Now here is an interesting article that cropped up in the last few weeks. Apparently, India has built and dedicated an entire facility to the propagation and strengthening of their diaspora around the world.
First off, a definition: a diaspora is the term given to a particular people who live somewhere other than the homeland of their group, tribe, nation, etc. So, in this specific instance, the Indian diaspora consists of all the groups of people from India who live in other countries around the world. Currently, there are thousands and thousands of Indians who have a major cultural center right here in the area where I live. In fact, they have a beautiful 6 million dollar temple where they hold celebrations and festivals.
According to this article, the country of India likes their diaspora. In fact, the Prime Minister calls it one of the country’s greatest strengths. They are excited about the fact that 27 million Indians lived around the world in other countries and see it as a cultural and economic strength for their nation. They want to maintain a connection with these groups of Indians around the world, and are working to facilitate ways to make that happen.
For those of us concerned about the Great Commission, this should cause ours ears to perk up. You can read the article here: Indian Diaspora is our country’s strength: Prime Minister and then take a look at the significance for missions below.
Missions to and through the Diaspora
Far from trying to distance themselves from these groups that choose to leave the homeland, India’s government wants to leverage their connection with them. They want to enhance the relationship and make it easier for them to stay connected back at home. Of course, the government does this because it sees economic and political gain from Indians living in other countries.
However, for those of us who live in one of those countries, we must realize that our churches have a great opportunity right in front of us to reach into India by reaching into their diaspora. The conversation about diasporas and missions usually calls this missions to, through, and beyond the diaspora.
It is increasingly obvious that God is doing a work by bringing scores of the least-reached peoples and placing them within arm’s reach of your local church. As always, it is our responsibility as churches scattered across North America to proclaim the gospel to our neighbors. Now, those neighbors include all kinds of people. In the instance of these Indian groups, there is an opportunity for your church to have direct access to unreached Hindu and Muslim people groups right in your community. That means your church should be intentional about finding out which groups of people live around you and then starting to share the gospel with them. If this is your first time considering that, download the free strategy guide below to get started.
This takes on yet another dimension when you consider the close ties back home. These people are encouraged to move to our country and keep a relationship back at home. This means that proclamation can happen to the diaspora and through the diaspora back home. Admittedly, this is harder than it may sound at first. After all, these people left their country for a reason, and simply turning around and going home to plant churches as soon as they receive the gospel is not the obvious conclusion for most. We must not consider this some magic bullet for reaching the nations. Our call is still to go, so we must send more missionaries than ever.
That said, all kinds of partnerships are possible, and all kinds of connections can be made. Imagine what would happen if your church reached a group from the Hindu peoples in your town and started a Hindi-speaking church right there in your community. Then, as your church partnered with missionaries in India, you could partner with this local Hindi-speaking congregation to send some of their members with your short term team right back to their villages. Just think on that for a minute.
And hopefully, compelled by the Holy Spirit, some may decide to return home as missionaries to their own people. Some may even pick up the mantle to go beyond their people and reach the nations. All of this is made easier when countries like India actively maintain connection to these Indian communities around the world.