The recent diaspora of Syrian people has rightfully demanded the attention of the world. Yet the truth behind the headline that there is a global movement, from South to North, from East to West (Adler and Gielen, Migration, 2003, 16). Enoch Wan has written a very helpful scholarly article on the diaspora from a theological and missiological perspective. He introduced it with a description of the term diaspora:
“The term ‘diaspora’ is etymologically derived from the Greek word diaspora or diaspeirein (dispersion) and historically has been used to refer to the scattering and dispersion of Jews in the OT & Christians in the NT. In contemporary literature the word is used to describe the phenomenon of people on the move or being moved” (Wan, Occasional Bulletin of EMS, Spring 2007).
If the world’s population could be charted from space it would be quite a busy graphic. The world is on the move because of war, famine, human trafficking, exploitation, economic turmoil, tyranny, and a desire for a better life for those remaining behind. Historically, this has meant a time for the Christian Church to bring help, healing, and hope to those trapped in the susceptible places that the diaspora creates. This susceptibilibilty leads to human tragedy that demands immediate care and will call for theological reflection on why we go, what we must do, and hoe we can love more like God loved us. Some things we know: we how we must love God through reaching these people. We know we must announce the love of Jesus Christ to them, not as a opportunistic trade-off for any material help we must bring, but as an authentic gift to those who are, in truth, living out a tragic, but mostly real metaphor for the spiritual diaspora that we are all in. We are born. We live. We die. And our spirits are searching for meaning. Jesus comes to us to say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Yet the Way was also a refugee as Joseph brought him and Mary into Egypt to escape the madman who sought the Child’s life. Jesus, as the young Rabbi, had no place to rest His head. In His death His body was brought to a borrowed grave. He identifies fully with the many today who have no home. We must prepare our hearts and our best and brightest to go and reach the diaspora with the Gospel of the diaspora.
Truly the movement of human beings is a great missional moment in the life of the Church today. We must be as courageous as the refugees who risk all for their families. For recall that this attitude—giving ourselves, in spite of suffering, to bring about consolation and salvation, is the very core of our Gospel, even as St. Paul expressed,
“If we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective in enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer” (2 Corinthians 1:6a Modern English Version).
Some of us have left our homes to find our homes with our people in pastorates, missions, and other communities of service. There are yet others of us who are called to go or to go anew. Many of us can, also, happily lose our homes in order to gain a new mansion with the diaspora of our generation. We might even locate Eden within their borders.