I lived in Houston serving in a multiethnic center-city ministry in the late 90’s. I lived in the 6th Ward near downtown, but occasionally driving along I-59, I noticed the beginnings of South Asian businesses near the highway. Today, that same area has been designated the Mahatma Ghandi district. While there are perhaps a few sections in Houston’s northern suburbs yet to experience the kind of international influx the rest of the city now experiences as commonplace, most of the city of Houston feels like a global metropolis any day of the week.Houston is home to 1.6 million international migrants. Since 2010, the city’s Asian population increased by 29%. Global migrants from Asia make up one quarter of the city’s foreign-born residents, and Houston’s west side is quickly becoming a dynamic South Asian city. Today, Indians are the second largest Asian group in Houston, following the longstanding Vietnamese community, and the South Asian community continues to grow. Spend some time in Southwest Houston down into Sugarland and the surrounding areas, and the presence of a strong South Asian community is obvious. Now 4 in 10 residents of Sugarland are Asian, and one third of those are Indian. At least one observer declared this area, Desitown, USA.
In the 1960’s Southwest Houston probably hosted less than a dozen Indian families. Today, there are 22 Hindu temples in this area alone. An increasing number of Indian and Pakistani owned businesses, a growing cricket league, and a variety of temples and mosques dotting the landscape, what an opportunity to love our neighbors from around the world. Houston’s Southwest side is a dynamic, multicultural, and globally connected mission field. Serving in Houston has long been an opportunity to minister cross-culturally, and now it is increasingly an opportunity to engage South Asians from India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh.