Reaching Diaspora – Important Considerations – part 3

So, the question is “If the nations coming to us so why do we need to go?”

People groups are on the move. Some are internally displaced within their own country. Some are across the border from their own country. Those are able to be reached more strategically. Some come to our country because they are fleeing their own, or they are being forced out, or because they are looking for better opportunities. It is a reality that unreached people groups are coming to us, but how do we really disciple them?

Please keep this in mind while reading this article. The statistics on most unreached people groups’ diaspora/migration are not good. A well know missiologist and researcher stated in 2022 that only 1.5% of totally unreached people groups can be tracked in their diaspora movements. The Diaspora/migration of people is also very fluid and difficult to find data specifically on smaller people groups <25k. Most of the groups that we can track usually are very large people groupings (clusters/nationalities). For example, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Pashtuns, Chadians, etc.

So, why is there so much talk about reaching them? They do tend to be more receptive to the Gospel outside of their homeland but you will need to take into consideration all of the above.

Also, keep in mind that there are nearly 5,000 totally unreached people groups under a million in population many have no scriptures translated. These will be very difficult to find in big cities if not impossible.

My personal standard of someone reaching an unreached diaspora people group

My perspective is a bit different than most because I have a personal friend who has reached a totally unreached diaspora people group. I met him in 1998 and we have talked, ministered, and been friends ever since.

He identified a smaller people group from the remote mountains in southern Mexico who came every year to the labor camps in the northern part of the country. He began to reach out to them and make contacts and more than 20 years later, he has been in full-time ministry, has learned their language, has helped the translators revise the New Testament and now there is a church of about 200 people near his home. He could not go to them, he would have, his heart was totally given to reaching this people group and he did it among their diaspora. Others have helped but he was the key element. He has been the standard for me all these years and so anything less for me is below standard.

A few of the things I can remember my friend has done to reach this previously unreached people group:

  1. He took photos from an airplane of the labor camps to identify exactly where the group lived every year.
  2. He developed elaborate systems to get recordings and Bible stories into thousands of hands.
  3. He has developed elaborate websites and social networks paying for ads to make contacts.
  4. He has developed a Google map of all the major cities where the group has migrated in Mexico and the United States.
  5. Every time he visits a new city he is looking for the people group.
  6. Over the years he has fluently learned their language and has helped the translators revise the New Testament hosting the people group in their home.
  7. He has developed new technologies and apps to get the Gospel into the people group.
  8. Has been involved in the planting and growth of the church near his home.
  9. Has had his life threatened many times and is on their hit list today.
  10. Finally, he has been branching out for the last years into other totally unreached groups.
  11. Now he is regularly invited internationally to give conferences on how to reach diaspora groups.

Before you think about reaching a diaspora group

Firstly, most of the diaspora groups that are coming among us are from larger well know people groups, or, we think that they belong to that larger people group. I’ll give you an example in my own country. Recently the government has opened the doors to the Pashtun of Afghanistan. There are several thousand here now and quickly three Christian ministries have sprung up to help them. To give you a little data, the Pashtun are a large people grouping of at least five major languages, an unknown number of language variants, and at least fifty different ethnicities. My first question is which Pashtun? Secondly, what language do they speak? Thirdly, is there a Bible translation in that Pashtun? Only a few have a New Testament. Lastly, how are we going to disciple them?

Other important considerations

When diaspora comes to our country they mainly come to large cities and are quickly looking for work. Once they find work, they are there to work. The big city system is, to get up early, work all day, get home late, eat, sleep, and repeat. When will we have time to learn their heart language especially if they do not speak a language that has resources translated?

The diaspora that comes from large people groups who may speak the national language and have Bible resources already have a small percentage of believers. Every resource we give to a people group with even very little going on is one more minute a totally unreached people will be waiting on their missionary.

I have participated in many meetings and conferences on diaspora. One thing that I see is that most mission work done among them is benevolent, social mission work, which is also in most cases short-term missions. I believe in benevolent, social ministry done by the full-time field missionaries INSIDE their people group. They need it, you should give it and it would be more strategic to do it in their context. Just go and do what God has called you to. Jesus came to us, we should go to them.

Here is the hard part. If I am passionate about reaching unreached people, their coming to me should mean a full-time, language learning, cross-cultural effort on my behalf to really disciple them into Christ. I know there are examples of this out there, but unfortunately, most are short-lived.

We all want to believe we can be involved in the great commission without having to leave our culture, family, etc. We are basically doing what the local congregation is doing, we go to church, do a little to help, and go back to our normal lives.

I believe that the diaspora movement will continue to gain some followers and some fruit from those staying home to take care of them. I suggest that all Unreached people movements and mobilizers should separate this entire conversation from

Here is a thought. The totally unreached people groups that we cannot identify or practically disciple in the big city, have all the same problems, difficulties, tragedies, and atrocities as the diaspora peoples do. We just don’t see them because they are in their own countries where we don’t normally have knowledge of them.

Totally unreached people groups are migrating, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have the time, with your schedule, job, family, church, etc to disciple the people group?
  2. If you don’t, do you have the commitment to go into full-time ministry to disciple them?
  3. Can you actually identify the specific unreached people group in your big city?
  4. Do they want or can they spend the time to be discipled?
  5. Do they want or have the time to teach you their language?
  6. Is going into the diaspora group more strategic than getting behind a missionary who wants to go to their country of origin?
  7. Should we be pouring time and resources into diaspora ministries if many are short-term and have little fruit?

See the Etnopedia Diaspora Manual developed mainly by my friend I mention above.