Two recent events reminded me, again, of the need for developing a global perspective, particularly among Americans. I hosted a prominent global youth worker this past week; he and I had never met before. As our conversation developed, he said, “Well, I’ll be honest with you because I can see you have a global perspective” and then he shared his heart about some matters. The truth is that there is always another level of honesty, an ability for one to be truly who they are, when engaging in cross-cultural conversations. And the axiom is: People from other cultures are hesitant to be candid with Americans until they discern whether we are ‘safe’ and possess the ability to see the world through other cultures’ vantage points. I came away from that meeting renewed in my commitment to help others (and to keep learning myself) how to have a global conscience.
The second event was a regional meeting with leaders in urban youth ministry and camps. As the conversation ranged and we discussed some of pressing multicultural issues, I mentioned the forthcoming book, What Can We DO?, that I co-authored with David Livermore. They surprised me with their strong enthusiasm for the book and that they were interested in finding ways to purchase quite a few to get them in the hands of the youth ministry leaders in their organizations.
It’s always good, as an author, to see people excited for your books. Truly, it would really stink to mention that you’ve developed something and people just do that polite nodding and say, “Oh…..great. Hmmm. That sounds nice, real nice.” And then they have that smile…. you know the smile I’m talking about. Ugh.
[But seriously folks] I am excited for this book that will be available in early August 2011. David and I wanted to develop a practical book that helped people, particularly youth groups, engage the world by doing more than just doing a short-term mission trips. As the issues of the world press in on our communities, we wanted to help youth groups find ways to learn more about these topics and then know how they can make a difference.
The book is helpful on three fronts. First, this is the arena that both David and I live, teach, and research. Each of our PhD programs focused on global issues and cross-cultural topics. In fact, David is one of the leading thinkers in the area of Cultural Intelligence, and he’ll be speaking at both National Youth Workers Conferences this fall (So don’t miss those sessions!) So, when we discuss these topics, we aren’t taking the work and research of someone else, this is our passionate focus.
The second strength of the book comes from its practical application. Both David and I have spent years doing the very things that we discuss in this book, David during his tenure at SonLife and then at the local level with Global Learning Center. I worked in urban youth ministry and then in a local church that engaged the ‘world’ at a variety of levels (and still does). So, the ideas in the book aren’t lofty ideals — they work.
Finally, the book was written knowing that most youth workers are volunteer and have busy lives. Reading time is at a premium, at best. So, the book is arranged by topic and serves as a long-term resource for a leader who may be teaching on globalization, poverty, racism, trafficking, world diseases, social class, technology, immigration, or environmental issues and want to know how the Gospel relates to those topics and what the church can do to make a difference with those who are affected.
People have been pre-ordering the book already, and that’s exciting for us. In fact, one organization has picked a global theme for next year and is going to use this book as a free gift to all of its leaders.
The truth is that we need to engage these difficult global topics if we want to share the Gospel and show the difference that Jesus Christ makes. In fact, the people of the world often want to see the Gospel in action before they will listen to the words. It’s the old “oh, I see what you mean” factor. So, we can’t shrink back from these topics. We can’t let the fact that political folks have made them about right vs. left or liberal vs. conservative and less about a biblically-based discussion on how best to minister and care for others. (More on that at another time.)