(I originally wrote this article for the blog SBCVoices.com)
In a town across the waters live members of one of the world’s largest unreached people groups. In the past 20 years, their population in this city has grown from about 8,000 to around 60,000. While their home country’s political situation is tumultuous, in this new city there is stability and religious/political freedom, including the freedom for missionaries to preach the Gospel to them. Like many other people groups in large cities, they have clustered in several major neighborhoods and have assimilated in a variety of professions, from doctors to taxi drivers.
This people group is the Bengali. While their homeland is made up of the country of Bangladesh and the bordering Indian states, a high population and good work ethic have enabled them to scatter to other cities around the globe.
The city, however, is not the desert towers of Dubai or the congested streets of London. The waters one must cross to reach these 60,000 Bengali are not the Bay of Bengal or the Pacific Ocean.
These 60,000 members of an unreached people group live here in the United States of America, in New York City, to be precise. The trip across the waters is a plane flight to LaGuardia or a ferry ride across the Hudson or East Rivers.
And in just a few months, Lord willing, my wife and I, along with our 9-month old daughter, will be loading up our family car to make that trip from here in Kansas City and settle into the borough of Queens where about half of these Bengalis live. The twists and turns God used to bring us to this point were not always easy (wanting to go overseas with IMB, health issue making living overseas impossible for the time being) but He has proven his goodness to us throughout. I can still remember my jaw dropping when I learned that one major people group was the Bengali, the people I had lived among for half a year doing a missions apprenticeship as a college student!
Many unreached people groups are in the US, especially in New York City. One of the like-minded people we will be working with in NYC wrote an entire book with pictures and profiles of 82 of these people groups. (available on Amazon or learn more at ethNYcitybook.com.)
We are excited to be able to work with the Bengali of NYC. It will take a lot of work: prayer, language learning, bold evangelism, discipleship. There are many obstacles. While some are suspicious of church plants because of experiences of ”sheep-stealing”, we don’t even have that option as 95% of our people group is Muslim and about 5% are Hindu! That’s not leaving many Bengali Christians left. New York is an expensive place to live and do ministry. Bengalis face temptations on both sides- their cultural religious traditions and the materialistic individualism they find in NYC. Despite these obstacles, we believe that God has brought these people to our shores for a reason. Our vision is to see faithful, reproducing churches of Bengali believers in each of these various neighborhoods in the 5 boroughs of New York City.
If you take a look at the states listed in our SBC Voices blogroll, you will see some states missing. I am hoping to see New York added this June and to use my writing to share about how God is molding, teaching, and using us to share the Gospel among the Bengali people of NYC. I’m a firm supporter of international missions; I wanted to be one for 11 years or so! But it would be irresponsible stewardship of us to completely ignore the mission field God is bringing to our shores. Would you take a moment today to pray for the spread of the Gospel in New York City and among the people groups found therein?
If you would like more information about our ministry or how you or your church can be involved in praying or partnering with us, email me at joshcollins8 AT gmail DOTCOM.
To learn more about SBC work in New York, check out: