I was a college student when on a family vacation, we made a stop in El Paso, Texas, and for the first time in my life, I crossed the U.S. border into a foreign country, Mexico. A few years later I went with my Dad to a meeting in Detroit, Michigan and crossed over the U.S. border again, this time into Canada. Little did I know that in the years to follow I would cross fifty-nine foreign borders (and I’m not through yet). Every country, every culture, has made its contribution to my life. I’ve been more comfortable in some than others, very uncomfortable in a few, and even scared in a few others; but I am a better person for each visit, and I feel sorry for people who have not had the opportunity to travel outside of their culture. Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” But there is more. Travel is a part of the plan of God, a part of missions. God’s map includes the entire world. Those who don’t believe in global missions have not carefully read the New Testament. From the beginning Jesus said, “the field is the world” (Matthew 13:38). The early church took Him at His word and went across every border, in every direction. God’s command is to “Go!” but most have stayed, busying themselves in their homeland, never lifting their eyes to other fields that are “white for harvest” (John 4:35). In a day when so many countries are open, and travel is relatively inexpensive, it may be a sin not to go, or in the case of one who absolutely cannot go, a sin not to assist others who do go. Perhaps because of my traveling, I resonate with missionary William Carry who said, “To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.”
Dr. Dan Crawford, Senior Professor at Southwestern Baptist Seminary, is the WestCoast Baptist Association’s Spiritual Life & Leadership Mentor. Follow Dan on Twitter @DrDanRC and Facebook www.facebook.com/dan.crawford.