*A version of this post was first published at www.thomrainer.com.
Five times in the New Testament, Jesus gave us a version of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:45-47, John 20:21, Acts 1:8). Reaching the nations is clearly on God’s heart. To help you and your church move in the direction of God’s heart, here are some ways to begin to think globally. Expand your vision, and perhaps your burden for the nations will increase.
- Listen to (or read) the news with Great Commission ears and eyes. People who have never heard of Christ die everyday due to war and famine. Governments are in turmoil. Natural disasters destroy homes and lives. If we pray as we hear the news and needs of the world, God will grab our heart for the nations.
- Talk to your kids about their classmates. Most public classrooms in North America include students from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. Use this opportunity to introduce your children to different cultures, languages, and beliefs. Invite your children’s friends to your home. Teach your kids to appreciate and respect others even as we believers seek to lead others to the gospel truth.
- Put a map on a wall in your home. Frankly, North Americans are geographically ignorant. You might find yourself more interested in the nations – and praying more for them – when a map is always before you and your family. Start by praying for a different country or people group when your family says grace each night.
- Meet a missionary. It might take some work to connect with a missionary on stateside assignment, but it’s worth the effort. Your pastor or a church staff member can likely help you. God just does something in us when we meet someone who is giving his or her life for the nations.
- Visit ethnic restaurants in your community. Ask to meet the owners, and introduce them to your kids. Talk to servers who’ve been raised in other countries. Even if you don’t like the food, you’ll probably like the people – and thus pray more for them, their family, and their country of origin. Pray specifically for opportunities to invite your new friends to church.
- Invite international students to your home. If there is a university near your home, I suspect you’ll find international students there. Many of those students will never be invited to visit an American home, and some will spend holidays alone on their campus. Opening your home will not only invite fellowship and learning, but it will also open the door to sharing your faith.
- Learn another language (or at least encourage your children to do so). In a world that is increasingly global, Americans are notoriously monolingual. Broaden your horizons by learning a second language, even if the learning is slow. It’s difficult to learn another language without also learning something about the people who speak that language.
- Read missionary biographies. Depending on the missionary and the setting, these life stories can have much to offer. Travel. Adventure. Animals. Strange foods. Sickness. New vocabulary. Danger. Miracles. Answered prayers. Changed lives. Sacrifice. You might even discover some new heroes among these missionaries.
Give us your ideas now. How have you learned to be a global Great Commission Christian?
Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.