Reaching the Most Diverse Zip Code in the Nation

Anthony Ball

"The nations have arrived at our doorstep, and they need Jesus," says Anthony Ball, Pastor of Refuge Church in Irving, currently one of the most ethnically diverse zip codes in all the United States and comprising nearly 85% from an international background. Many of these also come from environments of religious persecution.

In 2018, Refuge Church was strategically planted in North Irving (in partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and through First Baptist Church Irving and variety of churches in the Metroplex) with the desire to see the Kingdom of God among the nations in one of the hardest to reach places in Texas.

The religious demographic of North Irving derives largely from Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist backgrounds. Refuge determined that the best way to reach the unreached in this community is the same way churches are growing in the nations where these internationals come from, through the practice of hospitality in Jesus' name in home groups and house churches. "In many ways, this meant an enormous paradigm shift. We don't reach the nations through a 'come and see' mentality, but rather through 'go and tell' obedience."

The commitment of Refuge is "to get out of the church building as much as possible in favor of getting into the hearts and homes of international peoples in our community. Our hearts cry as a church family is to see individuals and families from the more than 300 people groups in the DFW area come to know Jesus as the Messiah." To reflect their international focus within the community, on any given Sunday a dozen or more nationalities gather at Refuge to worship the risen Jesus. "Every week is a beautiful picture of heaven's future reality – the nations of the world gathered around the throne of God in eternal worship."

Anthony graduated from DBU in 2009 and is most grateful for the exposure to the global work of God that he experienced through short-term overseas mission opportunities as well as his interactions with international ministry occurring right on the DBU campus. He has been married to wife Arianne ('13) for over five years. They have one son, Corbin, who is almost two years old, and they are currently in the process of adopting from South Korea. "We cannot wait to see how God will continue to use our family to invest in the nations," he says.

As for Refuge Church, the challenges remain great as the spiritual darkness is great and the work is long and exhausting. One of the biggest ways to pray for Refuge, for Anthony, and for others who lead the church is committed endurance to the task. "Unreached people groups are unreached for a reason, but we trust in, and labor for, the Lord of the harvest."

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is the Director of Written Content in University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.