This Saturday, May 27, is Global Outreach Day, a day where believers are charged to share the gospel with their friends, family and neighbors who don't know Christ.
According to the Global Outreach Day website, Christians in more than 140 nations across the globe will be sharing the message of salvation. The goal is for every Christian to share the Gospel message with at least one person.
The sad fact is that 93% of church members never share the Gospel. If we as believers can take a step outside of our comfort zone, even in our own neighborhoods, we could see a drastic change. For Americans, the challenge to share with our neighbors also includes sharing the gospel with those who were born outside of our shores but now call America home.
According to a recent article from the Center for American Progress, approximately 43.3 million foreign-born people live in the United States. As of 2015, 13.5 percent of the population was foreign-born, and that number is growing. The number of foreign-born individuals in the United States is expected to climb to 78 million by the year 2065. These are people who have left their homelands for a number of reasons, and some are hoping to discover a path to citizenship. This doesn't count the number of international students in our communities or people working here on a temporary visa.
An incredible opportunity
We tend to think of Jesus' command to "go and make disciples of all nations" in purely mission-oriented terms. We see fulfilling this commission as heading off to foreign and exotic places to share what Christ has accomplished. And while that's definitely important, it's exciting to look in our own neighborhoods and see how Jesus is bringing the nations to us.
Along with sharing the gospel, it is important that we also live as Christ would have lived and help our neighbors take care of life's practical as well as spiritual necessities. Often, feelings of loneliness and isolation are common for transplants to new countries. Even if they can speak the common language, they still struggle with gaps in communication. They have little to no idea where to go if they need health care or many common things we take for granted such as grocery stores, restaurants or where they can take care of basic necessities. Churches and individuals don't have to work too hard to build a rapport and friendship with these new members of our communities if they are willing to help fill the gap during this transition.
Sending the gospel out
God's plan to pour his Spirit out in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (the Jewish Festival of Weeks) was very strategic (Acts 2). This was one of the most well attended feasts because the travel conditions were ideal. And exposing Jews from all over the world to this startling move of God would send them home with a story to tell. Pentecost was the first major Christian missionary movement, and it was about exposing visitors to God at work.
We have the same opportunity in our own neighborhoods. By introducing our transplanted neighbors to the gospel, we're sharing the gospel with their friends and families abroad. And all it requires is that we make room in our lives for them.
It doesn't have to be difficult
At first glance, it might be overwhelming to know where to start in building a relationship with those new to our country and community. The reason it feels so immense is because we think about it as one large project instead of as a series of small successive steps.
Does your church have anyone who speaks the language of the people you're trying to reach? If not, can you find someone willing to do some interpreting? Can your church begin to identify some of the common needs in this community? What little things can you put together to meet those needs? Meals? Laundry services? ESL lessons?
By the way, did you know the "JESUS" film has been translated into more 1,500 languages? And sharing the gospel with them could be as easy as sharing "JESUS" via an App or including a DVD copy of "JESUS," or other Jesus Film Project® resources, in a care package with local phone numbers for various agencies and other helpful goods. This can be a simple way to introduce them to the gospel and begin to open a dialogue with these families.
Jesus told us to be "fishers of men." The opportunity we have before us now to introduce the gospel to the nations that God is bringing to our doors is nothing short of incredible. It is up to us to take that first step and share our hope that we have in Christ with our new neighbors and truly let them know they are welcome.