Refugees and Internationals
From 1970 to 2010 more than 35 million immigrants moved to the United States, not counting visiting students, tourists or undocumented individuals. Canada has also seen tremendous growth due to friendly immigration policies.
Most communities throughout North America are at least 10% foreign born. That means 1 out of every 10 people were born in a different country. The percentage of foreign born in urban areas is even higher. These international people often come to North America to find better jobs, safer neighborhoods, and superior educations. Some are wealthy, while others are poor. Many will return to their home country, while most will strive to become citizens in North America. Traditional missionary efforts have involved believers from the West traveling to the ends of the earth. Today, people from the ends of the earth are traveling to us. They come with tremendous dreams and practical needs that give the church the opportunity to demonstrate mercy among every tribe and tongue in North America.
Here are a few examples:
- More than half a million Chinese, mainly from Hong Kong, live in the metro Toronto area.
- Hundreds of thousands of Iranians live in California.
- Minneapolis has a Somali population of more than 75,000.
Refugees are extremely happy to have a chance for a new life here in North America. They are friendly and want to make new friends among Americans and Canadians. They want to identify with their new community, learn how to assimilate and add value to their neighborhoods. Although many refugees speak English, they usually welcome help with learning English and cultural nuances.
Undocumented immigrants pose one of the greatest opportunities to share the love of Christ with the world. They represent people from both reached and unreached people groups and are receptive to the love of others. Most are poor and socially repressed due to the nature of their status. Many will return to their country and tell the story of how Christians loved and cared for them.
There are more than 723,000 international college students in the U.S. and more than 150,000 in Canada. They represent some of the brightest minds in the world, including future world leaders. More than 200 countries have government leaders who studied in the United States—including Harvard graduate Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations.