A cooperative project of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board is a tool for international evangelism
By K. Faith Morgan
In many ways, the ministries of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB) are becoming more and more similar as globalization transitions cities in North America, and around the world, from mono-cultural metropolises into diverse urban areas.
“Communications and travel have changed the way the world looks, and people are beginning to connect the dots between global and local,” said Dr. Bryan Galloway, Senior Research Analyst with PeopleGroups.info—a joint initiative of NAMB and IMB. From maps to census statistics, the site offers tools and resources to help individuals and churches identify the opportunities to minister to internationals in their own hometowns.
“The people groups in the world that are unengaged and unreached are left unengaged and unreached for a reason—they are hard to get to,” said Galloway, but globalization is bringing those people to the cities on our own shores. “We see opportunity as we discover groups migrating to more accessible areas,” Galloway added. And when immigrants are reached, the gospel more naturally flows back to their homeland.
PeopleGroups.info operates on a three-tiered approach: carefully examine, naturally encounter and intentionally engage. The process starts with observation and research and gradually moves to relationship building and gospel conversations.
“It would be easy to come to the idea that this is a research project,” Galloway said, “but the goal is to equip people to reach the nations for Christ. You could do research forever without ever getting to church planting.”
Galloway said that the process has been especially helpful for those who aren’t as familiar with the people groups located in their own back yard.
“An area can change around you, and you don’t notice it,” he said. “People will tell me, ‘I thought my area was mono-cultural,’ but there’s a gap between reality and what people think they know.”
For those who are frustrated by the influx of immigrants, Galloway encourages a shift in perspective to “see people the way God sees people.”
“Learn their life history,” he said, adding, “they came here for the same reason our forefathers came; do we see it as a threat or an opportunity?” Galloway compares the current cultural trend to the vast array of nations present at Pentecost, noting, “How sacred of a responsibility we have been given.”
“Our calling is to make Christ known to all the nations,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “Today, the nations have come to us and we need to be good stewards of the opportunity we’ve been given. Peoplegroups.info is a great way to discover which people groups live near you. Then, it helps you get to know them better and plan ways to share the gospel with them.”
“We want to say loud and clear that we exist to serve and to come up under the church,” said IMB presidend David Platt. “Because when you look in the pages of the New Testament, you don’t see NAMB, and you don’t see IMB. You see the local church… we all exist for global mission in North America and to the end of the earth”
For more information about ministering to people groups in your area, visit PeopleGroups.info.
K. Faith Morgan writes for the North American Mission Board.