed to pour out this past week on the diminishing role orthodox Christian faith has in America. Here’s a sampling:

From USA Today, “More Americans customize religion to fit their personal needs,” a look at new research indicating that one day “310 million people” might have “310 million religions.” Today, people are “making up God as they go.” So if World War II-era warbler Kate Smith sang today, her anthem would be “Gods Bless America.” The article was based on research by both George Barna and LifeWay Research.

From the New York Times, a lament from columnist David Brooks on the findings from the recently released research led by Christian Smith in the book Lost in Transition, the third in a series of reports from the largest study of its kind on American youth. Result? The almost complete inability to think and talk about moral issues. After rape and murder, they had a hard time even thinking what else might fall into the “moral” category, much less what might be immoral. Their default position? Moral choices are just a matter of individual taste. “It’s personal,” the respondents typically said. “It’s up to the individual. Who am I to say?” Another typical response: “I would do what I thought made me happy or how I felt. I have no other way of knowing what to do but how I internally feel.”

From the National Post in Toronto, Canada, an almost comical question: in the midst of the widely documented desertion of the Quebec church, what is going to happen to the province’s preferred swear words? When a Quebecer whacks their thumb with a hammer or gets cut off in traffic, the curses that spew forth are overwhelmingly drawn from objects found in the church: ostie, tabarnak, ciboire, calice, criss! So how long can the distinctively Quebecois swear words survive in a secular age?

If there is one strategic insight I try to pass on to other church leaders, it is this: we have moved from an Acts 2 cultural context to an Acts 17 cultural context.

Both scenes from the New Testament portray a classic engagement of contemporary culture.

In Acts 2, you have Peter before the God-fearing Jews of Jerusalem. His message is easily paraphrased:

“You know about the creation, Adam and Eve, and the fall; you know about Moses and the Law; you know about Abraham and the chosen people of Israel; you know of the prophets and the promised coming of the Messiah. So we don’t need to waste time on that. What you need to know is that Jesus was that Messiah, you rejected him, and now you are in deep weeds and need to repent.”

That was it!

And 3,000 did!

Peter was able to speak to a group of people who were already monotheists, already bought into the Old Testament scriptures, and already believed in a coming Messiah.

Now, move to Acts 17.

Here is Paul on Mars Hill, speaking to the philosophers and spiritual seekers of Athens. Here was a spiritual marketplace where truth was relative; worldviews and gods littered the landscape; and the average person wouldn’t know Abraham from an apricot.

He knew he wasn’t in Kansas – I mean Jerusalem – anymore.

So he didn’t take an Acts 2 approach, much less give an Acts 2 message. He had to find a way to connect with the culture, and the people in it. So he looked around and found a touchstone – an altar to an unknown God. The culture was so pluralistic that the only thing they could agree on was that you couldn’t know anything for sure.

“What if I could tell you that God’s name? Would that be of interest?”

Paul then went all the way back to creation, and began to work his way forward – laying a foundation for the understanding and acceptance of the gospel.

That is where we find ourselves today, needing to build bridges of understanding to the culture, meeting on that bridge, and then helping those who wish to walk across to the other side.

Which means our primary currency is going to be “explanation.”

It’s not enough to move from a King James Version of the Bible to the NIV, or even Eugene Peterson’s The Message in our speaking. We must begin by saying, “This is a Bible. It has sixty-six books. There’s an Old Testament and a New Testament. It tells the story of us and God.”

When it comes to apologetics, we need less talks on “Reasons to Believe the Bible” and more series dealing with “This is the Bible.” And then Easter messages that move beyond “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead” to “So What If He Did?”

But it’s going to take more than just explanation.

It’s going to take looking – hard – at ourselves in the mirror. Meaning those of us who say we follow Jesus.

Because who is making up their faith for themselves?

Who can’t think or talk about moral issues?

Often, it is just as much a “Christian” as it is a non-Christian.

Perhaps the most startling research flowing from Barna was released in his book Maximum Faith. He reports that four out of five self-identified Christian adults (81%) say they have made a personal commitment to Christ that is important in their life.

So far, so good.

Yet less than one out of those very same five (18%) claim to be invested in spiritual development. About the same number (22%) say they are actually dependent upon God.

Let’s state the obvious:

America is becoming increasingly secular and losing whatever Christian moorings it once had.

We are standing on Mars Hill, not Jerusalem, and need to wake up to our true cultural context.

But let’s not forget the rest of the story.

If those who claim to follow Christ do not actually follow Him, then we will have nothing to offer the world it does not already have.

And it won’t matter whether we are in Kansas or not.

Why?

Because we’re not from Kansas ourselves.

James Emery White

The odds are 1 in 576,000 that you will be struck by lightning.

The odds are 1 in 880,000 that you will date a supermodel.

The odds are 1 in 3,000,000 that you will see a UFO.

The odds are 1 in 14,000,000 that you will win a major lottery

This means you are more likely to get struck by lightning watching a UFO while on a date with a supermodel than you are to win the lottery.

A missionary is one sent by Jesus Christ as He was sent by God. The great dominant note is not the needs of men, but the command of Jesus. The source of our inspiration in work for God is behind, not before. The tendency to-day is to put the inspiration ahead, to sweep everything in front of us and bring it all out to our conception of success. In the New Testament the inspiration is put behind us, the Lord Jesus. The ideal is to be true to Him, to carry out His enterprises.

Personal attachment to the Lord Jesus and His point of view is the one thing that must not be overlooked. In missionary enterprise the great danger is that God’s call is effaced by the needs of the people until human sympathy absolutely overwhelms the meaning of being sent by Jesus. The needs are so enormous, the conditions so perplexing, that every power of mind falters and fails. We forget that the one great reason underneath all missionary enterprise is not first the elevation of the people, nor the education of the people, nor their needs; but first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.”

When looking back on the lives of men and women of God the tendency is to say – What wonderfully astute wisdom they had! How perfectly they understood all God wanted! The astute mind behind is the Mind of God, not human wisdom at all. We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to the Divine guidance of God through childlike people who were foolish enough to trust God’s wisdom and the supernatural equipment of God.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 26.

Henry Martyn served as a missionary to India and Persia (Iran) in the early 1800’s. In an amazing feat of discipline and genius, he translated the New Testament from Greek into Urdu and Persian (languages he learned during those five years). He also supervised its translation into Arabic. All this – before he died at age 31.

He once said…

The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we must become.

Thursday night, Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington, 7:30pm, section 5 of the left field lower reserved seats. Josh Hamilton was pitching against the Oakland A’s. Hamilton threw a foul ball into the stands during the game, a fan reached out to catch it, lost his balance, and fell 20 feet to his death.

The man who died was a 39-year-old firefighter from Brownwood, Texas named Shannon Stone. He brought his six-year-old son Cooper to the game so the boy could watch Josh Hamilton, his favorite player. He had purchased Cooper a baseball glove to bring to the game, and the two dreamed of catching a ball hit or thrown by Josh.

You just never know.

There have been 900 deaths related to baseball games since 1862. Surprising, only one from a foul ball. Some were, as you might expect, from heart attacks. A few from lightning strikes.

You might think, “If you’re not safe at a baseball game, you’re not safe anywhere.”

You just never know.

Did Abraham Lincoln know he would die on April 15, 1865;

Did President John F. Kennedy know his last day on earth would be November 22, 1963.

Did Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin know he would die on November 4, 1995.

Did Beatle John Lennon know he would die on December 8, 1980.

Did any of the 1253 people know they would die that morning, Sept 11, 2001?

Jonathan Edwards had it right.

“Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.”

You just never know.

The Vision – by Pete Greig

So this guy comes up to me and says:
“what’s the vision? What’s the big idea?”
I open my mouth and words come out like this:
The vision?

The vision is JESUS – obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.

The vision is an army of young people.
You see bones? I see an army.
And they are FREE from materialism.

They laugh at 9-5 little prisons.
They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.
They wouldn’t even notice.
They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the west was won.

They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations.
They need no passport.
People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.
They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying.

What is the vision ?

The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes.
It makes children laugh and adults angry.
It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars.
It scorns the good and strains for the best.
It is dangerously pure.

Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation.
It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games.
This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause.
A million times a day its soldiers choose to loose,
that they might one day win
the great ‘Well done’ of faithful sons and daughters.

Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night. They don’t need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again: “COME ON!”

And this is the sound of the underground
The whisper of history in the making
Foundations shaking
Revolutionaries dreaming once again
Mystery is scheming in whispers
Conspiracy is breathing…
This is the sound of the underground

And the army is discipl(in)ed.
Young people who beat their bodies into submission.
Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms.
The tattoo on their back boasts “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”.

Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes.
Winners. Martyrs.
Who can stop them ?
Can hormones hold them back?
Can failure succeed?
Can fear scare them or death kill them ?

And the generation prays

like a dying man
with groans beyond talking,
with warrior cries, sulphuric tears and
with great barrow loads of laughter!
Waiting. Watching: 24 – 7 – 365.

Whatever it takes they will give: Breaking the rules. Shaking mediocrity from its cosy little hide. Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs, laughing at labels, fasting essentials. The advertisers cannot mould them. Hollywood cannot hold them. Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties before the cockerel cries.

They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive

Inside.

On the outside? They hardly care.
They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but never to hide.
Would they surrender their image or their popularity?
They would lay down their very lives – swap seats with the man on death row – guilty as hell. A throne for an electric chair.

With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days,
they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them.

Their DNA chooses JESUS. (He breathes out, they breathe in.)
Their subconscious sings. They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.
Their words make demons scream in shopping centres.

Don’t you hear them coming?

Herald the weirdo’s! Summon the losers and the freaks.
Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes.
They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are dwarfed by these children of another dimension.
Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient dream of Eden.

And this vision will be.
It will come to pass;
it will come easily;
it will come soon.

How do I know?

Because this is the longing of creation itself,
the groaning of the Spirit,
the very dream of God.

My tomorrow is his today.
My distant hope is his 3D.
And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking great ‘Amen!’ from countless angels, from hero’s of the faith, from Christ himself. And he is the original dreamer, the ultimate winner.

Guaranteed.

43.7-million people worldwide were forcibly displaced by conflict by the end of 2010, the highest number in the past 15 years. It does not include those displaced by this year’s conflicts in Libya or Syria.

More than 7 million refugees have been living in exile for more than five years, some for more than 30 years.

Pakistan has the world’s largest refugee population at 1.9 million. Iran is second, Syria third, with 1.1 million and 1 million, respectively.

Memphis is the home to thousands and thousands of refugees.

Nearly 1500 Somalis live in the city of Memphis.

Close to 2,000 Fulanis from West Africa live here.

10,000-15,000 Muslims living in Memphis.

Memphis is home to people from Cambodia, Burundi, Sudan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Vietnam, Iraq, Ethiopia, Cuba, Honduras, India, China, Jordan, and more.

Memphis is the home to at least 4 mosques, 1 Hindu temple, 2 Buddhist temples, and multiple churches in various languages: Arabic, Swahili, Vietnamese, Spanish, Nepali, Laotian, and many more.

Memphis receives 200+ new refugees/year.

Needless to say, THE NATIONS ARE AMONG US IN MEMPHIS!

SO WHAT CAN YOU AND I DO?

1. Get to know your neighbors. Talk to people that may not look or act like you. Engage in conversation.

2. Teach English by volunteering with the Refugee Empowerment Program.

3. Pray for the 43.7 million people around the world who are displaced and pray for the ones who have resettled in Memphis.

4. Eat at a local international restaurant such as Abyssinia, India Palace, Pho Saigon, Bhan Thai, Casablanca, or Kabob International.

5. Google “religious holidays” or “world religions” to learn more about your neighbors.

6. Walk along side a refugee family and help them resettle in Memphis by volunteering with Christ Community Ministries. You can email my friend, Steve Moses.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Acts 17:26-27