Durian - Image Courtesy Ringo Ichigo

Diaspora Focus: Curry, Baharat and Durian

Naomi Frizzell 06 Feb 2012

I went to a Farmers Market near Atlanta, GA recently.  While I live several hours away from the market, it’s become my new favorite place to shop for food.


Visiting the market is like taking a stroll through a food bazaar in all your favorite countries wrapped into one.  It can be a bit overwhelming when the market is full and your senses are assaulted by the crush of people and the smells that are sweet, spicy and pungent.  While I’m not a gourmet cook by any means, visiting the market always makes me feel like just mayyybbbee I could make something delectable out of that piece of goat, or those legumes and spices, or even that Durian (okay, maybe NOT the Durian).

But what is even more fun is people-watching and people-listening at the market.  One person says there are more than 100 languages spoken by just the workers at the market.  While I have no solid proof of that I tend to think the number is fairly accurate and soars even higher when customers are factored into the figure.  As my husband and I walked around the market we heard Amharic, Russian, Spanish, Arabic and others, along with all manner of accented English.  (I know I know as an American I have the accent.) 

Rubbing shoulders with so many different people was amazing and exhilarating but also frustrating.  They didn’t sound like me.  They bumped into me.  They were loud.

I was once again pushed out of my “white bread” comfort zone and I loved it.  I came face to face with the reality of the changes taking place in population – not only in the United States but in nearly every large city and country.  My experience near Atlanta is replicated around the world as we find ourselves in a true melting pot – a beautiful symphony of colors, flavors, languages and customs.  “Those people over there” are now here – working and shopping alongside us, going to school with our children and living next door.  No matter where you are in the world, you’re likely experiencing the same phenomenon of interacting with people from other cultures now on your “doorstep”.

Getting to know our new friends and neighbors – the Diaspora – can sometimes be uncomfortable for both them and us as we learn how to live and work together.  Yet our perspective on this should be influenced by what are now unprecedented opportunities to share our faith in Jesus Christ without jumping on a plane and handing over our passport.

And it’s not just a one way street.  Many of the Diaspora are Christian brothers and sisters who can teach us much about humility, integrity and sacrifice for the gospel.

This month we’re focusing on the Diaspora – “people from everywhere moving everywhere”.

Dr. Sadiri Joy Tira, Lausanne Senior Associate for Diasporas, helps us explore why so many people are on the move and challenges us to rethink familiar terms like “missionary” and “unreached people groups”.  Are these terms still relevant in light of the vast changes in our world?

I encourage you to read his article, the responses from three other leaders and join in the discussion:

Lead Article:


You may also watch Diaspora-related videos from Cape Town 2010 and see the full conversation on Diaspora through the Lausanne Global Conversation.

This discussion on what mission is today becomes even more relevant this month as we mark the 200th anniversary of the commissioning of the first missionaries to be sent from a North American mission agency.  You’ll recognize some of the names of these pioneers . . . Adoniram and Ann Judson, Samuel and Harriet Newell, Samuel and Roxana Nott, Gordon Hall and Luther Rice.  The world these men and women sailed into in the 1800s is a different world than the one we open our eyes to today.  Yet, the message of the gospel, the love of Jesus Christ and the urgency of our task remains the same.  As we pray, plan and work together to share Christ, let’s remember the sacrifice of the men and women who have gone before us and the awesome responsibility that God has given us to share the Good News here, there and everywhere.

I’m looking forward to my next visit to Atlanta and the market and maybe I’ll see you there!