What is Diaspora and Why Does it Matter in God’s Kingdom?

a collage of photos depicting various people groups

What is Diaspora and Why Does it Matter in God’s Kingdom?

Written By Mike Shipman

What is Diaspora and Why Does it Matter in God’s Kingdom?

The word diaspora simply means scattering. When we think of diaspora in terms of people, it means the movement, migration, scattering, or settlement of a people outside of their indigenous homeland. In North America, diaspora communities are most often comprised of immigrants, refugees, and international students. People leave their homelands for a variety of reasons; some pursue opportunities, while others flee hardships. Some will stay for only a few years, while others will build a new life for their family for generations to come.

So why should we take notice of diaspora communities around us? As Christians, we know that God is making a way for every nation and people to hear the gospel of Jesus, and we know that He is building His Church among them. One of the ways that God accomplishes this is by scattering some of the least reached peoples in the world from their homelands, and He places them in the backyards of churches around the world. Undeniably, the nations have come to North America; the only question is how we will respond. Something believers and the local church must ask themselves is, “What is my role in all of this,” and “What is my responsibility as a follower of Christ?” Can we join God in His efforts as He builds His Kingdom among the nations around us?  

How can the IMB’s Diaspora Mobilization Team serve you?  

The IMB is excited to come alongside Southern Baptist churches, associations, and conventions and help you engage diaspora peoples in your local communities. Some of the ways we can serve you: 

  • Help discover the opportunities, create awareness, and cast vision in your local churches and associations. 
  • Help create a Gospel-centered strategy to engage diaspora communities in your area by evaluating and applying The Six Components of the Core Task: Entry, Evangelism, Discipleship, Healthy Church Formation, Leadership Training, and Partnership & Exit.  
  • Provide trainings and resources to better equip you in your efforts, including language-specific or culturally-specific resources when possible.  
  • Lead missions’ initiatives that equip and mobilize local diaspora Christian leaders and practitioners. One such initiative is called D2D (Diaspora to Diaspora). We realize that believers from the diaspora are most likely to reach other diaspora communities effectively. Therefore, the D2D initiative seeks to network effective practitioners from various diaspora communities together to replenish one another, refine strategies, and reproduce those strategies, among others. D2D empowers workers from diaspora communities to influence others to implement more effective strategies.  
  • Help build partnerships or collectives that strengthen local efforts and carry the work forward. 

To learn more about the Diaspora Mobilization Team, please visit https://www.imb.org/2024/01/16/serving-diaspora-peoples/ . You can also visit the Diaspora Missions Collective site (dmcollective.org) or contact them at info@dmcollective.org. Resources are available now and more will be added in the future.   

The Diaspora Mobilization Team is comprised of former overseas workers:  

  • John Barnett, Director of Diaspora Mobilization  
  • Henry Phan, Sr. Diaspora Mobilization Strategist, Western USA   
  • Mike Shipman, Sr. Diaspora Mobilization Strategist, Eastern USA  
  • Brent Waldrep, Sr. Diaspora Research Strategist   
  • Allison Royals, Sr. Diaspora Mobilization Strategist   

About the Author

Mike Shipman
Senior Strategist, International Mission Board

Dr. Mike Shipman served for more than 20 years in Southeast Asia with the International Mission Board. During that time, he facilitated multiplying church planting, primarily among Muslim people groups, and served as a church planting trainer. He currently serves as the Senior Strategist, Eastern USA for IMB’s Diaspora Mobilization Team. This team equips churches to implement the Great Commission among immigrants, refugees, and international students in North America. He is a renowned author of multiple books, and his greatest joy is helping believers to abide in Christ and implement the Great Commission.

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