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Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration and Mission
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a great book for Christians who want to gain perspective on the ever-increasing ethnic diversity of North America and the West. It helps us to lift our eyes, come to terms with new demographic realities, and gain biblical hope concerning the mega-trend of the migrations of the peoples. Covering the tremendous rise in migration for job-seeking immigrants, international students, refugees, and more, JD Payne provides a multitude of stories as well as straightforward statistical evidence for the profound demographic and ethnic changes taking place in Western nations.

The book provides a thorough overview of people on the move in the Old and New Testaments, and creates for readers a clear Scriptural lens through which to see these people movements in our generation. This was very encouraging for me, creating a much stronger link between the accounts of "people on the move" in the Bible--and "people on the move" in our world, in our own communities.

Payne's overview of the demographic changes of many nations--demonstrated through well-researched and documented statistical evidence--is proof of the dramatic changes which are creating culture clashes in cities all over the western world. His primary readers are North Americans, so the additional information he provides about the USA and Canada is valuable and eye-opening.

The challenge to Christians engaged in God's purpose to bless the peoples of the world--is nuanced and multifaceted. He recommends a strategy called R.E.P.S.--Reach, Equip, Partner, and Send. Payne cautions against enfolding new "migrant" believers among various ethnicities into Western-style churches; rather, he challenges us with a vision to reach them, to plant churches among their natural relational networks, and then to partner with them in sending and empowering new ethnic believers back to their homelands as national missionaries to their own people. Payne wisely recommends church growth methods which are simple and reproducible without western systems and programs.

If Payne does an updated edition, I would recommend that he expand on the need for contextualization, and include practical next steps. For me, the main tenor of the book is that ordinary pastors and followers of Jesus Christ need to engage with their new ethnic neighbors and share the Gospel with them--with a vision for reaching the nations. So I believe that emphasizing the need for gaining new relationship skills, developing cultural intelligence, and learning how to communicate the gospel in a culturally relevant way would make this book more useful.

What the book comprises is an outstanding introduction to the subject of "diaspora missiology". I sincerely hope that thousands of Christian leaders will read this book and put their arms around the compelling ministry opportunities of our ever-increasingly diverse communities. This is a most timely and excellent book for all missional Christians concerned about living faithfully in today's world of increasing diversity and "peoples on the move."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2015
Format: Paperback
In my neighbourhood 36.9% of people were born overseas (higher than Australia’s 30.2%). Locally this includes 4.6% people from India (more than triple the national 1.4%) and 3.5% from China (more than double the national 1.5%). Australia is a country of migrants, and our local area even more so. My church, AuburnLife Baptist Church, shares a building with our Baptist mission agency, Global Interaction. As we send missionaries overseas, the nations are coming to us. This is not just a feature of my parish, but a globalized trend the church all over the West is seeing with all sorts of opportunities.

Diaspora Missiology is the emerging and exponentially growing field that brings migration research into conversation with mission. Strangers Next Door is a concise and accessible introduction to the field. It is compiled by J D Payne, a seminary professor, author and pastor who currently serves as pastor of Church Multiplication at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama.

The book offers biblical perspectives on migration and especially the conviction that God is orchestrating a movement of peoples across the world to advance the Kingdom of God. For any church wanting to ‘advance the Kingdom’, being aware of and strategic about people from less reached cultures coming to us is basic. Payne comments: ‘Something is missiologically malignant when we are willing to send people across the oceans, risking life and limb and spending enormous amounts of money, but we are not willing to walk next door and minister to the strangers living there.’ (p.33) The God of mission is organising for the church in the West to engage in global mission on their doorstep, without relocating. This does not remove the need for missionaries to other countries, but it is an important parallel strategy in discipling all nations.

Another contribution of the book is a description of the scope of migration. Payne detailed how Australia has among the highest international migrants per capita. Australia welcomes a huge and growing number of international students, up to 464,955 students with visas arrived 2010-2011, especially from China, India, Malaysia, Korea and Indonesia. These are figures our church wants to pay attention to; situated next to a university with a growing number of international students. We also need to consider the 21,805 refugees and 3,706 pending cases of asylum seekers (2010 figures). Moreover, a relevant statistic Payne did not write about, is that in 2001-2011 Australian Baptists grew by 43,000 people, but 98% of this growth was from migration! Our Australian Baptist churches desperately need to welcome and invite the contribution of migrants and their cultural diversity. But Payne offers statistics and stories from all around the Western world helpful for churches also in North America and Europe.

Finally, there are inspiring stories and advice on how to reach and send migrants with the gospel. The Western church needs practical advice for offering hospitality to students and migrants who are often lonely, isolated and vulnerable, and open to discussing the gospel. But we also need principles, once they meet Christ, to train and commission them for mission to and beyond their cultural group. As explored in Lausanne’s Capetown 2010 consultations, Payne advocates a multi-dimensional approach to mission; from and to all nations rather than from the West to the rest. Moreover, we need mission ‘to’ diaspora people who come to us, ‘through’ them as we send them back to their home countries, and ‘beyond’ them as we encourage them to engage in cross-cultural mission. In God’s economy, migrants can often reach and connect with other cultures that Anglo Westerners are less able to, thus functioning as ‘bridge peoples’. Payne has an optimistic view of the mission potential of migrants, refugees and students and uses the acronym REPS to explore how to Reach, Equip, Partner and Send. He counsels starting with the vision that you will reach and then send people back to their home country rather than aim to assimilate them, and that when they go you can go with them and use their social networks to start organic churches.

People moving across the globe are among some of the world’s unreached and least reached peoples. Payne liberally uses Unreached People Group (UPG) language, which assumes an idealised view of culture and arguably a pre-globalised era. New anthropological insights, as Michael Rynkiewich elsewhere explains, are recognising that people are not neatly dividable into ethnic cultural groups and that cultural identity and diversity are much more complex, and exacerbated by migration and urbanisation. Nevertheless, the point remains that some of the world’s people who have least access to the gospel are now moving as strangers next door to Christians in the West, and it is appropriate to echo Payne’s prayer: ‘May the strangers next door that you meet this morning become your brothers and sisters in the Lord this afternoon and go to the nations later this evening.’ (p.24)

Strangers Next Door, more than anything I have read, convinced me of the need for prioritising intentional outreach to students and newcomers in my neighborhoood, and the need for further research and sharing ideas on diaspora missiology among the broader Australian and global church.

A shorter version of this review was originally published in Mission Studies 31 (2014), 467-468.
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on November 19, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
As I have said before...I like JD Payne. However his research is lite though the topic of the book is vitally important. I would like information I wold be challenged to find myself.
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on November 8, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Great read. Loaded with stats to help understand the impact of a world of people on the move. Two thumbs up!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Lots of statistics that challenged me to think about missions from a local and a global perspective. This book should open your eyes to the needs of the 1,000's of immigrants who live in our neighborhoods and need Jesus.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have to admit that I have not yet finished this book, but its contents cover a good range for our flexible modern society with many changes almost daily. We must find ways to welcome strangers; this analysis should help. I look forward to finishing it.
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