04 May 2009 · 14 Nov 2009
Manilla, Philippines, and Seoul, South Korea
The world has increasingly become ‘borderless’ due to globalization, technological communication, and accelerated migration or diaspora (ie scattering or dispersion of people from their homeland), towards the end of the second millennium. These diasporas have created tremendous opportunities and challenges to evangelize and disciple millions of people who, just a century ago, were living in isolated countries and regions of the world described by missiologists as ‘closed’ and ‘restricted’ to Christian missions. Thus, the 21st century reality of mass movements of people requires the global church, here after referred to as the ‘whole church’, to respond.
Diaspora is one of the global issues to be discussed during the upcoming Lausanne III or the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Cape Town 2010) gathering of evangelical leaders in Cape Town, South Africa, 16-25 October 2010. It must be noted that the previous Lausanne Congresses (Lausanne I, 1974; Lausanne II, 1989) did not address the issue of diasporas.
To prepare for this upcoming discussion on diasporas in Cape Town, two Lausanne consultations on diasporas were convened in 2009 as part of the ‘road map’ to Cape Town.
Random evangelistic efforts have been conducted by various Christian organizations and denominations; however, the Lausanne Movement and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) do not currently have a missiological framework for diasporas that is anchored in solid biblical and theological foundation. This remains the case, despite Lausanne’s production of Lausanne Occasional Paper (LOP) 55, ‘The New People Next Door’, dealing with diasporas and international students. Though its scope is limited and it lacks cohesive missiological implications for the diasporas, LOP 55 managed to raise diaspora awareness among the evangelical missions community.
Dr Sadiri Joy Tira, Lausanne Senior Associate for Diasporas, believes that the next step is to establish effective global evangelism strategies grounded in solid biblical and theological foundation, and moored in a strong missiological framework. To help accomplish this, two consultations were held in 2009 via the Lausanne platform. These were the Lausanne Diaspora Strategy Consultation (hereafter referred to as ‘Manila Consultation’) held in Manila, Philippines, (May 2009); and the Lausanne Diaspora Educators Consultation (hereafter referred to as ‘Seoul Consultation’) held in Seoul, South Korea, (November 2009).
Manila and Seoul consultations
Greenhills Christian Fellowship, a fast-growing metropolitan congregation with a passion to motivate their members for diaspora ministry, hosted the Manila Consultation. Participants of the Manila Consultation included theologians, Bible scholars, ministry practitioners such as missionaries and evangelists, pastors of international churches, anthropologists, sociologists, legal experts (ie migration lawyers), diplomats, demographers, migration researchers, etc. They came from government and non-government agencies, seminaries, denominational and para-church organizations, numbering 50 in total.
Objectives of the consultation were:
- To inform about the challenges and opportunities of ministries among diaspora groups.
- To inspire a vision to explore new approaches to minister to these groups.
- To ignite a passion to mobilize the [whole] church to that end.
The result the consultation was the identification of diaspora peoples, various issues affecting diaspora peoples, and organizations and groups (and individuals) who are ministering specifically with diaspora people.
During the Manila Consultation, a group of participants from the academic institutions were tasked to form a committee to plan the Lausanne Diaspora Educators Consultation or Seoul Consultation to respond to the many questions that were raised regarding the ‘future’ of diaspora missiology after Cape Town 2010.
Strictly missions educators and missiologists attended the consultation in Seoul. The Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology, a seminary in the heart of Seoul devoted to training diaspora leaders for ministry to diaspora peoples, hosted the consultation.
The objectives for this consultation were:
- To enhance our understanding of Diaspora Missiology as an emerging field of study and ministry strategy.
- To engage in scholarly dialogue on Diaspora Missiology and its educational implications.
- To engender regional cooperation in anticipation of Cape Town 2010 when Diaspora Missiology will be a feature of the program.
Evidently, the homogeneity of the group (ie all from the academic field) helped to promote unity among the participants, and all of the consultation objectives were soundly achieved. Of the consultation, Dr Ted Yamamori, Lausanne Senior Advisor and Seoul Consultation participant, commented:
‘I feel that the recent Lausanne Diaspora Educators Consultation has clenched diaspora as a legitimate and exciting field of missiology. Much appreciation goes to Drs Joy Tira and Enoch Wan for leading a team of enthusiastic, able, and experienced scholars to crystallize the various aspects of what should constitute a missiology.’
A groundbreaking declaration was assembled for Cape Town 2010. The ‘Seoul Declaration on Diaspora Missiology’ summons the whole church of Jesus Christ, including its missions agencies and its academies to mobilise, train, deploy, support, and empower diaspora kingdom workers. May the leaders at Cape Town 2010 and beyond embrace this document.
The proceedings from the Manila and Seoul consultations are now being synthesised and will be presented at Cape Towne 2010 (via print and digital publication) for the delegates to bring home and replicate. It is the LDLT’s hope that diaspora missions and diaspora missiology will reverberate throughout the whole church after Cape Town. Thank you for your ongoing support as the LDLT serves the global diaspora movement for God’s highest glory and honour.