I’ve got my share of opinions on American Christianity. They have undoubtedly been influenced by my experiences of Christianity within contexts outside of the United States. Most American believers, however, never have the opportunity to travel beyond the confines of America, and therefore never experience the Kingdom of God in a global way.
Chad Gibbs is from Alabama–part of the Bible Belt. I live in Kentucky, and I’ve lived in Tennessee–both commonly considered part of the Bible Belt. In the Bible Belt, people are Christians, some sincerely, some traditionally and by name only. In a large portion of America, Christianity is the norm–it is the way you grow up. But, what about in other countries? What about post-Christian Europe or Communist countries? What about anywhere outside of the United States? What can we learn from our global brothers and sisters?
As you read Jesus Without Borders, you will be encouraged by the stories of believers all over the globe. His style is extensively conversational and witty. At certain points, time is spent on details of the travel experience that are seemingly irrelevant–I especially noticed this at the beginning of the ‘Uganda’ chapter. However, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it takes away from the reading experience. The fact is, he is telling the story of his experiences, and that includes the experience of traveling.
I was delighted as I read his chapter on China. Having a degree in Chinese Studies and having traveled to China four times myself, I was anticipating reading that chapter from the time I took a look at the table of contents. As I was reading it, I could visualize
everything he was talking about, having been everywhere he had been–from Tiananmen Square to the Haidian Church. It took me back to my experience of worshiping at the Haidian Church in Beijing. In China, it isn’t worth your time to be a nominal Christian. You either follow Christ or you don’t–there really isn’t an in between. Being in churches full of dedicated Chinese believers are experiences that I won’t soon forget.
Reading Jesus Without Borders is like chatting with a friend who recently travelled, and hearing stories you actually want to hear. There is so much that we can learn from our brothers and sisters around the world, and so much of our faith that is influenced by our culture. Christianity is not an American religion, or even a western religion. It is an ancient faith from the east, full of truth and life which has resounded through the ages across cultural and political divides.