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Rethinking Mission Fields

Most of us find it hard to keep up with the changes occurring in the world today. God’s people have historically been slow to adjust to the changes, believing change is bad or tends to move us from the “old ways” revealed in God’s Word. However, within these changes we can sometimes see the Finger of God at work. God says He will build His Church from among all the peoples of the world, and the powers of Hell can never stop it. Due to civil conflicts, suffering economies, natural disasters as well as educational and occupational opportunities, we are now witnessing the greatest migrations the world has ever seen in history. There are more peoples moving around the world than ever before, creating large pockets of people groups in many places outside their home countries. Geopolitical boundaries are being erased.

Where everyone in the world is migrating

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When God’s people consider global missions, they need to adapt new paradigms that more correctly reflect the new realities in God’s world. Instead of looking at maps of geopolitical countries, we need to think about ethnic and linguistic people groups. Instead of asking the question, “What country should we send our people and resources?”, we should be asking, “To which people group in what city or region of the world can our people go?” Many countries are closed to traditional missions work; however, there are hundreds of cities around the world hosting huge populations of political refugees, immigrants and students. When a door closes for entrance into a particular country, we need to adjust our strategy to consider where those particular people groups are gathered around the world. A friend is leaving next week to minister to a Persian speaking church in Greece. Another friend is ministering to Turks in England. A church is connecting with Somalis in Minnesota. While we continue to try and send out workers to closed countries, we sometimes ignore the populations living down the street from our churches. Young couples are feeling a call to move to Africa, and yet have never taken the time to engage the Africans living in their own cities.

US metros seeing huge inflow of international immigrants

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Why is it so hard for churches and mission agencies to recognize these new mission fields? Will we embrace these changes as part of God’s plan for reaching the nations? We all love our maps of the world, showing all the geopolitical countries of the world, but God’s map of the world looks different, showing the myriads of pockets of ethnolinguistic peoples around the world!

Diaspora of Pakistanis living outside of Pakistan.

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When God said He would gather worshipers from every people and tribe, we may not have considered just how He would accomplish this. God’s plans will not be thwarted by authoritarian governments or hostile environments. Let’s embrace this unique era in history when God is moving peoples around the globe as part of bringing them to Himself.

From one man He made all the nations (ethnos), that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him...

Acts 17:26-27