When they walked into the public library I was visiting in St. Paul, Minnesota, the two young Mormon missionaries were impossible to miss. Their white shirts, black ties and name tags were the giveaway, and I wondered if they were taking break from their door to door excursions of our neighborhood. I would have quickly forgotten them except for what they did next.
Approaching a group of immigrant teens from Southeast Asia who were making good use of the library’s computers, these two young men greeted the group with a smile and a hearty hello—in the Hmong language.
The Hmong people group came to St. Paul as refugees in the years following the Vietnam War. Believing a mix of Animism and Buddhism, they have become an important part of the St. Paul community, and I knew of no one who had worked to learn their language and very few who were working to engage them with the Gospel.
It was the apparent mastery of the language by these two Mormon missionaries that set me on a journey of rethinking the church’s global calling to make disciples of all nations.
It would be four more years before my family and I would move to Central Asia and nearly 10 years before I would begin working with MB Mission as a mission mobilizer. But in the interim, I spent countless hours thinking and reading and praying about the new paradigm in missions that globalization is inevitably bringing to the local church. The era of the “west to the rest” is coming to a close, and as Randy Friesen, MB Mission general director, points out in his article “The Big Idea,” missions is now from “everywhere to everywhere.”
Time for change
The problem, of course, is that while the paradigm has changed, the habits, methods and thought processes of the local church have not. MB Mission is leaning into this new paradigm, and many of our churches are beginning to understand that something has shifted.
We live in an globalized society and the least reached peoples of the earth are increasingly making North America their home. There are nearly 7,000 unreached people groups in our world today, and over 3,000 of these are yet to be engaged with any sort of strategic plan to bring the gospel to them.
It is estimated that 360 unreached people groups have migrated to the United States, placing the U.S. in the top three nations that contain the most unreached people groups. Globalization therefore presents a unique opportunity for the North American church to be involved in God’s plan to redeem all nations to himself.
It was the Apostle Paul who said, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us,” (Acts 17:26-27).
God is on the move. There are places across the globe where there is no gospel witness, where conversion is illegal and where finding a Bible is next to impossible. God in his sovereignty is bringing people from these places to our communities, neighborhoods and workplaces. Are we ready? Will we be prepared to love these people, to serve them and to share the hope we have in Jesus with them?
E2E designed to equip churches
In response to this new paradigm in global missions and the need to help the local church respond, the MB Mission U.S. Midwest Mobilization Team has created Everywhere to Everywhere (E2E). E2E is a three-day missional experience for local church groups.
The vision of E2E is to provide an entry-level, short-term mission experience for young adults, families and church groups with the goal of multiplying healthy disciples and raising up missional leaders. E2E’s unique vision is to challenge, inspire and invite participants into an experiential learning weekend that will cultivate a heart for the least reached of our world, locally, nationally and globally. We want to prepare the church to be God’s ambassadors to the nations.
Our first E2E was held in Wichita, Kansas, in April 2017 and our second took place in July 2017. This weekend of equipping and outreach gives participants a clear understanding of God’s vision to reach the nations and trains them to make disciples who make disciples among the least reached.
Participants learn about other religious worldviews and how to share the gospel with followers of those worldviews. They are trained to enter new fields of lostness, to share the gospel effectively and to begin to disciple new believers. And in a faith stretching experience, we send them out into the harvest, two by two, to proclaim the kingdom and look for people whom God has prepared to hear the good news.
Making an impact
E2E is already having an impact. Mandi Hiett, a Tabor College student from Fairview, Oklahoma, and a participant at the July E2E event says, “E2E was a time of challenging the faith I thought I knew as I began to see the purpose of why we are called to make disciples and how I was tangibly trained to do that. I came away excited for the mission ahead and feeling fully capable while continuing to realize my need for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
Avery Unruh, a high school student from Hillsboro, Kansas, says, “E2E was an experience that changed my mindset on other religions around me in my everyday life and how to approach them and at the same time brought me to a better understanding of what and who the Holy Spirit is.”
E2E will continue to be offered in strategic Midwest cities, but we dream of the day when E2E is multiplied all over the country. Our desire is that small groups from local congregations will take part in an E2E training weekend and then take what they have learned back to their congregation.
In this way, we hope to help the local church understand its assignment in God’s global mission, to see his name made famous among the nations—those people who live on the other side of the world and those people who have moved into our neighborhoods.
Learn more about E2E at http://www.mbmission.org./offices/midwest-us/. Have a look and consider: What would it be like for you and a few leaders from your church to participate in the next E2E?”