Note to self: North America is not the center of the universe.
I would like to think that I am a person who knows this and lives a life that reflects that knowledge, but it seems it only takes one Baptist World Alliance meeting to remind one of how limited her worldview truly is.
Last night Malaysian Baptists hosted a dinner at the annual meeting of the Baptist World Alliance. I confess I felt a measure of shame that the youth group of the Kuala Lumpur Baptist Church did an interpretive dance to a Steven Curtis Chapman song (seriously, if part of our culture must export, must this be the part?), but things got better when group after group began performing local dances and songs. I sat there overwhelmed by the sounds and colors on display—I couldn’t believe the incredible way those kids could move their hands.
All of this is to say that, in case anyone was wondering, the Christian church is more than alive and well here in Malaysia and, from the dinner conversation I had with a contingent from Singapore, there, too. And India and also Australia and Jamaica…there are folks all over the world who claim their faith passionately and are living it out in ways that are unique and, frankly, so interesting. The experience has come to remind me of my years at seminary in Switzerland, where everyday was a new adventure of theological exploration and faith expression with people from all over the world.
I wonder: isn’t this the way the church should look? Not culturally bound but instead open to the many different ways in which the message of Jesus Christ is expressed and lived out? There’s no doubt that diversity has challenges of its own, but according to my experience on day two of this Malaysian BWA meeting, this one thing I know for sure: the food is a lot more interesting when you attend church meetings in other countries…!