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.