We’ve likely all observed the scene in a grocery store: a demanding child insisting on some sugary snack that not-so-coincidentally is placed within the reach of said child in the check-out lane. The parent voices some version of “no” and “put it back,” which often is met with a louder, “why?!?” from the child.
Depending on the level of the patience of the parent in the moment, there might be some sort of reasoning offered, but when the child doesn’t relent, eventually the parent replies with the same naked appeal to power that has been employed by all parents since Adam and Eve:
“Why do you have to put the candy back?
BECAUSE I SAID SO!”
I hated that phrase as a child. I swore when I became a parent someday, I’d never use that line. But then I became a parent. And it became one of my all-time favorite fallback parenting lines…
Why? BECAUSE I SAID SO!
Because He Said So?
Thankfully, our Father God – who could resort to that same, simple line – usually doesn’t. He is far more patient with me than any earthly parent.
Why do I need to give? Why is it important to serve? Why do I need to obey the commands in scripture? Why is it important to bring the gospel to other nations and cultures?
If His reply were simply, “Because I said so,” it would be enough. And honestly, that’s not a bad place to start when we are seeking to walk in obedience as His children. When I am operating with a trusting heart – believing that God is good and His heart can be trusted – I often don’t need to know the reason behind the ‘why.’
Early in my walk as a follower of Jesus, when God was growing my heart for cross-cultural ministry, the only reason I needed when it came to caring about global missions was ‘because Jesus said so.’ The Great Commission (Matthew 28) made that plainly clear.
But as I grew in my understanding of the scriptures, of the Kingdom of God, and the Story God has been writing throughout history, I could see that there was much, much more to the ‘why’ when it came to the importance of global ministry. And when I became a pastor, I knew it was important for my church to be involved in having a ‘heart for others,’ both locally and globally. We are called to love, to bless, to give, to serve, to go… and when we do these things, we are able to make an impact in significant ways.
When we love, bless, give, serve and go, our hearts are grown and deepened. The people to whom we extend our love and service are blessed and helped.
Reconciled World serves as a partner, making an impact in unique and meaningful ways in many difficult to reach places in the world. When a church in the West partners with us, it provides an opportunity for mutual transformation and blessing.
But there is more…
I recently met with a pastor from a church in Arizona. Near the end of our conversation over coffee, he said to me, “a ministry with the values Reconciled World lives out is so helpful to our church. When we get involved with you, we have the opportunity for our people to be discipled by our brothers and sisters in places of the world where God is at work in powerful ways. The way Reconciled World addresses issues by starting with the Bible and taking a wholistic approach is rare… and one we believe in.”
Later on I prayed, “God, can we clone this guy and insert him into 100 other churches in the West?”
But seriously, his mature perspective is so encouraging to me. And honestly, it’s not the perspective I had when I was in my late 20’s, working on staff at a church. If I had been pressed, back then, to list reasons for why it was important for us as a church to be working with a missions organization, ‘to be discipled by the people living overseas’ may not have occurred to me.
However, that reason is one of the main reasons why Reconciled World partners with churches in the West: discipleship. The truth is: we (those of us in the Western world) have much to learn from the body of Christ in other parts of the world.
Over Here… Over There…
Mutual discipleship is possible every time a church in the USA/Canada/NZ prayerfully pursues a relationship with a church in another culture. And while facilitating connections and introducing churches ‘here’ to churches and ministries ‘over there’ requires a lot of work and extra effort, it is worth it.
Yes, our prayers and our financial support are important. So we work with Western churches because they (we) can help to advance the work in crucial and essential ways. We work with churches in the West because of the unique gifts and resources that are mobilized by these partnerships.
But the biggest reason Reconciled World partners with churches in the West is because we want to encourage and help disciple our brothers and sisters ‘over here’ by telling the stories of what our God is doing ‘over there.’
I was talking with another pastor this week who told me, “When my people hear stories of what God is doing through our Asian brothers and sisters, they are challenged to wonder how God might be calling them to take risks for the Kingdom right here in the United States.”
This is beautiful. I love how more and more church leaders are seeing the importance of recognizing where God is at work in the world and using those opportunities to remind their congregation that the Kingdom of God is much bigger than our church or even our nation. God is at work. And His Kingdom is expanding all over the world.
And over here.
How about your church? If you are interested in learning more about partnering with Reconciled World, please contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug is the Director of Church Engagement for Reconciled World. From an early age, he had a heart for cultures around the globe and has had opportunities to learn and minister in a wide variety of international settings. He now regularly speaks at churches and retreats on a wide variety of topics, and is an enthusiastic fan of the Minnesota Vikings and Twins.