Autor: Carolyn Kemp
To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.
Following on from Sadiri Joy Tira’s "Regions Beyond"
Diaspora ministry is not new to OMF International. When the western missionary force was no longer welcome in China in the early 1950s, the China Inland Mission (CIM) felt led of the Lord to re-deploy their missionaries (OMF) to places in East Asia, first to reach the Chinese Diaspora scattered around East Asia and ultimately to other East Asian peoples. In the 1980s OMF realized in part the strategic opportunity that God was providing, but in the last 12 years OMF has been aware of a growing and exciting movement of God amongst the Diaspora peoples globally. In 2008 OMF International took the step of appointing our first truly global borderless Field as a Mission: the Diaspora Ministries Field. It is considered one of five major strategic focuses for OMF International as a mission. God is at work and we want to be where He is, and He is most definitely working within East Asians Diaspora communities, both in East Asia and around the world.
God has given OMF the incredible privilege of being able to touch East Asian peoples in many strategic places in the world. With OMF bridging both home and host countries the distance has shrunk. There are over 80 million East Asians scattered globally. With these immense Diaspora communities being in constant motion, it is important to use this possibly limited window of opportunity by responsibly linking East Asians going abroad with Diaspora personnel and Returnees with Asia field workers.
Our hearts beat for the neglected frontier of East Asia’s Diaspora peoples. Our concentration is upon the first generation from among these communities who will return to their home country with a passion to share their faith in Christ with their own people.
We evangelize East Asians passionately desiring to see them come to Christ, knowing His power, embracing a biblical worldview and turning their backs on the worship of false gods. We disciple them in the faith, seeing people being transformed by the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit as they study the word of God and interact with fellow believers. In equipping them for ministry, we want to see them having a Kingdom mentality and a missional lifestyle (Col. 1:9‐14).
We will seek to equip these Returnees to share Christ, serve in the local church and model Christ likeness, thereby being involved in establishing vibrant churches and fellowships, which will reproduce themselves. Many East Asians whom we will reach may never return to their home countries. However they will reach out to their own people in their host countries. We will seek to instill in this group a deep burden and vision for their returnee brothers and sisters (Eph 4:13‐16).
East Asian believers who have had a cross‐cultural Diaspora experience need to see themselves as part of the universal body of Christ. As they discover the blessing of being part of this global church of Jesus, we will seek to equip them to reach out in mission to both Asian and non‐Asian unreached people groups.
We equip other Christians to do the same; investing in individuals, local churches and organizations in order to facilitate them in reaching East Asians. We provide training to increase awareness and effectiveness in discipling and training East Asians for service in their home country. We work very closely with our Asian Fields, for example Japan to network and facilitate our East Asian friends being connected and networked when they return home.
OMF Diaspora Ministries works in 11 countries worldwide: USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Japan and Taiwan. (In 2012 we will increase this into 3 other countries globally, some in Africa) We have 62 full time workers (all with many years of experience in language and culture of their specific people group) and 30+ key co-workers. We work amongst 7 people groups: Mainland Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipinos and Indonesians. (In 2012 we will increase this to take on another 3 East Asian people groups.)
It has meant a paradigm shift in many areas for us as a mission to go from one focused geographically on East Asia for 145 years, to face head on the challenges of going to a borderless global field. The flexibility needed to work in the complex arena of Diaspora is a challenging one. We continue to flex with the constant changes and challenges presented to us on the global arena … these impact us at every level as an Field: in maintaining a sharp Strategic Focus, areas of Member Care when our workers are spread globally, and not least the needs we see outweighing the workers we have… it has also mean a greater need for flexibility within OMF as this new field crosses borders and brings strategic direction to something that has not been strategic in the past. Change is challenging…
But the bigger question is about being willing to go where God is working, not just geographically but in the models we are willing to pursue for the sake of the gospel. OMF International appointed the Diaspora Ministries Field because this was the best way in which to ensure Strategic Intentional Leadership dedicated to the Diaspora context – thinking full-time on reaching the Diaspora East Asians around the world. We are seeing much fruit and any challenges we face are worth it, to see the Harvest that God is reaping by His grace.
Carolyn Kemp is the Diaspora Ministries Field Director for OMF International.