At the Midwest Leadership Summit in Springfield Jan. 21-23, Mark Stevens, a missionary with the International Mission Board, shared that immigrants and their U.S.-born children number approximately 81 million, or 26% of the population. Around 22% of the population age 5 and older speak a language other than English at home.
“Our call as disciples of Jesus is to make disciples of all nations,” Stevens said. We are living at a unique time in history, he encouraged breakout attenders. “More people live outside their country of natural origin that any other time in history.”
Pastor Travis Smalley shared how his church has used English as a Second Language classes (ESL) to reach the nations in Ohio. “Ours is a story of a normal church reaching the nations in our neighborhood,” said Smalley, lead pastor at Lakota Hills Baptist Church near Cincinnati.
Smalley’s church utilized ESL to reach nearly 400 people in one year alone. The church averages 250 on Sunday morning.
“Currently, we have eight ESL classes and citizenship classes. At times we have a driver’s education class,” Smalley said. Through ESL classes, the church has launched five church plants—two Korean, two Hispanic, and one Arabic.
Smalley said there are opportunities to minister to immigrants no matter where your church is located. “I believe there is opportunity in every single town,” he said. “You have refugees, immigrant workers, families of military personnel….Don’t think there isn’t an opportunity. It just takes a change in perspective.”
See more from the Midwest Leadership Summit at mwadvance.org.
Photo: Illinois leaders concluded the meeting with a luncheon at IBSA devoted to upcoming leadership opportunities.