Another argument against emigration states that the Scriptures specifically discourages ‘emigration’, through Jeremiah 29:5–7. It was at a time after the Babylonians had deported a large number of Israelites as punishment for rebellion. Many of the Israelite exiles in Babylon were unhappy in a foreign land where they had little citizenship rights, and would have emigrated back to Judah given the first chance. But God asked them to “build houses…plant gardens…marry and have sons and daughters…seek the welfare of the city to which I carried you…pray to the Lord for it…”
A utilitarian argument claims that emigrations results in a brain drain of some of the best and brightest and the consequential damage to the economy and society. The damage also affects the church because the people who left could have been playing key roles in the Church in Malaysia. This argument further extends that emigrating only solves the problems for oneself and his/her family, but does not solve the problem for the nation, the Malaysian Church, and in particular, for those who are too poor and unqualified to have the means to leave. By leaving, we leave the country and the Malaysian church in a state of even greater need than before because often, it is precisely those who leave who have the training, resources and ability to alleviate the needs of the country and the Church.
However, I would like to propose a counter argument to the question, "Can Christians emigrate?" My view, based on missiological and biblical perspectives, God's sovereignty in history and God's leading to safety, is that Christians can emigrate out of their nations.
Missiological and Biblical Perspective
God's Sovereignty in History
God's Leading to Safety
In conclusion, the position of the Latter Rain Church (LRC) with reference to those who are in Malaysia is that there are three segments of people, all are called by God and have different roles to play in the days ahead.
A. Called to stay
There will be many people that God may call to stay in Malaysia to do His work here. There will be those who are called by God to bring righteousness and justice to Malaysia and they should stay and be involved in nation building. In Sarawak, we, the LRC plan to plant and build church buildings for 100 churches over the next 10 years. Those who are called to stay need to be true to their calling to do His work in Malaysia.
B. Called to emigrate for a season
There will be those who are called to emigrate for a season and the duration of this season can be as short as a few years or as long as a few decades. This can be for any combination of reasons including religious freedom, career opportunity, better quality of life, education for their children, health care, or calling to transform that nation. Just as the Lord is a good shepherd leading Abraham to a land of promise, in a similar way, He can divinely lead others to a land of promise for their lives and their family. When the time is right, the Lord may call them back to Malaysia.
C. Called to emigrate permanently
Like the Celts of Ireland from the 5th to the 12th century A.D. and the Moravians of Europe during the time of young John Wesley, where whole families and communities were involved in missions, spreading the word of God, it is my desire to see LRC members be missionaries to other nations of the world. Today even more so I see the urgency to go to other nations to plant churches and also to be God's vehicle for nation transformation. Countries that God has used in the past as missionary nations like Britain, U.S.A. and Australia are becoming more and more secular, godless nations. We have a debt to pay by bringing the fire, passion, and power of God back into their nations to turn it around for God's kingdom.
The Latter Rain Church will support all three of these segments of people with different callings of God on their lives. We will pray, support and work alongside them in ministry, whether they are called to stay in Malaysia or emigrate to other nations. God's destiny for your life could be different from others and we will be supportive of it.
This paper was published HERE.