The Church in western Europe, primarily Roman Catholic, and in eastern Europe and Russia, primarily Orthodox, boasts massive buildings, and historic cultural influence, yet seem to be struggling in many places to maintain a strong presence in our urban, secular, post-modern world. It's an even tougher challenge in those settings for a group with Protestant roots like the Methodist movement.
International mission is such an vital element of the Christian life, and perhaps MOST importantly, this isn't just a calling for a minuscule few who are called to full time international missions. With opportunities to learn, pray, and support, and incredible technology of our time like email, Skype, and social media, we have so many opportunities to connect to the larger Church and know and support Christians around the world. International mission is accessible to more of us than ever.
And, to be honest, it absolutely baffles me that folk will travel internationally to see sites, but won't develop Christian relationships that support, nurture, and grow the Church both here and there.
As we develop relationships with Christians in other parts of the world we learn more about God, we learn what is happening in the Kingdom of God in other contexts, and we experience the Church in ways that make a lasting difference for our own faith experience "back home." After all, God is so much bigger than just our local experience. This will challenge you, and transform you, in ways that are tough to describe and are best experienced personally.
While you pray and worship today, think about those Christians around the world who have already lifted praise to God. Think about the challenges of the Methodists in Portugal, refugees across Europe who are part of a vital Christian revival (some are Methodist!), United Methodists in Germany and Russia, or any country that captures your imagination. Lift up what you know of their needs. Imagine what they might offer that could nurture your life in Christ and the Church.