In the last few months, I've talked to multiple students who have questions about whether or not they are supposed to be involved in missions. For many, it's an either/or decision. Either they go as a missionary or stay here and reach out locally. But why does it have to be that way? Why not do both? This balance would enable them to minister locally and globally for a lifetime! That's what the World Christian is struggling to do - make their lifestyle congruent with what they know to be true in the world. Because of the great need among the unreached, we can not and must not simply choose to "stay" and excuse ourselves from any responsibility or involvement in global missions.
There are two ditches that we can easily fall into. Some want to GO as missionaries so badly that they focus all of their thoughts and energy on that, and miss out on the moment. They ignore people here and miss how God wants to use them in this time and place of their lives. Others want to stay and meet the needs of people HERE. They are helping people, but missing the bigger picture of how God wants to use them to impact the world.
Isaiah 49:6 says, "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
A World Christian understands that God has a purpose for them locally and also globally. You must have both/and, not either/or. Reach out where you are and also stay connected with the global purposes of God. For everyone, this will look different. God has given us unique gifts and passions, and we can use them for his global purposes as well as locally. It just takes some thought.
For example, one student I met was so excited about China and going to reach the Chinese people. As we talked I asked if there were any Chinese students at his university. "I'm not sure… I think so," was the reply. I found out that all of the international students lived in one dorm on the opposite end of campus. He hadn't met any of them because, "they just huddle together over there." I challenged him, saying, "What makes you think that you'll cross an ocean to share Christ in China when you won't cross the campus to reach out to students from China?" It's easy to get so focused on the future that we fail to see the present. God wants to use us here and now. In some way, our passions must be lived out globally and locally in every season of life.
I have a passion for discipleship. So, to implement this in a local/global way, I can teach the women I disciple about global needs, and we can pray for global issues as well as local ones. We can share the gospel with friends throughout the year, and go on mission trips together in the summers. The possibilities are endless.
Recently I had a conversation with a student who is passionate about justice and compassion for the helpless. While helping out at the local pregnancy center and serving at the community soup kitchen, she can also be involved by praying against specific injustices going on in the world. It's just a matter of watching the world news or receiving newsletters/magazines about the persecution and injustice in the world. As God moves her from season to season in her life, she can use her passion in new ways, maybe overseas at some point.
Overall, the World Christian lifestyle is not just about going as a missionary or not. It's about living eachday with this local/global mindset.