FIRST-PERSON: What global Christians can teach us

Tags: missions

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- In various roles, I've been privileged to travel the world, talk to global brothers and sisters in Christ, and learn from them. I may be the professor, but they always teach me. Here are some things we North American Christians can learn from them:

1. The Bible is precious. We who have multiple copies of the Scriptures miss this point. It would do all of us good to spend time with a believer who stays up all night to hear and read the Word of God because he doesn't have his own copy at home.

2. Holiness matters. I've been with some believers around the world who lean toward legalism but seldom have I been with any who are as lax about sin as North Americans tend to be. Global believers often struggle with our apparent brand of non-life-changing Christianity.

3. Worship is more than head-centered. Every culture is different, but I love worshipping with believers who give themselves fully to worship. From the African who jumps when he worships to the Ukrainian who sings with all his might, believers around the world challenge my often-too-stoic approach to worship.

4. Prayer makes a difference. I once stood for two hours praying non-stop with believers in a war-torn part of the world, and they were just getting started. When Christ is genuinely your hope and peace, you understand better the necessity and the value of prayer.

5. Persecution is real. For many believers, persecution is not just somebody else's story on a sheet of paper. It's their story. No article or website can speak the volumes that a believer who's been faithful under persecution can.

6. Church membership means something. I've talked with local church leaders around the globe who shepherd large networks, and they can tell you much of the spiritual state of each believer. They take seriously the need for accountability and growth among believers.

7. North American Christianity is not the center of the Christian world. We tend to think we are, simply because our world revolves around us. Many believing groups around the world, though, have longer histories, more followers and much more to teach us.

8. Heaven will be really sweet. We already know that, but thinking about the peoples of the world gathering around the throne is that much more powerful after meeting many of those folks.

Chuck Lawless, online at www.chucklawless.com, is a vice president, dean of graduate studies and missions and evangelism professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
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