Strangers in a Strange Land: Ministry to Diaspora and Sojourning Peoples
Mission Round Table Vol. 12 No. 2 May–Sep 2017
From the editor:
This issue of Mission Round Table looks at ministry to “Strangers in a Strange Land,” people in migration or living outside their homelands.
Loving the stranger begins with loving the God who loves the stranger. Only as we get to know the strangers in our midst can they become our friends. And only as we share Christ with them can they become, not strangers and aliens, but family members.
Two of the basic biblical words for people on the move are the Hebrew gēr and the Greek diaspora. The word gēr refers to people who lived with others but were not family or who were temporarily living in a town or area. Today we might call them nomads, sojourners, resident aliens, or even illegal aliens. International students and businessmen, transient laborers, and even cross-cultural missionaries fit this description. The word diaspora is used to refer to Jews who were dispersed among the Gentiles. Only later was the word, by extension, applied to people from other ethnic or religious groups who lived in a land not their own.
We need to be aware that the movements of people bring opportunities for the gospel to flow in multiple directions. Moving gives some people an opportunity to encounter Christ for the first time and others an opportunity to take Christ to new locations. People who have encountered Christ on foreign soil and begun to grow in faith need to be prepared for the challenge of transitioning back to their home countries. Deeply contextualized discipleship is thus an essential part of mission to the strangers.