Make Disciples Of All People
. . . I served as the planter and pastor of Communion Chapel in San Antonio, Texas. In our tenth year we bought and remodeled our own church building. For the stage area, we decided to give it an Alamo look, with arches and stucco. Before they painted the two arches, I wrote Make over one arch and Disciples over the other—to help me remember, even if invisible to others, what I am called to do. That is why I love the EFCA. Discipleship is encoded into our mission statement: “. . . to glorify God by multiplying healthy churches among all people.” It is an immense cause to love all people into the kingdom and see them become makers of other disciple makers. It‘s so immense that sometimes—to be honest—we simply take a rest. And most often we take a rest when the next “all people” to love into the kingdom are different from us. The apostles did the same. Very quickly, they declared “mission accomplished” after reaching Jerusalem—and its Jews—for Jesus. They weren‘t going to initiate with Samaritans or people from “the ends of the earth.” It took three visions from God (Acts 9), an undeniable outpouring of salvation among the outsiders (Acts 11) and a council in Jerusalem (Acts 15) before the Jerusalem leaders realized their complacency and repented of their sin—and joined in with what God was doing. Make disciples.
Our country‘s immigrants (both documented and undocumented, both recent and long-term residents) are not like us in their worldview, their tastes, their humor or their history. So they are indeed our Samaritans. And they are not a mission field easily ignored1. Since 2000, Hispanics have accounted for more than half of the overall population growth in the United States. Census data predicts that by 2050—if not earlier—ethnics2 will be the majority in this country3. Clearly, America itself is a mission field. In Acts 17:26-27, God gives us a hint about what He is doing in our American Samaria. He is appointing immigrants to come here so that we can reach them for Him: “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him” (New American Standard, italics mine). He is bringing them here for us to make disciples. Maybe it would help us get our mind around this reality if we would just recalibrate our Acts 1:8 radar and declare the United States of America a mission field. Call it “Samerica.” This is not a time to retreat or to question how this will change our church or nation. It was the new Gentile disciples who recalibrated the radar of the church to see the global mission and who turned the Antioch church into a transformational dynamo. Do it all again, Jesus! If we will but join Him, we will see a great harvest. Remember, there is no distinction in the Great Commission relative to legal versus illegal; the Great Commission is great because it is all-inclusive. It is time to declare that there are no unclean, illegal or unsavable people relative to the Great Commission. It is time to quit wondering, Who is my neighbor? and reach out. In Movements That Change the World, Steve Addison defines world-changing movements as those that deal with “ultimate issues . . . the causes that make demands on followers.”
Immigration is one of those ultimate issues. Will the EFCA be known as a world-changing movement because we were willing to address it?
-Dr. Alejandro Mandes