We are coming to the end of a study I have been participating in centered on the book, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It really is a great book and has some wonderful insights into the journey a follower of Jesus is on. There have been a few things that I find myself wondering about though. One of the things is in chapter 38, titled “Becoming a world class Christian”. In this chapter he encourages readers to go on an overseas mission. He goes on to say we should shift our thinking from local to global and from making excuses (lack of money, language barriers ect.). to thinking of creative ways to fulfill our commission. Is it really our commission to go on overseas mission trips? He uses the verse from the book of Acts;
Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you. And you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
He then interprets the verse as Jesus giving the command that we should be witnesses in all theses places as individuals simultaneously and not sequentially. Maybe I am wrong but I don’t interpret that piece of scripture to mean that at all. What do you think?
Maybe Jesus was telling us to go hold the hand of someone who is alone and scared, growing old in a nursing facility down the road from our own home. Perhaps He was talking about visiting and encouraging someone who is recovering from drug addiction in the local jail or serving food and cleaning rooms at the local rescue mission. Maybe He meant to be a witness by just loving our neighbors, coworkers and everyone we come in contact with in our own daily lives. You wouldn’t even need to raise any funds for this type of mission. One thing that I see consistently throughout scripture is that when Jesus gives a command to us its always something that all of His followers can do. I don’t think He expects someone who is economically incapable of going overseas to do so. I look at it this way; this is not my home anyway so I am on a mission trip wherever I go.
K.P. Yohannan of Gospel for Asia is an advocate of native missionaries. His view is that the best way to reach people is with believers who are a part of the culture they are trying to reach. That makes a lot of sense and if we support missionaries like that we are after all thinking globally and perhaps using our resources in the best possible way.
Anyway you look at it the needs are great everywhere. Should we make a point of caring for the needs of our own community first and then think globally? Has Jesus called everyone of His followers to overseas missions?