Author: J D Payne
To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.
A Response to Sadiri Joy Tira’s “The Diaspora Dollar”
In his writing, “The Diaspora Dollar,” Joy Tira brings to our attentions the financial realities related to the incomes among those living outside of their countries of birth. While he recognizes that many migrants are compensated poorly, he reveals that not everyone falls into the stereotypical category of being a “poor” and “underpaid” worker.
It was good to be reminded of the massive amount of money that is being sent across the world as remittances. In fact, I recently read of one country with 50% of her national budget being dependent on remittances! Incredible global realities are taking place, often unknown to most Kingdom citizens.
Joy also did a great job reminding us of the Kingdom’s “financial” potential found among our scattered brothers and sisters. His questions related to the missiological implications were excellent and eye-opening to the possibilities. We must remember that in teaching others to obey the commands of Jesus that we talk about finances as well. The Sovereign Lord does not move people simply so they can live out the “American” dream (if you’ll excuse this American for using this phrase) either outside or within their countries of birth.
Joy’s article indirectly brings to our attention another extremely important matter. By noting the vast sums of money being sent across the world, he reminds us that multitudes of those scattered across the world remain in significant and ongoing contact with relatives and friends “back home”. This is a Great Commission opportunity that we absolutely must not miss. If dollars can flow across the social networks, so can the gospel! Imagine the Kingdom opportunities of someone coming to faith in Jesus, while working somewhere in the world. If this new brother or sister in the faith is taught to follow the way of Jesus, equipped, and empowered, churches can then partner with and send such workers back to their peoples--not only with silver and gold, but with the pearl of great price!
Of course, such opportunities can only be realized if churches across the world begin to reach out and serve the strangers who have moved into their communities for employment. We must also realize that once they are reached with the gospel, we must model before them a simple—yet biblical—expression of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We want to avoid imparting too much of our cultural expectations on them that would make it difficult for them to evangelize and plant churches among their people when they return.
The movement of the peoples of the world provides amazing Kingdom opportunities. Joy’s article is another reminder that the Lord of the Harvest is actively at work in His world. The question remains, however, do we as followers of Jesus recognize such opportunities in the 21st century and are we willing to respond in an appropriate fashion.
J. D. Payne serves with the North American Mission Board and is an Associate Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration, and Mission (forthcoming October 2012, InterVarsity Press) and can be found online at www.jdpayne.org.