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Building Bridges Between Refugees and Their Neighbors


At this moment in Sioux Falls, S.D., 124 languages are being spoken by people from 90 different countries.

And in the midst of it all sits New Roots Ministry, a Christian Reformed ministry for new immigrants and refugees led by Rev. Carl Bruxvoort.

While serving as pastor of discipleship for First Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, Bruxvoort saw an opportunity to form a bridge between the newcomers and the wider established community. Thus New Roots was born.

A young adult Congolese choir sings at an international service in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Many newcomers to Sioux Falls, largely from Latin America and Africa but increasingly from the Middle East and Central Asia, have a basic understanding of Christianity but have been confused regarding its foundations because of the presence of groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons.

That confusion, combined with the challenges of arriving to an entirely new culture, led Bruxvoort and the New Roots ministry planners to feel “challenged to bring ministries to where people actually were, not just [to establish] an office where people could come.”

Since the creation of New Roots, Bruxvoort has noticed changes in the largely Christian community's awareness of and involvement with their new neighbors. He noted that after attending All Nations City Church (monthly citywide worship services), many participants comment, “I didn't know all these people were here.”

As more evangelical churches, such as Heartland Community CRC, now share their facilities, immigrant/refugee pastors and churches feel less isolated from the rest of their Christian community.

Known as “Pastor Carl,” Bruxvoort preaches in the international churches. When he's first asked to do so, he turns to a sermon on Ephesians 2:11-18, which focuses on a bridge metaphor: “We are reconciled to God, but also reconciled to one another.”

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