SA Baptist Journal of Theology 2019
In 2018, according to the United Nations, there were over 68 million forcibly displaced people in the world. The present refugee crisis has catapulted immigration into major social, legal and theological deliberations. This present displacement of people which the world has never experienced before has significantly shaped and will continue to shape the future far beyond our own imaginations.
Religious persecution and refugee movements “have been strategic inflection points in the history of Christianity and the current refugee displacement will shape the future of Christianity in many ways” (S. George in Refugee Diaspora: Missions Amid the Greatest Humanitarian Crises). Therefore, God seems to be doing a new thing in and through refugees world-wide. God is sovereign over human dispersion, regardless of the motive, because displaced people are forced to question underlying assumptions about their existence, more specifically their understanding of God. Most displaced people tend to become Christians or embrace Christianity after migrating to foreign countries. Andrew Walls correctly observed in lecture delivered at the University of Edinburgh in 2003 that “Migration is a more significant factor in Christian history than the reformation itself”. This movement will reshape Christianity as we know it. This is attested to how refugees injected freshness and growth to the church in Europe and parts of Africa, more specifically South Africa. South Africa is said to have the largest refugee population in the world, and unlike other countries, South Africa tries to integrate the refugee communities into mainline society.
Like Jesus and his family that fled Egypt under the persecution of Herod the Great, the people of Egypt welcomed and cared for this family. How then must church locally and globally respond to this greatest of humanitarian crises? How do we stir the collective conscience of the church, to move from fear to compassion towards these scattered people? Thus, enabling the church to be on mission with a moving God who moves among people. Thank you to the following authors for their scholarly contribution to the theme Diaspora, Refugees and the Missio Dei.