As a Christian, who travels extensively for ministry to many countries I have always been amazed at how complete strangers can become best friends in moments. Today, I sat in the Bogota, Colombia airport at about six in the morning and a guy came up and taped my shoulder. He saw me at a conference, but we never talked. Without conference ID’s we all just looked like any other business traveler. He introduced himself and since we have more than two hours before our flights we had some coffee and chatted. Within an hour the two of us were crying as he shared how his brother whom he ministered with died, and was probably martyred, in Egypt. I shared how my father was martyred in the Philippines. We both shared how on many days, the shock and horror of it feels just like it was yesterday. We were complete strangers one moment, and share our hearts as close brothers in Christ the next. This has been my experience in the global family of Christ.
After a Facebook status update looking for information on Bogota, Colombia a friend of a friend from twenty years ago introduced me to Natan and Nicholas, a pastor and son. They spent an entire day taking me around Bogota so that I would not be alone and I could experience their city. By lunch time we were holding hands in the center of Bogota praying for our respective ministries, families and countries. I believe we were both blessed by our family reunion, even though we had never previously met.
The following day a fantastic family, again one I never previously met, took me to church, out to lunch and visiting around Bogota as well. I felt humbled when they shared about receiving Christian singing star Steve Green, evangelist Louis Palau and evangelist Nick (an amazing quadriplegic). Through their efforts and testimony more than 27,000 people have recently come to Christ. What an honor to ever meet such a devoted Colombian family, much less by served by them. Who was I? I was nobody. Yet, in our global family of believers I am one of the family.
This week I met parts of my family I have never seen. I met family members from 59 nations. I hugged my brothers from the Middle East. I prayed for a dear friend in Uzbekistan. I joked around with a young Ecuadorian and encouraged a Mexican family who is ready to move to Cambodia as missionaries. After I got a tour of Bogota, I was able to take two other great family members, this time from Indonesia, on a tour of the city. It is amazing how much Spanish one can pick up in three days! Oh, what a wonderful family we have.
No matter where I have gone, whether it by my honeymoon with my wife in Israel, or a trip into the steppe of Mongolia or anyone of the other 36 countries I have been to, one of the greatest things I always look forward to is meeting other members of our great family and becoming best friends with amazing servants of God. This was my first time to ever visit Colombia, and like most, my idea of Colombia was a dangerous drug infested country. Now that I have met my brothers and sisters in Colombia I am proud to say my impression of Colombia is forever changed. This is the most polite and friendly nation I believe I have ever encountered. What a lovely people. Yes, there are signs all around that it is a dangerous place, but when you are with family, I am certainly not worried.
The apostle Paul describes what our global family is like when he says, “1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4) That is a good description of our global family.
Under Jesus Christ, we have the best family anyone could ever have. Jesus showed us incredible love and grace by allowing us to carry his gospel throughout the world. While it is hard at times, the blessing of fellowship and having reunions with members of our global family energizes me constantly.