Author: Sadiri "Joy" Tira
Since posting my article Redefining the "Regions Beyond", I have actually been “on the move.” From January 23-27, I was meeting with Filipino Kingdom Workers in the Arabian Gulf; January 30 - February 3, I was teaching Diaspora Missiology in the Philippine Context at the Alliance Graduate School (Manila); February 13-18, I was in Johannesburg, South Africa for the Korean Diaspora Forum and Global Diaspora Network. So pardon me for not responding early on.
To all five diaspora writers: thank you for your gracious comments. Your brief articles pushed the diaspora missions discourses further into the global arena and onto the radar of many "reflective practitioners"; both those in the academic centers and on the mission fields. I hope that our initial conversations on this issue will continue to reverberate to all four corners of the globe with intensity that will produce creative strategies for world evangelization. My response is in point.
Miyon Chung, you are correct in your assessment that I am not trying to dismantle the traditional missions strategy but I am again, as I did at Cape Town 2010, arguing that Diaspora Missiology should be complementary with the "old ways." I appreciate your comments that there are multitudes of people who simply cannot move because of their extreme conditions. Hence we must continue to GO there and do all we can to minister to them and usher them into the Kingdom. Your gentle exhortation "we must not forget” is well taken. Thank you again Dr. Chung.
Atul Aghamkar, your Regions Around concept should be pursued. I agree that in our globalized and fast becoming borderless world, increasingly mobile population, and technological age, we really do not need to go far beyond to look for the subjects of evangelism. We must simply look around. The problem is that church members in general have not caught up with the idea of missions around, because they have been taught (from Sunday School and from pulpits) for years and years that missions is only to “go there”, as if it is more noble to be missionaries out there than to do Kingdom work "across the street" among the people who we are also trying to reach "over there." One practical example, many (but not all) overseas missionaries receive allowances (e.g. pre-departure allowances, language school allowances, childrens’ allowances, housing allowances, car allowances, vacation allowances, medical and dental allowances, etc.). But how much resources are invested in training and mobilizing home "missionaries" trying to reach the same UUPGs (Unengaged Unreached People Groups) at home? I am sure that the figures do not match. Of course there are many factors in determining the missions budget such as the expenses and living standards in every country. The point is: there is a huge gap left in missions funding, by simply having a dichotomized approached to missions i.e. Foreign vs. Home. I wonder what missions funding would look like if we employed the idea of “missions around” as you suggest. The words "beyond" and "around" have far-reaching implications not only in our missions strategy but in how we manage our missions. So I would encouraged you, Dr. Aghamkar, to write more about "around" and its implications specifically to Managerial-Missiology. I hope many missions strategists and missions administrators, particularly from missions boards and denominations are reading this conversation. I truly hope that they will join the discussions, but perhaps a face-to-face consultations as Dr. McClung is suggesting is the proper place. For now, I hope many minds are stirred up!
Bob Roberts, you clearly and loudly remind us that the global scattering of peoples are part of God’s redemptive design and plan. Your pastor’s heart touched mine. I agree that the expressions “over here” and “over there” are becoming finer and difficult to determine. Your GLOCAL Missions is affirmed. And, Yes we need respect and (healthy) partnerships or collaborations. Just like you, I am hoping and praying that Diaspora Missiology and diaspora missions will actually produce an accelerated global church-planting movement. Without action, “Diaspora Missiology” will be just another theory and futile academic exercise. What we are casting is a huge vision to plant more church among the millions and millions of people who are uprooted from their homeland and now within our reach. To reach them, however, we require intentional, deliberate, and strategic mobilization of personnel and resources. The West in general, and specifically North America is a continent for migrants. I want to see thousands of local churches like yours in Dallas, who will intentionally engage these "global nomads" (I heard you use this description for migrants or scattered people). I wonder what would happen to Texas if all Christian congregations engaged the more than a million foreign born residents in Dallas city alone. Now imagine if all local churches in the USA and Canada embraced all the diasporas in their midst and planted churches among these multitudes with the same fervour as they do across the seas? I think this is the regions around concept that Dr. Aghamkar is suggesting. You call this Glocal. Theoretically, I think it works, but practically and relationally speaking, only the Holy Spirit can break enthocentricism and "tribalism" as you call it that exists in both receiving congregations and in migrant peoples. One step forward to overcome this is what you have exhorted us to do: respect and learn from each other for the sake of the Gospel. This is true because humility advances the Kingdom and breaks down the walls that divide.
Grant McClung, you are a champion and advocate of diaspora missions. Your invitations for the leadership of the church, missions agencies and academies in order to address this very important issue that emerged from the Seoul Diaspora Consultation and Cape Town (CT) 2010 and are now included in the CT Commitment, is strategic and necessary. In 2015, the Global Diaspora Network, in collaboration with the Lausanne Movement will convene the Global Diaspora Forum. This will be held in Manila, Philippines. But before we arrive in Manila, we need to convene regional and small group gatherings to discuss regional issues. For example, in recent months, the North African and Arab diasporas have been accelerated primarily by political upheavals and violence. The South Asian Diaspora continues to be predominantly economic driven. What is all this? Regional diaspora missions consultation must be convened to address these unique issues. As for the Academy, I am thankful we have this Global Conversation and both of us are hoping courses will be offered and integrated into regular missions curriculum and more thesis and dissertations will be written in addition to the ongoing publications regarding this subject. Your voice has been heard. Thank you very much.
Carolyn Kemp, I celebrate with you and the OMF International for intentionally embracing diaspora missions. Your article seems to have caught fire and has enticed more organizations to change. OMFs diaspora field is commendable and worth emulating. On a personal note, for OMF to appoint a lady Director of this new field is a double commendation. Women represent a significant force among the Diasporas. Your appointment is not simply symbolic, representing the women in the diaspora, but a clear signal and powerful voice for the marginalized and disfranchised women in the labour industry and for those who are victims of human trafficking.
Thomas Hieber, I read your 10.02.2012 post on Diaspora Groups in Europe. Thank you for that. My first encounter with Indians was in 1975 when I was a young marine engineer serving with the Operation Mobilization’s MV Logos. The ship was in the dockyard when I spoke with Indian technicians coming up and down the ship while undergoing repairs. In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where I am currently based I see and meet Indians everyday. On this recent trip to Johannesburg, I was traveling with many South Asian immigrants to South Africa-- for my outbound flight I was seated with a Pakistani mother and daughter; and for my inbound flight from Dubai to Los Angeles the Emirates plane was full of South Asians. No wonder lamb curry was one of the dinner offerings on board the plane. This time I was seated with a couple from Bangladesh. Both Emirates planes are AIRBUS 380s. Imagine how many people were inside those huge "birds." The flow of South Asians to Europe and the rest of the world seems unending; like streams of water flowing from a spring to every direction. Not to mention the Chinese, the Hispanic, the Arabs, the South Asians particularly Indians. Whether we like it or not they will keep coming. I wonder what William Carey would have done if he had seen all these Indians coming to London in his time? So we are wise to teach our children Urdu or Hindi, and let them eat Chicken curry. Their neighbors will be Indians. So my response to you: Just keep welcoming them, embracing them in the name of Christ because their migration will not end during your life time. Recruit and mobilize as many Europeans to do what you are doing.
To the rest of the responders thank you for your kind comments. Let us keep the diaspora global conversation alive. More blog posts to follow after this month. So stay in tune with the Lausanne communication networks e.g. face book and websites!
Sadiri Joy Tira (D.Min., D.Miss.) is the LCWE Senior Associate for Diasporas; Vice President for Diaspora Missions at Advancing Indigenous Missions (AIM); Director of the Institute of Diaspora Missiology at Alliance Graduate School (Philippines); and Diaspora Missiology Specialist at the Jaffray Centre for Global Initiatives at Ambrose University College (Canada).