Occasionally a television program such as Candid Camera or Americas Funniest
Home Videos shows someone caught on camera by a practical joke or a totally
unexpected happening. We laugh as we watch them reel in surprise, often
backpedaling or falling away from whatever has taken them off guard.
It happened to me several years ago when my wife pulled off a classic
surprise birthday party for me. We walked through the front door and flipped on
the light switch. What should have been a quiet, empty living room was
suddenlystartlinglyfilled with noise and motion and energy and a crowd of
wall-to-wall people. I staggered backward, speechless and clutching my chest.
But once I got the picture of what was really going on, I quickly embraced each
person there as an unexpected but welcome friend in my home.
If we will flip on the light switch in 21st century North America, we cannot
help but be startled by who has entered our living room. God has literally
brought the world to our doorstep. In the Atlanta suburb I call home, my
children have friends named Aakash and Teng and Ankit and Yong Huan.
Twenty-five percent of their classmates are Asian, and the fastest growing
ethnic group is Hispanic. Almost every month a new child enrolls in one of
their classes who does not speak English or whose parents do not speak English.
These are my neighbors. Their families are my mission field.
Yes, the people groups of the world are now closer to us than ever, but that
does not mean our churches are effectively reaching them. I read recently that
70 percent of the worlds leaders are now educated in North America, but 90
percent of those will never darken the door of a Christian church. Many first
and second generation immigrants settle in North Americas largest cities, where
our churches are often few and small. I recently heard from a pastor who, on a
mission trip to New York City, found that in one afternoon he could drive from
a Russian neighborhood to a Chinese neighborhood to a Romanian neighborhood to
a Pakistani neighborhood to an Ethiopian neighborhood. His astonished
observation was, Right here in this American city, I have just been around the
In His last words on earth, Jesus told His disciples they would be witnesses
in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Samaria was for them
what the North American mission field is for many of our churches todayfull of
people who are close in proximity, but very distant in natural affinity.
Barriers such as distance or hostile governments may have been removed.
Barriers such as language and culture and belief systems often remain.
In addition to helping send missionaries, is your church equipping its
members for evangelism, helping start a new church, mobilizing its people for
ministry and mission trips alongside missionaries, and seeking to penetrate the
lost culture of North America? These mission strategies are outlined on pages
50-67, along with steps your church can take for deeper involvement. If your
church would like to go deeper into North American missions, please call the
North American Mission Board at 770-410-6000 or explore this web site. Wed like
nothing more than to help your church go more intentionally to its
The living room of our homeland is no longer quiet and predictable, and we
are no longer the only ones who dwell there. And just as I reeled fromthen
embracedthe relationships of that surprise birthday party, our churches must
respond to the pleasant surprise of the world that has come to our doorstep by
willingly embracing the people who are now so close, so accessible. The gospel
will be a surprise to some of them also, and a welcome, life-changing message
to many. And the celebration that follows, both now and in eternity, will make
us glad God brought these dear new friends to our doorstep.
Nate Adams, vice president, email@example.com
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC