Diaspora Missions Collective introduced in Arizona

By Lorri Paetz | Apr 16, 2024

Pastors and ministry/missions leaders, as well as Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists staff, met on April 8 to discuss Arizona’s participation in the Diaspora Missions Collective.

This movement is a ministry endeavor forged from a collaboration with the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, Send Relief and Woman’s Missionary Union, as well as representation from the SBC seminaries, state conventions (in Arizona called the Arizona Mission Network) and associations. Its goal is to reach the thousands of immigrants, refugees and international students God has brought to us and who are living in our neighborhoods.

Josh Matteson, founder and executive director of Salt Next Gen in Franklin, Tennessee, moderated the discussion. Matteson, a former church planter in Arizona, has been involved with the Diaspora Missions Collective since its inception. Also joining the group (via Zoom) was John Barnett, IMB director of diaspora mobilization. Nate Parrow, Kimberly Sandoval and Henry Phan, all IMB strategists based in Arizona, were also part of the meeting.

Those in attendance heard examples of how churches and ministries in Arizona are currently reaching out to the nations. Examples included sharing church properties and outreach ministries, such as Vacation Bible School and meeting needs, like providing ESL classes, driving lessons, parenting classes and food box ministries. They also heard words of wisdom and caution on how to address cultural differences, such as dealing with first- and second-generation immigrants.

Establishing a DM Collective in Arizona would include primarily four steps:

1. Research – knowing how many immigrants, refugees and international students might be in the state and where they are located.

2. Connect – understanding current resources, where ethnic churches currently exist and identifying ministries currently addressing the needs of immigrants, refugees and international students.

3. Pray and Plan – Prayer – certainly the most important of the four steps – asking God to give leadership and the Holy Spirit to direct in how the group might reach this population and address the greatest need our world faces today: LOSTNESS. And, plan how this initiative would be established and go forward.

4. Recruit – churches and volunteers who feel the leadership of the Holy Spirit to be involved.

“The Diaspora Missions Collective is an important and strategic initiative,” said David Johnson, executive cirector of Arizona Mission Network. “With people moving into our state from all over the world, God is bringing the nations to Arizona. We have an amazing opportunity to reach people groups that we never could have otherwise. In many ways, we can accomplish our mission of working together to make disciples of all peoples in Arizona and around the world without ever leaving our state!”

For more information about the Diaspora Missions Collective, visit their website at dmcollective.org. For next steps in Arizona, be on the lookout for more information through the Arizona Mission Network website: azmn.org, or reach out to Lorri Paetz, AZMN missions coordinator, at lpaetz@azmn.org.

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