Second Chances Month!
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The Bible contains many references to persons who are living in a land as strangers and aliens. Israel was reminded, "Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt" (Ex. 22:21, NIV), and warned in Malachi 3:5 that the Lord opposes those who "deprive the foreigners among you of justice" (NIV). Ruth, entering Israel as an immigrant with Naomi who had been a refugee in Moab due to famine (Ruth 1, NIV), became the great-grandmother of King David and a member of the eventual earthly lineage of Jesus. Joseph was directed by God to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod's order of death to young boys, and Jesus himself warned his followers that they would need to flee coming persecution (Matthew 10:23, NIV). Today, the world is coming to the United States of America. No longer is it necessary to cross an ocean or border to find someone whose culture has not exposed them to the gospel; they are in our cities, schools, and neighborhoods. Some are fleeing violence and civil war; some come for greater freedoms and educational opportunities than they could experience in their countries of origin, but they are coming, and the church must be ready to sieze the opportunity to win them to Jesus through our welcoming concern.
"The church has a place in the public square and
can use its voice to guide our country in the right direction
on immigration. The practice of 'welcoming the stranger'
has exposed many pastors to the real, human
consequences of a broken system . . . ."
--Welcoming the Stranger
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - The agency responsible for enforcing federal law, border control, and immigration policy. Website explains duties of several federal offices and has links to statistics.
Office of Refugee Resettlement - part of the Administration for Children & Families in the Department of Health and Human Services, this office helps link new population groups to resources for integrating into American society. Available at this site are posters and brochures explaining various services (such "The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program - An Overview"). The HHS blog details the personal journeys of several refugee and immigrant families who have settled in the United States and found work or started businesses.
"Refugee Resettlement Facts" infographic and fact sheet from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - Find definitions of terminology, news, legal updates, and information such as how to get a green card or the process of becoming a citizen. If you've ever wondered what types of information a person must know to pass the citizenship test, you can look at the study guides at this site.
www.peoplegroups.info - Interactive site with map, identifies people groups (language groups) in the U.S. and their degree of engagement with the gospel. Includes resources for finding and engaging with your neighbors.
Unreached Peoples, Least Reached Places - "An Untold Story of Lostness in America" by J.D. Payne - A startling look at the least evangelized places in America and the people you will find there.
Joshua Project - global statistics and maps to explore unreached people groups.
(*Joshua Project and other groups generally define a group as "unreached" when the group lacks enough followers of Christ and Christian resources to evangelize their own people. This can occur not only in the homeland of the group, but in a host country such as the United States when a significant population of that group establishes its own immigrant community with little or no Christian contact.)
Metro Jewish Resources - a cooperative effort of Assemblies of God districts that touch the New York/New Jersey metro area, directed by U.S. Missionaries Felix and Bonnie Halpern, to reach the significant Jewish population in that location for Christ. (Articles and Bible teaching on this website are applicable and helpful regardless of geographic context.)
Several U.S. Missionaries in the Intercultural Ministries department have ministries to the needs of immigrants/refugees, ethnic populations, ESL, etc. They also train churches to offer these ministries.
Immigration Alliance - The Assemblies of God is a member of this national collaborative equipping churches to offer critical services to under-resourced immigrants.
Global Initiative, an Assemblies of God ministry to Muslims, equips church planters and individual believers to minister to Muslims in the U.S. and worldwide. Their "Say Hello" resources specifically teach Christian women to reach out in friendship to Muslim women in their communities.
- Watch an informative seminar, "Islam in America," by Dr. Mark Hausfeld, formerly with Global Initiative and currently president of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
www.yourneighbor.us - This informative website, sponsored by U.S. Missions and several Assemblies of God districts, offers ways to "fulfill the Great Commission in your neighborhood and community" by reaching out to U.S. populations of unreached people groups, especially "new neighbors" recently uprooted from their homelands. Included are practical ministry ideas, links to other helpful organizations, and insightful commentary on scriptures that speak to this important issue.
Resources from Peoples Church (Cincinnati) - Pastored by CMC Member Chris Beard, this church offers materials that chronicle its journey from a predominantly white, suburbanite congregation to one that reflects the diversity of their neighborhood--and of heaven. Partnering with the church is Transcend Culture, founded to create resources and assist churches in achieving not just a multi-cultural church but one that truly demonstrates unity in Christ.
"Window to the World" ESL curriculum - this innovative curriculum uses clips from the JESUS film in the learner's "heart language" to teach English as a second language while increasing their understanding of who Jesus is.
Check the websites of the U.S. Missionaries listed above for materials they have developed for neighborhood outreach, ESL ministry, and more!
Peace Catalyst International - many people, often responding to frightening news stories, view all Muslims with fear and anger. Equip your church to respond in a better way: the way of Jesus. Their resources include a "Walking with Refugees" section with specific ideas for building relationships with your Muslim neighbors.
Training from USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) - If your church wishes to serve immigrants with assistance in navigating the paperwork process or studying for the citizenship test, you will want to take advantage of these training opportunities.
From the CRCNA Network: "The Immigrant Experience" - A practical list of tips and things to think about when ministering to immigrant children in Sunday school or other children's ministry.
ethne'CITY: Resources to equip the church to reach the many nations represented right in their own neighborhoods. Webinars, conferences, links to additional helpful information. As an example, see their resource page "Understanding People Groups."
Your church can host a Refugee Sunday - Get ideas and resources from any of the U.S. Missionaries listed above, and from World Vision.
Evangelical Immigration Table - Equipping the church to raise awareness of God's heart for immigrants. Statistics, tools, quotations, graphics, personal testimonies and more.
www,peoplegroups.info - "a resource to help you and your church to find and engage unreached people groups in your locale"
Jim Baton is the pen name of a teacher, author, and blogger who has spent many years living in a Muslim community. His blog offers personal observations and valuable insight into ways to achieve peaceful dialogue between Christians and Muslims that will help point Muslims to Christ.
More Than Dreams DVD - Five compelling stories of five different Muslims from five countries, all with a common experience: Jesus Christ appeared to them in a vision or dream, asked them to follow him, and their lives were changed forever. Available in several languages.
From the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, "Multi-Cultural Resources for Health Information" - see this list for resources to help healthcare workers or those wishing to make appropriate culturally sensitive referrals to healthcare services. Includes translation materials, cultural competencies, and more.
What started as a simple, welcoming sign at one church is now available in multiple languages as a printable download to tell your new neighbors, "Welcome." Find out more at www.welcomeyourneighbors.org.
Questions Muslims Ask - Designed for the seeking or curious Muslim, this site incorporates cultural understanding and passages from the Koran to guide them toward an awareness of God's true plan for his creation. Also helpful for the Christian wishing to engage Muslim friends in caring, constructive conversation. See also the article, "Respectful Witness to Refugees", for tips on conversation that shares Christ without seeming disrespectfully coercive or patronizing.
Fuller Studio - A project of Fuller Theological Seminary, this site incorporates dialogue, art, and essay under the categories of "story," "theology," and "voices." Currently featuring several resources discussing Christian/Muslim conversation and other areas of intercultural engagement and understanding.
Henna Stories - Women in many cultures use henna as a temporary tattoo, putting beautiful designs on their hands and feet for special occasions. Why not use it to share the story of Jesus and bring the Bible to life? Visit www.hennastories.org for story kits and ideas.
Magdalene: Released from Shame - Available in several languages, this movie from the Jesus Film Project, showing the life of Christ through the eyes of Mary Magdalene is particularly impactful for women from cultures where women are not perceived as having value.
Some cultures place high value on the art of storytelling and oral learning traditions. In particular, women often want to know the details of a story--how relationships develop, what people are thinking and feeling--rather than just being bombarded with information. Find ways to share the gospel through story at Orality Strategies and at Scripture Engagement.