Washington DC has over 80,000 African Immigrants and St. Louis has over 20,000. Bro Edwin Forkpa, author of the book, “Fourth Man in the Fire”, has been appointed by the Home Missions Division of the UPCI in partnership with local pastors across the US to evangelize these precious souls.
Bro Forkpa grew up in Fassama , Liberia , West Africa . It was through missionaries that he received the new birth. He ministered in Liberia for more than 22 years as an evangelist, pastor, presbyter, and National Assistant Superintendent of the UPC district of Liberia. Now, his ministry is to the growing population of African Immigrants here in North America .
When discussing the differences between reaching African Immigrants versus reaching souls who grew up in America , he had this to say, “African Immigrants are coming from a totally different cultural background. Many are experiencing culture shock. Some of them come and work way too many hours. Many of them are hungry for the Lord. I just try to encourage them. When we can bring them to the realization, God first and everything else next, they are always willing to give their attention to going to church and finding the Lord.”
One cultural difference is, “In Africa, we mostly live together. It is common to find Grandma and Grandpa living with kids who are married. We don’t have Old Folks’ Homes in Africa .”
Bro Forkpa says African Immigrants can be found, “mostly in universities, or cities that have plenty of working opportunities. For instance, there is a large population of African Immigrants in St. Paul , MN . I asked one of them why they wanted to live in a city that is so much colder than Africa . He replied that the employment opportunities are very high compared to other places.”
Bro Forkpa offers this advice to pastors trying to reach African Immigrants, “We are finding that it is very easy to reach out to one or two. You can tell they are from Africa by the way they speak. You walk up to one of them and ask, ‘What part of Africa are you from?’ Look for common ground in talking to them. Don’t make them feel ‘different’. Just ask questions and be interested in their lives. Once an African comes to a Pentecostal church for the first time, he is really going to like it!”
“If a pastor has a large population of African Immigrants in his city that he is trying to reach, he can contact me through the Home Missions Division (or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org), and I will put him on the schedule and move to his city for a week or two or a month, depending on the pastor’s wants, and bring the harvest. Another thing I can do is help train African Immigrants to reach their own people and perhaps have a daughter work for the local pastor. A pastor who is trying to build a ministry to African Immigrants is welcome to call, and we will go to help.”
Christina Li, Writer
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