Saturday, December 01, 2007

God Doesn't Play Dice, But Does He Play Mahjong?

So what of dice and mahjong? (by Paul Woods)

In response to developments in quantum mechanics Einstein complained that God does not play dice – the universe’s physical functioning is not based on chance. Neither is its missiological functioning.

A few years ago an OMF colleague and I were discussing the increasing numbers of Mainland Chinese who live abroad. With horizontal, rotary, sweeping motions of both hands, he told me “God is washing the (mahjong) tiles”. Mahjong is the classic Chinese game similar to a combination of playing cards and dominoes, in which the tiles are shuffled or washed after each game. From this we derived the term mahjong theology to advocate Diaspora Ministry. In His sovereignty, today God is shuffling the pack, and washing people from various ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds all over the planet. Just as God washed Ruth and Rahab into the community of faith, so now He is washing Chinese to the UK, for example. This is nothing new; Acts 17:26-27 tell us that God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

For us, the migration phenomenon of the early 21st century ties together the Great Commission with the ethics of God-fearing community, and an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty in the affairs of men and women. Indeed, Christian ministry among migrants has been described as Acts 1:8 in reverse; God is bringing people from the ends of the earth right to our street. We are to respond to this challenge right where we live.

Some may perceive migration as a menace, but as citizens and Christians we should view it as ministry opportunity. Unprecedented numbers of people are on the move, looking for safety, freedom, or just a better life. The expansion of the EU and ASEAN, improved communication, and ever-cheaper travel have all shrunk our world. At the same time, poverty, conflict, and hardship in many regions have caused millions to cross borders to richer, more stable nations.

Migrants are often creative, proactive people looking for a better life. There is much anecdotal evidence that migrants are more open to new things than those who remain at home. Yet the same people are vulnerable and needy. Before leaving China, one student was told by non-believing relatives, “If you need help in Britain, go to a church. They will look after you”. Our own Diaspora ministry showed us that
while apologetics and Bible study were important, the vital factor in the journey to faith was God’s love manifest through His people, across a faith – non-faith interface.

Read the entire Encounter issue on Mission and Migration here

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