A Prayer Request and a Warning: Is Your Church on the Right Side?

I appreciate deeply those of you who have been in prayer for our ministry among scattered people.  We've just recently had some very discouraging news that will dramatically impact our work.  I will share details as soon as I can so that you can pray with more insight.  Also, I am aware that many of you could have significant ways of helping us work through the new challenges before us.  For now, I must simply ask you to remain in prayer for the Trinity International Baptist Mission family, our churches, leaders, and the hundreds of Christ-followers among us.

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).


Kermit Gosnell's Bhutanese Victim: Had you heard about this?

Lots of people have been talking about the wicked actions of Kermit Gosnell, the abortion doctor who is accused of killing several babies born alive. Fewer seem to know that one of his victims was a 41-year-old Bhutanese-Nepali refugee. Since a number of my readers care deeply for the Bhutanese, I wanted to just give you a quick heads up.

The below link will take you to an article by Fox News which tell she the story of Karna Mongar who died while under Gosnell's care in 2009.

And here is another from

This episode has, of course, raised the issue of legalized abortion all over again. For years, one of the more compelling arguments in favor of legalized abortion has been the specter of illegal, unsafe abortions performed in secret clinics and back alleys. The Gosnell case certainly throws a wrench in the pro-abortion lobby which has perhaps spent so much energy fighting to make abortion legal that they have failed to ensure that it is safe and rare.

Mongar's death, however raises another critical issue. Do our current social welfare systems encourage certain slimy individuals to exploit the poor and immigrant? I am going to go out on a limb and assume that most of Gosnell's victims were, like Mongar, poor. And, while I don't know for sure, I feel safe in stepping out a bit further to assume that they were also mostly ethnic minorities. I have had the opportunity to be with many immigrants during trips to medical clinics, doctors' offices, etc. I have also personally had my family participate in public health care systems. These experiences and that Gosnell case certainly raise the question in my mind, "Where is the accountability?"

It just seems to be one of the most politically expedient things in the world to make sweeping offers of public health care as a benefit to the poor and then, because too few people actually care about the poor and about ethnic minorities, to do very little to ensure that the healthcare provided is ... well ... healthy.



Bhutanese Refugees Are Killing Themselves at an Astonishing Rate!

Photo By lpk90901
A compelling article has just come out in the Atlantic regarding the tragically high suicide rate among Bhutanese-Nepali refugees.  I've been saying for a few years that this group has a higher suicide rate than most.  Now here are the hard facts:

Bhutanese Refugees Are Killing Themselves at an Astonishing Rate 
- Danielle Preiss - The Atlantic:
The study team confirmed the government's suspicions; the problem was endemic. The global suicide rate per 100,000 people--how suicide rates are calculated--is 16, and the rate for the general U.S. population is 12.4. The Bhutanese rate is much higher: 20.3 among U.S. resettled refugees and 20.7 among the refugee camp population. A handful of suicides were reported among other refugee groups during the same period as the CDC study, but nothing like the number among the Bhutanese.

Of course, the next question will be "WHY?" Of course, like most refugee groups, the Bhutanese struggle with poverty, depression, culture shock, and other issues.  However, these are not unique circumstances for them.  Why don't Somalis or Karen commit suicide as frequently?  Personally, I have noticed that suicide is especially prominent in the cultural narrative of the Bhutanese.  One has only to watch their films to see how frequently suicide is a theme.  Moreover, those who commit suicide in Nepali language films are not usually seen as having done something wrong.  Rather, they are tragic victims and even sometimes are viewed as somewhat courageous.  Outside of films, if you manage to observe any of the dialogue between young Bhutanese people (especially when romance is involved), you will see suicidal themes there as well.  A boy rejected by the girl he loves will very often threaten to kill himself.  A wife scolded by her husband might do the same.  The bottom line is that in the prevailing cultural narrative, suicide is an option. 

The Atlantic article brushes up against a key insight:

"Burmese, Somali and Iraqi refugees (the other three groups that top the list for recent refugee arrivals) also entered the U.S. during the downturn. These groups may have been protected by what Shetty describes as different 'cultural perspectives' on suicide. Of these groups, most are Muslim [Burmese refugees are a mix of Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist], except the mainly Hindu Bhutanese.  Though both Shetty and Subedi were careful to avoid saying suicide is accepted by Bhutanese culture or Hindu religion, Subedi explains it is tolerated more. 'For Bhutanese, suicide by hanging is a solution,' he says, explaining that for Somali refugees, Islamic prohibitions are effective deterrents. Hinduism is more ambiguous on the subject."

If you are one who cares for the Bhutanese refugee community in your city, please take a look at the linked article above and give it careful thought.  Pray for the Bhutanese people to recognize the sacredness and preciousness of life.  Pray that they will reject the idea that suicide is a valid response to life's problems.   Grace and Truth must become incarnated in every Bhutanese-Nepali community for this trend to be reversed.