Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration and Mission by J. D. Payne tells the story of the migration to Western nations and the incredible opportunity the church of God has to reach these people with the gospel and send them to their own people groups to share Christ. The book explains the reasons for the migration, and gives practical guidelines and strategies for doing cross-cultural missions in our own backyards.
BaptistLIFE had an opportunity to do an email interview with the author.
BaptistLIFE: The great migration/globalization seems to me like it kind of snuck up on the church as a whole – am I correct? It’s almost like we’re saying, “Go, go, go,” and suddenly we’re having to stop and say, “Wait, we have a huge mission field right here.” Are we playing catch-up?
J.D. Payne: I don’t think the matter of the diverse mission field snuck up on us. Rather, for the most part, we have failed to recognize that the nations have been here and to act in obedience to our Lord’s Commission. North America is a continent of migrants–including the Native Americans/First Nations Peoples. The nations of the world have been migrating to the United States and Canada for centuries—and have been arriving in waves. Our sovereign Father is the Divine Maestro who for ages has determined when and where people live that they may seek Him (Acts 17:26-27). They have been here, alongside of us; we are just starting to see them.
I want to make clear that the greatest need for the gospel and the multiplication of disciples and churches is outside of North America. We are still to go into all the world. However, there is something missionally malignant if we are willing to risk life and limb to go to an unreached people but not willing to go to that same unreached people living in our neighborhoods. The fact that we have a better understanding of an unreached people group living on the backside of the Himalayas than we do of that same people group living in downtown Baltimore is a troubling reality revealing just how far we are willing to go to take the gospel across the world, but not across the street.
BaptistLIFE: How is ministering to internationals in the West different from ministering to them in their own country? Is it more effective here or there?
J.D. Payne: It depends. Matters differ from people group to people group–and generation to generation within those groups. Clearly, we have many freedoms and opportunities to make disciples and plant churches here. We do not have visa restrictions and in many cases can share in English. In some cases, whenever someone goes through the transition with migration, they become more open to the gospel message. However, in other cases, some people become more devout to their religion upon moving to a new country.
BaptistLIFE: Are churches responding to this need? For those who are responding, how is it changing them?
J.D. Payne: Yes. But many more have yet to respond. The Lord is showing Himself faithful to His Word. Churches are recognizing that the Great Commission is to go across the world and across the street—and the Lord is blessing His people when they respond with such obedience. Churches are recognizing that they are involved in contributing to that great multi-ethnic gathering around the throne of God described in Revelation.
BaptistLIFE: What responses have you had to your book? Are their churches or individuals that have come to you and said, “Wow, we’ve caught this vision thanks to you, and we have implemented new ministries,” etc.?
J.D. Payne: There have been some individuals who are catching a vision for such Kingdom possibilities and moving out into such ministry. One retired couple shared with me that they read through the book a little each day all the while asking the Lord for wisdom to know how to begin such labors. They are now recommending the work to their friends scattered across several Western countries. I am also hearing of returning Journeymen with the International Mission Board who after being exposed to the contents of the book are getting a fresh vision for continuing their labors in North America. I have also had speaking engagements with different networks, colleges, and a seminary to share about this topic.
Payne has a new book that will be available this summer. In “Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church,” he identifies and discusses what he believes to be 12 of the most critical matters influencing our mission today and likely decades to come–matters such as unreached peoples, poverty, urbanization, and the pornification of societies. Read more about this new book at: http://www.jdpayne.org.
R.E.P.S. strategy—Reach, Equip, Partner and Send
- Reach the unreached with the gospel.
- Equip them as new believers with the Word of God and plant a church with them. Remember, a church does not have to be large and complex in structure when it is planted. The Holy Spirit has often birthed simple expressions from out of the harvest with a regenerate, baptized group of new believers that self-identify as the local expression of the Body of Christ.
- Partner with that new church and go with them to their family, friends, tribes, villages, and cities to share the gospel and plant other churches.
- Send the new church across their social networks to preach and plant for the glory of God.
Source: Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration and Mission by J. D. Payne
J. D. Payne serves as the pastor for church multiplication with The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.