Sadiri Joy Tira: How Diaspora Christians Can Be Major Supporters of Global Missions

“That is impossible. We have limited resources.”

These are words I hear quite frequently in response to the challenge for national churches of low to middle-income countries to accelerate their participation in global missions.

It is unfortunate that many vibrant churches feel limited by funding, when it need not be so. The fact is, there exists a flow of resources found in one of their greatest exports – ordinary people – migrant workers. So abundant is this resource that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) highlights the role of remittances.

Additionally,according to IOM, migrants contributed 6.7 trillion U.S. dollars to the global GDP in 2015—a share of 9.4% of the total global GDP that year.” It just needs to be released and mobilized.

In April 2018, the World Bank reported figures from 2017 with top remittance recipients being India ($69 billion), China ($64 billion), the Philippines ($33 billion), Mexico ($31 billion), Nigeria ($22 billion), and Egypt ($20 billion).

In October 2018, IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) released the Global Migration Indicators Report 2018, summarizing key global migration trends based on the latest statistics. It reported that in 2015 there were 150.3 million migrant workers scanned and documented, and that in 2017, “$466 billion remittances were sent to low and middle – countries in 2017. This [being] more than three times the size of official development assistance.”

While diaspora workers work and live in their receiving countries, spending and paying taxes towards stimulating host economies, they send dollars home to aid families and communities, including religious institutions.

We must dispel the myth that national churches from low to middle-income countries have no resources to contribute to the wide missions initiative of the global church. Consider this thought-experiment based on conservative figures from the Philippines, my own country of origin:

Operation World reported that 12.3% of the Philippine population identified as Evangelical Christians, and Joshua Project reported the Evangelical Christian population to be closer to 13.93% of Filipino nationals.

If 2.3 million Filipinos are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and we apply the percentage suggested by Operation World at 12.3% of Filipinos to the number of reported OFWs, we estimate that 282,900 migrant Filipinos would identify as Evangelical Christians. Now imagine if 282,900 OFWs sent a portion of the $33 billion (sent in remittances to the Philippines in 2017 alone) to the homeland church for intentional support of global missions. What a vast resource that would be.

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Source: Christianity Today