Autor: Sadiri Joy Tira
Category: Medios y Comunicación, Diáspora
Thirty-six years ago when my wife and I were young and still dating, we were physically separated for two years because of our job assignments -- we were both pursuing our own careers as engineer and nurse respectively. We did not have the communication gadgets that young lovers have today. Our telephone calls were very rare because overseas long-distance would have consumed our monthly salaries! There were also no fax machines and certainly no personal computers. So how did we communicate? Via long hand, stamps, brown envelops, via the telegram --- the old Morse code!
Amazing! Today, lovers write each other via emails, call each other via Skype, see each other via the web-cam, and even have “real time” contact with twitter and facebook!
Today, we even see cyber dating! Spouse to find by e-mail! I wonder how many lonely (or busy!) men and women are dating in our cyber world? I imagine millions! Thousands of these cyber dates have resulted in actual marriage! Thanks to technological advances in communication and travel.
As an example, in December 2009, Minda Cabilao-Valencia, Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO)) deputy executive director, was quoted saying “an average of 24,000 Filipinos leave the country annually to get married abroad… 20 percent admitted meeting their future spouses through the Internet… Internet has become a common mode of meeting a foreign spouse since the start of 2000…”
Some of these lovers are actually religious people. When they do migrate to join their loved one, their culture and religion travels with them.
So what are some of the missiological implications? Let me suggest two.
1. If one is a "Christian" he/she will likely influence the other or vise versa, depending on who is dominant and who is nominal. The Christian then can be an agent of change, and will lead the other spouse to his or her side of faith. Their children will also likely be influenced by the dominant partner. Thus infusing faith into the new family that is most of the time cross-cultural."
2. The receiving community of Believers should be on the look out for such cross-cultural marriages that developed in cyberspace. Counseling, cultural orientation, and hospitality must be extended to the couple and family.
Having said all this, I must clarify. In no way am I advocating the practice of "missionary dating" (although I have heard reports of some religious people who are using online dating and marriage as a strategy for proselytising). I would not endorse Christians dating online (or "on site" for that matter) with the purpose of conversion. What I would like to draw attention to is the fact that people are, in these times, dating online; that many of these people are "religious", some are even professing Christians; and that some of these online romances lead to marriage and migration. My point is that churches should be intentional and strategic at reaching out to these couples as they have specific needs.
There are varying cases of online dating resulting in marriage and migration. Here are but a few examples:
-Indonesian women (from "Muslim" background) marrying Dutch men (nominal Christian);
-Filipino (devout Catholics) marrying Italian (nominal Catholics);
-Pakistani men (Muslim) marrying Canadian women (Christian);
-Nepali men (Hindu) marrying Korean women (Christian);
-Chinese women (Agnostic) marrying Israeli men (Jewish);
-Thai women (Buddhist) marrying American men (Christian);
-Bosnian men (nominal Muslim) marrying 2nd Generation Canadian Uygher women (nominal Muslim).
-2nd Generation French Vietnamese men (nominal Catholic) marrying Vietnamese women (Protestant).
-Nigerian men (Christian) marrying British women (nominal Christian).
Whatever the mix, we all need Jesus Christ, and marriage as it often does, particularly marriages that result in the physical upheavals of MIGRATION amidst cross-cultural differences, pronounces our need for our Saviour.
Modern communication and travel go hand in hand in propelling the diaspora of people. Internet dating and even “internet” and “phone marriages” giving rise to migration as new couples meet are gaining popularity. Lausanne Diasporas seeks opportunities to take the Whole Gospel to this growing sector of “people on the move.”
 Philippine Star, “More Pinoys going abroad to find partner “ by Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) Updated December 02, 2009 accessed at http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleid=528646, October 13, 2010.
 See BBC’s “Can you get married over the phone” as an example of modern innovations in Muslim marriage http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8608878.stm
*Sadiri Joy Tira (D.Min., D.Miss.) is the LCWE Senior Associate for Diasporas.
**Photo: Flickr: Jonathan_W