Learning to Think Globally, Act Locally in our Families and Youth Groups

Learning to Think Globally, Act Locally in our Families and Youth Groups

Children Praying

The slogan, “Think Globally, Act Locally”, was coined in 1970 by a leader of the environmental movement. It was meant to get people thinking about the effect their actions had on a global scale and encouraged them to do good things for the environment in their own homes and communities.

As Christians who believe that all who follow Christ are members of one family, we are also encouraged to Think Globally and Act Locally. Bishop Grant LeMarquand has long lived out this motto. Beginning in 1987, he served in Kenya, teaching at a theological college. After coming back to Canada to complete his Th.D, he went on to visit 14 African countries. Those tours included short term missions, research, to eventually serving as the Bishop of the Horn of Africa from 2012 to 2017. Thinking globally has always been a family affair for the LeMarquands. Both the Bishop’s children lived in Kenya, and Bishop Grant’s wife, Dr. Wendy LeMarquand, has had significant ministries overseas, drawing on her expertise as an MD.

In this interview, we hope families and youth groups get to know Bp. Grant a little and be inspired and encouraged from his vast experiences to think globally & act locally in your family lives.

TR: As one of your former students, I know you have long encouraged people to develop cross-cultural relationships with brothers and sisters from other countries. What is something you’ve learned through those relationships?

BGL: I have been amazed at how enthusiastic Christians in other parts of the world are about worship. They love to worship God together. There is enthusiasm and real joy, even in hardship. Even though they may have food insecurity, even if they are poor, even if they are unsafe because of war, there is incredible joy when they come together to worship God. It is usually the first thing visitors notice when they come to Africa.

I have also come to realize that being a Christian is a very personal decision, but it is not an individualistic decision. When I became a Christian, I became a member of the body of Christ, the global family. This means when I pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”, but some of my brothers and sisters don’t have enough to eat, that prayer becomes a demand upon myself, as well as a request to God.

TR: Bp Grant, Think Globally, Act Locally has been a secular slogan for decades. But why might a Christian want to think this way?

BGL: It is a biblical concern to think Globally. If we believe that there is only one God, and that God made the whole world, then he has a claim on everything and everybody. In the beginning he chose just one family, Israel, to be his people, but that was so all the nations of the earth would be blessed through them. Since the whole world is part of God’s concern, it is part of our concern. Our liturgy clearly reminds us that Jesus came for the sins of the WHOLE world. And when we pray “Our Father” in the Lord’s Prayer, then that means that everyone else in the world who believes in Jesus is our brother or sister. I used to tell my clergy and theological students in Ethiopia that Rev. 7 makes it clear that God’s family is global:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9-10, ESV)

Our desire is (or should be!) that people from every nation and culture come to join God’s family. Since we are going to be gathered around the throne together for eternity, we better get used to it now! The Anglican church is already a global church; we are present in most of the countries around the world, with our largest churches being in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.

TR: What is the hardest thing you have learned or experienced in those crosscultural relationships?

BGL: The hardest thing is realizing no matter how close you get to someone of another culture, there are always deeper levels of that culture that you do not understand. This means there is a possibility of misunderstanding each other and hurting each other. And as a Westerner, I also realized how much more difficult life is when you are in an insecure environment—whether that is food insecurity, job insecurity, or the threat of persecution. So many Anglican Christians are under the threat of persecution at the moment. It really hit me recently, as I was teaching a group of students from Jos, Nigeria, that they could be killed for being a Christian in their country. It was very sobering and difficult.

TR: How would you encourage a teenager from Pittsburgh to Think Globally and Act Locally?

BGL: For younger teens I think the first step is learning about other countries and Christians in those countries. I would suggest they read news from non-Western news sources—such as Google “African news” or “Asian news” and see what comes up. It is important to be aware of what is happening globally. Also, become proficient in geography. It is important to learn where things are in the world.

I would encourage Youth Pastors to bring in speakers from other countries. Pittsburgh is one of the hubs of the Anglican world; there is always someone coming in to visit. Meeting someone from another culture and making a personal connection is really important.

There are lots of ways teens and their families could learn about Christians around the world and missionary workespecially in this internet age.

Bishop Grant recommended looking up Diocesan websites from around the world, such as The Anglican Diocese of Egypt: www.dioceseofegypt.org and the Facebook page of the Anglican Church in Ethiopia.

Recommended Blogs:

  • The Anglican Relief and Development Blog. www.ardf.org/blog
    • This blog is full of encouraging stories of how Christians from around the world have come to together to help other Christians who are in need.
  • The Society of Missionaries and Senders Blog. www.samsusa.org/blog
    • This blog is really diverse. It includes things like updates from missionaries, suggestions for supporting missionaries, and sermons.

Bp. Grant’s Recommended Movies:

  • On Wings of Eagles, the Eric Liddell story, 2016
  • Silence, 2016 (he warns that this is a very hard movie to watch)
  • End of the Spear, 2005
  • Cry the Beloved Country, 1995
  • The Mission, 1986
  • Inn of the Sixth Happiness, 1958