The When Heaven and Earth Collide podcast, Episode 06 with Dr. Bruce Ashford, Provost and Professor of Theology & Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians and One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics. Bruce also has a fantastic blog called Christianity for the Common Good at bruceashford.net. If you aren’t reading his stuff, you really should. Bruce Ashford is becoming one of the most significant voices on theology and culture in the SBC today – and beyond.
In this interview, we start by talking about what God might be doing in regard to immigrants and the worldwide refugee crisis – a question that I asked everyone that I interviewed at the Southern Baptists Convention in St. Louis. However, Bruce immediately took us down some unexpected roads into a fascinating discussion involving the worship of God, mission, and the glorious light that God was committed to shine upon Himself through the nations of the world. There are things that I heard in this interview that I had not thought about before – or, at least I had not put it together the way that Bruce did. In seeking to develop a biblical perspective on immigrant and refugee ministry, this type of discussion is exactly what is needed.
We talked about Revelation 5, 21, and 22, Isaiah 60, and about what his local church, Summit, in Raleigh-Durham, is doing to engage and serve the nations that have come to them. Bruce serves there as an elder. We went on to talk about the witness of the church in our nation, the need for immigration reform and what it might look like, what justice drenched in mercy would be in this situation and why we need it, and also the current political discussions that are, as Bruce says … “insane.”
Without question, this will be the most informative 12 minutes and 45 seconds you will spend all day! So, download, listen, share it on social media. And, if you are interested in further ways that you can be involved in immigrant/refugee ministry and advocacy, check out The Evangelical Immigration Table for resources, a statement of principles to affirm, and a network to join.
This morning, I ran across this incredible article about what the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association is doing to reach refugees who are coming there. Darren Casper, the associate executive director of the association is a friend of mine and it is great to see his heart here for refugees. I am not at all surprised. Darren started Church at Bevo in the midst of the Bevo community in St. Louis where tens of thousands of refugees came in the 90’s. What he says here, he says from experience. I am glad to see him leading his association to #tellabetterstory this time!
ST. LOUIS – Nearly 20 years ago, Missouri Baptists here missed an opportunity to reach the nations, but the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association is preparing for a second chance at gospel impact.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, thousands of Bosnians—many of them Muslims—fled for refuge to St. Louis after the collapse of former Yugoslavia. Today, tens of thousands of Bosnians live in the area, making St. Louis the home for the most Bosnians worldwide, outside of their native homeland.
Today, the Bosnians in St. Louis make up a tight-knit community, one that is hard to penetrate with the gospel. According to Darren Casper, associate executive director of the St. Louis Metro. Association, Missouri Baptists missed an opportunity to befriend and share Christ with these refugees when they first arrived in St. Louis.
“Frankly, I feel like we missed the boat with the Bosnian people when they came here,” Casper told members of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Executive Board last month. “We just weren’t ready. We weren’t prepared when they came 20 years ago.”
But Casper and other leaders at the St. Louis Metro Association are laboring to prepare Missouri Baptists for reaching another wave of refugees that are now coming to St. Louis. According to Casper, 800 refugees from across the world—primarily from Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan and the Congo—are coming to St. Louis in 2016. This number is expected to jump to 1,200 next year.
This is huge. What if every SBC association and churches all over the country took on this attitude toward refugees and immigrants who have come here? What if we reached out with love, compassion, service, and relationship-building to immigrants and refugees who are coming here from around the world? That is what we will be talking about next week at the Reaching the Nations in North America Conference in Brentwood, Tennessee. If you can make it, you should be there! I really believe it will be a groundbreaking time.