Are We Missing the Mission Right Under Our Noses?

lightstock_139877_small_byrene_haney

There is this excellent illustration about Catherine Booth the “mother” of the Salvation Army. “Wherever Catherine Booth went,” said Campbell Morgan, “humanity went to hear her. Princes and peeresses merged with paupers and prostitutes.”

One night, Morgan shared in a meeting with Mrs. Booth. A great crowd of “publicans and sinners” was there. Her message brought many to Christ. After the meeting, Morgan and Mrs. Booth went to be entertained at an elegant home; and the lady of the manor said, “My dear Mrs. Booth, that meeting was dreadful.”

“What do you mean, dearie?” asked Mrs. Booth.

“Oh, when you were speaking, I was looking at those people opposite to me. Their faces were so terrible, many of them. I don’t think I shall sleep tonight!”

“Why, dearie, don’t you know them?” Mrs. Booth asked; and the hostess replied, “Certainly not!”

“Well, that is interesting,” Mrs. Booth said. “I did not bring them with me from London; they are your neighbors!”

The illustration above points out that often we overlook the mission possibilities in our backyard.

Don’t get me wrong I love mission trips abroad.  Christians can do great ministry in third world countries.  When I see the personal distress of children, my heart is stirred to compassion.   I applaud those people with the tenacity and determination of a missionary. God bless you and the work He has called you to do.   I wish I saw more people who have a passion for the mission field right under their noses.

Local mission work is not as sexy, but the demands are just as great.  And the cost is greatly diminished because you don’t need to board a plane, then take a bus and a bike to far remote places.  Instead, you get to hop in your car then drive to a neighborhood that you often drive through quickly on the way to somewhere else.  These communities often do not have a missionary agency asking for short-term missionaries, yet their mission needs are just as great.  The human hurt is just as heartbreaking.  The suffering, just as generational. The life transformational potential just as impactful.  What makes this possibility even more desirable is that it does not have to be a short-term mission it can be an ongoing missional relationship.

When we ignore the mission opportunities outside our doors, Christians are failing to live up to their full mission potential.  This example says it all. Imagine this: Jesus has come to earth on a special mission. And one day God speaks to Him and says, “Lay hands on this blind man and heal him.” But there’s a dilemma, Jesus has two withered hands. Then God says, “I want you to go and raise Lazarus from the dead.” But suddenly, Jesus collapses and can’t control His legs. Every time God tells Him to do something, something goes wrong. You’re probably thinking that that would never happen. But the church is a body of believers who are Jesus in the flesh on earth today. I wonder if God feels a little bit like that’s the way it is with the church when we don’t live out our local mission.  How powerful could our witness be if the people outside our walls saw and experienced the same level of missionary zeal that so many Christians practice in other countries?

Pray that God opens our eyes to the mission potential in our communities so we can make the most of that opportunity with dogged determination.

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10 thoughts on “Are We Missing the Mission Right Under Our Noses?

  1. Enlightening. I have often wondered the same when my church have sent money to pastors in Ghana and Nigeria and there are folks in the pews who are struggling to pay their utilities. Tough dilemmas!

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  2. Rev. Haney:
    I believe that a lot more people are recognizing the mission opportunities under their noses. What I mean by “mission opportunities” is the spreading of the Gospel, Word and Sacrament. Mercy work may or may not be attached depending on the circumstances, the one we are introducing to the Triune God may not be in physical need or we may not have the resources available to meet their needs.

    The way that I see the oversees trips and the local mission work complementing each other is that those people who have been on the oversees trips many times come back with a better understanding of the challenges of Kingdom work. They also have a new awareness of mission opportunity in their own communities and a confidence to do what is needed in their local community.

    Both oversees and local missional activity provide an opportunity for the Body of Christ to join across congregational lines and work cooperatively and behave in ways that enhance the impact in the community through cooperation despite differences.

    I have been on a mission trip to Guatemala and have worked in my own community. Both have unique challenges. Would you recommend some resources, perhaps from Synod that would help dealing with the unique challenges of Mercy work and Gospel sharing in our own communities?

    Thanks and I’m praying for you.
    Deon Hull

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    1. Hi Deon. I don’t see this as one is better than the other. Both are important and needed. I agree that overseas mission can enhance local mission work as well. As for resources for local missions, I don’t know if resources are all that helpful. Relationships are what is needed. I encourage congregations to go out and talk with people in the community and partner with them and if there is a need that is not already being met then you meet that need.

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  3. Cannot agree more! I see many Christians struggling to find their purpose and to find ways in which they can serve God. But I really think that our purpose does not have to be something grandeur. It can be found in small things in life like buying a homeless man food, greeting people who seem left out at a gathering, being nicer to family and friends, etc. Doing mission works in developing countries is an eminent task too but sometimes I feel that it is necessary to spread the love of Jesus to those around and close to us also. We get so focused on doing mission works outside that many times, we forget that we need to be there for the ones here. God placed those people in our lives and He placed us in their lives for a reason.

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  4. Although we work in global missions to Central America, Europe, and the Middle East, we have always believed that our number one mission field is our neighborhood and community. This is a great post highlighting the importance of loving our ACTUAL neighbors, and sharing God’s grace and love with them, first and foremost. Thanks for sharing!

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