When I was courting the brilliant woman who became my wife, I approached visits to her hometown of Atlanta with a certain trepidation. She belonged to a close-knit Chinese American Christian community. Most of the members of the older generation had immigrated from Taiwan for their graduate studies, built successful careers, and invested in their families and church. I was an outsider in more ways than one, and there was a no small amount of skepticism that our relationship could work.
So it meant a great deal when one of the elder statesmen of that community—let’s call him Thomas, because he never took credit for his own good deeds—welcomed me with open arms. He told me stories about the Atlanta church he had labored alongside his friends to build and about other churches he loved and served back in his homeland. It was all, at the end of the day, one church, one kingdom, one body of believers on every continent united by the Spirit of God.
Thomas died early in the coronavirus pandemic, leaving behind for a season a wife who loves him dearly and two sons who do him enormous credit. He also leaves behind a generation impacted by him and his love for the global church.
I’ve thought often about Thomas as we hired our first CT Asia editor. Sean Cheng comes to us through our friends at a missionary organization that has long served the people of East Asia. He is a deeply experienced editor and innovator in digital media. With time stateside and time overseas, Sean will help us source more stories on what God is doing among the fellowship of believers in that part of the world. We are also presently hiring editors or building our presence in strategic cities in South Korea, India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
The American church itself is increasingly global, populated by men and women who come from far-flung places. It’s filled with people like Thomas, who inspire people like me to remember that the kingdom of God stretches immeasurably beyond our shores. CT’s Global Initiative is an effort to embrace and encompass that fact.
The kingdom of God is far greater than any of us can capture in a single glance. It is capacious and colorful, broken and beautiful, wise and joyful, and lovely in all its complexity. There is so much we have to learn from one another, so much we might do together. We hope the Global Initiative will raise up the next generation of Thomases: men and women who see the church as one many-colored garment wrapped around the planet, striving to serve the least and the lost.
Timothy Dalrymple is the president and CEO of Christianity Today.
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