In 1965, in Misawa, Japan my learning journey was greatly accelerated. I began discovering more about various customs, worldviews and cultural value systems. It was a season of discovering how much I didn’t know, and the fact that the rest of the world is very different than North Arkansas, where I grew up. You might say I had tunnel vision, but we all have tunnel vision to some extent. We just need bigger tunnels and larger horizons. Since those days, it’s been beneficial to have traveled, worked and served in many parts of the world.
Another defining moment in my spiritual journey was coming to an awareness that the Kingdom of God is much bigger than the Southern Baptist Convention. Having participated in many international and inter-denominational conferences, conventions and other meetings for many years has been extremely beneficial. It has helped open my eyes to the diversity and vastness of the Body of Christ. Getting to know and spend time with a good number of individuals who have experience and godly wisdom has also been a great blessing. We are often reminded that the Kingdom of God is built on relationships.
Benefits of being Well Connected
One of the amazing things about our world today, with all the communications media and modern technological resources, we can be well informed and well connected without going to a lot of meetings. As valuable as personal contacts and relationships are, not everyone has the opportunity to physically engage in those multi-cultural events. Now, we have increasing possibilities of benefiting from virtual meetings, webinars, conference calls and online training resources. In fact, it can become overwhelming to try to keep up with all that is happening.
Getting in on God’s Activity
The late Manley Beasley, a friend and mentor to me for many years, use to say, “Our big challenge is to find out what God is up to, and get in on it.” Henry Blackaby put it another way, he said, “Identify the activity of God, and join Him.” A big challenge today is knowing what God is up to and what His activities are. However, more than ever before we can be aware of and know what He is doing. There really is no shortage of information these days, we just need to be selective and find reliable sources. So, one of my objectives with this article is to introduce some ways and places to enlarge our tunnel vision and expand our horizons.
Other objectives would be increasing awareness of how we can more effectively communicate the gospel, making disciples and fostering greater unity in the Body of Christ. In many places pastors and ministry leaders don’t even know each other, much less communicate, pray or work together. However, there are encouraging signs that things are changing. In the global context, there are now many ways to learn about and connect with what God is doing around the world. Many movements, networks, alliances and associations of organizations are merging efforts, either informally and some formally. When our networks of relationships are expanded, we can often discover new and different ways of doing ministry and missions. Understanding more about cultural value systems, worldviews, learning and communication preferences are a few good topics to start with.
Mission and Ministry Resources
Friends have recently asked about where are sources for keeping up with what God is doing around the world. Following are a few of those, as well as many resources for global missions and local ministries:
Missio Nexus — https://missionexus.org/
Mission Connexion — https://missionconnexion.com/
A Global Alliance for Church Multiplication — https://gacx.io/
Accord Network — https://accordnetwork.org/
Lausanne Movement — https://www.lausanne.org/
Love 2020 — https://www.love2020.com/
Linking Global Voices — https://linkingglobalvoices.com/
Table Coalition — https://thetablecoalition.org/
Frontier Ventures — https://www.frontierventures.org/
24:14 Coalition — https://www.2414now.net/
International Orality Network — https://orality.net/
Artists in Christian Testimony — https://actinternational.org/
Global CHE Network — https://www.chenetwork.org/
Christian Leadership Alliance — https://christianleadershipalliance.org/
National Religious Broadcasters — http://nrb.org/
Christian Community Development Association — https://ccda.org/
2020 – The Decade of Collaboration
Many of these networks, alliances and coalitions represent hundreds, and some thousands of organizations. In fact, some of them are networks of networks. Of course, many organizations are members of multiple networks. There are numerous others, too many to list here, but perhaps these can expand our horizons somewhat and give us bigger tunnels of vision. If we are serious about joining God in His redemptive activities, these are a few places to learn more about how to do so. Marvin Newell, with Missio Nexus, in his introduction to the January-March 2020 issue of Evangelical Missions Quarterly, refers to this year as the beginning of “The Decade of Collaboration” (https://missionexus.org/emq/).
That entire issue is filled with insightful articles about networking and collaboration.
Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected].