Supporting Article

The Chinese Diaspora and Loving Muslims in Canada

The Chinese diaspora in Canada, marked by a rich history of migration and settlement, reflects a tapestry of resilience, cultural adaptation, and integration. The genesis of this diaspora can be traced back to the nineteenth century, primarily driven by economic opportunities and later by political upheavals in China. Over the decades, the Chinese community in Canada has evolved, witnessing significant shifts in immigration policies, societal attitudes, and the socio-economic landscape.

During the early part of the twentieth century, Chinese immigrants encountered significant challenges, including discriminatory policies like the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Head Tax. These policies profoundly impacted the early Chinese immigrants who came to Canada. However, despite these obstacles, the Chinese diaspora has thrived and significantly contributed to Canada’s cultural, economic, and social fabric. From the 1960s onward, many Chinese churches have been established in large and small cities across Canada.1

At the turn of the twenty-first century, recent socio-political developments in Hong Kong have led to an increase in outmigration to Canada.2 Due to the implementation of the National Security Law, economic stagnation, and religious freedom concerns, many Hong Kong residents are seeking better opportunities and security in Canada. This recent influx is evident through the substantial increase in Cantonese-speaking congregations across Canada, adding another layer of complexity to the Chinese diaspora. These immigrants bring unique perspectives shaped by their experiences in a region undergoing rapid political change.

Today, the Chinese diaspora community is a testament to the enduring spirit of perseverance and the continuous pursuit of integration and identity within the Canadian mosaic. The evolving narrative of the Chinese diaspora in Canada is crucial in understanding their current interactions with other immigrant communities, particularly Muslims. The shared experiences of migration, adaptation, and the quest for identity form a common ground for dialogue and mutual understanding. This historical context sets the stage for exploring the dynamics of intercultural engagement within the diaspora, particularly in Christian and Muslim relations.

Challenges, Opportunities and Strategies for Engaging with Muslims

The 2021 Canadian Census reveals that the Chinese population in Canada is 1.7 million, representing 4.7% of the total population. Most of the Chinese community (71.7%) reported no religious affiliation, with a diverse range of languages spoken, including Mandarin and Cantonese. On the other hand, the Muslim population in Canada has more than doubled in the last 20 years, reaching nearly 1.8 million or 4.9% of the population in 2021.3 This comparative growth reflects the diverse ethnocultural and religious landscape of Canada. Most Canadian Muslims live in Ontario, followed by Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia. As for the Chinese, most of them live in Ontario, followed by British Columbia and Alberta. The two diaspora communities have both population and geographical proximity, making building relationships easier.

The 2019 General Survey by the Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelism (CCCOWE) Canada reported over 400 Chinese churches in Canada.4 In contrast, as of 2023, the Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry lists just over 20 Arabic-speaking churches in the country.5 This indicates a significant difference in the outreach and establishment of churches within these communities, despite having a comparable number of immigrants in Canada. This suggests potential for greater outreach efforts by the Arabic-speaking churches. Moreover, Chinese churches can offer helping hands under the Great Commission mandate!

Engaging with Muslims presents unique challenges and opportunities for the Chinese Christian diaspora in Canada. Cultural and religious differences, often caused by misunderstandings and a lack of knowledge, can create barriers to effective engagement. For instance, differences in religious practices, dietary restrictions, and perspectives on social issues can lead to misconceptions and stereotyping.

Developing effective strategies for ministry and engagement between the Chinese churches and Muslims in Canada is crucial. The 2009 Diaspora Missiology Seoul Declaration underscores the importance of adopting a missiological approach sensitive to diaspora communities’ cultural and religious contexts.6 This involves creating spaces for dialogue, fostering mutual respect, and participating in joint community initiatives.

The global surge in migration presents a significant opportunity for Chinese churches to engage in diaspora missiology, a strategic approach to God’s mission among people living outside their place of origin. This approach involves adapting to the changing dynamics of global migration, focusing on reaching diverse and scattered populations everywhere. Local churches are crucial in offering practical support and relationship-building within their communities, especially in urban and multicultural contexts. This strategy complements traditional missions and calls for innovative, flexible methods to minister to and integrate migrants effectively, reflecting the role of the Chinese churches in God’s redemptive plan in a borderless world.7

In alignment with God’s sacrificial love, the primary strategy for the Chinese churches in Canada should be cultivating an ethos of love and acceptance towards the Muslim diaspora. This approach begins with fostering a deep understanding and respect for Islamic beliefs and cultural practices. Churches may initiate interfaith dialogues, cultural exchange programs, and joint community service projects. These activities demonstrate Christian love in action and encourage mutual learning and understanding, laying a foundation for lasting relationships and meaningful community impact.

Additionally, these efforts must be grounded in prayer and guided by a deep understanding of Christian and Islamic teachings. This ensures that the engagement is respectful, informed, and aligned with the principles of Christian witness.

Loving Muslims Together

Loving Muslims Together (LMT) is a Canadian Christian initiative by Outreach Canada that aims to create meaningful connections between Christians and the Muslim community. The fundamental principle of LMT is that God’s love, as demonstrated through Jesus Christ, includes Muslims. LMT focuses on the 1.8 million Muslim residents in Canada and offers support to the Canadian church to effectively engage with Muslims through various methods. LMT mobilizes prayer and action, nurtures relationships and collaboration, connects individuals to training and resources, inspires outreach and discipleship, and encourages Christians to show love and understanding towards Muslims collectively. The initiative is made up of diverse local networks and prayer groups across Canada that are dedicated to the spiritual journey and well-being of Muslims in the country.8

This article presents the mission partnership between CCCOWE Canada and Outreach Canada as a case study. Starting in 2023, the partnership organizes a monthly prayer initiative, “Loving Muslims Together,” to foster cultural understanding and compassion between Chinese evangelical churches in Canada and the Muslim community. This collaboration includes organizing events and prayer meetings to equip and mobilize Chinese churches for effective cross-cultural gospel ministries.

One of the critical aspects of this partnership is the emphasis on praying for the Muslim community during significant Islamic events, such as Ramadan. The initiative encourages Christians to pray for Muslims, focusing on mercy, forgiveness, and salvation themes, especially during important Islamic observances like the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr), which commemorates the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad.

The partnership also includes special events like prayer and learning sessions. These sessions allow members of the Chinese evangelical community to learn more about Islam and the Muslim community in Canada. For instance, they have organized events where individuals can hear testimonies from former Muslims who have converted to Christianity, and from Christian leaders who have experience engaging with Muslim communities.

Engaging with Muslim friends during the Christmas season can create an opportunity to share the core values of Advent—hope, peace, joy, and love—essential to celebrating Jesus Christ’s birth. This time can be utilized to invite Muslims to participate in Christmas activities, fostering mutual understanding and respect between different faith communities. Some key strategies that can be used include inviting Muslim friends to church Christmas celebrations to gain a biblical perspective of the festival, organizing Advent dinners with halal options to discuss the Gospel, giving symbolic gifts such as poinsettias or food baskets to initiate deeper conversations about Christianity, and sharing scripture calendars in various languages as a culturally sensitive way to share the Gospel. These activities are not just about festive celebrations; they are meaningful ways to build bridges and foster strong relationships between faiths.

The partnership between Chinese churches in Canada and other groups for local cross-cultural missions promises significant benefits. This collaboration will enhance the understanding of the Muslim faith among Chinese churches, foster a spirit of love and compassion towards Muslim neighbors, and provide essential tools and resources for effective cross-cultural ministry. Such joint efforts will strengthen community ties and promote mutual understanding among diverse cultural and religious groups in Canada.


This exploration of the Chinese diaspora in Canada, particularly in their engagement with the Muslim community, underscores the significance of intercultural dialogue and understanding.  Looking forward, the Chinese churches in Canada are poised to play a vital role in bridging cultural and religious divides, exemplifying the Christian mandate of love and service in a multicultural context. This endeavor enriches individual lives and contributes positively to the broader Canadian societal fabric, setting a precedent for harmonious coexistence and mutual respect.


  1. The Christian and Missionary Alliance is one of the largest Chinese denominations in Canada with over 110 churches. Solomon Chiang and Francis Tam outlined its church planting efforts in various cities across Canada for more than 50 years in the book Forging Future with Tradition—The History and Development of Canadian Chinese Alliance Churches published by the Canadian Chinese Alliance Churches Association in June 2013. Accessed on Dec 27, 2023, from
  2. Francis Tam, “Global Chinese Diaspora and the Recent Outmigration of Hong Kong to Canada,” a research paper presented at the Lausanne Global Diaspora Consultation, Jeju Island, South Korea, August 2023.
  3. Statistics Canada, “Religion in Canada,” October 28, 2021, accessed February 14, 2024,
  4. Enoch Wong, Tommy Tsui, and Wes Wong, General Survey of the Chinese Churches in Canada (2019). CCCOWE Canada & Centre for Leadership Studies at CCST, 2019, accessed February 14, 2024,
  5. Arabic Church Directory, Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry, accessed February 14, 2024,
  6. “The Seoul Declaration on Diaspora Missiology,” Lausanne Movement, November 14, 2009, accessed February 14, 2024,
  7. Joy Tira Sadiri, “A Diaspora Mission Strategy for Local Churches,” Evangelica Missions Quarterly 53, no. 1 (2017): 60–65.
  8. “Loving Muslims Together” is a ministry of Outreach Canada, accessed February 14, 2024,
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Francis Tam

Francis Tam

Rev. Dr. Francis Tam (譚文鈞牧師博士) has over 40 years of experience serving the Chinese Christian community in Canada in various capacities. He is the Executive Director of the Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelism (Canada) and the Interim Principal of the Canadian Chinese School of Theology Calgary. As an ordained …View Full Bio