The other day I attended an event called Missions Fest. The theme was centered around refugees, immigrants, and people groups moving to America from their own countries, and how we, as American Christians, can reach out to them. There were dozens of booths, exposing us to all sorts of missionary organizations. We heard a lovely talk about reaching out to those unreached people groups that are right here, in America. Many, many people belonging to unreached people groups have fled to our country. As a result, sometimes, being a missionary doesn’t mean traveling across the world. Sometimes, being a missionary means walking across the street.
The verses the speaker used were Acts 17:26-27, which reads, “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” God has established people’s times–that is, when they live. He’s also established the boundaries of their habitation–where they live.
So that family that lives across the street from you? Those refugees down the road? God put them there.
It is truly amazing to think of all the opportunities that are right here, right in front of us. It’s a challenging thought. I have a heart for evangelism… but I also have a lot of fear. Even so, sometimes obeying God means facing those fears.
And sometimes it means walking across the street.
This reminds me of something that one of my teachers at my homeschool co-op said. “A lot of people make a big deal about the Great Commission,” he said, speaking of Matthew 28:19, where Jesus tells believers to go into all the world and preach the gospel. “But the truth is,” said my teacher, “Jesus was really saying, ‘On your way.’ On your way to work, preach the gospel. On your way to school, preach the gospel. On your way to wherever you’re going, preach the gospel.” My teacher was speaking of a gospel lifestyle. Not just a “today-I’m-going-to-preach-the-gospel” attitude, but an attitude of “wherever I’m going, I’m preaching the gospel.” Whether by words or deed, eating or drinking, by whatever we do, if we do it to the glory of God, we can be preaching the gospel on our way.
I like this way of putting it. We should witness on our way, in our hometowns, in our everyday lives, right here. Not to the exclusion of foreign missions, of course. We should absolutely, positively, no-doubt-about-it support and participate in foreign missions. They are hands down wonderful. But that’s not everyone’s calling. And even missionaries come home sometimes.
That’s why I like the idea of evangelizing “on your way.” It makes it less scary. It’s not a great and horrible task that every Christian must do to be acceptable to God. It’s a way of life for the believer.
Because of this, we needn’t always focus on foreign missions and witnessing to people from other countries. We mustn’t limit the Great Commission to somewhere else. There are ten thousand opportunities to preach the gospel right in front of you. America needs missionaries, too. So does your neighborhood, your school, your workplace.
Like I said before, this is hard for me. I fall short… really short. It’s scary to preach the gospel. But preaching the gospel doesn’t always have to be street preaching and handing out tracts. Sometimes it’s obeying your mom in public, or praying in a restaurant, or any number of simple things. Sometimes it’s loving another Christian, and sometimes it’s actually witnessing to someone. Even so, we are human, and we will chicken out and miss opportunities. But you know what? Our God is a God of grace. Aren’t you glad?
To sum things up: There are mission opportunities all around us. From refugees and immigrants to people at Starbucks, there are hundreds of ways to reach out. And sometimes—often—reaching out is as simple as “on your way.” And always remember that God gives grace… unspeakable grace. (Which is why we’re here in the first place, right?)
So there you go… Something to think about. 🙂