Every summer churches across the country send summer missionaries to different places around the world to share Christ’s love. These trips offer uncomfortable travel, simple accommodations, unappealing food and lots of hard work. The other thing these trips offer is the opportunity to focus on doing God’s work – unencumbered by the distractions of daily life. They provide a chance to see what can happen when we get out of our own way and allow God to work through us. They let us see what can happen when we focus all of our attention on Christ. For many, these trips are life-changing; they are watershed moments that permanently alter the course of their lives. They are an indispensable part of church ministries across the county.
This is not to say that these mission trips do not have their detractors. Every church that sends out summer missionaries will have a handful of people who ask, “Why should we send missionaries somewhere else when we have so much work to be done here?” Usually, the question is being asked by someone who isn’t involved in mission work at all. It has been my experience that their concern is rarely for local mission needs; it is more often about resource allocation. “If we spend money to send people somewhere else, what will be left to take care of me?”
Unfortunately, this attitude is far too common in the church today. What many seem to have forgotten is that Jesus does not belong to us – we are His. We don’t have the authority to decide who should hear the gospel and who shouldn’t. Can we say that people who look like us, who live where we live and who act like us are more worthy than others to hear about their Savior? Christ does not segregate people by skin color, nationality, language or geography. He died for all (2 Cor. 5:15).
As Christians we are called to be witnesses for Christ “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Notice Jesus said “and” not “or.” It’s not a question of sharing the gospel at home or away from home; Christians are called to do both. The truth is, a passion for one will feed a passion for the other. I have never met anyone who had a genuine desire to share the gospel at home that didn’t have a genuine desire to share the gospel away from home as well.
Admittedly, it is far easier to care for and have a heart for people that we come in contact with on a regular basis. It is easier to connect with people who live around us; but this is exactly why we need to GO. The more time we spend with others outside of our personal context, the more we begin to see the world as God sees the world. The more we expand our view of the world, the more we see the need – and hopefully, the more we will be compelled to meet it.
In His Service,