We first met each other at a 2017 training event in Wichita, Kansas. Being from Los Angeles, Don was shocked when Rickie said, “You know, where I live in Houston, there are now more unreached people groups than you have in Los Angeles. If you visit me in Houston, I’ll show you.” So a few months later Don travelled from Los Angeles and saw firsthand what was happening in Houston. This trip inspired Don to start a new national ministry called Completion Global, designed to help the Church engage the unreached people groups God has sent to the cities of America.
After moving to Dallas to start this new enterprise, Don asked Rickie about making Houston a pilot project for building a city-wide diaspora coalition that could be replicated in other U.S. cities. Rickie said, “This is something we have been praying about in Houston for many years.” So we assembled a small group of people to form a coalition of churches, missions agencies, and parachurches that would not only engage the unreached people groups of Greater Houston, but would also lead to making disciples in the immigrants’ homelands as well. Our vision was to reach the world through Houston.
Since that initial meeting in 2018, we have added other partners into what we call the Houston Diaspora Coalition. Along the way, we created the Houston Diaspora Coalition website to accelerate collaboration, offering 25 ways for Houstonians to volunteer or receive training in diaspora ministry. For example, people can discover how to teach ESL, befriend international students, or provide legal advocacy.
This website provides coalition members a way to advance their ministry’s vision without competing with each other. They can invite people to volunteer with their organization or send their constituents to other Coalition partners. For example, if Houston Welcomes Refugees is asked about youth sports ministry to immigrants (which is outside of their area of service), the website provides a way for them to refer people to Revival Sport, who specializes in that area.
This exemplifies Jesus’ desire for us to practice unity for the Great Commission. The Coalition can do what no single organization can do by itself. We need everyone: various denominations, agencies with different disciple making strategies, and creative ministries like training prisoners for cross-cultural evangelism. This allows everyone to stay in their lane and focus on their strengths, while benefitting from the fulness of what the Body of Christ can offer.
In addition to the Coalition website, we have also developed an app that serves as a “scoreboard” to track the progress in Houston. The app answers important questions: how many unreached people groups are there, where do they live, at what level have they been engaged, is someone praying for them, and has a church been planted among them that is reaching back to their homeland? Once we make this scoreboard operational, we can accelerate a city-wide strategy to eliminate the gaps. We are grateful for Kevin Greeson (Global Gates), who is leading this effort.
One of the keys to success in this Coalition has been avoiding frequent meetings. Everyone has many responsibilities and the last thing people need is more meetings. So we gather only as needed, generally every three to six months. Sometimes we meet on Zoom and sometimes in person. This rhythm has motivated people to stay involved because they aren’t pressured to add yet another commitment to their already busy schedule.
Another key to success is being organic and relational. In other words, friendship is more important than strategy. If you want to start a coalition in your city, we suggest starting with 3-4 people who share a desire to reach the nations. Then pray together and wait on the Lord to reveal the next steps. Keep adding people to your group and let them participate at any level they feel comfortable. And don’t ask for money since that can create an unnecessary impediment to participation.
A final key to success is an intentional effort for broad ethnic participation in the Coalition. We (Rickie-Black, Don-Anglo) have desired to use our shared commitment to diaspora missions as a means of ethnic healing. When Black and White believers come together for the sake of others, we have seen people move beyond the usual social/political dialogue that keeps us isolated. Also, when the foreign-born see a mixing of ethnic groups working together to help them, they have a visible apologetic that shows Jesus is Lord, sent by God the Father (Jn. 17:23).
Don’s vision is to launch a diaspora coalition in America’s 50 largest cities by 2025. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like help in your city. You can contact Pastor Rickie at email@example.com.
Don Allsman is CEO of Completion Global, a Dallas-based Christian networking ministry seeking to accelerate innovation for the Great Commission.
Rickie Bradshaw is Pastor of First Southwest Baptist Church in Houston. He also serves at Hope Media Group as Prayer Initiatives Director and as Ministry & Outreach Director.