Internationals Who Live Among Us

Doing World Missions at Home

Neal Pirolo

Table of Contents                               

Chapter 1     Internationals Among Us

Chapter 2     Building Bridges to International Students

Chapter 3     Missionary Kids: Citizens of the World

Chapter 4     Illegal Aliens

Chapter 5     International Visitors

Chapter 6     International Business People

Chapter 7     Relocating Refugees

Chapter 8     Ethnic Communities


                  End Notes


The Field is the WORLD! This has been a battle cry for cross-cultural outreach ministry ever since Jesus explained His parable of the Sower and the Seed to His disciples. (See Matthew 13:38.) The field is the world. As each Christian society has taken up the banner of world evangelization, they have lifted their eyes to the lost in nations other than their own. Notably, in recent history,

–the bold moves of William Carey to the shores of India,

–the daring advances of Hudson Taylor to the interior of China,

–the challenging steps of Cameron Townsend into the jungles of tribal people, and

–the searching spotlight for the unreached peoples of the 10/40 Window by Luis Bush were initiatives of gigantic proportion to reach the lost of the world.

There will be millions around the Throne worshipping the Eternal God of the Universe because of their foresight and their obedience to God. I would call this Distant Cross-Cultural Outreach.

“The field is the world,” Jesus said. In the 21st Century, another initiative has been launched. Let’s call it Local Cross-Cultural Outreach. The Internet is abuzz with talk about the Diaspora, the millions of souls scattered throughout the world—forcibly or willingly. The word Diaspora means “people on the move,” such as Iraqis are in Toronto, Filipinos are in Jerusalem, and East Indians are in the Philippines. Bringing it closer to home, it means Somalis are in Indianapolis, Mexicans are in Seattle, Chinese are in New York City, Arabs are in Dearborn, Vietnamese are in San Diego, and the peoples of the world are in every city and town in America.

Some organizations have been focused on certain groups of internationals, even for decades, such as International Students Incorporated. Several in more recent times, such as Lausanne’s Mission America Coalition, are taking bold steps into this expansive, unreached field: Internationals Who Live Among Us!

However, engaging the local church to minister Christ’s love to internationals in a culturally appropriate manner is coming at a slower pace. But many are awakening to the realization that God has brought the internationals of the world to the doorstep of every church in America!

Oh, they came in previous generations, but they came and “melted into the pot” called America. Today, they are coming in even greater numbers, but they are not becoming American. They are maintaining their language, their foods, their culture, their religion; they are not pledging “allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” They are changing the face of America. Demographers are calling it a pluralistic society.


I am excited and challenged to see that God has brought the internationals of the world to live in ethnoburgs of Chinese and Italians and Latinos and Germans and ___________. Name the cluster of ethnics near you. Maybe you are now living in one, as Lon Allison and his family are, in DuPage County, Illinois, who wrote in Chapter Eight.

I am excited and challenged by the multi-ethnic face of America. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act has made the United States one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, creating additional ways to fulfill the Great Commission. Truly God has brought the nations of the world to the doorstep of every church in America.

I am excited and challenged to look on a picture of the eternal scene playing out in our country: That from “every tribe, tongue, people and nation” (Revelation 14:6) there are those worshipping God.

I am excited and challenged to realize that this unity expresses an answer to the Lord’s prayer, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me” (John 17:23).

I am excited and challenged by the open receptivity of many ethnic people to the Gospel. (More ethnic Muslims have trusted in Christ in the past ten years than in the previous 300!)

And I am excited and challenged by the care and caution that must be exercised so that we don’t repeat the mistakes in our communities that were made in the past by overseas missions. It will take a fresh out-pouring of spiritual wisdom, faith and most of all humility to work together for God’s Kingdom. It can be done. It must be done.


You have followed with me through a mere thumbnail sketch of seven types of internationals who live among us. They came for various reasons and stayed for varying lengths of time. Each brought various hopes and expectations, fears and apprehensions. And each came needing a unique approach for ministry. Yet, they are unified by their one need for Christ. For no matter what search brought them to America, they will find true fulfillment only in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

These internationals who live among us present a new challenge to the church in America. It is an opportunity of gigantic proportion. The “melting-pot” effect of past generations is not true today. Some immigrants, even those who have been here for two or three generations, are maintaining their cultural distinctives. So, with all their unique characteristics, they are here, living among us. At the very doorsteps (sometimes literally) of every church in America.

While this or that group gets caught up in the “flesh and blood” social-ethical-economic-political issues of them being here, let it be said of you, that you did “not take advantage of[nor ignore] aliens in your land; you did not wrong them. Rather, you treated them like any other citizen. You love them as yourself!” (Leviticus 19:33-34)


Ethnocentrism—focusing only on my kind—seeks to divide us. But as followers of Jesus we have a message of peace and hope for our neighbors. We must affirm the fact that God loves all people and that He wants us to love each other.

The late Roberta H. Winter of the US Center for World Missions said: “Like a master chess player, God has moved representatives from unreached people groups far from their homelands all over the world and has plunked them down in the midst of traditionally Christian populations, essentially saying, ‘They have come to you. Now tell them about Jesus!’”

Or, as Doctor Luke said it in Acts 17:26-27: And He (God) has made from one blood every nation [ethnos] of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined beforehand their allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their dwellings [their settlements, lands and abodes]. His purpose was for the nations [ethnic communities] to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any of us.”

God has placed the internationals of the world in our neighborhoods. The mandate is clear: Love them as yourself. The opportunities to express love are as varied as the interests and abilities of the person sitting next to you in church. As Dr. Hiro asked, “How much effort does it take to be a friend?” It begins as simply as that. Let’s allow the Lord of the Harvest to send us forth into His fields—the ripe fields of harvest right here in America?

Let’s do “world missions” at home!