Reach. Reach immigrants wherever they currently are in their spiritual journeys. Ask yourself questions like these: “Who do I need on my team to assist in this ministry?”, “What do we know about the people culturally, spiritually, and demographically?”, “Where are they in this community?”, “What are the barriers to reaching them with the Gospel?”, “What are the bridges to connecting with them?”, and “What are the best ways to share the Gospel, start Bible studies, and plant churches with them?”.

Equip. Teach new believers the fundamentals of what it means to be disciples of Jesus, as well as leadership skills. Ask yourself questions like these: “Now that they are believers, what is the best way to teach them the Scriptures?”, “How can we hold them accountable for applying the Scriptures to their lives?”, “Are we casting the vision for them to return to reach their social networks?”, “How can we model spiritual disciplines and local church involvement for them?”, “After teaching them about the local church, do they believe the Spirit is leading them to unite together as a local church?”, “Who might the Lord be raising up to pastor this new church?”, “What are the immediate leadership skills we need to be cultivating the lives of the leaders?”, and “Who might the Lord be preparing to return to their people as missionaries?”.

Partner. Enter into partnerships with the immigrants who are building bridges of faith with other immigrants in the United States, helping them reach others in the ways that best relate to their own cultures. Ask yourself questions like these: “Are we treating the new church as partners in the Gospel ministry?”,  “What do all parties believe are the necessary components for a healthy partnership?”, “What should they expect from us, and what should we expect from them?”, “How will we continue the encouraging, training, and coaching after they return to their people?”, “Does the partnership avoid both paternalism and a hands-off approach from us?”, and “Does the partnership encourage the growth and development of the new believers and their church?”.

Send. Help some of the immigrants who are now believers to return to their home nations and reach others for Christ there.  Ask yourself questions like these: “How do we assist migrants to return to their peoples across the globe?”, “How do we travel with them to assist them in the planting of churches in other parts of the world?”, “Are we sending long-term missionaries to serve alongside them in church-planting endeavors?”, and “What are our plans for remaining in contact with them for ongoing encouragement, training, and coaching?”

Adapted from Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration, and Mission, copyright 2012 by J.D. Payne. Published by Biblica Books, a division of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill.,

J.D. Payne (Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the pastor of church multiplication for The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. He has pastored churches in Kentucky and Indiana and served as a seminary professor for a decade. The author of several books and articles, Payne also serves as the book review editor for the Great Commission Research Journal. He is a National Missionary with North American Mission Board and holds memberships in the Evangelical Theological Society, Evangelical Missiological Society, and the Great Commission Research Network. He and his wife Sarah and their three children live in Birmingham, Alabama.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a contributing writer and the editor of’s site on angels and miracles. Contact Whitney at: to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer. 

Publication date: November 8, 2012