North America has historically been one of the top destination areas for international migrants, students, asylum seekers and refugees worldwide. Violence, disasters, education, economics and the COVID-19 pandemic have played a part in the influx of people moving around the globe.
Canada and the United States have welcomed millions of these immigrants, many of them from countries where Western missionaries have not been able to access with ease. The great migration effect has led to the nations being our next-door neighbors. Returning missionaries, such as Bob and Brenda Bagley, now continue ministering to people groups in North America that they first went overseas to serve.
As a result of the global scattering of people, commonly referred to as the diaspora, many Wesleyan leaders have noticed the increase of internationals within their communities. The increase has not only been found in large cities; many rural communities have also noticed a change in demographics. One example can be found in Coldwater, Michigan, where Reverend Rodelet Raymond, a Haitian church planter, was recently appointed by the Great Lakes Region to start a Haitian congregation. The church is truly experiencing missions from everywhere to everywhere.
Supporting The Wesleyan Church’s (TWC) Acts 1:8 DNA, use of the MissionInsite demographic research tool has sparked a desire in pastors to explore creative ways of welcoming, befriending and ministering to new diaspora people groups.
In September 2023, Global Partners (GP), Church Multiplication and Discipleship (CMAD) and Immigrant Connection (IC) directors convened a conversation at the annual Immigrant Connection Conference to discuss the growing need for a diaspora resource network. Leaders from across North America shared beautiful stories of diaspora mission work amid honest and energizing brainstorming conversations. Many Acts 1:8 church leaders also shared their heart and desire for making disciples and planting churches within their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
The partnering spirit between GP, CMAD and IC is one example of the current missional unity within TWC. Ian Swyers (GP) and Ed Love (CMAD) facilitated the discussion hosted by Zach Szmara (IC). Dr. Justin Bradbury, director of the Sea2Sky Network, a growing sector of TWC in Western Canada, presented a missiological framework for diaspora missions. By the end of the conversations, many ideas for a diaspora resource network were generated and organizational next steps were outlined.
If you would like more information on being involved in the formation of the diaspora resource network, or are reaching the diaspora in your circle of influence, please feel free to share your story here.
Dr. Ed Love is executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship of The Wesleyan Church.