On Feb. 24, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) held its first in-person meeting for the Diaspora Missions Collaborative, a steering committee for an initiative that entity leaders will formally announce at the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif. The committee exists to highlight the unity and emphasis of SBC entities on diaspora missions engagement across the convention’s 40,000-plus churches.
“It is without question that Southern Baptists can do more together than they can alone,” said SEBTS President Danny Akin. “This does not just include our giving. It also includes coming together to collaborate and plan. Reaching the world and reaching North America requires strategic partnerships, and this is exactly what the Diaspora Missions Collaborative is. Only as we work together can we reach diaspora people in our nation with the gospel of Jesus Christ. SEBTS is honored to work alongside these brothers and sisters.”
Along with SEBTS, steering committee partners included leaders from the following entities, state conventions and associations:
- North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Send Relief
- International Mission Board (IMB)
- Executive Committee (SBC)
- National Women’s Missionary Union (WMU)
- Arkansas Baptist Convention
- Kentucky Baptist Convention
- Louisville Regional Baptist Association
- Metropolitan New York Baptist Association
- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Steering committee leaders echoed the theme of cooperation in their efforts to reach more refugees, immigrants and international students with the gospel. They expressed how coming together to reach diaspora peoples is more effective together than any one entity or church can do alone.
“Cooperation is at the core of who we are as Southern Baptists, and by bringing the entities together, we can be much stronger,” said John Barnett, missions strategist with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and ambassador with Send Relief. “Working together shows a more unified vision to cast as a convention to be able to engage.” Barnett explained that this collective effort would result in strategic partnerships, pathways and pipelines to aid diaspora missions.
Likewise, Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of the Woman’s Missionary Union said, “When you combine the breadth and depth of all the partnering entities, collectively we are in a unique position to make an incredible impact for the Kingdom through diaspora missions.”
After a full day of planning and discussion, the steering committee agreed to several objectives that included ways to equip, educate and encourage members of Southern Baptist churches toward diaspora mission work. Some of the agreed upon objectives included the goal to:
- Encourage churches engaging people groups globally to engage locally, and those engaging locally to engage the same people group globally.
- Encourage missionary sending pipelines to engage diaspora people groups as part of their training.
“Pursuing this opportunity makes strategic missiological sense when it comes to getting the gospel to all peoples,” said Terry Sharp, convention and network relations leader for the IMB. “As immigrants, international students and refugees in the U.S. come to know Christ and are discipled, they will take the gospel, virtually or in person, back to their communities which could be some of the least-reached nations of the world. Missionaries must continue to go to unreached peoples and places globally, but Christians in North America shouldn’t miss the opportunities that God is orchestrating to reach the nations at their doorstep.”