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Getting to Know Our Global Neighbors

By Marti Wade

In some of the last hours of his life on earth, Jesus prayed for his followers. He was sending them into the world, he said, in the same way the Father had sent him (John 17:18). He prayed for them to be united so that the world might know God’s love was working in and through them (John 17:21- 23).

Globally, though, that unity does not come easily. We are divided by cultural and personal barriers. We are separated by fear and misunderstanding. To go on a mission trip is to step across a line or break through a barrier. It’s to seek to serve and understand those with whom we share the planet: our neighbors. Paul Borthwick suggests five ways we can strengthen those connections:

  1. When you come home from a short-term mission trip, think of at least one person with whom you can stay in touch. Or think through past short-term mission experiences and some of the local Christians you met. Renew correspondence with them.
  2. Repeat your short-term mission efforts to the same locale so that the focus moves from tasks accomplished to relationships built.
  3. Get involved in providing hospitality to international students.
  4. Get involved in local ministry to refugees and, through them, start connecting back to their countries of origin.
  5. Look around at your nearest big city and discover the immigrant populations and immigrant-focused churches that are nearby. Discover who is already in your midst and the countries from which the have come.

Can you identify one local effort you can make in the next few months to expand your global vision and connect with those who are culturally different from you?

For more ideas to grow as a globally minded Christian, read Paul Borthwick's book, Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church? from which the points above are taken (pages 190-191).

Marti Wade has been a mission mobilizer since 1995 and has trained dozens of short-term teams for relationship-based research among the world's least-reached peoples.

This article first appeared in the ShortTermMissions.com eNewsletter.