Diaspora Missions: People on the Move in the Borderless World
In 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) declared that year to be the Year of the Migrants.
The 21st century world, a world that the Creator-Redeemer God loves, is a different world from 2,000 years ago when the Apostle John wrote, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only one, the only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV).
To be an effective herald of Jesus Christ, I must continue to understand and learn about the world in which I live. The world I live in seems “borderless”—interconnected by technology and traversed by millions of migrants and travellers.
Three books have helped me understand our current context:
The Borderless World by Kenichi Ohmae
Economist Ohmae describe how business can be done transcending time and space. In the business world, business is conducted simultaneously globally and locally, hence, GLOCAL.
Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future by Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron, Meera Balarajan
The title of this book clearly suggests that ordinary migrants have shaped the world and will continue to chart the future, including global demography, economy, labour, and even transnational security.
Connectography: Mapping The Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
MIT professor Alex Pentland writes:
Connectography gives the reader an amazing new perspective on human society, bypassing the timeworn categories and frameworks... It shows us a view of our world as a living thing that really exist: the flow of people, ideas, and materials that constitute our constantly evolving reality... A must read for anyone who wants to understand the future of humanity.
If we are to be effective witnesses of Jesus Christ and heralds of the gospel, we must understand our times and the people around and beyond us. We are living in a world of rapid mobility and technology interdependency.
In our world shaped by multiculturalism and pluralism, it is important that Christ's witnesses become interculturally competent, developing relational skills to bridge and build authentic relationships.
The way we communicate the love of God to the people within our reach is most effective when we understand our contemporary context. Furthermore, witnesses are mandated by Jesus Christ to be “peacemakers” in a world marked by distrust, alienation, and violence.
This post is the first of five this week in a series on diaspora missiology. Diaspora missiology is defined by the Lausanne Movement as “a missiological framework for understanding and participating in God's redemptive mission among people living outside their place of origin” (Seoul Declaration, 2009, Lausanne Movement).
To further discuss this issue, these four diaspora bloggers will address specific aspects of diaspora missiology. They are co-workers associated with the Lausanne Movement and Global Diaspora Network.
In his personal reflections, Sam sees the global meeting or convergence of people from East to West, and South to North. When we see the world this way, we realise that it makes sense that doing missions in our generation is no longer lineal (from here to there), but polycentric; that is, we do God's mission “from everywhere to everywhere.”
The lack of interpersonal skills, respect of others, tolerance, humility, patience, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit can easily turn off unbelievers in general, but migrants in particular. Let us not complicate evangelism! Without being Spirit-controlled, the “evangelist” or “witness” loses credibility even before he or she opens his or her mouth. It is important to be polite, cordial, friendly, and humorous when we “[enter] another's world.”
Lisa Espineli Chinn
Lisa has worked over four decades as missionary/evangelist in university and college campuses in the USA and the Philippines. As mentor and coach for younger leaders associated with InterVarsity and International Student Ministries, she mobilizes hundreds of campus workers and local congregations to practice hospitality. The ministry of hospitality is a proven evangelistic and discipleship strategy for millions of international students all over the globe, particularly for those studying in northern hemisphere.
Sociologists have been observing the rapid church growth in the West, including North America. Some have noticed that diaspora communities are agents of social transformation, including the “revitalization” of Christianity. Professor John, of the Alliance Theological Seminary (New York), makes the appeal that diaspora congregations “be treated as equal partners in missions.”
The impact of diasporas and accelerated global migration is pervasive and mind-boggling. However, when viewing the world through the lenses of mission, we can truly “declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples for great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (Psalm 96:3-4).