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Missional Transnationals: Coming Full Circle

Author: Sadiri Joy Tira
Date: 12.10.2012
Category: Diasporas

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Originally Posted in English

I had the pleasure of representing the Jaffray Centre with its Foundations for Global Ministry series in Davao, Philippines from July 13-31, 2012.  I taught two courses -- one team-taught with Dr. Charles Cook of Ambrose University College & Seminary at Christian Colleges of Southeast Asia-Alliance Graduate School (CCSA-AGS), and then solo, teaching Issues in 21st Century Christian Mission at Koinonia Theological Seminary (KTS).  My hosts while in Davao were members of the Ang family, a Chinese-Filipino family who like me, are Canadian citizens.

The first generation of Angs had left the Philippines at the height of the Marcos Martial Law.  Disillusioned by the political situation in their homeland, Mr. & Mrs. Michael Ang Sr. had left their thriving business in the Philippines to settle down in Canada.  They quickly set up shop in Canada, and slowly and steadily grew their Canadian business venture.  Their children were raised in Western Alberta and were university educated in the Canadian system.  Decades after setting roots in Canada, Mr. & Mrs. Ang, along with their grown children, and grandchildren, have embarked on an international missions initiative that crosses Philippine and Canadian borders. They operate in both the Philippines and Canada, simultaneously.

I was encouraged by the Ang’s initiative of providing Filipinos with quality theological education via Canadian theological educators, and hosting visiting professors like myself during their teaching ministries in  their Davao City home.  I was also quite intrigued by their weekly tradition of hosting Wednesday night dinners for distinguished members of the Davao City community for the purpose of outreach.  In the Philippines it is very difficult to reach the upper echelon of society, and the Angs have been hosting hundreds of people weekly, in their own natural way for close to twenty years.   The global scope of their missions as a family is most inspiring, and only eternity will reveal the impact of their hospitality.

As you can see, the Ang family is a diaspora family who has come "full circle" -- from leaving the Philippines to returning to their homeland to "make a difference", while all along keeping their Canadian roots.  Their missions activity is what I would call transnational, or transcending national borders.

The Angs are members of a growing group of, what my mentor, former International Director of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Dr. Ted Yamamori, refers to as "missional transnationals."  In May 2012, while visiting Ukraine for the opening of the Diaspora Centre at the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary (UETS), I asked Dr. Yamamori what he meant by the "missional transnationals". His reply was, "I do not know exactly, but if I find some time in the future, I will write about this subject. So why don’t you write about it now?" My response was, " I have no idea if there are people who already are writing about this missional transnationals, but I will attempt to describe what we both mean."

The term "transnationalism" is a term originally used to describe a part of the globalization process in economics, referring to the removal of barriers to free trade and closer integration of national economies (Stiglitz).  Geographers, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists were quick to adopt the term.  The term developed by social anthropologist, Nina Glick-Schiller, transmigrant referring to "persons who, having migrated from one nation-state to another, live their lives across borders, participating simultaneously in social relations that embed them in more than one nationstate" (2003:105) is in line with what we are discussing in this post.  Further refined by sociologists, Luis Eduardo Guarnizo, Alejandro Portes, and William Haller, transnationals are "a new class of immigrants, economic entrepreneurs or political activists who conduct cross-border activities on a regular basis."  

Keywords: education, diasporas, transnational, transnationalism, Missional Transnational, angExchange, Ambrose University College

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PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down glandrum (1)
United States

The Angs are an inspiration to all humankind. Their generosity and hospitality have affected so many people on the global stage. There can be no measure for them affording people in their homeland quality theological education. The possibility of the change manifested through one person and through discipleship to reach others in teaching and participation in missions is priceless.


08.12.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down HLMissionary (1)
United States

Reaching back to the home place to make a difference - that is what transnational missionaries do. (Plus many others who return to their growing up community within the same country.) 

Add to this, the concept of just doing the natural, hospitable thing of having weekly dinners shows us the power of "meal ministry" as Jesus, our Lord, certainly showed us.

Missions can be so simple, but the love of God/Christ must be the motivating element. And that love is pure, simple, and shows through our actions, if we really take seriously our Christian discipleship.


08.10.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down moviepastor (2)
United States

Our church was able to host a family of 6 from Mexico for three years. This family came to America on a short term vacation visa and ended up staying for around 8 years. The last three years of their stay is when they connected with our church. We  ministered to that family with housing and Christian fellowship. They served our church faithfully and grew in their faith in Jesus. Last year they decided, because of economic reasons, they needed to return to Mexico. Right now, they are serving in a local church and ministering to their people from a strength and a position that gives them great influence for God. 


20.02.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down ajlt34 (2)
United States
@ moviepastor:

That is a great story thanks for sharing!  The Bible talks about going into the world but God has made it so much easier.  God is bringing the world to our front door.  God will bless if we are faithful.


26.03.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down ki_ki2013 (2)
United States

I like the simplicity of this article. The concept just makes perfect sense. If only we could truly embrace the concept. We join ministries so that we can become better, only we never leave out of the church walks to go back home and retrieve those in need of care and/or the gospel. Such a simple concept, yet so easily missed. Good article.


24.03.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down ajlt34 (2)
United States
@ ki_ki2013:

I agree.  I am ministerting to a teen right now who has a very difficult homelife.  I tell her that Jesus loves her but my life is easy.  Why would she believe me when I live so good and her life is miserable?  I have to practice what I preach.  I have to take action.  We all have to make an effort to make a difference.  There are hurting people everywhere.  God make me available for more than just talk.  Please help me put feet to my words!


26.03.2013
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Adnahsar (1)
United States

The idea of "missional transnationals" is not new to me, but to see it all laid out like this is new to me. I wonder how this could possibly apply to Americans who have been here for many generations who then go to other countries as missionaries and then return. Many often make a lifetime commitment to going to other countries for extended periods of time and then coming home to share and inspire others to do the same. As there are places here in the U.S. that need mission workers.


28.11.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down soulsearcher1022 (4)
United States
@ Adnahsar:

Great perspective. I think this article provides valuable insight on how missionaries that travel to foreign countries can return home and provide a blessing to their own culture. 


07.12.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down corenfa (0)
United States
@ Adnahsar:

Good point.  I think that there are also many churches who need the perspective that missionaries bring back with them.  We all could use it!


10.12.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down corenfa (0)
United States

This, to me, is the beauty of Missions.  We can all learn so much from each other.  The perspective we gain from other cultures will generally be invaluable to our communities wherever we are from! 


10.12.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down soulsearcher1022 (4)
United States

I love how you provide a clear example of how a family has taken what they’ve learned from one culture and used this as a blessing for their own home culture. 


07.12.2012
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 1 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Cody_Lorance (13)   
United States

Good word, brother.  Perhaps this concept of missional transnationalism shall become a new normal - so long as it differentiated from missionary tourism.  


20.11.2012

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

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