Phoenix is an emerging global city and dynamic international mission field. It may not be obvious at first, but one of the areas where you can encounter the nations next door is along McDowell Road, home to the Somali Association of Arizona. You can cruise along McDowell Road to find halal products, African clothing, Mexican groceries, bakeries, or restaurants, Isra Market, a small Somali store at 36th St, or Safari Bakery, a Somali shop near 52nd St. The city is an urban hub for the nations next door in the Southwest U.S. and home to a considerable Somali community.
Based on some estimates the Somali population in Phoenix may be between 15,000 to 20,000. Somalia is 99% Muslim and is one of the most difficult regions in the world to share the Gospel of Christ. However, nearly 40% of Somalians have been dislocated. While there may still be cultural barriers to the gospel among diaspora communities, these communities represent access for relationships between disciples of Jesus and Somali neighbors.
For disciple-makers with a heart for the Somali people, Phoenix is a city that many Somalis call home. There is an obvious need for missionaries to be active learners and think through what applying gospel contextualization might look like when engaging Somali diaspora communities, and there are huge opportunities to engage hard-reach-peoples by serving the nations next door in Phoenix.