Posted by: Titus Presler | August 23, 2010

“Going Global with God” – a mission phrase used in diverse settings

“Going Global with God.”  When I chose this title for my forthcoming book, I thought the phrase was original with me, but it turns out, not surprisingly, that others tumbled to it before I did!  The other day I googled the phrase in order to locate Amazon’s pre-release publicity for the book and, behold! a number of other users of the phrase immediately came up.

Item 1: The one that delights me most is the Vacation Bible School run by the Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina this summer.  This came up on the blog run by a Karen, who on June 7 posted these comments:

VBS Day 1–Going Global with God: Malawi

Today was the first day of Vacation Bible School at church. And what a fun day it was! This year’s theme country is Malawi. For the last few years, the VBS overall theme has been “Going Global with God,” and then there is a focus country. The country is one that the church has been or is working in, etc.

When I think of Malawi, I think of my friend Kristen. When I worked at Decision magazine, she went to Malawi to cover what God was doing through BGEA there. You can read her story here.

The church has been transformed by all sorts of African-themed decorations. . . .

This is my first year helping with VBS (well, at our current church), and I am helping with the crafts. I love VBS! I LOVED going to VBS as a child–we used to go to at least a couple of VBS programs each summer.

Each day, participants are encouraged to bring donations. For the global focus, folks are asked to bring money each day. The goal is to raise $10,000 in order to build a well in Malawi. Today, people were supposed to bring in pennies and nickels. For the local community focus, participants were encouraged to bring in socks and underwear for children. Each day, there is a specific theme for donations.

There are more than 700 children registered for VBS this week! This is worship time with the little ones–there is a separate worship for the older kids. Kate is somewhere in the picture. She had a fabulous time today and can’t wait to go back tomorrow.

This vignette illustrates themes from the book, namely, that congregations are involved in mission directly and imaginatively; that many congregations focus on infrastructure development projects (in this case digging a well); that young people and children are engaged; that significant funds are raised at the local level ($10,000 in this instance).  It is salutary that the Watts Street VBS chose global mission for its VBS and is sticking with that emphasis year after year as they focus on one country after another.  Note also that the congregation evidently has an existing involvement in Malawi, which doubtless deepens and enhances this year’s VBS theme.  It seems that the offering is channeled through an Alabama ministry called Watering Malawi.

Item 2: A news site, theage.com.au, ran a story on 10 April 2004 called simply “Going Global with God,” but the subtitle was more informative: “Chinese Christians are hoping to spread their message to the Muslim world.  But they are not without dissenters, writes Barney Swartz.”  This is an interesting piece with important reflection on the persecution of Christians in China, the phenomenal growth of Christianity there, and the vision of Chinese Christians for mission.

Item 3: Not exactly the phrase in question, but “Going Global with the Presence of Christ” is the title of a 24 June 2010 blog posting about the sending out of 16 missionaries.  An excerpt:

This week, at the annual General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, 16 people were commissioned to go to some remote places on this earth for the sole purpose of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, so that they who have never heard might experience the same joy and the same grace that you experienced when you first learned of God’s great love for you. These 16 will go to China, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, Spain, Eastern North Carolina, Chile, Georgia, Haiti and South Africa. They will join with others who have already gone. They go to plant churches, practice medicine, do poverty relief, train local church leaders, teach in universities and seminaries, minister to women and children, and facilitate the transformation of communities. All in all, they go to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, to be the presence of Jesus Christ, and to announce the Kingdom of God.

That is very good news.  I have no idea what proportion these 16 represent of all the missionaries sent by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, but one hopes that there are many more.

Item 4: CMS Ireland is organizing a conference in October 2010 entitled Going Global 2010:

Going Global is an event organised by CMS Ireland to help you consider how to take your engagement in God’s mission to a deeper level. You may be sensing that God is calling you to get involved in a specific type of mission service, perhaps in another country. Or maybe you’ve already had a particular experience of cross-cultural mission and as a result, you feel inspired to live differently at home.

Going Global aims to help you explore such issues; it offers you the chance to take time away from the chaos, to be still and listen to God, to look into mission. The Going Global weekend is a place for you to reflect on your experiences and perceptions of global mission and to think about some of the ways in which to take things further.

So who is it for?

Going Global is aimed at those who are thinking about their part in God’s mission and are asking ‘What next?’

In particular, the event is designed with three main types of people in mind:

– Those who are exploring the possibility of some form of mission service in another place, whether for short-term or long-term.

– Those who have returned home after some form of mission service elsewhere, (whether on a team, or some form of mission placement), and want to consider how their experiences can impact their life and mission in their Irish context.

– Those who simply want to think more deeply about ‘mission’ and what it might mean for them.

When and Where?

Going Global is taking place from 11am on Saturday 9th October – 2:30pm on Sunday 10th (departing after lunch.)  We would encourage you to come for the whole event – the late night for chatting on Saturday and the Sunday morning sessions are all important parts of the programme. However, if you really aren’t able to stay for Sunday’s sessions, we would still encourage you to sign up for Saturday.

This year, Going Global will take place in The Kilcronaghan Activity and Conference Centre, located just outside Tobermore, near Magherafelt in County Londonderry.

This is a classic mission society conducting a classic discernment event for people who may feel called to global mission.  This is a very important function for the churches, though a theme in my book is how initiative in world mission is passing from centralized structures and agencies to the grassroots of the congregations.

At any rate, those are the main sites using the phrase “Going Global with God,” or some variation on it.  I rejoice in these usages and hope the phrase gets more of a workout from the book.

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