« December 2017 « Feature
Reach the World Next Door
How Will They Know?
I lived in Southeast Asia with my family for 16 years. In Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, we crossed paths with thousands of Buddhists going to work, spending time with their families, and performing ceremonies at the temples. They didn’t know the Creator God who personally loves each of them. We prayed and served and wondered, How will they know?
Earlier this year, Hurricane Harvey swept the coast of Texas and flooded thousands of houses. When it was over, a church member from the Metropolitan Seventh-day Adventist Church in Arlington, Texas, quietly went to work to help the Buddhist Cambodians in Rosharon, a town 30 miles south of Houston. Their homes had been destroyed by three feet of water. Lisa gathered volunteers, partnered with various organizations and personally went door-to-door listening to their stories and sharing their tears. Then, she determinedly found answers for repairing or replacing their homes. Drawn by the love they have seen, several Cambodian villagers in that area are now studying the Bible with Lisa. That’s how they’ll know.
I had an eight-hour layover in Istanbul, Turkey. Everywhere I turned I saw beautiful garb from all kinds of cultures. Most were Muslims and many were traveling on pilgrimage to Mecca. In my mind they stood for millions who don’t know Jesus as their personal friend and Savior. I knew the impossibility of being a missionary in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or Somalia and I wondered, How will they know?
Joel and Renata attend the Houston International Seventh-day Adventist Church. They went to a seminar called “Reach the World Next Door” and then spent a weekend at the Houston First Fil-Am Seventh-day Adventist Church learning how to connect to and reach Muslims. They were motivated by the fact that some of their coworkers were Muslims. Joel called to excitedly share with me the significant conversations he had over lunch and the new friendships he and his wife are making with people who have never had a Christian friend. That’s how they’ll know.
I walked besides the Ganges River and watched a devout man worshipping his Hindu god. I was overwhelmed by the reality of more than 2,000 distinctly different people groups in India, more than a billion individuals who have not yet placed their trust in Jesus’ saving sacrifice. My heart cried out, How will they know?
Juan was not planning to stay for outreach at the Houston Alief Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church. Joel Meyer, a staff member at the new Reach the World Next Door missionary training center was visiting and invited Juan to go door-to-door with him at a nearby apartment complex. Reluctantly Juan went along unsure what he would say. He was startled when they drove up to his very own apartment parking lot. No one had planned that. Juan was amazed as they met an Indian couple that was extremely open to the health coaching Joel offered. The woman was fighting cancer. Juan was glad he was not home taking a nap when his neighbors needed a friend. That’s how they’ll know.
Wherever we turn we can now easily find Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and many other people groups of these faiths. It’s not just Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has thousands of Vietnamese, Persians, and Thai. New Orleans, Louisiana, has many Chinese, Japanese, and Indians. Additionally, many Yemeni and Telugu live in the Birmingham-Hoover metro area in Alabama. Tulsa, Oklahoma, has the Hmong and Albuquerque, New Mexico, has the Lao. There is no doubt that having neighbors from countries and cultures across the globe living next door is a strategic part of God’s plan to finish the work.
Advocates for Southeast Asians and the Persecuted, or ASAP Ministries, is an independent faith-based Christian ministry that fully supports the spiritual mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. ASAP Ministries and the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists have partnered together to encourage church members to finish the Great Commission starting right here. A nine-month training program for young adults is offered, as well as a DVD-based program you can do in your church or home. You can learn more about this and find further inspiration, methods, and training at ReachtheWorldNextDoor.com. God is eager to touch the lives of refugees, immigrants, and international students He has put within your reach.
Most importantly, I encourage you to pray. My wife, Julie, recently learned that the Somali are among the most unreached people groups in the world. More than 85,000 have fled to America escaping war and intense poverty. “Please God,” Julie prayed. “Help us meet someone from Somalia today.” At the last house of the afternoon outreach, her team visited a Somali who suffers from diabetes. He eagerly welcomed them. How will they know? That’s how they’ll know.
Scott Griswold is the Director of Reach the World Next Door, a cross-cultural missionary training program that is a partnership between the Texas Conference and ASAP Ministries. He and his wife, Julie, were missionaries in Cambodia and Thailand where their four children were born. To be further inspired and get involved visit ReachtheWorldNextDoor.com and MyLanguageMyLife.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 Ways to Reach the World Next Door Today!
1.) Give A Special Welcome.
Imagine starting a life in a different country with a new language. Receiving recent arrivals with a warm welcome can go a long way as they set up their new home. A basket of home necessities, a tour of your town, or a welcome dinner in your home are great expressions of love and care.
2.) Cultural Adjustments.
New residents experience some sort of culture shock. A “thumbs-up” gesture may be obscene or strong eye contact in conversation may feel rude. Everything can seem new, different, and just plain strange. Talk about the family and ethical values of their home culture and how it differs from their new culture. You can help them deal with the huge changes and begin to understand your culture as they adapt to new ways.
3.) Help Teach English.
One of the most significant needs of newly arrived refugees and international students is learning to speak English. To help, you don’t need to be an expert teacher. You don’t even need to remember a thing about grammar. Just spend time talking with them. That’s what they need more than anything else.
4.) Adopt a Family.
Invite your family to join you as you adopt a refugee family. You have the opportunity to meet a family at the airport and help them get settled into their new home and new life. Government and private organizations do much of the work, but like to partner with families to assist them with their various needs.
More ideas at ReachtheWorldNextDoor.com