by Luis Pantoja, Jr., Sadiri Joy Tira, and Enoch Wan, editors
None other than Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, president of the Philippines, introduces this extensive report on the amazing Filipino diaspora.
Lifechange Publishing Inc., Manila, Philippines, 2004, 370 pages. Contact in North America: FIN, 10115 79th St., Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6A 3G4.
—Reviewed by Arnold L. Cook, former president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada, and past president of the Alliance World Fellowship of the C&MA National Churches.
None other than Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, president of the Philippines, introduces this extensive report on the amazing Filipino diaspora. In her remarks she commends her people for their valor, reminding them that “their sound spiritual relationship with God is a perfect source of strength.”
The book emerged from the papers presented at the Filipino Diaspora and Missions Consultation in April 2004 in Seoul, Korea. All but four of the twenty-two contributors are Filipinos.
Sadiri Joy Tira describes the humble origins of the Filipino International Network (FIN) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in the early 1990s when, over coffee, he and a mission-minded businessman dreamed about world evangelization through the mass dispersion of Filipinos, many into Limited Access Regions (LAR).
Recent studies indicate there are more than eight million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in 180 countries. One of the early concepts in FIN was what they call “glocal missions,” blending the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20 with the mission call of Acts 1:8.
They establish churches locally and send OFWs as missionaries into a borderless world globally.
Part Two of the book grapples with the biblical theology of diasporas. Narry Santos presents a survey of biblical accounts of diasporas and comments on their significant role in the context of Christian mission in the Bible. Luis Pantoja Jr. develops a theological framework for the Filipino diaspora.
In Part Three, Chinese missiologist Enoch Wan considers the phenomenon of diaspora and reflects on the missiological implications for Christian mission. Part Four addresses global strategy.
Part Five contains moving accounts of danger, suffering and abuse sprinkled with amazing stories of conversions. It is observed that an average of two OFWs returned each day to the Philippines in coffins (21).
The text that came to mind as I read this book was 1 Corinthians 9:22-23: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.” The book builds a credible case for God’s special preparation of the Filipino people for their unique role in world evangelization. This group lived under three hundred years of Spanish domination and many still speak some Spanish. Their country was ceded to the United States in 1898. Only in 1946 did they become independent. With their seventy-eight national dialects and prolonged exposure to English, many speak considerable English and can learn new languages on the job. It is noted that “Filipinos are generally friendly, flexible, adaptable [and] gifted with music” (174). They appear to possess the missionary gift of “copeabiliity” and function freely with a sanctified “pragmatism.”
The book is not an easy read due to the multiple writers and the haste in publication. Nevertheless, they accomplished their purpose in giving an overview of the Filipino diaspora and its effectiveness in penetrating the LAR. Tom Houston’s closing challenge and instructions apply to all diaspora groups.
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