Couple leaves Bainbridge to prepare for missionary work

Published 5:19 pm Friday, February 19, 2016

Imagine the culture shock of going from life in South Georgia, where you lived in a large home with a big yard, then moving to an Atlanta suburb where you live in an apartment complex full of refugees, the majority of whom are moderate Muslims.

Tommy and Rebekah Henderson and their family have done just that.

They left Bainbridge last July to work with Global Frontier Missions, a missionary training school in Clarkston, Ga., whose focus is training people to be missionaries and disciples of Jesus Christ.

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The Hendersons were back in this area this week visiting relatives and friends. Tommy completed the first part of training in December and is now serving in the apprentice program, preparatory to taking over the teaching element in the fall.

The family is living and working within the refugee community, helping people get acclimated to the United States.

He describes how the organization works in two ways. They not only train U.S. citizens to go oversees and serve as missionaries, but are also finding it more effective to have connections with the citizens of foreign countries, training the indigenous people to go back home to teach.

Henderson said he has no qualms about living among the different cultures, as he believes the U.S. State Department does a good job of investigating the people who come here through the refugee program. They spend two years in refugee camps before they are cleared to come to the U.S. “Terrorists do not typically come as refugees who come into the country legally. The easiest way for them is through student visas, which are easier to get,” he believes.

Henderson said by living with the people they slowly get to know them and find out their needs and beliefs. “White men do not talk with Muslim women,” he adds. “That is where his wife Rebekah and other women come into the picture.” His children play with their children. He describes his neighbors as very welcoming people.

He said most of the people who come in as refugees initially work in menial jobs in the chicken factories around Atlanta, regardless of their educational background. Once they learn English they can move out and get better jobs. He believes they have an incredible work ethic, and as a rule, in five years most are back to their original standards of living.

Henderson observes that the people are so happy to be here. “Some seem to love and appreciate this country even more than I do.” He has one neighbor from Iraq who is ex-military, having helped American forces during the occupation. He found himself under threat when the Americans pulled out.

Henderson said the churches have been so welcoming to the refugees, even when the government wasn’t.

The focus of GFM is sending people to “unreached” groups of people and welcoming those coming here. “It is all about spreading the Word as Christ did, using head, heart and hands” says Henderson. “That is why we are where we are, attempting to change people’s hearts.”