A few days ago, a pastor shared via the internet that if Chinese churches want to go abroad to practice the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, they must have an international vision.
First, the pastor cited the story of Abraham, who left his hometown and journeyed to the Promised Land. Abraham started from Ur in the Chaldeans and travelled to Haran and from there to Canaan.
“How can we reinterpret Abraham’s route in the present time?” the pastor asked. He suggested that the audience replace those city names in the Bible with city names with which they are familiar. By doing so, they might have a better view with regard to how Abraham travel from Iran to Iraq, then to Turkey, to Syria, then to Egypt, and eventually back to Israel.
"Does it feel different if we think about it in this way?" the pastor questioned. Indeed, Abraham’s journey revealed that he was not limited to one place, but he had a very international vision for his time.
Next, the pastor gave examples of the prophets in the Bible, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Amos, all of whom mentioned the judgments of the nations of their time. If we interpreted all of these in the present time, those prophets were actually announcing the fate of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan. “Does it feel different again?", the pastor asked, emphasizing that those prophets, like Abraham, had an international vision.
Then the pastor asked the participants: "Can you name the fourteen countries that border China?" He wondered if our pastors are too narrow-minded. He pointed out that many pastors of Chinese churches may often only see the domestic churches we attend, or sometimes even see a narrower range. “Such narrow vision will limit us greatly”, he assumed.
Taking Jonah’s trip to Nineveh as an example, he said, "He is a Jew, and God sent him to Iraq, but he chose to go to Spain instead. He must have taken an international shipping company to reach there. If he did not have an vision for international ministry, he would have been lost. To make it even worse, he had to tackle language issues as well.”
The pastor referred to the second chapter of Acts, where the Holy Spirit came, and many people heard their own local languages from others who were not of their origin and heard them talked about the Kingdom of God in tongues. This must have been very inspiring.
“If we go into missions to ethnic minorities, but no one can preach in the local language, how do we do missions?” The pastor also emphasized that an international vision is very important for us if we want to follow Jesus’ Great Commission, but the reality is that many of our pastors lack a mission vision and have little experience in international cooperation. This will bring many limitations with regard to carrying out the Great Commission on all the earth.
He also shared the difference between internationalization and localization. He said that first of all, we must have an international perspective. We must break through the limitations of Chinese culture, but at the same time preserve our own culture. In general, as an international church or an international person, we must be able to integrate different cultural environments and preserve our own characteristics. In this regard, he mentioned the Antioch church in the Bible as a typical international church. The five core co-workers all had a vision for an international mission. In particular, Paul and Barnabas came from multicultural backgrounds. Other members also had complex and broad expertise in their background.
Lastly, he mentioned that if the Chinese church wants to do missions abroad, it is even more important to have a vision for ministry that is international.
"The Chinese church is not behind closed doors, entertaining only itself… going out of the country... It is essential to be in contact with the world. Then how to integrate with the international world? How to integrate into an international family? It requires us to have international cooperation capabilities and take the responsibility and mission of the Chinese church. Therefore, it is very important to have an international vision ".
- Translated by Xiaodan Zeng