Dr. Sadiri Joy Tira - Senior Associate for Diasporas - is the International Coordinator for Filipino International Network (FIN) --- “a catalytic movement of Christians committed to motivate and mobilize Filipinos globally to partner for worldwide mission”. Sadiri, who goes by “Joy,” is also currently the Global Ministries Diasporas Specialist for the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. He serves on the Canadian Board of Directors of Serve-in-Missions (formerly Sudan Interior Mission), and is a member of EDINBURGH 2010 Commission VII: Christian Communities in Contemporary Contexts. Joy has been a member of the national Board of Directors of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) in Canada, and a member-at-large of the General Council of the Evangelical Fellowship in Canada (EFC). He ministered in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for over two decades, where he was the founding Senior Pastor of First Filipino Alliance Church. Before immigrating to Canada, he worked as an engineer with Operation Mobilization’s ship M/V Logos, while his wife, Lulu, served as a nurse.
Joy received his theological and ministry training from Western Seminary (D.Miss.); Reformed Theological Seminary (D.Min.); Edmonton Baptist Seminary (M.T.S.); and Canadian Theological Seminary (M.Miss.). He is co-editor of Missions in Action in the 21st Century (Filipino International Network/Institute for Diaspora Studies –Western Seminary: 2008); Scattered: The Filipino Global Presence (LifeChange Publishing Inc., Manila: 2004), and contributor to the LCWE’s Occasional Paper No. 55 on diaspora missions, The New People Next Door (LCWE: 2005). Joy is a missions practitioner who travels extensively around the globe mobilizing Christians in diaspora, particularly the globally scattered Filipinos to help fulfill the Great Commission.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Joy and his wife Lulu immigrated to Canada in 1981 and are now naturalized Canadians. They are based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada -- one of the world's most multi-cultural cities. (According to the City of Toronto's website, half of its population was "born outside of Canada"). Joy and Lulu have two adult children: Lorajoy and Tonyvic who are married to Dennis and Zenavid respectively, and who all make their home in Edmonton. When Joy and Lulu are not traveling, they can be found visiting their grandchildren, Santiago, Isabel, and Sophie.
Sadiri Joy Tira at Starbucks
I am at Starbucks watching people. Yes, I “people-watch” at Starbucks. If you have ever wondered where to meet people from around the world, spend a couple of hours at Starbucks.
I met Ibrahim* at Starbucks.
Ibrahim is a Ph.D. student from Nigeria. He loves Toronto and the Canadian lifestyle. Though raised as a Muslim, in Canada he feels free to explore what “the world has to offer.” Ibrahim is dating Nia, a recent immigrant from the Philippines who works in telecommunications. On Sundays Nia attends a local Catholic church, because she says there she “feels at home.” Both Ibrahim and Nia are looking for community in Canada.
I also met Florica* at Starbucks.
Her father is Romanian and her mother a Filipino. Florica was born in the United States, but she divides her time between her American Ivy League university and her university in the Philippines. She travels across North America representing her Asian-American Culture Society. Her boyfriend is an Irish American Catholic. Florica is constantly researching her roots and has a great desire to connect with both her families in Europe and in Asia. I think that she is the face of the future.
I met another interesting person at Starbucks - Dr. Albaker.*
Dr. Albaker is a medical specialist living and working in Toronto.
He is very busy, but still takes the time to drop into Starbucks for a regular coffee break.
People are on the Move. Undeniably.
But what does this mean for local churches?
In this “borderless” world, can you imagine the international ripples if only my Starbucks friends encountered Christians in Canada who have been trained to interact cross-culturally; who share their cross-cultural interests; who have been given strategic evangelism and discipleship tools? Can you imagine them telling their families about new faith in Jesus Christ? In turn, can you imagine their families introducing Jesus Christ to an extended network of relatives and friends “back home” including friends who are “people on the move”?
There are thousands of “people on the move” in Canada. One need not look further than the local Starbucks to meet Diaspora peoples. They are studying in our schools, drinking coffee at our cafes, serving our meals at our favourite Sunday restaurants, playing with their kids in our playgrounds, and jogging around the park with us. They may even be living “next door.”
On the other hand, there are people from “here” moving “there.” My brother-in-law, Rudy* is a Filipino-American Civil-Engineer, raised in Hawaii, and with the US Navy. Just recently, he was stationed and deployed to Afghanistan as an engineering instructor. Imagine how many people he comes in contact with who have the potential of being witnesses for Jesus Christ in a war-torn country. Imagine if Rudy was trained and equipped with evangelism and discipleship tools. If Rudy and other Christians “on the move” like him were trained in cross-cultural communication and were effectively debriefed on their hosts’ culture, imagine how they could witness.
People today are on the move!
Now here is the question:
How can we better reach “people on the move”?
Teach our congregations to be hospitable. Here’s an example from Canada: The most recent statistics from Canada Citizenship and Immigration indicate that in 2007 alone, Canada:
- welcomed 302,303 foreign workers as temporary migrant workers
- granted initial entry to 233,971 foreign students
- welcomed 27,956 refugees
- granted 236,758 people permission to make Canada their home as permanent immigrants. Of these, the Top Ten Source Countries for Permanent Immigrants were (in descending order): China, India, Philippines, USA, Pakistan, UK, Iran, South Korea, France, and Columbia.
Build awareness. We need to educate our congregations to be effectively relational in our “global neighborhood.” We need to try the new Somalian restaurant (for example) and then invite our friends there to expose them to the culture of our new neighbours. It is important for Christians to build cultural awareness that will result to authentic relationships making them credible witnesses for Jesus Christ.
Come up with more “creative ministries.” Pearson International Airport (Toronto), for example, receives three packed Emirates Airbuses A380 (this is the largest passenger aircraft and seats up to 853 people) flights a week. Simple math: 853x 3 flights/week x 52weeks/year =133,068 passengers/year on Emirates Airlines alone! Most of the passengers are coming from the Gulf region. Do we have a strategy to reach these “people on the move” who are tourists, businessmen, international students, and new immigrants? These are the very people our International Workers are trying to minister to “over there.” On the subject of creative ministries – in recent years, Filipino International Network (FIN) brokered a partnership between Operation Mobilisation, Campus Crusade for Christ, the Seamen’s Christian Friends Society, the Alliance Graduate School in Manila, and FIN. This partnership formed Alliance of Churches at Sea (ACAS). Since Filipinos compose over 25% of the global maritime workers, ACAS has been training Filipino seafarers to plant churches on board cruise ships, super tankers, and container ships among “people on the ocean.” In such a short period of time, we have now churches on the ocean! This is a case of a multi-directional and trans-national approach to church planting.
Accelerate formal and non-formal trainings for our future pastors, international workers and lay leaders to prepare them for ministry in our “borderless” world.
Pray for the “people on the move.” Also pray for the people ministering to them.
We now have an unprecedented opportunity to introduce the Diasporas to Jesus Christ and invite them to become part of His Church. With Lausanne Diasporas, we are proactively responding to this major global trend of Diasporas and the Diaspora issue will be addressed at Cape Town 2010. Pray that Diaspora Missions will be embraced by the Whole Church.
*Names have been changed.
Sadiri Joy Tira (D.Min., D.Miss.) is the LCWE Senior Associate for Diasporas, the Global Ministries Diaspora Specialist for the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada, and the International Coordinator for the Filipino International Network.
To read more on Diasporas - People on the Move - click here to the The Lausanne Movement