The Nations at Our Doorsteps
“We weren’t asking for refugee ministry,” began Mark Cannon, a missionary in a European context. “God put it in our path.”
Mark and his wife, Ellen, serve as the Global Initiative representatives for Europe. When they first arrived there in 2007, their hearts yearned to reach Muslims with the Gospel. Early on, the LORD brought many immigrants and refugees across their path. Little did they know that their lives were about to change forever.
From 2010 to 2016, 3.7 million Muslims migrated to Europe, bringing the total amount of Muslims to a sprawling 5 percent of Europe’s total population. These numbers surged as a result of wars and upheavals in various places, creating a large influx of refugees. Mark and Ellen found themselves constantly surrounded by need. The Lord brought them to Europe at a strategic time!
Mark and Ellen quickly learned that ministry to refugees is a moving target. The refugees they sought to reach proved quite transient and new groups were constantly arriving. By the time these refugees arrived in Europe, they had already experienced a tumultuous journey, endured the harshness of humanity, suffered in turbulent temperatures, and traversed toilsome terrain. They needed a place to call home, and these missionaries were prepared to welcome them. Mark and Ellen even invited some to live with them in their home.
This was life on life ministry at its best and sometimes is the most difficult. Burnout is prevalent among people who work with refugees because helping an individual or a family settle into a new place requires great commitment. Concerning this facet of the work, Mark quipped, “Resettlement is the most time-consuming ministry.”
God, however, constantly proved His faithfulness to Mark and Ellen. They continued to serve in the strength that He supplied and He gave them rest. In terms of how they saw those to whom they ministered, the words of the Apostle Paul rang in their ears: “We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8). These refugees had real personalities, needs, and dignity. As people created in the image of God, they were worth Mark and Ellen’s time.
Like Mark and Ellen, may we have our eyes open to the need around us! Many of us live in places where the nations are at our doorstep. In this globalized world, one can meet a Pakistani in Hong Kong, a Bangladeshi in London, or a Somali in rural Missouri. They may be students, professionals, or refugees. Whatever the case, may God’s people be ready to share the love of Christ! According to Mark, many of these refugees are meeting Christians for the first time and wondering, “How do these Christians live?” May our lives be a demonstration of the love of Christ for Muslims who now call our lands home.
Global Initiative is privileged to partner with Mark and Ellen. Earlier this year, one of our missionaries helped train their team in ministry to Muslims. As more believers feel a burden to reach Muslims where they live, the need for training will greatly increase. Thanks to your partnership, we can walk through the open doors to equip believers to share the love of Christ with Muslims, both in Europe and in other contexts. Like Mark, our desire is to “see the church become the church in Muslim areas!”
The European country in which Mark and Ellen serve has been hit particularly hard during this pandemic, but the work is still moving forward. God is still touching the lives of Muslims during this season of social distancing. Reflecting on this, Mark asserted, “The Gospel works no matter when, no matter where, no matter how.” Would you please join us in praying that the LORD would bless Mark and Ellen’s ministry during this pandemic? The Lord is doing great things!
Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support. As God continues to call His people to His work, the need to equip believers to reach Muslims has never been greater. With your partnership, we press on because every Muslim needs to know the Truth about Jesus!