Recently, I have been with the people of Crosstown Church in OKC and Mission Adelante in Kansas City. I also had great fellowship with leaders from across the country who came together for the People Group Discovery Workshop and the Ethnic America Summit in Chicago. Then there was the three night tour of Michigan, meeting believers in three different Perspectives classes. I rejoice that so many of God's people are getting to know His heart and are giving their lives to immigrant peoples and diasporas right in their own cities. Gradually, the Lord is opening the eyes of many of His people to understand what frontier mission really means in the 21st century and what He is doing to conclude His global plan of redemption.
However, far too many are still suffering from people blindness. Too many in the American church are completely out-of-step with the movement of the Spirit who is shifting peoples from everywhere to everywhere for the sake of mission. I am dismayed to see this and to watch Christians shut out and ignore the poor, the oppressed, the alien and stranger among us -- and to do this while still convincing themselves that they are being led by God to do so. It is a great shame and I can't imagine that the Lord will allow His lampstand to long burn in such a church. The landscape of Chicagoland is dotted with so many former church buildings that now serve as Mosques, Hindu temples, night clubs, and more -- and this while immigrant churches cannot find places to worship and while unreached people groups remain unevangelized in our cities. May the Lord grant us repentance!
Let me encourage you to read and reflect upon and even to pray through the following. It is an excerpt from a book that I have been in the process of writing (don't get excited, I write very, very slowly). I then invite you to look up the referenced passages and again pray through those. When we consider the vast umbrella of diaspora mission and all that it encompasses (e.g. human trafficking, refugee crises, immigration reform, poverty, ethnocentrism, and more), it is very easy to see which side the Lord takes. The only question that remains is whose side are you on?
Psalm 9:9-10:18 – Here as in many other places, we learn of God’s heart for the oppressed. He is, by nature, a stronghold and a refuge for the afflicted. In diaspora mission, we think often of refugees, victims of human trafficking, the migrant poor, and others. Here in Chicagoland are victims of some of the worst human crimes and natural disasters. The heart of God is toward such people and he hears their cries (9:12). God is a just judge who avenges violence (9:12). The needy and poor will not always be forgotten (9:18). The Psalmist is adamant, “Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed . . . . but you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan (Ps. 10:12-14). God does justice for the orphan and the oppressed (Ps. 10:18). But the oppressors? They shall be wiped out (Ps. 10:16). It is only safe that we who wish to bring the gospel to the people groups of Chicagoland be on the winning side of this great confrontation. The gospel we preach should be good news for the poor, relief for the oppressed, liberty to captives (Isa. 61:1). The gospel of Christ’s Kingdom should be more than merely a tract. It must be a home for those who have been forced to flee their countries; it must be a gospel that seeks out and liberates women and children who have been forced into modern-day slavery; it must be a gospel that provides food, clothes, education, jobs and love to those who have lost everything. In short, our gospel to the scattered should ring as good news where they need it most. Indeed, we may say that if our engagement with scattered peoples is not marked by a passionate pursuit of justice for the oppressed, we should not expect to experience victory at all (Isa. 58:6-12).