About a year ago, I sat down at my computer and started researching. I wanted to figure out what we were doing.
This sounds bizarre, I know. Yet, we knew there had to be others out there, others who saw the movement of people to the USA and had a heart to engage them for the sake of the Gospel, right here on this soil.
We weren’t just pastors. We weren’t just humanitarian workers. We weren’t just evangelists. But something – something divine and redemptive and necessary – was happening on our front porch. And, we believed it must be happening in our cities and towns across the USA where there is a growing refugee and immigrant population.
So, I started typing in keywords on google and amazon – “neighborhood ministry,” “missions in the United States,” “ministry among refugees in the USA,” etc. Nothing fit exactly.
Then, I stumbled upon a new term, and the more we read about it, the more shocked we were.
Why? Because it’s what we are living. It’s the work we are doing. There is a name for it. Finally.
And, it’s a term I believe every Christian should become more and more familiar with, if you aren’t already.
noun dī-ˈas-p(ə-)rə, dē-
A group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time or in which their ancestors lived
The study of religious (typically Christian) missions and their methods and purposes. The science of the cross-cultural communication of the Christian faith
Back in October of 2009, Jay and I moved into and began Seneca Center. That date is the beginning of life and ministry as we know it here in Storm Lake. As I’ve pieced together, most of the research on diaspora missiology also began around that time. Below I’d like to share some basic resources on this subject – not just to encourage readers to be well-informed. The truth is, this should affect each of us living in this time. This needs to be a present reality for all Christians.
- In November of 2009, the Lausanne Diaspora Educators Consultation in Seoul, Korea published an official declaration on diaspora missiology. I encourage you to read it here. In the document, they state:
That “diaspora missiology” has emerged as a biblical and strategic field of missiology and is defined as: a missiological framework for understanding and participating in God’s redemptive mission among people living outside their place of origin.
There has been more research, case studies, and conferences. Yet, we are still in a new field, on the cutting edge of something unique in the global missions. Will you take time to become aware of this phenomenon? Each day, the news tells us about immigration and the movement of people around the globe. However, I believe the following resources give a picture of God’s purpose in the “scattering of people” – as well as our responsibilities as Christians living in the midst of it.
- An in-depth look at diaspora missiology can be found in this ebook Scattered to Gather and I highly recommend it.
- For further reading, you can see the books available here. Note, nearly all the books have been published since 2009.
- Another excellent resource is the blog Missiologically Thinking, by J.D. Payne. Payne has authored a number of books, including Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration, and Mission. One of his posts is especially helpful in starting to understand this field, called Missions To, Through, and Beyond the Diasporas.
- Missions Frontiers has an archive of posts relating to “Peoples on the Move.” You can read it here.
- A final resource to share today is a Canadian case study by the Lausanne World Pulse. There are many similarities between this case study and what God is and has been doing in Storm Lake. The article says:
Statistics in Canada predict that visible minorities, mainly South Asian and Chinese, will be majority populations in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal by 2017. This is already true in one community2 in a little-known neighbourhood where thirty-five apartment buildings house thirty thousand people—ninety percent of them Asian. A small group of Christians intentionally moved into the neighbourhood in order to share the love of Christ with this strategic diaspora community.
Traditional missions has been understood for years as “going there” in order to share the Gospel. Please know, God is changing things up and mixing up people across the globe. This is the time for Christians to embrace the opportunities right in their neighborhoods as well as around the world.#Missions has always been going there w/ the Gospel- but God is changing things up! Click To Tweet
“All of the peoples of the world are coming to America. We would be challenged to find any unreached people group from around the world that doesn’t have a population segment in the United States…And so many churches need to wake up and realize that God has brought the nations into their cities and communities, and they’re going to stand accountable before God for fulfilling His mission whether or not they go overseas or not.” Jerry Rankin
Learn about diaspora missiology. Get to know the people living around you. How can you be about fulfilling His mission on your block, your community, your state?