There is an incredible opportunity in missions right here in the US, at our own doorsteps! As you probably know, there are many thousands of unreached people throughout our country who have come as refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants from some of the most difficult, dangerous and war-torn regions of the world.
Many refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers (often referred to as diaspora) are oral-preference learners. As they relocate their lives to our cities and towns they remain connected to their oral culture roots.
Stateside Refugees and Immigrants
Coming from countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Somalia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo—to name just a few—refugees and immigrants are located all around the US. Many still speak their mother-tongue language and prefer the oral learning style of their home culture. As they adapt to their new home and learn the culture and language around them, their heart continues to respond to the oral arts – story, poetry, drama, dance, music and song.
At Scriptures In Use, we are piloting a new initiative. We are using our Bridges disciple-making and church-planting strategy, which has been proven highly effective internationally, to reach and engage oral learning people groups in the United States. Jesus, the apostles and disciples of the first century reached into many diverse communities using stories and parables within each community’s own cultural context and oral learning styles. In the same way, we believe the empowering, organic and catalytic nature of the Bridges model will work here among the diaspora in the US.
Living in Two Worlds
There are, of course, challenges in reaching oral people groups in the states, as they are essentially living in two different worlds at the same time. In one world, they are navigating American culture and the English language, especially in their places of education and employment. In the second world, they are striving to remain in community and family networks which are firmly rooted in their home culture and language. It is not easy for them to balance these two worlds, and the effort can be very stressful. The mission of several US nonprofit groups is to come alongside them in this challenging adjustment. As the Lord opens doors to do so, SIU is partnering with these non-profit groups.
Our goal is that as believers among refugees and immigrants participate in Bridges training events, they will be equipped to engage with their communities, making disciples and planting churches among them. We have seen the Bridges strategy effectively build God’s Kingdom overseas, and we hope it will have the same impact reproduced here in the US.