GDF 2015 was held in Manila, Philippines, on 24-27 March 2015.
Challenges: The Road to Manila
The road that led to the Global Diaspora Forum 2015 was not devoid of challenges. We were faced with the resignation of the former Forum Director just a few weeks before the event; we had zero funds to launch a global event; our website was hacked, etc.
The ‘mountains’ were so high to climb that serious deliberations were conducted by the Global Diaspora Network (GDN) and Lausanne leadership about whether to push through or cancel the event. But our faith is stronger than the waves of discouragements. I was reminded of the apostle James’ exhortation of the Jewish diaspora: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).
After the event, I look back to celebrate the truths that God is sovereign; he cares for his servants; and he answers the concerted prayers of the church!
A Story of Success and Celebration
Over 300 men and women from six continents, representing over a hundred denominations, mission agencies, theological training institutions, NGOs, and Christian foundations came to the gathering. They came to participate actively, to learn enthusiastically, and to network diligently for a common cause: the global church diaspora mission agenda. A central focus of this gathering was to work together on editing and sharpening the various articles, case studies, and sections of a compendium textbook on global diaspora missiology.
The devotional speakers, plenary presenters, editors, and writers of the compendium came prepared to answer many questions related to the textbook. There were intense, healthy discussions, and feedback and critiques will be integrated in the final version of the compendium. Participants went back home fulfilled, encouraged, and committed to advance diaspora discussions in their spheres of influence.
We were honored to have guests join us from all over the world—senior leaders of the Lausanne Movement including Dr Michael Oh and Dr David Bennett; the Secretary of Labor and Employment of the Republic of the Philippines, Hon Rosalinda Baldoz; and Bishop Noel Pantoja of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches. We were also honored to have with us the newly installed CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance, Bishop Ephraim Tendero, during the event.
The concluding session was solemn, moving, and unifying. We experienced the wind of God blowing in our midst, especially during the celebration of the Lord’s Table. The final challenge at the gathering was given by Dr Tetsunao Yamamori, who spoke on an agenda for the global church with regard to diaspora missiology. We also presented an action plan for the next five years.
In the coming six months, there will be extensive editorial work for the compendium, tentatively titled Scattered and Gathered: A Compendium of Global Diaspora Missiology. We are eagerly looking forward to the publication of this textbook on diaspora missiology, which represents the best collaborative thinking of the 300 participants from GDF 2015.
I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to the GDN International Board, the Philippine Board of Trustees, and the senior leaders of the Lausanne Movement for their godly counsel. I also give thanks for the committed partnership of funding supporters, especially the Greenhills Christian Fellowship, Korean Diaspora Network, LifeAgape International, Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada, Advancing Indigenous Missions, Mr David Chung and Associates, etc. Lastly I truly thank Rev Art Medina (Forum Director) and his wife Marlene, Ms Mila N Pangilinan (GDN Manila Office Administrator), Ms Rea Batalla (Event Organizer), and my assistant Lorajoy Tira-Dimangondayao for their servant leadership. They are God’s gift to GDN and the Lausanne Movement.
GDF 2015 was successful because God is good, his people prayed, our staff were diligent, and key ministry partners shared their financial resources.
Dr Sadiri Joy Tira, the Founding Chairman of GDN passed the baton of Chairmanship to Dr TV Thomas. The other members of the GDN Executive Committee are the following: Dr Soon Lee, Vice Chairman; Rev Art Medina, Treasurer; Rev Paul Sydnor, Secretary; Dr Ted Yamamori, Senior Advisor. They are joined by eight other members of the International Board of Advisers. Dr Tira, remains as the Lausanne Movement’s Senior Associate for Diasporas. He was also appointed during the Forum to serve as Coordinator of the newly formed Diaspora Missiology Educators Task Force. There are 12 other missions scholars in this team. Rev Cody Lorance and Mrs Katherine Lorance will serve as Communication and Prayer Coordinators respectively. We ask the Lausanne Movement to pray for these leaders as they serve the global church.