The unprecedented changes that are taking place both in the global village and in the Church have implications for how the Church does missions in the twenty-first century.
Some of these trends include the rise of postmodernism, the general spiritual decline in the West and the growth of the Church in the Global South, the impact of technology on society and missions and the migration of millions of people. This devotion will focus on people movement.
According to the UNHCR, the world is now facing its worst migration crisis since World War II. It is estimated that 1 out of 122 people live outside of the land of their birth. Millions of people are on the move all over the world. As we examine contemporary causes for migration we discover many reasons. Some of these reasons include (but not exclusively) economical, political, educational, and religious reasons. The reality of migration needs our careful scrutiny so as to gain insights for possible and effective mission of the Church and the importance of not only ministering to migrants but getting them involved in missions as well.
“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as ourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:33-34) NIV. Leviticus 24:22 reads, “You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the Lord your God.” There are many other scriptures where God instructs us how to treat the immigrant and the alien. If it is in the Word of God it means that this isn’t some optional thing for us to do, if we feel like it or when we feel generous. God is interested in migrants as much as He is in any other human being. He does not discriminate on the basis of one’s social status. We must challenge ourselves to conduct a deep exploration of Scripture, concentrating on the heart of God in relation to the foreigner.
The Church must welcome the stranger in its midst with unbounded generosity, to see our neighbour as any person who needs us. In this way, the migrants in our community will know that the Church hasn’t forgotten them and indeed that God has not turned His back on them. The Church must embrace the deep conviction that ministry to refugees and immigrants is a core element of the Church’s mission. Ministry to such people groups need to be a part of local churches’ commitment to missions. Such ministry includes providing welfare assistance, temporary shelter, advocacy, and organising work among migrants but most importantly sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. Historically, migration has been a rich source for the transmission of the gospel message to the world since these migrants will then become highly effective missionaries and church planters when they return to their home communities.
Felix Muchimba, Ph.D., has been involved in Theological Training in Africa for over thirty years. He served with Gospel Literature Outreach (GLO) Zambia for many years as Principal. He is an author and international speaker. He serves on the African Church Based (ACBT) Program Board and is a volunteer Associate Leader for Operation Mobilization (OM) Africa Area. He is married to Eve and has three adult children and one grandson.