Asking questions can lead you to unexpected places. Such was our experience at Ethnos Bible Church. Like most churches, we knew that we should have a heart to help the poor. We had read James 1:27 many times. Yet, we always assumed that “widows and orphans” was a simple way of saying “the poor.” Yet, what if James meant “widows” and “orphans”? What if in our effort to help the poor we were actually not helping “widows” and “orphans”? These questions lead us to one key question: Who were the poor?
The quest for an answer led us to a series of Bible studies that helped us discover something important. God consistently desires for His people to help three groups of people in need: the fatherless, widows, and the displaced. These three groups had something in common. They are in need due to circumstances out of their control. Unless someone helped them, they could not get out of poverty. We also discovered that key persons in the Bible were refugees: Abraham, David, and Jesus.
Once we achieved this clarity, it led us to a new set of questions. Where were the fatherless, widows, and displaced in our community? How could we help them? So, we started researching the needs in our city, which lead us to a whole new discovery. According to the Census Bureau, Texas is the state with more refugees in the U.S. Just ten minutes from our church, there’s a large population of refugees from Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Congo, Iraq, and other countries. We learned of a ministry called “Love Is” that serves the refugee community in Dallas. An American-Filipino named Danny Domingo started this ministry after graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary. He moved in the community and started learning about the needs of the refugees and gaining their trust by living among them. By partnering with him, we discovered that just in our backyard we had a mission field filled with Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus.
Learning about the refugee community led us to a new question. How can Ethnos Bible Church help? The needs of the refugee are many: Salvation, war trauma, anger control, education, English, citizenship, and assimilation into this new country. Where to start? That is when Danny Domingo invited us to help with soccer ministry. Soccer ministry? What does that have to do with refugees? As he explained, Danny discovered that soccer can be a powerful thing. It is an international language that brings communities together. People divided by religion, politics, and race, may not be initially opened to the gospel, but they are easily opened to play in a soccer tournament. This sport became a tool to build trust, to prepare the way, to slowly bring down the walls of unbelief, so that the love of Christ may shine through us as we interact every week with a community of refugees during three months of summer heat. We have done it for two years, and our church is excited to do it again this year. People who knew only American football are now learning to appreciate soccer from a whole different angle.
So, where will God lead us as we ask the next questions? We may not know yet, but one thing is sure: We will discover new horizons that will help us reflect God’s love to a world in darkness, so that they will know Christ and learn what true love is.