Needed: A Massive Movement of Everyday People

Church Planting, cities, Equipping, least reached, Philadelphia, Uncategorized, Urban Ministry

stock-footage-new-york-circa-june-crowd-of-people-commuters-walking-crossing-street-at-a-busy We believe one the best ways we can advance God’s purposes among the nations is to think beyond ourselves and serve the church-planting movement in Philadelphia through partnerships. The task is too big for any one person or organization to complete. Partnerships are key to seeing breakthroughs in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia and other urban centers.

MetroGrace 1) Gathers, 2) Trains and 3) Sends. Our goal through these efforts is to send urban church-planting teams to start new churches. Yet, we recognize that the role of sending is continually changing, and must continue to change in order to honor and serve what God is doing through churches and other sending movements in our city.

As MetroGrace looks to the future, we recognize that the Great Commission will only be accomplished through a massive movement of everyday people from all walks of life and all nations—all with an extraordinary passion for God’s glory to be known among all peoples. Since we cannot do it alone, we need partners to join us in this endeavor:

  • College graduates who want to work and live in urban places that are walkable, bike-able, connected by transit, and hyper-caffeinated.
  • Second-career people who sense God’s call on their lives to serve Him in new and significant ways in an urban context;
  • Retired people who want to use their gifts and talents to train, equip and mobilize a younger generation; and, who want to evangelize people who need the Lord.
  • Churches who have a desire to mobilize their people to help the Gospel to be proclaimed in Philadelphia.
  • Returning missionaries who could relocate in Philadelphia to reach the tribe, tongue, people and nation God has called them to reach.
  • Extraordinary financial partnerships for extraordinary opportunities.
  • And more…

Making disciples of Jesus is the most important job in the world. It not only transforms the lives of people here in this world but also for all eternity in the next. Few jobs are as difficult as this one—we have a powerful adversary who is working against our every effort. If this is true, should we not employ everyone we can to the most densely populated places on earth (major cities) to spread the gospel, to gather new believers into new churches, to prepare every believer in Jesus to accomplish the mission of making disciples who are able to disciple others? Does not a mission of such critical importance demand our very best combined efforts? Literally, the eternal destiny of millions of people hangs in the balance.

Jesus’ strategy for revealing Himself to the whole world was through successive generations of disciplers. Rather than being consumed with meeting every need He could in His own generation, He foresaw that the greatest fruit for all generations would come from a movement of everyday people from all walks of life and all nations—all with an extraordinary passion to work together for God’s glory to be known among all peoples.

We are always looking for new partnerships. Would you consider partnering with us? You may be asking how. Well, ask the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, that question. Read His Word. Pray. Expect an answer. You might also want to contact me for some ideas. I can be reached via email at kurt@metrograce.org.

JOIN THE TEAM! #metrograce www.metrograce.org

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Iraqi Refugees in Northeast Philadelphia

Church Planting, cities, least reached, Notable Blogs, Philadelphia, Uncategorized, Urban Ministry
Iraqi refugees find support from fellows and neighbors in Northeast Philadelphia (via NewsWorks)

Hundreds of Iraqis are building new lives in Northeast Philadelphia. They’re simultaneously trying for a fresh start while holding on to their homeland, and even finding some unusual allies. One of those families lives on a quiet street in Northeast…

From Liberia to Philadelphia

Church Planting, least reached, Philadelphia, Uncategorized, Urban Ministry, Urban Poverty

Liberia

From Liberia to Philadelphia – A True Story

From Gujarati Hindus, to Lao Buddhists, to Kurds, Sudanese and Somali’s—God is bringing the nations to Philadelphia and MetroGrace is responding. We understand the biblical privilege given to us to respond to the growing population of diaspora peoples coming here. Globalization, urbanization and migration have changed the complexity of reaching American cities for Christ, making cross-cultural mission not just a foreign mission practice any longer. We are in this together!

The difference between recent immigrants and previous generations is that many are from “unreached” places of our world. According to Mission Frontiers, “the Joshua Project (www.joshuaproject.net) lists over 160 ethno-linguistic people groups considered ‘Least-Reached’ who now call the U.S. home. This includes 568,000 Iraqis, 111,000 Palestinians, 135,000 Bengali, 175,000 Thai (Central) and 331,000 Persians among the largest groups. Many of these people are from nations ‘closed’ to the gospel, such as Iran, Pakistan, and other countries of the ‘10/40 Window.’”

MetroGrace is asking: Who are these peoples? Where are they located? What role does MetroGrace, our Northern Atlantic Fellowship (NAF) and our Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC) play? And, how do we reach them for Christ in Philadelphia?

MetroGrace’s purpose is “Developing Urban Churches.” Our vision is to plant gospel-centered, community-based churches. What is so unique about Philadelphia is that recent immigrants are scattering throughout the city. They are integrating into all neighborhoods. Philadelphia is recognized as a “Gateway City”. Many are first generation immigrants. A surprising number of them have been here for several years and speak English. What does this mean for us?

1)      Planting gospel-centered churches means proclaiming the good news and practicing good deeds among the nations; and,

2)      These churches will be community-based, reaching out to all kinds of people who are living together, yet with their own respective needs.

There are some pockets of cultural concentration in Philadelphia, but that is not what characterizes this city. We are increasingly a shifting, cosmopolitan mosaic. 

The churches we have already planted reflect this cosmopolitan nature – Daniel came to trust Jesus for salvation through the ministry of missionaries in River Cess, Liberia. Years of civil war had torn apart his country. When he was able, Daniel moved to Philadelphia to study international leadership. He connected with Crossroads Community Church, a MetroGrace church plant in the Holmesburg neighborhood, and began to serve.  After more than a year of separation from his wife, he was able to bring her to the United States. Daniel’s heart for his people helped Crossroads connect with Gbalesh Town Community School that we now support with prayers and finances. Think of it, a newly developing and small urban church in Philadelphia is able to help provide a Christian education for children in one of the poorest places in the world.

Reth’s parents were refugees from Cambodia during the ravages of the Khmer Rouge. Their escape eventually brought them to the city.  A church in West Philadelphia helped the new immigrants settle and Reth excelled in her new country. While attending college at LaSalle University she met a Christian man named James. She affirmed her faith and they connected with a MetroGrace church plant. They became a key couple, helping the fledgling church develop. After a while they were married and blessed with two children. James serves as an elder and Reth sings with the worship team. We continue to pray for Reth’s family as she shares the new life she’s found in her new land.

Missiologist and pastor, J.D. Payne points out that, “One of the greatest ironies in missions today is the fact that although we have a good understanding of the evangelical status of many of the world’s peoples in other nations, for the most part, we are ignorant regarding the evangelical status of the peoples of the world living in our backyards.” We simply don’t have good data at the city level to answer the questions regarding the diaspora. What we do have is often dated and the 2010 census did not ask the questions we need answered. For that reason MetroGrace will be training all new church-planting candidates and team members to adequately research their targeted neighborhood before even starting, so that they can discover and love all the people, including their diaspora neighbors, to Christ.

We believe that our newly developing strategic approach to planting churches in Philadelphia is critical. We need you to pray and to consider joining our team. We are always happy to share ways in which you can be involved.  It might start with a weekend “exposure trip” to the city. Or, maybe you could join a short-term mission team from your church. Possibly you would be interested in a 6-8 week summer internship; or, a 2-year church-planting internship. Feel free to contact me, Kurt Miller, at kurt@metrograce.org. We are waiting for you!

 

“We are too busy managing our blessings. Our religious programs, institutions and activities take precedence over the stinky homeless guy on the corner. We’d rather play a guitar on stage than pray with the meth addict downtown. We’d rather prepare sermons, [and] plan conferences…than love the lost, disciple people, teach them to obey and empower them to start churches as they go.” -Quote from an anonymous blogger in Southeast Asia

Food for thought for those who desire to live missional lives…

“We are too bus…

least reached, Other Authors, Uncategorized

Reach the City – Reach the World

Church Planting, cities, least reached, Philadelphia, Urban Ministry

Prior to His ascension into heaven, Jesus shared with His disciples a life-changing revelation – one that radically changed their lives and turned their world upside down. He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8, NIV).”

I’m sure the disciples wondered how this would happen. How would they get to these foreign lands – places where some of them had never been? And where exactly are the ends of the earth? The mission seemed overwhelming at best, but Jesus was quite sure of His plans. As history unfolded, something very miraculous took place. The gospel of Jesus Christ somehow managed to impact the entire Roman Empire (60 million people) in just 60 years! How did this happen, especially without any modern forms of travel and communications?

Two factors helped make this a reality. One was the work of the Holy Spirit who empowered the disciples and their mission. The other was the “koinonia” relationships that impacted the lives of people in every community they visited. The disciples were about going into the cities of the Empire. And, they also understood the value of individual relationships – the “avenues” for effectual ministry. They quickly learned that God orchestrates personal relationships for divine purposes. People “connecting” with people; transformed lives that transformed communities – all because of the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of relationships.

Reaching cities through community transformation is not a new methodology in the advancement of the Kingdom of God. It was Christ’s mission for the early disciples, and it is our mission today! The same Holy Spirit is ever present to empower us as disciples, and relationships are still the “avenues” for effectual ministry.

In the 21st Century, Christians are already established in every community and every city all across America. So why has an emphasis on cities become so popular in literature today; and at the same time, a painstaking task? The primary explanation is the explosive growth of the major cities of the world including North America. And, the growth is primarily immigrant growth, meaning that the opportunity to reach the nations of the world is increasingly in our on backyards! Never have we seen such opportunity to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to the nations, especially of the Southern Hemisphere and Asia, than we see today. And, most of us won’t need to leave our shores! But, more people will need to relocate to the cities, or partner with those who are there – following the pattern of the early disciples.

Do you want to reach the world for Jesus Christ? Then reach the city. The mission still seems overwhelming at best, but Jesus is still quite sure of His plans. You can help by partnering with those who are already living and working in the city. You can help to advance Christ’s plan of community and city transformation. Will consider your role? For more information, go to http://www.metrograce.org. Or, contact me, Kurt Miller, at kurt@metrograce.org.

Partnerships to reach the city; to reach the world!

Blessings…

The Only Unreached People Group in the United States?

cities, least reached, Urban Ministry

20130322-100455.jpg

An unreached people group refers to an ethnic group without an indigenous, self-propagating Christian church movement. Any ethnic or ethnolinguistic nation without enough Christians to evangelize the rest of the nation is an Unreached People Group. It is a missiological term. The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization defines a people group as “the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.”

“Nation” is sometimes used interchangeably for “People Group”. The term is sometimes applied to ethnic groups in which less than 2% of the population is Christian.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is a Biblical mandate to make Christian disciples in every nation of the world. According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, these were the final instructions of Jesus Christ before he ascended into heaven. This is a basic tenet of Christianity. Therefore, spreading Christianity to the remaining people groups without access is of primary importance for Christians worldwide.

So, are there any unreached people groups in the United States? According to the Joshua Project, the largest and highly regarded database of unreached people groups in the world, the answer is, “Yes!” They identify one “nation”, or “people group”, living in the United States who are unreached – the Bengali people. This link will give you insight into these people living in our backyard.

http://www.joshuaproject.net/people-profile.php?rog3=US&peo3=10790

Will you pray with me or the Bengali people? Maybe some of these wonderful people live near you!

Khmer of Cambodia

Church Planting, least reached

Pray for the Khmer of Central Cambodia

Population: 12,475,000

Language: Khmer

Religion: Buddhism

The Central Khmer inhabit the western and central portions of Cambodia, and make up 90% of the country’s total population. The Central Khmer speak an Eastern Mon-Khmer language called Khmer, or Cambodian. It is the national language of Cambodia. The Khmer Empire, which flourished between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, encompassed present-day Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and southern Vietnam. Its power declined after being conquered by the Thai and the Vietnamese. In 1969, Cambodia suffered bombings by the U.S. and invasions by the Vietnamese; events that threw the country into turmoil. In addition, a civil war broke out between the Cambodian government and Communist rebels known as the Khmer Rouge. Possibly three million Central Khmer died between 1975 and 1979, while the Khmer Rouge ruled. Since then, peace talks with the Khmer Rouge have failed, coups continue, and the Central Khmer still live in fear.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge regime nearly destroyed Cambodia. In order to depopulate cities, three million people were forced into the countryside as slave labor. Starvation led to the deaths of over one million people. Currency was abolished; religion was eradicated; education was suspended; medicine was forbidden; and people who could read were often massacred all in the name of the ideal of rural social reform. Many people fled north to Thailand; others took the trail of tears into Communist Laos. Unfortunately, there they struggled to find clothing, shelter, medical care, and food. Some Khmer found permanent homes; others found shelter in crowded refugee camps. Before the war, 90% of Cambodia’s inhabitants lived in one-third of the country, along the two main waterways and their tributaries. Although the soil there is not fertile, the plains flood every rainy season. The overflow brings an abundance of fish; and when it recedes, leaves rich deposits. Sadly, bombing, civil war, and war with the Vietnamese decimated a once thriving agricultural economy. Today, most of the Khmer still live in small villages and grow rice in irrigated paddies. Rubber is also important to their economy. Unfortunately, it has been dangerous for the farmers to work the fields since the 1970’s (due to land mines). The mines have caused more wounds to the Central Khmer than any other weapon. In 1994, the United States provided military aid to help locate the mines and build new roads. While the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia, more men died than women, creating a skewed sex ratio. Today, women are required to perform duties that were once done by men. They dress in colorful skirts, adding life to their unhappy environment. Red and white checkered cloth is used to make everything from headdresses to pouches for carrying babies. In the villages, Buddhist rules of conduct maintain social control. These rules forbid lying, stealing, drinking alcoholic, committing adultery, and killing living creatures. Some remnants of traditional culture can be seen in the villages: folk dance, the classical royal ballet, and traditional Khmer music.

What are their beliefs?

The former Khmer Empire was influenced by India, from which it adopted Hinduism and Buddhism. Today, 94% of the Central Khmer are Buddhist, although relics of ethnic religions such as ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors) and spirit worship are very important to them. The Buddhist Khmer also seek the middle path to nirvana, or ultimate peace through gaining merit in this life. Merit may be gained through supporting the construction of Buddhist temples, giving food to monks, and studying in the monastery.

What are their needs?

Although the Bible and other Christian resources are available to the Central Khmer, less than 1% of their population has turned to Christ. They remain a war-torn people in need of true, inner peace. Prayer is the key to reaching them with the Gospel.

Prayer Points:

  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Cambodia and share Christ with the Central Khmer.
  • Pray that God will grant wisdom and favor to any missions agencies that are currently working among the Central Khmer.
  • Ask the Lord to begin revealing Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will encourage and protect the Central Khmer who have accepted Jesus.
  • Ask God to use these new converts to reach out and share the love of Christ with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Khmer bound.
  • Ask God to call forth prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Central Khmer.

Text source: Bethany World Prayer Center © 1999.Used with permission from Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse

Pray for the Tatar, Crimean of Turkey

Church Planting, least reached


Tatar, Crimean of Turkey

Population: 143,000
Language: Crimean Turkish
Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.00%

What are their beliefs? The Tatars are Sunni Muslims who belong to the Hanafite branch. However, they have no version of the Qu’ran in their language. The Muslim faith includes observing Ramadan, a month of ritual fasting. During Ramadan, they are praying for Islam to fill the earth.

What are their needs? Some evidence suggests that the Crimean Tatars have a thirst for the Word of God. Getting a translation of the Bible in their language is the most urgent need since only portions are available at this time. There is also a great need for laborers to work among the Tatars. Tentmakers with skills in agriculture and construction are needed, in addition to those who can evangelize and do church planting. Tatars also need job training and help in establishing small businesses. English language studies may be needed as well. Of the 143,000 Crimean Tatars living in Turkey, only a few have found abundant life in Jesus Christ. It is God’s will for these precious people to come to know Him, for He “…is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Prayer Points:

  • Ask the Lord to call full-time Christian workers who are willing to go to Turkey and share Christ with the Tatars.
  • Pray for those who are leaving comforts behind and risking their lives to return to their homeland.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Crimean Tatar Christians.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the entire Word of God into the Crimean Tatar language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will open the hearts of Turkish governmental leaders to the Gospel. Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Crimean Tatars.

Taking the Church Where It’s Needed Most