USA (MNN) — As the West becomes increasingly aware of the far reach of terrorism, countries are asking themselves if they should house refugees.
After Paris was so brutally attacked earlier this month, resourced countries of the West are worried about Syrian and Iraqi refugees in particular.
Some countries have a compassionate response. Paris is honoring their promise to house 30,000 refugees even after learning that at least one of the alleged attackers was posing as a Syrian refugee.
Others are not so enthusiastic about offering shelter, claiming that housing Syrian refugees will put people in jeopardy.
A house divided
CNN reported earlier this month that over half of United States governors opposed Obama’s plan to house 10,000 refugees. Days later, the House voted for tighter restrictions on Iraqi and Syrian refugees, the BBC reported. Meanwhile, it’s a polarizing subject for presidential candidates, the Christian community, and the public in general. Everyone is wondering how Islamic extremists will use the refugees to spread terror.
When fear causes you to disown or distrust your neighbor, the situation is grim, indeed. But there is at least one mission group who for years has been asking questions most of us have been too angry or afraid to consider. How do we reach our Muslim neighbors who are already here? What about the refugees who will be settled here?
Christ for All Peoples, a ministry partner of The JESUS Film Project, has been using the influx of Muslims traveling to North America as an opportunity to share the Gospel.
Telling your Muslim neighbors about Jesus
Thanks to the partnered efforts of Christ for All Peoples and the JESUS Film Project, telling immigrant neighbors about Jesus isn’t as difficult as you might think. And now as the question of refugees hangs in the air, it could be a way to reach them as well.
James Kinyanjui, a worker with Christ for All Peoples, shares how it all began.
Phil Cohn, founder of the ministry, was a board member and donor of the JESUS Film Project for many years. He was passionate about the JESUS film because he saw how effective it was in sharing the Gospel with people of different languages all around the world. But when he noticed increased immigration of Muslim populations to the United States and North America beginning about a decade ago, he saw a great opportunity.
“God gave him a vision to produce mass DVDs with the Muslim language in it,” says Kinyanjui. “Muslim[s] are migrating to America, and it’s easier and accessible to distribute the DVDs to their homes.”
There are about 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 (according to Wikipedia). All of them need to hear about Jesus. Traditionally, Christian missionaries have put in a great effort, sacrificing everything, even their lives, to reach these populations.
Due to mass movements of Muslims out of their home countries, that’s all changing very rapidly.
“We can sometimes go to Saudi Arabia, we can go to their countries, but since they are coming to America, we can be able to reach them without any hindrance,” Kinyanjui explains.
Vicinity helps keep down costs for Christ for All Peoples, and so does the way they run their ministry.
“Through his business, he was able to raise money and come up with a way to formulate the DVD, produce it in mass, and therefore lower the cost,” Kinyanjui says of Cohn.
Because of generous support, Christ for All Peoples is able to give away the JESUS film for free. Volunteer churches and groups go out into their communities to hand out the DVD’s.
Kinyanjui says, “It’s pretty cheap because we don’t have to go outside of the country to share the message. We can do it right here in the United States, in our neighborhood, and in our communities.”
He estimates that each DVD costs about $0.50. This half-dollar does so much.
“The majority of them, when they take up the DVD, they watch it even 6-10 times. And out of probably 10, 2 or 3 come to accept Christ.”
When the Gospel can be shared accurately, effectively, and at a low cost, it means more people get to hear about Jesus.
Meeting expectations, answering needs
According to Kinyanjui, Christians shouldn’t be scared to approach their Muslim neighbors to talk about Jesus–whether they’re immigrants, students, or refugees.
“When they come here, they assume that every person in America is a Christian, and many of them don’t find that. And that’s why we feel challenged for our neighbors and our friends to be able to share Christ with their neighbors,” he says.
Whenever the DVDs are passed out, volunteers include the number of a local church. Recipients who have questions can call this number if they have questions and want to know what the next step is if they decide to follow Jesus.
And, people do call. Recently, volunteers in Canada handed out 20,000 DVDs to communities in one run.
“Before the evening was over,” Kinyanjui says, “they started calling and saying they like it; and they have turned their life to Jesus, where [can they] be redirected for fellowship.”
The JESUS Film Project has been distributing the JESUS film for 35 years. The idea of giving away the DVD to refugees is not only applicable to Muslims in the United States; it’s been translated into over 1,300 languages.
Meanwhile, all over the world people are leaving their countries to flee a variety of problems. They are traveling to countries where the Gospel is more easily preached. If you’d like to support the JESUS Film Project in their efforts, click here.
You can find out more about the resources of Christ for All Peoples here, as well as ways to help.