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Getting Found in the Shuffle

Photo of Antonio CruzAntonio Cruz | Bio

Antonio Cruz

A first-generation immigrant from Mexico, Antonio was raised in the United States. As a college student, he trained for ministry. After working in missions overseas, Antonio and his family came back to the United States to engage with Muslim refugees and make disciples among them. He is passionate about training and mobilizing the church to do the same.

I remember hearing stories of missionaries who would pack a coffin as they got on a boat and went across the sea, not knowing if they were going to come back. They’d send letters that would take months to arrive and hear back on.

But the world has changed. Now we can travel anywhere on the face of the earth within two or three days. Because of our technology, we can communicate with anyone, anywhere, at any time. It’s so easy now. I can be in Sudan and be on Facebook Live, or I can be in Iraq and be on WhatsApp with my mom.

As Christians, our response to these significant developments shouldn’t be a casual, “Yep, this is how things work in 2019. No big deal.” Rather, our response should be, “Look at what God’s up to! Because now I can get on the internet and reach Muslims in Bosnia we’ve had no success reaching before!”

Before Jesus came the first time, God lessened the gap between Christians and the nations through developments such as Roman roads and the commonality of the Greek language. Now, before Jesus returns, God is lessening the gap again.

The nations are coming to us.

It used to be that you would have to go to another country to a people that’s probably never been outside of their tribe or outside of their people group. You’d have to learn a language for five years and spend a lifetime there translating the scriptures. Now the peoples are everywhere. You can go to Italy to reach Nigerians. You can go to St. Louis to reach Bosnians. You can go to Minneapolis to reach Somalis. You can go to Greece to reach Afghans and Iraqis.

The world has been shuffled around. And I believe God is doing the shuffling.

Think about what Paul said in his talk before Athenian philosophers:

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

God’s heart is that people would reach out for him, seek him, and find him. He’s not far from them. And they’re not far from us. God is bringing people from other nations. Think about some of the difficult countries we are sending missionaries to and how difficult it has been to reach people there. Success is limited at best.

But God is bringing them here.

I think about God’s plan. And then I consider how possible it is that we’ve been duped to being afraid of these people. What narrative are we believing? This shuffling has not happened to this magnitude in the church’s history. What is God up to? I don’t want to miss out. If God has determined the times and the boundaries and the places set for them, so that they can seek him, reach out for him, and find him, I want to work with him, not against him.