As long as I can remember I have always been keenly interested in other cultures. When I was a kid someone from "out of town" really caught my interest. When I was a kid our next door neighbors (from up north) hosted two cousins about my age also from up north. I was fascinated that they called the sofa (we just called it the couch) the "davenport". A family once moved to my home town. I got to know one of the boys my age. I was intrigued to know they ate "biscuits and gravy" every single morning for breakfast. We ate eggs and bacon so I just assumed everyone else in the world did the same. The very woman I married 37 years ago (and still married to) was from out of town. I was intrigued at the beautiful girl (hottie) from Alabama.
I guess that's why I have such a keen, interest in the nations of the world. Of course God has everything to do with that. But as a child, before I met Jesus, He was already preparing me with a heart for other peoples.
When I was 17 I traveled to Mexico City with the Mississippi Lions Allstate Band. It was an incredible experience. Mexico is not the farthest place from the U.S., but it is definitely a different culture. I was walking with Jesus when I joined the Air Force, and my first assignment after tech school was three years in Germany. What an experience! While in Germany we visited several of the European nations. I was also assigned temporary duty in Saudi Arabia for seven weeks. The time in Saudi was a milestone for my Christian walk. Talk about culture shock! In 1991 I was able to return to Mexico...this time as a short-term missionary. In 1997, I visited India for the first time as a pastor simply to check up on the ministry we were supporting as a church. It changed my life! Since then I have made 8 trips to India and am now planning India Reach 2012. My affiliation with the folks in India has influenced my walk more than any other. However, my love for the nations is even broader. In 2000 God opened the door for me to go to Guatemala for the first time (and several since). And in 2007 I was able to visit Honduras two times. And I just returned from my 3rd visit to Honduras. Visiting other nations and cultures has given me what I believe is a more proper perspective on my place in God's universe.
There is something deeply spiritually significant in the heart of God about the nations of the earth. In His eyes He is the Lord of all. In His heart, He longs for praise and worship from every culture. There is something eternally significant about the nations. I believe that all the diversity of every culture comes from His heart. However, He is the only God. I've been so blessed to hear passionate worship coming from the lips of Indian people, Hispanic people, German people, Saudi, Pakistani, British people and more. But the cry is to ONE God! I believe part of the significance of having a heart for the nations is that all the diversity points us to just ONE God!
In case you haven't heard...the earth is not flat and the universe does not revolve around our nation! The universe revolves around ONE God! From every nation people are crying to Him from the depths of their hearts! God is not glorified in and from our nation alone. No, He is glorified from every nation on earth. That makes us ONE...no matter what nation or culture we are from.
In heaven...when all is said and done. God's throne will not be surrounded with just Americans. No...it will be surrounded with folks from every single tribe, every single tongue, and every single nation! To have a heart for the nations is actually having a heart for God's kingdom and His heaven, and God's heart is expressed through those who love Him.