Our world is changing, and changing fast! Countries once considered to be isolated and remote are now readily accessible. Thousands of workers from developing countries are joining the global workforce daily. We are also in the middle of the most significant population shift since World War II, as migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East continue to arrive in Europe and North America in unprecedented numbers. On a local level, it is becoming more common to encounter people in our communities and neighborhoods who are from different cultures and backgrounds than ever before.
How should believers respond? While the issues are complex, here are some truths to consider.
1. God is in control. Paul proclaims in Acts 17:26, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Dealing with change can be scary, but the truth is that God is sovereign, therefore, none of the major shifts that are occurring in our world have taken Him by surprise. He not only allows change, He orchestrates it to further His kingdom and maximize His glory.
2. God pursues those who don’t know Him. Paul goes on to say in verse 27, “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” God’s heart is for relationship. One of His primary desires is for people to come to know Him through faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of their race, nationality, or background. God meets people where they are.
3. God uses believers to accomplish His purposes. One of the first recorded cross-cultural encounters of the early church is found in Acts 8 where God used Philip to reach out to an Ethiopian eunuch. God could have chosen many ways to reach him, an angel, a vision, a dream, but chose to use a person. While times and circumstances change, God’s strategy remains the same.
4. God wants us to respond with faith, not fear. While concerns about safety and security need to be considered, our primary question as believers and as churches should be “Lord, what would you have me do in response to what You are doing?” And what a remarkable thing God is doing. Decades and even years ago, we wondered how we would reach people from distant cultures. Now the Lord is bringing them to our doorstep. How will you respond?