Think Globally, Act Locally
In 1969, the environmental group Friends of the Earth, had as its slogan, “Think Globally, Act Locally.” The basic message if this slogan was to encourage people to do what they could for the conservation of the entire world’s environment by taking action in their local area to help conserve and clean up the neighborhood environment – all the while maintaining an overall view of the rest of the world. They believed that if people in each locality would take local action to protect the environment then eventually the whole global environment would be restored.
This article, however, is not about saving the physical environment. While the protection and conservation of our natural environment is important, it pales in comparison to the importance of saving the spiritual environment of our world. This can be carried out by thinking globally and acting locally. Christians have been called to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age…” (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV) This is our Great Commission – make disciples of all the nations. How do we accomplish this?
First, begin at home – personal evangelism within your own family. We could begin by focusing our evangelistic effort on our non-Christian children, parents, siblings, or other close relatives. Consider, 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NKJV) This specific context deals with taking care of physical needs, but in the larger Biblical context, it addresses the spiritual. If we will not see after the spiritual needs of our families then we deny the faith.
Second, work with our friends and neighbors – expanding our efforts gradually – focusing on the need the act locally. Consider Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith…” (NKJV) What better way to “do good” toward our neighbor than to “make disciples” of them?
Third, become involved in mission work – both at home and abroad. Note that there is little difference between mission work and evangelism. Mission work is part of evangelism with a slight twist. Local evangelism is when we carry out the Great Commission in an area where the church is already established. Mission work or world evangelism when we carry out the Great Commission in areas where the church has not been established or areas where it is in the process of being established. This may include neighboring cities, counties, states and foreign countries. Jesus said to go into all the world. How we accomplish that is left up to us.
The first two steps mentioned that involve thinking globally, acting locally are relatively simple to carry out because we already have the opportunity to teach our family, friends and neighbors. But in what way can we think globally and act locally with regard to world evangelism? Must we each travel to foreign countries? Thanks to recent technological advances, it is no longer necessary to for every one who wants to carry out the Great Commission abroad to travel to foreign countries. Through the internet and even through air-mail correspondence it is now possible for the average Christian to become directly involved in world evangelism without having set foot outside their home. There are numerous programs in the church today in which individual Christians can become involved.
While it is possible for more people to become involved in world evangelism without leaving home, there is still a crucial need for workers to travel overseas and work “hands on” with the local people. In many countries, India for example, there are mission workers with internet access, but the vast majority of the people there do not have this access and many are illiterate and therefore unable to take a correspondence course. Someone has to go to these people directly. This is especially true in India, Africa, Asia and Central and South America. In many places, there are already Christian mission workers in place who simply need our support. Let us note some ways in which we can support our foreign mission workers:
- Encourage them. Find out which mission works your congregation supports and send emails, cards and letters encouraging their efforts. Correspond with them. Find out their needs. Ask for ways in which you can help and support them further. If you know of any other good mission works – encourage them as well.
- Pray for them and their families. Prayer is the most effective weapon in the Christians’ arsenal. Put it to work!
- Send them financial or logistical support. Your local congregation may be sending them money from the church treasury, supported by your contributions, but if you are financially able to do so, perhaps you can send a little extra on your own. Find out their needs for Bibles, songbooks, study guides and things of that nature and have them shipped to them.
A word of caution: Know whom you are dealing with before you agree to help them. There are many false teachers, con artists and scammers ready and willing to take advantage of your generosity. Check references and make inquiries about them. Be especially careful of unsolicited contact. The scammers and con artists often will be the first to make contact.
Yes, you can become a world evangelist. You can think globally and act locally and together we can save the planet, especially the souls of the people on it! It is going to take a sustained, continuous joint-effort, but it can be done. Begin at home – teach your family, friends and neighbors, but remember also those who toil on foreign fields.