By Susie Rain
She spied them in the jewelry aisle. Their dress was a little out of place in an Alabama Walmart. The two women were covered from head to toe in long, black hijab dresses and headscarves. The petite grandmother made an abrupt U-turn with her shopping cart and screeched to a halt next to the Muslim women.
“Hey there,” the grandmother said in a deep Alabama drawl. “I really like the henna pattern on your hands. Did you do that?”
The Egyptian women looked down at their dye-stained hands and then stared at Anna Speir in disbelief. Was she really talking to them?
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Speir was used to the blank stare, followed by a look of relief and then words gushing out. Most internationals she encounters are lonely. And believe it or not, many are from the same unreached people groups (less than two percent following Jesus) among whom IMB missionaries live and work around the globe. The grandmother smiled when she spoke about finding these unreached people groups in her own Alabama town.
“God is bringing the nations to us,” she said. “What are we going to do about it?”
Speir’s question is an interesting one. Most of us are not seminary-trained missionaries, ministers or pastors. We don’t speak multiple languages, nor are we familiar with other cultures. How can we reach the 41.3 million immigrants and internationals living next door with the gospel?
I decided to throw this question out to the social media world for some discussion. What came back was amazing — example after example of ordinary people following Christ’s commandment to reach the nations. A men’s group in Kentucky made weekly visits to the same coffee shop and now the Indian owner joins in their Bible study. A Kansas farmer took a Chinese student out to work the field and told about Jesus’ sacrifice.
Ministering to internationals in the USA is as simple as locating them, finding out their needs, and serving them with the love of Jesus. Obtaining a visa is not a problem. Overcoming government opposition to missionary activity is not an issue. God moved these people across the globe to be our neighbors just so they have the opportunity to hear the gospel.