Author: Sadiri Joy Tira
Category: Media and Communications, Diasporas
From late August to early September, I was in Manila, Philippines for Lausanne business in preparation for Cape Town 2010. One of the people I met with there was Dr. Luis Pantoja Jr., a respected Filipino theologian and former Senior Pastor of Greenhills Christian Fellowship. Luis and I met over breakfast to catch up on many issues in life, ministry, and future diaspora initiatives. To be specific, we were brainstorming on developing a Filipino Diaspora Resource Centre that would serve to train Overseas Filipino Workers and provide them with evangelism tools wherever they would be deployed.
However, our vision-casting and dreaming was short-lived. A few days after our meeting, he went to Maylaysia to speak at a gathering of Asian pastors. There he had a massive heart attack. He did not survive. On September 11, 2010, his memorial service was held at Greenhills Christian Fellowship in Ortigas, Metro Manila.
Dr. Pantoja, recently addressed the Asian Theological Society during their 40th anniversary in Hong Kong (August 3-6, 2010). At this forum he proposed that formal and non-formal diaspora education be made affordable and onsite to diaspora leaders. This proposal was well-received by the Asian theological educators. Certainly, the Philippine Church has lost a shepherd, while the Global Church will miss a diaspora-theologian.
In 2004, I co-edited along with Dr. Pantoja and Dr. Enoch Wan (of Western Seminary) the book entitled Scattered: The Filipino Global Presence (see review at www.GlobalMissiology.org). Pantoja wrote chapters of the book that served as a seminal work on Diaspora Missiology, particularly in the Filipino context. His article “Formulating a Theology of the Filipino Diaspora” attempts to formulate a theological perspective on the Filipino “diaspora” (download article here). This book was given to every participant at the 2004 Lausanne Forum in Pattaya, Thailand. It is my hope that many more diaspora theologians will write and follow Pantoja’s work.
This blog is my special tribute to a pioneer of Diaspora Missiology who is also a dearly missed brother and friend. I thank God that he has become a forerunner in Heaven.
Sadiri Joy Tira (D.Min., D.Miss.) is the LCWE Senior Associate for Diasporas
 Pantoja Jr., Luis. “Formulating a Theology of the Filipino Diaspora.” In Scattered: The Filipino Global Presence, eds. L. Pantoja Jr., E., S. Tira & E. Wan, 67-97. Manila, Philippines: LifeChange Publishing Inc., 2004.