Why are so many Christians in the non-Western world sitting on the edge of their chairs waiting to be challenged when someone speaks about mission? Why is the situation so different many places in the West?
Here are a few keywords that can help us to find an answer:
It is always inspiring to meet people who have a “Jesus-first” perspective in their lives – people who have experienced that it is when we follow Jesus and surrender to him we receive life in abundance (John 10:10). Many non-Western leaders have pointed out how Westerners often have a here-and-now view on everything. Things should be fair within the frames of our short lives here on earth. Christians from other parts of the world often live and work with eternity in mind.
Many things look different when we link our lives to God´s eternal story and find a higher purpose in everything we do. Then we can testify like the apostle Paul that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom 8.18).
It is not difficult to have big visions. The challenge is to implement them. It often requires great courage to go ahead with visions that the Lord gives. Just ask Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, or any of the other people of faith mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11.
One Indian leader recently pointed out how Westerners often bring forth their calculator when God gives visions in order to calculate the costs.
When the Lord has called us to do something, we should aim to accomplish it regardless of what it will cost. We have to believe that the Lord will give us what we need for what he calls us to do, concluded the leader.
In a survey conducted some years ago, Christians in the West said that they wanted their leaders to be more visionary. Our life with Christ is vitalized when we receive visions from him and act on them. On the contrary Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
At a conference several years ago leaders from different parts of the world were asked to share what resources they had in order to fulfill the tentmaking visions that had been discussed. Numerous western leaders pointed out how much money they could put on the table. A leader from one of the financially poor nations had a different angle and pointed out:
“We have tremendous resources. We have 80 people who all share the same vision.”
With wealth follow many temptations. One of the biggest is that we start to trust our money rather than God. That is not an option for people who can do nothing but rely on God when they want to fulfill the plans he has given them.
Good African, Asian, or Latin-American meals are often well-seasoned and rich in taste. In the same way our brothers and sisters from the non-Western world can help all of us to flavor our Christian lives. One of the keys is that we, like so many of them, actively choose to live with our eyes “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12.2).