One of the great honors of my life was getting to serve with the International Mission Board (IMB), and one of the most important lessons I learned while serving with the IMB was how important it is for the believer to have a global perspective.
You can understand why that perspective is important at the IMB. Board decision-makers need to be up to date with important developments in the world that impact the advance of the Gospel around the globe. Missionaries need to know how people from other cultures think so they can share the Gospel with them.
But keeping a global perspective is important to every believer. As Word of God says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
If you want to be close to God’s heart, you need to care about all nations, not just your own. God created seven continents, and all of them are on His heart. If you only care to know about what is happening on one of them, you won’t be able to fulfill the command of Christ, who said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:18-20).
Knowing about other parts of the world guards your heart against prejudice too. In these days of biased media and social media propaganda, it takes active work to keep from getting sucked into the constant melee of bigotry and stereotyping on our news feeds. People around the world need to hear the Gospel, and a global perspective will teach your Christian heart to value, love and seek the salvation of all peoples.
Here are six steps you can take toward becoming a Christian with a global perspective:
- Make friends with the international who lives next door.
You don’t have to travel far and wide to get to know a person from another cultural perspective. A primary way to be a Christian with a global perspective is to be a neighbor to the international people you cross paths with in your daily life. It doesn’t matter if you live in a rural or urban context. The chances are high you have people in your town who are from other parts of the world. If they are there, God put them there (Acts 17:26). The Bible teaches you to put yourself in their shoes. “You are also to love the resident alien, since you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:19).
- Talk to missionaries.
If you are like most Southern Baptists, you are likely to know someone who is serving overseas as a missionary. Reach out to the contacts you have. Check with your church leadership if you don’t have a contact. They may be able to put you in touch with a missionary. As you communicate with missionaries, be careful to follow any security parameters they give you. The world isn’t a safe place for many believers.
- Get to know language pastors in your area.
In your town, there may be some pastors and ministry leaders of churches who don’t use English as their primary language. They may even meet inside your church building. Take the time to get to know the leaders of these churches. Even though English is not their first language, they usually are proficient in English and can share more about their perspective as a follower of Christ from another culture.
- Take a mission trip.
In these days of Covid quarantine protocols, it is hard to take a mission trip. But as soon as the restrictions are lifted, churches will be heading back to the mission fields. Prayerfully consider going on a mission trip with your church. You will find God uses a mission trip to broaden your perspective of the world.
- Keep up with reports from the IMB.
Keep up with the missions-related news posted on imb.org/newsroom from the IMB. These reports will give you direct application to how current events impact the advance of the Gospel and how you can pray, give, go and send.
- Follow global news sources.
While we are talking about international news, don’t forget to follow world news. If you have a smart phone, you really have the world at your fingertips. Be careful not to only get news from local and national sources. Expand your sources to get information from outside of the states. You can follow daily news from organizations all over the world via podcasts, videos or written news on the web. You don’t have to speak any other languages to get news reports from around the world. Most international news services have English-language versions of their newscasts. You will be surprised how your depth of understanding will be enhanced by having more than just the American perspective on world events.