Pillar Nine: Cultivate a Strong Global FocusRise to greet the sun
Red in the eastern sky
Like a glorious bridegroom
His joyous race to run
Flying birds in heavens high,
Fragrant flowers abloom
Tell the gracious Father’s nigh,
Now his work assume.
-- Chinese Christian Hymn by T.C. Chao[i]
As I travel, I have observed a pattern, a strange historical phenomenon of God “moving” geographically from the Middle East, to Europe to North America to the developing world. My theory is this: God goes where he’s wanted.
-- Philip Yancey,[ii] Christianity Today
The Christian faith is a universal faith in the sense that it appeals to every people group of the world. Christians are charged with being good citizens of the communities within which they live, but they are also part of a trans-national church open to all. Given the global nature of the church, the fact that the good news of Christ is for all people, and the further fact of the burgeoning relevance of international business and politics, we propose to provide an education for students that is increasingly international in its scope.
A Christian university should have the same international focus the church has always had. Beginning with the Great Commission, Christians have the obligation and the impetus to go, to travel, to share both aid and a message. We mean to expand our ability to give our students a type of international education that is fitting both for the global emphasis of the Christian confession and for the radical closeness of a world that is pervasively and increasingly inter-connected.
As part of our global focus, we plan to begin an international office that will serve as an initiation point for sending many of our students and faculty to other nations for educational opportunities, cultural exchange, and mission trips. This office will have the mandate to increase our offerings for students interested in studying abroad and will provide assistance to faculty who have already taken the initiative to coordinate trips in the past.
In order to make our international exchange and outreach as effective as possible, we will also make changes in our curricular offerings. First, we will emphasize language competence in our liberal arts offerings. Second, we will begin the work of creating majors in international relations and international business. We may also explore the formation of a center that promotes Christian entrepreneurial initiatives, such as micro-credit, designed to alleviate poverty in developing nations. Third, in the course of studying the curriculum and offerings of our current Christianity department, we will add a missions major.
The result will be that our graduates will be more likely to participate in mission trips, more knowledgeable about the world, more capable of understanding international news, more marketable, and better prepared to adapt to the challenges of an increasingly connected world. To do anything less would be to ignore both the spiritual and economic realities of a world made smaller first by the innovation of the jet aircraft and then more powerfully by wide access to the internet. Provincialism has become a metaphorical straitjacket ill-suited for the young, just as it has always represented a failure of nerve for those told to take the gospel into all the world.
[i] From A Survey of Christian Hymnody, Hope, 1987. Quoted in Mark Noll’s Turning Points, Baker Books, 1997.
[ii] From the February 2001 issue of Christianity Today.