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The Diaspora Dollar

Author: Sadiri Joy Tira
Date: 28.02.2012
Category: Diasporas

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Originally Posted in English

There is a myth that diaspora people, migrant workers in particular, are poor and are a big burden to their host nations.  Nationals all too often view them as plunderers of resources, and usurpers of local-born labourers.  Contrary to this popular but strong assumption is that many migrant workers build infrastructures and invest in the local economies of their host nations.  Just visit the oil-rich Arabian Gulf states.  Who do you think built these countries?  These economic migrants come from all over the world – from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and even American continents, to build roads and buildings of all shapes and sizes.  Furthermore, let’s think of the medical professionals, business people, company executives, etc. who have travelled to the West to supplement Western societies with their expertise.  They are often the backbone of industries and many (though unfortunately, not all) are compensated well. 

Dispel the myth that diasporas are a financial burden – they are working, living, and naturally spending in their host countries – stimulating their economies.  I live near West Edmonton Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping centres and see the migrant workers there relaxing in the evenings and on the weekends obviously stimulating the Edmonton economy! 

However, while working, living, and spending overseas, migrant workers are sending money home.  In December 2011, the World Bank reported $351 billion in official migrant worker flows to developing countries in 2011.  The top recipients of officially recorded remittances were India ($58 billion), China ($57 billion), Mexico ($24 billion) and the Philippines ($23 billion).  Other top recipients were Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Vietnam, Egypt and Lebanon.  I quote the World Bank: “For the first time since the global financial crisis, remittance flows to all six developing regions rose” (TWB, Migration and Development Brief 17, Dec. 1, 2011).  Their dollars are sent home to families for the education of their loved ones, to invest in real estate, to assist in developing the agriculture in their communities, to buy vehicles and build houses for their families, to support their local schools and healthcare initiatives.  Remittances are sent home for relief work, and emergency assistance.  Migrant worker dollars are received in their home countries and are used for needs as well as leisure – check out what their dollars buy at the shopping centres and markets of their homelands!  Migrant worker dollars are also being sent home to their “spiritual homes” – their temples and churches, to their spiritual leaders, to their missionaries, and to their medical and dental missions, etc. 

Do not get me wrong; I am not saying that individual migrant workers are well to do.  Most have sacrificed proximity to loved ones just to help make ends meet.  I am talking about diaspora peoples as collective groups – the power of their collective dollars.  The migrant workers are in fact major contributors to their homelands and to their host nations abroad.

So what is my point?  My point is that the migrant worker dollar is powerful.  I’m not even touching on the diaspora community in general (which would include permanent immigrants, naturalized citizens, and even Second Generation immigrants who still support the homeland through remittances).  I’m just talking about the billions of dollars that are sent home by the migrant workers.  If you think about this huge number, you cannot help but think of missiological implications for the diaspora church.

Keywords: Lausanne, diaspora, OMF, Sadiri Joy Tira, giving, networks, partnership, generosity, migrant worker, stewardship, mission, sacrifice

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PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down llkid (0)
United States

This article makes a good point regarding migrants. 
Is thre a difference in how we view migrants and immigrants?   During the recent news coverage of the children  crossing into the southern US over the border...this question was posed. 

So does our vision change, does the value of the person change dependant on their reasons for re-locating?    

Do Diaspora missions offer the same to a wealthy business man as they do to a poor Mexican teen?  
There seems to a drive to meet the intial physical needs?  But...what if they are rich and we are needed---is there still relationship and a real attempt to have the rich immigrant join in the fellowship?


22.10.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down lsmith33 (0)
United States

I am so thankful for the challenge you present to look at diaspora people groups as more than a drain on the economy. Such views, as others have stated, most often come from a lack of understanding or an improper perspective. In the US, Christians tend to connect faith and patriotism, instead of prioritizing faith first. When we do this, we have a colonial view of faith. Your article challenges us to view our faith from a kingdom perspective. When the look at the church as belonging to God and as the whole body of God’s people, instead of as the property of our nation or culture, we begin to understand the value of all of God’s people. When we recognize the value of the people of the diaspora church as God’s people, we come to understand the importance of investing and discipling those people. Helping them be good stewards of the money they earn, to use it for the expansion of the kingdom is just one residual side effect of investing in these people. When we invest in believers living among us, we also invest in those who they may be sending money back to. 


30.09.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Pastor_George (1)
United States

I think the tendency for people to label groups as burdens when there is a limited knowledge of those people.  They are ostracized for being themselves and different from the status quo. As I reflect with my new found understanding of diaspora, I remember when I worked at Sears. I distinctly remember when I encounters certain customers of different nationalities I would notice they banded together to make purchases. It was like they own economical understanding and it worked well for them. Although these people have a tight network. The Christian community must strive to build relationships with these people.


30.04.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down TCoker (1)
United States

Thank you for the positivity you bring to immigrants. They are often given a bad rap for one reason or another. I have often found that people are negative towards things that they do not understand. I hope that this article will shed light on the benefits immigrants can bring to a country. I pray that people will be open to building relationships with immigrants and use it as an opportunity to share God’s love with them. We can learn a lot from them when we stop closing them off and embrace them into our country and into our lives.


21.04.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down PastorSteve (1)
United States
@ TCoker:

Tabitha, let me try to take that a step farther. Truly embracing immigrant populations, for what we can do for them and what they can do for us and others, will only occur when we view them from a kingdom perspective. I tend to believe that our personal and corporate problems with immigrants are due to secular perspectives of what they take away from us. 


Once we can change our mindset to see them as God would, and as potential solutions for missional efforts, then we will see them as they are. And them we will see them for their value. And them we will see them for their worth in the eyes of God. And then we might even stop referring to immigrants as "them"! At least, maybe I will!


27.04.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down glandrum (1)
United States

Thank you for information and for another avenue in which to view migrant workers’ contributions. I can feel your passion for dispelling falsehoods through this convincing article that literally leapt off the page. What a difference everyone could make in becoming more mission-conscious and utilizing our resources to not only stimulate economies, but to facilitate change through the Great Commission. Thank you for sharing.


09.12.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down more0525 (1)
United States

This article was fascinating to me. There has been so much controversy on migrate worker and the money that is generating in the US and in other countries. But what was most interesting to me was the information on the amount of dollars migrant workers produce and send home to their families to develop their education, economics, agriculture and community development. The thing that impresses me most about this article is that these workers are looking out for the betterment of their own communities and country. This is a different ideal from the US.  Many times our mentality is to take care of ourselves instead of looking out for the entire community. This article should make us take a second look at the mission and the money of the migrant worker.


26.03.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down ki_ki2013 (2)
United States

This article is amazing to me. To see the impact the migrant workers make in sending funding back to their homes is staggering! I couldn’t help but wonder, what is it that we as the church are missing out on, as giving back often seems to be such a task....again, what is the perspective of giving and how is it being presented? Why is it that those who seem to have what we deem as so little, make the most impact?


24.03.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down ajlt34 (2)
United States
@ ki_ki2013:

Sometimes I think we the church forget the basics.  If we could recognize daily the AMAZING LOVE Christ has for us and His ultimate gift then every Christian would be jumping to serve the Lord!


26.03.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down ajlt34 (2)
United States

I love this article.  It is nice to hear positive words about immigrants.  I have been in contact with several immigrants.  the families I am familiar with work very hard and send money back home to support the one’s they left behind.  Rather than griping about immigration we need to look at immigration as an opportunity to reach lost souls for Christ. 


26.03.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down akarnett (3)
United States

Wow Dr. Tira, those are truly some staggering amounts of remittances generated by migrants. With such a broadly diverse group being responsible for said amounts, the challenge/opportunity is around the development of strategies which promote stewardship, yet in a culturally sensitive/intelligent manner. Any ideas as to how a missions strategy toward effective stewardship education can be developed, distributed and implemented? The cultural sensitivity is key in this process given the historical missions reality and perception of migrants and other so called ’minority peoples’ being ’dictated to’ by missionaries.


23.04.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down tgraham (5)
United States
@ akarnett:

You are correct.  Perceptions are an essential factor in assessing behavior.  The financial support generated by the "mixed ethne" may affect the contributions to mission to the disapora.  Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to dismiss negative memories of the past oppression from missionaries. I will pray that the Lord will supply all the financial support required to satisfy the need among scattered people.


27.04.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down akarnett (3)
United States
@ tgraham:

I agree! Interestingly enough, I am intrigued by the numbers of Americans who have ’migrated’ to places like Charlotte, and may be somewhat lost in terms of being separated from their upbringing in the midwest, northeast, west coast, deeper south etc. I nwonder are there ways that we can ensure that we are helping to get them in fellowship if they are already saved--and to build enough of a relationship to create an environment that leads them to salvation if they are not saved?


27.04.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down tgraham (5)
United States
@ akarnett:

Akarnett, there are many cultures represented among those who have migrated to our area from various nations. One of the obvious barriers to effective evangelism is communication. Language is a challenge when we are without translators.  The Hispanic population may be easier to reach because there are so many who are bi-lingual. I feel sure that there are many who would be receptive to our ministries, if there were no language barriers.


29.04.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down zephora_waiters (4)
United States
@ akarnett:

I


I like your perspective as to the definition of a “displaced people”.  People within our own country will feel culture shock moving from a rural to an urban environment, from the Northern regions to the Southern regions, from the Midwest to the East Coast, etc.  Those people are a group that should be reached out to in light of the fact that church growth and mission outreach is on the decline here in the West.  If we follow Paul’s mission strategy we should begin interculturally and expand from there.  Also, someone who themselves feels displaced can minister to those from other parts of the world who are also displaced.


30.04.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down zephora_waiters (4)
United States
@ akarnett:

I like your perspective as to the definition of a “displaced people”.  People within our own country will feel culture shock moving from a rural to an urban environment, from the Northern regions to the Southern regions, from the Midwest to the East Coast, etc.  Those people are a group that should be reached out to in light of the fact that church growth and mission outreach is on the decline here in the West.  If we follow Paul’s mission strategy we should begin interculturally and expand from there.  Also, someone who themselves feels displaced can minister to those from other parts of the world who are also displaced.


30.04.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down p_a_m_1_e_l_a (7)
United States
@ tgraham:

I will join you in praying that the needs get met for the scattered people. Also, let’s take it a step further, that Christian resouces will contribute to the diaspora dollar, especially in are local areas. In addition, I believe we need to learn from the diaspora people how to effectively do this afterall they have the experience- in other words the expertise.


23.06.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down p_a_m_1_e_l_a (7)
United States
@ akarnett:

Welcoming the diaspora people is key and I do believe it is the host community’s, especially Christians’ responsibility to reach out with the love of Christ and if done correctly all are enriched both locally and abroad. I caution we must be patient in developing relationships and we must not only invite to our church and events, but participate in theirs.


23.06.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down p_a_m_1_e_l_a (7)
United States
@ tgraham:

I agree language can be and is one of the major barriers. I wonder how many of us who only speak English are willing to invest the time in learing a new language to reach diaspora people. I am not being unrealistic or anything or super spiritual by any means, but I think language wise we can get a translator- Speaking in Tongues-the people heard the wonderful works of God in their own language- ACTS chapter two- My point God can make it happen- Let us keep reaching out!!


23.06.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down dg8074 (2)
United States
@ akarnett:

Edward, you make a great point.  In many cases, I think migrants can be so focused on their work and supporting their families that perhaps they have little time for Godly relationships.  Unfortunatey, language barriers often prevent us from communicating the gospel message with them.  A possible answer though, may be to reach out to those farmers and landowners who employ migrant workers.  In doing so, it may be possible to establish bible study opportunities or even witness opportunities for those who can communicate it back to them.  In turn, they could then communicate it with their families or other workers. 


12.11.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down soulsearcher1022 (4)
United States
@ p_a_m_1_e_l_a:

I agree. This is such an important and growing area to pray for, diaspora peoples.


08.12.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down soulsearcher1022 (4)
United States
@ p_a_m_1_e_l_a:

I agree with your idea of mutual participation. It’s imperative that we also extend ourselves to being willing to participate in their cultural events.


08.12.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down soulsearcher1022 (4)
United States

You pose some excellent questions about how these migrant workers are being taught and trained to manage their resources into supporting the advancement of God’s Kingdom.


08.12.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Adnahsar (1)
United States

It seems that perhaps the cheif complaint of people born in a nation of migrant people is supported with the fact that they are using money that could be used in the country they are earning the money in for a country that they come from. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this and I know that in most countries where the migrant workers traveled from their dollar goes further than it would in the country they work in. There seems to be high amounts of money flowing out of the countries that employ migrant workers and not much flowing back in. How does this effect the community that the migrant workers are living in? How can they be directed to contribute some of that to the mission field? Can they be trained to be "missional transnationals" as you described in another post?


29.11.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down zephora_waiters (4)
United States
@ Adnahsar:

They do contribute to the economy of their host country because they are a much needed work force and they buy food, clothes, pay rent and utilities.  They don’t live for free.  The host countries are usually very blessed financially and do not feel the lost of this money that is so needed elsewhere.  In spite of our present economic crisis here in the US "Black Friday" still resulted in huge profits for retailers. We can afford whatever funds may be lost due to these workers having to support their families abroad.  And we must remember when we bless others we ourselves are blessed in return.


30.11.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down KayHB (2)
United States

You are spot on with your comments about missiological guidance.  I wish there were resources to minister to disapora groups about money, safety, etc.  I know the churches in our area try to help, but I believe more interaction is needed.  If we could perhaps combine our on services with that of other populations that would create an instant bond and friendship.  Right now,  we have services throughout the city in other languages but I see now reaching out.  This is not a criticism.  Churches are trying their best.  But maybe the answer is as simple as just making a new friend in a diaspora population.  Many times the best answers are the simplest.


12.11.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down dg8074 (2)
United States
@ KayHB:

I agree.  As I see all the migrant workers around my community, I wonder how to best reach out to them.  We have many within walking distance of my own church yet we have limited means of reaching out to them.  We have attempted to, but do not know the language well enough to answer questions or engage in meaningful conversation.  Perhaps the answer is to partner with diaspora churches and lend help in reaching out via translators or other means of outreach.  The numbers are staggering when we consider how many migrant people there are and the monetary figures presented in this article should identify the impact that they can have on spreading the gospel.  Friendship will go a long way in building better communities as well as spreading the gospel message.


12.11.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down brother_edward (1)
United States

Dear brother Tira,

your points are clear, and we must realize that foreigners work in other countries because they are important to that economy somehow. Of course, on the other hand they have the benefit of having a place to work too, which not always is possible in their own country. One point i would like to ask your opinion is if most of the time these workers are so focused in making money to help their families (in and out the country they live) that the notion of relationship with God is far away. Supousing you agree with me, what could be a good way to bring these people to Christ?


07.10.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down p_a_m_1_e_l_a (7)
United States

Thanks for the education. Reading this article was truly a learning exprerience. I think about the sacrifice the diaspora people make to take care of there family and all that goes with it and they still have the mindset of generosity. They truly use their resources wisely. I am also encouraged and challenged by this article - I ask myself- what part of my resources are a di and aspora dollar?


23.06.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down akarnett (3)
United States

Dr. Tira, given such huge amounts of migrants and dollars, how do we go about developng, distributing and implementing a culturally intelligent strategy of promoting effective stewardship?


23.04.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down zephora_waiters (4)
United States

Hello Dr. Tira,

Yes these myths about migrant workers are strong in the minds of many host nations. As usual these “labels” such as poor, plunderers, financial burdens, and job stealers separate us from these people who are fathers, caregivers, wives, children of God, the people that we are also.  I too, have noticed the strong financial responsibility many people of the Diaspora have toward their homelands.  What a far reaching missiological path that could be created if God’s word would follow the money to other nations.  The Diaspora people send money in order to better the lives of those in their homeland. Once they have become disciples would they also be eager to better the spiritual lives of those they care for.  From a missiological perspective this presents an opportunity to reach out to the world with those who are already apart of the culture they represent. 

As host nations we MUST move pass labels and reach out to this segment of humanity by building relationships and meeting needs in order to demonstrate God’s love instead of the world’s hate.  Once they see the good in us instead of the selfishness in us they too can reach out to those in their homelands from a spiritual as well as financial perspective. Thank you for challenging our stereotypes and changing our focus so that we can appreciate the power of a people. 


14.03.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down C-STEP (1)
South Africa

Dear brother Dr Sadiri
Thank you for your inspiring words. I’ve been working among poeple from African dispora in Cape Town, South Africa, since 2002. Onece they come to a commitment with the Lord we emphasize the need of commitment towards mission work. Together we read news from different mission projects around the world and we pray for missionaries we know.
It is important for those who work in a diaspora mission context to think of ways to help them to be good stewards of the sources that God gives them.
Keep your good work.
Love in Christ,
Rev G. A. Rios


29.02.2012

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PhContributeBy Sadiri ’Joy’ Tira 
 
Location: Edmonton
Country: Canada

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