Nov
19

A Reflection on Dearborn

written by JD

I recently returned from Dearborn, Michigan, part of Metro Detroit.  This community is home to the largest concentration of Arab Muslims in the United States, many of which are from Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq.  During our time there, we visited three mosques and spoke with several long-term residents in the area.  In this post, I want to share a thought from this trip.

On one evening about 7:00, we entered a particular mosque (after climbing over a small brick wall, walking down a dark alley, and entering through the back door–but this is another story for another time) and were greeted by ten men and young boys.  After introducing ourselves and asking a few general questions about the mosque, we were invited to sit on the floor to talk.  Surrounding the four of us were people from Yemen, Egypt, and Bangladesh.  For the next hour-and-a-half, we spent time in discussion with these men and boys about Islam and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We listened. We asked many questions. We learned. We preached Christ.

They took pictures with us.

We took pictures with them.

At 8:30, everyone recognized that the boys needed to go home and go to bed.  The next day was a school day.  It was time to leave.

When we stood to leave, one of the men from Yemen (who had completed a pilgrimage to Mecca) approached us, and through broken English inquired, “You come to my home for dinner?”

Later that evening, I could not help but think of how easy it was for the gospel to reach the ears of these men and boys, the majority being from Yemen.

According to peoplegroups.org, the population of Yemen is 27 million.  The population of the unreached people groups in Yemen is 27 million.  Yes. 27 million.  All of the 17 people groups making up the country of Yemen are unreached peoples.  And within this 17, 13 people groups are unengaged-unreached–meaning that no intentional church planting strategy is happening among them.  As of this post, Joshua Project has two Yemeni people groups (Tihami and Yemeni, Northern) on their top-ten priority unreached list.

The threat level for missionaries to Yemen is listed as severe to chronic.  The physical level is strenuous.

If you have read my writings, you know the greatest needs are outside of North America.  No doubt about this fact.  However, let’s think about this interaction in Dearborn for a moment.

It is an hour-and-a-half flight from Birmingham to Detroit.  We simply walked into a community from Yemen, showed respect and love, and shared Jesus to a captive audience.

Threat level?

No one yelled at us.

No one threw us out of the mosque.

No one shot us, nor stabbed us.

We were invited into a Yemeni home for dinner, after an hour-and-a-half of interaction.

Physical level?

Well, I guess it was a little strenuous climbing over that three-foot brick wall to walk down the alley.  My feet did fall asleep because of the way I was sitting on the floor of the mosque. That was really uncomfortable, until I changed my sitting position.

When will we recognize that the movement of the nations is for the reaching of the nations (Acts 17: 26-27)?  What will be said to the Church in the United States on that Day, having had a reputation for traveling the world, but not willing to cross the street to reach the strangers next door?

4 Responses to “A Reflection on Dearborn”

  1. I read with great interest your Dearborn post. I lived in Dearborn from 1950 – 1969 (Well not continuously but all the way through college). We lived on the eastside and my mother worked in the Salina public school in the midst of was the middle-eastern district. I have read with interest and conviction Strangers Next Door. My wife and I pray often for those unreached and recognize now my lost opportunity to connect while so close to very significant people groups. We want to engage with those who are here in the US from unreahced and under reached countries. You provided a real possibility for us to reach out. We do know those who have immigrated from foreign countries but most are already in the church. You give us more desire to make contacts and friends with the Strangers Next Door – Thanks

  2. JD

    Thank you, Dale, for your words of encouragement, outreach, and for reading Strangers.

  3. Dear friend,

    Thank you for through post. It was challenging to me go go beyond the border for the gospel…people are hungry for Ghent gospel and we sometime are reluctant reluctant to leave our comfort zone…

    Janak

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