by Neal Cushman, Projects Coordinator
Having organized a number of missions conferences and teams for college students, I have occasionally been accused of pressuring these students to surrender to become full-time missionaries.
Setting aside for now the technical question of what a full-time missionary is, I think that the accusation is partly true. I have frequently presented an argument that includes:
Whatever emotional response this appeal has caused, I have never intended to say all believers should become foreign missionaries. Rather, I have sought to encourage some to train and go, while encouraging those who do not take up residence in a foreign culture to find ways to get involved in the spread of the gospel around the world.
That last scenario raises the question: “How do I get involved in world missions if I’m not a full-time missionary?”
Not to minimize the importance of praying and giving, which is typically how this question is answered, I think in the 21st century we can do more than that. The phenomenon of globalization has made it possible for us to actually get involved in missions by using technology - the Internet, social media, satellite TV, digital libraries, and countless other ways of using our smart phones for Gospel witness.
Moreover, we can travel anywhere in the world in about 30 hours or less, paying substantially less than the previous generation did (if one takes inflation into account). Perhaps a short trip to the Far East to encourage a missionary is not so infeasible after all.
Even more important in this discussion is this - the world has come to us! Our neighborhoods have immigrants from Asia, South America, Central America, Africa, Europe, and many islands. Quite a number of these immigrants are first-generation Americans who will never master English, but their children and grandchildren will.
And when one considers that so many of these immigrants come from restricted access nations, we can see our churches have unprecedented opportunities for evangelism and discipleship. Perhaps a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) ministry in your church would provide a good start in reaching internationals.
Much more can be said, but I think you get the idea. Become a “global Christian.” Try to understand how cultures work, and try to understand who you are in your own native culture. This approach in itself will help avoid attitudes of cultural superiority or ethnocentrism. Read books on culture and missions. Make friends with your international neighbors. This is what it means to be a global Christian.
A global Christian will see the world through the commission Jesus gave. He will make it his priority to get the Gospel to every person on the planet. He will seek to be involved in a church that has this sort of emphasis, a church which frequently engages in missions projects – sending teams out, sending the pastor to each field where the missionaries are, and emphasizing missions at all levels of Christian education. This church will be intentionally involved in every missionary’s life they support, which means they will probably provide support at higher levels.
In summary, this type of person is:
That's the kind of "global Christian" I want to be.
The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.