In the course of my life, I have moved several times. Education, military, business and the ministry have led me through several places in the United States. That is becoming fairly typical for many in our culture. Some, like one friend of mine in government, have moved over 30 times in one career!
People have always moved. This nation was founded by people on the move.
Yet nothing, nothing since the migration of Peoples after the dispersion by God at the Tower of Babel, can equate with the extraordinary migration of Peoples across the face of the earth in our generation. If a camera in space could record the movement of people today, like time-lapse photography recording the opening of a rose, or the changing of seasons, all happening before your eyes in two seconds, then the earth would look like a massive army of tiny ants moving all over the earth in every direction at one time, in rapid speed.
It is amazing that as Germany’s Angela Merkel talked, this past week, about the failure of multiculturalism, she, and the world’s leaders can do little to stop the immigration crisis that is being faced in the West. Persecuted Peoples from despotic nations are seeking a new life in Western nations. I heard the term used, “an increasingly borderless” world. I didn’t particular care for that, since I am in favor of borders that protect people and in favor of rules of law that allow for legal, orderly immigration. But the staggering numbers defy almost all state-led attempts to curb the massive, seemingly unstoppable waves of migrants. It is not just in the West. In Africa, Peoples are moving from one country on the continent to another to find water as much as from running from machete wielding militia following drug-lords. This is creating tensions and wars between tribal groups who have inhabited territories for centuries. It is so with the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, it is so for East European and Eur-Asian Peoples migrating to find work or to find relief from persecution. It is true in the Middle East. It is true in Central America. In each continent, in almost every nation on earth, there is massive movement, for safety, for freedom, for economic survival, for food and water, for life.
This has created a sort of “people group” of its own. They are the new Diaspora of the earth. Christian missions, thus, has a great opportunity to step into the diaspora and offer that cut of cold water in Jesus’ name, offer a meal at home, and even plant churches to reach these people.
This is what my friend is doing in Germany. He came from Sri Lanka and was a member of the worldwide diaspora himself. He ended up in the place where many end up: London, the veritable capital of the world. The former colonies always end up seeking London, it seems. He did. But he found his way to Metropolitan Tabernacle, Spurgeon’s church, now pastored by Peter Masters. He was saved there, discipled there, studied there before transferring to Northern Ireland and Queens University. He married. He settled. He met up with Presbyterians who befriended him. After graduating from Bible college he began to preach. He then felt called to do research and a deeper study of migrating Peoples and how to best reach them. This led him to doctoral studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. There he studied for over two years and graduated with his Doctor of Ministry degree. With this completed he could have taken a number of churches back in England where his wife was from. Yet he was drawn to the diaspora. This is where God found him. He wanted to enter that world again, but this time as an evangelist and a pastor to the Diaspora. Finding an open door of ministry in Germany, he settled there with his wife. Two children were born and a third is on its way. They are settled amidst the unsettled. He lives near a camp where German authorities house migrating Peoples. There, daily and into the night too many times, he makes his way, room to room, person to person, family to family, seeking to help them, pray with them and give them hope. He offers them Jesus Christ as their Rock in the midst of the stormy sea, and as the eternal security in their world of daily insecurity. He has now planted a church whose membership is as transitory as the immigrant camps. New people each week. Then they are gone, never to be seen again. Yet he touches their lives with the Gospel as they go on their way, wherever they are going.
As you are nestled in your living room, perhaps watching a football game, or enjoying your family around an old movie, just remember that, for the rest of the world, people are on the move, in the open air, some without food or water, seeking life and hope. Countless numbers are now moving across the face of the earth in search of the basic necessities of life. Remember that there are those who have felt that call and who are now giving their lives to the new Diaspora, people who were once a part of it. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out more laborers into the field. It is indeed ripe.
“Americans will feed you in a restaurant, but they do not bring you into their homes,” said this former Diaspora member and now pastor. “Yet the best way to reach a person on the move is to give him a place of refuge in your home, for just a meal, that is all. He needs not just food but a human touch that for most of the world is found in a home. This will open his heart to hear the message of Jesus.”
One of the presenters told a story. He was getting his hair cut in the suburbs where he lives. The woman cutting his hair was Iranian. He asked about her story. It was a typical Diaspora story of heroism and courage and risking her very life to escape despotism and find freedom. She had found her way to that particular place where this minister lived, sought education, and got a job cutting hair. The minister then asked her, “How many times has a Christian or for that matter any American invited you into their home for a meal?” She continued to cut his hair as she replied. “No times.” The minister then asked her another question. “How long have you lived here?” She replied, “Twenty years.”
I bowed my head in shame. Maybe the other 4,000 delegates did as well.
People are on the move in our generation, and so is God. Shouldn’t we open our hearts and maybe open our homes to someone who is solitary, who is seeking new life? Aren’t these “people on the move” also the people for whom Christ died?
God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity…Psalms 68.6
This is the lesson that God taught me today. This is the call of God that I heard today.