welcome to the neighborhood

May the Great Commission never be something you only read about

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In My Own Words

By Chrisley, age 9:

Chrisley, with some friends from camp, 2014


Hi! My name is Chrisley Harper and I am nine years old.  My family is Nathan (dad), Rae (mom), Jude (bro) he just turned six, and my little brother Andrew.  That is my family and I love them very much.  Now let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I love the color blue.  Horses are my favorite animal.  My favorite movie is Frozen and my favorite TV show is Little House on the Prairie.  My favorite toys are Littlest Pet Shop and American Girl Dolls.  I am also a Christian.

Now, I would like to tell you about the past four years of my life.  When we moved to Clarkston, GA it was December 2011 and it was a BIG step.

I was so scared.  I had just turned five and my first thoughts were that I would have no friends and I would no longer be five miles from family.  I was leaving behind a lot of memories and special times in Mississippi.  What was I to do?  I was sad and a little angry with God.  However, my first year in Clarkston was more than I could have expected.

I made new friends and one special friend named Mikayla.  She became like a sister to me.  I felt like I was at home pretty quickly.  I also met a lot of refugees, like my friend Zachariah and his family.  They are from the country Iraq and are very nice.  There are six kids altogether, ages 3-22.

When my dad was done with the missionary training school, he then became a staff member with Global Frontier Missions.  By then I had my own full schedule of homeschool, co-op, friends, and church.

During the summers of 2013 and 2014 I went to a community summer camp.  I had so much fun and met so many more refugee children my age.  A lot of them became my friends.

Those two years were both happy and sad.  My family was asked to move to another apartment complex so my parents could teach English to refugees.  Then, my baby brother, Andrew, was born and we had to move again to a bigger place.  Unfortunately, my friend Mikayla moved to Virginia that year, too.  When she left, I felt sad and I cried in my bed at night.  She was that kind of friend.  Though God has given me other friends, I miss her very much.

I have learned that having parents as missionaries means I get to meet a lot of different people from many places I will probably never go.  It also means having to say good-bye a lot, too.  Overall I love living in Clarkston and I am thankful God sent us here to live. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

My [Syrian] Refugee, My [Syrian] Neighbor






Here's an article I recently wrote for Engage Magazine.  It's a challenge for the Church to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.  I attempted to be loving, Christ-focused, and action oriented - all things I've seen lacking in most recent articles on the subject.  For our family, however, this isn't just some passing topic of interest.  This is our life, and these are our friends we are dealing with.  Hopefully, you will appreciate my perspective on the matter, as one who interacts daily with Muslim refugees.




Also, here's a little post I wrote a couple of years ago as I reflected on 9/11.  It's called The Gospel and Syria.


Then, if you still care to read more, here's a series of posts I wrote at the beginning of 2014 dealing with Immigration Reform.  I believe it's still relevant for today.


Finally, if you're tired of reading, seeing, listening to all of the points and counterpoints revolving around this overwhelming issue ... and you feel like you're just going around in circles - then I've got the right place for you ... click here for the Syrian Circle.  Because, the place we should begin and end, in the middle of this crisis, is on our knees!



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Atlanta Mapping Project: Understanding Diaspora

In this series, I will share a few highlights of my presentation from April's Ethnic America Network Summit.  It was a great privilege to share the stage with missional leaders such as Bryan Galloway, J.D. Payne and Samuel Chiang.  (J.D. has a great podcast called, "Strike the Match" ... listen as J.D. talks with Bryan and Samuel about different missional topics.)  For the Summit, I was asked to serve as the Research task force leader.  For those who know me, you know that "research" is quite a stretch for me.  Through the process of beginning to research and map unreached people groups in Atlanta, I have learned quite a bit.



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For this post, I want to give a brief summary to help us understand diaspora and this new era of missions we find ourselves:

First, I want to direct you to a couple of articles on diaspora missiology:
Here's one from Cody Lorrance up in Chicagoland, where he notes, "In a new era of mission history, we see a borderless and wireless world of instant communication, high speed travel, and ever accelerating mass migration.  People are on the move like never before."

Try this one from J.D. Payne, "We must reach the unreached who have migrated into our neighborhoods...Many of the strangers next door are the keys to unlocking doors into the lostness of people you and I will never be able to meet."

In this new era of diaspora missions, we must move beyond the idea of "from the West to the rest" and fully embrace the idea of missions being "from everywhere, to everywhere, through everywhere."  I would also like to expand the idea and include "...with everyone."  In other words, all of our mission work, including people group research in North America, must include and lean on existing believers and churches from all ethno-linguistic backgrounds.  Here's a couple of examples:

Terry* - Terry was born in Malaysia, although he has a European ancestry.  He was raised in a Catholic home, but as an adult, was born again.  He immigrated to the U.S., moving to Alabama, where he began evangelizing other immigrants and international students.  He now works and lives in Atlanta, where he is primarily focused on making disciples among Atlanta's Uzbek population.

Fred* - Fred is from Mexico City.  He has been in Atlanta over the past two years, learning language and receiving missions training.  Fred also has picked up a good bit of cross-cultural experience by working in Clarkston, where he shares the gospel with resettled refugees.  Fred is praying and preparing to go to South Asia, to serve among the unreached there, all while doing the same here.

Whether mobilizing Atlanta's large evangelical Ethiopian population to reach out to the near-culture Somalis (about 5,000 strong in Atlanta), training Iranian brothers and sisters to learn Dari and make disciples of the 2,000 or so Afghans/Tajiks in Atlanta, or praying and worshiping with a Nepali house church, the church in the West must leverage, lean on, and learn from our ethnic partners if we want to see a disciple making movement in our increasingly diverse cities.



Next we will take note of some numbers and nations for Atlanta


*Names changed for security purposes


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Atlanta Mapping Project: Understanding Atlanta

In this series, I will share a few highlights of my presentation from April's Ethnic America Network Summit.  It was a great privilege to share the stage with missional leaders such as Bryan Galloway, J.D. Payne and Samuel Chiang.  (J.D. has a great podcast called, "Strike the Match" ... listen as J.D. talks with Bryan and Samuel about different missional topics.)  For the Summit, I was asked to serve as the Research task force leader.  For those who know me, you know that "research" is quite a stretch for me.  Through the process of beginning to research and map unreached people groups in Atlanta, I have learned quite a bit.



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For this post, I want to give a few brief observations and general impressions which provide a framework toward understanding Atlanta:

High Diversity & Low Density

High Diversity:  There are lots of people groups in Atlanta - 750 people groups, over 100 of which are unreached.  This means that 1 in every 8 people groups found in Atlanta are considered unreached!  Click here for a list of many of these UPG's that are found in my community of Clarkston.
Low Density:  Atlanta is notorious for its sprawl.  There are not too many large, concentrated, mono-ethnic centers in Atlanta (like "Koreatown"); although a few pockets are growing.  The general reality in Atlanta is a broad (and sometimes hidden) mix of foreign-born peoples throughout every region of the metro area.




Lots of Traffic & Trafficking

Traffic:  Atlanta boasts the nation's longest average daily commute - 45 minutes (this increases to 4-5 days when it snows!).  Atlanta also is home to the world's busiest airport.  It is a true global city and serves as a major hub for global commerce, education, healthcare, technology and transportation.
Trafficking:  Atlanta is a hub for human trafficking.  One question to ask, "Is the growing emphasis on social justice (like the "End It" movement) moving an evagelism/UPG focus to the backseat?"  Unfortunately, it actually seems that ending human trafficking might have become last month's "flavor of the month".  We are in great need for a both/and approach as the Church fights against injustice - both social and spiritual!




Southern Hospitality & Hostility

Hospitality & Hostility:  Atlanta is considered the "New South".  However, it still has a few, stubborn remnants of the old South around as well.  This makes for an interesting mix of paradox and plain ol' hypocrisy.  On one side of town, you might find a sign that reads, "Sign up here for Health Insurance - NOT Obamacare!"  On the other, "Sign up here for Obamacare!"  An all too common sentiment might be:  "As Southerners we have a tendency to pride ourselves in our hospitality ... all the while wishing folks would just go back to where they belong."  Here's a little example of both of these at play (be sure to read the comments).




Next, we will look at Understanding Diaspora ...