The news lately has been bleak. A global pandemic, racial tensions, political division, environmental issues, hatred . . . the list goes on and on. In times like these, it is easy to let the news get us down. Without realizing it, we can allow the happenings in our world to dampen our day, steal our hope, or extinguish our joy. But amid such turmoil, let me encourage you: the global church is on the move!
For centuries, faithful witnesses of the resurrected King have carried his message across cultural boundaries, showing that Jesus really did have all authority and really was with his disciples, even to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18-20). And though many of those missionaries are long gone, the evidence of their faithfulness remains in the presence of village churches around the globe, conventions in Southeast Asia, seminaries in Africa, and missionaries pouring out of Latin America.
I work in the Office of Global Theological Initiatives at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Through our various partnerships with Baptist seminaries, Bible schools, conventions, and mission boards around the world, I have continually been encouraged by the presence and vibrancy of the global church. In the middle of the glum news, frustrations, and overwhelming sadness, the perseverance of the global church reminds me that I can choose joy. Why? Because it visibly demonstrates that God is King and that he keeps his promises.
Let me give you a glimpse into what is happening in the global church to encourage you today:
One of our initiatives involves offering theological education to leaders from a Middle Eastern context that some would say is home to the fastest growing church in the Muslim world. I hear stories of faithful men and women who face persecution, defy odds, and risk everything for the sake of King Jesus. They recognize the importance of further their education as they train the leaders of this fledgling church. Be encouraged: God is calling and equipping leaders from unanticipated corners of the world.
In a 2015 study, the Pew Research Center projected that by 2050, 38 percent of the world’s Christians will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve been in contact with seminaries and Bible schools around the African continent. I’ve heard stories of men and women writing theological textbooks and traveling miles to teach theological education courses. Though many schools had to close their doors temporarily due to Covid, they are actively planning creative theological education opportunities to continue training Christian leaders.
Be encouraged: God is raising up a generation of African theologians.
I work with people focusing on theological education for East Asians. Koreans send missionaries all over the world, and their faithfulness to go leads to new disciples and new church plants in places where Westerners may never even be allowed to visit. Many of them are unknown here in the West, laboring in obscurity because they believe in God’s mission and desire to be active participants in it. Be encouraged: God is still in the business of calling people from the harvest to go into the harvest.
I taught a class for Spanish-speaking women. Many of these women work in difficult, non-ministry related jobs, and they recognize the need to take the gospel to their workplaces. These women soaked up lectures like a sponge, asked questions, and carefully thought through how to apply the content of the course to their diverse ministry settings. Be encouraged: God is using lay Christians around the world to make his name known.
I meet with the wives of some of our international students who were sent here by their local churches and conventions. Some will stay here and labor among their people in the United States; others will return to work with their home churches; others will go to the nations to make God known. Be encouraged: God is mobilizing global women for his mission.
When the news seems bleak, be encouraged. Remember what’s happening in the global church. These repots are just snapshots of a much bigger reality. They are glimpses of God’s movement around the world, pictures of unexpected joy in the midst of deep sorrow, and signals of hope when we are tempted to despair. God builds his church in unexpected places, through unexpected people, and in unexpected ways, so when the world’s news gets us down, we can look to the global church and continue to rejoice because we know our King still reigns.
 “Christians,” in “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050,” Pew Research Center, April 2, 2015, accessed October 24, 2021, https://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/christians/. BACK
Anna Daub is the Director of Special Projects and Partnerships for Global Theological Initiatives at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has a PhD in Applied Theology with an emphasis on Missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a BS in Biology from Howard Payne University. She has served overseas in South Asia and worked with international students in the United States.