Most people in missions circles are familiar with the terms “praying”, “giving”, and “going”. Recently, however, there has been a lot of buzz about diaspora missions and the role of “welcoming” when it comes to completing the Great Commission. The book, You Don’t Have to Cross the Ocean to Reach the World: The Power of Local Cross-Cultural Ministry, gives an interesting historical perspective about how the Good News of the kingdom has generally spread through bilingual, bicultural people. What if along with sending our missionaries and going to the ends of the earth, we also made a significant effort to “welcome” and attempt to make disciples of the many foreigners and diaspora peoples that are coming to our country. A lot of these people have extended families (oikos) back in their native countries and the Good News of Christ might spread more rapidly back to their own people via technology (phones and internet) or as they return home if we can reach out and make disciples here.
When reading the story of the early church in Acts, we see that the Gospel spread quickly from Jerusalem to many Gentile nations because it was a city where diaspora people from all over the world gathered. The United States is such a melting pot and has a lot in common with Jerusalem in that it is a cultural, economic, and religious crossroads. Immigrants, refugees, and international students from many different countries and ethnic minority groups are arriving to locations all over the United States and North America. This could be an amazing opportunity to present the gospel to people from unreached people groups and share the good news with those that have never even heard the name of Christ!
Tom and Betty Sue Brewster wrote an article that is pretty well known in missions circles called “Bonding and the Missionary Task“. The premise is that when missionaries go to other cultures, they should do everything they can especially in the first critical days, weeks, and months to bond to the local culture rather than the missionary and ex-pat community. Timing is critical because in times of crisis and getting thrown into new circumstances, we tend to latch on to the first people we have interactions with. Have you ever noticed how a lot of the people that you meet during freshman orientation in college end up being your closest friends over the next four years? So, what about the internationals that are coming to this country? Shouldn’t followers of Jesus be the first ones to reach out and greet them at the airport, help them get accustomed to life here, invite them over for a meal, help them out with English, teach them about our culture, and ultimately show them God’s love?
Global Frontier Missions really believes that diaspora missions and reaching out to the nations and unreached people groups that are scattered throughout the earth outside of their native lands to be a very strategic part in fulfilling Christ’s final commandment. We have started locations in Atlanta, Houston, Richmond, Sydney, Australia, and South Asia in order to reach out to Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and others from all over the world. GFM is also looking for people to start diaspora missions work in new locations.
The North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board have produced a resource at PeopleGroups.info that helps you search by zip code to see different nationalities and ethnic minorities that might be close to you. Let’s reach the diaspora peoples that God is bringing to us!