God calls us to make disciples of every nation, and he is sending the nations here.
Guest Contribution from Pastor Nathan Thiry, Faith Bible Church
Jesus tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. Of course, that has implications for sending missionaries to the unreached peoples of the world. Who among us is willing to be sent to difficult places and hostile people who do not have the gospel, who have no Bible translation, and who have no church? This is a very big and worthwhile challenge.
At the same time, those unreached nations are coming to us! People from some of the least reached peoples of the world are moving to Spokane! We can obey the Lord Jesus by seeking to make disciples of the peoples of the world as they move right here to our city.
We read in Revelation 5:9-10 and Revelation 7:9-10 that people from every tribe and nation will be gathered around the throne of Christ worshipping Him! Are we going to be obedient to the command of Christ to preach the gospel to people from every tongue and tribe and nation? It might seem like a plausible excuse to say I was not able to preach the gospel to that tribe 8,000 miles away in that remote mountain region or that hostile, closed country. However, what will our excuse be to our Lord when He asks us why we did not preach the gospel to the unreached peoples who moved to our town? Will Christ be pleased with us for all our good works when we were guilty of walking to the other side of the street to avoid loving our neighbor (remember Jesus’ admonition from the loving Samaritan in Luke 10)?
We partner with World Relief to serve and love refugees because Christ is our Lord and we want to obey Him.Pastor Nathan Thiry
We don’t have to get on an airplane. We don’t need a creative access visa. We don’t need a special helicopter ride or a load of vaccines. We can spend time with people from the nations of the world in our own backyards and parks and houses right here in Spokane!! We partner with World Relief to serve and love refugees because Christ is our Lord and we want to obey Him. World Relief’s mission is to partner with churches to serve refugees. They do their part, but they need us to be the church, to be the hands and mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Love the Stranger and Sojourner
What about the command to love strangers and sojourners in our land that we see in Leviticus 19:34? The Lord clearly commands His people, Israel, to love the sojourner as they love themselves. They are to treat them as their neighbors. The rationale that God gives them is that they were once strangers and sojourners in Egypt and that He is their Lord. Does that same rationale apply now to us in the church? Are we still strangers and aliens, citizens of Christ’s kingdom? Is He still our Lord? Should we not love our neighbor who is a stranger and sojourner among us, from the nations? If we are still wondering, listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 25: when we clothe and feed and shelter the stranger among us we are doing the same to Christ. When we do not take care of the stranger among us, we are neglecting Christ Himself.
These realities should weigh heavily on our hearts and minds. We have an amazing privilege to carry out the commission of our Lord to make disciples of the nations and the command of our Lord to love our neighbor by partnering with World Relief to love and serve refugees. If you have not considered this opportunity, I would urge you to look into the many ways that you and your brothers and sisters in Christ could love Christ by loving and serving refugees in Spokane in partnership with World Relief.
Practical Ways to Love
Let me share with you a few ways that we at Faith Bible Church have had the privilege of partnering with World Relief to minister to refugees in Spokane.
1) A place to worship: About fifteen years ago, Nepali refugees who were kicked out of Bhutan started arriving in Spokane. Volunteers from our fellowship started serving these refugees in partnership with World Relief by teaching English, helping with adjustment to Spokane, gathering resources like clothes and furniture, and by becoming friends with these dear Nepali people. We gave those who were Christians a place to gather to worship in their own language in our church building. Members of our church worked with their leaders to facilitate them becoming a church over a long period of time. This year they officially became “Meelap Church” with their own Nepali leadership whom we have been blessed to partner with and train. Our church culture and life has been greatly blessed by all of our Nepali brothers and sisters and by their ministry to us and beside us.
2) English classes: We offered an English as a Second Language class through World Relief for several years, focusing on teaching women English. That volunteer team has shifted to focusing on partnering with brothers and sisters from other churches to do a Friendship Dinner most months. At this dinner, mostly Muslim families from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq as well as others from other places join with members of our church and some other churches to eat food and build friendships. Through these dinners, we have been speaking the Word of God to these friends, seeking to lead them to know Jesus.
3) Volunteer Team: We have a Good Neighbor Team and some individuals volunteering with World Relief, using their particular skills and time to serve the refugee community. All of this has enriched our church family greatly as we are blessed through knowing, loving and serving families and individuals coming to Spokane from the nations. Our prayer is that more and more of our members would get involved in these efforts to love and serve and share Christ with those coming to our city from all over the world.
World Relief provides a wonderful opportunity for us to be trained appropriately for service to refugees and to be connected in friendship and service with these same families. I pray that many more biblical, Christ-centered churches will make partnership with World Relief and ministry to the nations coming to Spokane a priority! Financial support of World Relief is a small part of our church’s involvement, but the relational involvement of our members is exponentially valuable to us and we pray to the building of Christ’s kingdom!
About Pastor Nathan Thiry: I am the associate pastor of discipleship and outreach at Faith Bible Church in Spokane. My wife and I and our four kids have been in Spokane for about 10 years. Before that, we spent four years doing church planting in Spain. I have an MDIV from Cornerstone Seminary in Grand Rapids. I love making new friends, learning new languages, eating new foods and most of all seeing new people come to know our Savior!