As people move around the globe like never before, there are unprecedented opportunities to share the Gospel. Many new immigrants to the West are from Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, and other non-Christian backgrounds. Some of them speak English well. Some don’t. How will they hear the Gospel?
One solution is diaspora ministry. The term “diaspora” is used by many missionaries to refer to people from traditional missionary-receiving nations who now live in traditional missionary-sending nations. So that means reaching out to Thai people in Sydney, and Chinese in Munich. Missionaries working in diaspora ministries are often those who had been “out there” on the mission field, working with XYZ people group, but have had to return to their home country. They still have a burden to see XYZ people know Christ, so they do diaspora ministry to reach out to XYZ people living in their home country. But, as you might imagine, the problem is that there are not enough diaspora workers to go around.
And that is where average Joe Christian comes in. Joe lives in Anytown, USA and the extent of his cross-cultural experience was his high school Spanish class. But he loves God, loves his family, and loves his church. And he wants others to love God, including that Thai family who just moved in across the street. They speak English decently but there are still gaps in their communication. Small talk is easy enough but spiritual topics are more difficult. He thinks to himself, “I wonder if I could get them a Thai Bible someplace?” His wife asks, “Why don’t you Google it?”
And that’s where I come in. In the last couple of years, since I started blogging more seriously about missions and Thailand, I have begun to get emails from folks like Joe.
A woman from Texas wrote:
“We have a Thai girl living with us as an exchange student and I want to get her an easier-to-read Thai Bible. She has a Thai Bible already but says the language is old and hard to understand. Do you know where I can get one?”
A couple from the Southern U.S. wrote:
“We have some Thai neighbors that we want to share the Gospel with and would love to get some Thai tracts. Where can we find some?”
A pastor from the Netherlands wrote:
“A man in my congregation is married to a Thai woman, and I have been teaching her the Bible in English. She likes learning about the Bible but is not yet a Christian. She’ll be going back to Thailand to visit family for a couple of weeks and I want to recommend a Thai church that she can go to so that she can hear the Gospel in her own language. Do you know of a church in the area that she’s going to?”
Why were these people writing to me? Because they had done an online search to get an answer to their question and had stumbled upon my website. As I continued to get such emails, I got to thinking, “How many non-Thai people out there are looking for Thai Bibles and other resources to share the Gospel with their Thai neighbors? How will they find them?”
So I started to write some articles and post them on my website.
For those looking for a Thai Bible, I wrote “A Brief Survey of Thai Bible Translations” and “Where can I buy a Thai Bible?”
For those looking for tracts and other Christian literature, I wrote up a list of my top picks for “Thai Gospel Tracts” and “Where can I buy Reformed literature in Thai?”
For those with Thai friends headed back to Thailand, I wrote “Finding a Church in Thailand”
In an age of digital communication, there is a tremendous opportunity for missionaries to help people in their home countries reach out to the same people that they are reaching out to on the mission field. One of the ways that missionaries can do this is posting online articles that point people to the resources that they need. For major world languages like Spanish, French, Chinese, or Japanese, there are a lot of resources online already. But where are you going to get a Bible in Pwo Karen or a Gospel tract in Amharic?
Missionaries are uniquely situated to stand in the gap, pointing folks back home to resources that would otherwise be impossible to locate - hidden away on a foreign language website, or not online at all. It doesn’t take a lot of web savvy to step up to the task. With user-friendly blogging sites like Blogger and Wordpress, anyone who can handle email can write a blog with useful articles that can be found by a search engine.
Gospel resources to meet the challenge of the global diaspora are out there.
But can they be found by the people who need them?