100 years ago, if you were to draw a global map of Christianity, 90% of the world’s Christians lived in the north and west, primarily North America and Europe. Today that map has been turned upside down. In the teenage years of the twenty-first century, more than 70% of the world’s Christians now live in the global south and east. One billion Christians live in Latin America and Africa. More people worship in Anglican churches in Nigeria each week than in all the Episcopal and Anglican churches of Europe, and North America combined. There are more Baptists in the Democratic Republic of Congo than in England.
As a Christ-follower, if my primary identification is national or political, I’ll miss the richness of the truth that my family lives in, goes to and comes from all over the world. Pita and Linda from Tanzania; Pita prays and fasts for me monthly and I love to listen to Linda worship. Louima’s family is Haitian. His gentle spirit, strong voice, and love for his country inspire me from a distance. Yohani, Jean-Paul and their family in Rwanda have not only provided hope for children without it…they have impacted a whole region of their country. Their quiet perseverance in love has helped to shape my life. Marjory’s love for Haiti and the heroic way she has battled through difficult circumstances, she gives our family the gift of faith. Peter from Kenya who is developing leaders in his country and Alfonso a pastor who is a second generation Hispanic immigrant were part of my doctoral classes. They challenged me with their vision and dogged hope. I am a better person because I have known each of them and there are so many more.
These are people I hold up to my family as examples of faith, hope, and love. We would do well to strive to be like them for hardship has made them better not bitter. I thank God for them and for the countries they come from, go to, and love. AND I’m so glad they are part of my family.
And I look forward to the day described in Revelation 7 when a great multitude from every nation, language, and people group will come together…as one family. When the church becomes too closely aligned with a political party or a nation, it can lose its capacity to speak prophetically to power, and more tragically it can lose its capacity to speak lovingly to family. I pray that our church will lose neither.