John Barnett, director of the diaspora mobilization team for the International Mission Board, speaks with Arkansas Baptists. (Mary Alford/ABN)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Several Arkansas Baptists from around the state gathered recently at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention in Little Rock to discuss the status and future of diaspora missions in Arkansas among immigrants, international students, and refugees.
During the lunch, John Barnett, director of the diaspora mobilization team for the International Mission Board (IMB), shared about the Diaspora Missions Collective, a collaboration between multiple different Southern Baptist Convention organizations in reaching the nations living in North America.
According to its website, the Diaspora Missions Collective “equips Southern Baptist churches in their awareness, understanding, and engagement of diaspora peoples as they embrace their responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission both locally and globally.”
“The Great Commission is about partnering together for the Kingdom and making Christ known,” Barnett said. “I believe God wants to leverage the Kingdom network that we have.”
He gave the example of an Afghani man who was stranded at a subway station in New York City near Yankee stadium. Barnett called a Send Relief worker in the area. That worker, who was active in refugee ministries, was just a few blocks from the station and went quickly to help the Afghani man. Two weeks later, this young man is sharing his testimony of coming to Christ.
“Our team exists to help serve you to help build networks or be a strategic resource. We want to see your church on missions,” Barnett said.
After Barnett shared about the Diaspora Missions Collective, ABSC Cross Cultural Strategist Jamie Naramore led attendees in a brief question-and-answer session and invited local practitioners to share about what they see around Arkansas. Those folks included ABSC International Student Consultant Bit Stephens, Hillcrest Community Church International and Engagement Pastor Pranay Borde, Little Rock Immanuel Chinese Baptist Church Pastor Chunhai Li, and ABSC Hispanic Church Planting Strategist Francisco Gomez.
Attendees then spent time in prayer for particular groups and next steps they could take to better serve and share among these groups.
For more information about the Diaspora Missions Collective, check out dmcollective.org.