This past May, new believers were baptized into the body of Christ at my church. Anita (not her real name), a Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugee in her eighties, was one of them. The service was officiated by our associate pastor and by the minister to the Nepali-speaking community, who took turns proclaiming, “Praise be to our Lord Jesus!” in English and in Nepali, “Hamra Pravu Yeshu lae prashamsha hos!”
When it was Anita’s turn, she was carefully helped into the pool. But as the Nepali-speaking minister tried to help her cross her arms over her chest, she resisted slightly. He spoke to her in Nepali. She responded. Then her minister shouted to the congregation: “She wants to bow to Jesus before she is baptized!” She put her palms together at her chest and bowed reverently, amid an expectant silence. Then, suddenly, the entire congregation was on their feet applauding, shouting, “Amen!” and proclaiming the goodness of the God of all nations.
Before the advent of globalization, mission activity tended to be seen as a one-way street that flowed through only a few conduits. In fact, sharing the Good News with those outside our cultural context—most likely somewhere else—has been one of the main earmarks of what it means to be “Evangelical.” This call to “” has not gone away, but our understanding of it has shifted; massive changes wrought by recent technological advances have created opportunities for cross-cultural evangelism in cities that would have been nearly mono-cultural only a generation or two ago. The face of global evangelism has changed, increasing our opportunities to share the gospel with the world in word and deed, right in our own communities.1