Dallas ministry aims to meet refugees’ practical, emotional and spiritual needs

October 13, 2016

img_0285[Episcopal Diocese of Dallas] A group of refugees sat in a semi-circle facing a large wooden cross while balancing paper plates of chicken and potato salad on their laps as their children played tag in the carpeted expanse of an adjacent room. A few Muslim women wore the traditional hijabs covering their heads while others donned shorts and t-shirts more typically seen on a hot day in Dallas. These people came from all pockets of the globe, including many from the Middle East, Asia, and South America, to Gateway of Grace, a ministry for refugees.

The men and women attending the Bible Study class read and discussed scriptures in English, Farsi and Arabic. This small gathering is part of a larger ministry that meets the refugees’ practical and emotional needs such as housing, education, and friendship. However, the Rev. Samira Izadi Page, who is an Episcopal priest and director of Gateway, wants to meet their spiritual needs, as well. Page is a former Muslim who fled Iran nearly 20 years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back, making her particularly authentic in leading refugees to Christ.

The Bible Study is one snapshot of many that illustrates what evangelism looks like in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. With the consecration last year of Bishop George Sumner, a new emphasis has been placed on how best to know Christ and make Him known. The focus includes determining best practices, and creating an Order of Evangelists to be spearheaded by Carrie Boren Headington, who is the diocesan evangelist. “The aim is to have a representative at each parish serving as a catalyst for missional living,” Headington said. “Each church is a local outpost for the Kingdom of God strategically placed to be a witness to its neighbors. Each member of the congregation is an ambassador in their daily lives drawing those around them to follow Jesus.”

At Gateway of Grace, Page couldn’t help but compare her ministry with the old model of evangelism that sent missionaries to other countries. “God is now bringing people from all nations into the United States,” said Page who has a doctorate degree from Southern Methodist University in Missiology. “These are people from countries where it would be dangerous to send missionaries. God is bringing the mission field to us.”

 

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