Author: Sadiri Joy Tira
As I travel, I am meeting more and more people who are committed to reaching the Scattered Peoples. Some are actively involved in raising awareness, motivating, and mobilising people to take part in Diaspora missions. I like to call them "Diaspora Champions" -- Kingdom Workers who "champion" the cause of Diaspora Missiology.
Recently I had the privilege of reading the account of one "Diaspora Champion", Brian Considine. I think that it is inspiring and have asked for his permission to publish it here.
How I became a Diaspora Champion
By Brian Considine
You know how you know something but not really “get it?” It seems like a fairly common malady of us humans which is probably why the Lord often needs to repeat himself and frequently remind us “I am Lord!” You would think we would get it the first time, right? Oh, if that only were true.
In 2001, the Lord called me from marketplace to ministry with Concerts of Prayer Greater New York in the “Capital of the World.” My assignment was prayer and leadership mobilization. New York City, as you may know, is a wonderful mix of many different cultures and ethnicities and like many mega-cities today a ripe international harvest field. In one zip code in Queens, over 170 languages are spoken. Not long after starting with COPGNY, I recall distinctly a conversation with a friend who was just heading off to the “foreign mission field.” Standing in our church lobby one Sunday morning, I commented to my missionary friend: “you know, you don’t need to leave New York City to complete the Great Commission – God has brought the nations to us!” I thought it was an astute observation but as I recall my friend wasn’t too happy with my comment.
Looking back, I confess that I honestly had little idea what I was saying. I didn’t really “get it.” I had very limited knowledge at the time of the task remaining. I had little idea about the more than 6700 Unreached People Groups still without the knowledge of who Jesus is for them. I know I had no depth of understanding about what was required to complete the Great Commission. Of course, I had no knowledge of how the intervening years would lead up to today. Nor that I would in July 2005 move to McKinney, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. McKinney clearly wasn’t a bastion for cross-culture mission opportunity, although I jokingly thought of myself as a cross-cultural missionary – New Yorker living in Texas!
My heart was captured for God’s mission in the world and for Unreached People Groups (UPGs), when in the Spring of 2008 I first took the Perspectives Study Program. I had been in ministry, privileged to be part of some exciting projects, launched a global prayer initiative but looking back I know I didn’t really “get it” before completing Perspectives. I really didn’t understand the mission of God. That is a common experience of other leaders I know who have taken this missional formation course as well. There isn’t a finer equipping ministry for understanding the Grand Narrative of Scripture and how God is working from Genesis to Revelation to establish for himself a people from every nation, tribe and tongue. I finally understood how what I had uttered in 2001 was partially true, but I had yet to grasp the depth of that idea. I certainly didn’t know where the Lord would lead next.
In April 2011, I was in the middle of coordinating another Perspectives semester when one early Friday morning I went outside to a neighbor’s home. They were having a yard sale and as I looked around the Lord opened my eyes to who was there – the “nations!” There was an African woman with her little girl, a South Asian (possibly Pakistani), an East Asian (possibly Chinese), a Middle Eastern person (possibly Muslim), and Hispanics. I uttered, “Wow, Lord, you have brought the nations to my neighborhood.” Right here in McKinney, God had brought the “nations,” well at least a cross section of peoples groups from around the world. I certainly had no idea how that Friday morning, on the street where I lived, would shape the balance of the year ahead.
When I was asked to join the City/Communities team for Mission America Coalition (MAC) -- U.S. Lausanne Committee in the Summer of 2011, I didn’t understand the connection between MAC and Perspectives. The completion of the Great Commission is foundational to MAC’s mission and since 1994 MAC has championed evangelism and cityreaching in U.S. cities. But admittedly we had done so without the “nations” focus that Perspectives teaches. On the other hand Perspectives was primarily focused on frontier missions. Of course, it was only at Capetown 2010 and Orlando 2011 that diaspora missions really appeared on our Evangelical radar in any significant way. The modern diaspora had started at least three decades before Diaspora became a hot topic for missiologists. Sometimes, collectively, we just don’t “get it” either. But, with respect to my assignment with MAC, what does reaching our cities for Christ have to do with reaching the “nations?” As it turned out – everything!
In September 2011, after officially starting with MAC and just prior to speaking to a local Pastors group about Perspectives, I had another close encounter of the “nations” kind. While shopping one day, I learned my cashier was from Egypt, was nominally Hindu, her parent’s faith, and believed all religions lead to the same place. Standing behind me in the check-out line was an Asian-Indian couple. I had been asked to speak to these Pastors about Perspectives but was told I needed to relate my message to their work in our city. The Lord gave me what I needed. My comment to the Pastors was: “you don’t need to leave McKinney to reach the nations; the Lord has brought the nations here!” The question I asked next was: “do we understand the strategic opportunity before us?” I was “getting it” but the next year would make thing even clearer.
In the preceding year the Lord has led me, as my friend Joy Tira says, to become a “Diaspora champion.” It certainly wasn’t my intention but it has become an unmistakable calling. And I can’t think of anything I would rather be doing today toward serving God’s global cause to fill the earth with his glory. This past year, I have been blessed to be part of some new diaspora initiatives as the Lord continues to lead and bring clarity. The Diasporas represent a strategic opportunity to work with and through these scattered peoples for the completion of the Great Commission. The Joshua Project lists over 170 People Groups who are classified as Unreached in the U.S., many from countries of the 10/40 Window that are considered “Closed” to the Gospel. The Lord has literally brought the nations to us!
Cross-cultural mission no longer means only going around the world, although that is still urgently required. It may mean we can go across the street. But are we ready? Are we prepared to embrace the diaspora peoples the Lord has brought to us? Does the local church recognize the opportunity before us? We are starting to but not nearly enough yet. That is the challenge that is before us. As a mobilizer my mission and vision is to see the Church recognize what the Lord is doing in bringing us the nations and respond with his love. Now that I do “get it,” well at least more than I previously have, I want to help others to understand too.
That’s how I became a “Diaspora champion,” glory to God! We now need Diaspora Champions in every city, every church, people who understand the times and know what to do. The harvest has come to our cities – how will we respond?
Brian Considine serves with the Mission America Coalition (U.S. Lausanne Committee) as the State Facilitator for Texas and with the Perspectives Study Program as the Area Mobilizer for North Texas. Brian helped to launch the DFW Diaspora Alliance and the MAC CityRreaching Diaspora initiative in 2012. In October, 2012 MAC will release a new resource called Ethnic Embrace USA – Blessing the Nations Among Us – a 40 Day Prayer Journey developed by Brian. You can email Brian at Brian.Considine@Perspectives.org
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).