The Advantage of Being a Minority: An Immigrant’s Missional Narrative

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In God’s kingdom, a person becomes weak in order for their life to help others.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer. 29:4-7, ESV)

In 1975, the Americans pulled out of Southeast Asia and left many of the Hmong people stranded. My family was among the tens of thousands stranded in their home country of Laos. Those who fought alongside the Americans, like my dad, were hunted down and killed by the communist regime.

So they fled to the mountains and lived incognito for years before swimming across the Mekong Delta to find refuge in Thailand. My family survived years in the refugee camps before immigrating to Illinois in 1979.

Over the last 15 years of my life, I’ve been trying to understand the bigger narrative we belong to besides the refugee narrative that brought our family to North America. If God is sovereign in the way the Bible says he is, then I have to wonder if God brought us here to North America for more than just the American-Asian Dream.

Those of us who are minorities often ask ourselves, “Why am I in North America? Why am I more American than I am Latinx/Asian/African/Mediterranean/whatever-an?”

Those are the questions the Israelites are asking themselves in this Jeremiah passage. They found themselves in a strange country where they didn’t know if they were supposed to settle in …

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