Loving the Stranger Among Us

By Dave, Diaspora Related Ministry Coordinator

As Singapore celebrated its 56th year of independence, we are reminded of how important and precious this “HOME” is to all of us! And it is in this context, to know that in our midst, we have an estimated 1.64 million foreigners. They came to our shores for various reasons and purposes – either for living, working, study or doing business. Isn’t it amazing to know that many of them are drawn to this little red dot? For we know that all things are through God’s design and purpose as described in Romans 8:28.

OMF Singapore started the local diaspora ministry a few years back, focusing mainly on East Asian people groups. We are encouraged by the services of local churches, other organisations and agencies who have started earlier on “missions at the doorsteps”. This includes, but not an exhaustive list of their services with local diasporas of different nationalities and groups such as domestic helpers, international students, families and dependants.

With the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, God opened the door of opportunity for OMF Singapore with a focus on the migrant worker community. It was a timely opportunity as the needs on the ground was plenty, thankful for local churches who were participating, there were collaboration efforts together with VWOs and NGOs to serve alongside. We witness God’s movement of His love for the migrants, serving, sharing and mobilising others who want to participate. Through the pandemic, there was unity through the diversity of groups coming together.

It is heartening to see that individually and collectively, we can provide some welfare and care for the livelihoods of the migrant workers, who are most impacted by the ongoing pandemic. What a demonstration of God’s and His people’s love (Lev. 19:33-34) for the migrant workers in our communities!

In addition, with the many nationalities living, working or studying here, OMF Singapore has been given the opportunity to find out the least reached and less-visible diaspora groups in our midst. By God‘s grace and leading, He brought forth the attention of the Vietnamese diaspora. Interestingly, it is a growing diaspora movement amongst those from Vietnam to Singapore in the last decade – for marriage, study, work and business professionals. Although they are culturally, linguistically, distinctive people, there are few similarities between the Vietnamese and Chinese locals in Singapore.

These similarities include the celebration of Lunar New Year, food types, respect for elders and the importance of family values. Reflecting on the importance of family, we are reminded that God cherishes family relationships as portrayed in Genesis 2. This helps us to journey along with partners, to explore the Vietnamese diaspora, and perhaps for a start, how to care for a special group of transnational couples who are part of our local communities.

Aside from the Vietnamese diaspora, we have also been engaging with the Japanese diaspora living and working in Singapore. Beyond that, we seek the Holy Spirit to show where the needs are and how do we go beyond in the local diaspora ministry. All glory and honour be due to our Lord and God!

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