How to be a global Christian without getting on a plane
The fact is, God has been seeking out the nations long before us. As you set your sights on the world, you’ll begin to discover his global desire throughout the pages of scripture.
Globalization and immigration are two buzzwords of the current political debate. Recent history has seen an unprecedented increase in interaction between governments and economies such that what happens elsewhere in the world now reverberates here at home. Modern transportation has also done its share to shrink the planet. Meanwhile, poverty and war alongside education and business opportunities have triggered an extraordinary movement of people along new lines of migration.
What this means, among other things, is that like never before we are a global society. This reality also means that becoming a Christian concerned about the global mission of Christ among the nations has never been easier—and not simply because a plane can take you anywhere in the world. In fact, there are some simple but effective ways to be a global Christian without logging any miles. Below are six:
1. Expose yourself and your children to the global need for the gospel—and pray.
Resources abound that can open our eyes to the world without Christ. One helpful book that promotes global Christian awareness is Operation World, the go-to resource for praying for the nations. We keep a copy on our breakfast table and explore a new country every few days, then pray for it with our children. Another opportunity to explore gospel expansion is through a video series titled “Dispatches from the Front.” These well-produced documentary films take us on an adventure across the world with panoramas of real people responding to the good news of Jesus. When we watch, our imaginations are caught up in the mission for which we were created and called, and we begin to comprehend the vast need for the gospel across the shores. Additionally, numerous online resources provide a window into the world of missions. The Joshua Project and a newly-revamped imb.org are great places to start, supplying innumerable opportunities to engage through prayer.
2. Stay abreast of international news—and pray
Anymore, I’m hesitant to read and watch the news, much less encourage others do so. For most of us, there is often little of value to staying abreast of current events. However, I do believe we can utilize the age of information to give us a broad perspective and increase our global vision. One simple way to do this would be to access international news as much or more than local news. If you read news online, you can do this by simply switching your preferences to international headlines. Or, perhaps better, begin reading English news from international outlets such as the BBC, Al Jazeera, or China Daily. No outlet is perfect, but whatever you do, focus on agencies that avoid (at least to some extent) sensationalism, pop-culture, and click bait. An example of this would be a small start-up, Global Press Journal, featuring quality writing and reporting from local correspondents. No matter what, whether you access media printed or pixelated, you can begin to use the news to expand your view of the world. Then pray over what you read.
3. Get to know a missionary—and pray for them
Anyone can do the first two fairly easily. For many, this one will take some initiative. But I encourage everyone to go on a personal mission to get to know a missionary personally. Learn about their story. How did they become a Christian? How did they end up where they are? What is daily life like? How has their view of the world changed since living overseas? What have they seen God do? What are the struggles they face? I guarantee that you will be amazed by their stories. And they might just be amazed that someone cared enough to ask. Through it all, you will grow in your ability to pray for missionaries’ real needs and for your brothers and sisters around the world. Not only that, but your eyes will widen to fields ripe for harvest.
4. Give to missions – and pray
Truth be told, expanding the borders of our consciousness can be as easy as giving to missions. Getting to know a missionary is a start, but giving to their mission creates an instant investment. Not only are we participating in their work and the kingdom, but we become personally invested. When Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” he was revealing the hidden link between ourselves and our resources. It’s a fact of life, your desire follows your dime. Wherever you invest your money you will ultimately invest your own self. So when your funds start flowing across the seas, your affections quickly follow. You become more concerned with the kingdom of God than your own earthly kingdom. Personally, I’ve found it far easier, and much more natural, to pray for the success of missionary efforts to which I am financially giving.
5. Befriend an international – and pray for them
Depending on where you live, befriending an international will either be extremely simple or nigh impossible. While face-to-face relationships may be difficult, social media has made it easier than ever to get to know someone thousands of miles away. Many internationals are looking for opportunities to learn English via Skype or to simply chat on Facebook or WhatsApp. Furthermore, I’m guessing most missionaries would be thrilled to connect a local believer or seeker with a mature stateside Christian who will pray for, speak with, and encourage them, even if it is online. But in many cases befriending an international can be far more personal. Simply look into campus ministries that serve foreign students at your nearest university. Explore services (Christian or otherwise) in your area that help the immigrant population. Talk to the internationals you know at work or see at the store. You’d be surprised, but in many cultures talking to strangers is a good thing. So get to know them, find out where they are from, and ask how you can pray for them.
6. Get to know the missionary heart of God – and pray
Lastly, global Christians should seek to know God’s own missionary heart. As John Stott proclaimed, “Our God is a missionary God!” The Bible, his word, is the greatest missionary handbook. The fact is, God has been seeking out the nations long before us. As you set your sights on the world, you’ll begin to discover his global desire throughout the pages of scripture. In his covenants to Abraham and David. In the expansion of the kingdom through the book of Acts. In God’s purpose to seek out the stranger and alien in the stories of Rahab, Jonah, the widow of Zarephath, Naaman, the Syrophoenician woman, the maniac of Gadara, and the Ethiopian eunuch. Over and over, the Bible pushes us beyond ourselves and directs our eyes to the world. What’s exciting is that even though our bodies can’t always go to those places, our hearts and our prayers can.