My daughter and I enter the store and walk the aisles. With our usual grocery list in hand, we peruse the shelves while breathing in the sweet aromas of coriander and curry. Stepping to the beat of bells and drums from a far-away place, we arrive at the counter where a beautiful, brown-eyed woman meets us with a smile. Stumbling over words, we exchange greetings and empty our basket. The clock strikes noon as she rings up our items. From an old speaker, the “Adhan,” (the Muslim call to prayer) rings out loudly; time stops and starts again. I thank her and walk back to my Northeast Kansas City home; myself now in silent prayer to the God whose jealous love for His glory among the peoples burns warmly in my heart.
There are about 1.5 million lost people in the KC metro area, thousands of those people have migrated to Kansas City from across the world. My husband Tyler and I, while attending seminary to pursue international church planting, felt the weight of those numbers more than ever. Last spring, we began praying about how God might use us here in KC to advance His Kingdom and spread His fame. He impressed upon our hearts that if we desired to give ourselves to sharing His Name with people in a faraway place, we best begin here. So this summer, we moved our family from Gladstone to the Northeast to begin the faith journey of building friendships for the sake of the Gospel with the international community around us.
Though we have only been living in our new home for a month, God continuously opens our eyes to the fact that the nations are here. Somali, Sudanese, Burmese, Congolese, Syrian, Ethiopian, Haitians, Mexicans, Vietnamese; all find themselves living here with us — driving the same streets, working the same jobs, attending the same schools. As a family who is a part of the Body of Emmaus, we are seeking to spread His glory among ALL peoples here in Kansas City.
In light of the social and political climate our country finds itself in, it is often easy to forget the spiritual significance of this human reality. It is not by chance, that these families lives have been uprooted and transplanted into our neighborhoods. Nor is it off-handed apathy on the part of our LORD that they have come. The Bible clearly holds out the heart of our Father on this matter.
Calling Abraham to Himself, the LORD declares, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen.12:3).
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and makes his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Ps. 67:1-3)
“Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
“…For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” (Is. 56:7b-8)
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mt. 24:14)
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nations, from all tribes, and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 5:9-10)
The theme of God redeeming a chosen people for Himself gathered from all the peoples of the world can be traced throughout the entire narrative of scripture; beginning with the Fall of Man, carried through to Calvary, and culminating in Revelation with the great multitude of worshippers around the throne of our Lord. While God’s love for the nations is clear, the charge to us is as well. Jesus left his followers with a final command that stands true for us still today.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28:19)
While the task of reaching the nations for Christ will certainly look different for each individual, participating in it is vital to the Christian walk. As we walk in obedience and bear good fruit in the LORD, our heart to see ALL the peoples praise Him will undoubtedly grow. Whether it means moving to another neighborhood, or packing up and going across an ocean, kneeling with your toddler at breakfast to pray for a people group, getting to know the international family that lives down the street from you, signing up to help volunteer at ESL classes, intentionally shopping at local ethnic stores, switching up which park you play at, or just stepping out and saying hello to someone. We can be sure that no effort is in vain, for our Lord Jesus has won the victory and purchased a people to Himself from every tribe and tongue. As we seek to advance the Gospel among all nations, we can rest confidently in that truth and press forward into knowing Him and making Him known.
Each member of the Body of Christ plays an essential role in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It is our prayer that we collectively at Emmaus will continue to forge ahead together in loving pursuit of how we can see the Gospel declared and displayed here in Kansas City and among all peoples. He is worthy!
Tyler and I would love for you to join us in seeing the Gospel go to the nations here in KC, if you want to get in touch with either of us, email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you would like to commit to praying for the nations present in Kansas City, please refer to this link for a prayer guide on how to lift up specific groups of people.
Karrington Swadley has been a member of Emmaus Church since January 2017. She loves being a wife to Tyler and mom to Lily. She has a passion for home making, discipleship and sharing the Gospel with others.