I have a strong desire to go out on the mission field one day. I have since I was little. I’ve heard the missionary stories for years – Jim Elliott, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, Eric Liddell, all those heroes of the faith. They were all fulfiling the Great Commission. And that’s my ambition, my goal, my dream. I want to make an impact on the world for Christ.
Jesus has commanded us all to further His kingdom in Mt. 28:19 – 20 and Mk. 16:15. I once struggled with the definite meaning of these verses. Is everyone, then, supposed to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations”? After all, Jesus wasn’t singling anyone out, it could very well have been only to His disciples. Yet I knew every believer was called to be a witness to Christ, and to me the only logical way was mission work. I was seriously struggling with what these verses implied. I even got into an argument with a friend about it, much to my regret later. However, I have reached my final conclusion, and that is this. No, not everyone is to go to another country to be a missionary. Not everyone is required to leave their homes, their families, their friends, to go to another country.
At first, I had viewed the idea of staying at home, in your city, away from a foreign country, with scorn. I thought it was just an excuse to “keep from fulfilling the Great Commission”. I thought it was simply the excuse of “God has not called me to do mission work”. But it’s true. Not everyone is called to go to some far off country to do mission work.
However, I don’t mean this as an excuse to glide over those verses (and the others like it) in the Bible, and forget this idea of mission work. You are still called to do “mission work”. Though it may not be another country, you are called to be a witness and testimony to Christ, and further His kingdom. You are a follower of Christ; you are to do His will. You are to tell others of His love and gift of salvation.
If you are called to another country, then by all means, go! God has used many people overseas. But He uses people here, too. And that’s what took me so long to realize. You don’t absolutely have to go to another country (provided God has not directed you to go). There are thousands right here where you live that are still dying without hope, without the Gospel. And you have that opportunity waiting for you. You have that chance to make a change, to lead a soul to Christ. You have that chance on a daily basis.
I also know that people view overseas mission work as “doing a hard thing” (to all you Rebelutionaries out there). I’ve fallen in that category. That’s something I struggle with even still. In my mind, I’d much rather be helping orphans over in Africa than stuck at the computer doing math! But we have idolized overseas missions. We have viewed them with too much admiration. Yes, going to help orphans in Africa is a noble deed, but it’s just as noble as taking food to the homeless in the dark depths of Houston (which can be a scary place, just for the record). The geographical location of outreach is irrelevant when looked at objectively, from an eternal perspective. You’re still reaching out to others regardless of where you are. Yet, overseas missionaries are still idolized. Your work overseas may have more challenges, but the African soul you lead to Christ holds the same value as the Houston soul I lead to Christ. The “nobility” of each of our actions, our stories, our character, is of equal value from an eternal perspective. Overseas missions are wonderful, courageous, and effective, please don’t get me wrong. But please, don’t over – glamorize mission work in other countries. It takes alot of courage to approach the stranger on the street, and it’s still wonderful and effective.
Please don’t think that I’m running down overseas mission work or the missionaries who work in foreign countries. On the contrary, I want to go! I want to go to Africa one day, and am hoping and praying against all odds to go on a mission trip to Malawi this fall. I sincerely desire to be a missionary to another country. There is a place in the world for overseas missionaries and a dire need in many countries to hear the Gospel. There are millions of people across the world who die without ever having joy, peace, freedom, without ever having hope, or hearing the Gospel. The point I was trying to make is that we are all called to be missionaries, even if it is not in the sense of how missionareis are thought of today.
Be the missionary in your country. Be the missionary in your city, your street. Missionaries aren’t defined as “those who go to another country to serve Christ”. Be a witness to Christ right here, right now. Reach out and show God’s love to others, and share the story of your faith in Jesus. Tell others – strangers, friends, family – of this undeserved gift of salvation. You don’t have to wait until you’re “more experienced” or “older”. People around you need you right now to share the reason for the hope that you have. Considering Christ’s work on Calvary, don’t we kind of owe this to Him?
I originally wrote this to share what I call my own “personal commission”. Acts 26:17b – 18: I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
This is what we are called to do. This is what I want to do.
Mt. 9:37 – 38: Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest.”
In closing, I want to say again that I really am not trying to run down overseas missions. Honestly, I’m not; I want to go myself. I’m just trying to shed light on the other end of the spectrum that people typically forget. Yes, we can glamorize the work in foreign countries, but we can’t neglect our own country here.