For The Nations Refugee Outreach
Tristan Guthrie (ThM 03)
In 2004, while Cameron Mullens (ThM 11) was a student at DTS, his wife began ministering to refugees. Kaitlyn was a kindergarten teacher in the Richardson school district and she noticed a trend. She had several students who were struggling to keep up and demonstrated some substantial needs. The more she got to know these students, the more she realized that they had one thing in common: they were refugees who had come to the United States from countries around the world because they were fleeing life threatening situations. Kaitlyn began spending more and more time with the refugees away from the classroom, and the more she did, the more she was impressed with their needs. As a kindergarten teacher, she would routinely have students lacking basic needs and parents who would sit in on lessons in the hopes that they would learn just a little English. While the physical needs were obvious, Kaitlyn was acutely aware of the desperate need for education and the Gospel. Cameron and Kaitlyn had previously discussed going to the nations to preach the Gospel in a cross-cultural setting, but it wasn’t until this exposure that they became aware that the nations are coming to us here annually by the tens of thousands. As Cameron came to the end of his studies at DTS he realized that his education could be a huge benefit to the spiritually starved refugees. In 2006 the husband and wife duo decided to combine their passions for education and theological integrity to start For The Nations Refugee Outreach.
As for me, I graduated from DTS in 2003 and returned to my home church, Cedar Valley Bible Church, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where I served as a youth director for the church and a Bible teacher for the Christian school. I served in that role for 10 years. During that time I realized my love for education as I taught at the school, yet felt a strong desire to serve in a multi-cultural setting. Through trips I had taken with my youth group in 2009 and 2012, I had personal exposure with the ministry of For The Nations Refugee Outreach, and I loved what I had experienced. I felt that the unique blend of education, cross-cultural ministry, and emphasis on theological accuracy was a perfect fit for me. In the summer of 2013, my family and I moved to Texas to work alongside Cameron, Kaitlyn, and my sister-in-law Sarah Guthrie (her husband Tyson Guthrie [ThM 08] is a DTS grad) with For The Nations Refugee Outreach.
Cameron and I both attended DTS for similar reasons and, as a result, we had very similar experiences. We both note that the draw of DTS was the in-depth study of the Scriptures. DTS provided an environment in which the Bible was honored and thoroughly taught. I came to DTS with a solid background in biblical studies from Emmaus Bible College, and at DTS I found myself challenged by the even deeper studies of the Scriptures I found in the New Testament department. Cameron had a degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas, and when he came to DTS he was deeply impacted by the depth he found in the theology departments. Both of us note that our classes in historical theology were especially impactful, and that the lives of the professors inside and outside the classroom provided a special benefit to their education. The integrity of these men and their emphases on orthodoxy and sound scriptural exegesis helped prepare both Cameron and me for a life of ministry teaching the Bible to others. Refugees are in a particularly pivotal place when it comes to the Gospel. They are coming to the United States with deep physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. They have come from backgrounds that often neglect, reject, or misrepresent the true Gospel, and thus accurate teaching is not only a benefit, but a necessity. DTS has uniquely prepared Cameron and me to step into the gap and not only teach the Gospel, but share it with accuracy and conviction.
Today, For The Nations Refugee Outreach ministers to over 150 refugees each day. We also heavily involve many invaluable volunteers, as we believe that the true strength in our ministry is partnering with local churches. Each year, our ministry has over 500 volunteers serve alongside the refugees. These refugees represent nearly 20 different countries from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The ministry is based in the DFW area, which currently houses over 500,000 permanently placed refugees, but we also have considered expanding to other cities in the future. Consistent with the emphasis on education, the refugees involved with FTNRO attend classes dedicated to learning English, gaining citizenship, and, of course, learning about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God. FTNRO has a unique ministry to Muslims from war-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. These students are hearing the truth of the Gospel clearly proclaimed on a daily basis after coming from contexts where they have never heard the Gospel before. Though the Gospel is clearly proclaimed, the number of Muslim students involved is growing each semester. The students have remarked that they have never heard the Gospel presented in the ways they are hearing it taught. Furthermore, the solid education we received from DTS is being paid forward by helping to train the pastors who are ministering to the refugees within their communities. With no foreseeable end in sight to the thousands of refugees coming to this country every year, the need for cross-cultural missions work being done here in the United States is only going to grow. We believe For The Nations Refugee Outreach is an important step in ensuring that the work is being done to the glory of God.