Published May 1, 2019
Some churches across Kentucky are focusing on international missions, they're just not leaving home to do it. Many people are surprised when they learn the commonwealth ranks in the top 10 states receiving refugees.
As this population grows, the Kentucky Baptist Convention is providing a resource to help churches welcome these new residents. John Barnett recently joined the KBC staff to help churches reach their new neighbors.
Barnett has worked for a number of years in the Louisville area caring for refugees and looking for the opportunities to share the gospel with them. He said God placed a burden on the hearts of he and his wife, Rebekah, while they were serving as missionaries in Uganda. During that season of ministry, they were ministering to thousands of people who were displaced. When they returned to Kentucky, they began working with Manna Ministry, an outreach to resettled families.
Kentucky Baptist Missions Mobilization Team Leader Eric Allen believes Barnett will help churches reach an often-unreached people group in our midst.
"He'll be assisting KBC churches and associations in strategy development for engaging their international community," Allen said.
Allen believes Barnett's 13 years of experience as an IMB missionary will be a great resource to meet a growing need of many KBC churches.
"The face of America is changing, and we have an amazing opportunity to reach the nations. Some of the most unreached people groups are right here in our own state. Many churches see the international communities in their city, county or community, but do not know what steps to take to welcome them," Barnett said.
Refugees have primarily settled in Louisville, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Lexington and northern Kentucky. Barnett sees the opportunity as more than just showing mercy to our new neighbors.
"Our passion is for KBC churches to embrace the nations and see our neighbor as a reason for mission, not just a point of mercy," Barnett said. He believes when Christians serve relocated internationals, their eyes will be opened to gospel opportunities in their own back yards that may have been overlooked for years.
Allen is convinced KBC churches will meet this challenge and believes Barnett can help them.
"A church of any size can be involved in engaging the nations. I challenge churches to look around them, then allow us to walk with them in exploring how to reach our new neighbors that God has brought to us," Allen said.
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