I caught my Wednesday Night group off guard. We've been going through the BF&M 2000 for the last few weeks and we just did Salvation last week. So I came in and said that we were going to think a little more about salvation, but specifically missions.The ideas flowed and then suddenly someone spoke up - "hey these are all ideas we could use right here in our town."
I told them that they had just been appointed as missionaries to reach a tribe whose name I made up. I said that they had just been dropped into the valley where their tribe is located (incidentally, I said that the tribe was about 9,000 strong located within a ten mile radius (this happens to be the number of people within a ten mile radius of our church)). I then asked them how, not knowing anything about their tribe, they were going to reach them with the Gospel? I set up a dry-erase board and we began 45 minutes of brain-storming. They came up with some excellent ideas.
My friend Mike told me once, before another friend went on a mission trip, that he took our friend around town to show him apartments, soccer fields, basketball courts, senior homes, parks etc. All the things he would see on his mission trip. Every economic class was represented and Mike told our friend that while he was heading overseas to do mission work - those same things could be done in his own neighborhood.
I think both are an important reminder.
And this is from Marni on the topic:
Definitely a great read, and as often the case, the comments are almost as good as the blog...Thanks for sending this.Ouch.
At a church we used to attend, our pastor read a letter. I can't remember if the letter was addressed to our church or another local one, but it made a loud and clear point. The letter congratulated us (sarcastically) on the mission trip we had made to a foreign country to "win souls for Jesus". The writer was a 20 year old young woman. A few months earlier, both her parents died in a car accident. A local church reached out to her and some members were sharing the good news of the gospel with her. In her letter, she wrote the church members told her belief in Jesus as the Son of God and asking Him to be Lord of your life is the ONLY way to Heaven. Then she said the chilling part..."If that's true, then my parents never knew that and now they are in hell. I live 5 minutes from your church. Why did you go all the way to Romania to tell people about Jesus, but my family lived a mile from your congregation and no one ever told us?"
We sat in complete silence for several minutes. It was VERY convicting and God has never let me forget that. I am certainly not knocking foreign missions because God calls us to go far away sometimes and the whole world needs to know and so few take God up on that call. But the pastor in Wade's blog is right and the letter from the distraught young woman was right. We should be working in our own backyard too. I see that constantly and consistently with encounter am I'm grateful God called us to encounter to be a part of that. I'll continue to pray for God to keep us free from the junk that tangles us up so much that we forget we're a church and why we do what we do.