In the News: “Somali Refugee Makes History In U.S. Election”

Last week, a friend made mention of this article in her social media, and I felt it was worth sharing. While the news cycle was inundated with shock at the outcome of the presidential election, this little article slipped through at NPR, and it is some of the biggest news you did not hear last week.

For the first time in US history, a Somali-American refugee has been elected as a lawmaker. You can read the NPR article here: “Somali Refugee Makes History in U.S. Election.”

Before I go any further, let me clear the air on this one. I think this is most likely a good thing. Read the article. This young lady was 9 years old when she and her family fled the terrible civil war taking place in Somalia. She came here not knowing any English. Fast forward to today and she is a successful policymaker because she has worked hard to get there. If that’s not the “American dream,” then I do not know what is. I know nothing of her policy, except that she ran as a democrat.  And, my point is not to get into an argument about a Muslim in the State House of Minnesota.

Instead, I am pointing to the significance of this for the Great Commission. I frequently share articles here that illustrate the changing face of the American city. Ours is a special time for the Great Commission, and local churches need to notice important shifts like this one.

Elected officials, including Mrs. Omar, get voted into office. In fact, Ilhan Omar beat a 22-term incumbent in the primaries. That is what makes this so significant for our purposes in this article. Omar was elected to House District 60B, which makes up a portion of southeast Minneapolis. This district also happens to be home to a section of Minneapolis known as Little Mogadishu. Of course, Mogadishu is the capital city of Somalia.

You do not have to turn to this election to know that Minneapolis has a very large Somali population. This fact is widely known and has been written about in a number of places. You can check out this photojournalism story on Little Mogadishu or this article on the Somali community.

The Somali community in Minneapolis now has a population around 30,000, at best estimates. That is a lot of refugees, and they have carved out for themselves a tight-knit community. And that is what this recent election demonstrates. This growing group of Somali-Americans in Minneapolis has an identity, a culture, a way of life, and it is big enough to get someone elected to the State House of Representatives.

Across North America, people group communities, like Little Mogadishu, are cropping up all over the place. Some of them are large, very large. Consider Little Kurdistan in Nashville, Little Ethiopia in Washington, DC, or Little India in Houston. These enclaves, as people refer to them, are key places for the Great Commission. Articles like this remind us these communities are not just blending into the woodwork that is America. Instead, our melting pot often looks more like a mosaic, and many of these communities are gaining influence. Such a community needs churches in their own culture. This must affect our ministry methods.

Regardless of where one stands politically concerning Omar’s election, it should remind us, the church, that God is moving peoples from the least reached places and putting them in arm’s reach for the sake of the gospel.

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