First contact for new migrants

Archie Poulos

At last week's Church Planting Conference at Moore College we heard that between 2001 and 2006, about 100 Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus arrived permanently in Australia every day. That's 700 per week!

What a great opportunity to share the gospel with so many people who may never have otherwise had opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus.

But how are we going to make contact. There are very few contact points between these new arrivals and Christians.

Do we leave this ministry to the professionals? To those believers in Jesus who have Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu backgrounds? Some people would say yes to that, but I think it is the privilege and opportunity for all of us to get involved. The problem is that in order to do this, we need to think differently.

Seeking a way forward

I'm used to working with people who we see saved from backgrounds such as the ones I've listed. But I am fairly clueless when it comes to making first contact; so I asked some friends, especially those involved in Muslim ministry for advice.

The universal response was that doorknocking new arrivals is the most effective means of making contact. That makes lots of sense. We are not asking them to come onto our turf, but meeting on their turf. We come as Christians who are keen to be friends and supportive in those early days of settling in, and not as enemies to be feared.

Margaret Powell, who works amongst Muslim women goes doorknocking every week. She says that what we need is more women to doorknock. Often Muslim wives are at home, and so it is inappropriate for men to visit. She also says that almost always there is an invitation to come in and meet the family.

Another friend told me that on being invited in, she was given the new born baby to hold- a great sign of hospitality.

This has taught me that we must re-think our western individualism that assumes people do not want us to visit.

Moussa Ghazal doorknocks the Muslim area in his parish of Arncliffe and says that his problem is not that doors are slammed in his face, but that there are too many conversations and people to follow up.

In order to help him decide what to do next he asks: "Would you be willing for us to come back again?"

There are always people who say yes. He then tries to determine whether he should do the next visit, or if there is a better person to do it.

Doorknocking: Let's do It

Doorknocking seems so frightening to us all.

At least with people who are new to Australia it seems to be not just well received but appreciated, and gives us the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus.