In India, there is a 40 year old native minister of a church of about 120 people, who has a ministry team of 4, and is training at least a dozen young men in a preacher school he is running...who wants to understand, comprehend, and teach the difference between church-focused thinking and Christ-focused thinking.
In Zimbabwe, there are dozens of located, local, native ministers trying to love people in the most horrific of national, political, health, and humanitarian situations who are hungry for and desperately in need of understanding the difference between getting the people to meet together on Sundays for a worship service to praise Christ and getting the people to come into intimate friendship with and become more like Christ.
In Russia, there is a small group of Christians that decided to accept Christ shortly after Russia opened it's doors to outsiders, and they are good people who love Christ, but because of internal issues and external fears have forced them to stop meeting together in the building they were using and need desperately to understand that just because they aren't meeting in a building does not mean that they cease being a group of disciples that are in relationship with each other, and by so doing they are still the church.
In Australia, there is a faithful and influential minister of the gospel of Christ who grasps the difference between trying to change the world for the Kingdom by making disciples of Jesus Christ through intentional relationships or by maintaining a certain worship service structure among existing churches...but the churches that he loves and serves among need to open their minds to the idea that zeal for Christ means to love people like Christ did, not win arguments against other denominations about certain doctrines.
I have been invited, recently, to each of these places by these people and the people who love them in order to love and teach and share and fellowship around the idea of teaching the heart, mission, character and priorities of Christ. Each place and people could and would accept as much or as little time as I would invest in them...and I would be lying if I said my heart didn't want to go...to each and every place and people. My desire borders on a feeling of need.
"I need to go to Russia."
"I need to go to India."
"I need to go to Australia."
"I need to go to Zimbabwe."
These feelings and stirrings grow out of a combination of my relationships with people there or here who love the people there, the message they are asking for being the message I carry, and my great and growing love for the world. But, alas, each sentence, each desire, seems to call out for my whole life...and I only have one.
And in the one that I am living...my neighbors seem to be in equal need, and I have been invited into their worlds as well. Trying to list them all would take all week.
How important is it then, that the whole global church be activated? That each and every follower, as a functioning part of the Kingdom, identify and utilize their spiritual role to play so that the world may know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life?
I'm preaching this Sunday on the desperate plea of Paul in Eph 4 where he says, "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." He goes on to say that Christ has deposited in each one of his children a gift of grace...some are apostles, some prophets, evangelists, teachers, or pastors. And we need every single one to function.
That the nations and our neighbors may be loved with the life-giving love of Christ.
God help us.