HOUSTON?No other city in Texas is growing faster than Houston. According to the U.S. census, it added 33,063 residents last year. Noticing the change in his own city, one people group missionary approached SBTC Missions Director Terry Coy about the convention’s people group strategy.
“What really captured my interest in it was one too many mission trips,” the missionary said. “Visiting with our International Mission Board missionaries overseas and seeing strategies they were using, I strongly felt like that was greatly needed in Texas. We are living on a mission field.”
“We have around 120,000-130,000 Hindu people in the greater Houston area with very few churches, missionaries, or organizations that are engaging this overarching people group,” said the missionary, who is not named in this story because of security concerns among his assigned people group. “But inside that large umbrella of Hindu, made up of several people groups, the most open group?the best soil we have found?is with refugees.”
Relocated to major Texas cities by the United Nations, there are more than 500 of this distinct people group in Houston, 500 in Dallas, and 300 in Austin. After concentrating on this ethnic group for two years, the missionary has organized 17 groups that meet to hear Bible stories, called “storying groups.”
The UN has plans to relocate another 5,000 of this people group in the next three years to Houston and Dallas each, and another 3,000 to Austin, the missionary said.
“The only way to keep up with growth is for groups we are starting right now to reproduce,” he added. “There is no way the three of us doing storying can reach that many people.”
The first story groups are beginning to reproduce, the missionary said, calling the new groups the “second generation.”
The missionary explained that the strategy to reach a specific people group starts by meeting needs and making relationships. As new believers are discipled, they learn to disciple others.
“By prayer-walking and networking through agencies that are working with refugees, we were able to discover this pocket of refugees that lived in several apartments,” the missionary explained. “We began prayer-walking those complexes and partnering with refugee agencies to meet needs and build relationships to provide furniture, clothes, picking them up from the airport when they arrive and helping them get settled in apartments.”
We teach them what a thermostat is; most of them had never seen one before. Teach them how to use an oven and a microwave. Teach them how to drive so that they can get a license and a job. We are talking about basic needs, and through meeting those needs that we’ve formed relationships and have found persons of peace”?those friendly toward dialoguing about the faith.
The missionary said persons of peace are found and are invited to hear stories from the Bible.
“For those who are open, we schedule a time to come to their apartment and encourage them to invite friends and families and we do the first story?the creation account,” he said. “And those who are interested, we do 30 stories?one story a week with them?basically explaining the story of God from creation to Christ.”
Because most of them have never heard these stories before, the missionary said their reactions are often extreme.