On Purpose

 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?

3 comments

  1. I really don’t think we’re all meant to go overseas in missions trips. As K.P.Y. says in his book, that mentality is a leftover of the colonialism that has caused the hundreds of blood fueds that exist today (see Somolia, India, Pakistan, etc.).

    Here’s the beauty of it: to reach Americans, we don’t need any money; and to reach foreigners, all we need to do is give our brothers overseas the funds to be capable of reaching.

    I’ve been on a missions trips though, and I have seen both its bad and its definately redeeming aspects. It allows our siblings to access things they might be unable to be else where such as medical assistance and helps reaffirm that there are in fact not alone.

    However, (and here is the substance of my comment) to travel to a land you know nothing about and cannot effectively affect is of little percievable benefit to the intentions of God.

    At what point are we just emulating the Islamic hajj?

  2. Luke, I read the Purpose Driven Life a couple years ago. Though I found much to be qualified, I also found an alarming amount to question…such as your point of foreign mission trips. In my heart of hearts, I think we find it easier to offer help and share our faith with those we have no personal history with because there is no ‘personal’ harm in their rejection of our help or faith. We are most persecuted by those who know us the best and do not share our beliefs…I feel those are the ones who need our prayers, hearing and receiving God’s love through us the most. And I’ll be the first to admit…that’s the most difficult calling of all.

    I certainly don’t believe all are cut out for overseas missionary work. As Christian’s we are all blessed with gifts…but not all the same gifts. If so, wouldn’t scripture have stated that ‘some are called to teach, some to serve….but ALL to foriegn missions’?
    Doesn’t Charity begin at home?

  3. Luke I completely agree with what you wrote. I know for a fact that that part of scripture has made many Christians I have known to feel like they just haven’t done their duty. I believe our mission field begins in our homes. I also believe that God puts a desire in the hearts of those that do go to other countries. My most exciting mission He sent me on was a beautiful little playground that I took my children to on Fri. afternoons. ALL the other mothers there were of new age beliefs. I can’t even say that any of them gave their life to Christ but I do know that His love was so with me during that time. That playground WAS my Judea. It was my commission at that particular time. Working with unbelievers is a true labor of love if we look at it as the place God has us to shine His love. If God is after our hearts doesn’t it make sense that it would be what is strongly on our hearts for ministry??? How wonderful that we are all different and our hearts go in all different places right here at home.

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