Author: Sadiri Joy Tira
If you have been following my two previous posts: The Flying Community (March 15, 2010), and The Floating Communities (April 27, 2010), I have another scenario for you.
I learned from my first geography class that there were seven continents on our planet Earth. But then in seminary, when I took a course on Strategy of Evangelism, my seminary professor and classmates never mentioned the seventh continent, Antarctica. Never! Was it because only penguins inhabit that cold planet, and penguins could not be subjects of evangelism and church growth? Now I am learning that there are people out there at the end of the globe.
Let me take you to the "ends of the earth" and give you a glimpse of the communities "out there." According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) The World Factbook, Antarctica has a land area of 14 million sq km. Though it has no indigenous inhabitants, permanent and temporary staff of research stations live there.
From CIA’S The World Factbook[i]:
In 2003, concerned for the spiritual well being of workers in Antarctica, the Russian Orthodox church sent a priest along with a group of architects to construct a flat-pack church building to the isolated continent.[ii] This Russian Orthodox church joins several other churches on the continent.[iii] There are people working and living on Antarctica – mostly scientists and explorers – but they are a community (albeit small) and just like the people on the ocean and the people in mega-cities, they have spiritual needs.
Then there is a still smaller community in Outer Space.
Space exploration continues with countries including Japan, India, China, Russia, the European Union, and the USA sending their astronauts to the stars. Private tourism promotions to far-flung places such as the moon have also begun. Christian astronauts have a special witness among the “space elite.” An example is Charles Moss Duke, Jr. (Brigadier General, USAF, Ret.), lunar module pilot of Apollo 16 who is an active Christian speaker and is president of Duke Ministry for Christ.[iv] Pray for him and the other Christian astronauts that their witness among this small and elite scientific community working in Outer Space. Pray for more Christian witness among them.
In 2010, there continues to be much talk about the “10/40 Window“ coined by Argentinean missiologist Luis Bush in 1990 to describe the “rectangular-shaped window… that extends from West Africa across Asia, between 10 degrees north to 40 degrees north of the equator” where “the core of the unreached people of our world lives”. While the 10/40 Window remains the “least unreached” part of the globe, we are living in an age during which people from everywhere are travelling beyond their places of birth. People who we used to describe missiologically as “out there” such as the Russians, the Japanese, the Chinese, and the Indians are now intermingling with fellow “people on the move” who happen to be followers of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, traditionally Christian nations such as the USA and the nations of the European Union are now composed of a mixture of Christians and non-Christians of varying religious backgrounds.
Diaspora Missiology[v] is concerned about the salvation of every person and its priority is every person who is not yet in the kingdom! If the Lausanne Movement is concerned about the Whole Church taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole World, then I must argue that we include the most isolated places where some of the loneliest, but highly influential people (who influence our ideas and our understanding of the world) in the galaxy are found (i.e. Antarctica and the Outer Space). These locations may be isolated, but there are people out there too.
So what am I proposing? How can we put Diaspora Missiology in action? Certainly, I realise that we cannot all go to Antarctica or to the Moon. Here are some practical considerations:
I think the key in Diaspora Missiology is that it realises that people are no longer stationary and that this movement of people allows for unprecedented access to mission fields “on the move” (See Samuel Escobar’s discussion of mission fields on the move in Christianity Today)[vi]; and it calls for extensive Kingdom partnerships and strategic planning and sharing of resources.
When you break it down this way, these people “out there” do not seem so unreachable.
Sadiri Joy Tira (D.Min., D.Miss.) is the Senior Associate for Diasporas of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization; the Diasporas Specialist of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada; and the International Coordinator for the Filipino International Network.
[i] “Antarctica” accessed at http://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ay.html
[ii] “Flat pack church for Russian workers” on the BBC accessed at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3154956.stm
[iii] Visit Association of Religion Data Archives at http://www.thearda.com/internationalData/countries/Country_9_1.asp for more information about religion on Antarctic.
[iv] Read Charles Duke’s testimony at http://charliedukestory.com/
[v] Visit http://www.lausanne.org/lausanne-connecting-point/2010-january.html#2 for more information on Diaspora Missiology and LCWE