At one time OMF’s ministry was tied to East Asia geographically, but today people are on the move as never before. In 2014 there were an estimated 100,000 flights a day around the world. In 2015 there were an unprecedented 244 million international migrants according to the UN. Today there are Chinese business people in Kenya, Japanese students in Germany, Thai students in the UK as well as migrant workers moving within Southeast Asia. As the Cape Town Commitment says ‘Migration is one of the great global realities of our era.’ 1
God is also on the move, using this massive movement of people to draw some to himself. The excitement, passion and power of Acts 17:26-27 can be felt…’that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him
and perhaps reach out for him and find him…’
So in response to God’s call and the flights of East Asia’s diaspora, OMF’s Diaspora Returnee Ministries (DRM) are now reaching East Asians spread over every continent. We share the good news of Jesus and disciple believers to stand for Christ when they return home. This may be after only a few months for some, although others spend several years overseas. Some of these returning students may have become Christians while overseas, so the East Asian diaspora have the potential to be a global, mobile mission force, living for Christ and sharing their faith wherever they live.
However, research indicates that over 80 per cent of new Christians do not continue going to church or remain walking with the Lord when they return to their home countries. Pressure from family and friends, heavy work demands, and not connecting with a local church are some of the reasons for this. We long to see East Asians coming to know Christ – learning what it means to love him, share him and see others grow in him, and then seeing their home communities transformed by him as they stand faithfully in him.
Different living situations overseas create opportunities for the gospel. Japanese people are more likely to come to Christ while living overseas as it fosters an openness to new ideas. There are also often greater opportunities to disciple them and help grow a vision for mission while they are living outside of Japan. We long to see a breakthrough in the large Japanese business community, seeing some come to Christ and disciples becoming disciple-makers!
Half a million Thai live outside of Thailand but few are trying to reach these largely unevangelised people. As Thai meet Christians overseas, we want to see them open their hearts to the love of Jesus.
With vast business investment underway in Africa, over two million Chinese now live and work there. An OMF DRM team has been working with Kenyan churches for six years – training them to reach the Chinese, giving guidance and facilitating
We also work with the East Asian diaspora within Southeast Asia. Hundreds of thousands of migrants work in Taiwan and Hong Kong as domestic helpers. There are great opportunities to journey with them, meeting their many practical needs and seeing them come to Christ. Many may go back to communities with little or no gospel witness.
This is just a flavour of the 13 countries and diverse peoples we work with. There are 77 full-time workers in DRM, and the same number volunteering with us as colleagues, spread all over the world preparing East Asians to return home as cross-cultural ministers of the gospel. We long to see churches empowered and equipped to reach out to those around them – evangelising and discipling them in a way which allows those returning to East Asia to take Christ back home. To this end we are also committed to help train and equip the local church around the world.
Our global world is challenging us in the way we do mission and it’s changing us as we live in an increasingly diverse world. How is it changing you? Join us, pray with us, and be part of what God is doing among a global mobile mission force.
1. The Cape Town Commitment II-C-5