by David Ball
What if the people of the world were on the move as never before?
They are. In 2015, official UN statistics say that 244 Million people, that's 3.3% of the world's population, live outside their country of origin. Have a look at this map for a visual representation of migration across the globe: http://www.iom.int/world-migration
What if this diaspora were part of God’s plan to reach and disciple the nations?
We believe it is. Just as on the day of Pentecost, people throughout the world, away from their country of origin, are turning to Christ in significant numbers. Diaspora churches are being planted across the world, serving the particular needs of believers outside their country of origin. Diaspora believers are sharing their faith with those from their home countries. Diaspora believers are returning to their home countries to share their faith with friends, family and others.
What if mission agencies and churches were responding to this need to disciple the nations in our midst?
They are. “The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Cape Town 2010) recognized the importance of diaspora missions and missiology. Consequently, many denominations and mission organizations are adjusting their structures, re-calibrating their strategies, and realigning their resources (personnel and funds) for effective delivery to help fulfill the Great Commission.” (https://www.lausanne.org/networks/issues/diasporas)
What if there were systematic discipleship materials available in the languages of the diaspora that would enable local churches to engage in the task of discipling diaspora believers?
There are. For example, SEAN courses are now widely used in around 100 countries of the world and are available in more than 70 languages. The tried and trusted method of personal study combined with group meetings is being effectively used around the world to equip new disciples and to enable them to move to maturity as leaders in their local churches. For example, there are groups of Nepalis being discipled in India, Malaysia, the UK and the United States. There are groups of Pakistanis studying in Malaysia and the Gulf countries. There are Russian speaking immigrants in Turkey and Central Asian immigrants in Russia. All of these groups are able to study in the language of their country of origin through the use of TEE* materials. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.
What if I could get involved in this exciting move of God throughout the world?
You can. Whether you want to start a discipleship group for diaspora believers in your local church or help and pray for others involved in this work, there are opportunities for you to engage with this issue. If you want to know more, click here to contact us
* TEE traditionally stands for Theological Education by Extension. In this form it is a method of providing materials at an appropriate level and in an appropriate way for discipleship and leadership training in the local church.
David Ball serves as Regional Coordinator for Asia for SEAN International and Director of the Group-based Open Learning Discipleship (GOLD) Project (www.goldproject.org). He and his wife, Angie, served as Crosslinks Mission Partners with The Association for Theological Education by Extension (TAFTEE) in India for almost 15 years. David is also one of the Increase Equippers and presently convenes the Increase Task Group on the Diaspora.