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More people around the world are on the move today than during any other time in history, according to the United Nations. This reality presents a unique opportunity for Christians in Europe and the United States to share the gospel message with people from unreached and unengaged places.


Through The World Next Door, Pioneers seeks to capitalize on God's movement of people in the world by mobilizing more missionaries to serve unreached people such as refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers.


Will you join us?


Encountering the World of Islam
Encountering the World of Islam

Recently we touched base with a woman who volunteers in the global outreach efforts at one of our partner churches. Rachel’s involvement grew out of an experience she had in Ethiopia on a medical mission team sponsored by the church. “A Muslim came through a clinic we were doing. [He] was the first Muslim I had ever met,” she explains. Rachel and her team asked if they could pray for him, as they usually did with patients. He agreed. But as she started to pray, Rachel realized she had no idea how her words might sound to him, what his life might be like, or what, as a Muslim, he might believe. “I came home with a lot of questions.”

 

A few weeks later Rachel found herself enrolled in a class at her church called Encountering the World of Islam (EWI). This 12-week class is hosted by local churches to help believers in their community grow in their understanding of Muslims and learn to reach out to them. Rachel’s church has now sponsored EWI classes many times. She helps coordinate the classes.

 

“God uses the course to touch hearts and stir passion for Muslims in the heart of believers. It’s a good chance to learn what Muslims believe (and what they believe we believe) and what the barriers to the gospel are,” says Rachel.

 

“It changes the way people watch the nightly news and helps make them open to what God would have them do. It’s also a refresher on grace… Your heart is humbled again by what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.”

 

Any member of the church who is considering or open to serving in the Muslim world is encouraged to take the class. Others minister to Muslims closer to home. Class alumni are now building relationships with Muslim refugees and partnering with ministries that teach English and citizenship classes.

 

Rachel’s church also works with a nearby university to provide host families for international students. Organizers often struggle to find enough families to connect with Muslim men who want to visit American homes. This year, Rachel and her church are happy to say they were able to help meet the demand. After taking EWI, their people were no longer afraid to befriend Muslims.

 

Learn more about Encountering the World of Islam
A Different Kind of Ministry Team
A Different Kind of Ministry Team

“When we started working with Iraqi refugees we had the same paradigm we had when we were overseas,” says John, a Pioneer serving among refugees in the United States. “It’s just you and maybe a small team doing the work. But there are 1200 people we go to church with every week, and we realize God wants to use them, too! When you’re working with diaspora people in a place where the church is already established [like in the US] that provides a completely different dynamic.”

 

So John and Sylvia started mobilizing their church and other churches in their area to care for the refugees around them. They started ESL classes and recruited volunteers to provide childcare and transportation as well as help teach classes and help with furniture, groceries, and other practical needs. “The vision was that they would establish relationships with Iraqi women and get into their homes. We wanted to get Christians involved in Muslim’s lives,” Sylvia explains.

 

It was slow at first, but now they’re seeing a thriving network emerge. “So we’re starting to see a much bigger imprint in the community by having volunteers than we could have ourselves. With 50 families that all want to see you, you can’t go deep with them. I challenge people to get involved with ONE family. We have enough people in our church that all of our refugees could have five Christian friends.”

 

Sometimes the language barriers are high and the volunteers don’t know if they are making a difference. “I had a woman who volunteered to drive people to a beginning English class. They all spoke Arabic in her car. What did she expect? But she was so frustrated that she couldn’t talk to them that she quit.”

 

Sylvia wants to help volunteers taking a step back and understand the difference they can make even if results seem slow. “We need to share the gospel with words,” she says, “But that doesn’t negate the amazing power of what we communicate with our actions. We can communicate love and acceptance and welcome to people who have lost everything. When we do, God is glorified by that.”

John points out that the whole community is watching. They see the love and service the Christian community provides. “One guy whose wife takes classes at our church went to pick her up and was impressed at all these Christians helping Muslim women out to their cars. I was able to share the gospel with him because of it. These Christian women didn’t know that they were being watched and someone was asking questions about why they do what they do,” says John.

Word of a kind act can travel far, and that’s just as true for the actions of short-term volunteers and of long-term workers like John and Sylvia. “I’ve walked into apartments to visit friends and they say, ‘I’m on Skype with my brother in Baghdad; say hello!’ I’ve had people in Baghdad thank me for what we’re doing. News is traveling back to places like Iraq.”

 

Faithfulness in friendship and sharing the gospel as you share your lives may lead to greater spiritual openness over time, says John. “Share in such a way you’ll get another opportunity to share again! Because they need to hear it again and again.”

See more about John and Sylvia's ministry here.

Befriending the Bewildered
Befriending the Bewildered

We asked Sylvia, a Pioneer who works with refugees in the US, what life is like for the women. “Back in the Middle East, they have a social network,” she responds. “Their sisters, mothers, and friends all live close. Here they are isolated in apartments where they don’t know anyone, just sitting indoors just being depressed! Relationships are huge in addressing that.”

Pretty much everyone struggles with depression, Sylvia explains. “Homesickness is some of it. We know what that’s like from living overseas ourselves. But it’s multiplied way out, when you think about it, for refugees. I mean, when we were overseas we had people praying for us and excited about what we were doing, and felt God wanted us to go, and in the back of our minds, we knew we could always quit and come home. But it was still really hard!”

Her refugee friends have none of those advantages. “They don’t want to come here! They lose family, and a lot of them are mid-career and lose that. They are dealing with a lot of trauma. They are worried about people back there but have no home to go back to. Here it is raining all the time and they are in a little apartment and don’t even know their neighbors.”

As a result, “If I just go and spend a couple of hours with a woman, even with a language barrier… a couple hours drinking tea, that’s the social moment she really needed. Small thing, you think. But it can be really big to someone.”

She also finds that many of her friends are bewildered by a lot of things in America. Just having someone they can ask “What does this mean?” can be a huge comfort. She recommends trying to walk alongside people and asking questions about what’s going on in their life and what they are facing right now. “As they get to know and trust you, make yourself available,” she adds. Even after years in the country, when many may be well settled in and thriving, they still have questions and may need a helping hand or listening ear.

Sylvia’s husband John comes alongside men and others them friendship and help. “Relationships with men may mean helping them buy a car and get established,” he says. “Their lives have been upended; you’re helping them land on their feet.”

John has noticed that the men he works with also tend to be more social than American men. “They like to do things in groups, in groups of guys. Some of them like to go fishing. I don’t fish, but I’m trying to connect guys in my church who fish with refugee men who want to fish. I started taking guys bowling. They really like that. In the spring we do a lot of outings with families to show them how beautiful their new home is!”

Some service opportunities are seasonal. “Starting in January I do taxes,” says John. “I probably did 13 people’s taxes this year. Mostly their taxes are pretty simple and they qualify for the free version of the tax software. You just sit next to them and help them understand the questions and file.”

Read more about John and Sylvia's story here.

Opportunities Never Seen Before
Opportunities Never Seen Before
Over 1.8 million Muslim-background people now call Europe home.

Many of them are not citizens.  They may not fluently speak the language of their host countries and many are disillusioned with the only faith they have ever known — Islam.  They are immigrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty in Middle-Eastern countries.

However, their presence in Europe — while stemming from tragedy — poses an opportunity that the Body of Christ has never seen before.  That is an opportunity to freely share the life-giving news of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

This opportunity has already seen great fruit.  According to several reliable European and American news sources, the refugee crisis in Europe has created a new surge of interest in Christianity.  A church in Berlin has recently grown from 150 to 700 (mostly Muslim-background converts).  In May of 2016, 80 Muslim refugees were baptized in a church in Hamburg.  We are seeing this kind of fruit in other areas of Europe such as the United Kingdom, Austria, Greece, Bosnia, France, and elsewhere.  

These numbers are real and they reveal the Holy Spirit’s work among Muslim-background people across Europe.  The 10/40 Window, which refers to parts of the developing/majority world that have little Christian presence, is now showing itself in Europe.  

Do you want to be a part of one of this century’s greatest Christian turning points? 

The time is now and the place is Europe — the new great mission field.

See more about what Pioneers is doing in Europe and North America among refugees, immigrants and international students at www.Pioneers.org/NextDoor

You may read this article in it's original format here on Pioneers in Europe's website.
Teach English to Muslim Women in the UK
Do you love language or making handicrafts with other women? Consider joining a church-planting team in the UK ministering in a city with a large immigrant population from the Muslim world. The team is looking for a relational and motivated individual who has the ability to work with non-native speakers of English in an informal classroom setting. Use that contact as a means to share the love of Christ with the women who come to learn. The team will help you get your feet under and help you integrate your contribution with the wider-goal of church planting among unreached Muslims living in that community.
Immigrant and refugee ministry in the US
Salaamu aleykumu! Do you have a heart for Muslim women and children? Consider joining church-planting team in the Midwest for a year or more to minister to immigrant and refugee women and children from the Muslim world, especially Arabia. In partnership with another woman, build relationships with these women by helping them to assimilate to life in the US while initiating discovery Bible studies. If you have Arabic language skills, that is a plus.
Meeting the Strangers Next Door
Meeting the Strangers Next Door

When we consider cross-cultural missions, we typically think of going to a faraway place where people are dramatically different in their traditions and lifestyle. But a small group of Pioneers, like Caleb and Sarah, are doing something slighty different.

“Originally we felt God was calling us to go overseas as any traditional missionary does, and we planned on working in a Muslim context. So we took a vision trip to the area we were considering. When we came home, we were ready to pack our bags and head overseas.”

 

As Caleb and his wife were preparing, though, their journey took a surprising turn. A leader in their church introduced them to J.D. Payne’s book Strangers Next Door:  Immigrant, Migration, and Mission. Caleb and Sarah learned that a few hundred thousand individuals from the unreached people group they wanted to serve among had come to the US. “We had our minds blown,” Caleb admits. They started to wonder if God might have a place for them in reaching Muslims in “diaspora,” those who had been scattered across the world as refugees and immigrants.

 

Caleb and Sarah began doing research on who might be doing ministry with their focus population, where they were working, and what kind of work they might be doing. They discovered that the city with the largest unreached population also had many evangelical organizations and Christians in local churches who were engaging their new neighbors.

 

Another city had a smaller population of this unreached group, but also fewer evangelical resources that could reach them. Caleb realized it might be more strategic to serve in the second city. After all, the chances of a member of this group hearing the Gospel or being befriended by someone who could share it with them was quite small. After further research and prayer, says Caleb, he and Sarah saw the need for committed, intentional laborers in the second city and they felt a huge burden to be part of that.

See the second part of Caleb and Sarah's story. Their ministry grew with cups of tea, language learning and starting a business.

Also, get a free copy of J. D. Payne's recent book, Unreached Peoples, Least Reached Placeshere.

Language Learning Opens Doors
Language Learning Opens Doors

If your cross-cultural ministry means working with the unreached who have come to your own country, you don’t need to learn their language—or do you? Caleb and Sarah, Pioneers who work with Muslim refugees and immigrants in the US, look at it differently. “We think it is better to share the gospel in the language of the people,” Caleb explains. Caleb is thinking globally. Just a handful of individuals in this group have come to know Christ, and church-planting efforts have yet to succeed in any part of the world where they live. Caleb hopes that by working in the language of the people, evangelism and discipleship efforts have the potential to go further. “We don’t want it to stop in America,” he explains.

 

Working to learn the language of the people has other advantages for Caleb and Sarah. A relationship-based language-learning strategy gives him and Sarah the opportunity to develop close relationships with a language helper who spends hours in their home every week, much as might be the case overseas. It also motivates Caleb to visit the restaurants and cafes where men from the culture spend much of their time. They work long hours in their jobs, then come after work for tea or a meal, to watch sports and talk about politics and news from home. There Caleb can practice his conversational skills and get help with his language homework, building relationships at the same time.

 

Spending time in the restaurants and cafes was difficult at first; these are environments no American ever enters, he explains. “I knew I’d be a fish out of water.” Initial efforts were met with coolness or indifference. By not giving up, he eventually found men who welcomed him into their circle, and he became a regular there.

 

Though many connections began by asking the immigrants and refugees to help him (with learning their language), in time Caleb was able to help meet their needs as well. He began a business that helps provide them with products they miss from their home country but are unable to easily find in America. Many are surprised that he understands and cares about their efforts to maintain ties to their home culture, and it has opened many doors for relationship.

See how Caleb and Sarah caught the vision for cross-cultural ministry here in the U.S. by reading the first part of their story here.

 

*Names have been changed.

From Albania to Greece
From Albania to Greece

After living in Albania for several years, Andrew and Alecia moved to Greece to make disciples among Albanians who have immigrated there. They recently partnered with local believers to plant an Albanian-speaking fellowship at the foot of Mars Hill in Athens, just steps from where Paul preached the gospel 2,000 years ago.

For more information about what God is doing through the movement of people around the world, visit Pioneers.org/NextDoor.

What Can We Do for International Students?
What Can We Do for International Students?

When God opened Ben’s* heart to the nations and called him into ministry, he naturally assumed he’d be serving as a missionary overseas, preferably in one of the harder places. Instead, he finds himself part of a team that works with international students and refugees in the very city where he grew up.

We asked Ben what advice he might give American Christians who want to build relationships with international students, and particularly Muslim students like those with whom he works.

“My biggest encouragement is to show up,” he simply said. “God has done the heavy lifting in bringing them here from places like Saudi Arabia and Libya and Iran, some of the least-reached places in the world, and these are future leaders in their country. Just show up in their lives.”

Practically, what can we do? “One of the biggest needs or opportunities is to open their homes. I find that this is doable for a lot of Americans—to actually host an international student.”

 

Most universities around the country have programs that match international students with host families who may take the student in to live with them, host them on holidays, or simply connect with them regularly during their time in the U.S. In addition to university-based programs, ask others in your area about international student ministries which may be based in churches or connected with Christian organizations.

 

While cross-cultural training is helpful, openness to learn and faithfulness in friendship are the keys. One family serving alongside Ben hosted four Iranians in their home for a Thanksgiving meal. Four years later they are still connecting with these students on a monthly basis. “It’s opened a whole world of Iranians to them. They aren’t ‘in ministry,’ they are just laypeople with a heart for Iran. And now they have a real dynamic ministry with Iranians.”

 

Many Muslim students see the fear reflected in the media and sometimes in the eyes of Americans, and are scared about what may happen to them. “My phone was blowing up on election night with calls and texts from Saudis wondering, ‘What does this mean? Are we going to have to go home?’” As Ben points out, we in the American church have a unique opportunity, especially now, to open our homes and lives to internationals who live among us. Ben urges us, “Pray that the church would see this as an opportunity to be ambassadors for Christ.”

 

» Read more about Ben’s story.


Name has been changed.