“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.”
~ John Stott
[above] Last summer, youth from North Toronto Chinese Baptist Church visited CBM projects in Bolivia and worked alongside local youth.
hat a powerful reminder from John Stott, the late evangelical leader and theologian. It’s a reminder of who we are called to be. A reminder of what we are called to pursue. And a reminder to participate in global mission because we worship a God whose heart is concerned on a global scale.
This is what we have been called to do as the global Church. And this is exactly what our partnership with CBM in recent years has led us to become as a local church.
In 2015, North Toronto Chinese Baptist Church partnered with CBM to raise awareness and financial support for the Chagas project in Bolivia. In this South American country, Chagas disease is a silent killer among the poor. The disease can go undetected for years as it slowly destroys internal organs, especially the heart. Children are particularly vulnerable, as this disease can affect their health and well-being during the critical stages of their development.
Chagas is transmitted by an insect that thrives in adobe walls and thatched roofs, which are often used to construct rural homes in Bolivia. In partnership with local churches, CBM helps provide awareness training, medical treatment and simple home renovations to safeguard families against the disease.
As a church, we appointed our high school youth group to spearhead our fundraising efforts for the Chagas project. When our youth began advocating for children at risk in Bolivia, things began to change. What resulted was a significant shift in our mission culture – in our youth ministry in particular, but also in the larger context of our church.
Here are three ways that supporting children and families in Chagas-affected areas impacted our church.
1. It helped us…
DISCOVER A GLOBAL VISION
One of the biggest impacts that the Chagas project had on our youth ministry was that it helped our students discover a more robust vision of a global God.
As the students rallied around the Chagas project in support of Bolivian children and families, through raising awareness and financial support, they were given an opportunity to better understand the global heart of God for the nations. They also came to realize that God has indeed called us to care for the needs of other around the world because He ultimately cares for them and pleads their cause (Proverbs 22:22-23).
Taking on the Chagas project helped our youth understand that God’s desire is for the Church to get involved. And part of that involvement includes engaging fully to advance the kingdom of God on a global scale.
2. It invited us to…
BE SENT ON GLOBAL MISSION
In 2018, our youth group received a visit from Patty Nacho, who serves as CBM Field Staff in Bolivia. Her visit sparked something within us. She shared with us about the work in Bolivia – work that we had supported for several years – and many of us felt a stirring in our hearts. We were no longer satisfied being senders. We wanted to be sent.
Last summer, we were invited to see the work of the Chagas project first-hand. A team of nine members – six youth and three counsellors – joined Patty and the CBM team in Bolivia for a two-week trip. Together, we participated in the work that we had become familiar with on paper. And, in person, the experience was utterly transformative.
Taking on the Chagas project provided our youth with the opportunity to not only be senders and mobilizers, but goers. We were able to get involved on the ground level of God’s kingdom work on a global scale.
3. It empowered us to…
DEVELOP AS A GLOBAL CONGREGATION
Partnering with CBM on the Chagas project also empowered us as a congregation to become more globally mission-minded.
How did this impact our youth?
Throughout the whole process, our students were given a gift: It’s not every day that youth in North America get a chance to rally behind a ministry project in another country, raise financial support for it, and then participate hands-on in that project in the field. This was an opportunity to pray, raise awareness and garner support for a need – but it was also an opportunity to enter into the need itself. A chance not only to send, but to go. And as a result, the mission culture of our youth group began to thrive.
How did this impact our local church?
Partnering with CBM as a church pointed us to the importance of supporting global mission work – both as senders and goers. Many of the parents of the youth expressed they were glad their children had an experience that they themselves would have longed for at their age. In many ways, rallying around the project united several of our families. Partnering with CBM not only empowered us as a faith family, but also as a collection of nuclear families, striving to labour and be on mission together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
It has also made us alert to the fact that the kingdom of God exists outside the four walls of our church. There are needs to be met all over this earth – opportunities for God’s kingdom to come. And Christ’s commission from Acts 1:8 rings with equal gravity today: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Curtis Lai serves as Youth Pastor at North Toronto Chinese Baptist Church.
He lives in Markham, Ont., with his wife, Vivian, and their 11-month-old daughter.