Rural association identifies, engages internationals
    July 14 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

    Many find it unsurprising that booming industrial and educational centers in North Carolina are teeming with internationals. It’s predictable that churches in those highly populated areas make efforts to identify and reach nearby internationals with the gospel. The Biblical Recorder previously reported on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) project to map the numerous people groups residing in the eight largest population centers of the state: Asheville, Hickory, Triad, Triangle, Fayetteville, Charlotte-Metro, Greenville and Wilmington.
    What might surprise some North Carolina Baptists is that, for the first time, a rural association is targeting the international population.
    The Johnston Baptist Association is identifying and engaging multiple, global people groups in their area.


    “We are looking for any and all internationals living within our borders,” said Kelton Hinton, associational missionary for the Johnston Association. “We know that there are many Hispanics among us but we wanted to know who else were our newest neighbors.”
    Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese are the top languages spoken in the local school system, aside from English, according to Hinton.
    The association has enlisted two researchers that have been trained by Caleb Bridges*, ethnographic researcher for BSC, to help pastors make connections with internationals and demonstrate for pastors how to train their congregations to do the same.
    Aaron Lumpkin and Clint Rasberry, students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, are scheduled once a week for eight weeks to take Johnston Association pastors to ethnic restaurants and businesses in towns like Clayton and Selma, generating natural encounters with internationals.
    The goals are to establish connections and gather information in these locations so churches can follow up with outreach ministry.
    Lumpkin said there are three steps. The first step is to examine the area, identifying internationals by looking for ethnic restaurants and businesses. Many pastors and lay people already know where internationals are, said Lumpkin. They know an Indian person works at a certain gas station, for instance.
    “They know they’re there,” he continued, “they just don’t know their name.”
    The second step is to encounter internationals by visiting the restaurants and businesses, asking everyday questions about where they’re from, how long they’ve lived in the area and if they have family nearby.
    The third step is intended primarily for local congregations – to engage internationals by building relationships with the goal of sharing the gospel.
    “Many of them are not new here,” said Lumpkin. He has met people from West Africa, Nepal, India and others. Hinton said many of them come from places that are closed to the gospel and dangerous for Western missionaries. They’ve also identified a small mosque in the area.
    The demographic information collected from their encounters is put into a database that can be mapped and used by churches to plan ongoing outreach ministries to these international communities.
    Many pastors are busy, according to Lumpkin, and they don’t like the idea of adding another program to their schedule. “It’s not an additional program,” he said, “it’s something you can do regularly.”
    Simply visiting convenience stores and restaurants where internationals work – striking up natural conversations – is a large part of the effort, which most people already do.

    *Name Changed

    7/14/2015 11:57:10 AM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: internationals, Johnston Baptist Association, NC Baptists

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