THREE PROBLEMS OVERCOME BY A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Wanted: One generous donor with deep pockets willing to empty them for the sake of the gospel. Your gift would send every member of our congregation on a trip to Ghana or India or the Dominican Republic. While there, these affluent suburban residents of Ohio will see Christian work and meet Christian workers living in simplicity and sometimes need, facing pagan religions and often persecution. Maybe these Americans will encourage or help those they meet in the foreign land. If so, that will be a side benefit to the main purpose of the trip: to instill a sense of urgency for spreading the gospel in America where our abundance distracts us from the church’s primary mission on earth.
Such a trip would give these travelers a new global perspective. This would go a long way toward eliminating at least three problems faced by most local congregations in America today.
Satan’s most subtle and successful spiritual attack on the American church is complacency. In America we lose sight of God’s purposes as Satan distracts us with a thousand different diversions. This is not so for the poverty-stricken masses living in the Majority World, especially those daily facing the threat of persecution simply because they worship Jesus.
Stand in front of African children whose parents were killed because they were Christians and hear them pray for the murderers. Listen to a Christian preacher in India tell how he was beaten and left for dead before his attackers raped and killed his wife. But after he awoke from his coma, he returned to the village where these men lived and led them to faith in Christ.
You cannot return from such encounters and remain at ease in a world driven by pleasure and comfort. Seeing such faith kindles in us an urgency to share the gospel here.
Some Christians are looking for the Burger King Church: “I want it my way.” They’ve paid their dues, and they expect the perks that come with membership. But spend time with people who have nowhere to turn but God, and your sense of entitlement fades.
When I returned from my first trip to India, I was angry with the church for its tendency to major on minors. Overseas I had been in a room with hundreds of people who became Christians because of one brave man who had endured a terrible beating from a Hindu extremist but refused to give up his faith. But on my first Sunday back, a woman rushed to the front of the auditorium to berate me for something I’d said in the service that didn’t suit her. Her criticism reminded me of all the petty complaints most American ministers hear every week.
My trip had begun to create in me a global perspective on the work of the church and the priority of the gospel. I realized in a fresh way how my church in Texas was connected to something much larger. I’d seen people on the other side of the globe fighting for the gospel in ways I’d never imagined.
When floodwaters overwhelmed homes in North Carolina this week, none of the rescuers argued about the color of their lifeboats. They sacrificed their own preferences for the urgent task of saving their neighbors who couldn’t survive without their help.
A global perspective helps us achieve this kind of focus. Among Majority World Christians, we see joy in the midst of poverty. We witness thousands coming to Christ under the shadow of pagan oppression. We meet missionaries and national workers who turn their backs on lucrative careers to start schools, build hospitals, plant churches, and preach the gospel.
In our secure suburbs, we can choose to ignore the desperate communities in our own country. But when we travel to places where almost no one knows our benefits, we recognize what’s really important. We see all the energy we give to matters that don’t really matter, and we commit ourselves to what matters most: joining hands in the work of spreading the truth about Jesus.
I doubt we’ll ever send our whole church overseas. So I’m praying for ways to instill a global perspective among us. I truly believe it can change our whole outlook on life and ministry.
How have you succeeded in creating a global perspective among the American Christians you serve?