For most of its existence as a U.S. city, Washington D.C. has not been a gateway city. It drew plenty of new residents from people moving across state lines within the U.S., but it simply wasn’t a major hub for global migration. However, in the last few decades that has all changed. In 1970 only 4% of Washington D.C. was born outside of the U.S., but by 2010 that figure had jumped to 22%, making the metro area of Washington D.C. the 7th largest concentration of international migrants in the country.
Furthermore, when someone thinks of evangelism & church planting among Central Americans, they certainly don’t think of Washington. Naturally, we imagine ministry taking place in their home countries in Central America, and if someone does think of reaching Central Americans in diaspora communities, they probably think of Los Angeles or Houston. However, the metro area of Washington D.C. is home to 200,000 El Salvadorans, 40,000 Guatemalans, and 38,000 Hondurans. Considering most Central American capitals are generally only between 1 to 2 million people, these are fairly significant numbers.
As it turns out, Washington D.C. is a dynamic mission field for impacting Central American peoples living in the U.S. A number of El Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans have sought refuge outside of their homeland, and many are building new lives for their families. The opportunity to share hospitality, the importance of learning some Spanish, and the reality of cross-cultural mission are all realities of ministry in the D.C. region. With one in five residents of Washington born outside of the U.S., there is an amazing opportunity to reach the nations next door.