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  • Tony Lynn

Michigan’s diverse family

PLYMOUTH – I am halfway through exploring all of the language groups within our Michigan Baptist Church family, and I am loving every minute of it! I am reminded that we serve a great God with an enormous love for every nation, tribe, people, and language.

 

The Bible proves the Lord’s love is for everyone.

 

  • A diverse crowd of color and languages was stunned upon hearing the sacrifice Christ made on their behalf so they could receive eternal salvation in Christ. Acts 2:11 reports them saying, “We all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!”

  • Peter, who always needed extra attention when learning a lesson from the Lord, made his announcement of a tremendous discovery about the inclusion of the Lord’s love when in Acts 10:34-35 he said to a crowded room of people before their public profession of faith, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.”

  • One of the earliest mentions of God’s promise of eternal love to the world was made to Abram, in Genesis 15:3 when he said, “All the families on the earth will be blessed through you.”

  • The Book of Revelation projects a startling image that grips my imagination when it says in Revelation 7:9-10, “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation, and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a roar, Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”

 

How Many Lives?



Look at this image and you will discover that during 2022, 7% of the population in Michigan was foreign born. That means that approximately 700,000 people in the state very likely speak a language other than English in their daily lives; that they may have different religious practices; that they may have a long list of questions on how to live in the United States as a newcomer; and that they rarely if ever have been in the home of someone born in Michigan. Through the practice of hospitality and with an attitude of love, we have an opportunity to bridge relationships upon which we can share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others from around the world. What could you do for a foreign-born neighbor living near you? Dinner? Patio party? Invitation to an outing in the community? Coffee break to let them ask questions? Look at this as an opportunity to live a Book of Acts experience.

 

Where Are They From?



Study this pie-chart chart closely and it might surprise you to see from where the newest residents of Michigan are coming. Another side of the exploration is that everyone is not settling in Michigan’s largest cities. There are small-towns with significant language groups. For instance, would it surprise you that back in 2020, the city of Coldwater reported that of the 10,000 people living in the city that over 2,000 were from the country of Yemen? That means that one in five residents in Coldwater are from Yemen. The pie-chart reveals that the three largest regions of the world contributing new residents to Michigan are the Americas with 23/5%, the Middle East with 19.2%, and South-Central Asia with 17.8%. The pie-chart reveals the rest of the story.


Arabic


 

This image shows you two families who are leading two different Arabic language congregations in the Troy region. They moved to Michigan through different pathways from their homelands of Iraq and Egypt. As the original families in the church have been growing and multiplying generations, the younger generations within the churches are more familiar with English than Arabic. These leaders are focused on creating new leaders and new congregations in cities throughout Michigan. Some of the churches will be created with Arabic speakers and others with English speakers. Would you pray for the multiplication of dedicated personnel and sites to create new churches?

 

Burmese

 


The picture shows three families who came to North America from the country of Myanmar. These wonderful families are leading congregations near the cities of Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. The unrest in their homeland forced some in this picture to make their way to North America by residing in refugee camps before making the United States their home. Many in this language group actually speak a particular dialect from their region and find themselves using a commercial language from Myanmar as a way to share life with one another. Their stories of suffering are real and make me weep, but their courage is revealed in an often-repeated phrase when I am in their company. They say, “The Lord is faithful. The Lord is faithful.” Would you pray for the newest ones among us to find people of peace in Michigan to help them feel they are welcomed, loved, and included?

 

Filipino

 


In this picture taken at our home, Jamie is standing in the middle of one of the longest partnerships with Michigan Baptists. This image reveals two or three generations of brothers and sisters in church leadership with origins from the Philippines. Many of the congregations revealed in this picture are growing in the Greater Detroit area. It was inspiring to hear the leaders pray and speak about planting new churches north of Detroit in small towns where newer generations are settling and growing their young families. Additionally, this language group may be the most active at taking mission trips back to the Philippines to create new churches, develop leaders, and inspire church multiplication. Would you ask the Lord to call out dedicated new leaders to plant new churches in Michigan and in the Philippines?  

 

Japanese



Older and newer come together in the image taken in the family room of our home. One couple represents a marriage born out of foreign exchange student program decades ago that created a Japanese ministry in Ann Arbor, and the other couple is the story of the Lord’s calling of a Korean woman and a Japanese man who married because the Lord called both of them at two different times, in two different places to be missionaries together to the Japanese in Michigan. They now lead a new church plant in Plymouth. Would you pray for these two couples who often have a limited amount of time with people from Japan who come to Michigan for three to four years before returning to their homeland. Careers and wealth consume the attention and energy of most who come to America from Japan. Yet, these four champions are finding ways to create friendships, express the Good News of Christ, and to develop leaders for the future. Would you ask the Lord to give these four connections that will create believers who will come alongside these four leaders to share the work of the ministry?

 

Romanian

 


The pastor, wife, and family of the Romanian church in Warren invited us to their loving home to enjoy an authentic Romanian meal, a time of prayer, and to hear the stories of salvation each one of us experienced in Jesus Christ. Listening to the heroic efforts of this couple whose families lived through the Communist Revolution of the 1980s to overcome the Communist rule was enlightening. Jamie and I recalled the exact days of that change of government during the 1980s because we were enjoying the holidays with Jamie’s family in Michigan when news reports took over the TV programs. We never knew then that we would be hosted by a family, in Michigan, who lived those dreadful experiences over thirty years ago. It is obvious the Lord has a plan for drawing us together. Would you pray for the pastor and his congregation who would like to find a larger meeting place more to the north of Detroit where their congregation can grow and multiply?

 

Spanish



This image from the living room in our home is filled with older and newer elements of the Spanish ministry. One couple in the picture became our friends when we returned to Michigan from seminary during the 1980s and other couples in the image are as new to us as the last twenty-four months. That shows you how the Lord continues to work his ways in our lives while never giving up. Within this crew there are those leading ministries in multiethnic communities and others concentrating on creating churches focused on Spanish and second to third generation ministries that will likely need to be formed in English. The challenges are many, but this team has an energetic creativity that is unstoppable when fueled by the Holy Spirit. Would you pray asking the Lord to create an ongoing conversation within this newly gathered group that will come up with solutions for challenges that can be overcome as the Lord directs?

 

Not Finished Yet

 

I still have more language groups to explore and with each language group, I hope to see each group take lead on implementing plans that will magnify how the Lord is at work, locally and globally which is one of our core values where we seek first the kingdom of the God.

 

If during the reading of this article, you sensed a Lord-like nudge to help one of the language groups with whom we are working, act quickly and write or call me: Tony Lynn, tlynn@namb.net, (734) 770-0608. I will happily put you in contact with the language, pastor, or planter that the Lord placed on your heart.


 






ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Tony L. Lynn is the Send Network Director for Michigan and the Language/Ethnic Church Planting Catalyst. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as a lead pastor in Michigan churches and as an international missionary, along with his wife Jamie, in the Niger Republic, France, and Canada. 




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