Loving the Diaspora Dance
Tripping over my own feet trying to learn Scottish Highland dancing, I marveled that I was learning this in China, taught by a Portuguese-Canadian. We moved on to Tibetan dancing — much easier — and then square dancing, the Virginia Reel.
This Diaspora Dance creates hilarious moments of learning, and is also a catalyst for communicating the gospel.
Last night I went to a lecture “Missions, Migration and Multiplication Movements” offered by Dr. Robert Cousins of Tyndale Seminary and Dr. Narry Santos of Greenhills Christian Fellowship. The focus of the lecture was on the growth of the immigrant church in Canada. Dr. Santos told the story of growing a church in his native Manila, and yet seeing family after family relocate to Canada. So Dr. Santos moved to Toronto to build a church. God spoke to him: rather than build a Filipino church, Dr. Santos was to build a “multi-cultural, multiethnic” church, one that reflects the diversity of Toronto and of Canada.
I really enjoyed the boldness of Dr. Santos and his church-planting network in Canada. I also enjoyed hearing from Fletcher, a pastor planting in Surrey BC who is from Malawi, and from Lydia, a missions mobilizer from Trinidad working in Canada. Lydia believes it is good for Canadians to have diaspora Christians in their midst, because immigrants are not afraid to share their faith on the bus or metro or anywhere. Boldness is simply a part of who they are. This is great for us in Canada, as our culture tends toward the opposite; we can fear sharing our faith as we may offend someone.
This month teams of Inter-Varsity students go out to do the diaspora dance, learning new steps and moves from our global Christian family, and teaching some of our own. One team goes to East Asia, one to the Middle East, and one to Haiti. Another team hosts global partners from the Middle East North Africa region to do outreach in Canada. One team works in partnership with Indigenous youth in Canada. And another team will definitely be doing the Virginia Reel at camp with kids from a variety of backgrounds at our camp partnership.
What’s great about the Diaspora Dance? Though it has it’s awkward moments, it’s hilarious, joyous, and besides, it’s all about the learning and relationships anyway!
Time to hit the dance floor!
“O LORD you indwell our shabby human life, lifting it now and then above the dominance of animal passion and greed, allowing it to shine with borrowed lights of love and joy and peace, and making it a mirror of the beauties of a world unseen.”
This prayer is from a classic devotional by John Baillie, “A Diary of Private Prayer.” John was a Scottish theologian most known for his work helping the church think through its approach to evangelism in the post World War II era. But the volume he’s most remembered for are his prayers.
My wife and I have begun to rely on these prayers. When you find deep prayers that express your heart, it’s like discovering treasure. No wonder the disciples had to know how Jesus prayed. Jesus’ prayer in Luke 11 is just 38 words long, but his parable and teaching is 230 words long. It’s remarkable that Jesus spends more time on the WHY then on the WHAT of prayer.
The WHY we learn from the parable of the friend at midnight (Luke 11:5-8) is that we can bang on God’s door anytime of day or night with no doubt or fear about whether He will answer because His reputation is on the line. To refuse a friend or a guest in many culture, especially Middle-Eastern culture, would bring dishonor on the whole community. God is THE BEST HOST of all, and He will not let a friend at any time go away empty. (see Kenneth Baily for more of his understanding about this).
So why pray? Prayer is urgent – taking a need of a friend to God’s welcome door. Prayer is moving in faith – trust that God will gladly hear and respond. Prayer is partnership – connecting us with friends and travelers from all over the world, and linking us into the Fathe who is abundant and available and loves to give good gifts to His children.
Twelve of us from Inter-Varsity traveled to Guyana last week. We met with leaders from the Inter-Varsity of Guyana, called IS/IVCF. Each day we studied a parable together and spent time telling our stories. We studied Luke 11 and that inspired us to spend time praying together for Guyana and for the Caribbean, and for Canada, and for the whole world. Exercising our faith together in this way was inspiring. Even better was hearing from God “You are are not forgotten.” “You are all one body in Christ. Each experiencing the same kind of suffering.” “God will take you out of stagnant places, into new places far and wide.”
Many years ago a Canadian Inter-Varsity staff named Cathy Nichol began a bible study in Jamaica. That bible study became the Inter-Varsity movement that spread throughout the Caribbean. We celebrated this history with the Caribbean and its 60 years of IS/IVCF.
And we joined in together praying that God’s kingdom would come to the far and wide places of our countries, and call forth this generation into living lives for the gospel of His kingdom.
John Baillie’s prayer closes,
“O God, the reflection of your transcendent glory once appeared unbroken in the face of Jesus Christ. Give me today a heart like his: a brave heart, a true heart, a tender heart, a heart with great room in it, a heart fixed on you; for His name’s sake.”
director of missions IVCF
Mission Pilgrims is the call to live all life as a mission road following Jesus, growing as disciples as we go making disciples.
I host this blog but will involve many other contributors who are walking in Jesus mission with their lives, including:
Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship staff and students, campers, alumni, teachers, engineers, doctors, business, social workers, bakers, and candlestick-makers. Jesus calls all in His life-long mission pilgrimage whether its across the street or across the world.
For more extraordinary stories of our short-term missions, go to Extraordinary Stories