Think Outside “the Norm”

By Anonymous

When we first moved to Colorado Springs several years ago, we spent time just sitting and staring at the mountains, especially Pikes Peak. Its beauty pointed us to the Creator, and we were convinced that we would never tire of gazing at it. The mountain vista was altered with precipitation, the slightest cloud changes or the angle of the sun, causing it to take on different personalities. After time, however, we went about our day and did not remark on the mountain’s beauty. When visitors came, we would once again see the magnificence through their eyes. But the daily awareness of Pikes Peak diminished as we became used to it.

Isn’t it true that sometimes we allow things that are dear to us to become “the norm” to such an extent that we actually lose sight of how significant they are? Whether it is our surroundings, a job, a church or even family members we love, familiarity or repetition can cause us to lose sight of what is special, what is most important.

This phenomenon also affects our reactions to media. How many times this week have you heard about Iraq, Iran or other countries in the Middle East? About financial or immigration problems in Europe, a natural disaster in Asia or about poverty in Africa? We will undoubtedly admit that we may have to think hard to recall the details. Why? Because world (and national) headlines have become the norm for us. We have become almost immune to what is going on outside our private lives.

With globalization, we can learn much about, but care little for, things that are beyond our experience. With the world becoming more and more “flat,” we can too easily ignore situations that should scream for our attention, even though they are far from our homes.

Scripture reminds us that we need to maintain a global perspective. Our Lord told His disciples (and us) that we would be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Often Jesus urged vigilance, watchfulness, awareness. These admonitions usually came in reference to the end times. Yet the underlying principle of remaining alert, of being aware of what is occurring around us, is always relevant.

Several years ago noted missiologist Ralph Winter wrote: The greatest challenge facing the global missions movement in the coming decade is to evangelize the 40/70 Window, the only major region of the world . . . where the movement of God is virtually at a standstill. The two major segments of the 40/70 Window are post-Christian Europe and the Silk Road/Turkic Belt [Central Asia]. As examples, there are proportionately fewer born-again Christians in Poland than in Nepal; fewer born-again Christians in Spain than in Japan. (Missions Frontiers, July 2000, p. 10)

Across vast sections of Europe, less than 1 percent of the populations would call themselves evangelical Christ followers. And in Central Asia and the Middle East and in parts of Asia, that proportion becomes even smaller. This is reality, but we are often unaware ofit. And even when we see a report from one of these places, we pay little attention.

Although the Lord is doing tremendous things through His followers and His Church around the world, the numbers of new believers in the Middle East and Europe remain low. The reality that people who do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are destined for a Christ-less eternity must impact us. But we must first be aware of the need.

In this issue of alife you will find stories of changed lives in places that are in the headlines daily. But what you read here will never make it into the mainstream media. We will never see newspaper reports or hear broadcasts about our incredible challenges in regard to who still needs to receive the gospel.

May the familiarity—the “normal-ness”—of the recurring daily headlines, or even a barrage of prayer requests, not dull our sensitivity to the great spiritual needs in our own neighborhoods or around the world. May our reactions to, or our prayers for, events and needs not become common place and mundane. We must remain vigilant and aware so we can be actively involved in what God wants to do through us—His children, His vessels.

As you read this issue, go before the Throne, asking the Father to make you watchful and aware—and to pray for those whom He is drawing to Himself, for new believers and for the dedicated workers risking much to take the good news to people who are represented daily in the headlines. Become watchful, even vigilant, of the need and of what He is doing.

—author’s name withheld

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