Worshiping God Across Cultures
Why do we do missions? Why do we participate in overseas missions work?
A month ago, I was in the Philippines for a short-missions trip and brought with me three ladies from Taiwan to visit different Free Methodist ministries in the country. We were there for ten days. At one time, one of the grandmothers from one of our churches in Manila came to me and asked me this question “Why should we go out to do missions work? There are so many needs around us. We do not have to go very far to help people. We can just stay in our local area and share the Gospel with the people in our vicinity.” My answer to her is very simple. It is because God commanded us to go and preached the Gospel to the whole world and to the “ends of the earth.” We participate in missions work because we want to obey God.
Another answer to this question is found in Revelations 7:9-12. Here, we see a vision of heaven where people from many tribes and languages are worshiping God together with the angels. So, why do we do missions? It is because we want to worship God together with other peoples coming from different tribes and languages. We want to live out this vision of heaven in our lives. We want to experience praising God in another language and standing side by side with a person from another culture. We participate in overseas missions work because we want to bring heaven into earth.
This is our goal: to give glory to God. Our purpose as a local church is to worship our God together with all the peoples of the world. This is our mission statement. Every organization has a mission statement. Mission statements give direction to our plans. They help us focus our resources and give us a reason why we work as an organization or as a group. The mission statement of the Christian church is to give glory to God and to worship God together with people from many cultures and traditions. This mission statement is what I call “Worshiping God Across Cultures” or missional worship. We invite different groups of peoples to our worship gatherings. We go across many cultures and share Jesus’ salvation to the people of that area so that in the end we can worship together with them. We pray for missionaries and send our church members to missions work because these activities fulfill the vision of heaven and bring people closer to God.The goal of “Worshiping God Across Cultures” is not only a mission statement, but it is also God’s command for every Christian. God commands us to be His witness not only in our own cities, but also across the nation and into “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). In Psalms 96:1-3, we read that we are to bring God’s salvation to all the peoples of the world. It is God’s command. We are to obey. The heavenly vision of many people from different cultures and languages is not only a goal, but is an order from God Almighty that we should carry out in our daily life. We need to obey.
Are you ready? Are you ready to obey our God? Are you ready to worship God together with peoples from different tribes and languages?
Let us look at the example of Jesus. He spent most of his time with the Jewish people, and yet he showed a deep appreciation for peoples from different cultures. At one time, Jesus admired the great faith of a Roman military officer (Luke 7:9). At another time, Jesus encouraged his disciples to follow the example of a Greek mother (Matthew 15:28). He reminded his disciples that many non-Jewish people will be there in heaven (Matthew 8:11). At one point, Jesus taught a Samaritan woman to worship God in spirit and in truth. We find this in John 4:23-26. Worshiping God is not in a mountain or any location, but is in the person of Jesus Christ. The truth about worship is that we share God’s salvation found in Jesus to all the people of the world. We share Jesus across many cultures so that peoples from other tribes and languages will also worship the God of the universe. In the end, many more Samaritans received God’s salvation because of the witness of this one woman (John 4:42). People from different cultures are worshiping God because Jesus crossed Jewish boundaries and shared God’s salvation to the foreigners in the local area. Jesus has shown us the way.
Are you ready? Are you ready to follow the example of Jesus? Are you ready to worship God together with peoples from different tribes and languages?
Let me share to you some practical suggestions and some simple ways that you can do right now. These suggestions will help you in your desire to obey God and worship Him across cultures. One is that you look for the foreigners in your area. Talk to them and befriend them. Learn about their ways. Ask them how they do things differently. If they are Christians, listen to their stories and worship God together with them. If they are not Christians, share Jesus to them so that in the end you can worship God with them. Two is that you can pray for your missionaries. Write to them. Encourage them. Share to them what is happening in your life. Tell them the good things that God is doing in your local churches. Through these letters and email, worship God together with them. Praise God with them, although they are very far and living in another culture. Three is that you can go yourselves. Join a short-missions trip and experience worshiping God across many different cultures. If you cannot go because of health reasons or work schedule, participate in missions work through prayer, giving, and other support. Send some of your children or your young people to join a missions work in another country. Pray with them. Bless their desire to go and cross cultures. Worship with them.Are you ready? Are you ready to obey our God? Are you ready to worship God together with peoples from different tribes and languages?
Last month, I lead a missions exposure trip to the Philippines. One of the mission team member is Emily Chou. She is only 19 years old. She is now in Taipei studying in a university. When we were in the Philippines, we visited a center that helps children and teenage girls who come from violent homes and have been victims of sexual abuse. We were there for a day. Emily taught the girls some Chinese Christian songs. She also shared her testimony, how Jesus has given her God’s salvation and love. At the end of our visit, many of the girls expressed their gratefulness to Emily. They said to her, “Please come back again. Do not forget us when you are back in Kaohsiung.” These girls saw God’s love in another teenager from Taiwan. They saw that God’s love and salvation is real for them. They are worshiping God together with Emily. Although they are Filipinos, they are praising God using a Chinese song. Both Taiwanese and Filipinos, together, are worshiping God.May you hear God’s voice and worship our Living God. May you be willing to obey our Lord and start worshipping God across many different cultures and various languages of the world.