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Book review – The Human Tidal Wave: Global Migration, Megacities, Multiculturalism, Pluralism, Diaspora Missiology

Mission Round Table 12.1 (Jan-Apr 2017): 22

Reviewed by Andy Smith

Andy Smith is OMF’s International Coordinator for Evangelization. He completed an MA in missions at Columbia International University. His most recent book, The Majesty of Jesus, explores what the Gospel of John says about Jesus and about belief.

Global migration, marked by urbanization, is rapidly impacting the peoples, cultures, societies, and nations of the world. And as this strategic and urgent book demonstrates, it provides us with wonderful opportunities to make disciples. Toward this end, Brian Seim’s chapter helps us see that the complex, diverse, impersonal, and task-oriented life of cities forces new urban residents to adapt and become dual-culture people in order to survive. To reach them, Seim urges that churches exhibit spiritual character and cultural flexibility by providing practical care and addressing the tough issues of the neighborhood.

In a chapter explaining how migration produces multiculturalism, Thomas Alan Harvey explains how “cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual diversity” can silence the church by promoting “peace, justice, and harmony through recognition of difference, dignity, and mutual tolerance” (116, 118). He challenges us, as suffering servants, to combat the evils thus promoted and make disciples of a multitude of ethnicities who, by becoming one in Christ, willingly join together in local churches communities.

Steven Ybarrola urges us to see new migrants “as a bridge between the two communities” (142) since they have become transnationals with multi-local identities (143) who will likely be more effective at reaching the peoples of the society to which their parents migrated.

We are cautioned that the last major result of migration—pluralism—“tends to classify individual identity in light of an assumed greater and more foundational national identity” (116) that enables a diverse population to live together peacefully so that all can gain access to basic goods. Although the church desires that people live in peace with their basic needs met, we refuse to bow to pluralism since Christ challenges all existing “social and religious hierarchies and categories” (128) and offers a new and living way to all people who believe in him.

As it views the complex results of migration, the book challenges us to respond to new opportunities. Diaspora ministries are thus added to traditional mission work. The mission field is no longer only over there. It is there, and here, and constantly moving. Enoch Wan and Sadiri Joy Tira specifically encourage us “to recognize the immense potential in ministering to diaspora and ministering through diaspora” (157) as that may provide a link to populations who are beyond the reach of traditional missions.

This is a book that will help anyone who ministers where migration is taking place—and that includes most of us—to think deeply about the mobile world in which we live, pray intelligently, and act accordingly so that multicultural churches will emerge as the good news of Jesus impacts people both far and wide.

Global Migration, Megacities, Multiculturalism, Pluralism, Diaspora Missiology
Sadiri Joy Tira, ed.
Manila: Lifechange and Jaffray Center for Global Initiatives, 2013.

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