It is Sunday July 22 and I am in Sweden as I write this. I am teaching at a Chinese Discipleship Camp for Chinese for those living in Scandinavian countries. It has been a wonderful week interacting with all these precious people.
I walked in only knowing two people while having never met the other 74. After just one day, I felt like I was around family that I had known my whole life. While I had no idea what I was going to encounter here, it has been more than a wonderful experience. It is an experience I will never forget.
Today, a group of Afghan and Iranian refugees joined us for our Sunday worship service. Some of them are followers of Jesus while others are a mixture of other beliefs. Said (pronounced: Saeed), originally from Iran, is a brother serving these refugees in the city nearby. Talking with him today, I learned of an incredible thing God is doing here in Sweden through these refugees.
Said told me that God is using them in his city and across Sweden to bring awareness of the Gospel to the Swedish people. Said told me that the Swedish people are largely resistant to the Gospel. Yet, the Christian refugees from Iran and Afghanistan are boldly sharing the Gospel with the Swedish people. This is incredible news!
God is using them to bring His Truth to people in the West who are very different from them and who are largely resistant to Christians. As Said has watched this unfold, he told me that he wonders if God is positioning and using the refugees in Sweden to ignite a revival across the country.
We can always debate the legitimacy of allowing refugees into our country or not. But, as followers of Jesus, we cannot deny the fact that God is using some of them to advance His Kingdom deeper into the West. At least I cannot deny this fact. Said is a first hand witness to this reality. And, I know others who are also first hand witnesses in the USA.
Refugees are equally created in the image of God, as you and I are. God is not limited by national borders or our political ideologies. God is not proactively trying to sway the Body of Christ to pursue the American Dream. In fact, He has called us to the opposite. He has called us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus no matter the cost.
I rejoice in the fact that God is using our refugee brothers and sisters in the West. They are not just those poor desperate people who need our help. While they have legitimate needs and we should help them as we have the ability, they are also humans, like you and I, whom God designed for His glory and global missions.
As I like to say, “The GREAT COMMISSION will not be FULFILLED from the WEST to the REST but from the REACHED to the UNREACHED”. Refugees who follow Jesus are included in the reached definition just like those of us from wealthier and safer countries like Sweden and the USA. They are equally part of the Body of Christ and are equally called to make disciples wherever they go.
If God chooses to bring them to our backyards, they are called to make disciples in our backyards, whether we join them or not. If they, who have so little, can be so bold in sharing the Gospel cross-culturally to a people who have had Gospel access for generations, what excuse do we have to stay silent?
God created our voices. He gave us our salvation when we did not deserve it. God deserves that we live like the refugees I learned about today by being equally bold in sharing the Gospel, making disciples and advancing God’s Kingdom, even where we are not welcomed.
Steve Schirmer, President of Silk Road Catalyst and co-Host of Missions Talk. Least Reached Advocate. Dedicated to No Place Left.