I just returned from conducting training at the EthneCity Conference in NYC. My part was on Urban Mapping and Exegeting a City. A major aspect of the training was sending participants out to encounter people different from themselves. NYC has major pockets for such encounters. The best way to exegete a city is to get out among people groups, the foreign population, and the new immigrants to the USA.
The results of the 2010 US Census have recently come to our attention. Over the past 10 years there has been a sharp rise in foreign born populations migrating to the USA.
Predominantly located in the larger urban areas, these new arrivals to the USA come for a variety of reasons. Some come as refuges, escaping harsh conditions or political regimes. Others come to find a better life and live the American dream. While others come for educational purposes. No matter the reason, it is factual that the USA and its culture is changing. We are quickly becoming multicultural.
I was in a church not long ago and someone remarked, “What are we going to do about all of these foreigners coming to America?” I immediately spoke up and said,
Have we ever thought that God, in His providential timing, is bringing these many different peoples from many different cultures who speak many different language for a reason? Maybe, He is bringing them this direction so that we can easily with no restricted access issues to deal with proclaim to them the words of Romans 10:13.
Paul says, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13). There is something beautiful about the word “whosoever”. The beauty must be in its universality, its lack of exclusiveness. “Whosoever” is always used when describing God’s salvation. John says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
Francis of Assisi once collapsed beside the road due to lack of nourishment. The two men who found him were wealthy and educated. They spoke in scholarly language of Latin. Not knowing that Francis would understand Latin, one said: “Just leave him here. He is worthless anyway.” To this Francis responded, “Call no man worthless for whom Christ died.” Men say certain people are of no value to the world and are but a burden on society, but God says “whosoever”.
One of the worst feelings in the whole world has to be the feeling of being excluded when we want to be included. All of us have experienced exclusion. It happens everyday. (At school with youth, at work, everywhere.) On the playground of any school or park there will be a child playing alone while others are playing together. At any college you can find students who are dorm hermits, never leaving there room, who seem to have no friends and no involvement in any social activities. All of us have felt like we should have been invited to some event when we were not. Or, included in some committee when we were not. And, etc., etc.
Sometimes I think we Christians are too prone to be like the rest of the world. We oftentimes exclude others when we should be including all. The Bible in Colossians 3:11 says “there is no difference between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” Salvation is for all mankind. It is unique because of it’s comprehensive nature. All people can have it.
It might very well be that God is bringing people to us so that as body of believers in Christ we not convert them to be all that Americans are but all that it means to be in Christ.