In Jesus’ day, ‘neighbor’ had a pretty narrow definition. He expanded the definition exponentially from – “the people like you in your community that you like” – to – “love your enemy”. Still, all of this was grounded locally. Today, I can talk, email, video conference and text with folks around the globe in real time. My friends regularly have work staff meetings with folks simultaneously on 4 continents! Neighbor now includes everyone. Jesus hinted at this several times, most notably at the end of Matthew and the beginning of Acts when he challenges the church to go ‘to the ends of the earth’ sharing the good news of God’s love revealed in Him.
I’ve been spending some time over this last year thinking about global ministry, and my/our involvement in it. My Aunt Diana travels to Kenya annually for several months as a short term missionary from Belfast with the Presbyterian Church in East Africa. Several of my local clery coleagues are or have traveled overseas for various kinds of ministry. Yesterday I met Peter, a US resident Evangelist from Nigeria. He has just returned from there, and has trips planned to Mexico, German, and back to Africa later this year. I’ve gotten to spend some time in Mexico just across the Texas border around Matamores, and a week in Honduras 12 years ago. I feel drawn to our Spanish speaking neighbors here in the community as we minister to them at the neighborhood park outreach – providing lunch, some activities for the kids, and seeking to build community with and among them.
The world is a small place, and our own local community continues to diversify with dozens of languages in the local schools. And I have a dream of a whisper of a calling to respond, to act intentionally in the midst of this environment. I desire deeply to travel the world and experience many cultures, but I resist the temptation to be a vouyer, or simply a consumer of multicultural experiences as yet another luxury my affluence can afford. I want to act in ways that grow the Kingdom of God. I want to expand my own understanding of the Body of Christ through these experiences, and toshare with others what we have to give. I want to build reciprical community, if that’s even possible.
I also realize that my $3000 for my trip to Africa could make a big impact on a village if I would simply give that money. Do I have enough to offer and enough to gain by making such trips? As I said, I want to make them, but this really doesn’t matter much. What matters is what Jesus wants of me, and that I do not know. What I do know is that I can be more intentional at Forest Grove to raise the visibility of Global Ministries, Disciples and otherwise, starting with the resources through Disicples Overseas Ministries. I wonder if twice a year we could highlight DOM for a month, once in the spring and once in the fall – around Pentecost and again around World Communion Sunday, perhaps. The Fall emphasis could also tie in with and ‘alternative Christmas’ fair in October or November.
How would this connect in with our purposes and core values?