Jake- U.S. Associate Director of Global Outreach
Have you noticed that our culture is growing more and more ethnically diverse? Maybe your own neighborhood has become more diverse in recent years. Maybe you have noticed that there are more and more ethnic restaurants going up around your neighborhood or in the city you live in. You may have even ventured over to one of these restaurants and sampled some different ethnic cuisine. If you haven’t, I encourage you to do so!
The truth is there are various people from Africa, Asia, and Europe moving here to America. Many of these people are coming specifically to the Phoenix metropolitan area! This reminds me of learning about the “melting pot society” that was created when people from various countries, races and religions moved to the U.S. when this country was first founded.
One of the things that is so cool about the different ethnicities moving to the Phoenix area is the people we have a chance to meet. Each of them tends to have a fascinating story. It is such a joy to meet them and hear their stories. After having reached out to internationals for many years, the one thing that I tend to hear from them is that they have a lot more in common with Americans than I once thought. For example, they have a desire to get a good education, to get married, have kids, and have their kids grow up healthy. These are all values that many of us hold together.
While it can be so easy to focus on the differences that we may have, whether it is their religion or their background, or their life story, when I push myself to see beyond those differences, I see a human being who is also created in the image of God, who has incredible potential and skills and life knowledge that I could probably learn from as well.
Unfortunately, the internationals who are moving to the Phoenix area generally don’t have someone who reaches out to them, befriends them and listens to their stories. For example, 92% of all refugees who come to the Phoenix area don’t have a church sponsorship where a group of people greets them at the airport, and shows them American culture. Another example is that 70% of all international students who study in American colleges and universities for the years they are here aren’t invited into an American home. 85% of international students will not step foot in a church during their years of study.
Many of these people come from areas of the world where they haven’t seen or heard a clear presentation of who Jesus is. It’s hard to get workers to move to their countries to share the love of Jesus. However, they are moving to us. This is a very exciting opportunity to reach out to and share the love of Christ.
By having our neighborhoods grow more and more ethnically diverse it reminds me of Revelation 7:9. It says, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (NIV)
We serve a God who desires to have His name praised among every tribe, people and tongue! Wow, that is awesome! I hope and pray that we will be known as a church who invites their international friends to our services on the weekends. Who knows? Maybe we will have a small taste of Revelation 7:9 someday.